When the days get long.

Sorry things have been a bit more quiet around this blog lately.  Hope this day finds you well!  This post is just to share where I have been at lately and let you know that you are not alone if things are rough at your house too.  This mama thing is not easy. 

Lately the days have been a little long…especially the week days.  I love my sweet children and being a stay at home mama.  Nothing huge has gone down at out house. I am blessed and the children have been healthy …but, WOW.  Mothering these little ones has been intense.  We usually average 1 or so “rough” days, 1-2 “good” days, and the rest “okay” days in a week.

The past couple weeks my days with the children have all been “rough.”  I cannot remember having this many long days in a row since right after our youngest was born.  I was recovering from a c-section, had 3 in diapers, could not lift any of them, and had to move them through every daily task (as they really could not do much themselves) on very little sleep.  It was hard, but we got through it.

Lately I am dealing with new levels of sibling fighting, 4 year olds who are very smart and determined, a 2 year old who is equally determined and considers herself 4.  She is more “two” than the twins ever were.  She is pretty sure she should be able to do everything they can do and most definitely “holds her own.” Little Man is giving me a run for my money.  His brain never stops and this tot’s stamina is an amazing thing.

As they grow I am also trying to let them have more freedom around the house and it is a rough transition (with crafts, creativity, playing in different parts of the house etc.).  The house can quickly spiral out of control and teaching them to clean after themselves is a bit exhausting.

I feel like 2 of my 3 little ones are simultaneously at harder stages of development than they have ever been at before. We have had days where I have basically just stood amidst them and carried them through communication.  I was constantly working with them, disciplining them, texting my husband to tell him that THIS MOST DEFINITELY IS THE HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD, loving them, and hopefully shepherding them the right way (most of the time).

There were times I got really angry….and then later apologized.  I was offended they would act this way towards each other and toward me. I was tired. I was pretty close to feeling “done” a few times (whatever that would mean).  I hid in the closet and ate a cookie, did my devotions more intentionally, took more rests during naps, and I am still standing.

The word going around is that consistency is the key.  I am here to tell you that YES, it is so important. But it is not a guarantee that your little ones will obey or immediately turn their behavior around.  We try to be pretty consistent with the little ones.  When things got extra intense I became more aware of it…and things were still rough for awhile. It can take time. If you are struggling with your children like I am, keep going!

For the first time I am experiencing some of the typical mommy feelings in a fuller way than I had before.  I now know what “mommy guilt” feels like, along with feeling like a “bad mom.”  I know I have been listening to lies and discouragement that is not from God.

We have had lots of conversations with the children about important stuff.   There has been lots of gospel talk (Jesus, sin, our need for a Savior, etc.), lots of prayer, we are implementing a new ticket system, and I am hoping we are turning a corner (or will soon).

Some seasons of motherhood are fun, while others require extra patience and perseverance.  This post is a bit humbling to write. Just coming out from my rock and keepin’ it real.

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Check out this awesome post my friend Anna happened to share as I was finishing up this post.  It says it all so much better than I can.

 

I am linking up with Far Above Rubies. If you are visiting I would love to hear from you and come and visit your blog!

Life in Bullet Points

 

  • We have had some of my family in from out of town and it has been so fun.  Gatherings everyday and many shared meals.  Sadly, they head home today.  Good news…we get to party with Hubs side of the family tonight. Life is full… and I am tired.
  • I told Hubs that I can care for the Littles and carry out a busy schedule, but I can not care for the Littles with a busy schedule, AND keep up on the house.  Can you say laundry mountain? Good thing I have some awesome laundry basket dressers to hold it all while it waits.
  • Captured one of the all time best toddler lineups. Love those sweet faces and wish we saw them more often.

  • Little Man sweetly looked at me nursing our youngest yesterday and said, “You are like the cow….and she is the bucket.”  Good observation.
  • Summer has been a little late in coming (like the last two years) and this morning I brought down a tank and shorts and Little Miss said, “Are we doing summer today?”

  • After a father daughter trip to Home Depot on Father’s day bead board has been purchased.   They are waiting to be installed into my eating area.  I am super stoked! I will post updates as things get moving.

