Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Goldfish Assassin, A Guest Post

Today I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at Vivacious Running Girl about weight loss, and I’m excited to welcome Susanna from Not June to Stephanie's Mommy Brain:

Historically, the most successful fish in my home have been Goldfish crackers.
Actual goldfish, not so much. My older son did not exhibit any particular athletic
talent as a very young child, except for his insane ability to chuck a ping pong
ball with amazing accuracy into a tiny cup at any and every fair we attended,
winning the coveted “fair fish.” The ultimate prize, who doesn’t remember as a
child bringing home their newest pet in a knotted off bag?

For two dollars of tickets to win the fish, and the ensuing $50 of supplies, we’ve
gone through this routine numerous times. Every time I get my hopes up, as I get
happiness from the thrill my son gets from his new friend. All settled in it’s new
bowl, it swims perkily around, defying it’s status as a feeder fish in the food chain.
A name is given, a feeding schedule is adhered to, hours are spent gazing and
talking to it. And then, one day, something goes horribly wrong.

The morning of my son’s first trip to Disneyland we discovered the first of our
fair fish dead on the bathroom floor, the victim of his goodnight kiss to them.
The next batch died within hours of each other, as if they were fans of “The
Notebook.” Some slowly died, prolonging the agony of their child owner and his
parents. No, son, fish are not supposed to swim upside down. One managed to
die inside the decorative volcano, leading to an extraction process involving a
chopstick, gloves and my husband humming Disney’s “Tiki Room” song as he
worked away. There have been burials “at sea” (read: flush) and burials in the
yard. After a county fair tadpole debacle last summer we finally threw in the towel
along with our growing tiny body count.

And yet, it was my younger son’s sole fourth birthday wish that he get pet
goldfish. Determined to do it right, I researched heavily online, made numerous
trips to Petco and consulted with friends who’d worked in pet stores in high
school. Hence William ended up with a ten gallon tank for two measly goldfish.
But they’re alive and thriving so far for THREE WHOLE MONTHS. I do not lie
when I say I checked the fish every night and morning the first few weeks while
my son was asleep to make sure they were still alive. But, best of all, I haven’t
had to pay out yet on the betting pool I put up on Facebook on when they’d bite

Then our babysitter called with a favor. She’d become the not so thrilled owner
of a pet goldfish after attending a kid’s party. In it’s little bowl it was not thriving
and she wanted to know if we could add it to our tank. Hesitantly I said yes,

on the condition that she take it first to Petco to be checked out and deemed
healthy. She did and it was. But when I first laid eyes on Dorothy the Goldfish, I
knew this would not go well. Fish aren’t supposed to sit.

I was caught between wanting to save the fish but not wanting to sacrifice the
ones I’d carefully cultivated and were such a huge source of joy for my son. She
and I watched the fish as it reclined on the gravel, perking up only as we jiggled
the bowl. She insisted that it just needed more room to swim, as visions of mass
fish death danced through my head. Then it started to float sideways, never a
good sign. Knowing deep down it wouldn’t recover from it’s feeder fish fate on
the food chain, I just ignored it until she finally couldn’t take watching it anymore
and decided to flush it and put it out of it’s slowly dying misery. At this point I
came down with a bad case of inappropriate stress laughter and had to leave
the room as she poured him into my son’s toilet. From the other room I heard her

Fleetingly, I thought of having her scoop the fish out and depositing him into
our tank. But, really, did I want now a possibly dying fish who’d been soaking in
toilet water in my prized tank. No, I did not. And so I became a goldfish assassin,
giving her the command to go ahead and flush him. Fingers crossed, we hoped
he’d make it out to sea like Nemo. Except that as a freshwater fish that would
kill him. June Cleaver would have never commanded a pet death, yet another
reason I’m not June.

Visit Life...Your Way to see all of the Ultimate Blog Swap participants!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Homemade Biscuits Recipe, A Southern Family Tradition

Homemade biscuits are a family tradition passed down from my Grandma to my mom and now to me.

