Showing posts with label Fun Stuff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fun Stuff. Show all posts

How I Listen To Audiobooks For Free (Or Cheap)





Sometime last year I became aware of the vast array of audiobooks that are available these days - and I also became aware of how much more "reading" I could sneak in through audiobooks!  Who says you can't read and drive at the same time?

I listen to audiobooks while I drive places, while I fold laundry, while I cook dinner, and while I clean out closets (the current project).  I've listened to them while doing yard work.  I've even listened to them before I go to sleep when all the lights are out.  On top of all that, there are a lot of books I know I would never even get around to reading that I've been able to cross off my list because of the wonder of audiobooks.  I'm a big fan!

So for those of you who might be interested in giving audiobooks a try, I wanted to share how I've obtained quite a few books to listen to for free (or very inexpensively).  Here are all my secrets.  You are welcome.


Overdrive

If you have not heard of Overdrive pull out your phone right now and sign up!  It's an app that works through your public library, so you do need a library card.  Once you are all signed up, you have access to an unbelievable array of ebooks and audiobooks!  I really got started through this app, and it's so nice because if you come across an audiobook that just isn't doing it for you, you've invested no money and there are many more waiting for you to try.  

Audiobooks.com

I signed up for Audiobooks.com because I saw a book I wanted to listen to on there, and realized that Audiobooks.com gives you a free audiobook credit for signing up!  Shortly after signing up, I also got an email with an offer for another free credit for leaving an iTunes review.  That's two free audiobooks!  It is a monthly subscription membership, but you can cancel anytime, so I just cancelled before I got charged for another book credit.

Audiobooks.com also has a fantastic selection of free audiobooks that you can download and listen to through the app.  These include a lot of classics!  Some are Librivox recordings that have been compiled into an audiobook format through the app, which is the most convenient way I have found to access Librivox audiobooks.  Some of the free books I am most excited about (for myself and for the kids) are Under The Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott, The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Chronicles Of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery (never read this one), Dr. Doolitte, Little Bear, The Bobbsey Twins books, and more!

Audible

Most people think of the monthly membership fee with Audible, but in case you weren't aware, you can download the Audible app and use it without creating a monthly membership.  And why would you do this?  Download the app now and go to the "Channels" tab.  Look at the top and choose "Featured".  Scroll down a bit and you should see a banner for free audiobooks to stream for Amazon Prime members!  I'm listening to Pride and Prejudice right now, under "Celebrity Voices, Classic Stories".  They have a selection of 20+ free, high-quality audiobooks that you can stream right now.

You can also sign-up for a membership trial for two free books, and if you don't decide to keep it, you can cancel anytime (even before you are charged the first time).  I haven't used the two-free-books deal yet, because I'm waiting until I finish more of the audiobooks I already have, but rest assured, I will be taking advantage of that in the future!

ChristianAudio

ChristianAudio is another audiobooks service much like the two listed above, and they also offer a free book for signing up for a membership (haven't taken advantage of this yet either, but I will eventually).  However, ChristianAudio is great because they actually offer a free audiobook each month, just for entering your email.  No other strings attached!  They also have a reviewer program that you can sign up for to receive free audiobooks - this is open to you even if you aren't a blogger!

Amazon Whispersync

This is the option where you have to pay, but at a deeply discounted price.  Amazon often offers Whispersync audiobooks as a package deal with their Kindle books - this is neat because you can switch between the ebook and audiobook anytime, and Whispersync will save your place.  If you are interested in a book, check the Kindle version on Amazon, and then look underneath the price.  If Whispersync is available, there will be a checkbox to "add Whispersync audio for $______."  These deals are often great for audiobooks, especially if the Kindle book also happens to be on sale.  The best deal I've gotten was probably the Anne Of Green Gables audiobook and Kindle book combo for $2.  Read the ebook in the Kindle app, and be sure to download the Audible app to listen to the audio - all of your Whispersync audiobooks will show up under your Amazon account in the app!

(Affiliate link below.)


And to finish this off, I wanted to answer a common question:  

"Isn't it hard to listen to audiobooks with kids running around?  I wouldn't be able to focus."

While I understand why you might think that, I don't have a problem with this for two reasons.  

First, I don't expect to be able to sit with my eyes closed and focus on every word of my audiobook (which is the only way I would hear every word of my audiobook).  You can enjoy an audiobook without being 100% focused on it, and you might just have to realize that even if you miss a sentence here and there, you are will still hear and understand and enjoy 95% of what's going on.  The question is, is it okay if you lose 5% of non-critical words through listening to the audio version as a mom of young kids, with all the distractions that entails?  I say it's okay.  It's okay with me.  It's the tradeoff for getting more books in through taking advantage of audiobooks.  And if the thought of missing a few sentences really bothers you, try picking a book you aren't as invested in from among some of the free options I listed here!  Sometimes I'll choose to listen to books I've already read, or books I feel a little more casual about, to ensure I don't feel like missing that 5% robbed me of something.

