Thursday, July 17, 2014

GREAT Deal on Water-Bath Canner from Amazon



I've slowly been learning how to can things.  A month ago, I canned a whole bunch of cherry stuff from the cherries I picked at my mother in law's house.  The only issue was that my biggest pot was not big enough for my largest jars.  And even for my smaller jars, I really couldn't fit that many.  

So I started keeping my eyes open for a water bath canner that didn't cost $50.  Because, frankly, I didn't have $50 to spend.  And then this one popped up on Amazon....for $15!!!  It's currently on sale, and I'm not sure how long that sale will last.  For comparison, this pot is ON SALE at Kohls for $38! So this really is quite a good deal if you are looking for a pot for canning your garden goodies :)  You can find it on Amazon HERE.





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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Why I Withdrew My Daughter from Swim Lessons



You know you've been busy when your husband comes home and remarks, "you know you haven't blogged since the 7th?"  And you snap back all rudely, "I KNOW!  I'm busy, okay?" 

And that's my life.  I'm currently working on balancing EVERYTHING, because, you know, stay at home moms don't do anything (sarcasm).  I actually like being slightly busy.  Not "too crazy for my family and important things kinda busy", but busy like "wow, I have so many awesome things going on" kinda busy.  I think I'm currently in the latter, which is good, and enjoyable for me.  Sitting at home is incredibly boring, and only talking to my kids all day makes me a little batty (Need.  Adult. Conversations.).  We've had lots of playdates with lots of different people.  We've had swim lessons , trips to Lake Tahoe, volunteer opportunities, and my new job as a Kindermusik instructor.  And THAT, my friends, is why you haven't heard as much from me lately.

Moving on to the main point of this post: swimming.  I signed my 3 oldest (6, 4, 3) up for swim lessons this summer.  I fought with my 6 year old EVERY day of the first session (6 lessons total).  She occasionally would get in, maybe try one of the activities, and always smiled the whole time once she did something.  Yet we fought about it every day, still.  She's not afraid of the water.  She is just so freaked out about lessons with the male instructors (you know, in her defense, "hi, I'm not wearing a shirt and I'm in the water, come grab on to me while I teach you to swim" is kinda an odd situation, right?).  The one day that a female teacher was present she was just fine.  So when she flat out refused to get in the water on the first day of the second session, I walked out and withdrew her.  She was so relieved, and so was I.

Here's the thing.  Knowing how to swim is a non-negotiable.  My children NEED to learn for safety reasons.  But aside from pushing her in the water (which certainly would disqualify me from any mom-of-the-year awards), there's really nothing I could do.  Throw on top of it that I also am holding my 8 month old through her fits (and that I was missing watching my middle children in their class), and these lessons were EXHAUSTING for me. 

 I really fought with myself over whether I should keep her enrolled and keep pushing for her to get in, or withdraw her from the class.  We generally make our children finish out whatever they've started (Zoe hated ice skating lessons last year, but we made her finish the session).  I don't mind if they just don't like something, but they have to finish.  But knowing how to swim is excluded from my quitting rules.  It's not an option to know how to swim.  They don't get to decide that swimming just "isn't for them."

In the end, my decision came down to knowing my child and responding to her individual needs.  We have four kids.  Two of them hop right in the pool.  It's so easy to say, "well it's fine for them, so it's fine for you."  But Ellie is not Zoe, and she's not Aaron.  Zoe is bold and daring and fearless.  Aaron is cautious but curious, and has a big sister in his class.  Ellie is slow-to-warm-up, stubborn, very cautious, and likes to learn by watching and then trying on her own when she feels secure.  And she has this weird thing with male teachers, apparently.  Once I processed all this information, I decided that withdrawing her from this class and finding something else for later was the best option.

Ellie needs more of a one-on-one situation.  And if it's not with me or dad, it's going to need to be a female instructor.  In my ideal world, I'd have access to a pool where I could take her and teach her myself.  But since I don't live in my ideal world (boo!), it means we're going to suck it up and get some private lessons to ensure that our children can swim (and swim well).  

Each child is different, and as much as I'd like them all to be the same in this one area, they're not.  Pulling Ellie to the pool side every lesson does nothing good for her, and it certainly does nothing good for my sanity.  And so, that's why I withdrew her from swim lessons.  Hopefully we'll find something more suited for her soon.

Monday, July 7, 2014

DIY Maxi Skirts for Kids



I recently fell in love with the Maxi Skirt.  Well, actually I fell in love with them last year, but I never bought or made myself one until this summer.  I bought my first one, and then debated over how many days in a row was too many to wear it.  Turns out the answer is 4.  

I remembered pinning some maxi skirt tutorials on good ol' Pinterest, so I hunted them down, and then ordered some fabric.  



Jersey knit fabric can be quite pricey at the store, and I am quite frugal.  I kept hearing about this magical online fabric store called Girl Charlee.  Let me tell you, it is indeed magical.  I bought 2 yards each of purple and yellow chevron jersey knits.  Each set of 2 yards was enough to make 1 skirt for me, and 1 skirt for my girls.  The fabric was $6/yard.  So, I spent $25ish for 2 skirts for me (a long and a knee length) and 2 skirts for my girls (a long and a knee length).  We have enough of the yellow left over to make some American Girl doll skirts, too.  I will say, though, that the quality of fabric is not as nice as the one I bought from Maurices (which cost me $30).  BUT, for the price (which was a fraction of the cost), I personally think it was totally worth it, and I will be buying more soon.


