Dashboard Randomness: Sunrises and Bluebonnets

Today I had a golf tournament for one of the regional associations I’m part of in San Antonio. Usually, when I go to San Antonio I will drive down the night before but I have been on the go so much lately I decided to just wake up early and drive this morning. And, boy, did four o’clock a.m. come early?!?

However, I really enjoyed drive. I got the opportunity to be let my mind wander and through anything and everything. No music. No audiobook audiobook. No podcast. No phone calls.

Just me and the open road, a beautiful sunrise, and miles and miles of beautiful bluebonnets.

The 130 loop around Austin is absolutely gorgeous right now. That might not seem like a logical place to go look at bluebonnets but there are miles of them in the huge median between the north and sound sides of the tollway.

Add to that, this afternoon I got to play golf on a beautiful course with some awesome customers, who made it a blast!

The only thing that would be better would be to be at home tucking my kiddos in tonight because I sure do miss them (and Garen too)! I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too, right?!? Thank goodness for FaceTime!

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Mommy Review Monday: Care.com 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 Care.com 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 Care.com.  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- Care.com- 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 Care.com, although if anyone from there is reading this and wants to give me a discount, I’d take it!!!  

Carry On

Driving down (actually up but I always want to say I’m driving down somewhere for some reason) 35N on my way home today Carry On by Pat Green came on.

It’s a Texas Country classic, in my mind. Honestly, I’ve not ever put much thought into it besides that it reminds me of driving the backroads of Hamilton County in my high school days. I realize that dates me and I’m fine with that.

But today I missed the first of the song and only caught the end:

OK, alright,

I’m OK, I’m alright,

I’m OK, I’m alright,

I’m OK, I’m alright,

Oh carry on, yeah –

As it finished, I thought to myself what a great reminder it is. I sometimes get caught up in negativity. But as I heard this song, I though we all need a reminder.

I’m ok. I’m alright.

Carry on.

Dashboard Randomness.

Mommy Review Monday: Faster Than Normal- how to use your ADHD super powers

I’ve never been diagnosed as ADHD, however, I’m pretty sure I’ve got it.  For example, this is the third time I’ve started and stopped writing this blog and I’m only two sentences in.

Or another example:  I’m having a serious conversation about school and discipline with a friend about grounding from TV. I go from that to Netflix to HBO to When is the Next Game of Thrones going to be on to What will John Snow and Calecee’s baby look like (I’m not stopping to look up how to spell her name right or I’ll be on Google for 2 hours reading about who knows what).

Wait, Google….

Wasn’t I supposed to Google something earlier today when Garen and I were talking?  I wonder what Garen is doing now?  Oh yeah, Kate was crying when we talked.  I bet he had a crazy night with the four kiddos with me in Houston.  Wait, the new babysitter started tonight……. Hold up!  How did I get here?  Wasn’t I supposed to be giving examples???

So you get the general idea.  That can happen to me in the middle of a dead serious conversation- like at a doctor’s office or while talking to the school principle.  Seriously, every minute of my life is like this.  But it’s not just that.

I struggle to be on time.  I procrastinate on important things that are overwhelming to me. But on certain tasks that get my attention, I can get things done with super-focus.  There’s a reason my blog is called Chicken Minus Head- because I’m often running around like that, from one thing to another!

I’m NOT saying this to try to get sympathy or to make excuses.  I deal with it and work hard every day to overcome through crazy-weird organization techniques. I’m also a self-proclaimed self improvement junkie.  I listen to a TON of audiobooks and podcasts since I have so much windshield time every week.  One I read a while back is really worth sharing on Mommy Review Monday.  It’s called Faster Than Normal by Peter Shankman.

Faster than Normal

It’s all about how ADHD can actually become your personal super power if you learn how to harness it and use it to your advantage.  It also is very helpful for anyone who has someone that has ADHD in their life and often times doesn’t know how to handle them.

Garen and I both listened to it.  There are times that the author went on about himself a little much and that bothered Garen more than me.  I think he did it to make a point that he didn’t achieve so much despite having ADHD but more to demonstrate that he achieved a lot because he had ADHD.  Look beyond that to get the useful tips.  Plus, the author is pretty hilarious so it was a fun listen. I’m going to start listening to his podcast to see if there are more tips that I can use.

This book is worth the read (or listen) if you’re a parent or teacher of an ADHD so you can learn ways to encourage and coach (and stay sane) or if you’re just a person that likes to get a lot done (even if you don’t have ADHD).

FREE ADHD TIP:  I finally finished this blog by setting my alarm for 10 minute time intervals and didn’t let myself do anything else until I finished it.  Doing that allowed me to get it done MUCH faster.  A lot of folks term this “time blocking.”  During the work week I use it a lot to get things done that I don’t look forward to and sometimes for chores I hate too.  It really works well for me.  I can’t remember if this is in the book or not but this gives you an idea of the kinds of ideas you can get out of it.

Mommy Review Monday: Scott TP

The stomach bug hit me today. Hard. It's always tough when mamma is sick.

