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Recipe: Chili Bean and Quinoa Tacos

This post was sponsored by S&W Beans and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.


You know how some days you think that maybe feeding your family grilled cheese and cereal again probably isn’t a great idea. I get in a making dinner rut, too. I just don’t want to make it. But because I’m the only one that cooks I just have to do it- even if it is something simple. Continue reading Recipe: Chili Bean and Quinoa Tacos

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Grocery Shopping for Busy Moms

I held my baby on one arm, held my daughter’s hand with the other. I asked my oldest son to hold his younger brother’s hand and asked him to hold onto my purse as we crossed the parking lot and towards the sliding doors. We headed towards the daycare, yes this grocery has a daycare for kids under 5, and I started to sign the kids in. My oldest couldn’t go in, the other one was on a clingy streak and my daughter wouldn’t go without her brother. I looked at the daycare worker and sighed. Guess we were all going grocery shopping.

My squirmy baby started wiggling out of her seat while another kid started grabbing snacks and putting into the cart. The other two started wrestling in the aisles. And then one started screaming and telling me he wanted another mom because I said he had to sit in the cart. I was at the end of my rope and told him that there were a ton of moms there so he could just pick any one! And then we left with only 1/4 of my list completed. I came home exhausted and vowed never ever ever to take my kids shopping again. And then it happens again because I need to get food. But for the past 6 months I have changed my ways. 

This post doesn’t have pretty pictures but it’s a post to help other moms that may have had similar experiences or just would rather use their time better than to be at supermarket. I just want to share a list of services I use to keep myself sane, save hours of time and still get food into my fridge. I will go to the grocery maybe once a month with my baby to pick up emergency items like milk. Well, let’s include one picture of squirmy baby because she is pretty darn cute.

One thing that really helps limit either physical trips to the grocery store or ordering online frequently is meal planning. I will take about an hour every couple of weeks to plan out two weeks worth of dinners and special occasions like holiday celebrations or parties. Once I do that, then I order from Instacart for the bulk size items and Safeway/Fred Meyers.

Instacart: I order my Costco items from here about 2-3 times a month. I usually order that third time to get snacks for parties or for the kids’ classrooms. While I do pay a little extra for the items and delivery, it is worth it to me to spend about 30 min-1 hr ordering and putting stuff away when I would normally spend at least 2.5-3 hours driving to and from, shopping and putting it away. I get my bulk sized items here like bagels, fish, bread, fruits, cleaning supplies and snacks for the kids. You can get a yearly membership which gives you free deliveries over $35 and within 2 hours. I don’t have a membership so I just pay for delivery as needed. Oh and one thing I really like about it is that you can share your cart with a friend! That means they can add on to your cart and you just pay for 1 delivery fee. The other person will have to pick up their stuff but it is helpful if you only have a couple of items you need but can’t make it to the store or want to pay a delivery charge for few items. You can sign up using this link and this Instacart referral code: BBIRDFBE83 and you can save $10 off your first order + free delivery.

Safeway Delivery: I use this maybe 1-2 a month for things that I don’t want monster size of and any specialty items. I also get beef, veggies, cream cheese, etc. The price is the same as in store prices. You do have to pay delivery fees but it’s about $6 and I am totally down paying $6 for someone to bring me my groceries. They also have promo codes regularly so sometimes I don’t have to pay for deliveries.

Clicklist: This is a Kroger pick up service. You order online and schedule a time for pick up.I use this when I know I will be running errands around Fred Meyers. Not sure what the benefit is besides just knowing I won’t be home for deliveries but I buy the same things as I do at Safeway. And it is the same price and you can use coupons.

Prime Pantry: I like to use this on occasion, perhaps once every 3-4 months for items I can’t find at Costco. There is a small fee even if you do have Amazon Prime but it is only about $6 I think. I get specialty cleaning supplies, toiletries or snacks for kids. You can get free shipping if you buy select items though.

