8.26.2015

What's Up Wednesday

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I'm linking up with Shay and Shaefer the last Wednesday of the month again for What's Up Wednesday!
What we're eating this week: 
Aldi now carries Indian food and Naan bread!!! 'Nuff said.
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We also can't get enough of the gourmet brat stand at the farmer's market. Habanero Mango is my favorite flavor!
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What I'm reminiscing about:
November 2011


August 2015
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I can't believe my baby started preschool yesterday! I only have two more years left with him before he starts kindergarten and I just don't think five years is enough time to have my babies all to myself!
He requested a "cute" turtle backpack. (Turtles are his favorite animal but he has zero interest in Ninja Turtles - just cute turtles :) Thank goodness they had this "cute" turtle backpack online from Target! Every place I looked just had ninja turtle backpacks.
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What I'm loving:
I love this blog post by Glennon Melton: Have This Conversation Before You Send Your Baby Back to School

"I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.
So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.
Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you."
I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.
So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.
Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.
- See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/2015/08/18/before-school-conversation/#sthash.VENl2lVy.dpuf
I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.
So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.
Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.
- See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/2015/08/18/before-school-conversation/#sthash.VENl2lVy.dpuf
think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.
So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.
Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.
- See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/2015/08/18/before-school-conversation/#sthash.VENl2lVy.dpuf

think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.
So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.
Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.
- See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/2015/08/18/before-school-conversation/#sthash.VENl2lVy.dpuf
And this :)
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And this :)
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What we've been up to:
I've been soaking up the last days of summer with my boys :) We swam lots and biked lots to the library and to the park. I have always said that Fall is my favorite season, but Iowa made me change my mind. Summer for the win!
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Jack and David just get better and better at playing together as David gets older. I am so grateful that they have each other.
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My mom mailed us all of her Franklin books and Jack was THRILLED! Turtles are his favorite. (He reminds me of that fact everyday.)
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We made one trip to the "tractor museum" aka The John Deere Pavilion this week. I didn't want to go because I prefer to save the museums for the 6 plus months of freezing cold but Jack had been begging me to go for two months! He was thrilled to see that the kid area had been redone and that a few tractors had been switched out for new and different ones. 
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What I'm dreading:
I'm dreading my babies ever having to get stitches again (it's heart wrenching!) but it seems inevitable with two boys :( Jack fell off some stairs at the park and split his chin open last week. I'm either a horrible mom or a smart mom and made Spencer take him to get stitched up while I stayed home with David. I hate seeing my babies in pain :(
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What I'm working on:
I'm working on getting our babysitting co-op started up again!  We had a lot of moms move this summer so I'm recruiting more and getting ready to start again this fall.
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I love our babysitting co-op! It really takes away the guilt of asking for someone to babysit and it keeps everything fair and equal. Plus it's FREE babysitting! Sometimes I just use it when I want to clean my house or get a break from my kids (which I would never do without the co-op cash!) and Spencer and I have been on so many more dates since we started the co-op last year! 
(My blog post about starting a babysitting co-op -----> here.)

Spencer's been working on building a PVC pipe rocket launcher with the boys and they finished this weekend! We've been having a blast shooting it off every evening! As I am typing this, Spencer is shopping at Lowe's getting material for his next project - a PVC pipe bow and arrow. #ican'teven
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What I'm excited about:
I'm excited about our half marathon on labor day! I'm also excited to be done with the training :) It takes a huge chunk of our Saturday to each get our long runs in. This Saturday, I went on the bike with the boys for Spencer's 12 mile run :)
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What I'm watching/reading:
Scandal was a little too (surprise, surprise) scandalous for us, so we are now watching Parks and Recreation and WE LOVE IT! Andy is our favorite :)

I read another YA novel this month - Cinder - a futuristic Cinderella story. I don't know why but I just can't get enough of those dystopian-science-fiction YA novels. They are such fun and quick reads.
What I've been listening to:
We've been singing and dancing to Stitches by Shawn Mendes this week because it just seems appropriate given Jack's circumstances :)
What I'm wearing: 
I got these (used) Banana Republic skinny jeans (and two other pairs of jeans from Banana Republic and Gap) for free and I love them! I got a bunch of store credit a while back at Like Twice for downloading their app on multiple devices and from referral credit. Then their clothes got even cheaper because they were closing shop. (I can't imagine why they went out of business, over the last 6 months I received 5 pairs of name brand skinny jeans, a skirt, a shirt, and a sweater all for a grand total of 8 bucks ;)
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What I'm doing this weekend:
Spencer has been looking forward to the Rib Fest ever since we went last year! Rib vendors come from all over the country and I seriously can't wait to get me some Texas BBQ!
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What I'm looking forward to next month:
THIS!
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What's up with you?!
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8.24.2015

Starting a Babysitting Co-op

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I have had a few local friends express interest in the babysitting co-op that I started last year and I have a few friends wondering how to start their own in different areas so I thought now would be a good time to write a blog post about it :)

