You Know Your Kids are Getting Older When…

Recently I’ve been noticing that my kids are definitely getting older in many ways. There are a few glaring instances that come to mind, as itemized in my top ten list:

  1. They tell you that they don’t want to watch Thomas the Tank Engine anymore. Though we still have the trains and some books – those are still okay.
  2. Similar to #1, they deem themselves “too old” for Sesame Street.
  3. You have to ask for a hug goodbye before they get on the bus. (Fortunately, I’m always greeted with a hug when they come home.)
  4. At a friend’s party, when you ask if they want you to stay, they quickly say, “No, Mom!”  This happened with my kindergartner already!!

    Pure sweetness: sharing a story in their PJ's. What a way to start off the day!

    Pure sweetness: sharing a story in their PJ’s. What a way to start off the day! My son picked out his mis-matched PJ’s here (see #9).

  5. You overhear them say that grown-ups are boring! HEY!!
  6. They don’t need you to read to them all the time, as they can start to read some on their own! It’s so sweet when my daughter will read to her younger brother.
  7. One offers to help out the other (I LOVE this one – my daughter will sometimes help her younger brother get out of his car seat).
  8. They fight over who gets to unlock the door with mom’s keys.
  9. They get picky-er about what they want to wear. I expect this to only get worse!!
  10. Their room decor is a bit mixed. I made the owl below for his first birthday, and we still have animal decals on the wall above his toddler bed (which he tells me that he still likes).
Star Wars and Animals

Star Wars and owls side by side: the ULTIMATE baby – big boy juxtaposition.

What moments have made you realize that kids are growing up?

A New Way to Display Art – Old Window Screens

As I mentioned in a recent post, I like to use what we have around our house before going out and buying something. Early on in summer, I was tired of seeing the old window screens stacked behind our garage, so I searched Pinterest and found this pin.  I knew we could figure something out for a bulletin board for my daughter’s room.

I picked the two best looking screens and cleaned them off with a our garden hose, which actually pulled off some of the old paint for further “distressing” of the wood.  Between some hardware stores and Hobby Lobby, I manged to find mini clothespins, eye-hooks, and D-hooks for hanging the screens on the wall. With a little help from Daddy O. at the end of summer, we managed to create and hang up these two screens.

The Finished Product

full view of window screen art boards

Two window screen bulletin boards proudly display my daughter’s art.

close up of window screen art boards

Close up of the screens, so you can see the vintage, distressed wood. It actually matches nicely with our older home!

Now our only issue with the screens is that we didn’t make one for my son! A larger window screen is waiting by Daddy O’s tool bench to make it happen.

What “junk” have you re-purposed into something functional for your home?

Oh yeah…I also did some crafting with big cardboard boxes too! See the train and kitchen I made out of carseat boxes.

So Many Stories Behind each Cause

I recently was part of an annual walk to fund raise and support our area Children’s Hospital. This has been a family affair for 4+ years as we support our heart hero nephew, one of the children’s champions, for whom we walk.  He’s just six months older than my own four year old son, and he is thriving thanks to major heart surgery that he received as just a baby.

Each “children’s champion” at the race wears a special colored shirt, and I found myself thinking of each child, team of walkers (or runners), and their supporting cast of medical professionals, family, and friends. So many stories have brought us all here to walk / run for the kids.  I couldn’t help but feel moved by the enthusiasm and energy of the crowd of 16,000 all gathering for healthy kids. So awesome and beautiful!!

View of the crowd on the walk!

View of the crowd on the walk!

I’ve written about going Gold in September before here, and I have been meaning to write something about it this month.  The thing is – I really didn’t know what to say before, and to some extent I STILL don’t as a mother of two healthy kids. What authority do I have on this subject? I haven’t walked in the shoes of a “children’s champion;” I’ve merely been a supportive cast member, offering up my prayers.

And then I read THIS, written by my friend Aki, who I met more than ten years ago when we were studying abroad together. Her words describe so beautifully what I think we should all be reminded of daily.

Her post is a must-read: “It’s National _______ Month”

There are so many stories behind not only every awareness month, but behind the faces of each and everyone we meet day in and day out. We may have no idea what someone is going through, so we should simply “be present” and treat each other with kindness and love.

These words carry so much meaning coming from my friend. She has bravely opened her heart to share the story of her son Kai, who passed away at the age of 2 and 1/2 from a rare form of brain cancer.

In honor of Kai, my nephew, other children’s champions, or anyone facing a battle in life, let’s try to live our lives each day with more compassion for one another.

10 Frugal Tips for Families

As a young family, we’ve experienced life with two incomes, one income, and one and one third incomes. With my recent departure from my “1/3 income” in my part-time marketing work (which is now a full time job for an entry-level individual), we are back to one income. It is a blessing and a luxury to be able to be home for my kindergartener and preschooler. As when I left full time work when my son was five months old, we made some adjustments to our budget to make it work, and many of these financial choices have become habits now. As a result, I don’t have to stress about not working.

Here are some things we do to help budget and save money:

  1. Cancel cable. We’ve replaced it with a Netflix subscription and have never gone back.
  2. Delayed buying smartphones – We hung onto our dumbphones until about 2 years ago, when we finally made the upgrade to a free phone of course! Now we’re going to have to replace these “free” phones, and I think we’re too sucked into smartphones to go back to basic dumbphones (although I know it would save us money).
  3. Use what you have before going out shopping. This meant using stuffed animals we already have to decorate for my son’s jungle themed party.
    Jungle birthday party collage

    The stuffed animals and green yarn (vines) were already on hand, so my shopping was minimal for decorating.

