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!


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: Discount Tire

I drive a lot.  A WHOLE lot.  It’s part of being in sales, covering the state of Texas.  With that, my tires see a lot of wear.  I buy my tires from Discount Tire.  And I’m soooo glad.  Here’s why:

  • You can buy certifications for them and they cover repairs and replacements for the life of the tire.  What does this mean for me?  Well, over the last two weeks I’ve managed to destroy two tires:  one from a screw while driving on a jobsite and one today from what I think was a curb that totally popped up out of nowhere.  Both were replaced and I just had to pay for the $30 to re-insure each of them.Yes, this is the family truckster earlier today.
  • They will do a free air check.  You know how during the winter months your tire pressure warning will come on in your car and you don’t know whether a tire is really low or not?  It happens to me and because there are so many Discount Tires it’s really easy to swing into one.  And if it’s low, they’ll inspect it to make sure there’s nothing wrong.
  • They will rotate your tires for free too.
  • They have amazing customer service.  I have NEVER had a bad experience with anyone that works there.  They are all very kind, fast, and honest.  Today, as I sit here, it’s packed so there’s a wait.  They offered me fresh coffee and water. They told me where the restrooms are without me asking and even told me there’s a QT (gas station that has pretty decent food too) next door. They keep people appraised of their progress. Service with a smile.
  • They’ve got free WiFi, so I’ve got my laptop open and I’ve already gotten quite a bit of work done that I needed to.
  • I’ve yet to be in one where they didn’t keep it clean and neat.  It’s a nice, open layout with comfy chairs.  None of those loveseats that you sometimes get stuck snuggled up next to a perfect stranger.  That’s something you can’t say about all vehicle service places.
  • They have great prices and give you plenty of options for tires- from super fancy to economy.  They will tell you which ones they typically keep in stock, which helps me for cases like this where I am having to replace one.
  • There are a TON of these places.  I realize if you live in a rural area it might not be as easy to take as much advantage of all of the benefits such as the air check and tire rotations.

I honestly don’t have anything bad to say about them.  I am super-thankful for them today as the family wagon and I limped into their parking lot, knowing that they’d get us taken care of.  I’m pretty sure Garen is glad too- especially that I made it here without having to call in backup since even though I know how to change a tire, it’s been a LONG time!

Happy Mommy Review Monday!

And, FYI, I don’t get any kickbacks from these guys…although that would pretty awesome. Ha!

(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.

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…

Nursing Twins- Part 5: Nursing Two Older Babies

Clara and Kate are now 8 months old. It’s hard to believe….

Except for their nursing habits, which are much changed from the early days. Here’s what I’ve observed so far with nursing twins older than 6 months:

  • They have more trouble focusing. 
  • They still fit on the nursing pillow in the football hold for tandem nursing. It’s tight but it works. 

  • There is less room for them and one will sometimes grab the other. “You don’t need that eye, Kate” or “I love your hair, Clara. Let me grab a handful.”
  • They don’t nurse as long- probably 10-15 minutes max now. 
  • During the week they nurse at 6:00 AM, 6:00 PM, and before bed between 8:00- 9:00 PM. 
  • At work, I pump at lunch time to try to keep my supply up but it’s really getting old at this point, considering I only make about 8 oz. 
  • My milk supply is starting to slowly wind down. Part of this is that I’m losing weight, eating healthier. I doubt they’re getting much but I’m ok with it since they get plenty from their bottles during the day and have also started solids. (Check out my adventures of making my own baby food part 1 and part 2.) 
  • I’m working towards cutting out nursing and pumping during the day this month. I’ve got mixed feelings since I know that this are my last babies to nurse. 
  • Clara has two teeth and hasn’t bit me once. Kate has no teeth and has bit me twice. 
  • Occasionally, I get the pleasure of nursing one at a time. They don’t know what to do for a few seconds in the cradle position by themselves though. Then it clicks and they look up at me adoringly. I love the cuddles. It sure makes my decision to stop nursing them a hard one. 

Overall, I’m glad I’ve made it this far nursing twins and I’ve enjoyed the bonding but I also know it will be easier once we are finished. It’s always a challenge trying to balance priorities. I read a great post that helps with my “mommy guilt.” If you’re in a position like me maybe this all will help you. 

For more on nursing twins check out my other posts: