Come take a trip with me on my wild ride as the mother of 3 sweet "babies".

Friday, December 16, 2011

Why We Don't Do Santa

I catch a lot of flack from friends when I tell them we don't "do" Santa in our house.  Mostly it's met with fear that I might let the truth slip to their own kids.  Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Santa.  I just don't lead my children to believe that he's a real dude.  After all, he is a fictional character based on a real guy - Saint Nicholas.  He was a wonderful, Godly man, and for his full story, go here. It's some fantastic history!  And Santa Claus makes a great STORY.  But that's all it is.  Same as Frosty, the Gingerbread Man, and Rudolf.  Here are some of my top reasons why we don't push the Santa agenda:

1. It's lying.  I can't believe the lengths that some people go to to keep the lie going, either. I just can't do it.
2. It takes away from the real meaning of CHRISTmas - you know... the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ?  And if you don't believe in that, I'm not sure why you are celebrating this holiday.  I don't celebrate holidays that I don't fully believe in.
3. If I did choose to go along with the belief in a real Santa, what happens when they find out he's a big, fat phony?  Will they also stop believing in the reality of Jesus, God, and the Bible stories we read?  I'm not willing to take the chance.
4. I expect my children to behave at ALL times of the year, not just between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This is also the reason why I don't have an Elf on the Shelf (no matter how stinking CUTE he is and how much fun it would be to put him in different mischievous scenarios!).
5. If Santa only comes on Christmas Eve, that means that I have to either keep wrapped presents hidden, or bust my rear end to wrap everything that night and get it under the tree, only to be woken up at 6am by my eager children.  I much prefer to wrap presents and put them under the tree to enjoy for a few days (maybe a week) ahead of time.  Then I can relax, and enjoy the holiday with family.
6. I want credit!  If I had to sneak out in the middle of the night on Black Friday and fight off 5 other moms to get THE gift for my child, I'm not letting some fake guy get all the credit!  I did that, not him!
7. It's creepy.  Some thug breaks into my home in the middle of the night through my chimney? Seriously? That's terrifying!
8. Our family is on a budget.  We can't afford to buy our kids each a $300 gift.  So, if they ask Santa for something we either cannot afford, or is out of stock in every store, what then?  What will they learn when their friend gets that gift from Santa, but they didn't?  Will they think they weren't good enough? Talk about disappointment! 

Now, I'm sure I've really peeved some of you off with this post, and some of you may even be calling me a hypocrite right now because of the toy fairy (which has been gone for a while now - turns out that good old Love and Logic works much better)  and the tooth fairy (which my children also know is not real, but since she's not taking anything away from their religious education, we play along with it - plus, do they really care who gives them money for teeth?).  I have always taught my kiddos the difference between reality and fiction.  

We do have multiple Santa decorations in our house, but it's really only because he's darn cute.  We have snowman decor as well, but they also know those don't come to life.  We visit Santa every year because it's fun, and we will do the same when we get to visit Mickey and the Disney Princesses when we finally go to Disney World.  We read Santa stories along with Frosty, Rudolf, talking animals, the Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly, and many other great make-believe literature.  Most importantly, we read from the Bible - every night.  

All in all, my main beef with Santa is that he tends to become the center of the holiday for many families, and his importance shadows the true reason for the season. 

No worries to all of you Santa lovers out there, though.  To each their own. I just wanted to voice my opinion and let everyone know my reasons WHY. I understand that all families are different and do things in their own way, and because of that, my kids know that some children do truly believe in Santa, and they are instructed to let them have that fantasy.  My babies just get to know the truth and play along as they wish.

Oh - and to save me some time in the spring... Easter Bunny - Ditto

Merry CHRISTmas, everyone!

Monday, October 10, 2011

An all-around GREAT day!