I first heard about babysitting co-ops because my friend, Julie, started one in her area. When she came to visit me last summer, she convinced me that I needed to start my own and I'm so glad that she did :) I based mine off of hers but we made a few tweaks in the first beginning months to better fit our needs and it has been a life savor over this past year! I don't know how I survived without a babysitting co-op when we lived in Birmingham, and I am sadly missing our co-op again lately as most of our co-op moms have moved away :( 


Why I love babysitting co-ops:
  • Zero Cost - no explanation needed :)
  • Zero Guilt - while I use the co-op mostly to go out with Spencer, I occasionally use it clean my house, take a nap, run errands, go to my track workouts, or go to an appointment in peace. I don't feel guilty because I'm not spending money and I know that the mom watching my kids is being compensated fairly.
  • It's Fair and Equal - we pay per child per hour and babies under one are double (because they require more effort). This is one of the reasons I like the co-op better than just a trade. For example, two moms trading babysitting hour-for-hour doesn't seem fair if one mom has one child and the other mom has 4 children and a baby. 
  • You Are Never in Babysitting Debt To Anybody - Thanks to the co-op cash, you can earn cash from one mom but use the cash to redeem babysitting from other moms.
  • High Chances of Finding a Babysitter When You Need One - you have a pool of moms to ask, and they are usually motivated to babysit so they can earn co-op cash themselves!
  • Zero Hard Feelings - our co-op is set up so that you don't have to babysit children you're uncomfortable with and you don't have to send your children to homes you are not comfortable sending them to without anyone finding out and without any awkwardness or hard feelings. (However, the goal is that you create a co-op where everyone feels comfortable!) I'll explain more about this later.  

How Our Babysitting Co-op Works:

There are different ways to set up a babysitting co-op. I based mine off of my friend, Julie's, whose co-op was larger than ours and they signed up for set shifts each month with google calendar. (Let me know if you want more info about it!) It has worked great for them, but didn't work great for us when we tried it. Here is what we ended up doing with our group of 4-7 moms:

When scheduling a babysitter: send a group text to the people in the co-op saying when you need a babysitter (you don't have to send the text to the entire co-op group if you don't want to, just the people you are comfortable with watching your children, but again, the hope and goal of the co-op is that you are comfortable with everyone in the group :) Respond to every individual text that you get an offer from, and once you have found/chosen a babysitter, text back in the group text saying that you have it covered so that you won't get anymore texts.

When responding to a text if you are available to babysit: be sure to send a separate and individual text saying that you are available to avoid any awkwardness and to allow the mom to choose which of the offers will work best for her. (If someone responds to the group text, then it makes it awkward for others to respond later because it would become more of a "pick me! pick me!" type situation so the mom looking for a babysitter feels obligated to choose the first responder) If you are not available to babysit you do not need to respond to the text. 
That the gist of it! It's that simple!


Some common sense rules and some random rules:
(I copied these from Julie :)
  • Co-op members need to agree to babysit at least once a month and to use babysitting at least once a month. This keeps the co-op cash moving, but obviously you can be way more active than that!
  • The "cost" is a one co-op cash hour, per child, per hour. There is 1 hour co-op cash and 1/2 hour co-op cash, and always be sure to round up. Children under the age of 1 are 2 hrs per hour (they require more effort)
  •  PICK UP YOUR KIDS ON TIME!!! If you drop your kids off late, please pay for the time you reserved. If you are late picking them up, the charge will be double the time you were late. However, many of us are very easy going on this since we are often late ourselves ;) ALWAYS offer your late fee, it is just good manners. Just remember to be respectful of people’s time.
  •  Bring your child a snack, don't bring hungry kids unless you bring food to feed them. And always bring some sort of a snack, or lunch depending on the time. It is no fun to try to find food to feed 6 kids at once and be left with no snacks for the rest of the week.
  •  When babysitting, keep children in your own home and yard unless otherwise arranged by the parents. 
  •  Babysitting is to be done only by a co-op member (please do not leave kids with husbands, neighbors, etc without clearing it with the parents of the children you have in your care)
  • Pay your co-op cash to the mom when you pick up your children to ensure appropriate payment for the time utilized. Let the mom know how long you will be. Remember treat others time as valuable as your own.
  •  DO NOT drop off sick children!
  • If you are concerned that people don’t like taking your kids for some reason, or they don’t like bringing them to your house, consider the following: paying extra if you child is difficult, offer fun activities, pay more for when the shift holder goes above and beyond, or offer to babysit kids at more unpopular times  (usually this is evenings and weekends) or offer to watch them at their house (so they can go out on a later date)
  • There are plenty of areas for dishonesty and "situations" to arise (although we haven't had any major issues). Always communicate needs, problems, issues, "situations" immediately. DO NOT let them continue to happen and fester. If you feel uncomfortable communicating with another mom please inform your coordinator ASAP and they will address the issue. 
  •  If you don't feel comfortable sending your kids to someone's home, you don't have to send them there. If the reason is something easily remedied please let them know or your coordinator (pool, safety issue, etc). We want a good co-op where everyone feels comfortable.
  • If you wish to withdraw or if you are moving, please return at least 20 hrs to the coordinator (if you have more, feel free to gift them to other moms). If you do not have enough it is your responsibility to earn enough to reach 20 hrs. Just like participation is required to keep the co-op successful, honesty and leaving by returning your hours keeps the co-op friendly and a happy group. This way people can withdraw and join the group as desired. (Obviously we are all very nice people, if you are short a few, you are moving and really need co-op etc we can make arrangements. Honestly we aren’t super strict on this, we just want you to know that we wouldn’t appreciate it if you joined, used all your hours, and dropped out.)  (Another possible option for this to insure that co-op bucks are returned is to have a small deposit for the co-op bucks and to join the co-op. When the mom leaves the co-op and returns her 20 hours, she can have her deposit back.)