  • Just got my catalog for the Nordstrom Anniversary sale.  Lots of cropped trousers. I am 5 feet tall and looking forward to a different trend.
  • Had a chat with the produce guy at LifeSource (our awesome local health food store) yesterday.  The only organic fruit in the fairly reasonable range for the last couple weeks has been Valencia oranges.  He said we should be seeing some stone fruit coming down in price fairly soon and that most of the organic apples are now from outside the country and will remain spendy till September-ish when we have local apples again.
  • Had an awesome time at the OCEAN Homeschool Conference last weekend.  It is kinda like going to summer camp for homeschool moms (and dads…but I am not sure they get the same buzz from it).  🙂  So encouraging and fun!

I will leave you with this gem.

 

(Review) Eco Store Natural Products

When Eco Store offered to let me review two of their products I was thrilled!  As I dug around on their site to pick out my two products I was even more excited because their prices were awesome!  Who doesn’t love a company whose favorite phrase is “No Nasty Chemicals”? Genius.

When I was looking for my two products to review I decided that I would look for items that I had either not successfully made before, or had not found a natural alternative for at the store (I make a good chunk of our basic cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. Don’t worry, it is super easy).

I chose the Pure Oxygen Whitener (The natural version of OxyClean), and a cleaning product called Cream Cleanser.

 

The first time we used the Oxygen Whitener we threw it in with my husbands whites.  The load included dress shirts and under shirts etc.  He said he could totally tell a difference in their color.  We normally just use my homemade detergent and not any extra bleach or laundry care additives like Oxy Clean because of expense and questionable ingredients.  It was great to have something we felt good about throwing in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to try the Cream Cleanser because my vinegar and water mixture I use for most basic cleaning was just not cutting it with my sinks.  I really needed something that I could use to scrub and polish.  It was so nice to have something with some more substance to it.  My sinks looked much better after using this stuff.  I do think that for my purposes I would prefer it to have a bit more grit to it.  If you use it be sure to rinse this stuff well after scrubbing to get a nice shine.  It is so nice to have something like this to add to my small cleaning stash.  I think I will mix it with a paste I make out of dish soap, lemon juice, and baking soda and I think it will be the perfect thing for sinks and tubs.

Eco Store caries products within 5 main categories; Baby, Bath and Body, Hair Care, Household, and Pet. The packaging is BPA free and everything is made in the USA. How is that for a commercial?

Although all of the prices are excellent, I was most excited about the value of the baby products. They had Baby Body Wash for $4.25, Baby Shampoo for $4.40, and Nappy Balm (diaper rash balm) for $5.10. That is really good. The only downside I am noticing is that I don’t think the product is specifically organic.  But because it is chemical and “bad stuff” free, I would feel comfortable putting it on my little ones.

The best news? They just posted about a 25 hour sale that runs through tomorrow night for 25% off everything (use code 25for25).  I have not seen many sales from them at all…especially since they have lowered their prices.  This would be a great chance to try a couple things if you are needing anything.  When they posted about this sale I immediately rushed to put this post up so y’all would be able to get the best price.

Let me know if you try any of their products. I would love to hear about your thoughts and how they worked for you.

Disclosure- Beyond receiving the two products, I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

Game Mode Mama (Alternative title-Sergeant or Shepard)

I have my game face on much of the time I spend with my children.  Not necessarily a grumpy face (although that happens plenty), but like I am trying to accomplish a mission.  Acting as if my resolve and focus will get us safely and sanely through our day.  Maybe my gumption (do people still use that word?) will keep us all on track?  The almost constant use of phrases like “Sit in your chair until you finish your food,” “Use loving words,” “Can you try asking that again the nice way?” “Please stop screaming.” “Do unto others,” “Please be kind,” etc. leads me to think that it is me and my words getting us through these (often long) days.

Is this the way we should handle our task as mothers? I don’t think so.  We will not win our children’s hearts with our barked demands or by hollering things through the house.  Yes, we need to use our words to guide our children.  But we should also remember that the tone we use ourselves will be reflected in our children.  I often wonder, “Why are my children always so demanding?” Part of it is their nature. They are young and often very focused on themselves. The other part is probably what they are seeing modeled.  If I am spending most of my day in “game mode,” making semi-stern faced requests,  that is what I am going to get back.