I had a fabulous day today.  Nothing huge happened.  No big news.  Just lots of little things that added up to a wonderfully enjoyable day!  Here's what went down:

  1. I got up before the kids and got a shower in before Luke woke up.  He woke up when I started laundry, and then was content to read a book in the hallway and then come into my room, turn on the radio, turn the dial to a station that had music and start dancing.  (He's 20 months old) 
  2. The girls woke up to said music when I opened their door.  This started them off in a good mood.  Bonus!
  3. Kids all got dressed without a fuss or me having to push them along.  We had our mobile breakfast ready to go, and out the door we went - with only minimal complaining about the rain.
  4. Had to wait for a train (always when pressed for time), but we STILL got to school just in the nick of time!
  5. Ran some errands with the young 'uns, and then decided to "walk" at the mall.
  6. "Walking" turned into shopping when I figured out it was Columbus Day - SALES!!! Yippee!  I bought 3 new shirts - original price... $110.  Actual price after clearanced, plus 30% off sale, plus $10 coupon... $25!  CHA-CHING!
  7. Finished up with enough time to let the kids spend 10 minutes in the Disney Store (which Laney calls Disney World - eh, let her believe), and then get in the car to pick up Bella.
  8. Great afternoon with the girls while Luke sleeps.  Bella did her homework, Laney ASKED to do homework, and then they played - without whining for TV!
  9. Jerry comes home and fixes the computer which had been randomly turning off!  Yay!
  10. I had a wonderful home visit with a new family, and that's all I can say - that's confidential! :)
  11. I went to the office for a few minutes, and had a conversation with a night custodian - he couldn't believe I had three kids- and then said, "Well, women can do that when they're in their 20's - they have kids, but you can't tell by looking at them."  HECK YEAH - a double compliment.  I have 3 kids and I'm in my 30's. BOOYA!
  12. Finished off the day with a small-world experience at my Girl Scout Unit Meeting.  Ran into a parent of one of my old 2nd grade students - who's now a junior in high school!  Awesome kid.  So glad to hear how he's doing.  

All-in-all a wonderful day full of lots of little things that equaled happiness in my book.  Plus - on my way home, I learned that we secured the neighbor girl across the street as a babysitter for my kids.  Oh, happy day!  Jerry and I may just get out once in a while now.  Look out world!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


It’s our anniversary this Wednesday… 9 years!  That doesn’t sound like a long time, but we’ve been through a lot.  Jerry’s dad had leukemia and BEAT IT!  My dad is working on his leukemia victory as well.  Kick it to the curb, Dad!  We bought a house and filled it with a cat and 3 wonderful children.  Jerry has been a financial planner and a teacher and earned his Masters degree in administration.  I have been a resource teacher, a 2nd grade and kindergarten teacher (not at the same time), a preschool gymnastics instructor, and a parent educator.  Most importantly, we’ve earned the titles “Mom” and “Dad”.  We’ve become “Aunt Cathy” and “Uncle Jerry” to 6 nephews and 1 niece, and we have 1 nephew and 1 niece OR nephew on the way!

Times sure have changed!  When we got married, flip phones, and the fact that you could keep your cell number when switching between providers were all the rage.  Now we have smart phones and have given up our house phone completely.  Our weekends used to consist of meeting some friends out for drinks on the Plaza or going to a wedding.  Now we mostly go to children’s birthday parties or plan baby showers.  When we got married, I colored my hair to cover my hardly-noticeable gray hair at a salon and had fancy highlights just ‘cause.  Now I color my hair so that I don’t look like the evil, aging mom-ish lady on Tangled and scare the crap out of my daughters - and I use a box, because I don’t have time, and it’s cheap.  When we got married, Jerry had hair. ‘Nuf said.  Back in 2002, we didn’t have to worry about home improvement, lawn care, or “resale value” because we lived in an apartment.  Now we have a mortgage, and MUCH more responsibility. We used to go to movies every weekend - sometimes twice.  Now we relax on the couch with some wine (ok, that’s mostly for me) and watch a movie or a show on Netflix (because we got rid of cable, too).

Yes - life is very different for us now.  And I wouldn’t change a thing.  The most important difference?  I’m more in love with Jerry now than I ever could have imagined when we first got married.  Happy 9th anniversary, honey!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

SAHM? I think not!