I feel exhausted after being sick most of the day so this will be a pretty short Mommy Review Monday and I have come up with something we don't always think much of until you end up using a lot of it:

Toilet Paper
We go through a lot of this at our house since there are so many of us (and the kids still like to use more than they should), so we buy it in bulk at Sam's Club. Last trip to Sam's I had Garen get it and he picked up Scott brand instead of the Sam's Club brand (which is pretty similar to Charmin but cheaper).

I've always been told not to slap the hand that feeds you so I've not complained about the thin, scratchy paper…until today. I have officially sanded my butt.

Here's the positives of Scott brand toilet paper:

  • It's cheapest you can find at Sam's Club
  • It provides excellent exfoliation for your booty.
  • It would work for TP-ing houses because it's so cheap- although it might break mid-throw.

And the negatives:

  • No matter how cheap, it's still not a bargain because you have to use more because it's so thin.
  • It will rub you raw if used frequently
  • It comes individually wrapped- both a pain and a waste of paper

There you have it- Scott toilet paper is pretty shitty. For more amusing toilet talk, be sure to check out my story about Mr. Shitter.

Thursday’s Thoughts:  Like riding a bike

From my Five-Minute Journal, today’s quote was from Albert Einstein:

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. 

Although this morning was the first time I’d heard this quote, I think it’s been something that I’ve always subconsciously tried to use in my life when things are a challenge. 

Just like “putting one foot in front of the other” or “taking one baby step at a time” help us make moves in the right direction, the concept of peddling to keep balanced is just as true. 

Right now you hear a lot of hype about “work-life balance.” There’s an abundance of advice on this topic but- let’s face it- this is a hard thing to do!

And, quite frankly, I get sooo overwhelmed trying to keep a good balance that I often times loose balance. Similar to learning to ride without your training wheels, you’re going along fine until you start thinking about balancing too much. Then what happens??? 

You freak out and you loose your balance. (P.S. It’s even more likely to happen if you wear princess dress pjs to ride your bike-see Anna below)The moral of my rambling Thursday’s Thoughts may sound like I’m advocating for mindlessly riding throughout life (and probably not wearing a helmet). 

But, the truth is, I think if we all just keep peddling forward without putting on the brakes so much, we’re a little more likely to have a smoother ride as we go up and down the hills and valleys of our lives. 

Safe travels and let me know your best tips for this ride through life…

Wellness Wednesday: 6 Reasons to Drink More Water & 6 Ways to Make it Happen 

Today, one of the things I aim to accomplish is to drink enough water. I live in a state of dehydration- most days running on coffee alone. Yes, I realize that this is terrible.
So…I’m working on it. I know on the days that I have consumed the right amount I feel soooooo much better. Why not do it every day, you may ask? I could come up with a million different reasons. None of them really all that great.In an effort to “talk myself” into drinking enough each day, I’m listing a few reasons of why I should get my daily quota:

  1. Humans are 60 percent water so it affects our digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature. 
  2. Water is essential for the kidneys to function….so it makes sense that you’re more likely to get kidney stones if you don’t drink enough water. (both of these two reasons seem pretty crucial to well being….)
  3. When dehydrated, the skin can become more vulnerable to skin dryness and wrinkling (so, that explains my wrinkles…and I was pissed that my expensive skin care wasn’t working)
  4. Water is used to lubricate the joints (I can certainly feel the difference in my joints when I drink more- yes, already at 34 years old thanks to dehydration)
  5. Drinking water when you think you’re hungry may be the fix you need to avoid that unhealthy snack. 
  6. Water is the cheapest drink you can get- even if you have buy it. Cha-Ching! Frugality in its simplest form right there. 

If you don’t believe me, check it out at WebMD

Here’s how I plan to help myself with this:

  1. Drink a big glass of water when I wake up before working out 
  2. Drink another glass before I let myself have my first cup of coffee (I know this is going to be a hard one)
  3. Drink another glass before I have lunch
  4. Drink another glass before I have an afternoon cup of coffee or snack (can you tell I like coffee???)
  5. Drink another glass as I’m fixing dinner
  6. Drink another glass before bed

These are all big glasses so six should be plenty in combination with the fruits and vegetables that I regularly eat that also have water content. Did you notice there’s a bunch of befores in that list? Carrot and stick folks- thats the way I’ve got to roll with habit changes.

Here’s a few more things that I’ll be doing to help me:

  • Use crystal light one or two times to keep it not so flavorless 
  • Drink warm water with lemon. This makes me feel classy. That may be weird but that’s ok. 
  • Have a yeti, knock-off yeti, or water bottle with you and full at any time. 
  • Drink a few sips after every call I make (since I’m in sales that’s a lot every day). 
  • Order water with lime from Sonic rather than a fountain drink. Or just avoid Sonic works too. Again, frugality and health often coincide. 
  • Eat healthy. Eating healthy makes you want to drink more water and drinking more water makes you want to eat healthier. 

So now I guess I better go get back to drinking more water…

Stay hydrated, my friends!

For more info on Wellness and my Well Being journey check out my first Wellness Wednesday post.