Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bedtime Hearts to End Battles

Bedtime at my house used to be a peaceful event, which left everyone in the house with warm fuzzies. I'm not sure what caused the change, but at some point in the recent past, bedtime turned into battle time.

The calm before the storm. This is my youngest with her lovey. She rubs her lips on the frayed corner of her blanky. I think it's the cutest thing ever! Almost makes up for all the drama.

We tried sticker charts, earlier bedtimes, later bedtimes, skipping baths, adding more songs, more cuddles, teddy bears. We tried positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, spanking and ignoring. No matter what we did, our kids still insisted on coming out of their rooms a trillion times and making their refusal to sleep well known throughout the house (and maybe even the street). This added an hour to bedtime (and took an hour away from parental free time).

Then we had enough. After brainstorming and talking with friends, we came up with a plan that worked like a charm. Tonight was the forth night in a row that each kid went to bed without coming out of her room once.

Since it was so successful, I thought I'd share. Maybe one of you might need it as much as we did.

The plan:
  • Each child is given a heart at bedtime. This heart is her "pass" to come out of her room. Bathroom trips are allowed, as long as they go back to bed quietly. And obviously mid-night nightmares or illness get cuddles from mommy without losing heart.

  • Since she only gets one, she is only allowed to come out once.

  • The first time she comes out, we collect the heart

  • If she comes out a second time, she loses a privilege the next day

  • If she comes out a third time, we will actively ignore her (pick her up, carry her to bed without saying a word - and no eye contact - yikes).

  • Here's the catch - if she doesn't use the heart, she gets to keep it. When she gets 10 hearts, she gets a prize!
That's it. Neither of them came out of their room once for 4 nights!!!

Here's why I think it works:

1. Instead of having to earn something, they start out with it in their hot little hands. It's harder to give something up than to not get something that you haven't had. It also puts the control in her hands. Does that make sense?

2. Since we sat them down and explained details, we were all very clear about the expectations (including me). This gave my husband and I confidence that we were on the same team and we knew what to do. I think they could sense our confidence too.

Note: I reused these cute little hearts that were used last year in our "love garden" (another behavioral enticement that worked well). They are just wooden sticks with wooden hearts, painted and glittered.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Speaking to My Heart

Ever since I became a Christian, I have heard people say phrases like "God put it on my heart", "God spoke to me", "I felt God's calling...". Hearing those phrases always confused me. As a Christian, shouldn't I be hearing things too?

Then a couple of years ago I had an experience that I could only explain as God speaking to my heart. The details have the makings of their own blog post, but I'll give you 411 quickly. I was sitting in church. I felt a "knowing", for lack of a better word, that I was supposed to have another child, I should name him David and he will do great things. Whoa!

Umm. Pardon me, but I think that thought might have been meant for the person next to me.

In case you are wondering if one of my kids is this blessed child that I was supposed to have, let me burst your bubble and set the record straight now. I said no. Well, my husband and I collectively said no. Heck no. Not convenient. Not happening. Our second child cried almost her entire first year of life and besides, we are done with bottles!. Snip, snip (get it?).

I said no to God, the ONE time in my life I heard him talk to me. What a jerk!

I'd be lying to you right now if I told you that I regretted my decision. I haven't been tortured by feelings of regret or sadness of not having more kids. But much like the "knowing" I had in church a few years ago, I live with a "knowing" that I am missing out on a blessing. As hard as it would have been to have another child, I "know" that my life would be even more complete if I had followed God's will. It doesn't feel possible, but I "know" it. My loss, for sure.

In the two years since this happened, I haven't heard any big messages from God. Okay, so I likely haven't been listening as much as I could. But I do pray and I do like to think that the lines of communication are open, even if a little fuzzy.

But God likes to give people second chances. And I got one.

No, I'm not pregnant. Nor will I ever be (snip, snip).

The life that I've been called to help is that of a 12 yr old girl. Actually, two girls - 7 and 12. These two girls live on my street. Their mom walked out on them a few years ago. Just walked out and left them (and their brother, whom I don't know) with their dad and grandparents. And then, about a year later, grandma left. Then Grandpa. So these girls live with their dad, their brother and their uncle.

Imagine, my female friends. Being 12 yrs old and not having a mom or any "maternal" fill ins. Let that sit with you for a minute.