Second, earbuds.  A lot of audiobooks, even Christian ones, aren't necessarily appropriate for young kids, so most of the time I listen through my earbuds.  This also helps me to be able to still hear my book when I'm cooking dinner and the kids are running through the house driving fire trucks on the wood floors (very noisy).  I really want to get some sort of wireless earbuds (like these maybe? I can't afford Airpods, so these look like an acceptable alternative), because that will make my audiobook-listening even more accessible and convenient!  I'm thinking these would be great for situations like working out and listening without wires connecting me to my phone, or sneaking my earbuds in while waiting for a doctor's appointment.  This will open up even more audiobook listening opportunities!

So there you go, all my audiobooks tips and secrets!  

Do you listen to audiobooks?  What has been your favorite audiobook?

The only other word of caution is that a narrator can really make or break an audiobook, so I'd be interested to hear if anyone has a favorite!









The 10 Books I Am Bringing On Vacation




Let's talk about the books I am planning on bringing with me on vacation this year!  I hope I'm not the only one who puts a lot of pressure on myself to pick the perfect books to bring on vacation.  I went so far as to include book-buying purchases in my vacation budget this year.  It's that important to have a good book to read on a road trip! (Let's just overlook the fact that I can't even read in the car without feeling nauseous these days.  I still need the books.)

I typically like books that are light-hearted, quick reads on vacation - the typical beach read, but I went a slightly different direction this year.  This time I chose books that I knew would probably not disappoint me.  After spending last year's vacation on a book that ended with a not-great message, I wanted to skip over moral depravity and choose something a little more likely to contribute to my intellectual growth.  And of course something that I'd enjoy reading.  So here we go!

(I hope you don't mind that I used affiliate links below.  Trying to up my chances of recouping some book costs, since I spent too much on vacation books...yikes!)


Fiction/Non-Fiction Books

The last time we took this particular trip, I made it through five books on my vacation.  That's alot, even for me! However, I chose five books for this trip as well.  I highly doubt I'l get through all of these since they are all a bit more meaty than the books I brought with my the last time we went to Arizona, but still, it's best to be prepared when it comes to books.



Persuasion - Ever since I finished my third Jane Austen book in high school, I've been hesitant to pick up another one.  Not because I didn't enjoy it, but because I had precious few Jane Austen books left, and if I read them all I would never again have a new Jane Austen book to read.  I realize now how silly this was, since I've been itching to pick up Emma as a re-read.  I am not a re-reader, but I will re-read Jane Austen and probably enjoy it every bit as much as the first time.  Still, Persuasion is one of her books that I haven't read yet.  I've decided I need to just go ahead and read all of Austen's works instead of trying to spread them out.

Deal Alert!! You can actually get the kindle version of Persuasion for free and add the Audible narration for $0.49, as of the last time I checked!  Get yourself over there and grab it if you are a fellow Austen fan!

My Cousin Rachel - I picked this up because I read Rebecca last year.  And despite that book ending rather horribly (it's not really a spoiler because you kind of get that sense of impending doom from the start), I somehow weirdly really liked it.  I feel like maybe it's not a great book for a Christian girl to enjoy, but I kind of did.  Even the ending was a weird sort of poetic justice that was weirdly satisfying.  In a weird way.  Anyway, Du Maurier's writing is just fun to me because in Rebecca there was just the right amount of creepy, so I decided to just go for it and try My Cousin Rachel.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

The Big Four - You just cannot go wrong with Agatha Christie.

The Choir Immortal - This book was still in the mail when I took the picture above.  Several years ago I read House Of Living Stones, and I loved it and then forgot about it...until I realized that Schuermann's third book in the series was coming out and I hadn't read the second!  I remember liking the characters and small-church-in-a-small-town atmosphere in the first book, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.  This is just my happy book, in case I get tired of the potential tragedy and crime from the other books on this list.  

The Life-Giving Home - Two different people recommended this book to me recently, and then I saw that Elizabeth was reading it too...so I decided to go for it!  I've read a bit by Clarkson, but this will be my first full book by her.


Activity Books

And of course, no road trip is complete without some fun activity books, right?



Wipe-Clean Usborne Books (this is my blog friend's consultant link, just FYI) - I wanted something for the kids to do in the car that wouldn't get too messy or complicated, and I thought these books looked fun! They include a bunch of mazes, tracing, etc, with a dry erase marker that wipes clean.  I think the kids will love them.  I got four, even though I'll probably confiscate Clarice's pen...or give her a washable marker that matches her shirt.  But she would be indignant if I left her out.

True North Guide To The Grand Canyon - We're going to Arizona this year, and I remembered these guides from the homeschool conference I went to last year.  I hold to a young earth creationist perspective, and was excited to see these guides from Ken Ham's publishing company (I'm a Ken Ham fan).  I'm excited to take these along as we tour the Grand Canyon on vacation!  It'll also give me some interesting things to tell the kids about what we're looking at (since I don't think they'll be as awed by the Grand Canyon as we are.)



Audubon's North America Field Guide To Wildflowers: Western Region - This one is me trying to sneak a little more nerdy nature study/science in on this trip, for me and the kids. Plus, I've been dying to have this guide for a while, and I figured this was a good chance for me to use it!

Sodoku - I haven't done a Sudoku puzzle in forever, and I'm horrible at them, so I'm not sure what possessed me when I picked up this book.  I am hoping I won't get quite as carsick with this, as opposed to regular book in which I will be sick for an entire day if I dare read a chapter.  We shall see.  I am also packing pencils and erasers.