Are all of my children’s behaviors my fault? No.  I cannot take all of that on. BUT, I lead by example.  If I am not acting in love or am more focused on results and staying on track, my children will notice.  Mommy will not be fun to be around. Mommy will be more of a Sergeant than a Shepherd.  I want to lead my children to Jesus and help be a picture of who He is to us.  How do we want Jesus to treat us? With firm demands and a lack of patience (not that he ever operates like that)? I don’t.  I rely on His grace.  I want to show that same grace to my children.

 

Some verses I found this morning that speak to some of these things:

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1

“Everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you: ‘Like mother, like daughter.” Ezekiel 16:44

“But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.” 1 Thessalonians 2:7

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

 

Real life example-It took me 25 minutes, 1 long cuddle, giving the baby 3 more helpings of berries, 2 tantrums, one coloring project, and many “Mommy phrases” to get me through typing 2 of the sentences in this post.  When you allow yourself to be “in the moment” with your children and meet their needs, things might MOVE SLOWLY.

 

Today’s Goals-Be sillier, laugh more, loosen up, pray more, be joyous, watch my tone, love more loudly.

P.S. Blogging does not magically turn me into “Super Mom.”  I totally still struggle just like everyone else.  But, I have hope.

 

We are linking up with Raising Homemakers today! If you are visiting from there I am so glad you stopped by!  I would love it if you would leave a comment with your blog so I can come over and “visit” with you!

“I kinda like myself,” she said.

“I kinda like myself” she said in a soft voice as we were sitting together in church.  She was drawing in her notepad, and generally going about her business and what she said totally caught me off guard.  I was floored.  I looked at Hubs to see if he had noticed and whispered what she said to him.  He looked over and said, “You are beautiful.” Wanting to affirm her, but not embarrass her or probe more into what she meant.  We knew this meant a lot coming from her.

She is a bit more cautious than our other two. Her twin brother is quite talkative and a deep thinker.  He always has something funny or interesting to say and could run the show if we let him.  He often takes up more of our attention in discipline, and gets more laughs and praise as a result of his personality.  She on the other hand, is a bit more fearful in new situations.  She often asks for my help when doing art projects or trying to write things.  She does not want to mess up.  For awhile I have been a bit unsure of how to lead this sweet girl.  I feel that some moderate shyness (normally when she is feeling uncertain of her surroundings) is only part of what she feels inside.  So many parents seem to want to “un-shy” their children.  That never felt right for me.

I have told my husband on a couple different occasions that if there is one kid we could totally screw up, it would be her.  I don’t want to contribute to any of her struggles.

God has slowly been showing me ways to help her.  She is the way she is for a reason. God created her.  I don’t want to try and change her.  But, I don’t want her to be fearful.  I don’t want her to be lacking in the confidence she needs for whatever God will call her to someday.  So we have made the conscious decision to try and encourage her as much as possible.

Yesterday Hubs told her he loved a painting she had done earlier in the day. She got an awkward smile on her face.  She did not know what to say. (She probably looked like I did when someone complimented me on my weight loss earlier in the day.  I felt like a deer caught in headlights.  Why is it so hard for me to take a compliment?) I knew it was because he was pointing to a part she had me help her with.  I directed his glance towards the part she had done by herself and he told her how nice it looked. She beamed. A natural happy smile that showed she was proud of her picture and thrilled he had appreciated her work.

This parenting thing is tricky. My brain quickly begins to swirl and take things too far: Too much confidence and we are afraid we lack humility.  Clean the house instead of being with your children?… and our priorities are out of whack and our children won’t know they are important to us.  Help a child complete her art work?… and she might have no true sense of accomplishment.  If I build them up too much will it cause them to think that the world revolves around them?  These are the things we might assume and apply to everything.

