Sofia Premiere Reminder with a Surprise

Is anyone else excited about the Disney Premiere of Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy!? I know I am. My daughter loves Sophia and Rapunzel is my favorite princess blowing Ariel right out of the water after 21 years of admiration.

I applied to host the Sofia the First House Party, and unfortunately never got it, but I still see the ads and Disney Jr. posts for the premiere in my Facebook news feed religiously.

Here’s yet another reminder to watch the show Sunday, November 23rd at 7pm/6c on Disney Channel with a little surprise I put together just for you.

disney post

disney kermit

disney post clip

Tell me now, would you even notice the horse’s genital area if they hadn’t placed an obnoxious butterfly to cover it? 

My First Guest Blog!

With the weather getting cooler and days growing shorter, I’m longing for summer sun and family camping adventures. I thought it’d be a great time to share with you my first guest post and product review featured on Camping with Your Kids Blog hosted by my good friend, Sue.

The Camper’s Mansion: Napier Sportz™ Midsize SUV Tent Review

The Sportz™ Midsize SUV Tent is a perfect shelter for family camping adventures. The innovative design uses an adjustable durable tarp-like sleeve to transform your CUV, SUV or minivan into ample camping space.  This sleeve is also detachable to transform your shelter into a standard ground tent.

sportz tent

Last spring we were surfing the web for new family camping ideas and my husband stumbled on this SUV tent. I immediately fell in love with the idea of using the back of our Chrysler Town & Country as additional camping space. I was picturing a twin-sized air mattress in the back and space to change diapers while standing up. It was full of potential and convenience. As luck would have it, I found one barely used on a regional swap and sell site.

A few days before our camping trip, I backed my van into the yard and unfolded the tent to gain some experience setting up. I highly recommend this for any new tent purchase. There is little worse than showing up to your campsite in the dark and arguing over what goes where. I know I’m not the only one who’s done this.

camping 1

camping 2

The assembly is a breeze and can be done by one person if needed. The tent assembles into a plentiful height of 6′ in the corners and a spacious 7′ in the center. The connecting SUV sleeve goes up over the open hatch and under the bumper encasing the backend of your vehicle to extend your living space into a mini mansion. The tent is equipped with a 6′ x 6′ awning and a 6′ x 7′ bottomless screen room if you’ve purchased that model.

I highly recommend this mini mansion shelter to any SUV owner looking for a little extra space and functionality in their car camping excursions.

camping 3

Specs:

  • Adjustable SUV sleeve custom fits your CUV, SUV or minivan hatch creating additional camping space.
  • Detachable SUV sleeve transforms tent into a standard ground tent.
  • 9′ x 9′ footprint comfortably sleeps 4 – 5 persons.
  • 7′ of overhead room at the center and 6′ in the corners.
  • Steel and fiberglass pole structure for strength and durability.
  • Waterproof polyester taffeta tent featuring full length taped and seamed rain fly and storm flaps in the windows.
  • Durable waterproof shower liner style floor prevents rain runoff from flooding in.
  • Cyclone Ventilation system provides adequate airflow without compromising storm coverage.
  • Two inside gear pockets and a gear loft.
  • Approximate weight: 30 lbs.

Recommendations:
Go for the screen room. We definitely wish we had that extra space.
Shop around. Most sporting goods stores offer the screen room model new from $260 – $370.
If you purchase the screen room model, spend the extra $30 on the Sportz Footprint to line the bottom of the screen room.

A standard twin sized air mattress is a bit too wide to fit the bed of an SUV or minivan. Coleman makes, at a reasonable price, a Portable SUV Quickbed that measures 41″ x 63.”

Likes:
I have to say the spacious overhead layout is my favorite feature of this tent.
The shower liner style floor is new to me in the world of camping equipment features and I was quite impressed with the ease of sweeping it out at the end of our trip as well as the ability to keep light rain from leaking in at the bottom seams.