Brain Games - Unlike me, Derek is the Sudoku master, and whizzed right through the extra-super-hard puzzle book I bought him last time, so I'm hoping some of these will stump him.

What kind of books do you like to bring on vacation?





On The Road Again - 2017 Vacation Plans



Now that I'm out of the first trimester, it's a good time to start thinking about vacation!

We are going on vacation pretty soon, and after some debating back and forth, we decided on Arizona!  If you've been around a while, you might remember that we took a trip to Arizona with Gwen was a baby.  For some reason that trip is just a quick blur in my memory.  I remember two days actually at the campground in Arizona, and I can't for the life of me figure out what happened to the rest of that vacation.  This is why I am thankful for this blog.  Someday when I am old (or not so old), and I can't remember anything, I'll be able to look back here.

(Actually, skimming over that 2013 vacation post, I can see why I don't remember it.  The whole vacation got cut short by budget problems and Shingles.)

So this time, I'm hoping no unforeseen monetary or health problems arise, and we can do Arizona right.  Here's the plan:

Day One: Road Trip.

Day Two: Road Trip with some sightseeing mixed in.  Going to a resort in Page, AZ.  The resort had mixed reviews online since they are apparently undergoing construction, but from the pictures, I have high hopes.  We should reach the resort by evening.

Day Three: Antelope Canyon! Click here to see some gorgeous photos.

Day Four: Aside from the Canyon there is nothing to do in Page, AZ that is kid-friendly.  We could go boating on Lake Powell, if you know, we had a boat.  Since we don't, we'll head on down to Flagstaff.

Day Five: Grand Canyon, maybe?  Except we are staying far, far away from the edge.  I don't know if this is a mom thing, or just a me thing, but I have visions of Clarice wandering under the guardrails to look over the edge and slipping. Ugh, I don't even like to think about it.  We'll just drive around and stop a couple places where I feel relatively secure, and Clarice will stay in our arms or the stroller the entire time.

Day Six: Not sure.  I'd like to check out this Rock Slide Park I've heard about.

Day Seven: Pack up the kids and drive up to hang out with my Gramie and Grandpa Bill!  We'll spend a couple nights at her cabin.

Day Eight: Spend the whole day with my grandparents, exploring, playing game, etc.

Day Nine: Pack the crew up and head home.

Aside from all that, I am hoping to sneak in as much swimming as possible.  Arizona should be much warmer than our home state in May, so I'm going to get a jump start on swimming lessons with the kids while we are there!

You'll notice that this year we are not camping.  We pack up our tent and air mattresses almost every year for vacation and usually love every minute of it, but the Lord blessed us a with an unexpectedly good tax return this year, so we decided to make life easy on ourselves and stay in hotels.  I am happy about this, because the last time we went camping while I was pregnant, I admit I was ready to be done by the time we headed home.  Something about being pregnant just makes dirt and rain/cold less tolerable for me, and I like to feel pretty when I'm pregnant, which makes a shower and other amenities a must have.  I'm grateful everything worked out the way it did this year.

I will say though, it is ridiculously hard to find a hotel that will allow you to keep four kids in the room with you, which I find absurd.  I'll say it for the thousandth time, four kids is not that many!  Our hotel days may be over for a bit once the fifth kid arrives, unless we want to book a suite or two hotel rooms.

So those are our soon-to-be-executed vacation plans, assuming all goes well and I don't come down with Shingles again.  Next week I'll share the books I'm planning on taking on vacation!  The important stuff, you know.

Have you been to Arizona?  What should I put on the must-see list?  Where are you going for vacation this year?


How To Have Easter Fun When You're Apparently Not Anemic



What a full week we've had!  Last week we not only had our first ultrasound, but we also had Clyde's 3rd birthday, and then Easter of course! I was also so excessively exhausted and actually physically weak one day I called my doctor to find out if I had anemia.  Wouldn't it be nice if that was my only issue?  Hello iron supplement, problem solved!  

But I apparently am not anemic.  However, that's not stopping me from eating foods that are iron-rich, just in case I have low iron stores or something.  Which is entirely possible, because right before I got pregnant I was craving ice - and isn't craving non-food items a sign of iron deficiency?  I think so.  Maybe I should have told that to the condescending nurse from my doctor's office (I may or may not have cried when I got off the phone with her).  Thankfully iron-rich food is what I'm craving anyway.  Give me all the dark leafy greens, eggs, and hamburgers.

Lots Of Easter Fun

Since I was so exhausted most of last week, I tried a new strategy and woke up with the sun and the kids just long enough to pour bowls of cereal and turn on Clifford The Big Red Dog.  Then back to bed I went.  I'm happy to report it worked beautifully, and I got another hour and a half of sleep.  Yes, that also means my kids got an hour and half of TV first thing in the morning, but you do what you've got to do.  This gave me enough energy to actually do the Easter activities I had been hoping to do all week, instead of spending another day miserably tired on the couch!

We colored eggs...





We did a (late) review and celebration of palm Sunday (I think this is the way to go, because I got five palm branches on clearance for a $1)...





