Mommy Review Monday: for Finding Childcare

I have excellent babysitters/nannies that help us out.  And, with four kids and both of us traveling for work, boy, do we need it?!?  When I tell people that we have great sitters they typically ask me how I found them.  It’s hard to find good help from word-of-mouth.  If you hear about someone who’s great, guess what?  They’re already busy helping someone else.   Or they’re busy with school or extracurricular activities.

Moms and Dads, the struggle is real….

So here’s how we found our awesome helpers:  We have used twice now to find regular babysitters/nannies for our litter.  And we’ve been pleased with the result both times- in fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve had our first babysitter that we found there for over two years now.  Time flies when you have good help I guess!

We recently found another babysitter- only because our regulars are getting busier as they “grow up” (they’re nursing students and school and “real jobs” keep them from helping out as much).  The process was good again.

I’ll admit that I was very leery of using  It seemed so unthinkable to find a babysitter online.  I mean, they’re your kids!!!  But, like I said above, the struggle was real.  Really real.  We need the help with our work schedules to maintain sanity in our household.

Here’s what I liked about it:

  • You can post a position with exactly what you’re looking for in a sitter from hours to age to experience, etc.  Do you want them to have reliable transportation?  Great.  Add that to your requirements.
  • You can view their profile- not just their photo but also their experience and information.  I sorted through these carefully.  I don’t care what people look like but it is important to have that so that when you meet them, if you want to meet them in a public place, you’ll know who to be looking for.  You can avoid awkwardly walking up to someone in Starbucks and asking if they are so and so there to interview for a babysitting job.
  • You can ask for certain certifications such as CPR and first aid.  This is important to me if I’m going to leave my kids alone with them.  Our sitters are all nursing students, so we feel very comfortable.
  • There is the ability to read and post reviews about the providers.  This is very helpful in seeing what other families’ experiences were.
  • There’s the ability to message on the system with them without giving them your phone number or address, etc.  (See below for the flip side of this too)
  • If you’re interested in Au Pairs as an option, you can look at different companies and some of the Au Pairs that they offer.  We seriously explored this as an option but since we currently don’t want to pay for that level of care when the girls are still in pre-school, which would be an additional cost.  Oh, and our extra bedroom is currently serving as my office too, so that would be something we’d have to work out.  Maybe someday.
  • There’s a good search feature.  That is an obvious must.  As you are reviewing them you can add them to your favorites so you can easily find them later. See below image for these search filters available.

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  • The app is pretty good as well.  If you’re like me, the time in between errands, work, etc. is not at your computer so being able to quickly look at this on your mobile device is very helpful.  You also have the option to get notifications.  I personally hate phone notifications.  My semi-ADHD personallity gets overwhelmed by them so I’ve got them turned off.  It’s nice to have the options should I ever get in a position where I really, really needed help quickly though.

Additional options that I haven’t used but could also be helpful:

  • If you’re looking for child care centers, you can look at them online- although, there aren’t that many reviews online for that so you’d be better off reviewing them on another search engine than this site.  I also would say that there’s a good chance they don’t have all centers on here since it’s likely the center has to pay them to be hosted.
  • Family childcare (what I always called in-home daycare) is an option you may want to explore.  You can view their information, reviews, and whether they’re certified, etc.
  • If you’re in need of someone with experience with special needs, that is something that you can easily search for.
  • They have a search function for senior/elderly care, which is great if you have a family member you may need assistance with.
  • You can pay your babysitters through them.  We don’t do this but if we were having someone full time this might be something we’d look into, so it could be a good feature if that’s what you’re considering.
  • You can schedule them online.  Again, we don’t do that.  I find that texting our sitters works just fine and I feel like it’s more personal.  It’s always nice to have the option I guess though.
  • Do you need housekeeping or other help around the house?  You can post a job or search for candidates on here.
  • Do you need help with your fur babies?  You can get a dog sitter or walker or even someone to feed your pet lizard on here.  Our cat fends for herself while we’re gone most of the time but we’ll be looking into this if we ever go on an extended vacation.
  • Not sure if you feel confident in their record?  You can do background checks on here as a extra precaution.
  • You could put yourself out there as a caregiver/provider as well.  I’ve not tried it but sometimes I feel like, hey, what’s a few more when you have four???  Just kidding but some extra money might be good.

