#MomWin Wednesday 

Being a mom is tough, and being a working mom is fraught with guilt. However, I think if we learn to celebrate our #MomWins, we will start to see the wonder in our ordinary, everyday lives. So, Moms, I invite you to connect and share your #MomWins here in the comments, over on the Facebook page, or on Instagram.

I’ll start:

  •  #MomWin–I rounded up all of the twins’ winter gear BEFORE the first snowfall.
  • #Momwin– I remembered to put the rotisserie chicken bones from last night into the slow cooker this morning. Dinner was a quick pot of chicken noodle soup after work. #nofastfood
  • #Momwin–teenager hugs (forced or not).

So, what are your #MomWins? I can’t wait to hear yours!

Outsourcing my Stress with Grove Collaborative (and FREE Mrs. Meyers Holiday Gift!)

This is my busiest time of the year at work. My job requires that I organize two MAJOR fundraisers a year, and since one is a Holiday Home tour and one is a Thanksgiving Day footrace, both occur within two weeks of each other! I spent the last weekend in Fargo for the home tour (and it was GORGEOUS!) and next week is Thanksgiving! Eek!

Even though I am busy at work, my job at home does not end. My family depends on me to plan meals, keep things running, and even keep things clean. The older kids are older and able to pitch-in more, but they are also older, and are busier with work and school activities–so I can’t lean on them as much as I would like to.

BUT, I am  a super-smart Mom-Boss! I know that in times of stress, some things can be let go–who needs matching socks, anyway? Not me! Sometimes, I grab a few rotisserie chickens from the grocery store on the way home and call that dinner. We all survive-and really, who needs a mashed potato side dish?

I try to keep a load of laundry swishing. I insist that the big kids keep up on dishes. I harp on the littles to pick up as they go. I sing the praises of grocery delivery. And, best of all–I outsource some of my shopping.

Let’s face it- NO ONE wants to run out of toilet paper, or dish soap, or hand soap, or eye cream (horrors!), or even toilet bowl cleaner (we all need it–no one wants to have to use it!)

I found that I was spending most of my lunch hours running around picking up various household supplies. And I’m picky. Appearance matters, scent matters, and my husband does not want to run around looking for my nit-picky requests (I actually picked nits earlier this year–let’s not have that again–ok?).

I’ve learned that Grove Collaborative carries all of my very favorite household supplies–at a great price to boot! I set up my shopping cart, choose my favorite products, and once a month my own, personal, concierge emails me, or texts me, (or both, because I forget things!) a reminder to review my cart before a monthly shipment. And some months, I just skip a shipment because I have a stack of 4 bottles of Method Toilet Bowl Cleaners (seriously. The best stuff ever. But I won’t clean four bottles worth of toilets this month–I hope!).

I can set my cart to be as automated as I want! And my kind concierge lets me know of products she thinks I will love.

But mostly, I’m just glad that I don’t run out of dish soap. Ever.

If your are super  organized and never run out of dish soap–you can stop reading now.

Peppermint Mrs. Meyers

This year, Grove Collaborative treated us to a new Mrs. Meyer’s Holiday Set — and they want to send one to you for free, too! The set includes a Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap, Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, Mrs. Meyer’s multi-surface spray and the Grove Collaborative Bubble Up.

My kids have been fighting over who gets to use this Bubble Up to do the dishes! It’s fun to pump the dispenser and make lots of bubbles, and the brush is easy to hold when you’re really scrubbing baked-on cheese off that casserole dish.

When the dishes are done, a quick wipe down with the multi-surface spray gets the counters and sink sparkling clean!

My husband and kids agree that these Mrs. Meyer’s Peppermint soaps smell good enough to eat! It reminds me of the peppermint bark the ladies at our church in Minnesota used to make, and I’m grateful that it’s safe for my family. The soaps also come in Orange Clove, which was a favorite in our house last winter. I can’t wait to grab a few bottles for our other bathrooms and laundry room with my next Grove shipment.

If you’re not familiar with Grove Collaborative, it’s a subscription service that makes creating a healthy, beautiful home effortless and affordable. I can choose my favorite products from brands like Mrs. Meyer’s, Seventh Generation, and Method, and Grove delivers them right to my doorstep, on my schedule.