And we made Resurrection rolls, to remind us of the empty tomb, because Jesus rose from the dead! Yes, I added pink frosting.  There were probably flowers on the outside of the garden tomb, right?





As for Easter Sunday, we went to a sunrise service at a local Christian camp, and then off to my mom's for Easter dinner and egg hunt!  It was a lovely Resurrection Day!  Much better than last year, when we spilled a gallon of paint and nearly ruined the carpet.

Sidenote: Easter with kids is like, 100% more fun.  The fun may come at the expense of actual reflection time, but I snuck some in where I could, and you do have to naturally reflect a bit to explain what Easter is really about to children.

What Am I Reading Lately?

I finally finished all the fiction books that were in my obligatory review stack, and I've decided I'm done with the book reviews for a couple months (after I finish the two non-fiction titles I have left -  insert sigh).  I need time to read what I really want to read.  I just get so tempted by the brand-new free books dangling in front of my face, but I'm shutting my eyes now and saying, "no!"

I'm trying really hard to finish a young adult read this month to participate in Collaboreads, but it's not going so well.  I feel like I'm running gout of time, and I'm not totally sure if my book choice counts as "young adult".  I went with "On The Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness" by Andrew Peterson (affiliate), first book in the Wingfeather saga.  I'm only a little way in, but I am so enjoying it!  It reminds me a lot of Narnia so far, and it's funny.  I read a couple chapters to Derek in the car, and he was laughing out loud. Also, it's written by Andrew Peterson, who is a Christian singer/songwriter a couple of you recommended to me when I asked for new music a couple months ago!  I didn't even realize that until after I picked it up!

What is the best young adult book that you've ever read?  And I'm taking Hunger Games and Divergent series out of the running, for variety sake.

Old School Blogger Shoutout

As previously mentioned, I have been a complete blog slacker between trying to finish my outrageous to-review book list before vacation next month, and feeling kind of gross if I stare at a screen for too long (pregnancy-related).  I won't totally let this section go, but I don't have anything new for you this week!  I will attempt to get caught up on my blog reading soon.

What I'm Drinking:  Orange juice.  I cut back on the decaf coffee because I couldn't decide if it was helping or hurting my excessive exhaustion.  What is your favorite tea blend for iced tea in the summer months?  I'm planning ahead!

Five Tips For Keeping A Clean Car With Kids


Don’t you sometimes wish as a mom that you could just keep your car clean?  What is it about carting around kids that gets the car so messy?  And if you are like me, it’s hard to find the time (or motivation) to do a full wash and wax, getting out the bucket and hose and big vacuum for a deep clean of the car. 

However, ever since we got our new car in December, I’ve been determined to keep it looking spiffy.





Isn’t it pretty?  This, my friends, is the newest vehicle I have ever owned.

Derek always teases me about my inability to keep a car clean with the kids, but I am happy to report that I have been doing a pretty good job with our new van!  I’ve come up with a few tips for keeping a car clean, on the inside and out, even as a busy mom with four (soon to be five) kids to drive around.

Don’t leave unnecessary items in the car.

This should be obvious, but if you are a mom of young kids you probably know that they tend to sneak toys, sippy cups, and books into the car without your noticing.  I like to do a quick sweep of the car every time we get home.  It’s much easier to bring in a few things each time than it is to let it go and have to haul out a trash bag to empty out the car later!

Minimize food eaten in the car (or be picky about the kinds of foods).

Some people don’t let their kids eat in the car, which is probably the only surefire way to avoid crumbs.  We are not those people.  We live in a rural area, so we spend a lot of time in our car, and my kids are hungry all the time (I don’t think my children are the only ones).  So instead of restricting all food consumption when in the vehicle, I just try to be aware of what kinds of foods I let them eat.  Small crackers (like goldfish) cause less mess than big crackers that you have to bite into to eat (graham).  Sandwiches and chicken nuggets are pretty clean-car-friendly.  Above all we avoid sticky substances and condiments in the car, because those will get ground into the carpet and take a lot more effort to clean.

Buy a handheld vacuum.

I used to drag our big floor vacuum out to the car each time I wanted to clean it - no wonder it happened so rarely!  My grandma gave us a handheld vacuum last year, and it has changed my car-cleaning life.  As I mentioned above, I don’t restrict all eating in the car, so there are often a fair amount of crumbs on the floor.  The handheld vacuum lets me do a quick cleaning job when the crumbs just get to be too much, and it works really well.

Keep a trash bag handy on the go.

Somehow we end up having a pile of trash in our car every time we go somewhere.  I’ve learned to keep a trash bag tucked into the back of the seats, so when we produce trash from food wrappers, etc, I can just gather them all up right there and through them away in the nearest trash can.  It’s less for me to do when I come home, and makes it nicer to ride around in the car all afternoon when there is no visible trash.

Find easy and convenient cleaning supplies for the outside of your car.

One thing I’ve realized is that the inside of a car can look great, but if the outside of the car looks like you’ve been four-wheeling it doesn’t really matter what the inside looks like.  I’m married to a man who really appreciates a well-washed car, and his appreciation has rubbed off on me.  However…we just don’t usually have that much time for a full bucket-and-sponge wash.  I was thrilled when I found out that the car can still look clean on the outside without all that effort.