My heart breaks for these girls. I see the pain in their eyes when they watch my kids interact with me. I've felt ache in my heart for them for months. Then the other day, while watching them play at the park with my daughters, it hit me. I need to be here for them. That 12 year old girl right there needs me in her life. She needs a woman to talk to and to learn from.

So I invited them in for pizza. And we made hair bows. And I felt blessed to be there with them. And I think they liked it too, because they came over again today as soon as they got home from school.

Thank you, Lord, for my second chance. I won't blow it this time.

What about you? What does it feel like when God speaks to you? Do you listen??

Quick Quote

Since I don't have much time to write today (off to Disneyland with daughter who doesn't have school today!) - I figured I'd just share a quote with you.

"Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there". - Will Rogers

Stay tuned for a post about my latest addiction - fabric hair bows (thanks Nancy!)!!!

Have a great day!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Girl Scout Cookies & Label Me Sugar Free

Today is day three of sugar detox and it was much easier than day two. Because I'm not giving up all carbs (just the obvious sweets and white flour stuff), it's really not that big of a deal. Tomorrow i'm throwing a label on me that says sugar free, and i'll stop updating about it... unless I have a funny story to share.

This afternoon, a neighbor came to the door selling girl scout cookies.

I bought one box that looked unappealing to me and two to donate. Their visit reminded me of an embarrasing girl scout cookie caper that I had a few years back. And, since I have nothing better to chat about right now, I guess i'll share it...

A few years ago, BrightSide husband ordered a bunch of girl scout cookies from a co-worker. When the cookies were delivered, it was the middle of lent and he was commited to giving up sweets (I think I was too, if only for a moment before I changed mine to something I thought was more reasonable). We agreed to put them in the freezer until after lent.

I visited the cookies often, each time taking one (or two). Over the course of a few weeks, I ate all the cookies.

When lent was over, BrightSide husband got all giddy and beamed at me, exclaiming, "I'm so excited that I finally get to eat some of the girl scout cookies in the freezer!". OMG. I had to come clean and tell him I ate them. All.

I laugh as I type this but it wasn't funny. He was a little irritated and I was ALOT ashamed.

And now when he orders cookies, I have asked him to leave them at work. And he happily oblidges.

Day 3 wrap up: I do still miss my zone bar breakfast. But I begrudgingly admit that my healthy egg burrito breakfast (with spinach and bacon bits - yummy!) kept me full much longer. I haven't craved carbs at all today. I ate some nuts here and some cheese there. Normally I would feel really guilty about that, since they have so many calories. But I was surprised to find that 1) my blood sugar stayed level all day, 2) I didn't feel hungry once and 3) When I served dinner, I skipped on the whole wheat pasta because it didn't even sound good. Huh?

I also had a great workout this morning - ran 3 miles and then did my weight training circuit. Endorphins are still flowing, many hrs later. Much better payoff than a cookie (or a box) gave me!

Hopefully something wonderfully funny or uplifting will happen tomorrow, so I can share about something other than this topic, which has become stale... even to me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day Two Sugar Detox - Lonely Tea Cup and a Bright Side

Day two of sugar detox. Okay, so I don't really eat that much sugar on a daily basis. Unless it's a special occassion or I dare to bake, super obvious sweet things aren't around to eat. But there is an exception...

Double Dark Chocolate Zone Bars.

My favorite breakfast is a thing of the past.

My tea cup is lonely. And really, it's a little bitter without the sweet chocolate.

I'm shocked at how much I miss those darn bars.

But I must have been getting more sugar somewhere to be so grouchy giving it up these past two days. I guess a bite of my kids treat here and a granola bar there really add up.

My husband is annoyed with me, I can tell. He can't understand why I'm so grouchy (I'm a total b*&#@ tonight). I warned him but he must not have believed that i'd be tough to live with (ha!). He must not have known about my little zone problem.

Hopefully my sweetness will come back soon, even if i'm sugar free*

* I am not planning on going completely sugar free for the rest of my life. In case you catch me nibbling on a free sample at Costco next month, I thought I should let you know. I'm just getting it out of my system and then I plan to be mindful about eating sugar in the future. I am being a student of my body at this point, trying to see what plays a role in my energy and mood level. :)

But on the BRIGHT SIDE...