I remember as a little girl watching my Grandma cut out white circles of dough and hoping she'd have just a little bit leftover so I could sample the uncooked biscuits.

Now my daughter watches me cut out the white circles, confident that a little treat will soon be hers.

Today I am participating in Third Thursday Thoughts hosted by Hearts at Home. Our theme for this month is a favorite homemade dish. My family's hands-down favorite homemade dish is my biscuits. Once you've had easy homemade biscuits you'll NEVER want to go back to canned ones!

Homemade Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuit

Homemade Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 2% milk)

Mix dry ingredients, cut in shortening and mix. Add milk. Flour surface and lightly knead dough, adding flour if dough is too sticky. Roll out dough to about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Cut out with biscuit cutter or small cup. Place on baking sheet. Bake at 400* for 20 minutes until lightly browned.

Yield: 8 biscuits (depending on how thin you roll them out).

If you've never made biscuits from scratch here's a tutorial to get you started.

Measure dry ingredients into bowl.

Cut in shortening until it's like lumpy dirt.

Add milk and combine until it's like play dough.

Lightly knead. Then flatten using your hand. Cut out with biscuit cutter or small cup.

These biscuits are very forgiving. As long as you follow the easy recipe it's really difficult to mess them up.

They are delicious for breakfast: with jelly, with honey, with cream gravy, or as a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit. We also eat them for supper with brown gravy (roast beef). They are even good for dessert as the base for strawberry shortcake.

My family would eat home made biscuits at every meal if I'd cook them that often!

Do you make home made biscuits? If not, will you try it now?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

1 Solution to Public Temper Tantrums :: Mom2Mom

My children are perfect, all four of them. They never talk back, speak unkind words or throw temper tantrums. When we leave the house they are always examples of proper behavior for all those unruly, out-of-control children other parents have.

Riiiighttt. If you believe that I have a bridge I'd like to sell you!

My children have fits just like other children. Occasionally those fits occur in public. Isn't it fun when that happens? Especially when EVERYONE. turns. to. stare.

credit: christine [cbsezto]

Several months ago my 2 year old picked the library for his temper tantrum stage. Yep, the library. You know that place where everyone is supposed to whisper and use their walking feet. Yeah, there.

Sam (the 2 yr old), Ellie (the 4 yr old) and I (the .. well, never mind) drove to the library after supper so my hubby and the 2 older boys could accomplish school work. Normally Sam visits the library securely strapped into his stroller but on this trip I thought I could manage him since I had fewer children. Rookie mistake.

After enjoying the 2nd floor children's section, we checked out a huge pile of books on the 1st floor and headed towards the door. Then Sam decided to go back upstairs on the elevator. I told him no and that's when the battle started.

Loudly crying he refused to walk down the long hallway to the outer door and threw himself on the floor. I tried to reason with him using that sweet mommy voice that we all reserve for public occasions. By now all the librarians and patrons were staring at us. I couldn't pick him up because my arms were full of books and Ellie's so close in size that she couldn't help.

So, I told him, still using a singsong mommy voice, "Sister and I are going to the car now. I hope you come with us. Bye." And I slowly started walking down the hallway. Once I got around a corner out of sight, Sam picked himself up off the floor, walked a little way down the hall, saw me and threw himself on the floor again.

I repeated that I was leaving and slowly walked further down the hall, praying the whole time that he would come. When I reached about 15 feet away from him, he stood up and joined me as I walked to the van. I guess he believed my bluff that I would leave him behind.

For the record I would never leave one of my children behind. I don't recommend using this technique with every child or using it often, but in this case it was effective.

Thank goodness because I didn't have a Plan B!

Do your children throw temper tantrums in public? What was the worst one?

Monday, May 16, 2011

How to Plan to Exercise :: 10 Steps to Get Fit

I have a theory - most moms approach weight loss as either dieters or exercisers.  The emails and comments I receive support my theory. Moms ask me why the scale isn't moving even though they every day they use using Jillian's 30 Day Shred (linked to my review). Other moms tell me they cut breads and sugar from their diet but their jeans still feel tight.

Each mom wants to know the same thing - "do I really need a diet plan AND an exercise plan?" I wish I had a different answer but my experience is that you need both to achieve your weight loss and fitness goals. I shared my eating plan with you last week so today I'm sharing my exercise plan.

Why do I need an exercise plan?

I'm a dieter. If given a choice between exercising 3 times a week or going without dessert for 3 weeks, I'm saying so long to the cheese cake! Dieting gives me a small degree of success. The numbers on the scale move down but I am still flabby, breathless when I play with my children, and exhausted all of the time. I don't like that feeling.

So, I put aside my natural inclination to avoid sweating and work out for twenty minutes 3-4 times a week. That's all it takes for my energy level to increase, my "muffin top" to decrease, and me to feel strong.

credit: sean dreilinger

How to make an exercise plan?

I answered several questions as I made my exercise plan:
  • What time of day works best for me to exercise?
  • How can I rearrange my schedule to fit in exercise?
  • What kind of exercise do I enjoy/will I do?
  • Where is the best place for my abilities, amount of time, and time of day availability?
  • How much money do I have for classes, equipment or a trainer?
  • Who can I ask to join me?

What is my exercise plan?

My current plan is pretty simple - workout 3-4 times a week in the afternoon using 30 Day Shred or a Biggest Loser workout DVD. I pop the DVD in after all my kids are in bed for nap/rest time. This keeps them from distracting me and is a time we are usually at home.

An exercise plan has become an invaluable tool to reaching my weight loss and fitness goals. I don't think I could lose 10 pounds and 1 pants size in 6 weeks without it!

Are you a dieter or exerciser? What's on your exercise plan?

Read the other posts in this series: 10 Steps to Get Fit, Set Fitness Goals, How to Fail Proof Your Weight Loss, Get Fit and Eat Pancakes Too!.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

W@HM, Legos, Toddlers, Free Children's Books :: Links for Your Enjoyment

I love reading what other bloggers have to say.  Here are a few I've read this week that I want to share with you:

  • Finding your passion and turning it into an income can be tricky.  Simple Mom shared how working from home requires passion and finding your 'element.'  I think blogging is my 'element.'  Jury's still out on if I can earn an income from it!
  • My older boys really got into Legos this year. As soon as I learned there is a free Lego magazine I signed them both up! I can't wait to surprise them with the first issues!
  • With 3 older children also vying for my attention it's easy to overlook my 2 year old at times. Sarah Mae wrote a great reminder 10 minutes with a toddler is often enough to satisfy their need for attention.

      Did you read a great blog post this week?  Please share the link.  I'm always looking for a great blog post to read.

      Friday, May 13, 2011

      What's in a perfect sandwich?

      I learned something new about my husband last year.  I thought after 13 years of marriage I knew all of his likes and dislikes.  Not so!

      Apparently, he prefers the cheese slice touching the mayonnaise on his sandwich.  He actually likes the way the mayo makes the cheese kind of melted and gooey. 

      I DON'T like my cheese to get gooey so I always put the lunch meat against the mayo.  All these years I made his sandwich wrong.  Who knew?!

      It never occurred to me to ask Joel how he likes his sandwich layered.  But it did occur to the folks at Hellmann's®.  They commissioned a survey to find out how people make the perfect sandwich.  Then they designed a sweepstakes where you create your perfect (virtual) sandwich as an entry into the Hellmann's® Build Your Perfect Sandwich Sweepstakes.

      Do you make the ultimate sandwich?  Visit Hellmann's® Facebook page and share your sandwich-making tips, tricks, techniques and secrets.  While there you can follow the link to the Hellmann's ® Build Your Perfect Sandwich Sweepstakes for a chance to win great prizes including a kitchen essentials bundle, grocery gift cards and Hellmann's® and Best Foods® products.

