Saturday, August 26, 2017

How to Get Your Family to Help with Chores

His, Hers, and Ours -Who does what in your house?

Twenty years ago, on a beautiful warm day in San Diego, Secret Agent Man and I, joined our lives together as husband and wife.  Every day since, we have marched lock-step together on our journey through life, work, home, and family.

Know Expectations from the get-go

Before we were married we talked about the kind of life we wanted together.  He knew my life’s ambition was to be a wife and mother.   I wanted to take full responsibility for the proper care and feeding of him and our children and the upkeep our home.  That was our understanding and that was our plan. Then…the twins were born.

But, be flexible and ready to change those expectations

What I assumed would be a one-woman show turned into a tag team effort to keep our baby boys fed, diapered, burped, and bathed.

By the time our daughter, “Mini Me” came along, Secret Agent Man and I settled into our traditional roles of provider and homemaker. He brought home the bacon and I fried it up in a pan.
Being a single-income family is not easy. We’ve had to make sacrifices and endure lean times in order for me to be at home. 

Between the travel, intrigue, and third world government toppling, Secret Agent Man works long hours. I never complain.  I consider it a blessing to have a husband that loves to work. I like going out to dinner, I like buying a new pair of shoes, and I’m not going complain about how he provides those things for me.

I try to make it easy for him to do his job by doing mine. I’ve taken cues from my hero, Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis,

"I think the best thing I can do is to be a distraction. A husband lives and breathes his work all day long. If he comes home to more table thumping, how can the poor man ever relax?"

We have a clear understanding of what each of us will do around the house. He doesn’t know how to start the washing machine and I don’t know how to start the lawnmower and that’s the way we like it.

No matter what your situation is everyone who lives in the house needs to have responsibilities for its upkeep.

In a family where both the mom and dad are winning the bread, there needs to be equity in the household responsibilities. 

Some of the working moms I know will do the cooking and shopping, while dad and kids do the cleaning and laundry.

Kid’s responsibilities could include: feeding the pets, cleaning their own rooms and bathrooms, and helping with the dishes. 

At our house, everyone pitches in and cleans the kitchen after dinner.  It’s a wonderful change from the time when I would make dinner; the family would take 15 minutes to snarf it down and then disperse to their different corners of the house.  Now we are together more, the kitchen is cleaned quickly and the family has learned to appreciate me more.

Even the tiniest member of the family can help out.  If a baby is old enough to dump out their toys, they are old enough to pick them up and put them back.  It would be easier for mom to just pick up the toys herself, but teaching your children life-long habits of tidiness is worth the time and effort and they’ll be better people for it.

If you are having trouble getting everyone to help out around the house, sometimes it’s just a matter asking for more help and making your expectations known.  Chore charts, honey-do lists, and scheduled time for cleaning can help get everyone on the same page. 

Don’t forget to celebrate and relax together for a job well done. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

How to Play Minecraft - A Mom's Beginner's Guide - Warning! Minecraft is Addictive!

A Mom's Beginner's Guide to How to Play Minecraft and not die.

My three kids started playing Minecraft years ago. I made sure there was no blood, no gore, no vulgar language and, then let them be, to do their thing.

I soon found out that Minecraft is addictive. It’s very difficult to pull them away from it once they start. Why is it so addictive? I wasn’t able to answer this question until a few weeks ago. Minecraft is addictive because it is so dang fun!

At the beginning of summer, my 14-year-old daughter asked me if I would like to play Minecraft with her. I put her off for a while. I do everything for them: I cook, clean, chauffeur, provide for their every waking want and need, do I really have to play video games with them too? But, she persisted, so I relented. After all, when was the last time your teenage daughter asked you to play anything with her?

One of the first things I learned was that Minecraft has its own lingo. I spent a good part of the first afternoon coming up with the perfect name for my Minecraft character (Sparkleheart158), then my daughter helped me to create the perfect “skin,” complete with a polka dot t-shirt and a blue ribbon in her hair.