I took these photos at bedtime tonight. My husband makes such a great daddy for little girls! He let's them do his hair in their "beauty shop", and even lets them put fairy wings on him. I saw this and ran to grab my camera, before he could protest. :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sugar Detox Day One - Finding Joy in New Places

I realized something this weekend that is kind of life changing. I discovered that I am a "sugar sensitive" person. That's a nice way of saying I'm addicted to sugar. Remember last week, when I posted about how proud I was of myself for drinking a glass of milk and refraining from scarfing all of the cookies? Well that was at about 11am. By 4pm, it was a totally different story. Sugar high city.

Scared and embarrased by my inability to control myself around cookies, I started surfing the web. What I found surprised me. I found that there is a real "condition" out there called "sugar sensitivity". Some people just can't handle their sugar. I am one of them. I have known this for years. That's why I don't bake and it's also why I don't allow peanut m&m's in my house.

What I didn't know was that there is a chemical, physiological response to eating sugar. Duh! I'm getting high from the frigging cookies!!! It sounds so ridiculous, but I think it's true! And you know what the problem is from getting high off of cookies (besides muffin top)? Highs are followed by lows. Which explains my icky mood post-cookie inhaling. And my icky mood the next day.

I don't like that any food has that kind of control over my body. It's why I stopped taking the prescription pain meds on day 2 after a c-section (they made me loopy!). And it's why I gave up drinking diet coke (it gave me a buzz, followed by a v. foul mood).

I didn't have a name for my little problem until now. But now that it's got a name, I need to do something about it. So I have decided to detox off sugar. Not all carbs, just sweets, since they are the the ones that seem to come between me and my healthiest self.

So today is day 1 of my sugar detox.

If I doubted at all that sugar had an effect on my mood, the thought went away at about 11am today, when I started to notice I felt grumpy and sad - sans sugar. My favorite breakfast in the world is a cup of hot tea with a Double Dark Chocolate "ZONE" bar, which I couldn't have today.

An article I read said it's normal to feel a little blue and grumpy the first few days of giving up sugar. The author recommended finding non-food ways of finding joy in your life. Things that make you feel like you are taking care of yourself. Take a walk, read a magazine, give yourself a manicure, etc. To be honest, when I read that I thought it was sort of fluff. I didn't think any of those things would actually make me feel joy. But, I made a mental note to make a similar list of my own because if I take sugar out of my life, I'm going to need to find sweetness in other areas.

Then something surprising happened. I spent some time cleaning out my fridge to make room for all of my Trader Joes finds and I realized that afterwards, I felt GOOD. Could it be that cleaning out my fridge just brought me joy? I must admit, I felt as good as if I had consumed a diet coke or had eaten a cookie!

So now I'm happy again. And I have a clean fridge! My husband will be so thrilled when he gets home! A messy fridge, crazily stacked pans and mismatched tupperware are the only things we EVER fight about.

This makes me happy right here... One of these drawers used to be dedicated to crap (sugar, butter, brown sugar, corn meal, etc). I cleaned it out so I could have two drawers for veggies. Give those bad boys some space to spread out!

I also made a bin just for nuts. Do other people like bins and containers as much as me??

And my cupboards are all clean too!

Sorry for the long post!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rainy Day Craft - "Stained Glass" Art

The kids and I did a craft today that I thought I'd share. It was a tad bit messy, but it kept the three of us entertained for an hour so it's a winner in my book.

"Stained Glass" Art

What you need:
veggie peeler (or cheese grater, or knife)
wax paper
iron (for mom, obviously) - set to low
protective surface - newspaper or table cloth
dixie cups (optional!)

What to do:
Put an OLD table cloth or newspaper down to protect your table!

1. Take wrapper off crayon

2. Shave crayon to get little pieces for your masterpiece

yet another use for dixie cups!!!

3. Spread crayon flakes on wax paper (less is more, I found this out the ugly/hard way)

4. Cover with second piece of wax paper & iron on LOW


5. Optional: you can also cut scraps of paper to make a frame.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tutu in a Tree

I don't have much to say. I just like this photo of my 3 yr old, because it captures her personality so well. She's rough and tumble and frilly girl - all at the same time.