Dislikes:
The adjustable SUV sleeve doesn’t quite fit around the bottom of my 2013 Chrysler Town & Country. The bumper is a little wider than my previous 2010 Dodge Caravan model and consequently the sleeve comes up about an inch or two short in material to encase the bumper. To solve that issue, I tuck the bumper portion of the sleeve under the back row of my stow-n-go seating and the folded down seats seem to hold it in place just fine.
I saved a ton of money buying slightly used. The problem is that not everyone sweeps their tent out at the end of a camping stay and over time that dirt grinds at the tent like sandpaper when the tent is stored away. Our tent is in excellent condition with a few little holes in the mesh of the ceiling vent and top of the fly.
While the tent is perfect for car camping, it’s much too bulky to kick the car sleeve and pack into camp to use as a ground tent even if the load was split between two persons.
Campground camping often requires lot scouting and reservation in advance to secure the perfect space to fit the vehicle and tent side-by-side.

Get Outdoors Holiday Gift Guide

When I was a kid, I remember playing outdoors until the streetlights came on. I had a collection of Barbies and dolls and a whole closet stuffed with toys, but what I remember most from my childhood days is riding bikes, lemonade stands, building forts, catching snakes and digging in the dirt.

My kids belong to the few who still enjoy outdoor play. That’s not to say we don’t own too many electronics and toys because we do. My kids have WAY too much in my opinion and I don’t want another Christmas to come around and be overwhelmed by stuff. I’m completely aware this is my fault as a parent. We’re beyond that fact, so keep up. We’ve considered alternatives like tickets to the Monster Truck Finals and Disney on Ice, gift cards, clothes, books, art supplies, but most of all we’re excited to expand on our love of camping.

After moving our son into a local independent scout troop and sending him out the door for monthly camp outs, we fell in love with camping as a family and made it our goal to hit the great outdoors once a month through the summer. It was a bit of an expense each outing since we were short sleeping bags and supplies, but little by little we’re building our family gear. Last spring we opted for day and overnight packs filled with treats, gadgets and gear in lieu of baskets for our oldest boys

eastergearso this upcoming holiday the idea continues.

I present to you my

Get Outdoors Holiday Hotlist:

1. Paracord & DIY Paracord Projects.

2. Games for family fun: Knot So FastNite Ize Flashflight Disc-O, Terrafun Backpack Board Games.

3. Geomate Jr. and Geomate Kit. Whether experienced to the world of Geocaching or just starting out, your kiddos are sure to love the thrill of the world wide treasure hunt given this gadget and party pack.

4. Camelbak Hydrobaks.

6. Camp Chair. Kids love having their very own camp chair especially if it features cup holders and extra pockets.

7. Hammock. It’s the first thing to go up at camp and the last to come down.

9. Headlamps. Perfect hands free lighting for hiking to the bathrooms or finding a safe path to your tent after an evening by the fire.

10. Fishing Pole Roasters from Firebuggz. These are a family favorite. Be sure to check out their video. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

Find these items and more by following my Pinterest board. 

Implement a New SuperMom Family Routine

I grew up in a home where routine and schedule were not a part of our vocabulary. At a young age, my day started with by getting myself and my brothers out of bed so we could get ready for school. Our parents were already off to work most times and still at work when we came home from school. We had one job: a simple rotating chore chart and the chores were expected to be done by the time our mom came home from work. There was no set time to do them so we usually procrastinated until the very last hour before her arrival. Dinner was anywhere between 5 pm and 7 pm most nights. As I got older, dinner was usually “fend for yourself” whenever we made it home from extra curricular activities. Bed time happened anywhere between 9:30 pm and 1 am–long after our parents were already in bed.

Having children of my own, I’ve fallen into the same pattern. Some nights, dinner is cereal or something my older two can make for the rest of the children simply for lack of planning. Our mornings are pretty consistent.
7:00 am Get everyone out of bed
7:15 am Be sure everyone is dressed and to the bathroom to comb hair and brush teeth.
7:20 am Prompt people to grab hoodies and back packs.
7:25 am Monitor administration of medications
7:30 am Be sure children are putting on shoes. Go find my shoes because I never remember where I put them.
7:32 am Out to the car and on our way to school.

If you’re judgey, you may have noticed breakfast wasn’t included in there. My children eat breakfast at school because they offer a free breakfast program to all students. It’s a total winner allowing me to pinch my pennies in the food budget this year.

