The unexpected I wasn’t expecting…

Finally realizing that I’m the party planner of my family is a bit bitter sweet…let’s look at today, and then why I am shocked.

Mother’s Day 2014 – This was the most amazing thing I could have asked for, it started yesterday Boo and I went on a girl scout field trip, hubs was taking Harm & Tater to his moms for a visit…I return home and find my parents in my front yard – all new plants along foundation and weeds dug out of front yard. This desperately needed to be done, when we moved in 2 summers ago, the sellers had just planted new shrubs along the foundation, but they died…we tried planting new plants last year and they also died. The front of our house faces the south, and has direct sunlight all day not to mention there really isn’t anything blocking the sun hitting the front of our brick house so basically if you wanted to cook a brick oven pizza you may be about to use my front yard. I was dreading doing the dig-up and re-plant so I was so grateful to see my parents had done this task for me! Hubs thinks this day, and most, are lame and useless. And I never want much, but its nice just to have one day where you feel like a Queen. Last night he rounded up the 3 girls and made cards. Which is a HUGE step for him, as he is not crafty by any means. This morning I got many hand-made cards from the girls, which I LOVED! Then he made breakfast for the girls, and me – again I LOVED. And then Boo “took” my mom & I to lunch on his dime. Now this was my kind of day…not some “stuff” you bought just to “give” me something, but time together, love from the girls & hubs…this was the ultimate Mother’s Day. 

…now the part of why I’m shocked…let’s take a look at history

June 2004: My parents 25th wedding anniversary, I was living out of my parents home but within a 10 min drive of their house, my older (by 2 years) sister was home from college for the summer. I planned a surprise party for my parents, coordinating the invites, how to get them out of the house, the food, the booze, the hotel accommodations for out-of- towners – which is anyone related to me – and of course most importantly how to get them out of the house. My sister was a brain to bounce ideas off of, and a financial partner. Went off without a hitch!

Jan 2007: My mom’s 50th birthday, I was still living within minutes of my parents, but had just had my first daughter 6 weeks premature about 10 weeks prior to the party. Again planned it all, as my sister was now living out of state where she had attended college. Again went off without a hitch!

**side note: after both of these events my mom always said she didn’t know but she knew something was up because my sister and I were “getting along” lol. We are sisters, we love each other, but we’ve never been the bff sisters.

May 2012: My sister’s 30th birthday – now remember she lives out of state, in a city I have never resided. I began brainstorming and researching right after she turned 29, because I had no idea how I was going to pull this one off. I began planning, and enlisting the help of my mother and a friend of my sister’s who lived in the same town. I eventually got this party planned and again sister was shocked and went off without a hitch!

June 2013: Last summer – my dad’s 60th birthday, now this one was quite challenging because my dad is VERY skeptical of everything. I had to plan for a long time, and coordinated several people to make this work. First I had to figure out how to get him to take the day off work, because at this time he was working a job that he occasionally worked weekends. This is where my sister came in handy, I had her call and tell him she was coming to town this weekend because she was out of town on business the weekend following his birthday. Now as an adult my dad never had a close local friend, but he had lots of fraternity brothers that he kept in regular touch with. As a side note – grown men revert back to college frat days even when they’re 60 with grandkids. He knew nothing was going on until maybe a few hours before the party. Remember I said he was always on alert? (I think this is where I get it) He thought something may be up so he started checking for clues…he “noticed” a couple of my parents coolers were missing from the attic…now he had no reason to be inventorying the attic but he was. So he might have know we were going to have a party…but he had NO idea who was going to be there. Never the less he was SURPRISED! Frat brothers, relatives, former co-workers, and of course his buddy (my daughter). 