Self Respect or Tummy Ache: A Surprisingly Difficult Choice

Cookies are my weakness. My trigger. My "Achilles heel". If I bake them, I usually can't stop eating them. Actually, if I am in the same building as them, I can't stop eating them. Since I know this about myself, I rarely bake them. For the same reason I don't go walking in dark alley's at night... it's about survival.

But it is pouring rain and I have been stuck inside with two kids for days. Can you believe my daughters school is closed down due to flooding... in Orange County?
Baking cookies seemed like a fun way to pass the time with my girls. So I threw caution to the wind and decided to bake Janna's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. You may want to stop by her blog and copy the recipe... they were divine.

photo from 2cool4myminivan

But even though they were quite possibly the best cookies I have ever met, I didn't trade my self respect for a tummy ache. No, this time I decided to take a different route. When I caught myself mindlessly (frantically) eating my second warm cookie straight from the oven, I had a little pep talk with myself. I've been doing that lately and it seems to help. I said to myself, "You are stronger than this. If you want a cookie, make it a reasonable snack and then stop".

So I poured a glass of lowfat milk (I haven't drank milk in at least a year... i find it gross unless accompanied with a warm chocolate cookie).

photo from the

Then I ate my cookie while drinking my milk. To my surprise, when I finished the cookie and milk, I was done. Satisfied. Stuffed.

I'm not sure if it was the pep talk or the milk that made the difference. But whatever it is, I feel happy with the outcome.

My plan for the rest of the cookies is this: 1) I will make a plate for my next door neighbor and walk it over if it ever stops raining. 2) I will make a plate for my husbands work and put them in his car as soon as he gets home. 3) I will put the last few into individual baggies in the fridge, for my kids to eat tomorrow. Because there is no sense in torturing myself.

On the cookie topic, I thought I'd share with you a cute little story I got in Weight Watchers years ago.


I met him at a party. There he was at the end of the buffet - a loner, the last one on the plate. He had a certain something - a sweetness, a sensuality. He was one hot cookie.

I felt as if i'd always known him, always hungered for him. When he looked at me with those warm brown eyes, I melted. Before I knew it, I had my hands on him, my mouth on him - in public. After that night, we were inseperable.

With him, I could be myself. He didn't seem to care what mood I was in, how I looked, even if I gained weight. Toegether, we had the recipe for happiness. No one satisfied me like Chip.

Then things changed. My friends said he was no good for me. He started to give me heartburn. I felt crummy, but it had to end.

Now we've gone our separate ways. I hardly think of him anymore. Oh, if I see a certain TV commercial, a particular magazine ad, a coupon for 10c off - that old longing returns.l And when we run into each other at teh supermarket, we nod.

We are friendly, but it's over.


P.S. I only used half the chocolate chips but they were still shockingly good!

Isn't this a funny photo of my daughter? I came across it this morning and had to laugh.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Queen Blog Nerd

If you want to know what I'm all about, I'll tell you in one sentence. I'm about thriving in life, not merely surviving.

But that's not the only little nugget I'm going to share with you. At the risk of being crowned Queen Blog Nerd, I'll tell you something else...

I have a Mission Statement.

Nerd or not, I believe everyone should have a mission statement. It's a way to keep your priorities in clear view. I keep my mission statement posted on my white board in the kitchen. Every now and then I see it and give a quick self check, asking myself if I am being true to what I value.

Truth be told, sometimes it's merely a "wish list" of the person I want to be. But I believe that if you have a clear expectation of who you want to be, you are more likely to meet that expectation. And most of the time, I'm closer to the person in my mission statement than I was to the person pre-mission statement. If that makes sense.

So I'll share it with you now. And then I'll go get my Queen Blog Nerd crown ready.

Summer's Mission Statement:

I am a healthy, energetic wife and mother who lives my life consciously and fully. I strive to create meaningful life experiences for my family as well as foster learning and a love for God. I am a good steward of my body, my mind, my soul and the planet. I am present and my mind is serene. God has filled me with a positive energy and an abundantly joyful spirit. I believe that the choices I make shape my life. I choose to dwell on the positive. I choose to be happy.

And there it is folks! Hope you enjoyed it because there is a distinct possibility I will have deleted this post by morning, after my glass of wine has worn off and I recognize this for the embarrassment that it is. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Ain't Just Whistling Dixie

Yesterday was a holiday - no school for the kids - and it poured rain all day. A perfect pajamas & tent, don't leave the house kind of day!