I know some of you more mature mothers may shake your head at how easy we have it with all these delivery services. While I know you all have done it with your own kids this is just what works for me. My kids aren’t savages rampaging around the grocery store. Not all the time. And I’ve done it years before but right now it isn’t feasible. I have limited time and I’d rather not be using that time trying to find the items on my list while corralling the children. I’d rather order it online while I’m waiting for the kids to get out of school or while my baby is napping so I can do other stuff with my time. So, I hope this helps! It sure has freed up a lot of my time to do the things I love like play with my kids and sneak in a design or blog post. ­čśë

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Keep Your Home Safe While Away for the Holidays

Tips for keeping your home safe while you are away. By Brenda BirdAs we walked to our departure gate I could feel my phone vibrate. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the alert from my security system: motion was detected. Already? Really?! We’ve been gone for 2 hours at the most and someone is already breaking into my house?! We really don’t have much of value in there anyway. Hahah. Luckily, I was able to watch the video and saw that the motion it detected was the wind that knocked a branch into the window. Continue reading Keep Your Home Safe While Away for the Holidays

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Staying Organized When You Are A Hot Mess

Staying organized when you are a hot mess

Catchy title? Maybe? Or perhaps it made you think why on Earth would I take advice from someone who doesn’t have her crap together?

Truth be told, I wouldn’t consider myself a hot mess all the time. Perhaps my mind is more of a hot mess- so much going through it that I can’t keep it all together. As a mom of 4, I often feel like I am treading water. Sometimes, very rarely, do I feel like I am floating on my back sipping on some lemonade. Other times I feel like I am drowning- like, please don’t hand me another thing to carry. Those golden times when I feel like I could tread, sometimes enjoy my time floating is when I have taken the time plan. Steven Covey said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

Staying Organized when you are a hot mess. Organizational tips from a busy mom and small business owner.

I know I’m not perfect at remembering every deadline, what meals we are having every night, we may be a little late to some activities….oh to be a semi hot mess on the inside and be semi put together outwardly. People ask me how I function with 4 kids, run a business and stay sane. This is how.

