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Monday, January 30, 2017

Expedition


My boys seem to be growing so quickly!  In September, I had bought them new school clothes, all around a size 5 or 5/6.  But these past few weeks, I’ve noticed that either the clothes or shrinking drastically or my children are growing an inch per day!!  I like buying the kids new clothes, especially for the beginning of the school year. More than that, though, I like buying them used clothes!!

When Little Miss was younger, I bought most of her clothes brand-new.  But then another family started handing me bins and bins of clothes for her that had been used by their girls.  We had so many beautiful outfits for Little Miss.  She barely wore the same outfit twice.  And as she grew out of them, I stuffed them back into bins to save for our next child.

It was pretty helpful to have all of those bins of clothes when I found out I was pregnant again…with twin boys! ๐Ÿ˜‰  But seriously, it actually was.  Because I needed a way to make some extra spending money and here I had bins and bins of adorable, sweet little baby girl and toddler clothes.  The best part, was that Little Miss rarely made a mess of her clothes, so all of these beautiful outfits were in excellent condition.  I was able to sell them at a children’s consignment sale and I made quite a bit of money, actually.  At just one of the sales, I made around $1,000!!!!  Who knew you could make that much money off of a bunch of old clothes?!?!

So after the boys were born, I was anticipating being able to sell all of their clothes to make some extra cash, too.  But, well, boys.  They’re gross, disgusting, messy little creatures that like to dive into ketchup and make mud pancakes! They blow their boogies on their sleeves, smear poop all over their pants, and bathe in ranch dressing.  YUCK, YUCK, double YUCK! Long story, short…I have not been able to sell much of anything from their wardrobe! 

When you have two messy, yucky,  but adorable, sweet boys, the last thing you really want to do is to waste a whole chunk of  money on brand new clothes they’ll only be able to wear ONCE!  But, just for shits and giggles, let’s say that some of those new clothes remain spotless (or spot-few) through several wearings and washings.  And then, let’s say that, what seems like all of a sudden, the boys look like a combination between the Jolly Green Giant and Frankenstein in said “new” clothes.  What’s a momma to do??

Shop the thrift stores!!!!  Garage sales, consignment sales, and Craigslist are other awesome ways to save on clothes! Lately, I’ve had some really great luck at thrift stores!  This one store right around the corner from me sells children’s clothes for 50 cents each piece!  I have found Gap, Children’s Place, abercrombie (for kids), and Ralph Lauren items in near-perfect condition lately!  I’m a lucky lady!

Another great way to get more clothes for next-to-nothing is to send your sons on an expedition, complete with headlamp, into the back of their closet. Because, oh crap!  I TOTALLY FORGOT that we had an entire bin filled with spot-free, name-brand, gorgeous, stylish clothes that are just their current size!!  Palm to forehead! 




You see, a little over a year ago, I had been extremely fortunate to be at the right place at the right time and had been given several garbage bags filled with all of these super-adorable, ultra-cool, totally CLEAN clothes! But only half of them were the right size at the time.  The other half, I diligently packed away in a bin to save for later.  J  Well, later is now!  And thank goodness we found them!  Holy moly there’s a ton!!!  Well, enough for two boys…for at least a little while…until they spill chocolate down the fronts of the tops, anyway!

I was totally smart to remember the bin and send the boys on that expedition, amiright?!  Yeah, well, truth:  I had NO clue they were there.  The boys just happened to decide they wanted to explore their closet for the first time ever and they stumbled upon this great treasure.  Chub-Chub was thrilled!  He’s such a clothes horse because he loves to dress like a “handsome guy”.  Lucky me!!!!  Now I don’t have to dump money down the trash!



Stylishly yours,

MM

Monday, January 23, 2017

Slow Down



This.  This song by Nichole Nordeman, along with it's video, has all.the.feels.  I couldn't stop crying while I was watching it.  It's so difficult when you are in the thick of it, to s l o w down and really absorb the life teeming around you, isn't it? But what a beautiful, albeit melancholy, reminder for all of us parents.

When you first have a child, all of your family, friends, coworkers...they all tell you not to wish it away.  To savor every moment. To love your children's smallness.  Because we all know that children grow up too fast, and before you know it, they're grown and out the door, leaving you in your nest with only the countless photographs, videos, memorabilia to comfort you with such an incredible emptiness.