      So, how do YOU make the perfect sandwich?

      Disclosure: I was entered for a chance to win a Hellmann's® prize package in exchange for this post.  No monetary exchange took place.

      Thursday, May 12, 2011

      Get Fit and Eat Pancakes too?! :: 10 Steps to Get Fit

      Flapjacks.  Hotcakes.  Johnnycakes.  Pancakes.  No matter what you call them, those flat breakfast cakes covered in maple syrup are delicious!

      Chocolate chip pancakes are a Sunday night tradition at my house.  My kids would protest LOUDLY if I nixed our tradition just because I'm on a diet.  But, there is NO way I can sit at our kitchen table and eat a salad while they indulge in chocolate sugary yumminess.

      So, what's a mom to do?  Pancakes are clearly NOT on any diet plan, or are they?  Is it possible to have my (pan)cake and eat it, too?  I think so!

      Credit: potaufeu

      An eating plan helps me get fit and enjoy a family food tradition.

      An eating plan structures when, what and how much I eat.

      Most healthy plans recommend 3 balanced meals and 2 small snacks each day.  They also tell you how many servings or amounts of each type of food to eat.  By using a specific plan you can insure that your body is receiving a variety of nutrients.

      If you are looking for a balanced meal plan I recommend:

      A weekly menu chart helps me track my eating plan.

      I have a terrible memory.  Absolutely terrible.  In order to remember how many servings of protein I've eaten throughout the day I must write them down.

      I'm tired of scribbling on bits of paper so I designed an eating plan tracking chart to use during the next 6 weeks.  My chart lists 3 meals, 2 snacks and has a space for each day of the week.  I use the chart to plan my menu for each week.  As I eat each item I cross it off on the plan.  This allows me to easily count up the servings I've eaten.

      A menu plan also allows me to eat pancakes every Sunday night.  Because I know that I'll be eating 2-3 servings of grain (each pancake is one serving) I plan my breakfast and lunch without grains.  I eat pancakes and still follow my diet.  It's a win-win situation!

      What diet plan are you using?  How do you track calories, servings or points?

      Visit Stephanie's Mommy Facebook page to download a copy of my eating plan tracking chart.

      Read the other posts in this series: 10 Steps to Get Fit, Set Fitness Goals, How to Fail Proof Your Weight LossHow to Plan to Exercise.

      Wednesday, May 11, 2011

      10 Rainy Day Children's Activities :: Mom 411

      One of the questions I'm asked a lot is, "What do you do [with all of my children] when it rains?"  Or snows.  Or in some other way prevents them from playing outside.

      The short answer is they entertain themselves.  Don't get me wrong, we watch our fair share of videos on rainy days but I try to limit their screen time.  That means they mostly play with each other.

      Are you looking for some new ideas for indoor fun?  Well, here's a list of our 10 favorite rainy day children's activities:

      1.  Play with a large box.

      2.  Read books together.

      3.  Make peanut butter cookies with Mom.

      4.  Create a farm with animal toys.

      5.  Draw on large strips of packing paper.

      6.  Build Lincoln Log houses.

      7.  Play with Play Dough.

      8.  Build Star Wars droids with cardboard bricks.

      9. Dress up like Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker.

      10.  Watch videos while laying in a box.

      What are some of your favorite rainy day children's activities?

      Visit Works for me Wednesday for more tips and tricks.

      Tuesday, May 10, 2011

      Disappointed in Motherhood :: Mom2Mom

      You know that feeling you get when your expectations aren't met?  Yep, disappointment.  That's what I want to talk about today.

      Last week I experienced a big disappointment - the winners for the Mom Central Blogging Grants were announced and I wasn't one of them.

