Thursday, September 29, 2011

So good....

I am serving as a squad leader for my daughter's American Heritage Girls squad. We had our first meeting a couple of weeks ago and we began working on the Physical Fitness badge. One of Annie's requirements is to track everything she eats and drinks for three days. She did and it was a big eye opener for me! I always had in the back of my head that she didn't eat quite enough fruits and veggies but I figured it probably all evened out in the end. Well, I can tell ya that she hardly ate any fruits or veggies! Sure, there were days when she had some bananas or apple sauce but there was not a single day she had veggies, unless you count spaghetti sauce! What? I knew something had to change.

I decided then and there that I was done fixing seperate meals for each person in our family and trying to give everyone what they wanted for dinner. So, I put a stop to that practice. I was no longer going to make individual meals for anyone. I was also going to serve a fruit and a veggie at each and every dinner we sat down to. Well, that was almost three weeks ago and I am happy to say that we are going strong!

My children, who basically never ate meat or veggies, have had a whole variety of things in the last three weeks. They have eaten homemade vegetable soup, baked potatoes, chicken tacos, roast beef, green beans, grilled chicken, corn....the list goes on and on! I have also added more fruits and veggies to my diet. I had asparagus for the first time the other night and it was good! I forced myself to eat cooked carrots, which were something I stayed away from at all costs before. However, I couldn't expect my children to do a better job of eating if I didn't do it myself. So, I dove in! Annie, who only likes applesauce and bananas, has eaten strawberries, grapes, plums, nectarines and raspberries!

We have also tried to have less processed snacks in the house. So, I have made more things from scratch. We had homemade chocolate chip cookies last week and banana bread the week before that. Yes, it's been a bit more work to bake/fix/cook all our snacks but I feel like my kids are going to be healthier for it.

So, I am proud of my kids for stepping out of their comfort zones and I am proud of myself for sticking to my guns and following through. I just hope we can continue our new and improved diet.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In love with my life...

I am so in love with my life! I know I said earlier that my life can be can. However, it's so wonderful that I can hardly contain my glee. I am living my dream. I have five beautiful children that I adore, a husband that is all that and a bag of chips and I have the means to live a comfy life. Does it really get any better than that?

I love my husband. He is one of those guys you read about and think "gee, I wish I had one of those guys". I do! He is totally supportive of me being a stay-at-home Mom. He has never made me feel that my "job" is any less important than his. In fact, he often comments how my job is much harder and way more important than his! There are days when he comes home and the house is a wreck and the kids are screaming and the dogs are barking and there is no dinner ready...he doesn't say a word. He simply gives me a hug and asks how my day was. He listens to me vent, whine and complain all the time. He never begrudges me a thing. If I say I want it and we can afford it, then I can have it. He compliments me on a daily basis and makes me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. He is an amazing father to our children and a wonderful spiritual leader for our family.

I love having Annie as a daughter. She is a total bookworm like her Mom. She devours books on a daily basis and her favorite thing to do is to buy a much longed for book and hurry home to curl up and read it. She is a hard worker and earns and saves money like no kid her age should be able to do. She was bound and determined to save enough money for her very own puppy and she did! It took her the entire summer and involved doing lots of jobs she would rather not do (cleaning the litter box, vacuuming, doing laundry, etc...). The best part is that not only did she do all those household chores for money...there were plenty of days when she did them "just because Mommy needed help". She is an amazing big sister to Meg, Lily, Noah and Claire. She has a heart that is capable of so much love and it's evident every day. She was baptized in May and has such a heart for God. I am beyond proud of her.

