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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Our Bedtime Routine

This post is linked up at Director Jewels!

Director Jewels

Because of church and The Farm keeping us out past bedtime at least 3 nights a week, the kids' bedtime routine is pretty streamlined and quick.  Hubby is generally at The Farm or at work during the kids' bedtime so 98% of the time, I do it on my own.  I can get all 3 kids in bed by myself in less than 20 minutes assuming no one throws a tantrum (ahem, I'm looking at you, Little Man).

Looks comfy, no?

With the two older kids not taking naps anymore (thanks to kindergarten and a general stubborness from Little Man) and Star still needing an early bedtime, I try to feed the kids supper at 5 pm so the bedtime routine can start between 6 and 6:30.  They're all in bed by 6:30 or 7 at the latest.  Thank goodness that the kids can't tell time yet or they'd probably protest their early bedtime :)

The two older kids are in charge of putting their pjs on while I change Star's diaper and get her into her pjs.  Then I lay her down with her blanket and her pacifier in the pack n' play in my room and check on the progress/non-progress that the other kids are making.  Once they're both in the pjs, they're supposed to put the dirty clothes in the laundry basket and head into the bathroom.  They each go potty, get a drink of water, and brush their teeth.  They like to "forget" one of those steps to give them an excuse to get back out of bed later so I double check that they're done with everything before it's time for a story.  We read a devotional from Keys for Kids (You can get Keys for Kids for free through the mail, online or on the app) and then the kids each get to pick out one book to read.

We head into their room and the kids climb into bed, Princess on the bottom bunk and Little Man on the top bunk.  We took the ladder down because we didn't feel it was safe to have up with a preschooler and toddler, but it has the added benefit of keeping Little Man from getting out of bed.  :)  I turn on a lullaby cd and their nightlight, rub their backs for about 30 seconds each, and tuck them in.

Star generally goes right to sleep when I lay her down.  Unless they're super tired, the older two usually talk or play in their beds for a while before they fall asleep.  Sometimes, they keep each other awake for a few hours which is pretty frustrating since I know it means that the next morning will be full of whining and tantrums if they stay up too late.

So that's our bedtime routine!  Because of all three kids having very dry skin and exzema, I limit baths to 1-2 a week during the winter and 3-4 a week during the summer.  Those are fit in whenever we find time--morning, afternoon, or before bed. 

What's your bedtime routine like for your kids? 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Baby #4 - 35 Weeks

How Far along: 35 weeks

Baby's Size: Baby is about the size of a honeydew melon and is approximately 18" long and weighs 5 1/4 pounds.  Baby is pretty much done developing and is working on gaining weight for birth.

Sleep: I would be thrilled to get a little bit more.  Or a lot more.  Basically, more sleep would be awesome.

Movement?: Yup!  My favorite part of pregnancy even though some of the kicks and jabs hurt now.  However, this baby doesn't seem as active as the others were so there's not as much pain associated with the movements as there was in my other pregnancies. 

Food Cravings: I would kill for an Asian Slider from Bakers' Square or a sandwich from Chik-Fil-A.  Lucky for me, I have a doctor's appointment in The Big City this Thursday and there's a Bakers' Square nearby.  Unfortunately for me, the closest Chik-Fil-A is over 3 hours away from me.  

Things That Make Me Queasy: My morning sickness symptoms return in the last trimester (yay...) so I have to be careful to eat frequently and not skip meals or snacks.  Also, it turns out that cleaning up someone else's puke makes me throw up too.  Found that out this morning while cleaning Little Man's puke bucket out.

Gender: Okay, I decided to finally spill the beans!  The ultrasound tech said it looks like a boy.  However, I will believe it when I see the baby on his or her birthday :)

Labor Signs: The Braxton Hicks contractions haven't been as frequent as they were a month ago.  I do have to be careful not to overdo it though as that means painful contractions for several hours afterwards. 

Symptoms: Oh my word, the heartburn.  I have severe acid reflux disease and when I'm pregnant it gets even worse.  I'm finally seeing a GI doctor next week about it since it's pretty much uncontrollable even with a daily prescription.        

