Friday, May 20, 2016

Being a mom...

Mother's Day came and went here at our house.  It was filled with baseball practice, soccer games and ballet rehearsal.  To be honest...I have this idea in my head of what Mother's Day should look like.  Sleeping in.  Waking up to roses and a love letter from Dan about what a wonderful mother and wife I am.  Some sort of expensive jewelry piece.  A nice brunch with all the kids.  A super clean house.  No bickering children.  Should I go on?  If you Mother's Day was like that...then lucky you.  Mine was far from it.  We spent the day chasing and feeding kids....just like any other day.  I didn't even get flowers.  So I had two choices.  Mull around and be mad that my Mother's Day wasn't what "I think it should be" or embrace our crazy life and roll with it.  Roll with it I did.  Sadie did make me a waffle for breakfast that I ended up giving to Dan to eat.  I spent my morning making puppy chow and packaging it up for other mom friends because who doesn't love some puppy chow on Mother's Day?  Some of the kids went to a friend's house...one went to a soccer game with a friend and other's went with my mom for the day.  Dan and I did get to spend one hour together riding a bike downtown while Abbie practiced for the ballet.  We didn't even get to have a family dinner together.  

and you know what???

I am 100% ok with that.  Lately I have found myself staring more and more at my older kids.  Molly will be in 8th grade next year.  Her face is changing, she is growing up and becoming a "real" person.  A person that doesn't need me as much anymore.  A person that wants some freedom.  Where in the world did the last 13 years go?  We have been so blessed with these beautiful children that are all healthy and pretty amazing kids if you ask me.  I don't need flowers or jewelry or fancy dinners to remind me that I am lucky to be their mom.  I just need their hugs and their kisses and their love.  I thought life when they were all little was hard...but that has nothing on watching your little babies grow up into real humans.  It's hard on a mamma's heart.  However, I am so very proud of them.  They love us.  They talk to us.  They love Jesus.  They love each other.  They actually even like each other!  

We did manage to go on a family picnic a few days after Mother's Day.  There was fighting.  It was windy.  One kid got sent to the car for a bad attitude.  

And the world goes on!  

Here are some pics of the people I love most and the ones that I am lucky enough to have call me "their mom"   (I tossed in a picture  of Dan that I took too....just in case you are wondering how my kids got to be so darn adorable....he's the reason! ) 








 I am blessed beyond words.  God has filled my life with this amazing family and I am totally in love!  I don't think I will ever have a perfect "mother's day"....but what more could a mom need or want?  Keep rocking on all you mamma's out there.  One day at a time.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Weight Loss. The good, the bad and the U.G.L.Y.

Before I blog about trying to lose weight....I have to brag.  My nephew, Jonathan, played the role of Edna (from Hairspray) 2 weekends ago at Concordia University.  If you are unfamiliar with "Hairspray" the mom was played by Jon Travolta in the recent movie production.  Well, Jon Travolta has nothing on my nephew.  Not only did he have to dress in heels, wear a wig, and act like a woman...he had to sing.  And...man, I mean woman... can he SING!!!  He was amazing.  I had the privilege of being able to see him two times and loved every minute of it.  God has blessed him with some awesome talent.  Better yet, he has the heart made of gold.  The kids just loved seeing him up on stage and I am pretty sure Griffs and Lanie were mighty confused on the entire situation!  Sorry if you are offended by our picture....his bra was filled with bedsheets!!!

Ok, onward.  Here's the skinny...or the fat.  Whatever you want to call it.  So my baby turned 4 in December.  I still am carrying the baby weight of having 7 kids in 9 years and was disgusted every time I would look in the mirror.  I have always had a self esteem issue and being over weight sure doesn't help.  I could ramble on and on about what I don't like about myself.  However, I am trying to see myself that way that God sees me.

A few friends and myself decided we were sick of our weight issues and we were going to do something about it.  One friend is doing a strict no sugar diet and looks amazing.  Me?  No sugar?  Well, that is a little too much to ask of my cookie loving self...so a group of us joined weight watchers.  We joined the week in between Christmas and New Years.  Along with joining weight watchers I started exercising.  My friend and I would set a time to meet every day to work out.  When I wouldn't want to go I would have to because she would be waiting for me.

