Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My quest for consistency...the saga continues

Me (at 6:50 am): Ok, time to get ready to go.
Her: (still staring at the tv)
Me (6:55 am): Let's go, I don't want to get stuck in all that traffic.
Her: Where's my blue karate shirt? I gotta brush my teeth. I don't wanna wear these shoes.

Ok, this isn't what I want, so to get a head start on the upcoming school year, I decided to give an old friend another try. Months ago, Hummingbird and I made a to do list door hanger. It was cute and all but I've learned that if there is no consistency, cute eventually wears off. You've heard me talk about being consistent, using this time before school starts back, gives me the opportunity to practice.

I want her to be a bit more task oriented (Oh, no, am I feeding a mini me, future A type personality?). She's going into the 2nd grade, so there are things I should no longer have to keep repeating. Ok, I gotta laugh at myself with that one. Yogli is 17 and I am still repeating things to him. Anyway, so I decided to remake the to do list door hanger.

My quest for consistency is in combination with Pinterest. **Side not here: Pinterest gets a bad rap sometimes because people get so caught up not being able to make the Pin exactly like the person who pinned it. Why not tweak it for yourself and Pin your version? Ok, back to the Pin at hand.

Here's the Pin I am gonna nail:

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We started with a foam sign from Dollar Tree (this place is awesome for simple crafts). They usually carry the foam door hangers but after visiting 3 different locations and not finding any, I settled for a regular foam sign. I attached a piece of ribbon at the top so that it could hang from a door, a door that's frequently used so that you're always seeing it. Cause you know, out of sight, out of mind. I used things I already had on hand:

  • Deco color paint markers (Hobby Lobby)
  • clothes pins (Dollar Tree)
  • Black Sharpie, fine point
  • glitter glue (Dollar Tree)
  • stickers, embellishments (Wal-Mart)
Hummingbird helped me paint the clothes pins and make the list of her to-do's. Once the clothes pins dried, I took her list and wrote each to do on a clothes pin, indicating whether it's something for her to do in the morning (AM) or night (PM). I wrote each task on the front and back of the clothes pins so that either way you flip them, you see the task. Think we got one weekend thing on there, so we just indicated what day she would put away all of her own laundry (that is one thing I am soooo tired of....laundry.). Ok, back to the pin at hand...

Next, I decorated the foam sign with stickers and embellishments I found in the $1 section of Wal-Mart, who knew? I used the glitter glue to draw a line down the middle of the sign (could have done a better job there but dealing with consistency here not so much beauty), distinguishing between tasks that need to be done versus those that have been done.

Here's our version in pics:

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Once Hummingbird completes a task from the "to do"side, she will move the task (clothes pin) to the "done" side. After she's in bed, I will move everything back over to the "to do" side.

Think that's gonna work for us. My consistency with Yogli and Hummingbird is dependent upon me being more action oriented with less talking (as in barking out orders and nagging). You know what that sounds like, right? "I'm only gonna tell you one more time..." "If you don't go brush your teeth then I'm gonna..."

You know this story is not over, to be continued...

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Birds, bees and all things in between

I knew that one day my A type personality would back fire. There are times when I am out and about, I see a great deal on something, I get it. I may not use it right then but somewhere in the near future, I'll find a use for it. Whenever I use it, it has good results. Until now...

Well, maybe my good results from this will come in the future.

I've read several articles about how kids are growing up at a totally faster rate than when I was a kid. Kids today are exposed to so many things at a younger age. Look at the different distractions they face each day: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the internet period, social media.

With all of that social media comes the possibility of them being exposed to things they don't need to see until later.

To get a jumpstart on Hummingbird's journey, I purchased this book:

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While in the store, I flipped through the pages, wondering if the content was too much for her 7 year old mind. I know that at this age, kids are silly and laugh at words like: booger, do-do, booty, and whatever else. At the same time though, I thought back to when I was a kid. No one ever took the time to talk to me about my body, what was about to happen to it, how it was changing, nothing. I remember picking up bits and pieces, here and there, piecing it all together. Uuugggh!

Part of my duty as Hummingbird's mom is to tell her these things before some other kid tells her. And you know their version will be WRONG!

So, I bought the book, along with a cutesy journal (she loves journaling). She has carried both books around, with a pen, making notes in her journal.

Here's the dilemma, well, maybe not dilemma, more like a concern, I guess.