I had used Armor All wipes previously for the interior of my car, and loved how convenient they were.  I was excited when I saw that Armor All had created wipes and tire sponges that bring that same convenience to cleaning the exterior of our cars.

The Armor All Ultra Shine Wash Wipes are pre-moistened and treated so all you need to remove grime is the wipes!  Then the Ultra Shine Wax Wipes can be used to add a protective layer once you get all the dirt off.  The Ultra Shine Tire And Trim Shine Sponges are especially convenient and are really the icing on the cake to make your car look freshly washed, without having to go through all the hassle of a bucket and hose!  











The bonus is that these wipes are perfect for handing to your kids as well - then they can be involved in keeping the car cleaned too!  And yes, I cleaned the car in my dress!  This was by car the easiest, least messy way that I've ever cleaned the outside of the car.

These wipes are so easy to use and the 3-step system covers every area of the exterior of your car.  I found all three products at Walmart in the automotive section, and I really recommend trying all three!  I even have a coupon for you - $2 off an one of the Armor All Ultra Shine Wipes line, while supplies last!  

I am so happy to have these on hand so I can quickly give the car some extra shine when it needs it.  Derek won’t be able to tease me anymore about how dirty the car gets, because these wipes will let me keep it cleaner with so much less effort!

How do you keep your car clean, especially with young kids?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Armor All, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #LessTimeMoreShine http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV




A Trip To The Ranch (And A New Turntable)



We have eight inches of snow outside my window as I type this.  Hello Spring! 

My appetite must be back, because all this snow has me in the mood to make ginger cookies.  Who says it has to be a Christmas thing?  I'm contemplating the concept of making some gingerbread egg-shaped cookies...Easter is right around the corner, after all!  We could fancily frost them and everything.  I've always loved gingerbread better than sugar cookies.

A Trip To See Friends

This last weekend Derek and I loaded the kids up and took a mini road trip to visit our rancher friends!  I grew up with these ladies in a tiny white-steepled church in the mountains before they moved away, and they will always be dear friends of mine.  We always have such a nice time when we visit them, and they are such an encouragement to me.  

The kids loved seeing the lambs and calves (some of them born just the night before!), riding in the chuckwagon, getting to watch the baby animals have their bottles, chasing the chickens, and riding a pony!

(Of course my camera battery died, so I had to rely on phone pics - hence no pictures inside the barn of the cute lambs.  You can see my cute kids outside instead.)




(Grooming the pony!) 





(One of the best pictures to date of Clarice's curls!) 



(Bringing the wagon around for a ride!) 


 (My dear friends and myself - Holly, Me, Hazel, Heidi.)

We had lunch together and we adults had a nice time to visit too.  And the sweetest thing was that Holly gave me (drumroll please)...a Victrola turntable!  I am so excited!  She had read that I wanted one on my blog, and she wanted to give me this one as a "just because" gift.  She included the sweetest note of encouragement that was just what I needed to hear.  I felt so blessed by her thoughtfulness!

The Turntable

I have been so excited ever since I got the turntable home, and I went to the thrift store the next day to hunt down a few records to try out on it.  I love it!  Vinyl records sound so different than CD's or digital music, and I am a huge fan.  




So far I found a classical music record that ended up being more of a jazzy classical version.  I was wondering how they fit so many pieces on one CD - it's because they are all up-tempo medleys. It's okay, but not quite what I was looking for.  I'll try again for a different classical record the next time I am at the thrift store.  I also found a Flyin' W Wranglers record (which is fun cowboy-style music), a Hawaiin collection (there is my desire for Summer winning out again), a hymn record that is excellent, and Peter And The Wolf (narrated by Lorne Greene! Of Bonanza fame).  The kids have been requesting Peter And The Wolf over and over again, so that has dominated our player so far, but I am excited to go hunting for some other good records to play on it.

Anyone else have a turntable out there?  Where do you find records?  Isn't it the most fun way to play music?!

Old School Blogger Shoutout

I've been a horrible blog reader since the first trimester hit - all my blog reading time now goes to napping.  I'ms sorry!  Hoping to change this soon.  However, here is a new blog I have been enjoying reading, It's Just Angi, and Angi is just the sweetest.  I have been enjoying swapping comments and getting to know her over the last month or so!

What I'm Drinking:  I finally got over my uptightness about caffeine in the first trimester (it just takes me a while with each pregnancy), so I have been allowing myself some decaf coffee here and there! Ah, sweet nectar!  I'm drinking Boyer's Mountain Roast Decaf with CoffeeMate Chocolate Toffee Truffle creamer.




What I'm Watching Lately



A lot of interesting things happened this week, but I can't tell you about any of them.

It's difficult when so many exciting things happen, and you are itching to write out your thoughts, but you realize you can't talk about any of them in the interest of protecting privacy and avoiding gossip.  So what do you do when that happens?  You write about TV.

The Bachelor

Today, I feel compelled to write about the Bachelor.  Not because I liked Nick as a Bachelor at all (please, no).  In fact I boycotted the Bachelor in the middle of this season because it was just so trashy.  This is probably the trashiest season I've seen, and I was surprised by how many gross comments they allowed on TV.  It all got to be too much and I decided I didn't need to be filling my brain with this junk.  But later, I admit, I got sucked back in to see who he ended up with.  You have no idea how much I hate my weakness here.  It's embarrassing.