As the children screech and scream through your life, wanting and needing so much from you, you may often find yourself wanting and needing a break.  From them.  But not really from them...(well, okay, maybe sometimes), but mostly from the ChAoS of raising little ones.  You need your "me time" to process the cacophony, and regroup to better handle their urgent requests of "Mooooooommm!!  I NEED a drink NOW!!", the bickering, the running through the house while they shoot each other with Nerf guns, which inevitably turns into more bickering. You need to withdraw from the noise...just.to.hear.yourself.think.  Or go to the bathroom...ALONE...for crying out loud!

But you don't need a break from loving them.  And that's what speaks to me in this sweet, sweet song.  Because even though it's a crazy time of your life, and you may need to have some space from it all every now and then, you still love and cherish those little kiddles in your life. You wish to be able to cuddle them up and shower them with kisses forever.  But these moments are fleeting, and if you don't stop to smell the poopy diapers (eeewwwww, gross!), the dandelion heads that have been popped off and lovingly handed to you, the squiggly, wiggly worms with them, you could miss out on so much. So perhaps we should put down our brooms, leave the dirty dishes in the sink, pile the laundry on the couch (hopefully it's at least clean), turn off our social media notifications, and stash our iPhones away.

We need to be present and mindful, absorb every possible second, every possible snuggle, every possible smell we have with them...even when we are tired and our feet are aching from mopping the floors twice because it was raining all day, and well, boys...and mud. Because there are no do-overs when it comes to children growing up. Today, they are the youngest they will ever be again. And tomorrow is never promised. So hold on tight through this bumpy ride and give them all the conscious energy you can. Because today...Today is tomorrow's memory.

Chaotically yours,

MM

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Friday, January 20, 2017

This is me laying on the couch...all evening. I went out last night with my little sister and then I had a hard time this morning getting up and getting the kids out the door to school. Once they were gone, I napped all morning until I had to leave to get groceries...which I needed to accomplish before volunteering in my son's classroom for the afternoon. I normally enjoy going in to help out. It was so hard to be there today, though. I was practically ready to fall asleep while I was playing a cute math game with my center-time groups. After I finished up there, I came home and I had to unload the groceries from my car. I was too tired to do it right away, so I rested on the couch until the kids got home a half-hour or so later. I had them help me bring the groceries in and Chub-Chub helped put away a lot of it. But our freezer was nearly empty and it was disgusting! I had to clean it out while it was empty. And I couldn't put any new food in there with all of the crap that had spilled in there. (My kids are "really good" at putting away opened bags of frozen food!) ๐Ÿ˜œThey also like to put random things in the freezer that haven't even been wrapped up, which inevitably spill all over the place! ๐Ÿ™„I had such a hard time finishing that job, but luckily my mother's helper was here by now and she put the rest of the groceries away for me! I normally try not to do too much in one day like this. But we desperately needed the groceries, so I just had to go get them. Because life. I'm completely wiped out. I haven't even moved in 3.5 hours! #spoonie #spoonielife #fibro


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tastin' Broccoli: Parenting Tip for a Picky Eater


Parenting Tip for Picky Eater




Parents of Picky Eaters Unite!
Do you have a picky eater?  Does he or she give you a difficult time during mealtime?  Would you like to try a new strategy to get them to try out new foods?  Maybe this parenting tip will help you like it has helped our family!  Keep reading to see how it helped us, then click on the link below for a free download of my Try New Foods chart!

My Picky Eater 
Miracle Man has had a difficult time with trying new foods pretty much since we started him on solid foods as a baby. He definitely has tExTuRe issues, and won't even put things up to his mouth that he thinks will feel or taste strange to him.  Over time, the foods he is willing to eat ebbs and flows.  Recently, though, he was not willing to eat much at all...even foods that he used to like a lot!  What was a momma to do??

Well, I sought out the help of the nutritionist at our pediatrician's office and she gave me a few tips, one of which is to put him on a multi-vitamin that includes magnesium in it because a lack of magnesium in the diet can actually lead to a lack of hunger.  (Hmmmm...weight loss tip for me?!?!?!) She also suggested that we talk with him about the colors and textures of the foods we are introducing to him.  And, like any parent of a picky eater can attest to, she recommended that we don't force him to eat anything.  She said we should not make a big deal out of what he eats.  So...that strategy may work for other children, but it is one I have used off and on over the years, and it never seems to work very well with Miracle Man.