She's focusing on certain parts of the book: developing breasts and the section on boys! Oh lord, what have I done!

She will ask questions but then do that little kid thing where they laugh so much, and then they change the subject. I am trying to be open and discuss anything that she has questions about. MonkeyMan has been talking to her as well because he noticed about 3 journal pages from the boy section. She's copying sentences from the book into her journal. Now, a part of me is like, sweet, at least she's practicing her penmanship. But the other part is like "I should have left that book where it was, she's only 7".

Of course, I've heard the stories of kids her age talking about all sorts of sexual acts. Obviously, they've been exposed to stuff their young eyes should never see, not until they are older or maybe even never. I am not concerned that she will process this information incorrectly, she may be the kid that spreads the truth about the birds and the bees. I think that her reaction, so far, is normal. Which, in the long run, is what I wanted. To just lay a foundation. One that we can continue to build on as she grows older.

Let me mention, that foundation is sitting on my nightstand for right now. Yeah, I took that book...for now. My mom mind needs time to process my next move. Make the growing up STOP!

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bug bite yielded s'mores

Every now and again, I get bitten by the cooking bug. I have subscriptions to cooking magazines and flipped by this last week:

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Ok, stop drooling....It's a slight variation of the all time camp fire classic. Yeah, I like to mix it up every now and again, wondering if the "others" will like it though.

Looks simple enough. Let's get it.

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Here are the ingredients:
  • Graham crackers
  • 14 oz can of condensed milk
  • Bittersweet chocolate
  • strawberries
Ok, so the next 2 ingredients are not included in the picture. I honestly forgot about them until I needed them :-)
  • Sour cream or marshmallow creme

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Pour the condensed milk in a saucepan, simmer for about 5 minutes, watch carefully, you don't

want it to boil. Trust me, if you do, you'll have burnt condensed milk pieces, yuck!

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Go ahead and measure out 1 and 1/4 cups of the chocolate chips. I chose dark chocolate chips, not sure if that's the same thing as bittersweet. 

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Add the chocolate chips to the condensed milk, stirring until the mixture is smooth. 

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Ok, now this is starting to look good. All that stirring gets you to this point. Hopefully, it's nice and smooth. 

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Wow, they magically cut themselves up! Before that happened, I rinsed the strawberries and sliced them.

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So, here's that pic of the sour cream and marshmallow creme I promised. I knew that my group would not go for the sour cream, so I figured I'd make some with the marshmallow creme.

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Go ahead and lay out your graham crackers. These all served as the bottoms that you'll lather the chocolate on.

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Speaking of lather...look at that chocolate. You can use a rubber spatula to spread out the chocolate on your graham crackers.

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Throw those strawberries on top of the chocolate, ok, maybe not throw. Gently place the sliced strawberries on top of the chocolate that;s ever so gently spread across the golden graham crackers.

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Next, spread either the sour cream or the marshmallow creme on top of the strawberries. Please note that the marshmallow creme is a wee bit hard to spread and gets pretty messy, but is oh so worth it. Once spread, top with another graham cracker. Viola, bon appeit, you're done!

This was a light dessert, MonkeyMan shrieked when I told him I used sour cream. It sounds kinda weird but actually quite a good combination. I can see a few variations on this snack, wonder how ricotta cheese would taste? Maybe next time, when I am bitten by that cooking bug again.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

6 app-tastic apps

Like my play on words in the title? Appsolutely, appmazing, apptastic, app...ok, I'll stop. Hard to think that just a few years ago, apps were not a part of our everyday lives. Seriously, there is an app for just about everything: from an app that allows you track your fitness regimen, you mess up and skip the gym, this app will send you a shameful message and blast it on social media


Ever thought about becoming a priest, get the app that gives you the "feel" of  being a man/woman of the clothe. I could go on and on and on but I won't, I'll let you do it via Huffington Post's list of weird apps.

For every weird app that's out there, there are very useful ones that come in handy for us busy bloggers. Here's my sampling of what I'm currently using to keep me on the up and up:

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Here's the rundown:

Cozi is more than just a calendar, you can:
  • create shopping lists
  • create to do lists, all family members can access this list if you want. Everything is color coded in Cozi, when you create a list, you select who gets to see what
  • have a spot for your weekly dinner plans, where you can store your recipes as well. I've used this feature in the past, really need to use it more because it truly is helpful. I've been using the shopping list to keep up with our weekly meals, need to stop doing that.
  • send messages to your fam. Again, since everyone has their own special color, you can designate who sees what. 
Not sure what your beliefs are but, YouVersion is an awesome app for the Bible on the go. Long gone are the days of carrying thick bibles (unless, of course, you prefer that) now you can access the Bible on your phone or tablet. Open YouVersion and you are greeted with a scripture for the day, access to various translations of the Bible, Bible reading plans and a notes section. This app allows you to bookmark, highlight and make notes to scripture so that you can reference at a later date.