Mood Most Of The Time: I'm getting closer to the time when all I want to do is stay in my house until the baby is born.  Not because I'm nesting or anything, but because the constant comments and questions get really irritating towards the end of a pregnancy and I get really cranky. 

Looking Forward To: I know I should say that I'm looking forward to having the baby at this point, but since this is my last pregnancy (I'm serious this time!), I'm not ready for it to be done yet.  Plus there's the whole thing where I know that the baby is easier to take care of now rather than after he or she is born :)

Since I'm 35 weeks, I finally decided to put together my to-do list of things I need to do before Baby gets here.  
  • Move cradle to the living room
  • Wash baby clothes
  • Make at least 6 freezer meals.
  • Pack my hospital bag, the diaper bag, and the kids' overnight bag
  • Get the newborn essentials: a few packs of diapers, pacifiers, etc
  • Rearrange car seats in the van and install convertible carseat for Star so the baby can have the infant carrier that Star is still using
  • Wash and sanitize baby bottles and pacifiers
  • Pick up infant swing at my friend's house

Monday, January 27, 2014

Easy 3 Layer Sin Bars

These are Hubby's favorite bars and they're so easy to make even though they're made with three different layers.  The only problem I have with making them is that I really like them too and let's just say they're not so good if you're on a diet.  :)

You can read an updated version of this recipe here on my new blog, Sunshine and Spoons! I hope to see you there!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tips for Taming the Laundry Monster

I've often said (especially since having children) that laundry is the bane of my existence.  It's my least favorite household chore because it seems to pile up faster than I can take care of it.  With each child we added to our family, I got more and more behind and couldn't seem to catch up.  The couch was constantly hidden under a pile of laundry, and I spent a lot of time digging through the piles trying to find a shirt for someone or matching socks for someone else.

Finally, about two months ago, I put together a system for doing laundry.  Since then, I've been behind on laundry one time for a few days, and that was only because we were gone a lot one week.  That is absolutely nothing short of a miracle.

First, I divided up our laundry into categories:
  • Towels
  • Kids' clothes
  • Adult clothes
  • Hubby's farm clothes (which have to be washed separately because of the lovely hog smell.)  

Next, I assigned each category to a day of the week:

Monday: Wash Hubby's farm clothes
Tuesday: Wash towels
Wednesday: Kids' clothes
Thursday: Mine and Hubby's clothes 

This gives me Friday and the whole weekend off from the pressure of doing laundry.  If we're gone all day and I don't get a chance to do that day's laundry, I can simply move it over to a free day and stay caught up.

The key to making this schedule work is folding and putting away the clothes right away instead of dumping it all out on the couch to worry about later. 

I've also found it's easier to stay caught up on folding and putting away laundry when I'm just doing one category a day.  I used to tackle 6-8 loads in one day, and it was completely overwhelming to stay on top of folding and putting it all away.  When you're not behind on the laundry already, folding and putting away 1 or 2 loads is not a big deal.  That used to be my biggest problem, but now it's not an issue because I'm staying caught up.

Is laundry an ongoing issue for you or have you found any tricks to help you stay on top of it?  I'd love to hear how you handle laundry at your house!  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Powerocks Magicstick Portable Charger Giveaway

It seems that my phone is always going dead when I'm out of the house and I need it to work.  I'm not always in my car where I can charge it, so many times, I just have to deal with a phone that's not working right.

But now that I have a Magicstick portable charger, I don't have to worry anymore. 

The Magicstick holds enough charge to charge my phone twice and, at only 4" long, is small enough to easily carry in my purse or diaper bag.  It's super easy to use and can charge pretty much any electronic device.  On one end of the Magicstick is a USB port for charging the charger itself or charging your device.  On the other end is a button that lights up in three different colors to indicate the charge level left on the Magicstick.   

 It comes with a carrying bag and a micro to USB cable. 