  1. You need to have the right tools.
    1. Planner: Having the right planner is crucial to your sanity. Some may scoff at a paper planner but I cannot survive without it. I like digital but paper saves me. Writing things down on paper helps me remember better. Having a planner that meshes my mom life with my business life has been really helpful. I use this one sent to me by Plum Street Prints. Having an hourly day to day schedule, a section for business collaborations, meal planning, a weekly list + a section for home to-dos helps keep all the ideas and things I have to do as a Mom and business owner in order.  I like the hourly scheduling because it compartmentalizes all the to-dos. I love the weekly and monthly inspirational quotes- they keep me motivated!
    2. If you use apps on your phone, this or this is a good list of helpful schedulers.
    3. Post-its: I use these to add into my planner…and to stick to everything else. I kind of need reminders everywhere. I also like writing on post-its because it isn’t permanent and I can move it around. With blogging and playdates sometimes I have to switch things around.
    4. Pens and pencils: Color coding may be going a little overboard but when I am managing 4+ schedules color coding things makes it easy to glance over and see who has what today and things don’t just mesh together.Sample cleaning schedule printable by Brenda Bird
    5. Printables: Along with the planner, I have a monthly printable, chore chart and menu planner on the fridge. I use my planner for my daily use but the printables are for everyone to see. You can download these free printables I designed:  menu planner printable and blank cleaning schedule printable. You can fill in which chores you want to do that day. That helps me with knowing what needs to be cleaned that day and what has already been done daily, weekly and monthly.Staying Organized when you are a hot mess. Organizational tips from a busy mom and small business owner.
  2.  Go through things right away. If I don’t everything piles up! When my kids get home we go through their paperwork. I have a folder for things to keep like their special artwork, a drawer in the cabinet for their homework and a drawer for things I have to take care of. I write down deadlines and pencil in special activity days on the calendar on the fridge.
  3. Repetition. Repetition is vital- especially if your mind has been altered by children. You know what I am talking about. I used to be pretty sharp and remember everything but I really believe pregnancy warped my brain cells. So I write things down a coupe of times in different places. I put it on my phone with reminders, I write it in my planner and I write it on the main calendar on the fridge. I figure if I write it down many times it will help me remember it better. It seems to be working. Staying Organized when you are a hot mess. Organizational tips from a busy mom and small business owner.
  4. Set up a routine. I pick one day a week where I sit down and plan two weeks of our meals. Mostly every night I take a few minutes to plan the next day. When I don’t, I don’t regulate my time very well. I run my errands/order online groceries the same days. Setting up a routine helps keep things running. We know when things will be completed and what to plan around.
  5. Lists. Make lists about lists. If you can’t tell, I really like lists. They keep me organized and my goals attainable. I stay away from general tasks like clean house. I like to make realistic small tasks such as scrub sink, clean out fridge, etc. Especially for bigger projects for my blog I make a list of what I have to buy, to photograph, to write, etc. Compartmentalizing my tasks makes the progress measurable and attainable for me. Key word- attainable. Don’t make these crazy goals that you know can’t be accomplished in one day. I make small goals that will help you accomplish the big ones. Plus I really like to cross things off my lists so making those small goals helps me check them off quicker. Staying Organized when you are a hot mess. Organizational tips from a busy mom and small business owner.
  6. Have a clean workspace. If my main living area is messy, I can’t function. I feel like everything is messy and therefore find it difficult to know where to start. If you ever come to my house you may find that the main area is mostly clutter free. Just don’t look in my bedroom! Or office- they say creatives are messy, hahah! I work in the dining room because it isn’t as dark as my office so I like to keep it tidy.
  7. Say no. This is a big one. If you are already over scheduled, busy or barely surviving, just say no. It’s ok to say no sometimes. If I can’t do something and give it my 100% then I don’t want to do it at all. I also don’t want to resent that or the person. It isn’t fair to them or to me. And when I say no to some things I am saying yes to sanity, more time with family and some tranquility.
  8. Schedule time for nothing. Sounds silly but sometimes I just want to have nothing going on. I don’t do it often but I want to give myself a break and not think about work or all the things due for the kids. I just want to relive Jim and Pam’s love story and veg out on Netflix. Or perhaps I want to take a nap. Maybe paint for the sake of painting. Giving and giving and giving is a recipe for a burnout. Take a few minutes for you to do nothing or do something for you. Close that planner and just be you.

Staying Organized when you are a hot mess. Organizational tips from a busy mom and small business owner.

I took this time management class a little bit ago and so many of the principles have stuck with me. I loved it and know it has helped me organize my time better. The truth is, there is so much I want to do that I love that I want that to take priority of my time. I don’t want my time to rule me. With so much responsibility to my family I need to make sure that that takes precedence and then the other stuff. It is like the rock and sand example. First put in the big rocks (big projects, top priorities) and then let the sand filter through (the little things that don’t necessarily need to be done right away.)

So, for example, my son has a soccer game right after ballet but kids haven’t had their snack yet. What do I take care of first? The stacked up dishes in the sink? How about their bowls from this morning that they left on the counter? I leave that and grab some snacks and rush to their activities. Because sometimes you just have to let things go. And it’s ok to not have everything perfect. That’s the life of a mother. My kids know I am not a perfect Mom but we work together and try not to make it a big deal when something doesn’t go as planned. Imperfections make us human. Just carry on and do the best you can. I hope these tips can be of some use to someone or perhaps you want to share something that helps you. We mamas have to help each other out!