So that brings us to current times…March 2014 I was due – the big 3-0 was coming whether I was ready or not. Birthday comes…and goes, with barely a blip on the radar. UGH! My co-workers were about my only celebration – balloons, cake, flowers, desk wrapped in caution 30 tape, and of course lots of fun cards. Now I had realized about a month prior to my birthday that I wasn’t having a party because my sister had to undergo planned surgery (not elective – had to and fairly swiftly). My parents we down and were with her for this, my dad stayed an additional 4 weeks to help her get around and take care of her 2 dogs, my mom was home for my birthday. But hubs – didn’t really do anything either, I had flowers delivered to my work and we went to dinner with my mom & daughter the day after. Otherwise there was nothing…and up until now I have been rather bitter about it, kinda like “seriously people? you couldn’t even send me a card?” I guess I’m still a bit bitter but I have been trying to tell myself that I can’t be upset, it’s not worth it.

Today is the day I realized that I’m the “party planner” of the family…no one planned my any sort of party because they don’t do that. They may assist, or throw money in to help, but to plan is not in their blood. I guess this is good and bad – the good is when its party planning time I don’t really have any competition, the bad is when it’s my turn unless I plan it it isn’t happening. 

Politic-book

Why has Facebook all the sudden become everyone’s personal soapbox? Everyone from all walks of life young, old…

I don’t talk politics, there were a few items I learned you don’t talk about: money, politics, & religion. Not that you never talk about these items but you don’t talk to just anyone about them.

At church, or whatever religious place you go to…that’s where you talk religion.

With a financial assistant, loan officer, your boss 🙂 or any other financial influential person is who you discuss money with.

Politics…well I’m not sure when this is appropriate.

The HOT political topics I currently see lighting up my Facebook are gay marriage, vaccinations, and who are next round of elected officials will or will not be.

A brief look at my thoughts that I rarely discuss deeper…

Gay Marriage: What’s the big deal? Let people marry who they want – our country was founded on a freedom of religion and a SEPARATION of church and state. Church Marriage – Not legal, if you don’t go to the state to get a license your religious ceremony means nothing. State Marriage – legal. So if churches or religious organizations choose not to marry people they do not agree with…then fine they have the right. The state however doesn’t, because there is no legal reason why they shouldn’t be able to marry. Let people adopt children and have equal rights…if two loving people make a home and raise children in it, who cares what sexuality they are. I briefly watched some of the court proceedings here in Michigan over the rights of gay marriage…and this argument made me say hmm “The state also argued that it has a “legitimate” interest in preserving the traditional family structure because it claims children thrive best when married moms and dads raise them.” So if the state would rather married moms & dads live together and raise children, why haven’t they banned divorce? (I know not realistic but a hypothetical) What about single mother’s who end up raising a child alone? Our government really thinks that same sex couples are worse than divorced parents fighting, single parents, no parents, or state foster care? I think not! 

Vaccinations…I have done much research, but am by no means a medical professional. However I do believe parents should be allowed to make their own decisions on how they want to raise their children. I do not think that it should be forced upon people and parents should be berated over their decisions. If our government didn’t have a hand in the drug companies pockets, it might be easier to agree with the science. But did you know every time you get a vaccination – the government receives cash? Do you realize that every year since the “flu shot” has come to the mainstream it went something like this:

  • year 1: “here’s a flu vaccine – if you receive it you won’t get the flu, we only have enough for pregnant woman, children & the elderly” 6 months later “whoopsy we didn’t get the right strain this year nature chose fu3 and we vaccinated for fu1”
  • year 2: “here’s a flu vaccine – if you receive it you won’t get the flu, we only have enough for pregnant woman, children & the elderly, oh and anyone who is in regular contact with any of these groups” 6 months later “whoopsy we didn’t get the right strain this year nature chose fu8 and we vaccinated for fu3”
  • year 3: “here’s a flu vaccine – if you receive it you won’t get the flu, we have enough for EVERYONE…you get a flu shot, and you get a flu shot, everyone gets a flu shot!!!!! and this year we nailed it, we put 2 strains in” 6 months later “whoopsy we didn’t get the right strain again this year nature chose fu14 and we vaccinated for fu2 & fu4″

Again…I’m not anti-vaccination, however I am – do your research, know what you are putting in your body or your child’s, make an educated choice not one someone made for you. People do more research on which smart phone, or TV they are going to purchase then the medicines they put into their bodies.