I love having Meg as a daughter. She is my total girlie girl and without her I would be missing something vital. She loves pink and sparkles and spends many days "designing" new outfits in one of her numerous little notebooks. She says she is going to be a fashion designer when she grows up and I don't doubt her. She is an accessory girl. She loves jewelry, hats, scarves, sweaters and shoes...oh the shoes! Meg would love to have an entire room full of nothing but shoes. She loves all types but if they sparkle they are even better! She is my challenge when it comes to homeschooling, however, when she achieves something it's just that much sweeter for the both of us. She is super close to Mommy and worries about me constantly. When I was in the hospital having Claire, Meg was inconsolable. She ended up coming to the hospital to spend an entire day sitting by my side in my room. There were no video games or loud movies...she was just content to be there and sit in my room. She is my drama queen and her screams can be heard for miles. If it's a splinter, she screams. If she cuts her leg, she screams. If she bangs her head, she screams. I imagine that if she broke her leg she would scream at the same volume...loud. I wouldn't trade her for anything though...she surprises me every day.

I love having Lily as a daughter. She is the funniest child I have ever met. The things she comes up with make me giggle on a daily basis. She is my toughest child. She is always into something or knocking something down. She is often found tormenting her siblings just for the sake of something to do. She spends more time in "time out" than all of her other siblings combined. There are many days when she brings me to tears. In spite of it all though, she is so precious to me. She is sturdy and perfect for big hugs. She looks adorable when she wears her hair in pigtails. She looks like someone dropped Hershey kisses into her eyes...that perfect brown color. She is my grocery shopping buddy. She loves to snuggle up on my lap and be read to. She gives the best kisses and hugs. She never stops talking...just like her Mom. She is still young enough not to have an opinion on everything and never tells me that I am wrong. She keeps me on my toes and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love having Noah as a son. I never knew I was missing something until he entered my world. Daughters are precious but sons are amazing in a different way. He brings something to my life that I wouldn't have otherwise had. He looks the most like me...fair, light hair, blue eyes. His little legs are so scrawny but I still love to tickle and kiss them. He is probably going to need speech therapy. Poor kid can't talk to save himself. I understand most of what he is trying to say though and hearing him say "Ma" is music to my ears. He is all boy, which can be good and bad. It's fun to listen to him play with his toys. He growls and grunts and hits like any boy should. He is also totally insane and I know he will end up in the ER sooner or later. He pulls me down to kiss me when I put him down for a nap or to bed. He sucks his thumb and pushes his little ear in on itself in a way that is strange and endearing. Sometimes he sits next to me and sucks his thumb and reaches up to rub my ear lobe. It melts my heart. He loves super heroes...he will be superman for Halloween. He is into playing with action figures and could take or leave cars. He is on the edge of those "Mommy's baby" years and leaning towards those "Big boy" years. He is growing up too fast and it breaks my heart.

I love having Claire as a daughter. She is the sweetest baby. She has fit into our family without a hitch. She is laid back and calm...exactly what we needed. Her little baby smiles and sounds make me so happy. I love how her little breath smells like sour milk and I love to kiss the nape of her neck, where her hair is fuzzy. She has chubby thighs and I kiss them daily. Chubby babies are awesome! It's nice to buy pink again. It's nice to see how much her sisters and brother love her. She is an excellent nurser and a great sleeper. We always said five kids and she is the perfect end to our family. She manages to look a bit like all of her siblings on various days. She loves her Daddy and is always so happy when he holds her. She hardly ever cries...if she is crying it's because she needs something. I cheerish every moment of her infancy and I look forward to watching her grow into the amazing young lady she will become.

I simply love my life.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Digital Life

I spent time today organizing the bookmarks on my computer. I have a zillion and one things that I have bookmarked so that I can easily find them again. However, I was finding that I have so many things bookmarked that I couldn't find what I needed when I needed it! It all started when I was trying to find a recipe for a pasta dish and I knew I had bookmarked it. I spent almost twenty minutes searching through all types of bookmarked recipes before I realized that I put it in a different folder all together! I was so frustrated. So, I sat down and organized EVERYTHING that I had bookmarked.