For over 5 years now, on "mommy sites" like Cafe Mom, TheBump.com, and Circle of Moms, I have read numerous comparisons between working moms and stay-at-home moms (SAHM).  There are some pretty heated arguments on there about who's doing the right thing, who works harder, which is better, etc.  All I know is what works best for my family, and the answer is neither! I am a full-time mommy and a part time parent educator.  Add to that my "extra" titles like: Daisy Scout leader, Gym Mom, Dance Mom, Wife, Scrapper, Blogger, Caretaker, PTA member, Kindergarten Picture Wrangler (I made that title up, but it really is my job), Cook, Housekeeper, Taxi driver, Play-Date Organizer, Calendar Keeper, Event Planner (for our family, anyway), Bellaney Babycakes Founder/Creator/President, Baby Sing and Sign Instructor, etc.  I'm sure there are more in there that I'm forgetting.  

My life is crazy hectic with one kiddo in kindergarten 5 days a week, one in preschool  2 days a week, and another in Kids Day Out once a week.  For example, here was my day today:

  • 6:30 - wake up, take shower, get ready
  • 7:15 - entice the girls out of bed to get ready, eat breakfast, brush teeth, etc
  • 7:45 - drag the boy out of bed and dress him - breakfast on the go for this little man!
  • 7:55 - obligatory 1st day of preschool/KDO pictures in front of the front door
  • 8:00 - on the road
  • 8:25 - drop off Bella at Kindergarten
  • 8:45 - get gas so our day can continue without a tow truck involved
  • 9:00 - 1st day of school drop off for Luke and Laney -no tears, no drama (from the babies or their mama!)
  • 9:30 - meeting for me at work
  • 11:45 - pick up Bella from Kindergarten
  • 12:00 - meet my parents at Chick-Fil-A for a special lunch w/ Bella (followed by Cold Stone - yummy!)
  • 1:50 - stop by Marshall's to pick up a much-needed jacket and socks for Bella (who knew fall would come so soon?!)
  • 2:30 - pick up the little ones after a successful first day!
  • 3:00 - stop by Jerry's school to visit before he has to supervise the stadium for soccer
  • 5:00 - write this blog! - and then make dinner
  • 7:00 - bed time for the little bugs.
  • 8:00 - wine-d down time for mommy!  (I would actually be at a Girl Scout Leader meeting if Jerry wasn't working.  I'm okay with knocking something off the list for today!)
  • 10:00 - go to bed, so I can manage the craziness tomorrow!

With all of that on my plate, I figured I needed a new label.  I don't quite fit in as a SAHM, and since I don't work full time out of the house, I'm not really a working mom, either.  Here are my suggestions for moms like me who are in limbo looking for a collective name.  

AOTPM (All Over The Place Mom)
ABHM (Anywhere But Home Mom)
OOTTM (Out On The Town Mom)
Or maybe the winner...

RALACWIHCOM (Running Around Like A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off Mom)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Morning Mommy Has Arrived!

She's here! She's here! Let's hope she stays.  She's so nice, energetic and fun! 

Nope, no one is visiting - I became Morning Mommy this morning!  Yeah!!  I woke up at 6:15, and had over an hour to myself before the little'uns got up. In that hour, I was able to shower, check e-mail and Facebook, start drinking my coffee AND do yoga!  What a refreshing start to the day!  By the time the girls tiptoed into my room, I was just rolling up my yoga mat and already had a smile on my face.  That's a switch for them, for sure.  I'm surprised they didn't freak out and wonder what happened to their grumpy "I don't wanna get up" mama.  (seriously - I was that childishly bad) 

Because of my positive attitude this morning, breakfast was made quickly, and I did 2 loads of laundry and a load of dishes before we all walked out the door at 8:45.  Before lunch, we had dropped off dry cleaning and headed to 4 stores to find the perfect backpack/lunch sack combo for Luke for his first time going to KDO. Mission accomplished even if it did mean that we came home and ordered the backpack online to match the adorably cute lunch sack we found at Toys R Us - they didn't have the backpack in the store.  