Money: we don’t talk about money. when people talk about money they probably don’t have it, when people don’t talk about it, they also probably don’t have it. 🙂

Small House

Well to start, when we bought our current home, we were the same size family as we are today…

Our home is small but very full – of love & stuff. We make memories in a 960 sq ft. house, 3 bedrooms, and 1 bath…yes 1 bathroom. We do have a full basement…and a yard, not huge but big enough.

Two ways I always cope with our small size: 1 – this home was built in the ’60s and families were bigger then, if they could manage so can we, and 2 – I can keep this one clean! Hubs and I work full-time outside the home, so keeping everything clean and put away is seriously a daily challenge.

Not to mention I would have lived in a cardboard box to stay in our school system…even with “school of choice” now it’s not the same going to school elsewhere when your neighbors attend the local school. Plus we own a home, we have a yard, and are gaining equity as we speak…which would not happen in a rental.

The 1 bathroom problem, will definitely be addressed in a short time. With 4 girls, 1 momma, and 1 hubs…time in the bathroom is only going to be extended as time goes on.

Projects that are on the “wish-list”

  • Finish the basement – needs drywall and some insulation, maybe some different flooring
  •  Add on – build on to the back of the house, or what I would really love is to add a second story!
  • Add bathroom – possibly in the basement, or with the addition

Money is of course the only object standing in the way…have to save up. But, luckily when we bought the house everything – like everything had been updated in the previous 5 years or less. New furnace, hot water heater, A/C, electrical box, all appliances, total kitchen & bath remodel, new windows, doors, and roof/siding. So in that maintenance dept. we will be set for a little while.

Of course the hubs would rather take the “easy” way and sell this house, and “just” buy a bigger home. Not to mention all the hassles of shopping for a new home, I don’t think hubs has a clue what it would take to make our home selling ready. We have KIDS! Pictures and kid stuff in every nook & cranny of this house we are squeezed into.

In our small house we remain, cozy, and clean.

A Girl Scout Leaders Tips & Tricks

I have been leading my daughter’s girl scout troop for 2 years now, I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful support team.

The 2 women who began my daughter’s troop in Kindergarten, were a mom who had no idea what she was in for, and a wonderful mother of 4, 3 girls & a boy, who already lead her 2 older daughters’ troops and stepped up to lead her youngest. When the girls started 1st grade, the first mom backed out, and the second stayed on but needed help…that’s where I came in. My co-leader is a wonderful woman, and similar to myself with 4 kids, a job, and many activities. She is a wealth of knowledge and an awesome support system. I have taken over most of the main planning and operations, but she’s there when I need her and to help me remember to have fun!

Over the last 2 years I have learned a lot about how to operate a troop, and manage all the families…

signupgenius.com is GENIUS! this lil site is my savior! Create an account, add your group – enter all emails 1 time! then anytime you need a rsvp for an event, create a signup, with all the times, and details – also set up to send reminder emails (this is by far my favorite part) then it emails an invite…and you get responses as people respond. A-Mazing

the girl scout materials provided by the national GS program are well um…not my first resource. I usually take a look at the official materials to see requirements, but then it’s off to the ol’ brain…and well google. I enjoy “using my resources wisely” and using others leaders ideas and past experience.

at each level of GS they teach us leaders that it is to be “girl-led” well I think a lot of leaders aren’t quite sure how to handle this. we are just finishing 2nd grade, we do a lot of voting – we also do brainstorming where the girls come up with options, some of these are quite amazing. at times our girls have wanted to “feed the world” and “clean hi-ways” gotta love their ambition!