The Magicstick retails for $49.99 and comes in a variety of fun colors.  Powerocks also offers a variety of other chargers for you to choose from.

Want to win your own Magicstick?  Enter on the Rafflecopter widget below!  The giveaway runs from 1/21 - 1/28. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a sample product for review purposes.  No other compensation was given and the opinions in this post are solely mine and are based on my experience with the products.  The sponsor is responsible for shipping the prize.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Random Monday - Jan 20, 2014

Sunday morning church was...well, let's just say that I want a do-over.  During Sunday School, I had a sudden realization that I'd been asked to make and print up the bulletins for that morning's service.  Except that I'd completely forgotten and didn't do it.  So...no bulletins that morning because of me.  Then, my dad and my sister had asked me earlier that morning to sing back-up for their special music number they were doing during the church service.  We always have special music right after the offering at our church, but while the offering was being taken, I noticed that Star smelled...unpleasant and so as soon as the offering plate passed my pew, I got up to take her downstairs to change her diaper.  Imagine my little sister's chagrin when she saw me get up, ostensibly to come up to the front and sing with her and my dad, except that I turned and went the opposite direction, out of the sanctuary.  I was in the nursery downstairs just about to take Star's diaper off when my mother-in-law rushed in to tell me that they were waiting for me upstairs.  She took over the diaper change while I ran (okay, walked quickly) back upstairs to join my dad and sister up front.  Except that my fast walk got me out of breath and, well have you ever tried to sing without enough oxygen?

Oh, and I've been asked to make up the bulletins for next week's service as well.  Apparently, not doing your job well (or at all) doesn't get you out of it!        

For my kids' birthdays, I usually pick a theme, decorate, make a special cake, invite all the family over, etc.  I'm taking a slightly different route with Princess's 6th birthday this year, mainly because I just don't have the energy to plan and throw a big party.  On Saturday, I invited my parents, younger sister, and 2 brothers (who just happened to be in town that day to help someone move) over for supper.  We had Princess's favorite food, tacos, and cake and ice cream.  Low key, but fun.  One of my brothers even brought his 5 year old daughter with him so the cousins could play all day.  Next weekend, we'll celebrate with Hubby's side of the family in a similar fashion.  This Wednesday is Princess's actual birthday so she is going to pick out candy to take with to school that day to share with her class and we'll bring a cake (which I will buy at Sam's Club) to church that evening.

Star isn't even 16 months old and it's been obvious for several months that she already has a favorite color and, surprise, it's pink!  She has several different pacifiers in her pack n' play-orange, green, purple, and pink-and if I give her anything other than pink, she pulls it out of her mouth and tosses it aside before looking for one of the pink ones.  Only then will she lay down and go to sleep.

I'm so excited about the giveaways I have coming up here on the blog!  I plan to post the Powerocks portable charger giveaway tomorrow.  In February, I'll be sponsoring giveaways from Adelaide's Attic by Director Jewels (she also has a blog which you can find here) and Mialisia which is an awesome new jewelry company.  Make sure you tell your friends because the more entries I get, the more giveaways I will run in the future!       

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Baby #4 - 33 Weeks

How Far along: 33 weeks

Yes, I know I'm huge.  Yes, there's only 1 baby.

Baby's Size: Baby is about the size of a pineapple and is approximately 17" long and weighs 4 pounds.  His or her skeleton is hardening and baby is working on gaining weight to keep warm after birth. 

Sleep: Ha!  I don't sleep well at night AT ALL anymore.  It takes me 15 minutes to roll over from one side to the other and I wake up frequently throughout the night with weird vivid dreams.

Movement?: Yup!  My favorite part of pregnancy even though some of the kicks and jabs hurt now. 

Food Cravings: My cravings change from day to day right now.

Things That Make Me Queasy: My morning sickness symptoms return in the last trimester (yay...) so I have to be careful to eat frequently and not skip meals or snacks.

Gender: Okay, I decided to finally spill the beans!  The ultrasound tech said it looks like a boy.  However, I will believe it when I see the baby on his or her birthday :)

Labor Signs: The Braxton Hicks contractions haven't been as frequent as they were a month ago.