Seriously - How cute are these?!  And since they're Skip Hop brand, I know they'll last.  I've had a diaper bag from them that has lasted for over 5 years!

I have to add that in all of this running around with three kids, it was pouring down rain! I made it, and I'm still in a good mood.  I'm attributing all of that to getting up before the kids.  I just might have to make this a habit - even if waking is not my biggest strength.  It's worth the end result for sure.  

Now off to finish folding that last load of laundry before I pack all of us up one more time for Bella's Meet the Teacher BBQ.  Kindergarten, here we come!

***On a side note - Toys R Us has a deal right now that if you buy a backpack, you get a free lunch sack (with a price of $9.99 or less).  Lucky Jerry - he gets a lunch sack this year, too! No more plastic Target bags for my honey!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Blogiversary!

I got the bug in me today to go back and read all of my prior posts.  As I was reading my very first blog post, it said something about Jerry just heading back to work after the summer.  I checked the date, and it was August 12 of last year!  A year goes by so fast and so much has happened in the last 12 months... birthdays, wedding anniversaries, milestones reached, preschool graduation, as well as some bad things including my dad's illness.

Here's to another 12 months of craziness (more good than bad, please!) from this mommy of 3 ankle biters!  Thanks for following me this past year, and I hope you continue to share in these moments with me.


Morning Mommy attempt #1: FAIL

So, I've been thinking and worrying about Bella starting kindergarten next week.  Believe it or not, I'm NOT mushy and sad about her growing up so fast and starting school.  It's a big milestone for sure, and I'm super excited for her, but I'm not sad.  She's absolutely ready.

But I'm not ready - to get up early 5 days a week... and getting 3 kids up, dressed, fed, and out the door on time FIVE DAYS A WEEK!

I'm not what you'd call a "morning person".  I really despise getting up early.  I love sleep.  If I could nap every day, I would - and then sleep in every morning until 9.  Funny - my kids won't let me do either!  And now, their school schedules won't.  I've been spoiled all summer long with Jerry home (he's a teacher), but now he's back at work.  So I have to buck up.

I have discussed my lack of morning motivation with a few people, and some feel my pain.  A few others, as it turns out, actually get up BEFORE their children!  This was a new concept to me, so I had to find out more.  One, my sister-in-law (mother of 4), said she sets her alarm and gets up before the kids so she can sip her coffee and have some alone time to think in the morning.  Hmm... sounds nice.  I'm not sure that it's enough motivation to get me out of bed before 7am, though.  My friend Michelle (mother of 2) gave me a different perspective.  She said that when she gets up before her kids, she's a more patient mommy.  When she waits and gets woken up by the kids - she's grumpy.  Now THAT sounds like me.  When I get woken up, I'm a bear!  That explanation actually made so much sense to me, that I'm going to try to do it.  I'm going to set my alarm, and get my shower in and coffee intake started before the kids roll out of bed.

That's the plan, anyway.  But, as with any new lifestyle change, it's going to take some getting used to.  I had good intentions today.  I asked my hubby to wake me up after his shower, so I could be up early.  Problem is, that before Jerry took his shower, there were screams from our daughters' room. The smoke alarm started chirping in their room at about 5:30 this morning.  Thinking their house was going up in flames, they were terrified!  No matter how many times we reassured them that it just needed new batteries, they would not re-enter their room this morning - so into bed with me they came.  For the next hour, they squirmed, kicked, talked, etc to keep any of us from sleeping. 