      Honestly, I'm disappointed.  I really wanted to win that grant!  It's taken me a week to process the loss and tell you about it.  I know many of you voted for me daily and I hate to let you down.

      As I thought about my disappointment I realized my negative emotions were causing negative thinking.  Thoughts like "my blog isn't good enough," "I'm never going be a successful blogger," and "I should have worked harder" filled my mind.

      Thankfully I have a wise husband who reminded me that my blog is good (though it can always be improved), that I am a success at blogging (though not where I want to be yet) and that I gave the contest my best shot.

      Once my negative emotions decreased I could see the truth in Joel's words.  I also started thinking about disappointment in motherhood. 

      Motherhood is chock full of unmet expectations!  Some of them are silly, while others run deep and cause pain for years.

      Here are a few of my motherhood disappointments:
      • All 4 of my babies were delivered by c-section.  Being strapped to a table surrounded by doctors and nurses is not a magical way to begin motherhood!
      • One of my children has brown eyes.  I know it's silly but my blue eyes have always been one of my favorite characteristics so I wanted my children to be blue-eyed.  I'm over it now and love my child's chocolate colored eyes.
      • I only nursed the first 2 boys a couple of months so I could go back on my RA medication.  I always thought I'd breastfeed for a year.
      • My school-aged children learned to read as kindergarteners.  I learned to read before starting school and always thought my children would too.
      These are just a few of my disappointments with motherhood.  As you can see, some are silly and passed, while others still sting even today. 

      What motherhood disappointments have you experienced?  Silly or serious?  Do they still cause you pain?  Let's talk about it in the comments.

      Monday, May 9, 2011

      How to Fail Proof Your Weight Loss :: 10 Steps to Get Fit

      Credit: little blue hen
      Across the kitchen sits a homemade biscuit.  It's golden brown yumminess mocks me.  My taste buds are screaming at me to heat it up, slather on butter, smear on grape jam, and indulge in the calorie-loaded treat.

      Right now I am resisting the biscuit because I don't want to let my support group down.  My desire to tell them that I am 2 pounds closer to my goal is greater than my desire for the baked good.  Without accountability that biscuit would SO be eaten!!

      A support group will fail-proof your weight loss.

      Why do I need a weight loss support group?

      I need a support group to hold me accountable.  Just knowing someone will ask me how my weight loss is going gives me strength to work out with Jillian today.

      They also help me celebrate success.  For an example, watch this.  I've shared my 2 pound weekly goal, well, for week one I'm down exactly 2 pounds.  Woohoo!!  2 pounds down, 8 pounds to go!!  (Feel free to celebrate with me on Facebook and in the comments!)

      Credit: anthonycramp

      A support group encourages you through struggles and picks you up when you fail.  Last night I really, really, really wanted to snack while watching t.v.  I expressed that to my hubby and he encouraged me to resist temptation.  Had I ignored his advice, I know he would be telling me today to forget about the past and focus on my goals.

      Who should be in your weight loss support group?

      A support group should only include people who:
      • are honest.
      • believe in you.
      • will question you.
      • encourage you.
      • may or may not be losing weight.
      If you have a family member or friend that doesn't believe you can lose weight and tells you so (repeatedly), by all means, DON'T tell them about your current goals!  They will just sabotage you.  Pick someone else to include in your group and let your success show the nay-sayers you mean business.

      Your weight loss group can include anyone.  Co-workers.  Doctor's office.  Neighbors.  Friends.  Family.  Blog readers.  Facebook friends.  Anyone you have semi-regular contact with.

      My group includes my husband, friends at our home school co-op, Facebook friends on my personal page, this blog, and those who follow my blog Facebook page.

      Credit: Randy Son of Robert

      What should I share with my weight loss support group?

      You should share your get fit goals, both the overall and week-to-week goals.  Then each day share your successes and failures.  Worked out today?  Share it so your group can cheer you on.  Ate 5 chocolate chip cookies today?  Share it so your group can encourage you to make better choices tomorrow.