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Night-Time Potty Training Tools

Tools/Products to help with night time potty training. Hope some of these may stop bedwetting accidents! I jerk awake, my adrenaline rushing. I fumble around searching for my phone. What time is it? Oh crap. It may be too late. I nudge (or maybe slightly harder than that) my husband awake. Now I shake a little harder. “Lorin, grab (insert child name here)!” You’d think we were about to miss a flight with our rapid but clumsy movements. Sometimes we are lucky and grab our child right before they have an accident. Sometime we aren’t. And those nights are the worst. My husband and I tag team getting the child all cleaned up and changing the sheets. We were getting to a natural rhythm and it became part of our routine to have a million sheets in our laundry room. I kept thinking that here had to be a better way (Friends, anyone?!) I was getting eaten alive by the mounds of sheets and dirty laundry from all those accidents.

night time potty training_1After several weeks of this madness we decided to be proactive. While our kids were fully potty trained during the day, they couldn’t help their pea sized bladders. We gathered some tools to help us deal with these accidents and hopefully put an end to them. It really was pure madness.

1.Waterproof Mattress Cover + Mattress Liners: Of course we hope that everything is soaked up by the blanket around his legs but in case it isn’t, at least the mattress is protected. Or is it? Sometimes it would soak through so we started putting a mattress cover, 2 liners that span the top of the bed as well as the bottom because our kids move around like crazy. On top of the liners, we put the fitted sheet. The liners are much easier to change than a mattress cover (unless you have this mattress pad) so you could layer those on if you want to be extra careful. We have several liners as we put a couple down on each bed for any emergency like if they get a stomach bug.

2.Easily removable sheets: Let’s be honest. How often do you want to just throw a towel on top of the sheets because in your delirious sleep deprived mind because you just want to sllep? Well, it is a quick fix. However, you may want to consider using the QuickZip sheets. These are so easy to zip off and change so your sweet little one doesn’t have to smell or lay on pee. Plus they even have these soft fleecy type material that is heavenly. And let’s not forget how easy they are to change on bunk beds. You just put the set on once and just zipper around to place a new sheet on. No more trying to lift up the mattress or scarping your hands against the dang side of the bed. We didn’t have these when all the madness happened a while ago but they would have made those late night sheet changes a heck of a lot easier. We have them now and I can’t go back to regular sheets. I love it because it is useful all the time not just specifically for potty training. 

3.Training Pants: While potty training you won’t want to revert to a heavy diaper like pant (like pull ups) and if the child is old enough he may not even want to wear pull ups because only “babies” wear those…in their words of course. Underwear with a little bit of padding helps absorb any minor accidents and your child won’t feel embarrassed and will still feel like a big kid. My kids would fight me on wearing pulls ups and that’s when the accidents would happen.

4.Bed Wetting Alarm: Night after night, we found ourselves changing bed sheets and waking up to take our child to the bathroom. Nights when my husband traveled were incredibly difficult for me because my kids are tanks and I have no upper body strength. Pulling them out of bed to use the bathroom was torture. I finally found Chummie and it was freaking amazing. There are different settings to wake up the child as soon as any moisture is detected. With our kids we used the vibration setting and the attachment on his shirt would buzz to wake him up. You press the button to make it stop. In less than a week, our son was able to train his body to wake up as soon as he felt the urge to use the bathroom. I actually contacted them about their product and even spoke to the CEO. They are very passionate about what they do and helping kids recognize the cues their body gives them. They have an amazing program to help those that can’t afford to buy this- if you are interested go to their website and email them. Their customer service support is amazing.

5.Rewards: Something like this also helped our kids. We would give them 2 jellybeans if they didn’t have an accident. It doesn’t hurt to bribe, right?!

After using the Chummie we stopped having accidents. However, we continue to use these bedding products on our beds because it makes changing sheets so easy- even the bunk beds!

Our friends at QuickZip are honoring ÔǬAutism Awareness Month by offering 10% off all orders (from their site) for the entire month of April with the promo code AWARENESS and donating a percentage of their April sales to organizations that help individuals and families affected by Autism.