With Sparkleheart158 created and ready to go, my daughter unceremoniously plopped me down in a “lan world,” at nighttime. It was dark, I had no idea where I was and there were monsters after me, the variety and ferocity of which I only learned about later. I was almost immediately killed and “respawned” in the same spot. I did this over and over and over again, while my children stood behind me and laughed. Hilarious, right?! Mom is so stinkin’ hilarious.

After a few unsuccessful attempts of hiding behind trees and running for my blocky little life, my kids clued me in on how to survive in “survival mode:” Use your hands to punch some trees to make some weapons, make a shelter, even if it’s just digging into the side of a hill, and try not to be blown up by a “creeper,” not be confused with the “zombies” or the arrow shooting skeletons.

I quickly realized that survival mode was not for me. I am more of a “creative mode” mom. In creative mode, you have access to all of the Minecraft tools and resources. No need to mine or smelt or farm. Whatever you can imagine you can build! The kids and spent a few fun evenings getting on a LAN world together, creating and building villages, then switching back over to survival mode so we could war against the mobs of monsters.

At one point, I would have considered the time I spent playing Minecraft with my kids as a waste, but now I have a peek into their world, an understanding of something that they get excited about, and now maybe, at some level, they know that there is no limit to what I will do for them. I’ll even take a flaming arrow to the chest from a skeleton for them, provided I was wearing some diamond armor. Let’s not get crazy, now.

Here are a few tips every Minecraft mom needs to know:

1. It’s one of the most benign games out there. As previously stated, no blood, no gore, no vulgar language.

2. Your kids can be as social or anti-social with it as they like. They can play solo-dolo or with others. The cooperation side of it can be really fun. They can control with whom they play.

3. Imagination has no limits in Minecraft. Where else can they give a cow a ride in rowboat?

4. They can also learn good world management skills. Will they be kind of creator that protects their villagers with home and hearth? Or will they be the kind that will dump a bunch of zombies in a large pit; just to watch them burn at sunrise?

5. Again, as previously stated, Minecraft is addictive because it is so much fun. Try playing it yourself for a while so you can understand why it’s so hard to pull them away once they get started. Instead of just pulling the plug, set reasonable limits and help them to learn to manage their game time for themselves.

A lot of moms love being crafty, now try being Minecrafty!

What We Learned From Our Teenager's First Car Accident

First of all, thankfully, no one was hurt. There was only minor damage to the other car. Our van suffered from a crushed in frontside panel and wheel.

It happened just down the street from our house.

My son, who has only had his license for three months, was leaving our neighborhood. He pulled up to the intersection, looked right to see that the coast was clear, noticed my husband was driving up the street, thought to himself,

"Hey, there's Dad!"

Then, he proceeded straight through the intersection.

See the problem?

If you said, "He didn't look left!" You passed the driver's test!

The other driver was also a teenager. She did him the favor of hitting his front wheel, instead of the driver's side door of the family van that we bought when my sons were first born. We have owned it for 17 years, it has over 200,000 miles and still chugging'.

Her Ford F-150 faired a lot better.

My son is a lucky young man. His first and, hopefully, his only wreck happened nearby with his dad as a witness. My husband was able to help him deal with the other driver, her dad, the police, and the tow truck.

So, what did we learn?

We learned not to pile on. My son was shocked, scared, embarrassed, and deflated. I had a few minutes to process before he walked in the door. I had a chance to think about what I wanted to say. I'm glad I didn't add insult to injury, or non-injury, thank goodness. I didn't yell, although I wanted to. I love that van. We raised our kids in that van. I didn't demand explanations. The look on his face was enough. I saw what he was going through was not easy. I didn't pile on.

We learned that these ARE the moments for long talks. Teenagers hate long talks. You have to use them judiciously. Later that night, when the dust had settled, the van had been towed the half a city block to our driveway, and we had a chance to eat and let our emotions settle, we talked. We let him talk first. He expressed all the feelings we hoped he would say; regret, resolve to do better, and an understanding of the cost to the family. Again, we didn't pile on.

We or I should say, my husband learned to fix the struts on the van. He watched a few videos on YouTube and ordered the parts from Amazon. It makes me laugh to think about how differently we do things from our parent's generation. And our kids, in turn, will do things differently from us.

We learned not to fix the body damage. We left the dented-in driver's side front panel as a reminder to our son and a warning to other drivers.