It feels really good to know where everything is and have everything clearly labeled. However, I realized today that I rely very heavily on my computer. Remember how our mothers would pull out their little recipe box when they were getting ready to cook? Well, this Mom fires up her computer so I can open up my recipe that was bookmarked from whatever random site it was on. It made me think how much trouble I would be in if something happened to my computer and I could never again access those bookmarks. I back up my photos on occasion and even my documents. However, if for some reason all of my bookmarks were gone I would be in a sad state. How in the world would I make some of my favorite recipes? How would I remember exactly how to make a certain craft I had found online? How would I remember all the names of the many blogs I read on a daily/weekly basis? It kind of freaked me out!

I realized that my life has become very digital. I do have a recipe box but it's full of recipe cards that my mother or grandmother have given me. I do have an address book but I only pull it out at Christmas to send Christmas cards. I hardly ever contact anyone with an old fashioned handwritten letter. I pay the majority of my bills online and do almost all of my banking online. I even store a good bit of my homeschooling info on my computer. Wow! When did this happen?

I have yet to give in to the allure of a smart phone. I am half afraid of them. I only just started texting using my three year old flip phone! So, I suppose I can take some measure of comfort in that. Although, Carlos and I both realize that at some point in the future we are going to have to give in and own smart phones so that we can actually function in modern society. For now, we are digging in our heels and holding onto our flip phones and cheap monthly plan.

So, I suppose I have become quite digital in many ways, however, I still have a ways to go. I can only imagine what life will be like by the time Annie is heading off to college. I think I will bury my head in the sand and not think about it. :)

Friday, September 2, 2011


I have five children to clothe and can be expensive for our family. I am always on the look out for ways to save our family money. I am becoming thrifty. I wasn't always a thrifty person. I recall a time in my life when there was no way I would put used clothing on any of my precious babies. I didn't have time to wait for a library book to become available. I would just buy it. I ate out with abandon. I searched Carmax for the perfect car that had fancy features and I would plan out when I would be buying it. A lot has changed!

I am now a huge fan of buying my kids used clothing! Why spend the money for new stuff that they will simply ruin or outgrow? I scour Ebay like a fiend in search of the perfect things to round out my childrens' wardrobes. I rummage around at consignment sales looking for gems and I dig through clearance racks in hopes of a great deal. Yes, I have four girls so you would think that I would just buy new and plan to pass it down. In some cases that does work, however, most times it doesn't. I am not quite sure what Annie does to her clothing but it is always on it's last legs by the time she finishes with it. I wash her clothing carefully and make sure she isn't playing in mud with nice clothes on, but her stuff always looks like it's ready to head to the trash long before it will be used by the next in line. I also have to deal with the fact that Annie is a tom boy and Megan (next in line) is a total girly girl. So, Annie prefers jeans and yoga pants while Megan begs for dresses. See my problem? I also have to deal with the fact that Lily and Megan can wear the same size in some things. So, I need twice the amount of clothing for the two of them to share. Claire, you ask? Well, I long ago got rid of my baby girl clothing so we are starting from scratch with her. We are also starting with nothing when it comes to Noah's wardrobe as well. So, you see, I often find myself in need of clothing for five children and that can break the bank if you buy it all new.

I have been fortunate to have good friends who have passed on items their children have outgrown. Thank goodness! That has saved me bundles! I try to return the favor and pass along items that my children have outgrown, however, most times they are not fit to pass on since so many have worn the items. I do try though.

There are some items that I do invest money in. I like to buy one new and good pair of shoes for each kid each season. I find that used shoes will often be too worn out to be very comfy or supportive when we are talking about shoes my kids wear often. I will buy used dress shoes though because they don't get much wear. I also tend to buy good winter coats if I can find them on sale and I refuse to buy used underwear for any of my kids. :)

I have become a huge fan of the library in recent years. Buying books is just not a smart money choice for me anymore. The kids and myself devour books like starving wild animals so it's not worth paying money for a book that we will be done with in a couple of days. Plus, we always have a large variety at our fingertips, which I love. Trips to the library are a family favorite! In fact, Claire has been to the library more times than I can count but has yet to venture to the mall.