      Also, let your group know the lessons you've learned and tips you have.  This Get Fit series is my way of sharing what I've learned about fitness and weight loss with you.  Your way of sharing will probably be different from mine.

      A weight loss support group will fail proof your journey to get fit.  They won't do the hard work for you but they will help your reach your goals.  I know from experience - just telling you about that biscuit has removed my desire for it!

      Who's in your weight loss (or get fit) support group?  Please use the comments on this blog and Facebook page as part of your group!  I'd love to cheer you on!!

      Read the other posts in this series: 10 Steps to Get Fit, Set Fitness Goals, Get Fit and Eat Pancakes Too!, How to Plan to Exercise.

      Saturday, May 7, 2011

      Links for Your Enjoyment

      I love reading what other bloggers have to say.  Here are a few I've read this week that I want to share with you:

      Did you read a great blog post this week?  Please share the link.  I'm always looking for a great blog post to read.

      Friday, May 6, 2011

      Sweaty Boy Smell. What's a mom to do?

      Every mom of boys is familiar with that distinct "boy smell." It starts early. Even my 2 year old son has that sweaty boy smell after spending a few hours in our backyard!

      I'm not concerned about my 2 year old, yet, but my oldest turns 8 later this month.  As he gets closer to the tween years I've begun to think about those tween boy issues every mom dreads - changing hormones, "THE talk," and pungent boy smell.

      Thankfully some of those concerns are my husband's responsibility!  But, I'm guessing that buying deodorant (and making sure he uses it!) will be my responsibility.

      When that time comes I'll turn to my friends and on-line resources for ideas on communicating with my son why he needs deodorant and how to use it.

      Unilever, the maker of Degree, Dove and Suave deodorants, recently launched an excellent resource for helping parents transition through the tween years.  Don't Fret the Sweat.com is an informative website packed with expert tips, tools and real life stories.

      In addition to the website, you can like Don't Fret the Sweat on Facebook to print coupons, read tips from other parents, and ask other moms for advice on how they handled specific tween situations.

      I find it hard to believe the tween years are just around the corner for us.  While I can't stop my boys from growing way to fast I plan to help them keep their boy smell to a minimum!

      Have you dealt with a tween son?  How did you handle the issue of body odor?

      Disclosure:  The opinions and thoughts expressed in this post are my own.  However, by participating in this One2One Network campaign I am eligible to win prizes.

      Thursday, May 5, 2011

      Set Fitness Goals :: Step 2, 10 Steps to Get Fit

      Adjusting the gun stock on my shoulder, I lined up the sight at the tip of the B.B. gun with the empty red Coke can hanging tenuously upside down on the top of the chain link fence.  Gently I squeezed the trigger.  Almost immediately the satisfying PING of a BB hitting a metal can reached my ears.  Once again I shot a hole through my tin target.

      Photo credit:  au_tiger01

      How does shooting a BB gun relate to fitness goals?

      As a highly competitive young girl I had a goal - shoot holes in Coke cans.  My shooting goal was easily measurable, definitely attainable, and very specific.  It was also broken down into small steps:  position gun, line the sight, squeeze trigger.

      As a highly competitive mother of four I have an overarching goal - lose 10 pounds and one pants size.  My fitness goal is easily measurable, definitely attainable, and very specific.  AND I'm breaking it down into smaller steps.

      Credit:  id:takefumi
      Decide your overall goal.

      At this time, my goal is only 10 pounds/one pants size.  (Keep in mind that I already lost 15 pounds/2 pants sizes last summer.)  Any double digit number feels overwhelming when taken as a whole.

      Break your total goal into weekly goals.

      My smaller goal is to lose 2 pounds a week for the next 5 weeks (the end of this series).  2 pounds a week is a small enough goal I can do it but is still a challenge.  I set 5 weeks for the time frame because that's when this series ends.

      Credit: 4ocima

      Determine your action steps to weekly goals.