I joined WW for the 3 month deal and then cancelled my membership.  Don't get me wrong..it works...we are just pinching pennies and, frankly, I know what to eat and what not to eat.  If we had endless cash flow, I would still be doing it.  I would recommend it to anyone.

It hasn't been easy.  The first 3 months my friend and I would be working out and looking at all the skinny people at the gym and wonder when it would happen to us.  We walked.  We biked.  We rowed.  We crunched.  We ran.  We lifted.  Little by little we started to notice a change.  It has NOT been easy.  I would say it hasn't been fun either....but it IS working.  No special pill.  No weight loss shakes.  No fasting.  Just watching what I put in my mouth and exercising.

I have my good days and I have my bad days.  Yesterday was a HORRIBLE day.  Let's just say I purchased a huge bag of peanut butter M & M's from Sam's Club and ate a few too many.  I also like to eat cookies.  I ate cookies yesterday too.  When I get super stressed....which I was yesterday....I eat.  I shouldn't do it and I KNOW better...but I still do it.  I spend a lot of time in the car driving kids here and there....that helps because I am not home snacking!

For 2 months I had to wear the dumb foot boot.  I won't lie....I almost used that as an excuse to give up.  How can I lose weight while wearing a boot on my foot?  I found what worked for me (an elliptical) and I stuck to it.  I self diagnosed myself and took the boot off (It wasn't helping!) and am back to running.  Now, I hear all of you moaning..."I am NOT a runner."  Well, let me tell you... I am NOT a runner either.  It took months and months of walking and slow slow slow jogging to start running.  I wouldn't even say my run is a "run."  Dan's walk is as fast as my run pace is!  I have worked my way up to 4 miles at a S L O W pace.  I am talking like 10-11 minutes a mile.  So maybe I should say I am a jogger.  Real runners blow right past me.

For me it is all in my attitude and my head.  I don't know about you, but my mind plays games with me.  It is stopping to refocus...pray... and move on that works for me.  So I had a bad day yesterday....I could let it get me down or I can move on.  I decided to move on.  I got my butt out of bed this morning and headed out for an early morning run to get it out of the way.  Do I enjoy it?  Yes and no.  I wouldn't say I enjoy exercising...but when I am done it really does make me feel better.  Again, it's all in my head.

In one month Dan and I are getting away for our 15th wedding anniversary.  My goal was to be a size 10 for our trip.  It's not going to happen.  I have two options...let that get me down.  Mull on the fact that maybe I didn't exercise enough or be mad at myself for eating too many cookies.  OR I can be proud of what I have done so far and keep working hard.  I would say I am right in between those right now.  Proud of what I have done, but mad I haven't done better.

I still don't like my picture being taken.  I semi like the way I look...until I tried on swimming suits last weekend.  My legs and stomach need A LOT of help.  In time.  One day at a time.

I don't write this to brag or pat myself on the back.  I have worked hard.  I write this because I have realized through this that we are all the same.  We all struggle with something.  For me, it's my weight.  For other is could be self esteem, confidence, addictions....or really anything.  At the end of the day we need to overcome our brains and focus.  I will sometimes pray through my run....or pray for self control.  Surrounding myself with a group of friends has been helpful too.

I have a long way to go.  I don't want to be a stick...but I do want to not see cottage cheese when I look at my legs and I would like to send my "joey" pouch away (that is what I call my stomach!).

One day at a time.  One day at a time!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Gardening with kids (Yes, It can be done!) .... Fox 6 Real Milwaukee

Alright....brace yourself....this is gonna be heavy on the pics!  I will keep my blogging to a minimum so you can get right to the tutorials!  I am NOT a garden...in fact I kill every plant I get.  For this segment I paid a visit to Ebert's Greenhouse where they helped me come up with some ideas.  Let me just say...if you haven't been to Ebert's...it is TOTALLY worth a trip out there.  You WILL leave with something, I guarantee it!  Below are 6 fun, easy and CHEAP ways to get into the mood for summer.  Flowers make me happy....gardening does not.  However, throw in some cute kids and it is a lot more enjoyable!  Happy gardening!