I followed the tutorial HERE for the skirts.  I followed the same instructions for my girls skirts, with smaller measurements.  I found that while the figures for the waist for a grown up (measure your waist, divide by 2, add 1) were about perfect for me, it was not for my girls.  I ended up taking them both in at least an inch...not too difficult, just fold the top band back out, zig zag stitch it tighter, and then fold it over again...you won't even notice it when they are wearing it.  I reduced the thickness of the waist to 10" on the girls skirts.  For the shorter skirts, I followed the same directions, simply reducing the length of the skirt.  

Aren't they the cutest little maxi skirt models ever?



Saturday, July 5, 2014

"New Babies Don't Just Eat, Sleep, and Poop"


"New moms are tired.  Really tired.  They don’t know what they’re doing (even if it’s their fourth baby), but they certainly have huge range of freely given advice from just about everyone and their mother on just about every subject under the sun.  
That being said, there’s this one particular saying that people spew out of their mouths that is probably meant to be encouraging, but is really just a statement full of lies and misgivings.  It sounds something like this:
“Oh, don’t worry.  Once she’s born she’ll just eat, sleep, and poop.  You’ll have plenty of time to get stuff done.”"
Read the rest of my post for the Reno Moms Blog here...
Then come back here and let me know some of your biggest pet peeve new mom advice topics!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Handprint American Flag


The fourth of July is coming up!  These little handprint flags are a super cute and simple activity to show your American pride!  

We actually made these last week while watching one of the USA World Cup games, but they will become our fridge decor for the fourth!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day to My Husband and Dad

Part 1: My Husband

Ben with Ellie

 I am SO incredibly thankful for this man.  When we got married 9 years ago, I could not have imagined how great of father he would someday be to our children.  He amazes me every day.

Ben with Levi
His never-ending sense of humor keeps us all on toes, and ensures that we don't take life too seriously.  I like it that way...life is way more fun with Ben.

Ben with Zoe
 Our children are blessed, and I'm not sure they even realize it yet.  Ben is fun, playful, and so incredibly loving.  And, he's great at letting them win in wrestling fights ;)

Ben teaching Aaron how to fix the washing machine.
 I love how my husband teaches and trains our children, and how he involves them in the little things because those little things are actually really important.  

Ben with Zoe at the ER at night.
This man does whatever it takes to love our children and to care of them.  And I'm forever grateful and honored to call him my husband.  

Happy Father's Day, Ben.  We are so thankful for you!

Part 2: My Dad


And of course, there's one more super special Dad in my life-my own!  I never fully realized what an amazing man and father my dad was until I was grown and had children of my own.  He loved me, and he sacrificed so much. 

Weekends at soccer tournaments...as a child I didn't know these cost a lot of money, nor that it meant time off from work.
Birthdays...thanks for sharing your birthday with me (and now Zoe, too).
Working extra jobs...I never understood why you'd pick up extra jobs, thank for providing for everything we needed.
Jesus...thank you for being an example of who Jesus was, and for helping me understand and come to know him from a young age-this forever changed my life.
Your car...thanks for letting me drive your car to school every day, even though this meant you got dropped off at work by your teenage daughter.  

I am so blessed to have you for a father.  Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cherry Picking Day and What I Made

My 3 year old picking cherries with me.
My Mother-in-Law's cherry tree is exploding with beautiful cherries this year.  My kids spent Sunday through Wednesday at her house this week, and so that gave me two opportunities to pick tons of cherries (drop-off and pick-up).  I brought home 4 gallon bags full of cherries the first time, and a 2 1/2 gallon bucket full the second time.  And seriously, people, my heart was so happy.

My 4 year old "pitting" cherries after I picked them up.
I had so many cherries and I wanted to try so many things.  I have never owned a Cherry Pitter before, and actually I had no idea these things even existed until I searched for it online.  I bought this one in red.  It works wonderfully, and it is small enough to store easily in my already over-crowded drawers.  Both of my girls took turns pitting the cherries, too, as it is a pretty safe little tool.


Maraschino Cherries

On Monday, I made maraschino cherries (did you know commercial maraschino cherries are soaked in bleach-yuck!).  I just spent 5 minutes searching Pinterest for this recipe to share with you all until I realized that I had actually pinned it.  Geez.  I think I need more sleep.  Anyway, I used this recipe for my cherries, and I used concord grape juice instead of cherry juice because of the cost.  These are amazing, and the juice is tasty and perfect to use in Shirley Temple drinks.  I canned three tiny jars, and one large jar using these directions.  If you are looking to try canning, and don't want to spend a lot of money, I bought this kit for just $15 and used my own large pot for the hot water bath.  I'm sure the fancy equipment and pots would be nice, but this is some great starter equipment.


Then I moved on to the pie filling.  In total, I made 3 batches of 5 cups each (enough for 3 pies).  I used this recipe (this lady's pictures are amazing, don't you think?).  I froze two batches, and put the third in a jar in the fridge to be used this weekend. 


I made three jars of cherry jam using this recipe.  I also canned these, though we are already flying through our first jar!  SO delicious.


Finally, I made some popsicles for the kiddos using 1/2 cup leftover grape juice, 1/2 cup chopped cherries, and 1/2 cup chopped strawberries.  Above is the picture of all my final goods ;)

I'm super proud of myself for spending time making all of these and actually canning some things all on my own!  My fingertips were brownish for a couple days from pitting all those cherries, though!

Have you ever made anything with fresh cherries?  Are any fruit trees ripening where you live?

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