Monday, January 26, 2015

Another January Plan

A favorite Porter spot, inside our kitchen cupboards
Besides our new January treat plan, we've been trying out a new menu planning system for January. I've tried or thought about trying lots of different menu planning-plans to try to help with the 5:00 what's for dinner problem, without much success. But so far I've really loved our new plan, so here it is:
We picked out 7 meals that we like to eat, and we assigned each one a day of the week. And that has been our menu plan for the month - easy peasy!  We realized that we pretty much eat the same things all the time any way, so why not make it official and make life easier for ourselves.

We haven't been super 100% strict about sticking to our plan (like car trouble on a Monday night = Chick-fil-a instead of beans and rice, or sometimes we're super rebellious and switch places with beans & rice and spaghetti...)  I think we're going to keep up our plan in February and maybe just swap out a couple of the meals, but so far this has been a great success!

Little boy!

Little boy Porter on Ellie's Birthday
All of a sudden my baby Porter has turned into a little boy. I'm not sure what happened but somehow just about a week ago, poof! he transformed into a definite little boy.  We've just switched to a 1-nap schedule too and with that change along with his sudden growing up, suddenly life just feels a little different.

Some super things:

-- I hadn't taken the time to anticipate this, but with the nap switch to the same time as the big kids' quiet time, suddenly I get to have my own quiet time. Such a fun surprise!

-- We've figured out a few things that Porter loves to do and it's opened up some great new possibilities for us. The best has been kitchen sink bath time. It is the magic solution I've been searching for to the 2:30 after school craziness. :)  Suddenly we've been able to not just survive homework/after school snack time, but even do some fun happy projects during that time too. Also, today he sat and played play dough (yay for another discovery!) while Ellie and Owen and I played a color mixing game she had created and then did a painting project for more color mixing fun.

-- This morning for the first time that I can remember, Porter slept until 6:20! Still a couple of wake-ups through the night, but that morning sleep was so, so super!

-- The past few nights, Porter has suddenly started to really love his night time prayers. I fold his little arms for him and say a prayer for him just before bed, and the last few nights as soon as I open my eyes, he has looked up to me with a "more??"

-- I sure love this little boy Porter, who is still my little baby too. :)

A happy surprise

Our front yard swing is still getting use these days with such warm January weather - most of that snow from a few weeks ago is long since melted. We're loving the warmth - we even spent time at the park today!
Thanks to a crazy snowstorm set to hit New York this evening, Jordan gets to spend the week at home with us instead of out in NYC. He was on his way to the airport this morning when we started to look more into the New York weather warnings,  and we soon found out that his (and nearly every) flight had been cancelled. He'll still be heading out soon, but it was still a fun surprise to get to welcome him home after just an hour or so instead of a week!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Buddies Forever

Every once in a while for the past several days, Owen will come up to Jordan (or sometimes me if I'm lucky!) and ask

"Guess what I said!"
(what did you say?)
"I'll give you a hug if you want me to, and we're buddies forever!"

 Oh how we love this Owen!

Yesterday morning we were sitting in my bed and he said out of the blue, "Let's be grumpy buddies forever! and let's have a grumpy face contest" (these are impossible to win with Owen :)

Ellie's Art Party

Playing 'go paint'

Doing special things for Ellie is so fun because anything with a plan is already special to little Ellie. I really loved making plans with her for her 'art party' and had fun coming up with games and activities.
Here's what we did:
art party fun: birthday cake, 'go paint', self portrait matching game, birthday cake art project

- The kids drew self-portraits and decorated their names (in cute printed frames -- I even spent time to learn how to change the color of the frames in photoshop so I could make these!)  and then we played a memory matching game with their pictures.
- We did a crayon/water color birthday cake art project
- Played 'go paint' (go fish with art picture cards that I made from a clipart set)
- Played a run around and find the color game
- Sang happy birthday and ate cake and ice cream
- Made crowns with all sorts of fun things - pom-poms, wash tape, star stickers, feathers, rainbow ric-rac, markers and crayons... 

It was a happy birthday party for Ellie!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Birthday Girl

Happy Birthday to our Ellie girl!

Who --
- was so super excited to plan and prepare for her birthday all week.
- woke up yesterday and sat up in bed groggily to say "Mom! Today is my Birthday Eve!!"
- had a super fun 'art party' today with her friends (who's RSVP's she kept track of all week :)
- picked out Noodles & Company for a birthday dinner and asked us to sing to her since the restaurant workers don't at that restaurant
- made thank you notes in advance for each person in our family to open while she opened her presents.
- designed her own birthday cake (and quickly recovered when Porter got into it a day early...)
- and who I just love so much!!