Nine times out of ten my second oldest child is in a mood and doing his darnedest to create tension and stir a ruckus in the morning as he often wakes hangry and in a moody little rebound. It’s an unavoidable combination but we do our best to keep him moving forward with the routine each day.

The morning ideally sets a good tone for the rest of the day. We are stellar at our morning routine simply because we are stuck in a time frame. We wake at 7 am and have to be out of the house no later than 7:35 am. The kids experience a full day of routine at school then arrive home.

The second the door opens, back packs and shoes are hitting the floor left and right. They are begging to play outside, whining about the chore they have for the day and reminding me of things that aren’t even on the calendar for another week or two. In less than an hour of being home, the bickering and fighting begins. I often joke that dinner is between 5:00 and 9:00 pm and sadly it’s a half-truth. Bedtime usually follows a few hours after dinner. Let’s just say there have been many times I’ve seen my children’s obnoxiously rambunctious little faces in the wee hours of the morning. They have no sense of time or prioritizing and they learned it all from me. By lack of routine, I’ve both taught and allowed them to drive me crazy for the past 12 years.

We’ve tried to implement a routine schedule numerous times before but my husband and I are the worst offenders when it comes to breaking it. I can tell you right now that it takes serious commitment from parents to keep a schedule going strong. I promise you, though, it’s all possible and peace in the home is attainable.

It takes practice and time to get it right. The habit didn’t perfect itself overnight and neither will the solution. The first day may or may not go well. A few weeks into it, you might still struggle in areas. Know that each day is a work in progress. If one day goes poorly, wipe the slate clean at the end of the day and start anew tomorrow.

One of my many excuses to avoid creating a schedule is “I just don’t know where to begin.” To start, I first broke my routine into segments: Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Bedtime. I prioritized the tasks we needed to accomplish daily during each segment and wrote them in at an appropriate hour within their segment making sure to allow enough time to complete the task. Some days (for example where extra curricular activities come in) can be a little more tricky to outline. Do your best. If it’s not quite right, make adjustments and try again next time. I’ve learned that these are the days we should absolutely be on task or nothing else that should be done will be done.

Here is an example of our schedule.

Routine Schedule

Sunday, Monday and Saturday are each so different from the main T-Th/F routine that I’ve found it best to create a separate outline for each. Here’s our Sunday schedule for comparison.

Sunday Schedule

I enjoy this format because we have a larger family with children of varying ages and each person needs ample time for individual needs.

If you have a smaller family or children’s activities are similar throughout the week, you can try a more simple format.

7:00 AM
Family awake, Get kids ready for the day
7:30 AM
Drive kids to school
8:00 AM
Arrive home, breakfast, clean up
9:30 AM
Shower, get ready for the day
10:00 AM
Pick child up from Kindergarten
10:30 AM
Snack and playtime
11:30 AM
Prep lunch
12:00 PM
Lunch, clean up
12:30 PM
Children quiet time/nap
Mom chores
2:00 PM
Littles up from quiet time/nap
Errands
3:30 PM
Older children arrive home from school
Chores
4:30 PM
Children free time
Mom prep dinner
6:00 PM
Dinner
Homework
7:00 PM
Littles clean up toys
Littles Bedtime Routine
7:30 PM
Littles Bedtime
Older children Bedtime Routine
8:00 PM
Older children Bedtime
Mom Quite Time
9:00 PM
Bedtime Routine
Bedtime

Since we’ve implemented a daily family schedule, I’ve noticed I’m no longer the bad guy and my kids try less and less to manipulate me because of it. How so? When they start begging to play outside I ask them to check the time and go to the schedule. The schedule says chore time, not me, therefore making the schedule the bad guy. It’s immovable and never caves. Except for that time the boys removed it from the fridge and hid it thinking if it went away, the schedule never had to be followed. The kids know if they do their chore properly in less than the time given, they earn extra free time. It’s a win-win for all of us. No one is fighting because they’re all busy doing their prioritized tasks. If one child refuses, they get to see the others enjoy the benefits of extra time in their day. Everyone eats before a mass hangeriness sets in, bedtime routines and lights-out are far less chaotic and I have peace and quiet to finish my day.

I hope you find this helpful and I want you to know you’re not alone. You are supermom in many things and implementing a routine schedule will just add another star to your super cape!