This has been one rainy summer here in Georgia, so I haven't really used Weatherbug that much. I pretty much know what the day is bringing, rain and more rain. I love the recent update for tablets, it's very interactive. With more dangerous weather, Weatherbug sends warning alerts. Again, the rainy Georgia weather has produced some crazy storms, which prompts those "why" questions from Hummingbird!

Ok, this next app occupies those moments when I need to zen out. This is my go-to app when I am waiting in the doctor's office, or when I need to step away from my desk at work. It's Pinterest. MonkeyMan says I am addicted. Ok. I get lost when I use this app by web, phone or tablet. Not gonna say much more about it here, except that you can get your great ideas here or just admire the great ideas from others. Don't feel like you have to complete each and every pin on Pinterest, it's ok just to admire somebody else's work.

Redbox dominates video rentals. I cannot pass up a dollar and some change daily rentals. From my phone, I can send reminders of new releases, then I can reserve them for pick up later. This is cool when I am having a kid free weekend and MonkeyMan is working or when I want to reward Hummingbird.

Alright, this next one has become my bedtime go-to app. I wasn't aware of Flipboard prior to getting my Google Nexus last year, but it is awesome. I can search for any topics that interest me and Flipboard will search the webverse and compile them into "magazines" for my viewing pleasure. That could be content from Twitter, NPR, anything, if it's been broadcasted over the web, you can get it in a magazine. Recent updates allow you to create your own magazines of your favorite articles. I have found some pretty cool blogs through Flipboard, which has added to my views and subscribers.

Whew, there you have it! Got any apps that you use to keep you productive, entertained or just plain sane?

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Why sounding like my mama is a good thing

Things my mama says....
  • "Don't talk when grown folks are talking"
  • "Standing too close to the tv will ruin your eyes" (Ok, this one might actually be true, been wearing glasses since 6th grade!)
  • Roll your eyes again and I will knock you into next week" (one of my all time favs, amazing, I could time travel just for rolling my eyes!)
  • "Make sure you have on clean underwear with no holes just in case you get into an accident and get taken to the hospital" (Really?!?!? Why would that matter if I am in the hospital?)
  • "Either you eat what I've cooked or you don't eat at all"
  • "I don't care that you're mad. You got your lips poked out so far, we can all jump up on them and ride" (that one just makes me scream with laughter, I am doing it right now as I am typing this!!!)
Just a few mom-isms I remember from my childhood. I also remember getting popped if I acted up in public or in front of company.

Ok, fam, I am suffering in this area when it comes to Hummingbird. I find myself telling her what's gonna happen if she doesn't behave instead of taking action. Remember how I talked about being consistent? I need to be more consistent in discipline as well. She gets away with a lot.

Here's my story. Since becoming a parent, I've always tried to do things differently than my parents. Not saying that they were bad parents but we didn't have a lot when I was a kid. We didn't go to parks, libraries, restaurants, none of that. We could not afford it. There was a lot of backyard bbqs with good food, good music, good friends. Back then, I thought that was not "cool", rather boring. So much, that I would stay in my room and listen to my own music and watch baseball, fantasizing about my life with one of the Atlanta Braves.

So, in my trying to do things differently than my parents, I think I may have caused some harm. I think that what I took as them being mean, was them actually steering me in the right direction. They made do with what we had. I am a reflection of that and I think that I'm a pretty darn good reflection. Now, I want to be reflected in a good way as well...

When Yogli was growing up, I would make sure that he got to experience childhood things, like playing soccer, going to parks, riding bikes and summer camps. He was such a well behaved kid that people would comment on how well behaved he was and still is. He's not perfect, but he's a good kid that, when he was 7, could sit in a restaurant and act right. Same with Hummingbird. She's taken dance lessons, currently takes karate, is a Girl Scout, very active kid. We take vacations, she goes to summer camps, we do family oriented things. Maybe I need to scale it back a bit. See, once again, my type A personality has me going from one extreme to the next.