So, what will we do next time, if there is a next time? 

We will unlearn everything! We WILL pile on! We will have the longest, baddest talk in the world, where his dad and I do most of the talking! We, or should I say, my husband, will not watch any YouTube videos about automotive repair and we will not take advantage of free shipping from Amazon Prime to get 200 lbs worth of car parts to our front door!

Because that boy...will be walking.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Stop being a mean mom! Buy your kid a toy! ($50 Gift Card Giveaway)

During a recent trip to the red shirt-big box store, I noticed an inordinate amount of children crying. This made me sad, because I have been there. I had three kids under the age of three and tried to make it in and out of the red shirt-big box store with everyone's dignity intact and very rarely succeeded. Honestly, though, I was even more sad for the kids, because kids hate shopping, yet they get dragged along and most likely told, "I'm not going to buy you anything."

How many times have we done this? Have you ever stopped to think how incredibly mean and unfair that is? We made our children get up, get ready, stop whatever they had going on at home, maybe playing toy blocks, battling their action figures, coloring, or emptying out your makeup drawer in the tub. Then, we drag them to the store, parade them in front of a million amazing, multi-colored, life-changing, delicious, and attractive items and then say, "I'm not going to buy you anything."

We've all said it. We've all done it. Of course, your kid is going to be grumpy and uncooperative in the store.  Doesn't it make you grumpy and uncooperative when you can't get anything?

Recently, my husband and I took a trip to San Diego. I wanted to check out the shopping bizarre in Old Town. From the pictures on the website, it looked amazing, multi-colored, life-changing, delicious, and attractive. I said,

"Husband! I want to go to there!" He said,

"I don't want us to spend any more money. Do you still want to go?"

"HA! No!" I snorfed (That's a mix of scoffing and snorting).

"Why?" He asked.

"Why would I want to torture myself? Why would I want to parade myself in front of a million amazing, multi-colored, life-changing, delicious, and attractive things that I can't have?!"

See my point? So, why do we expect our little ones to be cool with the idea of going to the store and not getting anything? It's not fair. And, frankly, it's mean.

The more reasonable scenario is; we have a conversation with our kids before we get to the store. Let them know where we are going, why we are going, how long we will be there, and the kind of behavior you expect from them, and, finally, what they can expect for their cooperation.

My contention is that they get at least one thing, just for going. Just because they are two-years-old, doesn't mean that they didn't already have a plan for their day, for which they are foregoing to be your companion at the store, and, for the fact, that they are too young to be left at home alone, but that's not the point.

Perhaps, a negotiation for two things can happen when they meet or exceed your expectations of good behavior while shopping. My tiny niece always negotiated for "two tings." One ting was not quite enough to inspire her cooperation or pleasant attitude, she required two tings. Which was stinking adorable, and, now, years later, we still joke that she needs two tings whenever she goes to the red shirt-big box store.

Now, you may ask, "Annie, doesn't it spoil the kidlets to get them something every time you go to the store?" I don't know. Do you get something every time you go to the store? Are you spoiled?

Or, "Annie, I can't afford to get my kid something every time we shop." Then, why are you shopping if you can't afford it?

Now, I wouldn't just preach to you or call you mean and then not offer anything in return. Remember, I've been there, I had three kids under the age of three.

There is another way to avoid the crying fits in the red shirt-big box store. There is another way to spare the family dignity. It's an amazing, multi-colored, life-changing, delicious, and attractive thing called online shopping at And, I have an amazing, multi-colored, life-changing, delicious, and attractive gift card to share with you, in the amount of $50 dignity-sparing dollars! They have way more than just diapers. Everything kid and kid-related.

To enter to win the $50 gift card,  leave a comment, any comment. You can share your shopping with children strategies, share your shopping successes or failures, share what "two tings" inspire your kids cooperation in the store, or how online shopping has spared your family dignity.

A winner will be chosen by random drawing and notified Friday, March 3rd.

This giveaway is in partnership with Nakturnal, and includes a prize of a gift card for $50 to I have received compensation for this post, but all opinions and content are my own.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Spooky Bucket List

Here are 11 spooky things I want to do before I die.