Here’s what I’ve discovered after using Grove: When my kids get to help choose the products and scents we use, they’re much more willing to help clean! They actually get excited when they see the Grove box sitting on our porch. It’s like Christmas for them (and me!).

When you sign up for Grove Collaborative using my link, you’ll get the Mrs. Meyer’s Holiday set for free + free shipping. If you’re already a customer, you’ll get 50% off of the brand new and amazing Grove Collaborative Bubble Up. Don’t forget to sign up for the free VIP trial, too. Not only is the free shipping amazing, you’ll get perks like free gifts, price matching, and personal customer service.

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Grove only has a limited number of sets available and the offer ends November 21, so grab yours now! Here’s how it works:

1. Sign up for Grove Collaborative here . You’ll receive the Mrs. Meyer’s offer for free when you sign up! If you’re already a customer, you’ll receive the Grove Collaborative Bubble Up for 50% off.

2. Answer 4 quick questions about your home that Grove Collaborative will then use to customize your first basket — this takes under 30 seconds!

3. Once you’ve answered the questions, you can finalize your basket of products to suit your household needs by adding or removing items.

4. To receive this offer, your order needs to be a minimum of $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive in your first box.

5. You made it! Click Finish & Pay and place your order.

Here is an example of what you can place in your cart to get to the $20 minimum required to get this great deal! (And yes, that toilet cleaner is the BEST!)

Here is an example of what you can place in your cart to get to the $20 minimum required to get this great deal! (And yes, that toilet cleaner is the BEST!)

Let me know which scent you choose! I just know you will love Mrs. Meyers AND Grove Collaborative as much as I do!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links–that means, if you purchase something from these links, I will get a little money in return. It does NOT cost you a cent more, and it will keep me in coffee and wine for another day! Since this is a special offer through my site, you can visit Grove Collaborative on your own, and shop (and I hope you do), but unless you go through my links, you will not get this special offer. So, shopping through this link benefits us both! And THAT is in the spirit of full disclosure!

 

 

 

 

Gift Guide 2016: LeapStart

Disclosure: LeapFrog Provided me with a LeapStart System and some books to facilitate my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review.

I am thrilled to see that LeapFrog has re-tooled one of their classic learning toys for preschoolers and toddlers.

I say it often in this space, but I’ve been at this parenting gig for a long time–20 years, to be exact! I am thrilled to say that Leapfrog toys have been with me every step of they way, from a caterpillar who shared a crib with my son and taught him the ABCs to the Epic that lets my daughters enjoy having a tablet just like their older brothers but is age appropriate for them!

When I was given the chance to review the new LeapStart, I was excited. The LeapStart is a re-tooling of the very first Leap Pads, which were such a joy to my sons in the days before screens.

While I do not personally have a big problem with screen time and kids–I have been a digital pioneer and I grew up close enough to the Silicon Valley that screens have always been a part of my life. However, not everyone is as comfortable as I am with screen time.

The LeapStart learning system spans four levels. Level One is for toddlers ans pre-schoolers, and Level 2 for the pre-kindergarten set. Level 3 is Kindergarten and Level 4 is for First Grade. There are two different base models which vary a bit in stylus size and the unit designed for younger children has handles.

There are several books (sold separately) which system -wide span 400 different skills from ABC’s to STEM skills like coding.

There is some initial set-up as the audio for each of the books needs to be downloaded from the Leapfrog connect site. But the bonus is, unlike the early LeapPads, there isn’t cartridge to keep track of alongside the book.

This is an affordable little system and it is easily customized to match your children’s interest. My girls really enjoy the Kids World Atlas, with Global Awareness. They have had fun learning some basic phrases in six different languages!

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My daughter enjoying the Kid’s World Atlas

Each book also has a sticker section in the back where they are prompted to place stickers in a chart as they achieve certain skills. My girls are very motivated by such rewards, so they have found this to be a fun challenge!

Something that I really love about LeapFrog products is that they are designed by real educators, and as such, there is a good process in place for imparting skills in the right way, at the right level. This continues with the LeapStart Learning System.

I recommend this system for families who have young children and prefer a more analog approach to learning, rather than with tablets or computer games. There is a lot of open ended learning, and the size of the unit ensures that it is not easily misplaces (like our Tag Readers often are!)

Buy It:

And some of our favorite books:

 

 

Stressed? Blessed? Or Something in Between?