So, day one of trying to be a "Morning Mommy" instead of a "Moody Mommy" was unsuccessful.  I'll try again tomorrow (yes, a Saturday).  I have to get this down before school starts next Wednesday!  It's all good - I work well under pressure.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pink Parisian Poodle Party

An Eiffel Tower greets the guests as they arrive.
I like alliterations, can you tell?  Pink Parisian Poodle Party.  Has a nice ring to it. :)  My now 3 year old, Delaney loves dogs.  She asked to have a dog party for her birthday.  As we went through the pre-made party supplies online, we came across the pink poodles in Paris line.  So, we rolled with it and added our own flair (of course!).
Using a projector and my laptop, I made the
"Pin the Puff on the Poodle" game.  "Genevive",
as Bella named her is about 2 feet tall.
Lanterns - I love me some LANTERNS!
The cupcakes were INCREDIBLY yummy.  Made by Darby's Delights (Angela Rolf). We had raspberry and cookies and cream.  All I had to do was add the toppers which I made from some fun paper punches.  It was nice to give my scrapbooking tools a workout.  If you're from the KC area and want Angela's information, just send me a message, and I'll get you in contact with her (or click on "Darby's Delights" and you'll find her FB page).
Laney got a giant cupcake all to herself! Lucky girl!

Jerry looks tres chic decked out in Parisian style! Notice the sweet applique on his shirt - yep - I'm awfully crafty with an iron!
 We gave out these berets from Oriental Trading as one of the party favors.

Some pics of the food spread.  Please pardon my French.  I used Google translate to help me, and for some reason couldn't find the French word for "fruit".

Bella got to wear a fancy "French" feather bow in
 her hair and I ironed on a fleur de lis and the word "Paris" on her shirt.
And yes, that's me in the background holding the blindfold for the game. 
I ironed a bling-tastic fleur de lis on the back of my black shirt. 
Didn't get a good pic, though.

Luke sporting an adorable Eiffel Tower iron-on.  He walked around most of
the party stealing cookies from people's abandoned plates.
I tacked a poodle applique onto Laney's tutu that I scored from the toy dress-up section at Walmart.  It came with the matching headband.  It's hard to see in this pic, but she got an iron-on, too - a white poodle on her black leotard.

It was a fabulous party.  We played Pin the Puff on the Poodle, and the kids made foam frames to take home.  The favor bags included a beret, poodle bubbles, a poodle tattoo, a paw print stamp, and a personalized swirly sucker that said "Happy Birthday Delaney."  The cupcakes were delicious, the company was wonderful, and the birthday girl was happy.  What more can you ask for?
*Again, I didn't post any pics of our party guests in case they didn't want their children's faces on my blog.  We did take plenty of pics, and SOMEDAY I'll get around to adding them into a scrapbook.  You know - when I find some spare time!

Room 5: The BIG one!

Jerry and I were most excited about this room re-do.  It's the first room you see as you walk in the door, and it was lacking something.

Before, the living room was functional, but lacked style and coziness.  Plus the carpet had seen much better days. We really didn't spend much time in this room. 
The toy chest in the lower left corner usually purged its contents all over the room.  Pay no attention to the lanterns randomly on the piano.  Those were put together and waiting for the next party.

From this angle, you can really see what we wanted to change.  The two black and white drawings on the walls have been up in our home since we were married.  They were drawn by Jerry's sister, so they mean something to us, however LL Cool J and Ozzy Osbourne don't really have a place in our family room now that we have a true family.

Our engagement picture looks great, but it is not really the focus of our family.
 It's being moved up to our bedroom so we can reminisce about the times
 when I was skinny and Jerry had hair. :)
The color we chose was "pumpkin butter" by Behr.
Everything off the walls - Let's go!

A much warmer look - along with some new decorations, but a few things were missing...

Out with the old carpet that was worn from many a playdate, party and indoor picnic.  The padding is made from recycled Nike tennis shoe soles.  Yay for being green!

Ooh - I can feel the warmth already!  The color of the carpet is "truffle".  Yummy!

New religious art reflecting the true center of our home and our family. We picked up all these gems at Hobby Lobby for 50-80% off!  Praise the Lord for that, indeed!

All done!  ...or so we thought at the time... 