When she said those sweet words in church I knew it was big for her.  As my parents noted, she had came to a place some people never reach.  Am I there? Usually not. I leave a group of people and try to retrace all my words.  Did I say something stupid? Did I hurt someones feelings? In an attempt to cover the silence, make myself look a certain way, or make someone feel better did I talk too much? Did I make them feel welcome?  Why am I never anybody’s “best friend”?  My insecurities come out when I am around other people.   Why can’t I be more like my husband? Why can’t I be more easy going?  Will my children be as messed up as I am?  I pray that they will not.  I also pray that in time God will continue to work in me and quiet the voices in my head.

As I talk to good friends I learn that we are not as different as I thought.  Certain circumstances take us to places of self doubt. Different situations and relationships bring these feelings to the surface.  For me, a lot of it started in Jr High and High School youth group when I was constantly made fun of and was the butt of many jokes (hard for me to even admit or type).  Now, when I open my mouth I am afraid of being what they always acted like I was.  An outsider.  Never really fitting into either “group.”  I still find myself in those situations.  Stuck in two worlds.  Trying to connect them, make sense of them, and decipher God’s plan for me.

Will my daughter still struggle with confidence? Of course she will. But, seeing these strides in her through that sweet phrase was affirming for us.

Photographs

Here are some pictures from our mini session with the fabulous Heidi Helser.  She was doing a couple days of 30 minute sessions as a fundraiser for our local La Leche League (breastfeeding support group).  I was thrilled to have the chance to capture some pictures of our nursing days.  The slot I was able to get was while Hubs was working.  Thankfully, my sweet mama came along for to help out.  After I got everyone up from naps and pretty in record time, we headed to Bella Vie for our session…and on the way inside baby girl and I got stuck in a DOWNPOUR.  Wet hair, no hair brush, ya know. No biggie.  One of the rules of parenting is that there MUST be a bit of drama during family pictures.

Second half of this post contains modest nursing pictures.  Cut out early if you are so inclined.

Sometimes I think nursing is not shared about enough. It should not be a “best kept secret”.  It can be hard (trust me, I know), but it IS amazing.

Reader Question: Where do I start with moving to a natural/organic diet?

 

(Welcome Better Mom readers! I mistakenly linked the wrong post. If you would like to read the post titled “Game Mode Mama (Sergeant or Shepard)” please hop over and check it out. Although I think you will enjoy this post too.)

 

A reader and friend wrote me with this question:

“So I have a question for you. How did you get started with eating more naturally? I read about the organic stuff and Azure and everything on your blog. I really want to start working on that, but I just don’t even know where to start!

I was wondering if you knew about a book that could ease me into being more natural?  I want to figure out what is most important and start with that.

I tired to look at the Azure catalog online and it was totally overwhelming! I know I need to start small but where do I start. We have started ordering Bountiful Baskets (but not organic) so we have increased our veggie intake!

I thought you might have some good ideas on how to start! You are very inspiring with your blog, if you can do it with three kids I can do it with two!”

Some basics about their family I got after asking more questions:

  • They live in Rock Springs, WY
  • They have access to a Super Walmart, Albertsons and Smiths (Kinda like Safeway she says), and have a 3 hour drive to a town with lots more options (including Costco).
  • They could likely find an Azure Standard drop near where they live.
  • They drink a good amount of milk.
  • Have just started getting “Bountiful Baskets” (fresh produce) each week and is having fun integrating that into their meals and diet.
  • This mama does not consider herself a “natural cook”, but wants to learn.

 

First of all, way to go for wanting to improve the way your family eats! The first step is being ready to take on the idea of changing your normal routine.  The way most people have found success in moving towards eating healthier and better quality foods is through BABY STEPS.

For us it started after our twins were born.  We used to joke that we had to get the Cheetos out of the house before we had any children.  For the most part, we were able to make that happen.  Once I saw “Monosodium Glutimate” on the label they were not so appealing.  Although I do still crave a crummy (yummy) Totinos pizza from time to time. Ha.

 

Back to where I was going with this… Baby steps.

Here is basically how our progression from traditional groceries-natural/organic went…

1) Organic produce (started when we were making them baby food and finger foods)

2) Organic milk and yogurt (started when they transitioned to cows milk)

3) Mostly organic grains and snacks(rice, pasta, oats, wheat, etc).  Often we choose Trader Joe’s non organic snacks when we can’t find an affordable organic source because I know it will at least be GMO free.