You’re welcome to copy and paste this simple format into a word program and adjust it to fit your needs or download my blank Schedule Template to create a schedule similar to the one we use.

Come to Him

As I was reading  through General Conference talks yesterday evening, I found a talk that speaks to me and the many trails in my life that I tend to face feeling both isolated and alone.

Ten years ago was a time when life was rock bottom for me. I was a single working mother of two rambunctious little boys. My ex was calling and harassing me from the county detention center almost daily. I couldn’t seem to get things in order and struggled each night watching the clock just waiting until it was time for bed so I could go back to sleeping my life away. It seemed to me the easiest way to shut out my problems. The morning would come too soon and a new day of the same struggles would unfold.

At the time, I was meeting with the missionaries (for the 4th time in 2 years) and working toward baptism. I began praying and reading my scriptures often and within weeks, I found the strength to ignore the phone. That strength lead to a phone call to my provider to block all calls from the detention center. For the moment, he was out of our life and healing could continue.

My evenings soon changed from watching the clock in complete isolation and loneliness to reading my scriptures with no sense of the hour. Prayer was my constant companion. My Heavenly Father was the only person I could turn to in those quiet evenings and although the conversation seemed one-sided, I was content that He was enough. My life seemed to settle into peace while chaos still nipped at the light that now filled my home. I realized all this time I was never alone. I just needed to reach out to Him. To follow Him. He knows me and knows what’s best for me and He will not lead me astray.

Here I sit 10 years later struggling with severe depression, a strong sense of isolation and sadness, and I often wonder what happened to that happy, peaceful person I was. The truth is I still am that person. I’ve just let go of the things I used to rely on to get me through each day. I let go of Him. I don’t think to pray, rarely read scriptures and my church attendance is sporadic. Life was never meant to be easy, but I do have faith and knowledge that it’s easiest when following the footsteps of the Savior.

In the recent sessions of General Conference, Elder Eduardo Gavarret addresses this very subject during his talk “Yes, Lord, I will Follow Thee.” Elder Gavarret reminds us the Lord said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28 He goes on to share the many open invitations Christ offered us to come, follow him and shares that we can do so by:

  1. Feeding our desire to be a better follower of Christ.
  2. Praying for the desire that your faith in Him to grow.
  3. Obtaining knowledge from the scriptures to light the way and strengthen your desire to change.
  4. Make the decision to act today and say, “Yes, Lord, I will follow Thee!”
  5. Persevere by by exercising these principles daily.

Knowing the truth will not provide needed change unless that knowledge is turned into actions. It seems I’ve forgotten that without resting upon my Savior, I will find no peace or strength in my trials. I’m not alone. I was never alone. Nor do I want to continue being alone. I have every bit of faith in Him that as I come to know Him once again, I will find my positive change–my peace and happiness in this madhouse life of mine.

positiveinterchangecwrt lg

Just Your Average Visiting Teaching Failure

Formal visiting teaching is still fairly new to me. Back in my rural Montana ward, we were so far from the church it was easiest done by checking in on people as we went about our daily routines. We were assigned to visit teach each other…I’d visit my sister-in-law and she would visit me. Occasionally we’d have dinner at another sister’s home and all take part in discussing the lesson. There was no point in going out of our way to teach the same lesson to each other by her coming to my house and I to hers so we’d just see each other at the post office or the general store and discuss what’s going on in our lives and make sure every family’s needs were met.

Needless to say the laid back teaching paired with my introvertive tendency made visit teaching to Utah County standards was quite difficult for me. In the three years I’ve lived here, I’ve gone to visit sisters half a dozen times. It was most often due to a scheduling conflict where I could only be gone from home during the day and my companion during the evening. One of my companions whose schedule was opposite of mine, text me late on a Saturday evening and suggested we go early in the morning before church on Sunday. I’m embarrassed to say I let her have it. Honestly though, who in their right mind asks a mother of five to go visiting sisters before 10 am services on a Sunday morning in the middle of winter? Someone without children that’s who! Bless her heart…and her family with multiple children so that one day she may be asked the same absurd question by another clueless sister.