Kids are different, plain and simple. Boys and girls are different, plain and simple. Hummingbird is a spirited, intelligent, sharp tongued, energetic 7 year old girl who loves bright colored finger nail polish and her hair flowing. I recall being in a store with her once and having a total stranger look at me and say "Honey, I'll bet that you're glad when her head hits the pillow at night." Amen, ma'am, amen.

Recently, I started to really observe her behavior. A lot of it is me, there's some of her dad there, too. Her need for attention is a characteristic of him, which we will have to shape over the upcoming years. Her sassy tongue, sharp comebacks, I guess anything that involves her talking comes from me. I say that without pride. Even when she is being her sharp witted self, she can still be so sweet. I love the fact that she is outgoing, has her own defined sense of style, and speaks her mind. I hope that these are things that she carries well into her teenage years and beyond. My task is to help her shape it so that it does way more good than harm.

Before drifting off to sleep one night, I was reading a blog post by Surburbia Interrupted that spoke quite loudly to me. Surburbia wrote about her daughter, who displayed some of the same characteristics as my Hummingbird. Surburbia realized that her daughter was a reflection of herself, they fed off of each other. Ha! This explains my relationship with Hummingbird to a T. Last Sunday, while getting ready for church, she looks at me and says "Mommy, I have some green shoes that would match your dress. I would let you borrow them but they are probably too small." This is a glimpse into our future, where she will probably be raiding my closet.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tell me how you woosah

***The following video is intended to help you relax, chillax, if you will. Repeat after me: woosah, woosah. Remember your pressure points.

Last week I read a google+ question directed to moms who need a bit of relaxation, honestly, just 5 or 10 minutes away. You may say "what can 5 minutes do, that's not enough time to get relaxed!"

Well, recall my post on the gazillion why questions I get from Hummingbird (like right now, as I type, she's standing here asking me when is breakfast gonna be ready!!!!!). So, yeah, 2 minutes will give you a quick mind refresh.

Anyway, this mom asked how do other moms find balance and time for themselves. It can become overwhelming caring for everyone else and not your own self. Think about it. What if, on a particular day, you don't feel so well. Will the world stop, will the clock stop ticking? Sure, you may have support in place, but it wouldn't be the same. Also, would you let your support take care of all the things that need to be taken care of?

Why do we, as women/wives/moms/all other female roles, find it hard to take care of ourselves? When I say "take care of ourselves", I mean in all ways, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

I used to struggle with this. Long ago, in a far away land, I was in a bad spot in my life. I had unhappiness and no joy. During that time, I tried to force work/life balance. I did not know how to carve out minutes for myself. That all came to a crashing halt and I am so thankful it did. That crash allowed me to finally discover myself. One of my discoveries was that I had no interests, no hobbies, nothing. I was merely existing. As the therapist asked me the questions, I felt like there was a void inside of me. But, also at that moment, I knew I had work to do. And that's what I did, went to work on the road to discovery. Now, don't let my typed words here make you think it was easy. Plenty of crying, doubt, fear, and a mixed bag of other emotions ran rampant in my life during that time. But, I knew I didn't want to stay there.

I learned how to put myself in time out, be it, when the kids were in bed or awake watching their favorite tv shows.

Ok, don't get me wrong again, I have not perfected this yet! But here are a few ways I put myself in time out:

  • Spend 10-15 minutes in my closet, morning or evening, reading, praying, learning how to meditate (check out this freebie I found, it offers free guided meditations.) When I first heard of meditation, I thought it was something weird but over the years, I've grown and learned. MonkeyMan keeps telling me to concentrate on my breathing, but how many of you know that's it's tough to do that when you are "trained" to concentrate on so many other things? My struggle right now with meditation, trying to quiet my mind. 
  • Torturing myself Working out at the gym. I work through my lunch at work so that I can leave an hour early. This allows me to get to the gym before picking up Hummingbird. I found a gym that's 5 minutes away from her karate school. Working up a sweat allows me to sweat out the crap from the work day. For me, the gym is a place of regaining my thoughts, helping me to center myself. Burning some calories is just a great by-product of all that. Working out in the afternoon/evening works for me because it fits our schedule and it chills me out for the rest of the evening. 
  • Get in wannabe crafter mode. Yes, I am a Pinterest lover! Honestly, just surfing Pinterest relaxes me. I surf on my laptop, my tablet, and my phone. Crazy, I know, but it's provided snippets of relaxation for me. I've done several craft projects from Pinterest, some with Hummingbird and some by myself. Either way, it's been a proven way for me to "woosah". And who cares, if it turned out exactly like the Pin, at least you can say you tried it, it's ok. 
Might not sound like much but those are three things that I have tried and am currently doing now to get me in a woosah mode. What works for me may not work for you. We each have to find our own methods, you might be able to try the three I listed above, you might have to tweak them to fit your needs. The goal is to at least try to find ways, which may require us to be more creative in how we find our woosah.