I am also more aware when it comes to money we spend on food. It is a rare treat for our family to eat out. We may dine in a restuarant once every two or three months. It's not just the cost but the hassle of dealing with all of our children in a public place. I do fine with it, however, it drives Carlos to the brink of insanity. So, we tend to eat at home as often as possible. If we are going to be out and about at meal time then I usually pack a cooler with food and drinks and drag it along. It's not as fun as eating out but it sure does keep the pocketbook fuller.

So, I have become a more thrifty person over the years. It's not so much by choice but by necessity. I find that I enjoy it though. It's kind of a challenge to see how far I can stretch the budget each month. I know that I have a long way to go though. I am toying with the idea of revamping the food budget and making some of my own cleaning supplies in the future. I will let you know how that works out.

I will survive...

I am going to be totally honest, life with five children is REALLY hard. It's fall into bed on the verge of death each night hard. I am on the go from the second I put my feet on the floor in the morning and I don't stop until....well I never really stop. My days are a blur of activity. If I actually get a moment to sit down then I find myself feeling guilty that I am not "insert activity here" (folding laundry, doing the dishes, reading to the kids, playing with the dogs, running the vacuum, etc...).

Despite how hard it is though, I love my life! I love having five kids! I grew up as an only child and I always envied my friends who had siblings. It seemed like such a great thing to be surrounded by noise and chaos. There was always a buddy to play or argue with. Holidays were always more fun and their houses were always full of such a variety of playthings. So, when Carlos and I got married we said we would have five kids. Of course, after we had Annie we thought that maybe two would be good. Along came Megan and she was a tough baby. So, two seemed like a good number. Of course, if you fast forward a couple of years you find out that two wasn't quite enough. Along came Lily and she made Megan seem like the easiest kid on the planet. I swore I was done! If you check out my side bar then you see that I was not done. Enter Noah, my first son. I love having a son! He is wild and crazy in a way that little girls aren't. He is Mommy's little man and is constantly in motion. When he was a baby I often told anyone who would listen that I would have lots more kids if I knew they were going to be like Noah. However, as he has gotten older he has gotten harder. I know that he will have his fair share of ER visits and he will give me gray hair long before my girls do. So, once again I swore I was finished. Three girls and a boy seemed like a nice little family. There didn't need to be anymore. We were done!

Yeah right! Along came Claire! She is the sweetest baby and I can't imagine our family without her. She reminds me of Annie as a baby. She is pretty laid back and has such a sweet smile. I am hoping that she will continue to favor Annie in personality...Annie is my easiest kid by far. Claire is the perfect combination of chubby legs, sweet smelling head and baby gurgles. I love every minute I spend with her. I honestly don't mind waking up in the middle of the night to nurse her. I find myself treasuring those quiet moments because I am 100% certain that she will be my last baby. My pregnancy with Claire was hard on my body. I had a few medical issues and even had to undergo surgery after she was born. I think that no matter what my heart tells me or how sad I may be to be holding my last "baby", I have to admit that physically I am done. My body told me so and I am going to listen.

So, I look ahead to all the wonderful things about having our last baby. There is an end in sight to buying diapers and baby gates! Family vacations will be more manageable without new babies and pregnant Moms. Sleepless nights will become less frequent, although they will never really go away. I can finally exercise and spend time improving me without a pregnancy sneaking in there to foul things up. Maybe I can even manage to carve out time for dentist and doctor appointments for myself! Oh the luxury! Of course, the best thing about Claire being our last baby is that I can finally appreciate and spend time with the children I have. I spent my whole pregnancy telling my children that I was too tired to do something or that I was too sick to do something. I can now finally find the energy to actually do stuff with my kids! I am sure you are wondering where I find that energy and I don't really know. I just know that I certainly have more energy now than I did while I was pregnant.

Yes, the days are hard. Five kids are a challenge. However, I will survive and I will look back on this time in my life with a smile.