      What do you need to do to accomplish your weekly goal?  In order to lose 2 pounds this week I need to:  eat 1200 calories a day and work out at least 20 minutes on 3-4 days a week.  I can do that.  It won't be easy or fun but it is measurable, attainable, and specific.

      I've shared my fitness goals and action steps.  Now it's your turn to share.  What fitness goals do you have for this month? 

      Join the day-to-day conversation about diet and exercise at my Facebook page.

      Read the other posts in this series: 10 Steps to Get Fit, How to Fail Proof Your Weight Loss, Get Fit and Eat Pancakes Too!, How to Plan to Exercise.

      Wednesday, May 4, 2011

      Boys Haircuts :: Mom 411

      I walked out of the kids hair salon holding the hand of my crying 3 year old son.  Again.

      Once seated in the special child-sized chair, William had began to cry.  Then the stylist turned on the buzzers and I had to bodily force my baby down in the chair for the remainder of the hair cut.  Will wailed and looked at me like I had betrayed him. 

      After the buzzers stopped we paid our $20 for yet another traumatic and less-than-stellar haircut.  On the way home I decided I would cut Will's hair in the future.  I certainly couldn't do any worse!

      That was 5 years ago.  Today I buzz the hair of all 3 of my sons AND my husband.  I am by no means a professional.  I've learned through trial and error.  That's the great thing about cutting little boy hair - if you mess up it's not a big deal!  And it grows back REALLY fast!  Here's how you can do at-home boy haircuts.

      Getting started giving boy haircuts is easy.

      You can purchase any buzzer with combs or guards at Wal-mart or Target.  Our first buzzer (or clipper) cost about $30 and came with a cape and various sized guards.  It lasted about 2.5 years but the motor couldn't keep up with 3 haircuts back-to-back.

      After our cheap clipper died, we bought an Oster Hair Clipper along with 10 combs.  It's not fancy but it gets the job done for 4 buzz cuts in a row.  I also use my husband's beard trimmer to clean up around the ears, the sideburns and neck.

      Cut hair outside or on a stool in the bathtub.

      From May to September haircuts occur outside to make clean up easier.  From September to May the boys sit on a stool in our (empty!) bathtub so that the hair is contained in one spot.  We simply wipe out the bathtub before they shower.

      Cover the face with a washcloth.

      My boys HATE getting hair on their faces so they hold a washcloth while I buzz.

      Decide how short/long to cut the hair.

      Each of my boys have different types of hair.  Will's hair is straight as a board and thick.  It also grows super fast.  All 3 boys have double crowns.  So I use different sized combs on each boy.  Also, I cut it shorter during the summer when they get hot, sweaty and filthy!

      Buzz the sides and back first.

      Recently I started buzzing Will different lengths.  It's that experimenting thing I mentioned earlier.  On this occasion, the sides are a #2 and the top will be a #3.

      Change combs and buzz the top.

      Will after haircut.
      Trim around ears, sideburns and across neck.

      The trickiest part is around the ears and neck.  On more than one occasion we've ended up with bare patches because a boy wouldn't sit still.

      If I can buzz my boys, ANYONE can do a buzz cut.  At-home haircuts have several benefits:  home is never closed, no waiting in line, and YOU control the length.  Best of all, you save a lot of money.  We save about $500 a year!! 

      Do you have kids haircuts at home?  If not, summer is the perfect time to give it a try!

      Visit Works for me Wednesday for more tips and tricks.

      Monday, May 2, 2011

      Menu Plan :: May 3 - May 8

      Remember this is only my plan and plans are always subject to change!  Like last week when ran canceled my oldest sons baseball game last minute and a chicken refused to thaw after 36 hours in the refrigerator.

      This week my plan is:

      What are you eating this week?

      Visit Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday for meal ideas.