I have a rare fall Saturday at home today. The coffee is brewing. The girls are mindlessly watching cartoons. The first of many loads of laundry is washing (or the last of the midweek loads are rewashing–don’t judge!)

We are having an absolutely picture-perfect fall her in North Dakota this year. The stuff that magazine covers are made of.

I should be out walking paths crunching leaves.

I should be baking up all the apples.

I should be decking my house out in all of the fall decorations I have collected over the years.

This is what social media tells me I should be doing (and let’s not just blame social media! I’ve been at this mom gig long before Facebook and Pinterest. Before that we had parenting magazines that told us how to be perfect!)

What am I doing instead?

  • I’m waiting for that blessed coffee to finish brewing (why so slow, friend?).
  • I’m finally catching up on past-due writing (when the 9-5 is heavy on writing it is less fun on the off hours).
  • I’m getting used to a new Bluetooth keyboard–since about five important keys stopped working on the last one–as my Facebook friends were gleefully aware of!
  • I’m wondering where all of this laundry comes from!!!!
  • I’m looking at this big bag of fresh-picked apples on my counter with mixed feelings. I’m both thankful for God’s rich bounty, and a little overwhelmed with the responsibility of good stewardship.
  • I’m looking at my messy house while gently reminding myself that I had six children for such a time as this. I can cook and they can clean!
  • I’m thankful that the coffee has finally finished brewing and I am thankful for a stainless steel tumbler that keeps it actually hot when I set it down somewhere and forget about it for hours!
  • I’m thinking that all I really want to do is crochet. I’m working on a stack of dishcloths for Christmas gifts, which is a very fun way to play with new techniques! Speaking of new techniques, I fell down the Tunisian Crochet rabbit hole this week and finally got a new set of Tunisian hooks in the mail (thanks Amazon!)
  • I’m mentally procrastinating all.day.long.

The other night a dear friend commented in reference to me that I have six kids and never seem stressed. Well, I am stressed, a lot! My kids will vouch for me, and as such, I fear that I am not being real enough in public! I’ve been setting it as a goal to yell less for years now. . .and I’ve yet to succeed. I’m drowning in the clutter that a household of eight creates. Last week every last one of our dinners was on the fly–and one included using a coupon at KFC.

This is not the mom I ever wanted to be.

I always wanted to one of those moms who happily attended every sporting and school event, while maintaining an organized household, a shining disposition, and a balanced checkbook. Instead, I more resemble Mrs. Hannigan from Annie.


And yet, at the end of the day (most of) my kids hug me good night and tell me how much they love me. And yet, in the morning when I sit down to do my devotions I am reminded of just how much my God loves me.

Because you are precious in my eyes,

And honored, and I love you,

I give men in return for you,

Peoples in exchange for your life.


Isaiah 43:4

So, what am I? Blessed, stressed, or something in between? I still have to say, I am overwhelmingly blessed.

10 Reasons I am Ready for School to Start

Yes, I am that crazy mom who complains in June that summer is not nearly long enough, and counts down the days to the first day of school in August. I’m a mom, I’m allowed to be fickle!

So, here they are, a mom’s list of 10 reasons I am ready for school to start. 

10. I loved school growing up, and I love seeing the same joy in my kids. Sure, they may not love every single thing, and maybe I may not either, but, for the most part, I love the schools that our kids are in and it is exciting to see them learn and grow.

9. My kids thrive on routine, and, quite frankly, their summer routine is currently broken. Which means that they fight all. Day. Long.

8. I love the excuse to buy brand new, sparkly, school supplies. I could sniff at fresh Crayolas all day!

7. My house may stay relatively clean for a few hours a day.

6. My grocery bill will shrink, since I won’t have six kids mindlessly eating all day long!

5. My laundry pile will shrink since I won’t have two little girls home all day changing clothes 8 times a day.

4. Homework time gets me on track too! I often sit and read while the kids work on homework.

3. I look forward to fall sports and concerts.

2. I miss some of my school mom friends. We may only see each other at drop offs and pick ups, but I miss those interactions over summer break.

And my number one favorite thing about school starting is:

1. Normal bedtimes!!!!!!! This mama craves some evening peace and quiet! 

Image: ‘Lets Do 52 :: 34:52 :: Sharp’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/47166549@N00/7987131835Found on flickrcc.net

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