Fancy Nails

Today we went to the salon to have the birthday girl's nails painted for her party. She absolutely loves to have them painted, but the polish never lasts very long (sometimes not even an hour before it has chips and scrapes in it). Having them painted "professionally" seemed like a good plan since their polish stays on for days. She felt like such a big girl and was so excited about this trip!

Sitting very still admiring the perfect pink she selected.

The lady added sparkles!

Waiting for them to dry.

Waiting is hard!

This purple light helps them dry better.
For many years my 8 year old has been a nail biter. She has been wanting to break the habit, but usually does it without thinking while her mind is on something else. About 2 months ago I told her that if she could conquer her nail biting by her little sister's birthday that she would get to have her nails painted at the salon, too. Since she and her younger sister have a jealous rivalry thing going I was hoping this would do the trick...and it did! She is so proud of herself for kicking that bad habit and having nice fingernails. She selected a lovely pink and then the lady added silver sparkles on top!

My non-nail biter! SO proud of her!
And the ever patient big brother waits on the couch wishing he had brought some masculine toy to play with. He is a sweet boy and even took some pictures for me. We were only in there for about 20 minutes altogether, but waiting is still hard...especially for a boy in a nail salon.


Daily Exercise

It is no secret that I do not enjoy exercise. Never have. Ever. But during this pregnancy it has been necessary, so I began by trying to get out and take walks at least once a week. The weather was still cool enough in early spring, but as the heat set in I started jogging on a mini-trampoline for 10 to 15 minutes each day instead. Then, I moved up to jogging on it more than once per day. Gradually, I began to get a little stronger and ended up borrowing my mom's treadmill which I started using 3 times per day for 10-20 minutes at a time. Finally, I was able to walk at a good pace for one mile- three times per day. It felt awful while I was actually doing it, but when I was done I felt great!

However, the more bulbous I get near the end, the more difficult it has become to make my 3 miles per day goal. Some days I even skip walking altogether:-( Recently, I have begun to get some really tight contractions that don't feel right while I'm walking. Slowing down and taking it easier will usually make them go away. But now I feel like i am failing at my goal. Of course, this is not important compared to the health of my baby, but the perfectionist in me is disgruntled about it.

I'm trying to feel good about any amount of exercise that I am able to accomplish in a day. Not only is it really good for me in so many ways physically, but it also makes me feel better mentally. Somehow it cured the lower back pain that was plaguing me early on and it makes me feel more calm and relaxed throughout the day. Exercise really is good! (But, unfortunately, I still don't enjoy it)


Packing for Children- Our Sukkot Nightmare Solved!

Almost 5 years ago we set out on an adventure. It was an 8 day camping trip to observe the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as Sukkot. It was exciting and we couldn't wait! But my joy was slightly and quickly infringed upon by the nightmare of the clothing issue. I had packed for cooler fall weather and made neat stacks of matching outfits for each of my (at the time) 2 children. They were sharing a large suitcase and it was nicely organized when we arrived. I had also packed 3 pair of pajamas for each of them and socks & undies for each day plus an extra pair or two. I thought we were all good. Knowing how NOT neat they can be, we decided to keep their suitcase in our tent and dole out clothing each day. By day 2 I could see that this wasn't going to be as simple as all that. First of all, there were the unforeseen clothing casualties like wet socks & jeans and muddy pajamas. We stayed busy all day and there was no laundry facility, so once something got really dirty or wet- it went into the dirty clothes. Also, once their outfit got wet or muddy they had to change- quickly putting us into a clean clothing deficit. Then, there was the "I don't wanna wear this shirt with those pants" complaints. They began to dig through what was left to find what they wanted to wear. By the end of the week this made for a crazy clown mix of whatever was left...the rejects. (Although Sukkot is no fashion show, I still can't stand for my children to be running around in totally crazy looking, mix matched clothes!) Another major issue was the weather. Even though it was October, the days were really warm and the nights got down right COLD! I had packed for cooler weather which meant we sweated all day and froze at night.

Since we weren't the only family going through this clothing crisis and many moms were fretting by day 3 or 4 because we were dangerously close to becoming a nudist camp, a few dads got together and took trash bags of dirties to a local laundry mat and spent all day washing. Who wants to spend a day of their feast doing laundry? Oy vey!

So ever since then we have used a method that has restored order and simplified the packing process. This method can be used for any type of trip and is especially great for families with many kids and/or sloppy, not neat kids who make a shambles of their suitcase, duffel bag, or whatever.

First, I went to the Dollar Tree and purchased several 2-packs of zippered mesh laundry pouches* (which are surprisingly durable for Dollar Tree merchandise and have lasted us several years now!) Next, I laid out an outfit for each child- for each day (plus a couple of extra days), including socks and undies. ~If you have a picky dresser they can even help make the outfit choices at this time. We have an understanding of NO mixing or switches once we get there.~ Then, I stuffed a neatly folded outfit into each pouch. That way I could just toss them a pouch each day and they have everything they need! They could even put their dirties into the empty pouch. No more suitcase rummaging for anyone!

Now since we go out of state, it is hard to anticipate the weather with exact accuracy. We try to pack mostly jeans and short sleeved shirts since the days can be really warm. Also, each person brings a sweatshirt, warm jacket, and a winter coat- since the nights have been known to get C-O-L-D! We always pack warm pajamas and plenty of blankets. One or two of their outfits is usually shorts or skirts in case a day gets super warm- which it does every year.

For shoes we bring a pair of hiking boots for each person and a pair of flip-flops to wear in the shower. The flip flops can be worn on any hot days that might be. A great place to buy hiking boots is the thrift store. Since the kids feet are ever growing, and new boots are expensive, the thrift store is my hiking boot supplier. We have found great name brands and have never paid over $5.00 a pair (usually more like $1 or $2.00!!). I have to start looking in advance, of course, but it is so worth the savings!

The mesh pouch method has made such a difference for us!
*Plastic grocery bags would also work, but the pouches allow you to see what is inside and they are re-usable year after year.



All this week the kids and I have been enjoying smoothies. They are cold and refreshing and very delicious- with NO sugar added! My two year old cannot get enough and often goes around finishing off everyone else's glasses.

So what is in these smoothies? Well, they vary a little, depending on what fruit is in the house, but the typical recipe is:

banana or 2

about a half cup of raw kefir (or milk or yogurt)

a drizzle of o.j.

a big hand full or 2 of fresh organic baby spinach leaves

*blend until very smooth and spinach specks disappear- about 1 or 2 minutes*

frozen pineapple chunks

frozen strawberries

frozen blueberries

*blend until smooth*

I don't measure anything- just eyeball it according to how many people will be served.

One day this week I had 2 peaches that were a little past their prime. No one wanted them so I just threw them in the blender with our morning smoothie and they added a wonderful peachy flavor. The kids even noticed and commented. Also, when bananas start to get bruised or freckly and undesirable they are even more perfect for smoothies. You can peel and freeze them especially for smoothie making.

This has been a great way to get raw fruits and leafy greens into their bellies everyday. The spinach is invisible to the eye and to the taste buds, yet it's vitamins and minerals are still doing their thing!