1. Tell a ghost story so convincingly it makes people cry.
2. Explore a cave at night and warn fellow spelunkers it is the actual gateway to hell (Muwahaha).
3. Create a voodoo doll of an ex-boyfriend and use various and sundry forms of torture on it, including water-boarding in the backyard kitty pool.
4. Ask a Ouija board to help locate missing car keys.
5. Break into a house on Halloween night and steal a cake.
6. Participate in a late night tomato fight on a golf course.
7. Pee yourself from laughing too hard at a friend who gets clothes-lined at the knees while running away from opponents at said tomato fight.
8. Create a costume of a political figure that is so convincing you get confused for the candidate at their own rallies.
9. Suffer from a Montezuma's Revenge-style digestional event from eating too much candy (Not an old wives tale, that really happens. Kids beware).
10. Fall in love with George Hamilton after watching the 1979 vampire movie classic, "Love at First Bite."
11. Take a secret to the grave.

So, how's my list going so far? Wickedly well!  I only have one more to go.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When should girls start shaving their legs?

The quick answer is never.

Why in the world do we burden ourselves with this chore? Who was the woman-hater that came up with this? And why did we all buy into it?

One of my very first posts on my former, beloved, and now defuncted blog, Hot Fruita Moms, was about shaving my legs or the lack there of. I did a little experiment on my husband to see just show long I could go without shaving my legs before he balked. If memory serves, it was a really long time. I had about a week and a half worth of growth and let me add, I am a hairy woman of fine, strong, German stock! I waited and waited for him to notice and finally I propped my leg up on the dashboard on the way home from a soccer game and he was like, "Hey! Whoa! Look at that!"

He didn't love me any less, he didn't gross out, he didn't asked me to shave, he just made note that my legs once soft and smooth were now proudly showing their German heritage!

Fast forward a few years, I now how have 13-year-old daughter who has yet to shave her legs and it doesn't seem to show any interesting in starting. I'll say it, she is my daughter, a regular Mini Me, a chip off the old German block. Part of me, the culturally indoctrinated part, thinks she should shave. The more enlightened side, couldn't be more proud that she is going au-naturel. More girl power to ya, my darling hairy daughter! Stay strong, meine tochter!

When should girls start shaving their legs? Whenever they feel like it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dressing Your Truth

This is what I have been thinking a lot about lately. My sister, Carrie, introduced me to this book and program, Dressing Your Truth. I think Carol Tuttle is smart, inspirational, and really cares about women, their happiness, and overcoming obstacles to become their most authentic self. This is more than just a wardrobe system. It's about the way you move through life. My sister and I have had some wonderful conversations about Dressing Your Truth and not so much about clothes, but about how we feel about ourselves and how we want to express that to the world. 

I'm not going to write a lot about it because I don't want to influence your opinion. I just think my readers would be interested in the fact that I am interested in this. Sound interesting? 

Here's a link. They don't know me, they don't pay me. I share this information simply because I am enjoying it.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fast easy 4 ingredient hot chocolate mix recipe

I make hot chocolate for my teenagers to drink on their way to school each morning. The other day I woke up and we were out of the little instant envelopes. I thought to myself, "No problem! I have Pinterest!"

When I was a kid, my mom made her own mix and stored it in an ice cream bucket. She even taped the recipe to the top of the lid, but for the life of me, I never read it!! 

I had a hard time finding a recipe that didn't call for chocolate milk mix or coffee creamer which is something most Mormons don't have on-hand. 

Something Mormons do have on-hand though is dry milk from their food storage

So I put this easy, fast, 4 ingredient recipe together which my kids pronounced "pretty good" and that is our goal. 

4 cups dry mix
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1 small box instant pudding, I used sugar-free because that's what I had.

Mix well. Add 1/3 cup mix per mug. Add hot water. Mix thoroughly. Enjoy! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Duck Tape Office chair

I don't know if this would be considered making good use of my vacation time, but this project did keep me delightfully occupied for a couple hours. Don't let my poor lighting fool ya, this thing is a masterpiece in person. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Anniethology Gift Card Giveaway!!!


