800 Books Down – 200 to go!

We are approaching the END of 1000 Books before Kindergarten!

It’s felt like a long haul some times, but little by little, we’ve kept on reading to our kids and religiously filling out those reading logs.

Front of the reading log in 1000 Books Before Kindergarten.

Front of the reading log in 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. The back includes the list we fill out (not as photogenic).

Along the way, there have been incentives for the kids. Free paperback books, and stickers that say “This book belongs to.”  Here are two books we received from the program:

Books that my kids picked out for their "listening" to so many stories.

Books that my kids picked out for their “listening” to so many stories.

As I mentioned in the first post, I am into this program! I love the quite time that reading to my kids brings, and I hope to instill within them a love of books and reading.  To my delight, I will find them snuggled up with books from time to time.

kids reading together in a chair

Love seeing them snuggled into a chair together looking at books.

In these pictures they were reading “old books” that had old book smell.  As I wrote about in my Fly on the Wall post, my daughter asked if books took baths.

For the record, they also partake in “wrestling” and do not simply sit quietly and read all day.

What reading programs do you do with your kids? What are your favorite children’s books?

 

 

 

Choosing our Holiday Card

I wrote about our holiday photo card in a few other posts already. I found a new website with some excellent card options called Minted.  In that first post back in October, I chose a few of my favorite cards….or so I thought.

Later that week I lamented that taking good pictures of my kids is a seemingly impossible feat. You can see my attempts here.

At big sister’s birthday party, we decided to take some more family pictures at a decidedly BAD time – at the end of the party. Here’s what we ended up with:

My kids' idea of a good picture.

This is my kids’ idea of a great picture!

It is kind of funny because it captures the energy and excitement of a three and five year old.  It also looks like I have a tail because I’m sitting on my food.  I don’t strive for perfection in my holiday photo card…just a few fun pictures that show our smiling faces will do fine in sending some holiday cheer to loved ones.

Initially these two card were my clear favorites.

When I spent some time on Minted’s site dropping in images, they just didn’t work well in the different sized fragments of the tree or heart.  When I showed Daddy O., he commented, “Why are you sending a broken heart Christmas card?” Hmm…I hadn’t looked at it that way.  These sample cards use similar pictures, all taken at once. I didn’t have such pictures at my disposal, so I needed a plan B.

In mixing different pictures taken throughout the year, another card format would work better for my family. Several photo slots, interesting font style, and color were some of my requirements. Without further ado, here is our card style:

Minted Holiday Collage Photo Card

A card with multiple pictures may work best for our family.

I ordered the cards and opted to have them delivered faster – without a printed proof.  I already received them and I loved how they were packaged with a handwritten note.

Thanks Tammy! The cards look great!

Thanks Tammy! The cards look great!

Do you have your holiday cards all set for this year? What type of format do you typically use? What other photo gifts do you create for family?  Personally I love creating cards and calendars every year. It gives me a chance to look back through pictures, remember many fun times, and count our many blessings.

Have a great week and lovely Thanksgiving!

Fly on the Wall – Do Books Take Baths?

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 16 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Fly on the Wall Post

I feel like I’ve been buzzing around a lot lately with family activities, birthdays, passing along baby gear, and not a lot of blogging.  I have been having fun with my own side business in addition to my part time job. Basically, I get to prepare / eat amazing food, drink wine and help prepare some freezer meals while I work. Read more about my job here.

Back to Fly on the Wall….

Bye Bye Baby Gear

I had a lot of gear from my kids that wasn’t needed by friends or family having kids, so I found a local charity for single moms who took a wide range of donations. I loaded my car with a highchair, bouncer, jumper, infant bathtub among other things, and buckled little brother into his seat. On the way to the donation center, he said, “I call baby toys a bunch of junk!” And “There’s a bunch of junk in the back.”

Hey bud, you used that junk!! I hope it helps another family too!

Music to my Ears

Big sister: Mom, can I wash the floors? I need a bucket.

Mom / Dad: Sure!

Big sister: C’mon Mom, help us. It’s fun.

Me: No, that’s okay honey. You’re doing great.

Big sister: You have to do it like Cinderella does!

Me thinking – we need to watch that movie more often!! Our house would be so clean!

This wasn't exactly said, but it was written, which counts for Fly on the Wall.

This wasn’t exactly said, but it was written exactly how big sister would say it, which counts for Fly on the Wall.