This is why I usually avoid starting shows at all if I know they are going to be too questionable in content.  Because (I think you can all agree) it's way harder to quit in the middle of a show than to just never start watching it in the first place.

So no, this season stunk, but we have to discuss something because I had an epiphany last night.  After watching Nick pick Vanessa, which I thought was a dumb decision, I started thinking back on previous seasons of the Bachelor, and I realized something.  

The Bachelor/Bachelorette almost never picks who I want them to pick.  And (here's the kicker) - when they pick the person I thought they shouldn't, it usually ends up sort of working out.  On the rare occasions when the contestant did pick who I thought they should, the relationship usually ended within six months!

Basically, I should never be a matchmaker.  I'm good at picking a spouse for me (my husband is a gem), but apparently I'm not so good at picking people for other people.

Shark Tank

I started watching Shark Tank this year and got hooked! My favorite sharks are probably Lauri and Mr. Wonderful, but I think it's ruthless and rude when they withdraw their offer just because a business owner wants to hear all the offers on the table first.  I guess I understand the strategy behind it, but really, who wouldn't want to know all the offers before picking one?

I have also embarrassingly got sucked into buying products because I saw them on the show.  I definitely understand why people want to go on, because it's great exposure for any business.  The show is basically a sneakily more interesting version of The Shopping Network, except only the shark that makes the deal gets a financial advantage from this little series of infomercials.

PragerU

Now we move on to YouTube, because that's where half of entertainment resides these days.  Really, there is precious little that is worth watching on the actual TV.  

I have been a fan of Dennis Prager for so long, mostly for his weekly "Happiness Hour".  The man has more insight into the topic of happiness than anyone else I can think of.  Lately I have rediscovered PragerU, which is full of helpful and informative five minute videos. They are five minute bites of common sense.

Most recently, "War On Boys" was interesting, and "Is Your Child Getting Enough Vitamin N" was great,  and "I Learned More At McDonald's Than At College" gave me hope that not all college students are unprepared for life (at least if they've worked before), and "The Sexiest Man Alive" was just so true.  But poke around, especially in the Life Studies videos, and you'll probably find something you like.  Especially any of the videos on happiness!

Also "Coolidge: The Best President You Don't Know"!  Okay, I'm done now.

Other Channels

On YouTube that is.  I'll just run through a few I've been enjoying lately.

Favorite Homeschooling Channel: A Farmhouse Full.  She vlogs about a lot of things, but I have really enjoyed her homeschooling videos because I'm fascinated by the fact that she has eight (nine?) kids!

Favorite Book Channel:  My friend Felicia's channel, Little Prairie Library! I love seeing all the books she reads and finds, and I've found several good ones through her channel.

Favorite Makeup Channel: Emily Noel.  She just seems like a normal person to me.  Other makeup channel people just...don't.

Looking Forward To...

Survivor, of course!  When does that start back up again?

What are your favorite shows these days?

Old School Blogger Shoutout

I've been enjoying The Lady Okie blog - she is the type of old-fashioned blogger that I've always enjoyed reading.  She even wrote an introduction post last Friday, which is pretty convenient for all you newbies to her blog.  Stop by and say hi!

What I'm Drinking: Baked Cinnamon Apple Tea.  It's yummy if you don't mind teas that are already a bit sweet.  I have to be in the right mood for it.




Life With Four



Ever since Clarice was born, I've been wanting to do a day in the life post.  So many people have asked me what life is like with four kids - and I guess this is the chance to find out!  It's honestly not too different than three, except with one extra kid to dress and feed each day.  I love being a mama to four!

I recorded this day a few weeks ago, before we started school again after Christmas break.  I'll try to record a school day soon to give you an idea of how we manage that, but this day is probably more representative of most of the days during Clarice's first year of life.  Enjoy!

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2:30 AM - I stumble out of bed to grab Clarice, who has been alternating crying and talking to herself for two hours. I think cuddling her for a bit will settle her down.  It doesn't.  I put her back in her crib and try to sleep over her chattering (she rarely wakes up in the night anymore, but this time she did).

7:05 AM - I am awakened by a crash and rolling sound from upstairs.  I spring out of bed and find Gwen with a coloring book and markers, sneaking back to her room.  I confiscate the markers, tell her she can play in her room, and see if I can sleep a little longer.

7:25 AM - Gwen comes in my room to inform me that Clyde broke the light in his room.  What? I head upstairs and find that the overhead light cover is on the floor, cracked into pieces.  Thankfully it's only plastic.  I throw the pieces away, tell the kids to read quietly in their room for a few minutes until I come back upstairs.  I read my Bible quickly, because I can already tell this is a day I should really start by reading my Bible if possible.  I read quickly because I hear a squabble and crying form upstairs. 

7:35 AM - Clyde comes downstairs crying to say he's sorry.  I'm not sure what for.  The light?  I tell him I'll be upstairs in a minute.

7:40 AM - Go to the bathroom to brush my teeth.  Clyde comes down again to say sorry. I tell him it's okay and send him back upstairs.