Symptoms: Princess informed me that I walk like a penguin now which I attribute to the pain and stiffness in my hips, especially my left one.    

Mood Most Of The Time: A little Significantly stressed out about how we're going to handle sleeping arrangements when the baby gets here.  I've tried and it just doesn't work to move Star in with the older two kids so she's still sleeping in our room and is a very light sleeper.  Looks like I may be sleeping in the living room with the baby until we get our own house!

Looking Forward To: I know I should say that I'm looking forward to having the baby at this point, but since this is my last pregnancy (I'm serious this time!), I'm not ready for it to be done yet.  Plus there's the whole thing where I know that the baby is easier to take care of now rather than after he or she is born :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Random Monday - Jan 13, 2014

Princess informed me that she was pretending to be a princess and Little Man was the prince.  "And you can be the servant, Mommy!"  No, Mommy was not impressed with that role.

January is turning out to be The Month of the Doctor in our house.  I started off the month with an ambulance ride and ER visit (BTW, thank you to all the concern and well wishes!).  Between my OB appointments, my appointment with my asthma and allergy specialist, multiple appointments with neurology for my Vocal Cord Dysfunction, a referral to GI for my severe acid reflux, and Star's 15 month well-child checkup, that adds ups to 1 Er visit and 8 doctor visits during the month of January.  Pardon my Minnesotan, but UFFDA!

There's a stomach bug going around this area right now and so far, two of my kiddos have fallen prey to it.  On Saturday night, I was getting ready for bed when I realized that Star had thrown up all over the pack n' play, her bedding, and herself before falling asleep.  I cleaned her up, threw a load of laundry in and went to bed.  She's been fine ever since with no more throwing up, fevers, etc.  Easy enough!

Except that then Little Man caught the bug on Sunday evening.  He was in the bathroom when he felt the urge to throw up, but instead of STAYING in the bathroom to throw up in the toilet, he walked down the carpeted hallway to the kitchen to tell me that he had to throw up.  Oh, and he threw up all the way from the bathroom until right outside of the kitchen linoleum.  He threw up several more times last night, thankfully in a bucket each time.  This morning, he seemed fine so I took him with me to my friend's house to babysit.  Not 15 minutes after we got there, he yelled out that he had to throw up.  I followed him into the bathroom where he aimed for the toilet and threw up.  He had great aim too, except that the toilet lid was down and so instead of throwing up IN the toilet, he threw up ON the toilet and all over the floor.  I called Hubby and he came to pick up Little Man and take him home instead of going to the farm like he normally would have after getting off work.  Being the awesome friend I am, I bleached my friend's whole bathroom before she got home and washed the towels I used to clean up the mess :)

How was your week?  Hope all of you have been staying healthy!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Star - 15 Months

Age: 15 months

Terrible picture, but the photographing an active 15 month old with a cheap camera isn't easy!

This is what most of the pictures ended up looking like.

Weight and height:  Probably around 19 pounds.  Her 15 month checkup got pushed back to later this month so I'll update her weight and height in her 16 month update.

Wearing: Size 3 diapers and 12 month clothes.

Likes: "Reading" books, "writing" especially with pens, LOVES her special owl blanket, dancing to music, her pacifier (more on that below).

Dislikes: Water on her face, getting out of the bathtub, being told no.

Eating habits: She eats 3 meals and 1 snack in the afternoon.  Her favorite food is still green beans and she also loves peas, toast and waffles.

Sleeping habits: She wakes up between 7 and 7:30 in the morning and needs a nap around 9am.  She naps again after lunch and is ready for bed by 6 pm.  She's been napping a little better this month which I'm so thankful for!  She is still not the greatest sleeper at night and usually wakes up 1-2 times a night.  Generally, all I have to do is pick her up, give her her blanket and pacifier, and lay her back down, but sometimes she'll have a hard time falling back asleep. 