Night time g tools to help when accidents happen.potty traininIf you have any questions about these products let me know! I still can’t believe we went through all of that and having some of these products would have made the madness easier.

QuickZip + Chummie provided product for my review but opinions are 100% my own.

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DIY Modern Wall Hangers

Bright colored modern wall hangers. Great for a boys shared room or superhero theme room.After a long day of cleaning while the kids are in school, don’t you just love walking into the hallway and seeing shoes strewn on the floor besides the kids’ colorful coats and happily topped with their backpacks? It’s like a minefield!

Bright colored modern wall hangers. Great for a boys shared room or superhero theme room.When we first moved into the house we didn’t have a useful coat hanger or a mud room for the kids to hang up their belongings. Things just laid by the front door or were hung in one of our several closets making it really difficult to get ready quickly in the mornings. Sometimes the most simple things can relieve the biggest headaches! I thought these modern wall hangers/pegs really  brightened up the boys’ modern super hero room. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of materials or steps- it really is so simple even someone that isn’t super handy (me!) figured it out!

Bright colored modern wall hangers. Great for a boys shared room or superhero theme room.Bright colored modern wall hangers. Great for a boys shared room or superhero theme room.Materials:
Wood Dowel cut into 4 3″ pegs sanded down at ends
4 Double End Threaded Screws
Drill
Drill bit
Long Nose Pliers
Drywall Anchors
Acrylic paint (4 colors)
Paint brushes
Painter’s Tape
Jen Hadfield Paper (similar) c/o
Pencil
Scissors
Mod Podge

Directions:
1. If the ends of the pegs aren’t sanded down make sure to sand them with any grit size sandpaper.
2. Depending on the size of your double ended screw, find a slightly smaller drill bit.
3. Using the double end screw, align the screw to the drill bit to see how deep it will go in. Tape where it reaches on the drill bit that way you don’t go further than necessary on both the wood and wall.
4. Drill into all the wood pegs as far as the tape goes.
Tutorial for bright colored modern wall hangers. Great for a boys shared room or superhero theme room.5. Using the pliers, screw the double end screws into the wood pegs.
6. Tape the pegs about 1″ from the end opposite of the screw.
7. Paint the tips with the acrylic paint. 1-2 coats should be fine.
8. Let dry about 5-10 minutes.
Tutorial for bright colored modern wall hangers. Great for a boys shared room or superhero theme room.9. Using the end of the peg as a template, draw a circle on the scrapbook paper.
10. Cut out circles from scrapbook paper.11. Paint Mod Podge on the end of the pegs and place cut out circle on the ends.
Tutorial for bright colored modern wall hangers. Great for a boys shared room or superhero theme room.12. Mark on the wall where you would like to hang up the pegs. I separated mine about 4″ apart.
13. Using a slightly smaller drill bit than the anchor screw, drill your first hole into the wall.
14. Push anchor in and hammer lightly in the rest.
15. Screw the screw side of the peg right into the anchor.
16. Repeat steps 13-15 for the rest of the pegs.

Bright colored modern wall hangers. Great for a boys shared room or superhero theme room.

So, now there is a place for the minefield traps (coats and backpacks!) to go. Do they always hang them up promptly? No. But at least it has a place to go and not just on the floor. It makes getting ready for school easy because everything is right there hanging up by the door. They each have 2 pegs that belong to them so they know where their things belong.

Coat hangers for boys room. Simple DIY great for modern super hero room.These 4 little pegs have saved my sanity. Really. What simple things have you implemented to help your kids put their things away? Please share in the comments!