Surprise!  Jerry had been shopping for good deals on baby grand pianos for a while, and the right one finally popped up!  It's a Young Chang, and sounds beautiful.  He certainly has been playing more than he ever has before.  It's music to my ears! Literally.
Everything has it's place, including the keys to the piano.

Ahh - so warm and inviting!

Now Jerry and I have our cozy, more adult-friendly living room.  The majority of the toys are in the playroom in the basement. 
 We are already spending a lot more time in this room individually and as a family, and since the toys are elsewhere, the kids are more apt to pick up a book!  The toys that do make their way here can be quickly hidden away in the brown bins in the bookshelf.  So refreshing!  Please, Lord, let us always remember keep it looking so nice.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've had a few questions about the homemade laundry detergent I pictured in my laundry room re-do.  It's really simple, super cheap, and now that I've tested it out for more than a month, I can tell you it does a bang-up job of cleaning our mountains of clothes and towels.  We've put it through some tests, too!

Here's the recipe:
 1c. Arm and Hammer washing soda
 1c. 20 Mule Team Borax
 1 bar (shaved) Fels-Naptha

Use 1 tablespoon per load (2 if very large or heavily soiled) - I use 2 on socks and underwear.

I have read that you can use Ivory soap in place of the Fels-Naptha, but Ivory is murder on my son's eczema.  I have had no issues with his skin from using these products.

I also read a few recipes online that made liquid detergent.  I think it's mostly personal preference, but I didn't feel comfortable keeping a 5 gallon bucket full of liquid around in my house of 3 small children.  Didn't seem safe to me.  I much prefer my little glass jar of dry detergent.

Here's the breakdown (everything was purchased at Walmart):
Super cheap ingredients. Borax $2.98, Washing Soda $2.77, Fels-Naptha $0.97

Just a few things you will need on hand: a grater (for the bar soap), a 1c. measuring cup or scoop, mixing bowl, spoon, and container to keep detergent in.

It can take a while to grate the soap, but it passes quickly if
you're watching your kids play or catching up on your "soaps".

This is what the Fels-Naptha looks like shaved - and it smells FANTASTIC!

All mixed up!

This is 2 batches worth.  Not bad!

I made two batches of this back on June 15th, and I have yet to run out.  I still have enough to last me through at least a couple of weeks, and remember - I'm doing laundry for FIVE people!  This is an AMAZING savings for us.  I haven't quite figured out the cost per load, but considering I've hardly made a dent in my boxes of Borax and washing soda (which together cost me less than $6), and I've used less than $2 worth of Fels-Naptha, I am positive it's much cheaper than the brand name I was buying (and I bought a cheap brand). So... I going to go out on an estimating limb and figure it costs me about a buck and a quarter a month. That's CRAZY cheap!

** For those of you wondering, NO you cannot use this on cloth diapers.  Borax and washing soda are both laundry boosters, which means they have brighteners in them that cannot be used on cloth diapers.  But for everything else - it's super!

Room 4: The deck plus "Blossom"

This makeover was Jerry's baby.  The deck was sad and under-appreciated.  We hadn't really done anything to it in the 8 1/2 years since it was built.  It's way of fighting back was giving our children splinters.  Point taken.  Time for some TLC.

It was really this much fun... REALLY!

Rolled on THICK.  Looked like BBQ sauce.

Almost done.  Jerry's taking a break to talk to our neighbor David while he works hard staining his fence.
Look, Ma! No splinters!
 Meanwhile (and I do mean "meanwhile" because my hubby was going back and forth between projects), Jerry got a great deal on a cherry blossom tree from Home Depot. Only $15!  It's not the right season for planting, but if we take really good care of her, she'll do just fine. We've been wanting to plant a tree in this spot for a few years since the tree that used to be there met an untimely death.
Laney was a great helper.

She helped Daddy dig the hole.
Laney concentrated so hard on her job.  She felt very big and helpful.

So strong!

I love this picture, because it looks like Jerry's holding up a much bigger tree because of
our neighbor's tree in the background.
 Bella appropriately named our new addition "Blossom".

It feels good to get these two projects out of the way!