Capturing Freedom

My sister-in-law, Kelsey, along with some of her friends, marched yesterday in the NYC Women’s March. 

I strive to be politically neutral here on my blog, so I won’t be expressing my views besides that I am extremely grateful that we still have freedom of speech in this country. Regardless of whether you agree with yesterday’s march or not, what many of our fellow Americans did yesterday was to exercise their rights in massive numbers. And I’m proud that they are standing up for what they believe in. 

I wanted to share some of the beautiful photos that Kelsey took yesterday. 


Kate and Cat (AKA Dawg)

The girls take after their daddy and looove Samantha, the cat, who they lovingly refer to as Dawg. She is surprisingly patient with them, considering they lay on her, pull her tail, and chase after her on a daily basis. 

I happened to hear the girls giggling behind the couch and was lucky enough to catch this on video. This even brightened my day as a non-cat lover. Enjoy!

Click here to watch. 

Adventures with Four: Top Tips for Mananging a Busy Work and Home Schedule

Almost once a week Garen or I have to work out of town or have a work dinner at night.  With four kids, people always say “I don’t know how you do it.” Honestly, what choice do you have but to figure it out?!? With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips on how we survive with our busy work and family schedules.

Top Tips for Mananging a Busy Work and Home Schedule:

  1. Find One or Two Trusted Regular Babysitters– We love our babysitters. Not everyone can afford to do this but we pay someone to come in for a few hours to help out whichever parent is at home with all four kids at night. This allows us to get everyone’s homework, reading, and bath fit in before bedtime (without losing our minds). We typically plan our overnight trips after we’ve checked her availability. We have two babysitters that are best friends and together they can handle all four kids, which is great for nights when we both have something. 
  2. Keep a Shared Calendar– We use a iCloud calendar that we share between the two of us on our phones. We also have one that we share with our babysitter. I know a few people that also use a google calendar which works the same way. 
  3. Plan Ahead– A shared calendar is great but failing to plan ahead can leave you without someone to help with the kids. Garen and I both plan our work schedule a minimum of two weeks out. When we have an out of town obligation, we plan that with our babysitters or family members as soon as we know about it, usually at least a month or more out. 
  4. Just Say No– If I know that Garen is already going to be out of town or there is a school or extracurricular event for the kids, I may have to say no. And that’s ok. You can’t be everywhere all the time. This is harder said than done sometimes for a workaholic like me but I’m fortunate to be working with people that understand that family comes first. 
  5. Divide and Conquer– When both Garen and I are going to be out of town we sometimes send the kids different places. For example: On a weekend trip we will try to plan a night out when the big kids are at their Joe Daddy’s and find someone to keep the twins. One person keeping all four by themself can be done but it’s tough and we never expect that of a family member or one babysitter. 
  6. Packing List– We use an app for packing the kids bags for when they are going to stay out of town while we are gone. It helps us to make sure we don’t forget anything and we can use the same list over and over again quickly. 
  7. Keep Convenience Foods at the House– I’m all about saving money and eating healthy homemade meals but there are times when we need something fast. We buy a few frozen dinners such as chicken strips and steamer packs of vegetables so that they can be quickly made. We also always have frozen pizzas in the freezer for babysitter nights. This will ensure there’s always dinner at the house and it’s easy for whoever is staying with the kiddos. 

It’s not always perfect but at least these things help us to make things as smooth as possible. I hope these tips can help you if you’ve got a busy schedule like ours. 

Celebrating MLK

Confession: this is a little more serious of a post than what I usually write. 

I grew up in a small, rural town in Texas where we didn’t ever get MLK day off. We briefly learned about him and his “I have a dream” speech in school. But we never went too much in depth on the impact this great man had on American society. 

In this politically charged time, I think it’s important that we listen to some of the enduring words that he left us with.  Below are a few of my favorite. Tomorrow, as the nation remembers MLK, take a few of these to heart. I know I will be. 

  • “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
  • “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” 

By far, this is my favorite:

The time is always right to do what is right.

Looking back at history, there are many times that I am embarrassed of the things that we, as a country, allowed to happen. We may currently have a lot of problems, but I’m confident that this country is something to be proud of. So very many people have dedicated their lives to provide us all with freedom and equality. As we get ready to welcome our new president into office, it is my hope that President-elect Trump will pull us together to make America greater than it is already and to move forward. 

Thanks to Garen for allowing me to share this beautiful photo to go with MLK’s beautiful words. I hope you all will share love with someone today through your words and actions, whether it be saying a simple hello with a smile or by donating your time or money to a charitable organization. 

Remembering that today is the right time to do the right thing is how we can make America a little bit greater each day. 

William Wednesday

I sometimes feel like I don’t post enough about Will, being both the only boy and the oldest child. I want to make it a point to highlight periodically some of the great stuff he’s been doing as well. 

He’s in Cub Scouts. It’s crazy having that many little boys in one place but I think he’s still learning some great stuff (like how to fold and properly handle a flag).

He also is doing taekwondo after school every day, as is Anna. But Will recently tested and got his yellow belt. He is super excited about it and pretty good at it as well. 

He’s quite possibly already better at math than I am. He also cracks us up because he’s now getting to the age where he wants to be cool and does something like this in every picture he can get away with. 

Mommy Review Monday: CuisinartICE-30R Pure Indulgence Frozen Yogurt Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker

Anna asked for an ice cream maker for Christmas. She saw one in the toy section at Target one day but I knew my patience would not allow for us to make ice cream “Easy Bake” style (although she did get an Easy Bake oven for Christmas).

So, I decided to go with a “real” ice cream maker so we could all enjoy it. My mom had this one: Cuisinart ICE-30R Pure Indulgence Frozen Yogurt Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker. She liked it and it got good reviews so we ordered it from Amazon.

After our first batch, here’s my review:

What I like about it:

  • It looks nice. I like red appliances, so that’s the color we got….not that it’s sitting out a ton.
  • It’s super fast. 20-25 minutes and you’ve got ice cream.
  • 2 quarts is a perfect amount for us.
  • No more cranking…although I do have very fond memories of cranking my Grammy’s ice cream maker when the motor was struggling just before it was ready.
  • No more salt…unless I figured out how to make salted caramel mocha ice cream…
  • It stores nicely.
  • It’s easy to clean and wash.
  • It came with some tasty recipes in the manual…although I probably will refer to family recipes and good ol’ Pintrest going forward.  And maybe a little bit of trial and error with the kids and Garen as guinea pigs.

What I don’t like about it:

  • ….

I can’t really think of anything at the moment.  I guess maybe I wish I had two so I could make two flavors at the same time!

Yes, folks, it really is that good.  They didn’t give it the name “Pure Indulgence” for nothing….

The only thing that beats homemade vanilla ice cream are the smiling faces you see when they taste it… and maybe how easy this machine makes it!

Happy Mommy Review Monday to you!

 For the record:  I am in no way paid for this review.  The opinions above are my own and I purchased this machine for our own use based on our needs and my own research and feedback received.