Milestones/Accomplishments: She knows the following words in sign language and uses them correctly:
All done

Miscellaneous: Unfortunately, we STILL don't have a house of our own so she's going to have to move into the big kids' bedroom before the baby comes in 2 months.  That will mean even less sleep for all 3 of the kids (which results in a very grumpy Mommy!).  I was planning to take away her pacifier before the switch since it isn't going to work very well afterwards, but she's already not that great of a sleeper, and I'm pretty desperate for sleep right now so I'm thinking I'll just let her keep it for now and deal with the pacifier issue when she's a little older.  Any thoughts on that?


Monday, January 6, 2014

Random Monday - Jan 6, 2014

Hey, my first Random Monday post of 2014!  And, unfortunately, my first Random Monday post in a while.  I've been slacking off lately.

Yesterday at lunch, the ketchup bottle made an, ahem, rude noise when squeezed.  Without looking up from his plate or missing a beat and in complete seriousness, Little Man said, "That was me."

On Saturday, we braved the cold temps to drive several hours to my brother's house to celebrate our family Christmas.  It was a fun day and the kids really enjoyed playing with their cousins who they don't see very often.  We finally got to meet my brother's 4th baby and first son who was born in July.  Little Man was especially enthralled with the baby and when I called him over to introduce him to his new cousin who was sitting on my lap, he asked, "Is this the baby out of your tummy?"  Oh honey, if only it were that easy!  Later he wanted to know if we could "take that baby home with us."  He's going to be so awesome with his new baby brother or sister :)

Today, it's so cold here in Minnesota that the governor closed all the schools statewide.  Right now, we're showing a temperature of -15 F and -42 F windchills.  Since we're cooped up inside all day, I thought it was the perfect day to put together the kids' new cardboard playhouse they received as a gift from my mom on Saturday.  Princess got one of these for her birthday last year, and it was such a big hit and a perfect way to keep the kids from going stir crazy in the house all winter that I plan to make sure the kids get one every year to play with.  This one is from Hobby Lobby for $16.99, but you can also find a ton of cardboard playhouses that kids can color and play with on Amazon.  

Star's favorite way to get in and out of the house is headfirst through the window, despite the fact that there is a perfectly good door on either end of the house.

I love that mischievous little grin!

What's the weather like in your area today?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

It Can Only Go Up From Here

So my New Year's Eve was...how do I put this...awful.

I've mentioned before that I have asthma and it's not your run-of-the-mill asthma that's so common, it's the fun kind that controls almost every aspect of my life and is potentially fatal.  On top of that, I have Vocal Cord Dysfunction, a disease that is often mistaken for asthma, and Acid Reflux Disease, which triggers the VCD and causes my vocal cords to suddenly close up and cut off much of my air supply.  Also loads of fun to have.

So New Year's Eve, I stayed home with Star while Hubby took the 2 older kids to the New Year's Eve party at church.  That was the good part of the evening because I put her to bed and got to relax and enjoy the quiet before dozing off on couch.  The others got home around 12:30 am, and I helped Hubby put the kids to bed before we hit the hay ourselves.  Around 2:30 am, I woke up feeling nauseous.  That's how the VCD attacks usually start so I woke up pretty fast and got out of bed just in case.  Sure enough, about 5-10 minutes later, it hit and I couldn't breathe.  I started a nebtreatment although I know that asthma medication doesn't help a VCD attack.  It quickly progressed to the point where I couldn't talk and was starting to black out from lack of oxygen.  Hubby called the ambulance, and they transported me to the ER.  I was on oxygen the whole way there and by the time I got to the ER, I was doing much better.  They observed me and the baby for a few hours before discharging me.  Because Hubby had to stay home with the kids, his dad came up to pick me up from the ER and we arrived home at 6 am.  Thankfully, my awesome mom came over to spend the day at my house, and I was able to take a 3 hour nap during the afternoon and relax the rest of the day while she took care of the kids.

So with my new year starting off so terrible, it can only go up from here, right?  At least that's what I'm hoping! 

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