I have been blogging since before blogging was cool, then not cool, then cool again.  I've never given anything away except for the white-hot spotlight of my undying love and attention to my readers. So I am very pleased that Simon Malls is sponsoring this gift card giveaway!

What you see here are two $25 gift cards to a Simon Mall near you. Why two? So you can keep one and give one away or give both away or do the third, most desirable, but more selfish option of keeping them both for yourself!

Now you might ask, "Why, Annie, are you giving them away?" Well, because I love you and I want you to be happy.  And I'm a giver. I've always told you that, now I want you to believe it.

Incredulous still? Well, yes there is a little bit of a catch. I need you to do three things for me to be eligible to win the gift cards. Just three little things. It's no big deal when you think about how much I have done for you.

First Thing- "Like" Mesa Mall on Facebook (If you haven't already).

Second Thing- "Like" my Facebook page Moms Everyday Western Colorado (If you haven't already.)

Third Thing- Come back here to my blog and leave me a nice little comment to say that you did it. (To leave a comment you don't have to have a blog or Blogger account, just select Anonymous, but be sure you leave your name in your comment.)

***UPDATE*** I'm extending the drawing for one more day! Tell your friends!! See ya Sunday night!! *****

Saturday morning, I will put all your little names in a little cup and pull out a winner. I will have the winner e-mail me  their address at and I will mail the cards to you.

If you don't know if you have a Simon Mall near you, click the link above to visit their website to find out.

Thank you for being wonderful friends, readers, stalkers, you are all special me. Good luck and check back here on Saturday!!!!!

Taking advice on homeschooling

The decision is already made, so don't try to talk me out of it. Mini Me will begin online school in January. What I am looking for here is any advice on how to do it well, how to be organized, how to motivate, that sort of thing.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Music lessons for kids with Kindermusik at Kidplex Grand Junction

Monday, August 26, 2013

How to get your home ready for sale while still living in it

One of the most stressful mornings of my life was when a group of realtors from a big local office marched through my home like an army of ants inspecting the place for potential buyers. Having them peek into cupboards and closets as they made their way in and out through rooms of my home couldn’t have made more anymore anxious if I was standing there naked!
Every day for weeks I had to keep the place spotless for showings while my twin 5-year-old boys and 3-year-old daughter were right behind me messing it up! 

But, I lived to tell the tale and so can you. 

Here are a few of my tips for getting a home ready for sale while still trying to live your life inside of it:
 Cull your home with a friend

Too much stuff to move around and clean is your worst enemy. First, simplify your life by getting rid of stuff. A friend is necessary for this task, because a friend will have an unbiased eye when it comes to what should stay and what should go. Avoid the expense of a storage unit by being willing to part with your stuff either through donation or a moving sale.
Next, this is an excellent time to institute a cleaning schedule. If you didn’t have one before and you need a lot of motivation and instruction, I recommend the Flylady method. Flylady provides detailed lists and e-mail reminders that will help give you a good start and keep you motivated.
Your house gets dirty every day and that is not going to change in the new home, so it’s best to stay in the good habit of maintaining it every day. 

 Remove excess furniture and extraneous items off surfaces

Recruit your family with bribery or tears, or whatever will get them motivated to pick up and put away what they get out. Help them create good habits like wiping down sinks and counter tops after use, getting clothes into the dirty clothes hamper after they come off and hanging up back packs and jackets as they come in the door. Again these are habits that will stay with them in the new house.

Because I am so interested in homes and their upkeep, I often look through real estate websites to check out other people’s homes and I’m surprised with how much people leave out on their counter tops and tables. Stash the blender and toaster in a cupboard.  Cull your magazines. Remove the collection of beer bottles from above your kitchen cabinets (I can’t believe I’m saying this but, some of you need to hear it.) And again, have a friend use a critical eye on your home to help to pare down extraneous items and tchotchkes. 

 Send bottles to the recycling center

If it all seems so overwhelming, just think about how wonderful it will feel to start off in your new home with less stuff and with good habits for its upkeep established.  No junk, no ‘ants’, and no beer bottles.