keep your parents close, but don’t wear them out. during our meeting we have parents drop-off for two reasons 1-parents can get other stuff done, and 2- there aren’t distractions for the girls with parents chatting or siblings playing. however our parents like to help on field trips, or one meeting craft projects. 

don’t over do it! GS leader is only a volunteer position…the payment is the experience and memories. when you need help -ask. when you need supplies -ask for donations. when you don’t want to do something -opt out. you are allowed to be human! I once had a mom try to guilt me into making a special trip to pick up her daughter, in the past I probably would have just done it…but I have learned you have to draw the line. I offered to drive girls to and from a field trip, but drop off at my home or our meeting place…not a 30 min drive one-way. Sorry.

if you need assistance, let girls or their family prepare a badge to earn. do you have a family that does dance? let them do plan the dancer badge. how about a doctor/paramedic? let the family prep the Safety Award or First Aid badge. this allows you to have a break from prepping everything and it also gets the families involved. plus the cherry on top is the girl can lead her troop to earning a badge…the ultimate “girl-led”

and always remember to have FUN – and take pictures 🙂

Welcome!

Chalk art

 

Welcome to my blog!

First I’ll introduce myself, I’m Andrea, or as 4 small people call me mom. I just turned 30, and I’m trying to refocus a smidge more attention to myself, but I have 4 daughters (almost 9, 7, 4 & 3), one biological, and 3 step, and a husband that kind of acts like another kid! 

I’m a typical 2014 mom, I work full time outside the home – the only one that pays me, then I’m also a Girl Scout Brownie leader, housekeeper, chef, personal assistant, finance manager, chauffeur, counselor, doctor, magic maker, and fairy tale creator. 

I like to organize and plan events. I don’t like “just wingin’ it” I like to know what I’m in for. I usually have a minimum of 5 different things going on, and somehow I manage to get it all done, and sometimes even impress myself!

With a big family, we have to get creative and watch our budget closely. I like to buy in bulk & prepare dinners for the freezer – I’m still working on getting this system down. We sacrificed living in a smaller house to live in a wonderful city – that I grew up in – with an excellent school system, but at times it feels like we are going to burst at the seams!

I am heavily involved in our local Girl Scouts, I am my 7yo daughters Troop Leader, as well as a Troop Organizer for all of the Brownie troop in our area. It keeps me busy, and I really enjoy working with the girls. Soon we will start camping…I’m not an outdoorsy chic but I somehow have to convince 12 little girls that its “cool!” 

The girls and I started an organic garden in our backyard last year – we didn’t get too much but it was fun and a jump start to learning. We will be starting up our garden again soon, but this winter ins SE Michigan was brutal! The girls love all the parts of gardening, and that’s the best part.

Even if no one ever reads this blog I don’t mind – I’m just doing it for fun!

♥ ATenn4

 

 

 

 

Building a Better, Paleo, Gluten-Free Chicken Nugget

I’m going to have to try this out…I love chicken nuggets but being gluten free it’s not easy nor cheap!

The Domestic Man

Gluten-Free, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet

I have always been proud of my Paleo “Chick-fil-A” nugget recipe from a couple years back, and it has definitely been a hit with readers. If fact, I’m sure a few of you stumbled upon my little blog because of them. But to be honest, I’ve never been satisfied with the texture of the nuggets themselves; while they are very similar to the thin coating that you’ll find at Chick-fil-A, I personally prefer a spongier breading around my chicken nuggets. So while experimenting with breading techniques for a different recipe (I’ll post the results of that one on Thursday), I happened upon my eureka moment – something I like to call “reverse battering.”

You see, I’ve always been taught to bread meats using a liquid-then-flour (or flour-liquid-flour/breading) method. Sounds logical, right? It’d be just crazy to not put flour or breading on nuggets before frying them. But after some YouTube…

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2013 – Garden year 1

We, as in me, decided we wanted a organic garden in our backyard. Now seeming as though I have never successfully grown anything in my life, well unless you count my daughter 🙂 this was to be a challenge. I did a lot of reading, re-reading, and questioning my co-worker who has an extensive garden and farm animals. I bought some organic seeds from seedsnow.com and they were awesome, not to mention affordable!