7:45 AM - I wash my face. I hear another squabble about who gets the cool Hot Wheels car.  I ask the boys to please just read in their rooms for a minute.

7:51 AM - I hear crying and "I'm in trouble!" from upstairs.  I give up on trying to get ready for the day and head upstairs to prepare breakfast and reassure Clyde that he is not in trouble (it was an accident!).

7:54 AM - Instant apple cinnamon oatmeal made.  The kids pray in unison before they eat their breakfast (which makes me smile because it's so cute).  Gwen tells me about the good dream she had last night while she eats.  I empty the dishwasher.



8:03 AM - Get Clarice upstairs and settled with her breakfast.  I grab Clyde's clean sheets and go in to make his bed.  I usually have the big kids make their own beds, but I still straighten out their covers a little to help the process.  Nevermind, I decide to take Gwen's bedspread off for an overdue wash.

8:09 AM - I tell the kids to get dressed and make their beds when they are done eating breakfast.  Throw the bedspread in the laundry room on my way to fix my makeup.  I make the bed before heading back upstairs.



8:47 AM - We are in the middle of potty training, and Clyde is doing great!  Success, except for a potty chair spill on the way to the bathroom (just like on that commercial).  I get out the mop.



8:48 AM - The kids' rooms are still a mess.  I'm frustrated.  I get them started on fixing their beds and rooms again.

8:50 AM - I get some coffee brewing and sit down to write a quick book review.  Clyde climbs onto the bench next to me and says "You look pretty, Mommy".  I kiss his sweet little cheek! I'm interrupted three other times, but not so pleasantly.  Crying and squabbling abound.  I'm getting irritable and impatient, and I really don't want to spend the whole day breaking up disputes and telling the kids what to do.  I think that's where we are headed, but I want it to be a good day.

9:17 AM - I get the review published, and help Clyde and Clarice get dressed for the day.  I put away the kids' laundry that Derek and I folded last night.  Wyatt is mopping the floor again.  I change Clarice's diaper, and she says "diaper" as clearly as I've ever heard a baby say it.

9:31 AM - I decide that I think we all have cabin fever, and tell the kids to get in the car.  The big kids head downstairs and I tell them to buckle themselves in. I make the kids some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while Clarice cries at my feet because I'm not hiding and/or feeding her.

9:48 AM - Sandwiches are finished.  I gather up the lunch bag, coats, a bag full of spare clothes for Clyde, and Clarice in my arms.  I stuff my feet in my shoes on the way to downstairs.  I go outside to find the car with all the windows rolled down in the dead of winter.  Certain children may have gotten in trouble for not being in their seats.

9:50 AM - Run back inside for socks and wipes.  Reheat the coffee that I totally forgot to drink while writing my book review earlier.  I turn it into holly jolly coffee and add whipped cream, but I've added too much, and it spills down the side of my to-go cup when I squish the lid on.

9:58 AM - We are ready!  Almost.  The kids brought some extra toys that I didn't catch earlier, and I run them back inside.  Cue the crying.

9:59 AM - Back in the car.  I buckle in, start my talk radio, and paint the nails on my right hand (I did my left hand nails the night before).  Driving is the only time that I can be sure I won't mess up my half-dried nails.  I realize I forgot to eat breakfast and grab one of the pop tarts I keep in the console.  The kids are upset that I don't have one for them until I remind them that they already had breakfast.

10:01 AM - We're off!

(Photo not taken while the car was actually moving.)

10:19 AM - A child who shall remain nameless confesses to getting a midnight snack out of the kitchen. Wyatt chimes in and says that when he grows up he'll have lots of money and let his kids eat lots of food.  I briefly feel like a horrible mother, and ask if I'm not feeding them enough.  Wyatt says I am (probably to spare my feelings).  It's a good thing I brought snacks.  (For the record, my kids do eat three full meals a day, plus snacks.  But I guess they are growing!  I remember always wanting more to eat at that age.)

10:33 AM - I crest the hill coming into town, and see that it's hazy out.  It's pretty with the winter colors, pale yellow, grey, and light blue.  It has me envisioning watercolor paintings.

10:55 AM - I decide the holly jolly coffee isn't doing it for me today, and head to Starbucks for a pink drink.  I pull up to pay, and the barista tells me the lady ahead of me bought my drink!! THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE!  It was such a nice surprise!


11:12 AM - We arrive at the Children's Museum.  The kids are so excited, but the parking lot is insane!  I drive around for ten minutes before finding a spot, and I decide we will eat lunch in the car first in the hopes that it will slow down by the time we head in.


11:49 AM - Lunch is eaten, I take an awkward photo on the sidewalk by propping my phone on top of a trash can, and we head in!




















1:23 PM - We emerge!  Successful visit.  No one has been hurt or lost, and the kids declare it a "fun day".




2:16 PM - We stop by the library before we head home.  I pick up a stack of books on US Presidents that I reserved to read with the kids when we start school back up next week.



3:22 PM - We arrive home.  There is a package at the bottom of the driveway.  I get Clyde and Wyatt out of the car, but Gwen is still sleeping from the drive and I know Clarice will want me to hold her, so I run the trash out to the shed first.  I notice a diaper on the ground that must have fallen out of the trash can.  I pick it up, and notice a plastic bag.  Pick it up, and I see another one.  I round the corner and see a bunch of trash strewn behind our shed! Ugh.  I quickly pick everything up.  By the time I get back to the car Gwen is awake, and both girls are crying.