 

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DIY Paint Splatter Chalkboard Placemats + Re Play Recycled Giveaway

DIY Paint Splatter Chalkboard Placemats- great for teaching kids the place settingsI am betting that right dinner time for you guys goes super smoothly, right? Ha! I’ve spoken to many moms and it seems like it is bewitching hour for the kiddos. One way that I kind of control the chaos as I am making dinner is to have the kids involved in dinner time. Sometimes they can help with the prep work but most of the time I have them help set the table. I assign either cups, plates, utensils/napkins to each one of them. Obviously this doesn’t keep them occupied very long but it helps involve them. So many times I’d have to remind them where to put the flatware or cups or to not forget Mom and Dad (hellllo, why do they think only the kids are eating??). They really love to use The Crayon Box Set from Re Play Recycled when setting the table. Aren’t they so cute?

Continue reading DIY Paint Splatter Chalkboard Placemats + Re Play Recycled Giveaway

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Looking Back: Popular Posts of 2014

From Me, With Love Top Posts of 2014

On a personal level, 2014 has brought challenges, tears of sorrow- of joy, wonderful friendships and heartbreak. It brought a graduation from BYU’s MBA program, a┬áfamily reunion that allowed us to spend all the time we wanted with our loved ones- something that we needed, a big move from our home of the last 10 years (Utah) to Seattle, WA, a big leap of faith with my husband’s new employer, a┬álife changing illness to my sweet mother-in-law, addition of new family members and much reevaluation of┬áwhat is truly important in our lives. What we found truly important is God and Family. We have been greatly blessed with a wonderful family, immediate and extended. We have a God, a loving Father, that truly watches over each one of His children. I hope 2015 is just as family filled and awesome as this year was.

Continue reading Looking Back: Popular Posts of 2014

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Make Time for What You Really Want to Do with a 10 Minute Cleaning Makeover

“10 Minute Cleaning Makeover” was sponsored by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser Pledge┬« and Windex┬«. All opinions are mine alone. #InstaClean#CollectiveBias

10 Minute Cleaning Makeover with Pledge® and Windex®

In our family, we like to work hard to we can play hard. During the week, life keeps us busy with school, home management, activities, meetings , errands and work among other random things. After learning about prioritizing my time I realized that while I really love a super clean home I have to set a little more realistic expectations. That doesnÔÇÖt mean I have lower expectations it just means I have to shift my focus on what is important.

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5 Cleaning Tips for Dust Mite Control

A big thank you to Collective Bias, Inc. and Eureka for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.#EurekaPower #CollectiveBias

As you have seen in my last few posts, I like to keep a clean and tidy house. So, I was a little shocked when my kids became pretty sick a couple of months ago that I had to take them to the urgent care in Queen Anne. I wasn’t surprised they were sick, I was surprised why they were. My boys had been waking up with itchy throats and lots of phlegm. I thought it was just allergy season and adjusting to our new climate. It wasn’t until my oldest son was really wheezy and was having trouble breathing. We’d been to doctors before and they said it might be a cold induced asthma. We got a couple of inhalers but it didn’t really help. At the urgent care, my son had to be given steroids, breathing treatments and x rays just to make sure it wasn’t pneumonia. I was a little shaken up to say the least. How could I have let it get to that point? The doctor suggested I go to an allergy specialist to see what was causing this. About $900 later, the ENT doctor told us after pricking my baby’s back and seeing it swell up like the biggest bug bites I’d ever seen, that he was pretty much allergic to everything outside. That isn’t to say he can’t play outside but he has to make sure to use his inhaler twice a day, everyday for the rest of his life. And the other culprits were indoors. Dust Mites. Dang you dust mites. I thought dust mites were only in not so clean homes. I was only slightly offended that he thought I’d have any sort of mites in my home but after doing a lot of reading and research I found this tidbit sadly true. Dust mites are pretty much everywhere like carpeting, upholstered furniture and bedding. Again, dang those dust mites.

5-tips-for-dust-mite-control_mainYou see all that fuzz on my floors? I love this wool rug but it sheds- a lot. Good thing this vacuum sucks it right up.

Continue reading 5 Cleaning Tips for Dust Mite Control