4) Grass fed beef from a local source (store bought organic when we don’t have it).

5) Farm fresh eggs when we can get them (organic or at least cage free when we can’t).

6) Hormone and antibiotic free chicken (organic when affordable).

7) Organic sugars (usually Wholesome brand) and some baking ingredients, organic (cold pressed usually) olive oil, non-GMO canola oil, organic store bought bread, organic butter, natural toothpaste, shampoo, etc.

This process was influenced by our twins transitions as they grew, what we ate the most of, and developed as we could find affordable sources for each.  We still have a few things in our kitchen that are not organic.  We are not obsessed with only feeding our children organic and natural foods.  We still eat out sometimes and buy non organic foods when organic foods are hard to source at an affordable price.  Making the transition slowly as I have been able to find where I can get each item at a good price has actually been so rewarding.  To know that I can feed our family healthy foods at a price we can afford is such a good feeling.  I feel like I am giving my children a great gift.  As the saying goes, I would much rather pay the farmer than the Doctor.

Here is what I would recommend for your family

1) Keep getting your Bountiful Baskets since it sounds like it is helping your family eat more fresh produce.  If you have to chance to join an affordable organic CSA (or one that is at least spray free and follows mostly organic practices) go for it! CSA’s are usually a great value and the perfect way to get organic produce for a great price.  Supplement your Bountiful Baskets with organic produce from wherever you can find it. Buying a big box of apples from Azure Standard to eat off of would be a great way to get affordable produce.  If they start to go bad before you finish them make apple sauce.   I also recommend following the weekly ad from whatever grocery store that has the best selection of organic produce and then stocking up on whatever is on sale that week (message me if you are not sure if it is a good price or not). Look up the “Dirty Dozen.” And pay particular attention to purchasing those items organic when possible.

2) Since your family drinks a good amount of milk, I would start buying organic milk as soon as possible.  I have done a fairly good amount of research and for us it is totally worth it.  We have gone down on our milk consumption quite a bit, but I still think it is important.  If you are having trouble affording it, at least get milk that is free of hormones etc.  We also buy whole milk rather than 1 or 2%, but I will save that for a whole ‘nother post. 🙂 If you eat yogurt switching to organic would also be a great move. Most people eat larger quantities of yogurt, rather than things like sour cream, cream, butter etc.  Also, large tubs of plain organic yogurt are good value (we choose plain because it is so much lower in sugar). Mix in fruit, jam, honey, or maple syrup if you prefer flavored.  Also, watch for markdowns on organic dairy.

3) Whatever grains your family eats a good amount of could be the next step.  Do you eat lots of wheat? Start there. Do you make a good amount of rice? Do your boys eat crackers or animal crackers regularly? What about oatmeal?  Grains are a great way to make the switch to organic for not too much money.  Purchasing bulk amounts of the grain is always cheaper than purchasing organic packaged or boxed foods.  It is also healthier.  Also, organic just refers to the quality of the ingredients based on how they are grown, and also what ingredients are allowed to be put into the processed foods.  It does not mean that the product is necessarily “healthy”.

4) Find a local farm source for eggs and beef if you eat those regularly.  There is nothing like eating animal products that have been raised on pasture (what they were intended to eat).  Grain fed chickens and cows (even if organic) will not have the same nutritional and vitamin content in their products. A local source for chicken would also be fabulous, but I have had a hard time finding it at a price I can justify.  Research local chicken brands a bit by asking the butcher what they would recommend you purchase (antibiotic and hormone free, vegetarian…and pastured if possible). Also, whole chickens are often more affordable than breasts etc.  We love roasting chickens in the oven and then using the bones for soup/broth after taking all the meat off!

After that go from there.  Also, be sure to have good communication about these changes with your husband.  It is so important to have his support. This transition will mean some changes for your family in both what you eat, and how you are spending your money.  Create a budget, and have fun feeding your family healthy foods! Keep us updated and keep asking questions!

If you bought 1 book, I would recommend Nourishing Traditions.  It is fabulous and has both information and recipies. It will stretch your mind and challenge traditional nutritional information we have been told.  Pretty much everybody who reads it loves it.