Monday, August 19, 2013

15 Reasons to Clear out the Clutter

Did you know the average American spends one year of their life looking for lost or misplaced items? If you are like the average American, you are probably aware of how easy it is to accumulate a lot of stuff in life. Clutter can become a tremendous burden for anyone. The more things you collect the less space you have to store it. As a result, people often find themselves living in a home full of clutter. While you might find it difficult to part ways with things that have sentimental memories, home organization experts recommend getting rid of items you rarely use. 
SpareFoot, the largest online inventory of storage units, offers up some advice on why you should cut out the clutter at your home. Their infographic on clutter gives fifteen great reasons to keep a tidy house.  De-cluttering your home can save you money, relieve stress, improve friendships, and even lead to a better sex life. It’s incredible all the ways you can better your life with a little home organization. Check out the infographic for all the great benefits.

Clutter Infographic

Produced by SpareFoot. Copyright 2013.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Top 5 Things Moms Should Never Feel Guilty About

Top 5 Things Moms Should Never Feel Guilty About

I heard a saying once that goes, “Behind every great kid is a mother who’s pretty sure she’s screwing it up.” Motherhood and excessive guilt seem to go hand-in-hand. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of five things moms should never feel guilty about.

1.       Not sharing your ice cream, especially if it’s really good ice cream, you know the kind served by the pint. Now, the recommended serving for that really good,  pint-sized size ice cream is a half a cup (I laugh), but let’s be honest, what mother,  in her not-so-right mind (because that’s when we eat ice cream) stops at a half a cup? So technically, there are four servings. One, for you, one for hubs, and one to share with each of your two kids.  You could share, but why would you? This is really good, pint-sized ice cream and your kids would be just as happy with an orange Popsicle. Don’t waste the good stuff on them! Sharing your ice cream with hubs, on the other hand, is inherent in the marriage vows and must be done unless you enjoy eating your really good, pint-sized ice cream in your closet next to your shoes… and who wouldn’t?  

2.       Not pairing socks. I gave up on pairing socks about three years ago and the feeling of freedom lingers with me to this day. Pairing socks is for people who care about wearing matching socks. Your kids don’t care and they may not care until they are adults and maybe not even then. So why waste time pairing them? I pair my husband’s socks, but he pays the bills around here, he deserves matching socks, although he is color blind and wouldn’t be able to tell either way.  But, let’s say you are one of those moms who has to have everything matchy-matchy, (It’s okay, there’s no shame in that.) and you wouldn’t dream of sending your kids to school with mismatched socks. My question to you then would be; why would you do a task that your kid learned the necessary skill for probably as early as the age of three? Put that sock basket in front of them and let them match to your heart’s content!

3.       Not playing video games with your kids. I do everything for my children: I’ve fed them, burped them, cleaned up their vomit, coached their basketball team, sewed on their badges, tolerated their ornery friends, but I am not going to let them kick my can in Mario Cart! You may say, “But Annie, don’t you believe in playing with your kids?” Sure, I do! We hike together, bike together, play cards and kickball together, but I refuse to pick up a game controller for them, unless they want to play Tetris, then there may be some room to negotiate. 

4.       Not breastfeeding your baby. Now before you get all hysterical, let me explain. Do I believe that breastfeeding is better, more cost-effective, and important for bonding and good health? Yes, a thousand million times. I also know that sometimes it does not come naturally and try as you might to make that happen for you and your baby it just doesn’t.  I did not breastfeed my twin sons. That was my first test of motherhood and I felt like I had failed. After all the rigors of carrying 15.3 lbs. of baby and then the sleeplessness nights and the adjustment from just being responsible for me and now being responsible for these two new lives was overwhelming, and I’m sure it was the stress and malnutrition of not being able to properly care for myself contributed to not being able to produce enough milk for these not-so-tiny newborns.  I was able to relinquish some of the guilt of breastfeeding failure came when my baby daughter came into the world and latched on as if she’d read “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” in the womb.  I abandoned the rest of my guilt for not breastfeeding my twin sons on their first day of kindergarten when I looked around the room and thought to myself, “Can you tell which of these kids have been breastfed and who hasn’t?” Nope. 