What I would change:

  • I’d love for it to cost less.  This year the subscription was $168.00 without tax.  I’ll admit that I feel as if I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it just finding our gem of a babysitter and knowing that I can find additional help pretty easily, but still…. that’s a lot.  The only good thing about it is that it automatically renews for me yearly so I don’t really have to think about it too much until I’m up for renewal and it shows up on my statement.  I think there are shorter subscriptions but it’s nice to be able to find help all year long and the yearly subscription is the best rate available.
  • I had a hard time getting our sitter’s contact information outside of the site, which doesn’t allow you to share phone numbers.  You can call them through the site but not text.  Please, please correct me if this is “user error” on my part.  I think this is a safety thing but it did make it harder than I’d like.  I had to get her email to have her send me her phone number so I could text her.  (You know us (barely) millennials and younger- we like to text each other rather than actually talk to someone on the phone)

There you go- from a busy working mom.  It’s been good to us.  I’d love to hear your tips on finding good sitters/nannies.  What has worked best for you???

ALSO:  For the record- I am NOT getting paid or any discount from, although if anyone from there is reading this and wants to give me a discount, I’d take it!!!  

Solution Sunday: You’re Grounded Chore Chart

In the words of my Grammy, “I don’t want to sound like I’m airing my dirty laundry,” but we’ve been having some behavior issues around here and problems not minding the first time, etc., etc., etc….

And a while back I saw a few Pinterest posts that had some ideas for grounding, including a “Congratulations, You’re Grounded” chore chart.  The basic idea is as follows:

  1. Kid does something wrong
  2. Kid gets notice from parent with assigned “point value” for wrong doing(s) that they have to “earn” back by doing an assortment of things to get ungrounded
  3. Kid is grounded from XYZ activities until they’ve earned all of the “points” back

There were a few of these out there already and none of them were exactly what I was looking for and they were all PDFs so they weren’t very easy to edit.  The one I liked the best was this one and I wish I could find who actually created it but I haven’t yet.  So, if you’re out there, thank you for the great inspiration.

But, like I said, I wanted it to work for us, so I created my own on Excel and then converted it to an editable PDF so I can use it quickly.  I’m sharing this with you because so far it’s been very helpful for us.  Download the Excel Version or the Editable PDF Version of the You’re Grounded Chore Chart.

Before this, grounding didn’t do that much to correct or prevent behaviors in our house.  Now the kids have to actually do something to get ungrounded.  You’ll notice that they get an 2 extra points added if they complain.  And, yes, Anna has already had some extra points added (and done over 100 points of chores so far) but she’s learning quickly.  And, Will…. he’s staying out of trouble for the most part!  Obviously, we’re only doing this with the bigs.

The littles…. oh my…. someone should give me some good ideas for getting them to behave too!!!

Hopefully this can help you out if you struggle with discipline being ineffective like we were for a while.  I’ll let you know if it continues to be a success.

And, who knows???  Maybe my house will stay cleaner this way too….

(Not so) Tall Tale Tuesday: What Makes a Great Mom

Today’s prompt for (Not so) Tall Tale Tuesday is:

Write about the woman who has had the greatest impact on your life.

This didn’t take more than a few seconds for me to know exactly who I’d write about- my Mom.