We found some super cute gardening aprons in the dollar section at Target.  (they were actually $3...so don't show up with $1!)  We used some leftover fabric paint from our DIY pillows from the last segment and made some handprints.  I wrote their names in puffy paint....and boom....cute garden aprons!  That is all folks....easy peasy!  



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Drip Terra-Cotta Pots

I am not kidding when I say this....these are SO easy and SO cheap to make.  They would be perfect for Mother's Day gifts, teacher gifts, or really any gift!  

Supplies Needed: 

  1. Terra Cotta Pot
  2. Craft Paint
  3. Wax paper
  4. Outdoor sealer (if pots will be outside) 

 First put a piece of wax paper down and flip your pot over.
 Choose your paint colors and start dripping the paint down the side.  The paint will follow gravity and drip down more....so be patient.
 Add more colors on top.  Totally up to your preference!
 Let the paint drip down and add more if you want to!
 We let our pots dry overnight.
 Finally, we took some outdoor sealer in a spray can and sprayed the pots so the paint wouldn't wash away! ( I did spray them 2-3 times letting them dry between coats)  I told you these were easy!  I love all the color combinations....the possibilities are endless!



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DIY Milk Jug Watering Cans

My kids LOVE to water the flowers.  However, we only have one watering can.  The watering can is big and bulky and can get really heavy....so here is our make shift version of our own watering cans!  Again...another cheap and easy craft!!

Supplies Needed:

  1. Milk jug (washed out, of course!) 
  2. Craft paint
  3. Paint brushes
  4. Waterproof sealer
  5. Push Pin

I gave my kids creative freedom with their watering cans.  They picked out their own colors and started painting.  I was really impressed with their painting skills!  
We let the paint dry completely.  I sealed the milk jugs with 2-3 coats of waterproof sealer.  We have used the watering jugs multiply times and so far and the paint hasn't washed away!  

 While the sealer was drying...I took a push pin and poked holes through the cap of the milk jug.  I poked through the top and then also went back and poked the holes through the underside of the cap too.  This made the holes just a little bit bigger for water to pour out of!

 Once everything was dry and the flowers needed watering...we pulled our milk jugs out and watered away!  These are nice because you don't have to fill them all the way.  For the smaller kids, just fill the jug 1/4 of the way.  Trust me....they will be super excited to water the flowers!

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Paint Can Bird Feeders

We have a ton of birds flying around our house right now.  Actually, we have a ton of birds living in our garage too, but that is a story for another blog!  So, why not feed the birds so they don't leave and keep living in the garage, right?  Right!  Here is a cheap and colorful way to make up some bird feeders that will make the birds happy and give you something pretty to look at!  

Supplies Needed:

  1. Paint cans (I got mine at home depot)
  2. Craft Paint
  3. Paint Brush
  4. Waterproof sealer
  5. Thin wooden dowel
  6. Ribbon
  7. Hot Glue
  8. Bird Seed

 First, we started by painting the cans.  We squirted the paint right on to the can and painted it that way.  I am sure there is a more sophisticated way to do this...but this worked just great for us!
We worked our way around the can and then let the can dry.  We did put 2-3 coats on each of the cans....letting the paint dry completely between each coat.  (If you don't let the paint dry, when you go to brush more paint on...the tacky paint will peel right off) 

Once the cans were painted and dried, I took them outside and put 2 coats of waterproof sealer on them.  Let that dry completely as well.  




 Next, I picked out some ribbons that would match the cans and cut long pieces of the ribbon.  I tied the ribbon around each can with a double knot.  We used a thin wooden dowel and hot glued one end right into the rim of the paint can.