The nutritionist gave me many other ideas, as well.  And, while I have implemented some of them, I haven't been able to implement all of her suggestions. I did recently come up with an idea that I thought I would give a try, though.  It sort of goes against some of her advice, in that it focuses more on what Miracle Man is willing to eat.  But it is actually working!  With our current successes, I thought I might share it with you in case anyone else is looking to try something new with their own picky eater

Try New Foods Chart

picky eater

In my last post, I wrote about how I have just started a ticket system to encourage the kids to help out more around the house. Well, in conjunction with that ticket system, I created a "Try New Foods" chart! I created it in Microsoft Publisher, printed it out on colored cardstock, and then laminated it. Every time the kids try any new food, they get a smiley face on the chart.  Since it is laminated, I use a dry erase marker to draw on the smiley faces, complete with mohawks for Chub-Chub, and long hair with bows for Little Miss. In addition to the smiley face, I also give them a ticket toward the rewards system we just established. On Sundays, I erase the chart to start with a blank chart each week.   I wasn't sure exactly how motivating this would be, especially for Miracle Man, but it turns out that it works!!!  For Miracle Man, it does not work every time, or even every day, but he and the other two kiddles have been trying new foods a lot!



Since we started this chart, Miracle Man has tried raw broccoli, turkey hot dogs, salad (really just lettuce with ranch, but who cares!?), and raw red peppers, just to name a few.  He even had the raw broccoli twice!  This is such a major, major accomplishment for him!!  As for Little Miss and Chub-Chub, well, they are so motivated by the tickets that they are trying several new things each day even.  I do give them a smiley face and a ticket for each new item.  Originally, I was planning on introducing new foods just once per day and allowing only one ticket per day, but since the children have showed so much interest in being able to earn more tickets just by trying new things, I've decided that the important thing is that they are tasting new foods and exploring their taste buds willingly.  And that, to me, is worth as many tickets as they can earn!!

If you or anyone you know is dealing with a picky eater, you know the struggle.  It is real. And maybe some of the more traditional approaches will suffice for you.  But if they're not working, and you're at your wit's end, go ahead and give this chart/ticket thing a try!  What do you have to lose?  And you never know!  It may just work for you, too!  Feel free to share this article.  Click the link below for a free PDF download of my Try New Foods Chart! :)

Thanks for indulging me,
Marathon Momma


Friday, January 13, 2017

Family Chore Chart



MeSs. C l u t t e r. DisorganizAtion. Such nasty words. And such a nasty way to live!  Yuck! Our house was recently feeling like this...chaotic to me!  The kids weren't picking up after themselves around the house, their bedrooms were atrocious, and this momma was doing her best to run (or limp) around like a crazy nut to just find some semblance of order--even just once in a while!  I suddenly realized that I had stopped expecting the kids to help around the house.  I had been so overwhelmed by just the day-to-day living, especially since my hip surgery, that I had forgotten to enforce our expectations. 

Immediately following my October surgery, the kids had pulled together to help me out.  But as time wore on, they became less and less inclined to help.  They became less cooperative, and downright lazy! I knew I needed to change things up, to flip the "script" that had been recently written. 

So, right after the New Year, I finally implemented a family chore chart that I had been working on for a looooooooooong time...like 1 1/2 years looooooong!  A couple of years ago, I had researched chore charts on Pinterest, finding many fabulous ideas.  But there wasn't one particular one that would work best for our family.  So, I just melded a bunch of ideas together to come up with our own system--one that I hope will work for us for a while! 

I knew I wanted the children to be responsible for themselves and their own rooms, but I also wanted them to contribute toward the family.  Because, well, family is a LOT of work, amiright? I also wanted an incentive system, or as educators and psychologists would call it, an extrinsic reward system.  I wanted to get my kids on board with regular chores and helping around the house, so I wanted to entice them with the promise of a reward for a job well-done.  But then as they become more accustomed to helping regularly again, my plan is to gradually reduce the rewards they receive.  I want them to learn that as a family, we all work together to run things, that each person is an important cog in our wheel.  Too, I want them to learn that we all have a responsibility toward each other to care for ourselves, our family unit, our home.  We are interdependent on one another.   