Readers…What books or articles would you recommend to her as they work towards eating more naturally and organic diet?

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To follow up on your question in the near future I will write posts on…

-Cheap organic staple foods. Organic foods that give you the best bang for your buck.

-How to cut back in other areas to be able to afford organic/natural foods.

-A list of what stores I generally buy different items at.

-What is a good price? Target prices I like to pay for each of our groceries (when I am feeling up the the challenge of writing this post).

 

I am linking up with Raising Homemakers.  If you are popping in from there I would be thrilled if you said hello! I would love to come and check out your blog too!

Natural Homemade Disposable Wipes

I ran out of wipes 2 days ago and did not have plans to go to the store.  In fact, I did not really want to buy wipes even IF I went to the store.  Such a rebel.  I had heard of someone making homemade disposable wipes and thought I would give it a try.

Pretty sure my semi-chrunchy status was confirmed when I had the ingredients to fake one of the recipies from stuff I had on hand.

Ingredients and supplies:

  • Natural baby wash (1 tablespoon) OR Castile soap (1 teaspoon) I used Dr. Bronners Baby Mild Castile soap from the bulk in LifeSource
  • 1 drop of tea tree oil
  • 1 tablespoon (or less) of natural oil. I used some castor oil I purchased to try the “oil method” eventually on my face.
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 roll of sturdy paper towels. I used Sparkle. They were perforated to create smaller sheets and I that was great for this purpose.  The sturdier the better. They soften up when they get wet.
  • 1 container or bag to hold the wipes
  • Serrated knife to cut the roll in half (only through the towels)

These ingredients were what I recommend after modifying my recipe a bit. You may want to also use just a bit under a tablespoon of the oil and see how you like it. Mine might be a bit greasier than I prefer. I also used 1 tablespoon of the Castile soap.  Because Castile soap is more concentrated than regular baby wash I recommend starting with a teaspoon or so and go from there.

1) Cut your paper towels in half with a serrated knife.  You only need to go through the paper towel layers…not the cardboard tube.  After that run a butter knife around the tube to separate it from the roll. Pinch the tube to collapse it  and wrestle the paper towels off of the roll while trying to keep them rolled up.

2) Mix up your solution and pour over your towels.  Use half of the solution for each half of the roll. Start by gradual adding the solution to make sure not to over saturate them. You want them all wet, but not soaked.  Different paper towel roll sizes and brands will require slightly different amounts.

Instead of getting your roll wet with solution, you could also put the liquid ingredients in a spray bottle and just wet them one or two at a time.  This might be what I try next time.  I am thinking they might hold up even better if they are just wet when I need them.  Pre-moistened work do best for travel though.

I know what you are thinking. Why is she not using cloth wipes? Well, we are not in the cloth diaper routine right now and even when we are I just can’t get into cloth wipes. I like throwing them away.

Do these work as well as nice store bought wipes? Not quite. They are not quite as sturdy and a bit thinner. BUT, they are much cheaper, easy to make, and ALL NATURAL!  Natural wipes are expensive and when I tried the Seventh Generation brand I was not too thrilled with them.

The ingredients probably cost me maybe 10 cents? And I got the roll for 75 cents as a part of a 6 pack I bought on this trip.

Let me know if you try it and if you made any adaptations to the recipe. 

 

P.S. If you are feeling up to it, have the little ones help you. Great lessons in measurements and absorption.

 

Upcoming posts.

1) Reader question- Where do I start if I want to switch to a more natural and organic diet?

2) Review of 2 products from Eco Store.

 

Why I blog about my grocery trips.

I am pretty sure that 90% of my Facebook friends think I am crazy when I do posts about my grocery shopping trips.  Most people probably don’t get it.  Here are some reasons why I sometimes snap pictures of my groceries and share what I paid for them.  Sometimes I wonder if anybody even cares, but I still keep coming back to it.

Maybe this is why:

-Often when I have a little time to myself and head out to do something I usually end up at the grocery store.  If I was doing something more interesting you might be seeing pictures of that instead.  I would rather grocery shop alone than go to Starbucks alone and take all 3 to the store later…so to the store I go.

-When I feel the itch to blog, but have had a rough time with the tots I often blog about grocery shopping.  Instead of blogging about how I just might lose my mind if my children scream again about the sibling who touched their toy or that the string fell of their pretend pet dog again…I blog about groceries.  I don’t mind being real one bit, I just don’t want to fuel any discontentment that other moms are already feeling.  When my heart is not in the right place I don’t want to lead others down the wrong path with me.

-Because it is SO fun to go to one store and see an item for $3.99, and then go to another store and see it for $1.49.

-It is a way to feel productive when I know that if I moved more that 5 feet away from the tots the world I came back to might be more than I had the energy to put back together.

-I used to be totally overwhelmed by the grocery store. I did not know what the “good” prices were, I did not know what meat to buy, and I was intimidated using coupons.  Now I have more confidence and I actually enjoy shopping. I love that my husband can come straight home from work most nights instead of dropping $35 on a small stash of groceries to get us through the next dinner and restock on eggs and produce.

-Because sometimes I don’t have the energy to delve into the deeper things swirling in my head.

-It is a way to help other families while I am home with mine.

-Because I hope that I can inspire you that you really CAN buy your family good quality food for a price you can afford…even without clipping tons of coupons.  There are deals all around!

Weekend at Eagle Crest

Every time we take a trip with the kids we are reminded that they are “adventures” rather than “vacations.”  Less sleep, more work.  Still awesome.  I love introducing my kids to new things and giving them experiences.  We have some friends over in the Bend/Redmond area and we love to visit with them when we are able to make it work.

Our dear friends the Comptons happened to be heading to Sunriver over the same weekend.  We seem to have a nack for taking vacations simultaneously.  Back in October we did the Disneyland thing and drove down together, and this weekend we did the same.  Although this trip was MUCH shorter in length and drive.  We met up at Starbucks with the Comptons at exactly the same time.  This may or may not have something to do with our husbands “aTEXTed” at the hip tendency…or Jocelyn and my slightly compulsive planning tendencies.  We rolled out and headed over the pass.  They were gems for sticking with us and Eric even helped Conrad chain up.  I asked Conrad if he packed any of those “manly work gloves.” He laughed at me and said he did not have any.  I fed the kids crackers and chatted with Jocelyn.  There are many times when I am glad I am a girl.  Chaining up in a snowy pass is one of those times.  Not much I could do except for offering the boys some diaper wipes for their (glove-less) hands after they completed the task.  For the record it took them 18 minutes to put them on and 5 minutes to get them off a few miles down the road.  I am pretty sure the guy in front of us was trying to race to see who was fasted when they were unchaining.  Love competitive boys.

Which also reminds me of the drive down to Disneyland.  They might have left at 4 something and we might have left a couple hours after that (because I need sleep to be sane). We also might have caught up to them later in the day.

Look at this sweet boy! Can you resist those eyes?

A shot Jocelyn grabbed of 2 out of our 3 Littles in our swagger wagon during the big chain up.

This is why we chained up.

This is false advertising.  Hubs can’t get enough of apps that jazz up the pictures.

For lunch we stopped in Sisters at Three Creeks Brewing Company. Table for ten please! Four adults, four kids, and two babies.  Wow! A few years ago when we met the Comptons we could have said, “Party of four and a highchair please.” We hit it just right and got a huge table immediately.  Soon after the entire lobby was full of hungry people waiting.  It is always fun taking this many kids out to eat. 🙂  The daddies even took the 5 bigger ones out for a walk while we were waiting for food.  There might have been some snowball action going on.  Check out Jocelyn’s fabulous blog for shots of that action and why we won “Moms of The Year.”

Our boys had a blast pretending they were pirates and we only had to break up a few friendly sword fights.  First with forks…then with knives. 🙂  Coloring sheets make perfect pirate scopes.  They even shared some secrets and serious giggles.  They always can be found chatting away like old souls.  I love these sweet kids.  It is fun to see how boys with a pretty good age gap can be such good buddies.

