Thursday, July 30, 2009

Scheduling Your Day

I am a stay-at-home mom to four small children.  My oldest is about to start 1st grade and my second is going into Kindergarten.  It is very easy for my life to be one big ball of chaos if I am not organized.  Now that school is about to start and I have to get everyone up and ready and out the door by 8 am, I have to get myself and my kids back into a morning routine.  I have tried lots of different things, but most of them haven't worked very well.  This is what I have settled on.

The night before.
  • We make lunches.  They are packed and put in the fridge.  If there is anything that will be gross if I make it the night before I wait until that morning, but everything else is ready to go.
  • We set out clothes.  I help all 4 of the kids pick out clothes, undies, socks, and whatever else they will need for the next day.  When they wake up, they are ready to go.  I even set out my clothes.  It is so much easier to not have to worry about what to wear when I am in a hurry.
  • We get backpacks ready.  Anything that needs to go to school is put in the backpack so it is ready in the morning and there is no frantic searching right before it is time to leave.
  • We go to bed on time.  This is crucial for making sure the morning runs smoothly.
Before School.
  • I get up at 6 am and get ready for the day.  I also start breakfast and throw a load of laundry in.
  • About 7 am the kids get up and we make the beds.  If it doesn't happen in the morning, then it just doesn't happen.
  • They get dressed and put their jammies in their cubbies or in the laundry.  (We wear jammies 2 days in a row).
  • We go eat breakfast.  See my previous post for ideas of what to do for breakfast.  You can also look in the recipes section.
  • We brush our teeth.  At this point, the boys play while I fix the girls' hair.  Check my hair and accessories section for more on this.
  • Then shoes, coats, backpacks and out the door.
This entire process takes us about 1 hour.

Once the kids are off to school, my days vary a bit.  I have chores that I need to do.  I have a daily schedule that I follow for this.  There will be a separate post on that in the next couple of weeks.

After school.
  • Kids bring me their backpacks.  We go through the backpacks and pull out the homework.
  • We eat a snack and then do homework
  • Once homework is done, everything that has to go back to school goes in the backpack and they are put away.  We have a hook that they hang on (until they get too heavy).
  • After homework is done, the kids can play until Dinner.
After Dinner.
  • Kids clear their dinner dishes and my husband or I put food away and clean up the kitchen.
  • Bath time.  I do not bathe each child every night.  It is too much for me to get all 4 of them in and out of the bath without going crazy.  I wash the girls one night and the boys the next night.  Whichever gender is not getting washed gets to play.
  • After bath time everyone gets jammies on.
Bedtime. (the after dinner and bedtime routines sort of flow into each other, but I have separated them for ease.)
  • After jammies we pick out clothes for the next day.  Everything (including socks and undies) goes into their cubbies.
  • We read stories and scriptures together.
  • We say family prayer.
  • We brush teeth and go potty.
  • We go to bed.  This includes prayers, hugs and kisses,  and tuck them in.
All of the kids are in bed by 7:30 pm.  Some of you may think this is too early, but it is what works for us.  They usually wake up around 7 am.

After the kids are in bed I make the lunches for the next day and finish up any extra stuff that didn't get done.  I try and make sure that I am done by 8 pm so that I can have some time with my hubby or to myself before we go to bed.

As a side note, we play music for the kids when they go to bed.  We have done this for years and it is quite helpful.  It drowns out any noise that may keep them from sleeping and it signals their bodies that it is time to settle down and go to sleep.  It is also great to be able to take on trips.  The music helps them maintain some of the comfort of their bedtime routine at home.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Need help with a menu?

"Hey mom, what's for {insert meal here}?"  This questions drives me crazy!  Do you want to know how to make it an easy un-anxiety causing question?  Planning a menu.

There are several different ways to do this.  It depends on how organized you like or want to be.  I'll do this in order of least organized to most organized.  Feel free to mix and match to create a system that works best for your family.

Option #1  Creat a list of possibilities.  This one is pretty easy and requires minimal effort.  Don't underestimate it is the basis for every other option.  All you need to do is make a list each week of what meals you can make/want to make.  You can do this for all three meals, or just dinner--whichever you prefer.  Once you know what the possibilities are, you can decide what you are going to make each day.  If you like this option, you can expand upon it.  Try making a list with enough meals to cover two weeks or even a whole month.  This also makes creating a shopping list easier.

This is how I used to do it.  I had a list of a month's worth of dinners; however, I found myself looking at my list at 4:30 every afternoon and trying to find the quickest and easiest meal to prepare.    My husband started asking when we would have certain meals again and I knew I needed to take it a step further.

Option #2 Take your list of meals and assign each meal to a day.  You can do this each week or every other week or once a month.  Take into consideration what time constraints you might have.  For example, if Jane has ballet on Wednesday nights, you want to make Wednesday's dinner quick and easy.

Option #3  This is a variation on option #2.  Make a certain type of food on a certain day of the week.  For example, Mexican food on Monday, Soup on Tuesday, Pasta on Wednesday, etc.  Then you can take your list of meals and plug them into the days.  This is eventually what I ended up with.

I have been doing this for a while.  I don't always follow it, but I try to stick to it.  During last school year I realized that I needed to do the same for breakfast.  I don't like to feed my kids cold cereal every morning.  I feel like it goes right through them and they are hungry an hour later.  I started making them "real" breakfast every morning.  This definitely takes a bit of time and some forethought, but it has worked out well.

Here are some examples of what we do for breakfast and dinner.  Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before or sandwiches.

Monday:  Smoothies/fruit
                 Something rice
Tuesday:  Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (homemade)
Wednesday:  Smoothies/fruit
Thursday: Eggs/muffins
Friday:  Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (homemade)
              Pizza (homemade)
Saturday:  Cold cereal
Sunday:  Cold cereal
                Something nice and easy

There you have it!  Give it a try and email me if you need help or have any questions.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Spinach Smoothies

I know what you are thinking, but they really are delicious!  We eat these for breakfast several times a week and we love them.  LOVE them.

Spinach Smoothies

3 cups fresh washed spinach (I buy the pre-washed kind in the big box from Costco)
1 cup frozen blueberries
4 frozen strawberries
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup vanilla soymilk
1/2 cup juice, any flavor (or 2 Tbsp frozen juice concentrate and 1/2 cup water)

Put ingredients in the blender in this order.  Blend until nice and smooth.  You may have to add a bit more liquid and you may have to stop the blender to push the frozen stuff down once the spinach is ground up.

It turns a nice purple color and you absolutely can not taste the spinach.  Nice way to get iron!  I always double the recipe and it makes enough for my husband and I to each have a tall glass of it and for the kids to have small straw cups of it.  Then we eat 1-2 pieces of fruit and are filled until lunch.  I love smoothie days because my kids are getting a very healthy breakfast and don't beg me for food an hour later.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Birthday B!

Last week was B's birthday.  She is 3 years old.  Be is the cutest, craziest, happiest, most mischievous child I know.  Sometimes she is like a little devil in an angels clothing.  It doesn't matter though.  I had a very tough pregnancy with her and ended up on partial bed rest for the last 3 months.  My mom came out to take care of us because my husband was on an internship for grad school.  She almost didn't make it here, and I can't imagine my life without her.

She wanted a Hello Kitty cake and a Ballerina cake.  I will make 1 cake of whatever they want, but I won't make 2!  It took me a while and a lot internet surfing, but I finally found a great combination of the two.  I got the idea from Sweet Catastrophe Cakes.  She has a ton of really great cakes.  You should take a minute and look around her site.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sunshine S'mores

My mother-in-law gave me a book a few years ago that has recipes that you can make with your kids.  It is a really cute little book.  The book is called "Alphabet Snacks" by Elizabeth McKinnon, illustrated by Gary Mohrman, and published by Totline Publications.  I don't know where she got it from and I have had a hard time trying to find it online which is too bad, because it is a really great children's cook book.