I decided to go with a "token economy" type of system, where the children receive a ticket for each time they complete a chore.  I also decided that I can use the tickets to encourage the kids to chip in even more often than just by doing their own chores.  So for every extra chore, they can earn one to five tickets, depending on the difficulty and length of time the chore takes.  I can also use the tickets as a positive reward for when they are super-thoughtful or kind to each other.  They are generally pretty good toward each other already, but every now and then one of them goes out of their way for another.  And by all means, I want to encourage that!  Of course, I always praise them verbally for their help and their kindness, too. 

On Sundays, which is our family day, we sit around the chore charts and have a family meeting. The children choose which chores they would like to do for the following week.  I have two categories of chores they have to choose from.  They pick a couple of chores they will have to be responsible for every day for the following week, and a couple of chores they only have to do once or twice during the week.  Little Miss is responsible for a bit more than the boys, due to her age being twice that of Miracle Man and Chub-Chub.  Other than that, my one rule is that they cannot choose the same chore they just had the week before.  That gives everyone a chance to try out each of the different chores, learn a new skill, and share in the responsibility of running the household.

Here is what our family wall with the chore charts looks like:



For the individual chore charts, I used shadow box picture frames for each child.  Inside the frame, I printed on cardstock the list of personal responsibilities for each child and I made areas where the chosen chores could go. I also printed the individual chores on cardstock, but I wanted a different color so that they would stand out against the background of the photo frames. Then, I laminated the personal responsibility pages, as well as the individual chores they can choose.  After the chores were laminated, I cut them up and attached a piece of Velcro to the back of each one.  Originally, I was thinking that I would open the shadow boxes up every week to change chores (primarily because I was concerned that Miracle Man would rip them all down if he had access to them). But, fast forward a year and a half, and I realized that idea wasn't going to work. It's too cumbersome to open them up each week.  And it was difficult enough to put the backings back on the frames in the first place!  So I ended up hot gluing Velcro pieces to the glass on the outside of the frames in order to have a place to put the chosen chores.  It seems to be working just fine and Miracle Man hasn't touched them (yet)!

To hold the individual chores and have them readily accessible each week, as well as to distinguish between daily and weekly chores, I made a simple table for each set of chores in Microsoft Word.  I then printed them on cardstock, laminated them, and hot glued Velcro to them.  I hang these up with a clip on the wall above the kids' chore charts.  So far, it seems to be working well!  Here is what they look like:



The boys' personal responsibilities are the same, but Little Miss has a couple additional responsibilities. 


Here are each of the boys' chore charts:



If you zoom in, you should be able to read the personal responsibilities pretty well.  When I originally created these charts, the boys were going to be able to earn a piece of candy for completing their chores.  However, several dental visits later and I do NOT want them to have any more candy than they already have!!  So I have substituted the tickets for the candy.  Luckily, the boys can't read all that well yet!!  Shhhhhh.....don't tell!!

Here are the tickets that I am using.  I covered an old recipe box with a pretty paper using Mod Podge to make it look nicer!  Even though you can't really see it in the picture, it looks adorable!  You'll just have to take my word for it!

 

On Sundays, when we are having our family meeting in front of the chore charts, we discuss what went well the past week, and where we need to improve.  We are also discussing ways we can make this system work better for us.  Then we choose jobs, each child getting to pick one chore at a time.  Afterward, the children can choose to trade their tickets in (or not) for prizes from my special prize box. 

Secret Alert:  (It's filled with junk I already had laying around the house)!  Mum's the word!  I do need to add some more things to the box that the boys would like to earn, but for now, it works just as it is!  When the children are trading in their tickets for prizes, we discuss how much each prize is worth.  For example, a pencil, an eraser, or a small sticker sheet is worth only one ticket, but the larger items might be worth 15 or 20!  Little Miss has decided to save her tickets to earn some of the bigger prizes, while the boys want to use up all of their tickets at once!  Oh, and bonus:  The basket I am using is something I already had around the house, too, so that's another win!!

 
 
Just look at all that CRAP!!  Literally, it is just crap! But to the kids, it is so ultra-cool!  Chub-Chub has such a difficult time choosing!!  LOL  I hope that keeps them motivated!!

Well, there you have it!  My new family chore system. It may not be perfect, but it is working right now!  I'm sure I will have to continue to tweak it over time, and as the kids get older, but I'm loving it at the moment, and so are they!

Hopefully yours,

Marathon Momma

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