Playing the Game

When getting dressed, my son will say, “Wait, let me check and see if it’s size 3,” because he is 3 years old.  Upon seeing a 2 on the tag (some of which still fit him), he’ll choose something else. Daddy O. responded one time, “Do you want to see a 3?”  When he said yes, Daddy O. took a sharpie to the shirt & turned the 2 into a 3.  Problem solved & shirt worn! We’ve done this to a few of his shirts now. I write more about that here.

changing little brother's shirt to 3T

Play the game while getting dressed – a new size!

Do Books Take Baths?

My mom gave me some old books from my own childhood and even some from when my dad was a kid.  My son especially loves Grandpa’s train book! When talking about the books, I said, “It’s an old book from when mom was little. It has old book smell.” Big sister replied, “Pweh! Do books take baths?”

My Birthday

My daughter was born one week after my birthday, so I’m always focused on her birthday party when my own rolls around.  Still, we had some fun celebrating my special day as a family.  My colleagues bought me cake & a balloon at work and my husband bought me chocolate covered cannoli from our local Italian bakery. YUM! He put candles in the cannoli and he & big sister sang me Happy Birthday.  Little brother wasn’t singing at all.  When they sang, “How old are you?” he chimed in, “I’m not old.”  So true, so true my little man!

mama O. and my birthday cake

Sweet birthday treats waiting for me in the office

Melt my Heart

Big sister is into coloring and making art projects.  She has so many of them that I often encourage sending them to our family.  Sometimes she decides without me asking who will be the lucky recipient of her artwork. For one particular piece she recently said, “Can we send this leaf up to heaven?”  My reply, “Who do you want to give it to?” Big sister said, “Great Grandma.”

At this point I got a little choked up because she mentioned a grandma who passed away when I was still in high school. She’s seen pictures of her and we’ve talked about her. I WISH I would have just said, “sure, we can send it up to her. Let me get an envelope,” but instead I said, ” Sweetie, you haven’t even met her. She would love you very much. I think Great Grandma can see this beautiful leaf you made already.” Just precious! How do kids come up with this stuff?!

Random Comments

Ahhh…I had some Fly on the Wall “memo” saved in my phone.  Some mysterious phone monster deleted them. I think one gem was from my daughter, as we were driving to Illinois, she declared, “Someday I’ll name my kid Illinois.”  Okay, honey!

Big sister: My poop was like an eel turd.
Me & Daddy O.: What?!
Big Sis: my poop looked like an eel.
Wow! Thanks!

As I’m pulling out of a parking lot, little brothers reminds me in his sweet voice, “You’re not in a demo derby!”

Little Brother: When I get big, I’m going to hunt bees.

Me to wild kids: it’s not wrestle-mania kids!
Big sister: what? Wrestlevania?
Yes, not that either kids!

Big sister: The sky looks like a maze of clouds. (such a good description for that day)!

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

http://www.BakingInATornado.com                          Baking In A Tornado

http://www.therowdybaker.com                                  The Rowdy Baker

http://www.justalittlenutty.com/                                Just A Little Nutty

http://themomisodes.com                                          The Momisodes

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/                          Spatulas on Parade

http://thesadderbutwisergirl.com                                   The Sadder But Wiser Girl

http://followmehome.shellybean.com                          Follow me home

http://stacysewsandschools.blogspot.com/                        Stacy Sews and Schools

http://www.menopausalmom.com/                          Menopausal Mother

http://batteredhope.blogspot.com                                 Battered Hope

http://dinoheromommy.com/                         Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

http://www.someoneelsesgenius.com                   Someone Else’s Genius

http://www.crumpetsandbollocks.com                     Crumpets and Bollocks

http://www.juiceboxconfession.com                          Juicebox Confession

http://www.risanye.com                                              Risa Nye

My Venture into Direct Sales

As I had mentioned way back in September in my Fly on the Wall post, I started my own business as an independent representative of an all-natural foods company.  This is a direct selling gig – something that I thought I wouldn’t ever do! You never know what twists & turns life will take, so the old adage, “never say never” certainly holds true.

According to the Direct Selling Association (of which my company is a member), more than 16 million independent reps in the U.S. alone are part of a $30 billion dollar industry!  That’s a lot of home parties and individuals selling to their own networks! Wow!

How I Decided to Sell

I was first introduced to Wildtree through my sister, who invited me to attend a friend’s freezer meal workshop. At first I wasn’t sure what I was in for – it can be intimidating to buy groceries for 10 meals, do the prep, and haul your cooler to a friend’s house.  For the cost of the workshop, I had 7 Wildtree products waiting for me at the workshop to measure & add to each individual bag, according to the recipe instructions.  I stood next to my sister, had some wine, and chatted away with the other guest while we prepped our meals.  It was a lot of fun, not to mention productive.