The girls and I had so much fun together! We played dance class, hair salon and playdoh. We made 2 kinds of jello and gingerbread cookies. We used a lot of dixie cups!

In the morning, my kitchen looked something like this*

After having two kitchen helpers all afternoon, and making two dinners (tonight: casserole, recipe below and tomorrow: enchiladas) my kitchen looked like this...

Wait for it....

I actually took the photos in reverse, as I didn't know in the morning that my kitchen would end up like this. :)

Okay, now about the Dixie Cups...

If you don't use dixie cups, you are missing out. I use these bad boys all.the.time. Today I took a photo every time I used a dixie cup. What can I say, I am easily entertained!

In one day, these are all of the things we used dixie cups for...

Crafts: I typically use a dixie cup for my daughters water paint cup. Today we also used it when she played with her clay.

Condiments: ketchup in a cup, to go with string cheese. Much easier than cleaning it off a plate.

Snacks: fill it with pretzels for a 1 point Weight Watchers snack. The kids like 'em too!

Drinking: 'nuff said

Cooking: I measure ingredients for the kids to pour in. Saves time and mess.

Yes, I'm the bubba gump of the dixie cups. :)

Lastly, here's the recipe for tonight's casserole.

Stuffing Crusted Creamy Chicken Casserole

1-2/3 c hot water
1 pkgs (6oz) stove top stuffing
6 sm boneless skinless chx breasts (I diced and cooked mine first)
garlic salt, pepper
1 bag (16oz) frozen veggies. I used broccoli, cauliflower, carrot mix (thawed and drained)
1 can (14.75oz) cream style corn
1/4 c ranch dressing (reduced fat)

1. preheat oven to 425
2. add hot water to stuffing mix and stir until moistened, set aside
3. place chicken in 9x13 pan and sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper, top with veggies
4. mix together corn and dressing. Pour over chicken.
5. top with stuffing and cover with foil
6. bake 30 minutes. uncover and bake additional 10-15 minutes.

Shelter from the Rain

Today my girls and I are enjoying one of our favorite family traditions.

On the first rain of the season, I always set up our camping tent in the living room. (It's the only time the tent gets used... it's never actually been outside).

It's a bit of a pain. And on occassion it's even dangerous.

This photo (below) was taken just after I got hit in the face with a long yellow pole...

But it's totally worth it. The kids L.O.V.E. having it up!

They pretend to nap in it.

They snack in it.

They pull toys into it.

They call it a "jump house"

They say I'm their neighbor.

They play like happy kids and I love it.

Then after a few days (yes, days!) I pull it down and enjoy my clear, open living room!

Thanks Peeps!

I just wanted to say thanks so much for the answers to my blog questions here. I knew my peeps would share their mad blogging skills!
As you can see, I've mastered the link skill. I've also created a new header...yay!
Too bad I don't have a more recent family photo. I'm working on that one. Our computer crashed a few months ago and I have only a few random photos (can't retrieve from shutterfly!).
We are enjoying the rainy day. I'm going to go set up a tent in the living room now. Post to follow. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fancy Blog Envy

Hi Friends! I hope you are all enjoying your weekend!

I'm having a little blog envy lately. It's not healthy, I know. I want a pretty blog too! Alas, there are a few things that I can't figure out how to do.
Since I have yet to see a Blog 101 class anywhere, I'm calling for help from my seasoned blogger friends. Do you have any tips on how to do these few things in blogs??

Links: I know how to use the link icon to list a long URL. How do you make it say something else but still link to a URL (like to someones blog)? For instance, a lot of you say to go "here", with a link to a cool blog.

Headers: How do ya'll make those cool multi photo headers? I have photoshop elements, which I used for the photo in my header. But I'm curious how people put two, three, or even more photos in their header. Does it take a long time??

Saving: Is there a way to archive blogs onto DVD? The reason I ask is that some people (Ali Edwards is one) write blogs to their kids. She puts a blurb in her blog each day, one for her son and one for her daughter. In case you don't know, Ali is a super incredible scrapbooker and graphic designer.
I do this in word, where I have a 30+ page journal for each girl. But it would be so cool to have a nicer journal, including photos and such.

Any tips you could give me would be greatly appreciated!!!
Have a great day!!!!