    And then I shopped at the Dollar Store for other decor. Easy and cheap!!

  4. Make coffee at home. When my coffee marker broke, I even used the pour-over method for my morning brew.

    mama O making coffee when her coffee maker broke.

    Boiling water over coffee filter that’s chip-clipped to a measuring cup. This was okay – the pour-over method was better!

  5. Re-use / recycle resealable bags. My mom did this,and my husband did this too…and (despite me swearing that I WOULDN’T do this as a teenager) we wash and reuse plastic Ziploc bags until they are worn out! I’ve also bought washable cloth bags for packing lunches and snacks.
  6. For groceries, shop the sales. I am in charge of 95% of all shopping, so I know when something is priced well. I try to use coupons, but only if it’s something we need and not just because I have a coupon.
  7. Eat-in more – I enjoy cooking and I do so often, so we can save going out to eat on occasional date nights. Typically we like to treat ourselves with sushi or unique “foodie-type” restaurants.
  8. Clearance = my best friend! I love shopping the clearance racks for kid’s clothing and try to buy ahead for next season at a fraction of the price.
  9. Enjoy the great outdoors – we love hiking, biking, and camping as a family. These are all affordable and fun activities. We’re saving for bigger vacations when the kids are a bit older.
  10. Understand where your money is going. We use a budgeting tool online and Excel spreadsheets. The online tool is similar to Here’s another helpful retirement planner. We have made saving for the future and for our kid’s education a priority, starting early on in our careers and when the kids were born.

For other sources on how to spend less, I would recommend checking out various topics on Clark Howard’s site. My mom is a  long-time fan, and I read one of his books (checked out from the library – another amazing, free resource), and he has a lot of great tips.

What are your tips for saving money as a family? Do you do any of these things I list above? Let me know what you think!

Fly on the Wall: Back to School Edition

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 PostCamping in the Rain

We went tent camping one last time in August, and to my dismay, it rained and was just damp and overcast for much of the weekend.  My mantra that I was repeating was, “Embrace the rain.” After all, camping is part of being outside and enjoying nature in whatever state. Fortunately, we camped with family who own a towable camper, so we could retreat there during our stay.

Knowing that it would be a cooler weekend, we packed pants and sweatshirts. I encouraged little brother to pack jeans, but he explained, “No, I don’t want to wear jeans. They’re my work pants.”  No wonder why he doesn’t wear jeans much!

Along the drive in the rain, we passed a car with Illinois license plates. Daddy O. remarked, “Wow, it’s a car from Illinois actually driving the speed limit.”  This is quite rare, like seeing a unicorn! ha ha.

Apparently the trail mix that I brought along camping was NOT a hit with my son. He said, “These are poisonous!” I think he was referring to the raisins and preferred to only eat the chocolate candy instead.

Back to School

Before school we had a chance to meet big sister’s 5K teacher. My daughter is a bit cautious when it comes to meeting new people, so I was so surprised when she gave her teacher a big hug right away! We were talking about the school year, and I expressed that big sister had said she was nervous – mostly about meeting friends. Her teacher replied,

“Want to know a secret? I get nervous for school too!”

It was so sweet, and I know she’s in great hands!

Here was big sister on her first day with me & Daddy O.

Mama O., big sister, and Daddy O. on the first day of Kindergarten.

Mama O., big sister, and Daddy O. – all excited for her big day!

In getting dressed the first day, big sister asked:

“What if I wore leopard print everyday?”

I replied, “Well, I think you could if you split up your leopard print things.”

She initially had wanted to wear pink & purple leopard print with her tan / black leopard print, but my opinion must have encouraged her to use leopard print sparingly. I have a dear friend, who I met in elementary school, who LOVES some animal print. I shared a pic of my big girl to which she texted back, “There’s NEVER too much leopard.” I think she made it for three days straight with leopard print with one of those days just being a hair-tie. Ha ha!

I’ve been packing lunches for big sister, and it’s been interesting to see what comes back home un-eaten.  I asked:

“Do you want tomatoes in your lunch?”

“No, they’re too delicious,” she said.

Okay….not sure I understand that, but I have stopped packing them.

Pinterest Pain

I do enjoy searching Pinterest and pinning various recipes and random things. You can find my Pinterest page HERE. I tried using apple cider vinegar as a wart remover (sorry TMI, I know, but we’re among friends here!), and it HURT. I made it 4 night using this cure and was lamenting to Daddy O. about it.  His feedback:

Did you baste too much? If you mix it with balsamic vinegar, you’d make a good pot roast.

Wise guy…I replied, “or with olive oil for a salad dressing.”

Now click on these links for a peek into some other homes:                          Baking In A Tornado                          Spatulas on Parade                          Follow me home                          Menopausal Mother                                   Never Ever Give Up Hope                                  Just A Little Nutty                                        The Momisodes                            Someone Else’s Genius                                      Dinosaur Superhero Mommy                     The Angrivated Mom                           Nichole Mom of 8                          Searching for Sanity                                    Cluttered Genius                 Eileen’s Perpetually Busy                          Southern Belle Charm