Starting Your Own Co-op:
  •  I highly recommend holding a meeting to explain how the co-op works and to get everyone on the same page. You can also distribute the co-op cash at this time. 
  •  For co-op cash, I used these co-op printables. I used one color for the one hour co-op bucks and another color for the half-hour co-op bucks and laminated them so that they would last longer. Each mom starts with 20 co-op hours. (I gave 15 one-hour cash and 10 half-hour cash to each mom). 
  • Emphasize that the co-op is more for dates, time to ourselves, appts/working etc. We chuck co-op cash out the window when someone has a baby, when someone is getting ready to move, family crisis, etc. We don't want the co-op to make moms feel guilty for asking for help when they need help!
  • I personally think that you need at least 4 moms to make the co-op work but the more the better! Ours worked best and most efficiently when we had 7 moms participating. 

I love babysitting co-ops! It really takes away the guilt of asking for someone to babysit and it keeps everything fair and equal. Sometimes I just use it when I want to clean my house or get a break from my kids (which I would never do without the co-op cash!) and Spencer and I have been on so many more dates since the co-op started! 

8.20.2015

Last Friday, my friend Lisa texted me around lunch asking if we wanted to go camping with them that very day. We decided to go and it was the most spontaneous thing we have ever done since having kids ;) We had so much fun!
It also happened to be the hottest weekend of the entire summer. 90 degrees and humidity made for a hot camping trip! While we were at Walmart grabbing supplies on our way out, Spencer found this battery operated fan and it saved my life!
 Fun fact for the day: I cannot fall asleep at night unless a fan is blowing directly in my face, even in the winter. Our power went out about a month ago, and I didn't fall asleep until 2 am when the power turned back on and our fan was blowing in my face again.
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David loved his first camping trip!

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Jack loved spraying water on David. #brotherlylove
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This was the first time David didn't sleep in a crib and it took a while for him to settle down :)
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Waking up next to this sweet face is the best thing ever :) (Something that is not the best thing ever - waking up three times in the night to pee while camping)
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We woke up bright and early, ate breakfast, went on a hike, and headed out by 9 am before the weather got too miserable. The hike (and weather!) reminded us a lot of Alabama.
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Spencer somehow convinced me to "trim" David's hair on Sunday. He cut it way shorter than I expected and I sobbed just like David did!
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I was really worried that his hair wouldn't grow back curly but it looks like it's going to, thank goodness!
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 In case you were worried, we are still making it to the zoo. Highlights - the monarch butterfly that came out of it's chrysalis while we were there, the new porcupine that Jack tried to take a picture of with me and David, and the big snake!
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8.14.2015

Things I'm Loving

  • My brother, James, is engaged!!! We love Maddie and we are soooo excited for them! (And we are excited that we get to go to Utah for the wedding and the holidays! :)
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  •  The Mississippi Valley Fair - well, we kind of loved it, kind of didn't ;)
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Since state fairs are such a big deal in the Midwest, we decided we needed to try it out at least once. I think once is enough for me :) For some reason a lot of the pictures I took at the fair got deleted from my phone :(
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Pictures that got deleted: Jack screaming bloody murder on the roller coaster, the alligator wrestling show, the tiger show, tons of baby farm animals that the boys got to pet, and all of the classy dressed people ;)
We asked Jack afterwards what his favorite thing was about the fair and he said it was petting all of the baby bunnies! haha  I guess after chasing bunnies for over a year at our house he was happy to finally get to touch one :)
  • Norwegian chocolate! We just had a family move into our ward congregation from Norway and they hooked us up with this amazingness - a symphony bar but a million times better if that is even possible. 
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  • Books! I wish I could say that they read as much as they watch shows but that would be a lie. We are working on it! (You should really check and see if Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is in your area - Jack and David each get a book in the mail once a month and they are always darling books fit for their age group. Since we've been in Iowa, we've received 28 free books from the program! I love it!)
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  •  Free tractor entertainment from our back door! (And not having to do our own yard work/snow shoveling - one perk of not owning our own home yet :) 
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  •  Summertime! This has been my favorite summer in a really long time. We've been park hopping on our bike almost every day and trying to fit in as much swimming as possible before the weather cools down. We discovered the most amazing toddler pool ever last week - it has a huge gated zero depth area with a sand area and water tables. We all love it!


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Jack AND David both went down this water slide all by themselves! All it took was a little Little Caesars bribe and then once they went once, they couldn't get enough of it!
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  • The stars aligned and Jack and David both slept past six for 5 days straight. I hope I'm not cursing it by typing this!