Ward boundaries were recently changed and new assignments handed out and I’m blessed to be paired with one of my besties who is as introvertive as I am. She has a strong testimony in many things and is an outstanding teacher. I feel very luck and at ease to have her as my teaching companion. I figured it to be easy as I’ll just follow her lead, but of course there’s yet another reason we are such great friends–her lack of visiting teaching is similar to mine.

Last month, sharing the  October Message was a success for us. We made pumpkin bread, printed calling cards on magnetic sheets and went out to meet our assigned sisters. It worked so well we decided that she’d work on the lesson and I’d work on the crafty to go with it. So the new month is here and no cutesy crafty ideas are to be found online. It’s that time of year when we reflect on all of the conference talks and choose a message that best suits our sisters and their family.

Oh, man! I didn’t listen to most of conference. I forgot to renew my Ensign subscription over the summer while I was busy dealing with medical issues. It’s a wonderful thing to live just a few miles away from the nearest distribution center so I can pick up my conference edition and mark the highlights. In the meantime, I’m listening to the playback and grateful that all talks are available online.

 

Here I Am!

This is going to seem extremely out of the blue. I thought of writing for quite sometime, but the unfiltered thoughts that go through my head most times won’t make me friends with most of the people I interact with in real life so I’ve held a lot in although much has happened over the past few years.

Part of the issue, too, is that I have no theme here. My ramblings are as disorganized as most of my life. I’m going to move forward sharing current musings and past happenings as they tie in and resurface.

Controversial Debate Perplexes Me

We all have that acquaintance on Facebook who religiously plasters their wall with their political stance aimed to both change the general thought process of their friends and piss others off. We also know the post would be in vain if at least one person didn’t take the bait and banter back and forth with mindless nonsense to support their own opinion. I like to read these threads and move on shaking my head, laughing. Today, among a dozen other politically suggestive posts, this was shared with me:

No, it’s quite a rudimentary concept when you look at it like that. The thread turned into a fit of biological remarks of which neither party deemed themselves a scholar and all the while I thought to myself, “if a similar union of matter was discovered to occur somewhere in the solar system, it would most definitely be declared a form of life on any other planet.” One thing is certain . . . it doesn’t have to be a difficult concept.

Confusion and Other Nursery Rhymes

Last night, my toddler and I were lying in my bed reading Tomie’s Baa Baa Black Sheep by Tomie dePaola. Whenever we read, she loves to listen and then read it back to me. Last night, story time went something like this:

She: Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet
eating her turds and whey.
Me: *giggle giggle*
She: Along came a ‘pider
who sat down beside her
and she ran away.
She: Hey Little Diddle
Cat and a fiddle
the cow jumped over the moon.
That doesn’t look like a moon.
Me: It is a moon, Princess.
She: Oh!
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
Why does he have a purse?
Me: That’s not a purse. It’s a suitcase.
She: No it’s a purse.
Me: Well, maybe the dish is a girl. See her pink lips? She’s wearing lipstick. Maybe they are running away to get married.
She (pointing to the spoon): He’s wearing lipstick too.
Me: No I think his lips are just pink.
She (back to the dish): Where is her boobies?
Me: Under the plate.
She: No, I think they are both boys and he has a purse and they are getting married.
Good observation. I’m now just as confused as Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in the tub.

Ramblings of Potty Mouth

There’s something about  little kids cussing that’s funny to me. Maybe it stems from Grandpa making sure our first word was sh*t. I just don’t know.

I don’t intentionally encourage it. Sometimes I’m a potty mouth. More frequently than I’d like to admit actually. I understand that this behavior in itself encourages my children to not only say these things at times, but to say them in context. Usually in public. Unfortunately, between my family and myself, my children have a vast vocabulary of unintelligible, yet humorous, words to say at any given moment.

I think it’s most humorous when they use words I’ve never thought to combine. Kinda like that time the German foreign exchange student in high school complained of the damn sh*t rain.

Today my toddler was quietly playing in her pool while I sat nearby, absorbed in new things on Pinterest which I will never make time to create. Irritated by the malfunction of her water gun, she coaxed it to work….

“Come on pisser! Come on piss nuts!”

Piss nuts? Ha!

I quickly retired to my bathroom to bust a gut laughing before we could discuss the use of “nice words.” Today brings another revelation that I really need to watch my damn sh*t mouth.