Cancelling time with the extended family to be with just your immediate family. Living near grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins is the biggest blessing. Being able to get together frequently and having them close enough to share in the events of our lives brings even more joy to our celebrations. But, there are also those times when your immediate family needs to circle the wagons and pow-wow on their own.  Make time to have your very own traditions and your very own special moments to enhance bonding between you, your hubs, and your two kids, because, remember, there are only four servings in that really good, pint-sized ice cream

Monday, July 15, 2013

One thousand little trips for one big one

We've been planning a big family adventure to Costa Rica, Land of Pure Life, or as they say in Costa Rica, "La tierra de la Pura Vida." This is our first time to take the children out of the country. There's a lot to consider: passports, shots, safety, Spanish lessons, family-friendly accommodations and adventure gear for a family of five!

I've been taking a thousand little trips in preparation for our one big trip. Several of those have been to Mesa Mall. With the variety of activities we'll be doing in the Central American rainforest, preparation is key. We needed shoes and clothes to go from beach to trail to city streets, spelunking gear for cave touring, hydration packs for our hike up Volcan Arenal, motion sickness meds for mom:/ and heavy-duty bug spray to avoid illnesses contracted from insect bites.

I contracted dengue once before while living in Venezuela. It's like turning yourself inside out and rolling down a mountain of hammers. Dengue is definitely one of those revenge-type illnesses you wouldn't (or would;) want to wish on your worst enemy.  A recent report I read in an online Costa Rican newspaper said that cases of dengue were up this year. I shared my concern with the salesperson at Cabelas and she assured me that this repellent was highly effective and what she uses herself when she travels to tropical climes.

                                                                        (Unless you are my worst enemy.)

A couple shopping tips:

Be sure you check all the colors of the item you want to find the cheapest price. I saved more than half (no exaggeration needed) on my daughter's surf-to-trail sandals just because she was willing to go with blue and purple instead of gray and pink.

Sign up to receive texts from retailers and use coupon apps to score big discounts. I used my GeoQpons app to save a few extra $$.

Follow Mesa Mall on Facebook and Twitter to get the inside scoop on sales, last-minute bargains and activities for the kids with the Kidgits program

I don't know how many more little trips it will take to finally have all the things we'll need for our big trip, but at least I know I won't need a head lamp or bug spray to find it all at Mesa Mall. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Keeping kids on track during the summer

If you have ever asked questions like:
“Who cut their hair on the couch? Why does the dog have one blue paw? Where did all the kitchen chairs go?”

You may have bored kids.
My experience as a mother of three children, including twins has taught me that it is easy to entertain a child, but not so easy to keep them busy. Allow me to explain the difference.
It’s easy to put on a movie for your toddler or allow your tween all the computer time they want. On the other hand, it takes a lot more effort to give them opportunities to grow and develop into independent, well-rounded, active young people.
Here are a few of my tips for keeping your child actively engaged in things that will benefit them and the family over the summer.

My first tip is Early to bed, early to rise, even during summer break.
Allowing your kids to set their own sleeping schedule in the summer, doesn’t do anything for them in the long run. If anything it will teach them to be disappointed adults. Sleeping-in isn’t a regular part of any productive adult’s life.
Our regular wake-up call has only been pushed back by a half-an-hour and a decent bedtime is still enforced. Everyone still enjoys a full eight hours of sleep and nobody sleeps the day away.

My second tip is Fun first, then work. Really?
Adjust your chore schedule so the kids aren’t helping in the house during the cooler parts of the day. Save the indoor chores for when the temperature climbs, that way when the work is done, they don’t refuse to go outside because it’s too hot.
We eat breakfast and then play outside or exercise, while the temperature is still enjoyable. When it gets to hot outside, that’s when we get the chores done in the cooler, more comfortable house. It may sound like putting the cart before the horse, but it’s worked for us.