We started with seeds inside…not sure I would do as many inside but maybe some that transplanted well. With living in MI we don’t have as long of a growing season, so we thought we would start here…

Seedlings

 

…but again with our tiny house, we quickly realized that having the seedlings inside were a pain when company was over.

Seedlings growing

Most seedlings thrived, but when we transplanted not all of them made it. Who know if we transplanted too early, too late, the soil wasn’t right…I haven’t a clue.

Then I had hubs build me a raised garden box…and bought lots & lots of dirt! I wanted to start a bit small, 8′ x 4′ to see how well we could handle it.

Garden box

 

Then finally in late May we transplanted about half of the seedlings…I had some cute little helpers, my 3 and my niece

Garden buddies First planting

Then we watered, and watered, and watered some more to make our garden grow…really didn’t have any weed or bug issues but we had some critter squirrel or rabbit that would come and snack on our treats.

We started getting some real loot…

Green Beans Green Beans Carrots Cucumbers

Then we closed up shop…and hoped it would open again next summer!

End of GS year

YAH!

We made it!! 12 little Brownies, and 2 ladies trying to keep up we met our goal this year!

This year was our first year as Brownies (2nd grade) and 11 of the 12 have been together since Daisies. Last year the girls were planning what they wanted to do as Brownies, and began looking over the badges offered. To our surprise, well not really, the girls said they wanted to earn every single badge…that makes 39 badges in 2 years. So to divide and conquer we thought we would do 20 & 19 the following year…the girls didn’t care what order we went, just as long as they earned them ALL!

We began in September 2013, and now the first week of May we have earned 20 badges (including 2 of the Journeys) plus a pin! WHOOOHOO. I am truly proud of our girls, there are defiantly some badges that aren’t as exciting but they made it through. I am also thankful for all of our families, without them bringing the girls to all our meetings and events, helping sell cookies, make crafts, drive on field trips, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are. We truly are blessed with such a wonderful program.

I will try and post some of the badges we did and what we did to earn them, because I know as a working mom & troop leader some badges are just not my forte and are harder for me to come up with activities.

With that we as a troop are looking forward – er scratch that, the girls in the troop, are looking forward to going to the local indoor water park this weekend to celebrate such a wonderful year!

Kids & anxiety

As an adult I have realized that I have dealt with anxiety since I was about 10 years old, except then no one knew or diagnosed children with such.

Now that I have children I realize that my daughter (7) has a lot of anxiety, probably starting when she began school at age 5. I began giving her natural anxiety & focus supplements  (nativeremedies.com) and they helped so much! I have had to tweak them over the years, and school vs summer times, but she really seems to do well on them.

I just found out my eldest SD (almost 9) has been experiencing severe anxiety, to the point that she hardly eats. Not sure exactly what the whole situation is since she doesn’t live with us, but it makes me wonder…

…why do our children have SO much anxiety! The pressures of the world should not be falling on our poor kids, and it doesn’t. I think my daughter’s stems from her personality that is like mine, she’s a planner, doesn’t like surprises. I don’t want my babies to have so much worry and anxiety about everyday life, I want them to be kids and enjoy the world around them.

How do we do this? How as parents today convince our children that we have everything under control?

I believe part of the increased anxiety in children is they know too much, not that it’s a bad thing, but people in general use to live in ignorant bliss. No one had instant news…from around the world…at the tip of their fingers…every second of the day! I went to a conference with my daughter’s teacher in the fall, and she was telling me about how they now have to do intruder internal & external drills at school now; similar to how we did fire & tornado drills when I was in school. She told me that even the drill made almost every child in her class nervous, and very anxious. That makes me so sad that this is the world we live in today…