Wildtree Freezer Meal Workshop

This is what a freezer meal workshop looks like!

After enjoying the 10 Wildtree Freezer Meals I had prepped the night of the workshop, I would do another workshop a few weeks later. It was a grilling workshop that included a Hickory Smoke Grapeseed oil and a Rancher Steak Rub seasoning blend.  I think it was these two ingredients that made me fall in love with Wildtree!  I’ve never had such delicious steaks before!!  Each meal felt like restaurant quality foods, making me feel like such a rockstar in the kitchen!

Plus, being the main cook in our house, I was tired of making the same things over and over again and wanted quick, easy dinners after my days at work or fun-filled summer days at home with my kids. The freezer meals were the ideal solution for my family!

When faced with attending another freezer meal workshop, or becoming a rep myself, I ultimately decided to pay for the $49.95 for the starter kit (plus shipping), and go for it back in August!

The IDEAL Job (especially for Busy Moms)

I’m excited to share the freezer meal planning concept and amazing, all-natural Wildtree products with my network on a schedule that I set on my own. The flexibility of my Wildtree business fits in so nicely with my current part-time job, while still giving me time at home with my 3 year old and older daughter who is in 4K half-days. It’s a perfect job where I’m completely in control! I think this is why so many moms are attracted to direct sales.  You can determine when you work, booking parties, or in my case tastings or freezer meal workshops when it’s convenient.  As with any job, you get out what you put in, so I do need to be disciplined to keep my business going. Ideally, I am targeting to have three to four parties a month to give me enough time to balance our family’s activities.  It’s been a lot of fun promoting and selling products I love!

Wildtree 8 Pack of Seasonings

Here’s an 8 Pack Sampler that was included in the Starter Kit.

More about Wildtree 

Wildtree is an all-natural food company that focuses on quick, easy, healthy dinners. Their all-natural products do not contain preservatives, dyes, fillers, GMO, MSG or high fructose corn syrup. Many products are organic certified too.  Most important of all in my book is the amazing taste! For more about the company & its history, click here.

Hosting Parties

In addition to helping my contacts host parties, I have been a recent host for my friend’s new Stella & Dot venture (also a mom looking for a flexible work arrangement). As with any direct sales business, it pays off to be a host because you can earn free products!  I also like the added benefit of motivation to clean up my house when people come over.  I’m definitely a people person, and I love a reason to bring friends and family together. It IS a lot of fun combining friends from all different areas of your life!

I had never really done a jewelry/accessory party before, but it was a huge hit! I loved being able to try on the items and the chance to catch up with friends over drinks & food. I’m excited to choose my accessories and do some holiday shopping with my host credit!

What are your favorite direct sales or home party-type businesses? Have you heard of Wildtree before?

If you want more info about my Wildtree business, please email me at gomamao AT gmail (dot) com.

Sometimes You Gotta Play the Game

This was advice I heard early on in my career.  Sometimes you gotta play the game. It’s so true!  Even though I may have thought that something should be done or approved much sooner, I have learned that sometimes it comes down to timing, or making your boss think it was his/her own idea!  Whatever works!

In my own personal life as a parent, I too must play the game at home!  I talked before about the rebranding I do for my kids to try to encourage cooperation and good listening, while making it fun. Sometimes this works well, and sometimes I’m just plain annoyed, tired, and too focused on getting the task at hand completed.

We had one of those times recently, when I was trying to get my son dressed.  Since he’s three years old, he thinks that all of his clothes should be a size three.  This logic works for big sister, who has pretty much been true to her size and age as she’s grown.  Little brother is still wearing some size two clothes and often boycotts wearing size two because it doesn’t match his age.  Before putting on a soccer t-shirt, he said, “Wait, I want to see if it’s size three.”  It wasn’t, so he was refusing to put it on. Frustrated, I walked away.

Daddy O. stepped in with a genius move. He took the shirt and asked little brother, “Do you want to see the number three on it?”  He nodded, yes. Daddy O. took a sharpie to the tag and wrote the number 3.  Upon seeing it, little brother GLADLY put on the newly labeled shirt.  AMAZING!

Thanks to Daddy O. I’ve learned to play the “numbers game.” Here’s the picture of the shirt I recently re-labeled so my son would wear it. Whatever works, right?!

changing little brother's shirt to 3T

Play the game while getting dressed – a new size!

How do you play the game as a parent?  Are there any other sayings you’ve heard at work that also apply to your life at home?

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