      10 Steps to Get Fit

      I slowly walked down the street holding my toddler's hand.  My three older children and husband laughed and chased each other back and forth as they walked ahead of us.  For once I didn't mind bringing up the rear as we walked to a local elementary school playground.

      I felt tired, sluggish.  My body ached.  I wanted to plop myself down on the couch and veg in front of a video or my laptop but my children had asked me to walk to the playground with them.  Mama guilt will get me off the couch and outdoors quicker than anything else will!

      Not so cute in May 2010.
      As we walked down the street my husband turned around and snapped a picture of me and Sam.  At the time I thought I looked pretty cute.  I knew the baseball cap wasn't doing anything for me but the red t-shirt and black shorts seemed to suit me.

      When we arrived back at the house I uploaded the adorable pictures of my kids on the playground and the picture of me, who most definitely did NOT look cute.

      It was then that I became a woman on a mission to get fit.  I wanted to feel energetic.  I wanted stamina to keep up with my kids.  Truth be told I wanted to look cute again!

      By following 10 simple steps (I said simple, NOT easy!) I lost 15 pounds and 3 pants sizes in 3 months.  That is nothing short of a miracle!

      Looking better in January 2011.
      You're probably wondering if I've kept it off.  Well, yes and no.  It's almost 9 months since I took off those 15 pounds and they haven't returned.

      But I did stop exercising so all those muscles that were starting to firm up have now returned to mush.  When you are only 5 feet tall and birthed 4 babies by c-section in 5 years the difference between one size of clothing and another is mushy muscles or toned muscles.  I'm just vain enough to want the smaller size!

      So, today I'm starting a series of blog posts called '10 Steps to Get Fit.'  I'm writing this series as accountability for myself to implement the lessons I learned last year.  I'm also hoping that you will join me on the journey to fitness.

      Here is each step in a nutshell:
      • Set fitness goals.  "I will lose 10 pounds by June 9.  I will eat 5 fruits and/or vegetables a day.  I will exercise for at least 20 minutes 3 times a week.  I will drop one pants size by June 9."
      • Enlist a support group for accountability.  I will be talking about my struggles and successes to reach my fitness goals on Facebook each day.  
      • Make an eating plan.  The plan should be sustainable and doable until your goal date. 
      • Make an exercise plan.  Yes, if you want to see noticeable results it really does take eating healthy and moving more.  In my case 20 minutes a day with Jillian's 30 Day Shred brought amazing results.  I'm hoping to do it again. 
      • Track your weight loss, exercise minutes, and inches lost weekly. Tracking my weight loss encouraged me to see the big picture and not become discouraged when the current week didn't meet my expectations.
      • Document your motivation.  My motivation is a pair of jeans that fit early last fall and most definitely DON'T fit now.  I plan to take a picture wearing them now and another wearing them in 6 weeks.
      • Drink only water or milk.  Yes, I'm asking you to give up tea, coffee, juice and sodas.  They are nutrition-less calories that rob your body of real energy.  Trust me, you can kick the caffeine habit and you will feel so much better for it.
      • Wear cute and comfortable work out clothes.  This includes supportive athletic shoes, correctly sized sports bras, and modest exercise tank tops and shorts.
      • Be inspired by others' success stories.  Read books.  Watch television shows.  Participate in a Bible-based study.  Remind yourself that others succeeded in losing weight and so can you.
      • Adjust your eating and exercise plans for special events.  This doesn't mean you go crazy at the family cookout and eat 3 hamburgers.  It means you plan to eat 1 whole hamburger so you don't eat another grain product that day.
      Those are my 10 steps to getting fit for summer.  Stop by every Monday and Thursday morning as I share more about each step.  Don't forget to 'like' Stephanie's Mommy Brain on Facebook so we can encourage one another (or complain about our aching muscles together!).

      Will you join me in getting fit?

      Read the other posts in this series: Set Fitness Goals, How to Fail Proof Your Weight Loss, Get Fit and Eat Pancakes Too!, How to Plan to Exercise.
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