We’d both freely admit that we don’t always agree about everything- far from it. But I have a long list of the great reasons she’s had the greatest impact on my life and what I think makes her a great mom:

  • She’s taught me to love unconditionally. I was a hard teenager to deal with. If I could take it back I would. But I can’t. What I can do is learn from how she continued to love me despite it all. I have a feeling I might need it- what are the chances that none of my four kids are not going to give me some heartache?!?
  • She loves my dad and he’s her best friend. I have married my best friend I aim to keep him happy and show him how much I love him every day.
  • She’s the money-lady. My mom has diligently kept the financial side of my parents’ companies going for 30+ years. She’s taught me how to save money and how to spend wisely. Many think I was brought up in a house where I got whatever I wanted. Ha. So far from the truth. My mom was pretty close to the budget-Nazi growing up. And while I was sometimes upset that I didn’t get to always have Tommy Hilfiger or Guess brand clothing (am I dating myself???), I sure am glad now that I got to experience that.
  • She gives freely. Part of her above mentioned budgeting always went to either the church or to fundraisers, etc. I don’t remember her ever turning anyone down unless she had already bought more Girl Scouts cookies than our family could eat.
  • She taught me to love to read. Not just because she read to me or made me read. She also was always reading and was always willing to help find me a book that I found interesting. This is something I worry about at our house because my books are now on my phone and iPad so it looks like to the kids that I’m “playing” while I’m really reading my book on my Kindle app.
  • She loves family get-togethers and has hosted them almost every holiday for a long time, especially as my grandparents got older. Getting together with aunts, uncles, and cousins has always been a big part of our life.
  • She’s taught me to party plan and to cook for others. This is similar to the above point but still a little different.  It drives Garen (only a little) crazy but I love planning parties.  I’m pretty sure the cooking doesn’t drive him crazy (unless he ends up cleaning it).  I’m not as good as my Grammy or my Mom but I think, like them, I’m getting better with age.

I could probably go on and on but I’ll stop. She’s a pretty great Mom and an even better Mammy! Happy (not so) Tall Tale Tuesday!  And thank you, Mom, for being a great Mom and friend.

Celebrating Dad

As I started to write this in preparation for posting on Father’s Day, I saw this….
Looking at this screenshot, you might not even know what struck me as important. 

          Share your story here…

As I sat for a minute, pondering, I wondered how I’d never looked at that phrase before. I had intended to simply write a post about how great my Dad and Garen both are. 

However, after having this phrase jump out at me, I thought it would be great to take the advice and tell a story about each that displays a special memory of each. 


When Garen and I started dating, we both knew that we needed to wait a while and make sure things were serious enough to bring him into Will and Anna’s life. It took a while for us to get there- I honesty can’t remember how long- maybe 4 or 5 months. 

When we were ready to take that next step, we planned a trip to Fossil Rim with the kids. We met there and had a great time. Looking back now, Anna and Will were so little then. Garen immediately jumped in with them and even though he’d not been around a lot of young kids, he seemed to “just know” what to do. 

After Fossil Rim, we went to Loco Coyote for lunch. Although this place is AWESOME, it’s honestly not the easiest place to take kiddos. Little kids have a hard time sitting on the benches of adult sized picnic tables. He helped us eat lunch, was patient when they made a horrendous mess, and  held Anna when she was freezing cold while we waited forever for our food- all while the kids were overdue for a nap. 

From that moment on, he has treated Will and Anna as if they were his own. He jumped into to our crazy world without blinking twice and never looked back. 

Now, with the other two munchkins, our life is complete. But, I will never forget that wonderful day when a 37-year old bachelor jumped into my mommy-mobile with a 2- and 5- year old, not really knowing where that ride would take him. And we are all so fortunate for the trip it has been! 

Dad (AKA YaYa)

When I was in junior high, our youth group decided to take a group on a backpacking trip in Colorado. My dad is an Eagle Scout and loves the outdoors, so he volunteered to go with our group. The camp was on its first year of doing these backpacking trips, so there were some surprises and it was interesting with a group of junior high kids. 

Actually, interesting is probably putting it lightly. Here’s some of the more serious issues that came up:

  • A few of us got food poisoning from some of the food they provided us. Super fun in the woods!
  • The camp didn’t anticipate snow melting would make a normal  little stream a roaring rapid, requiring us to zip line our packs and any kids under 100 pounds. The rest of the group had to wade across hooked to a line. One of my friends slipped and would’ve drowned had my dad not gone in after him. It was really scary. I can vividly remember my dad as we got ready to cross in his shorts, white legs, and flip flops tied onto his feet. 
  • Not everyone was in great shape so a few of the kids could not carry all of their stuff after the first couple of days. Because of this, my dad ended up carrying a huge load. 