3:33 PM - Everyone is inside, Gwen and Clyde are down for an attempt at a "nap".  I know it probably won't last.  I give Clarice some milk and settle down with her on the couch, kick off my boots.



3:46 PM - Put Clarice down in her crib for an attempt at a late and destined-to-be-short nap.  I hold up her favorite bear, and she grabs it around the neck, squeezes, and grins.

3:47 PM - I finally settle on the couch and fiddle with my phone for a while.  I edit a video and pictures for my Instagram story on our trip to the museum.

4:08 PM - The kids come tumbling out of their rooms, talking about dump trucks or gum drops, I'm not sure which.  If it was earlier in the day I might make them try to nap again, but I give up on nap time today.  The big three are up, and we read three of our Presidents books.  "George Washington: Farmer, Soldier, President";  "George Washington's Teeth"; and "Smart About The Presidents".  The kids are riveted (I'm serious, they were).  I think we need to add a couple of these to our "to-buy" list.





4:34 PM - I hear Clarice and go ahead and get her up too. She snuggles against me.  I sit down on the couch to hold her for a little while, but she wiggles out of my arms and on the floor to play!

4:39 PM - The play tents appear in the living room.  I poke around the kitchen to figure out what to make for dinner, and start boiling some water.  I take out the trash again (is it just my nose, or does the whole house smell like trash?).  The light outside is pretty.  I come inside and light my "Warm Woolen Mittens" candle to clear out the trash smell (or is it pot from the neighbors? Gross.).  I finally throw that bedspread I pulled off of Gwen's bed this morning into the washer.





4:50 PM - I open the Amazon package, another book on the Presidents inside.  I bought it because I thought it would be a good resource, but I flip through the pages and decide I don't like it.  Make a mental note to send it back.

5:02 PM - I come upstairs and goof off for a bit because it's too early to finish making dinner.  I show the kids the Instagram story video I made, and they laugh and laugh (they love seeing themselves on film).  Wyatt tells me about his plans for making a cave, like the one at the Children's Museum.  He thinks he'll need more wood though.



5:17 PM - I decide to start on dinner.  I'm making ravioli.  The raviolis are frozen, so I pull them out of the freezer and look for spaghetti sauce.  Realize I don't have any.  I make do by pureeing diced tomatoes with spices and parmesan cheese.



5:24 PM - The kids are rowdy and loud, and I have called out "be careful!" several times.  What are they doing?

5:25 PM - I'm a little scared to look around the kitchen corner, but they are just running in circles around the couch.

5:25 PM - I get a text from Derek, saying his bus is broken down.  I'm on my own.



5:33 PM - Clarice is crying at my feet, Clyde is crying "Mommy, I NEED you!" from his room.  Gwen starts crying from somewhere in the house.  Wyatt is still lapping the couch.  I wave the white flag, get the kids in their pajamas with promises of playing PJ Masks.  It's witching hour, after all.

5:38 PM - Clarice says "I love you, Mama" in her baby dialect while I'm getting her dressed.  (Yes, I asked her to say it to me.  So what?  It counts.)  She climbs into my lap, wraps her arms around me, and trys to rock me back and forth (which is her way of telling me she wants ME to rock HER back and forth).

6:01 PM - I start PJ Masks.  The kids all sing along to the theme song (even Clarice).  I finish making dinner, and I let them watch while they eat.



6:17 PM - Derek is home!  Sooner than expected!  I thought he'd be home way after bedtime.  Choruses of "Daddy!" from the kids.

6:31 PM - Derek lets me escape for a bit to write up part of this post.  He cleans the kitchen, does Bible time with the kids, and gets them in bed.

7:07 PM - I put the laptop away and give Clarice a kiss goodnight.  She presses her lips together and pushes her face against my cheek (her kisses).  I get my pajamas on and go upstairs to kiss each of my kiddos goodnight.  They give me sweet smiles and kisses on my cheek, and all three ask the same question as every other night, "What are we doing tomorrow?"

7:20 PM - I talk to Derek while I make some raviolis for myself (Derek opted for leftover soup for dinner).  I fill the dishwasher back up and get ready to start it.

7:27 PM - We watch an episode of Expedition Unknown, one of our current favorite shows.  This one is about the Minoans.  Did the volcano eruption really kill them?  Some geologist says no, but I don't trust their dating methods and still say it was the volcano, one way or the other.

8:24 PM - Derek came home without working out to help me with the kids, so now he heads off to get his workout in.  I sit down to type up the rest of this post, but I tell him not to workout too long, because maybe we can watch another Expedition Unknown if he doesn't get back too late (it is Friday night, after all!).

9:31 PM - Even though it's late when Derek gets back, we decide to sneak in one more Expedition Unknown anyway.  We learn about a lost Mayan city, but the show ends before they can find it (of course)!

10:43 PM - We finally get in bed and read a little before turning out the light.

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There you go, a full day in my life!  If you have any questions about having a "big" family (though really, four isn't that many), now is the time to ask! Other moms of 3+ kids, how do you manage everything?




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