For dinner we did some toddler meals hotel style.  Trader Joe’s organic microwave mac and cheese (quite the joke to make in the tiny little bowls I packed), apples, and whatever ever I could dig out of our healthy sized snack bag.  Dinner of champs for sure!

This kid is a serious appreciator of all things cozy.  He was loving our bed.  We stayed at The Lodge at Eagle Crest.  They have newly renovated rooms and we scored an awesome deal on Groupon and got both nights in a suite with a fireplace and kitchenette for $121!

My kids like to play, “Let’s touch EVERYTHING in the entire hotel room.”  After some Lysol wipe action we let them go at it.  Nothing more fun than exploring a new space.  I am still glad they have all their fingers.  We had a few close calls.

After dinner we went to visit my dear college friend Breanne and her twins (her hubby was out of town).  We had a blast catching up and hearing all about how life with twins has been for her.  Her girls are precious and I had fun reminiscing about what it was like to care for young twins.  She was telling about all the twins born to people who attended Western Oregon near the same time.  I knew of a few more and we are pretty sure we have hit on a very peculiar trend.  Whats the number we landed on Bre? I think you knew 7 couples?  In my circle I have had 2 girls in my wedding party, myself, and a college roommate who have all attended Western (a fairly small state college) and had twins.  That whole, “something in the water” thing…might really hold some water.

The next morning the twinners woke up at 6:00 after falling asleep at 10:30.  When you get back late and then realize you don’t have any bedding for the sleeper couch you call the front desk.  Then you wait for 35 minutes for bedding to arrive and then try to calm down kids from, “THE BEST DAY EVER!” Then it is magically 10:30.  That is how that works.  What do you do with twins who wake up at 6:00? Take them for a long run and out to breakfast.  Breanne and her family own and run the amazing One Street Down Cafe. If you are in the Redmond area you MUST go eat there for breakfast or lunch.

 

 

Daddy was super sweet and packed a game for the kids.  First time playing Sound Bingo.

We discussed that swimming might be an option after they saw their swim suits.  At this point the truth was than there was really no option.  There would be swimming. We figured the best strategy would be just go swimming first thing in the morning unless we wanted to hear about it every 3 minutes.  So in the dead of winter we put on their swim suits and more polar fleece over the top than you have ever seen.

This girl was so brave in the water. She jumped off the side eagerly and even got under the water and did not complain. It was so fun to see how relaxed she was and how much fun she was having.

Post swimming buddy shot.  These kids were drunk on fun and hardly noticed being soaking wet and under dressed for the walk out to the car.  Daddy went with the throw them in the car and run approach.  I chased Sweet Baby around the grassy area and hunted for airplanes while they swam.

During the afternoon I did some shopping at Old Mill while Hubs drove and the kids napped (not an easy coordination).  This scene at REI made me laugh.

We went to Pizza Mondo for dinner and got the “White Pizza” and added chicken. We agreed that it was probably the best pizza we have EVER eaten. Sadly we have no pictures of this thing of beauty.

For a special treat we had whole wheat double chocolate cookies and milk in bed together while watching part of a movie.  You can see how well that went over.  After this they went down like champs right at bed time.

On Monday Conrad took the twins for another early morning adventure and they fed the ducks AND a swan half a box of Trader Joe’s crackers.  Little Man said that the swan was “the boss and took all the crackers.” I asked about why Little Man was wearing shorts out and Hubs said, “Well I was just taking them in the van to get coffee and then we saw ducks.” Anybody with young children knows if you see ducks you stop…even if you are wearing shorts. Simple as that.

And this concludes this LONG post of our vacation.  I will leave you with the picture of this swan.  Swans are graceful. Adventures with children are not. But they are good. The hard stuff is often the good stuff. I love making memories with my four people.

*We also saw our awesome friends the Purscelley’s.  We went for a lovely windy walk on some awesome trails and played at the park.  We have kids similar ages and they are an amazing family.  Andy and Sara were even youth leaders of ours when Hubs and I were in high school.  We had intended on doing lunch, but ours were making it clear that cheese and crackers in the van would be a much better choice. Unfortunately we do not have pictures. But trust me, all our kids would have been so cute lined up.  The only problem is that it would have been virtually impossible to capture.