It was probably the most poorly organized backpacking trip ever but my dad pushed forward and stepped up to help out the poor counselors that didn’t have a clue what they were doing. Disaster as it was, for me it was an experience I will never forget and I will cherish those memories with my dad forever. 

Cheers to these two great men. I love them both and I’m so glad to have them in my life. 

Happy Father’s Day!

Adventures with Four: Enjoying a Blended Family Christmas

Will and Anna are fortunate enough to have two immediate families and four sets of extended families to celebrate with each holiday season. That’s a lot of Christmas fun for kids…and for us parents to orchestrate. 

Part of the coordination is out of our hands. Joe Daddy and I share the holiday break. One parent gets the kids from the last day of school until the 26th and then the other has them from the 26th until the end of the break per our agreement. It works fairly well but it also means that every other year, we don’t have Will and Anna with us for actual Christmas Eve and Day. 

We make the most of it and it’s a very merry holiday for everyone. 

Here’s how it works for us:

  • Plan in advance what dates the kids are going to be where. This allows us to plan our extended family gatherings as soon as we can. We did Christmas for the kids with Grandad and the Odoms and then with Garen’s family the second week of December. And we are at Garen’s mom’s with the little girls for Christmas. We will be going to my parents’ on the night of the 28th and celebrate New Years Eve there. That’s a lot to plan for and takes multiples rounds of packing and travel for a family of six!
  • Do as many family traditions as you can before the school holiday starts. We’ve started a family tradition of going to Holiday in the Park and to Santa’s Adventure. We also make a “thing” out of decorating the tree, complete with homemade chicken and dumplings. There are other traditions but that’s not the point of this post. The point here is to make sure you do them.  And to do them, they have to be planned if you share weekends with the kids’ other families. The few weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas fly by before you know it!
  • It’s important to be encouraging and inclusive of the kids’ other family traditions. When you have multiple families celebrating, there are always going to be different ways of doing things and that’s a good thing. Your kids will be well-rounded and open to new ideas as they grow. 
  • Use technology to your advantage. Skype and FaceTime allow you to still see the kids when they are with their other families. It is also special to do this with grandparents to keep them involved. 
  • We coordinate what is being given to the kids with various family members in an attempt to not get multiples of the same thing. Sometimes this works better than others. In the case that the kids get multiples, they can leave one at the other family’s house or maybe a grandparent’s house. It’s really not a big deal. 
  • Santa comes on Christmas morning, no matter where the kids are or who they’re with. This is less confusing for everyone. Again, coordinating this with the other parent is important for a good co-parenting relationship. 
  • We open the kids’ other presents on a day that we can be at home the majority of the day. This gives us plenty of time to play with any new toys and have a big, special Christmas breakfast, which was a big deal in my family growing up. 
  • Help the kids to pick out or make Christmas presents for their other family, especially their siblings. This year the kids picked out a fun toy purse with keys and phone for Madalyn and made yarn ornaments for the rest of the family. 
  • If your kids are away at their other family’s house for the holiday and you’re sad, remember that they are very fortunate to have more than one set of people to love them. More love. What’s better than that? With that said, it’s ok to miss them and be bummed a bit…especially if this is your first round. Stay busy with other family and/or friends or volunteer somewhere to keep yourself occupied. It doesn’t necessarily get easier but you do learn to adjust over the years. 
  • Remember that Christmas is really  a season and not just one day. And it’s not just about the gifts. It’s about celebrating your beliefs, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying traditions- old or new. It should be celebrated whenever you and your family can be together. This could be before or after Christmas and still be just as special if you let it be. 

I hope these tips from our experiences can be helpful. It can be hard to share, even as adults who know it’s best for the kids but this is how we make our holidays special for everyone in our family. It takes planning and coordination but it is well worth it!