Sunshine S'mores

graham cracker squares
large marshmallows
chocolate chips

Try this recipe when the weather is in the mid-80's or above.  In a glas baking dish with a lid arrange graham cracker squares in one layer.  Use scissors dipped in water to cut marshmallows in half horizontally.  Place one marshmallow half, cut side up, on each graham cracker square and top with chocolate chips.  Put the lid on the baking dish and place the dish outdoors in direct sunlight.  Check periodically.  When marshmallows and chocolate chips are melted eat and enjoy.  Each Sunshine S'more makes 1 serving.

Variation:  For year-round S'mores, top graham cracker squares with chocolate chips and miniature marshmallows.  Heat on low in the microwave for a few seconds, just until marshmallows and chocolate have melted.  Let cool slightly before serving.

Monday, July 13, 2009


We just got back from vacation and it was FANTASTIC!  We went camping in Nauvoo, Illinois for a week.  It rained for 3 days, but it didn't even matter.  We had so much fun just being together. 

So why is the post about strollers?  Because we have the most amazing stroller I have ever seen and every time we go out we get asked about it.  It is a Valco Baby Tri-Mode Twin.  We also got a couple of add on accessories.  There is a toddler seat that goes on the front and a hitch-hiker ride along that attaches to the back.  Do you realize what I am saying?  I can get ALL 4 of my kids on the stroller at the same time--safely!    It's amazing!!! 
This is what it looks like with the toddler seat on the front.  It also has a rain cover that goes over all 3 of the seats.  It came in really handy when we were out and about in the rain.  Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the kids in it on our trip.  The only picture I can find of everyone on it is from E's first day of school last year.  You can tell in the picture that they are pretty done with me taking pics.  :)

These are expensive strollers, but for a mom with multiples or lots of small children at home, I say it is TOTALLY worth the price.  It gave me freedom.  I can take my kids to the zoo or the mall or wherever I want to go by myself and still keep a handle on them.  I can also walk the kids to and from school everyday and if I want to I can go jogging...because it is also a jogging stroller.  If you decide you want to buy one of the beauties, go to  Kelly is the owner and mother of triplets plus one.  She was fantastic to work with and very personal.  She even called me a month or so later to see if we were happy with our purchase.  She also gave us a discount and threw in 2 free cup holders. 

There is a lady that we pass every morning on the way to school and one day she told me that she looks forward to seeing my "parade" pass by everyday.  That made me smile for atleast a week.

What if you don't need one so huge?  Well there are TONS of options.  You can go super basic with an umbrella stroller like this one.  I keep one similar to this in the car too.  You can get an umbrella with a few extras, or a double side-by-side umbrella.

You can get a single stroller that will hold your baby carrier and then can be used for your child until they are bigger like this one.  Or you can get a double front-to-back that will hold a baby carrier and an older child and eventually two older children.  You can also get attachments that allow kids to sit or stand on the back of the stroller you already have.
Then there are jogging strollers.  There are TONS of different jogging strollers and each of them is a bit different.  JoggerMom is a stroller distributor, and has every different type and style you can imagine.  She can also help you figure out what your needs are.  Best of all, if you live in Southern California she will let you test drive some different strollers so you don't end up buying something that you end up not liking.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy 4th of July!!!

We are getting ready to head out of town on vacation, and I wanted to quickly say, "Happy 4th of July!"  My husband and I both come from a long line of brave people who were willing to lay their lives aside for our country.  I am eternally grateful to them for paying a high price for the freedom we all experience today.

To all the men and women serving in the military all over the world, thank you and may God bless you and yours.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mei Tai Carrier Tutorial

Since I posted so many different tutorials on how to wear a mei tai, I thought I would list them all here for ease. So, if you have ever wanted to know how to use a Mei Tai Carrier? Read on...

For the front carry tutorial click here.
For the side carry tutorial click here.
For the back carry from standing click here.
For the back carry from sitting click here.

If you have any questions please email me at

If you are interested in purchasing a mei tai, you can find them at my store.

I have several different patterns available and will be posting new ones as I complete them.