Remember this:
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Now go ahead and put yourself in time out!

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Ever been to CrazyTown?

Who came up with "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me"? Whoever they are, they lied. I actually believed that when I was a kid, but life has a way of showing you that a little nursery rhyme is far from the truth.

I've always been a bit sarcastic. I've always had a way of using my words to inflict pain whenever I am angry. At times, I've used my words to inflict pain on those who don't deserve it, those who have been closet to me. People usually hurt those closet to them. Not saying that it's right but I can see how that happens. Those closet to us see us, the real us, bare bones and all. Sometimes what we show them is pretty, sometimes it's jacked up, sometimes it's just plain UGLY.

I've used my words sometimes to cover up what I am really feeling. This happened in a recent encounter with the person closet to me. Instead of me simply saying what I was feeling, I went from point A to point XTBECCGOXLA (yeah that probably doesn't exist, my point exactly). Yikes! I clearly went to CrazyTown, as a good friend of mine describes it. She says " we all have a bit of CrazyTown in us. Be a visitor, not a permanent resident".

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On this recent visit to CrazyTown, the minute I opened my mouth, I knew that I was wrong. Yet, I didn't stop. That made me awful, to hear the Voice telling me to stop but yet I kept going. Once all of the venom was out, I felt disgusted with myself.

The next morning, I asked God for the words to say to express why I said the things I said. He didn't say "why are you asking me now, you didn't ask me last night". Ha! Instead, certain scriptures were brought to my remembrance, things I had learned in a relationship class I had taken last year.

Over the past few years, I have worked to quickly acknowledge my fault in matters. So, I've accomplished that. Now, I need to work on words I use to express that fault.

Another reason why I continue to work on using my words for good is that I have two folks who are always looking at what I do and listening to what I say: Yogli and Hummingbird. They both have sharp tongues (got it naturally) but I want them to use that sharp tongue only when necessary. Yeah, I know, you probably thought I was going to say "use that sharp tongue never". Nope. I believe that there are instances where some people need to hear some sharp words. I guess I am saying I want them to be able to control how they use their words.

So, I've passed through CrazyTown, hoping to hold off on my next visit. However, if I visit again, I will have better control on how long I visit. I've donated this sign for CrazyTown to put on its streets:
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I've been jacked by summer

This summer is gonna be different, I said. I will make a summer bucket list to keep me grounded, I thought. I will pick a few skills to sharpen Hummingbird's mind for 2nd grade, I said. We will go to the park a couple of days during the week after work, I said.

Man, I talk too much!!!!

What has happened to my summer? Look at it, gorgeous, huh?
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Its's practically over. Can you believe we are halfway through the year? That means 5 months til Christmas, yikes!

How did this happen?

I think my A type personality took over and I focused way too much on my list.

Summer should be about being carefree, not as many rules, taking it day by day. I had to remember that the kids are out for the summer, not me. As a work outside the home mom, I still have a regular work schedule to follow, which still includes a congested, volume fill commute. Why don't businesses give employees summer hours?

So, I had to revise the manner in which I tackled  could enjoy my summer. Hummingbird and I did a craft on Saturday morning. Yogli spent the weekend with his friends. He even got a job! MonkeyMan and I enjoyed the simplicity of the weekend. See, nothing major or are they? Sometimes it's the small things we do that make the biggest impact.

Small things like strolling through the park and trips to Yogli Mogli.

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For this Yogli Mogli trip, there was one missing person. You guessed it, Yogli himself

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Can you guess which concoction belongs to who?
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So, listen to me carefully. It's ok to have those summer bucket lists but use them loosely. The regular Fall routine will be here in no time flat, plenty of time to follow all of the rules. But for the rest of this summer, stop and taste the frozen yogurt!

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