 Finally, we took the cans outside and hung them in a tree.  We waited only an hour or so and the birds started coming!  Can you see the birds?
I have these feeders hanging in a tree right as you pull up our driveway.  They make me happy.  I love pulling in and seeing the colorful feeders...they make me forget just for a minute before I pull into the garage and have to dodge all the birds flying at my head while making nests in our garage!  





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Fairy and Dino Gardens...on the cheap!

Have you guys seen all these adorable fairy gardens that people are doing?  I mean, seriously, amazing stuff.  Well, you won't see that here!  I looked into ordering some fairy garden pieces to do a garden and holy buckets....it can be a bit pricey.  So...I went with the fairy garden idea and went the Wilke way....use stuff we had around the house!  Renee, from Ebert's helped me with some ideas and even borrowed me a few fairy pieces to pull this off!  

Supplies Needed: 

  1. Bucket or pot of some kind for the garden
  2. Misc items to complete your gardens....get creative here!
  3. Dirt
  4. Flowers if you want
  5. People/animals/dinosaurs

We started by filling a watering can pot with some dirt.  Next, we added some sand for the "beach" part of our garden.  I took the glass lid from a Yankee candle to make a little pool.  I wanted to use fairies...but we didn't have any...so Polly Pockets it was!  
 I let the little kids add some seashells and sea creatures.  I did plant two pansies in the garden as well.  Lanie put some pebbles around the pool and added a little tiny boat.  I used blue food coloring to turn the water blue.  I know it's not nearly as fancy as the Pinterest fairy gardens, but my kids are having a blast playing with this!

 I would NOT recommend putting your fairy garden on the stairs leading up to your front door.  A certain 7 year boy of yours may accidentally run into your fairy garden and dump the entire thing so you have to start over.  Just a word of advice from me.
 Now, I know that boys aren't totally in to fairy gardens so Renee at Ebert's told me she has made dinosaur gardens.  Are you kidding me??? BRILLIANT!  A dinosaur garden we made!  Renee had this cool wooden box that we were able to use to make our garden in.
 Lanie and Griffin filled it with dirt and then we added some dino type looking plants we found at Ebert's.

 The kids added a few rocks and sticks...but were most excited to get the dinosaurs into the garden!  Griffin was adamant that we put an alligator in the dino garden.  Ok, then.  It's a dinosaur/alligator garden!

 We really didn't do anything too fancy with our gardens.  First of all, I know that the plants will die at some point because we won't remember to water them.  Also, the kids don't need all the fancy fairy garden stuff....they are happy with using the toys we have around the house in a new way!

 Go find some fun toys and make a garden of your own!  Your kids will LOVE them!  (just don't leave them on the steps to dump over!)

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Toad Abode

We love toads here....correction...my kids and husband LOVE toads here.  I want nothing to do with them.  They freak me out.  Their skin gives me the heebie-geebies.  I showed my older girls some pictures of frog/toad houses and they went to work.  No help from me....those are the best kind of kid projects!  


Supplies Needed:

  1. Pot of some kind
  2. Paint
  3. Brush
  4. Waterproof sealer
The girls started by painting the pot with craft paint.  Get creative here.  They drew a little window on the pot and some flowers.  






Be sure to use a thin brush if you want to do small details like a window or small flowers.  When the pot was all dry, we sprayed a waterproof sealer on the pot.  (2-3 coats, again!)  


Then we put our toad home outside by our tire planters.  Wouldn't that be awesome if a toad actually jumped right in the toad house?  Yeah, I thought so too...but it hasn't happened yet!  We found a toad while doing some other gardening and introduced him to his new home.  I am pretty sure this wasn't a toad....I think the kids called it a "sticky frog"....no wonder he didn't like our toad home and hopped out as soon as he could escape!  Good think we were able to capture a few pictures before he made his grand escape!  


PHEW!!!  Now, that is a lot of gardening crafts!  Hopefully you are inspired to make one or two of these crafts as a way to welcome summer time!  

Thank you to Ebert's Greenhouse for taking the time to help me with this segment!  If you haven't been to Ebert's.... GO!!!!  Trust me....it's amazing!  (bring a camera and take some family pics while you are there too!)