Finally, Let the kids know what is expected and what they can expect.
A willy-nilly, plan-less summer doesn’t benefit mom or kids. Make chore charts and plan your day. Kids are much happier when they know what they can expect. Avoid couch haircuts and boredom, by letting your kids in on the planning of their day.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How to Keep Kids Safe and Accountable on the Internet

Recently, I was asked how to monitor kids' computer time and teach them to use the Internet responsibly.
The first thing to teach your kids is that the Internet use is a privilege, not a right. Our family computer must have a code entered to be used. My husband and I are the only ones that know the code. Before my kids can use the computer the need to complete chores and homework, then I will type in the code for them.
Our three kids share the family computer. Each of them can take 30 minute turns. They are responsible to set their own timer, I don’t police the turns. We have a schedule and each day a new kid is “judge” over the fairness of the turns. If there is a dispute, the judge for the day decides what’s fair. The dispute can go to a “higher court” but, they don’t like the way I resolve the disputes, I just shut the computer down. All three kids are very motivated to settle disputes for themselves to avoid mom’s hard hammer of justice.
Our computer is located in the family room. The last thing kids need is privacy with their computer. The Internet is a public place just like any other. Certainly you wouldn’t let your 8-year-old wander around town alone, the Internet is no exception. Whether your child is seven or 17 move those computers out of the bedroom and back into the common areas of the house. Kids with unfettered access to the Internet run a great risk of being victims of identity theft, cyber-bulling, cyber stalkers, and pornography addiction.
Keep your kids off of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, for as long as possible. Facebook’s own recommendation is 13 and up. When you decide they are ready for their own social media account, talk to your kids about what they post on Facebook or Twitter. Remind them that what they say is public, and if it's harassing, humiliating, threatening, or disrespectful, consequences can result.
Finally, if your kids are going to be on social media, you should be to. I am surprised when I hear moms say that their kid has a Facebook account, but they don’t. Keep kids safe and accountable by being in-the-know when it comes to social media.
Now it’s your turn. How do you monitor and teach your kids to use the Internet responsibly? What’s worked for you and your family?

Friday, June 14, 2013

The best picture I've ever taken

I am so  in love with this picture. It was taken last night at a surprise birthday party we threw at my house for my friend's daughter's 16th birthday. I love all these kids, I love all their expressions, I love seeing them all in my house, and I love seeing the confetti fly! This just makes me so happy! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Goodbye, Second Winter. Welcome, Spring Cleaning Projects!

 In Colorado, we have what we call "Second Winter." There is regular winter which starts about Mid-November and lasts until Mid-March. Then, we have a handful of really nice, mild, warm, Spring-like days, then WHAMO! Second Winter! Which last until about May 1st. The problem with Second Winter is that you just start feeling the motivation to accomplish some Spring cleaning and organizing projects and then the *welcome mat of motivation gets ripped from underneath you.

Now that the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I'm back to shaving my legs and painting my toenails on a regular basis, the motivation to complete some organizing projects I've been putting off has come back. I took my *Simon Malls gift card to Mesa Mall to buy some things I needed to get me going!

 Target knows me. It's in my brain. Target always knows what I am going to want and what color I'm going to want it in. My first purchase was the *new welcome (shown above). It matches my front door! How do they do that?! These colorful totes and bins just made me smile. Any winter gloomies I had lingering just went out automated sliding doors.

 My next purchase was this *handy-dandy drawer organizer. Found in the kitchen section, they are meant for the family utility drawer, a.k.a., the junk drawer, but I used it to organize my jewelry drawer in my master bathroom.

 Next stop, *hangers! My sister is a wardrobe consultant who specializes in closet organization. One of her tips is to have matching hangers. A few years ago she came to help me cull wardrobe and fine-tune my style. She filled my closet with all matching hangers. Over time, my closet has been adulterated by other types of hangers:/ I thought it was time to get back to the single-hanger style once again. She recommends these clear hangers with swivel heads.

 What a difference matching hangers make?! Right?! A little arranging by color goes a long way for a more organized look, too.

She also recommends using totes for loose items like belts and scarves and using clear bins to house shoes. Especially if you spend the $$$, on shoes you will want to protect your investment by storing them nicely.

Spring has sprung! The air is clear! No more Second Winter for me, my dear!

*Thanks to Simon Malls for sponsoring this blog post and for jump-starting my Spring cleaning and organizing projects.

**Don't miss National Mom's Night Out, May 9th, starting at 5 p.m. They'll have special prizes, exclusive discounts, and even a chance to win Country Jam Tickets!