Ellie Anne
Ellie's cake design  (pre-Porter :)  

Thursday, January 15, 2015


We all went sledding at the park this afternoon. (Sledding has always just been a Jordan & the kids thing, but this time I joined in as the event photographer :) Here's a video of our fun --

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Being a great Mom

(A leftover November 'thankful' post that I never posted)

Our favorite reading spot

A few weeks ago I was at Walmart with the kids (so obviously not feeling in 'great mom' mode), and I stopped to help an older woman find the orange juice she was looking for (same as me - 'lots of pulp' :). She looked up as we moved on and said sweetly "You are a great Mom!" All through the store as we finished our shopping, I heard that sweet phrase and it did wonders for helping me really be that great mom. And over the last few weeks I just keep remembering it and somehow it has helped me focus less on the times I mess up or the things I wish I was doing better and to focus more  on all those little things I do and who I am that really do make me a great mom. And how important to celebrate those things! So I'm thankful today and all these days since for  that sweet stranger's reminder.

a confession/ library time


A few years ago, I was at a Den meeting for Webelos and listening to a mini-lesson on electricity when I realized - I don't know how this works! 

The last few months Ellie has been bringing home books from school to read - some familiar favorites and several non-fiction books on various topics. And I've realized again, with similar embarrassment as from my Den meeting... I don't know how a lot of basic things work. How could I have gone through all of my school years plus a college education, and still be surprised by the subjects in my kindergartener's take-home books? Today's book was Magnets, and it was completely full of surprises. Magnets can be turned on and off by electricity? MRI's are done by  magnets? (yep - that's in the name, I should have known this!), door bells, windshield wipers, tv screens... I have no idea how any of these things use magnets - I should know this though, right?

Most likely, I did *learn* all of this at some point in time.
 (learn = make up a song or poem or alphabet game or story to memorize the most important/likely to be tested on facts.)

Today we were brainstorming ideas for the kids' upcoming science fair. All afternoon Ellie and Landon were coming up with questions --  How does the button on a flashlight make the light turn on? How do all the ingredients in a recipe make dough turn into something we eat like muffins?  How do batteries work? How does snow form?  How does a harmonica make music? How does a light switch work? So many great questions, and so many that I don't even know! All day I've been wishing for  a nice tall stack of books from the children's section at the library (is this a side effect of our new eating plan? If I can't have treats, it'll have to be books? :) I think it's time to learn some new things!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

something I've never done

print from CinnamonInk

Our family has been trying out a new January plan on treats. The rules aren't perfectly clear, but mostly they go like this:

1. Don't buy any treats or junk food at the store.  (Any treats we eat, we have to make)
2. Dessert only on our two dessert nights (Monday and Friday or Saturday)
3. No treat rewards
4. And kind of along with rule #1 - no candy/chocolate/etc that we already had/have (think a house full of leftover Christmas goodies)

I really love treats. In college when my roommates and I would write up our HEP (Healthy Eating Plan) goals, sometimes I would be super ambitious and add to my plan "1 treat a day". And this was a serious business, major will-power required goal. Since college I haven't made many HEP goals for myself and I wouldn't have even considered a treat-limiting goal without the motivation/peer-pressure of my super diligent/marathoning roommates to help me along. Mostly I've found a happy balance of eating lots of good healthy foods and then not going crazy about junk food and enjoying treats whenever I feel like it :) (Which, admittedly has been usually too much, but not too too much...)

But, thanks to a crazy sickness that wiped me out from Christmas through the beginning of the new year, here we are on January 11th with a house full of delicious goodies and treats and I've been going days (days!) at a time without treats. 

The sickness came at just the right time so that when Jordan offered his new year's treat plan, I was actually able to consider it (a week or so without treats/food definitely helped me kick my constant sugar cravings). And then after another week or so we're still going strong and I'm making better choices and we've even had chocolate chip cookies  on the counter (leftover from our Friday dessert night) and homemade ice cream in the freezer for three days and I haven't even gone crazy about not eating them. I can hardly believe it.

The best things so far: 

1. Super fun homemade treats. Strawberry shortcake with homemade cake and homemade ice cream -yum! 

2. Wow! I'm doing this hard thing I never would have even considered I could possibly do!

3. Knowing I'm doing such a good thing for myself. My goal this year is to be healthy and this has been a great start to making better choices for myself to help me feel better and stronger. 

Hooray for a new plan, we'll see how we do. And we'll see what happens when February comes and all the delicious treats hidden away for now are allowed again. :)