Friday, September 30, 2011

Creating a Garden in My Yard of Southern-Germany Quality. Well, Someday!

Today I got a bit of a bug in my butt.  Becca lives in such a picturesque part of Germany and the gardens and yards there are so beautiful and well maintained.  Here are some images from the town she lives in.  Just  gorgeous... 


I have seen picture after picture of the area she lives in and today I decided to make some attempt to emulate some of that garden beauty in my own yard.  Now, I can honestly say that it will be awhile and will take lots of hard work before my yard looks anything like the gardens of Southern Germany but I figured I needed to start somewhere.  
My Mia and I went to Lowes and got some pretty tapered stones to place in a circle around our flag pole.  The pole has always had grass around it, and I have always liked how it looks when the base of a flag pole has a polished looking, stoned-off edge to it.  
I did this to ours and I like how this simple change turned out.  
Then I cut back a very unruly tree in our front yard that's chaotic look has been making me crazy for months.  I cut off all the lower branches and then mulched the ground around the tree.  I plan to put a stone edging around this too when I get a chance. 
All of this produced some sweat and a little blood but no tears thank goodness, well at least not from me.  (Mia is actually crying right now because her bathrobe won't stay closed while she plays so I guess that could count as the tears part of that "blood, sweat and tears" saying).  Working on these updates was fun although a bit of work since the stones were pretty heavy and I had to get them from the store on my own and into the yard.  An I also had to manage to  keep a 3 year old occupied and out of the road while doing the work.  Overall though, I think these little changes look great.  I am glad that I set aside the time to do them and I am officially 2 steps closer to having a Southern German, well-maintained and beautiful garden at my own home.
So take that Becca and your picturesque surroundings.  I'll be livin' with a stunning German-esque like garden like you in no time. (twin 2 sticking tongue out at twin 1)

So, what do you think our next yard project should be in order to move us even closer to our South-German Oasis?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Decluttering 101

Decluttering 101: 10 tips for taking the chaos out of the playroom!  #WallTracks  
I have 3 children.  They are all girls and they are definitely girlie-girls. They love their Barbies, American Girl dolls, and baby-dolls and all the accessories that come with them.  They also love dress-up costumes and shoes, shoes, and more shoes. Arts and Crafts are a favorite too.  My girls also really like magnetic toys that come with lots of little, teeny-tiny pieces.  Needless to say there is a lot of STUFF in our playroom.  Therefore, you can imagine that it takes a lot of planning and effort to keep that play space organized, decluttered and usable.  It is something we are always discussing and keeping up on as a family so that all those toys along with all their pieces, accessories, components...stay together, don't get lost and don't cause total chaos on our playroom floor.   
Here is a list of 10 tips that we use to keep our play space "play-able" and organized.

1.  I find that every once in awhile it is good to let the toys, dolls...get a little bit messy in the playroom.  This way, when the clean up finally begins, the kids feel a little bit of the "chaos" that comes with having to organize a space that is very messy and cluttered. This allows me to have a "teachable" moment with them where I can explain to them why we keep things organized and how, if in the future they stay-up on the decluttering process, the clean up time will be a lot quicker and easier.  Then, once they finish that long clean-up, we can look around and talk about how our organizing system works.  This final discussion solidifies the idea in their cute, little brains that organization and decluttering can be a good thing. What I find later is that the next time I have them clean up, it is a lot easier to get them all on-board with the cleaning process since they know that the quick clean-up NOW will save them from a LONG clean up later.

2.  Bins, bins, bins.  Use them for quick clean ups when guests show up unexpectedly (organize later if need be), and then also use them all the time for toys, games,costumes, whatever, as a way to help your kids find a place for everything and so that they know where things go.  Make the bins fun and colorful too in order to add a fun, kid-like feel to the playroom.

3.  "Everything has a place, and Everything in it's place". Ah, my older sister's favorite saying.  And it is a good statement to live by when it comes to organizing a playroom. Having labelled storage bins, or baskets helps make this statement come to fruition.  Labels let all your kids know what goes into where at clean up time.  

4. For non-reading children, labeling bins and baskets with words is not going to be much help since they will not be able to read what item goes in that bin.  I draw a picture of the item on the label for my youngest so that she knows where toys go without having to read any words.  I have seen people take photos of the toy that goes into a specific bin too and then they attach that photo to the bin.  I save myself time by just drawing the image but both ways are effective.  

5.  Don't let it slide.  Check the play room daily and have the kids do a "Quick-sweep", as we like to call it, every time they finish playing so that no clutter even starts to build up.  We reward them sometimes too with an ice cream or a "Family Game-Night" if they do the clean up without being asked.  (Gotta love and reward the independent cleaner!)

6.  We do the "do you play with this toy anymore?" question and answer session every  few months.  We tend to do it in our house just after a birthday or a holiday like Christmas where more toys (which equals more clutter) come into the home. We use this decluttering time as a way to get rid of what is not being used anymore n order to make room for new things.  We also use it as a way to teach the kids about giving back in their community.  We talk about how their unused toys can now get donated to a facility that will give them to other children who don't have the means to buy these toys.  The kids love the idea that their toy will make another kid happy and they love that the toy will be loved again.  This way everyone is happy about getting rid of the toys and mom and dad are especially happy that the toyroom's clutter is reduced.

7.  Get a great wall unit.  We have this Ikea unit that we place all the bins in that the kids place their toys in.  It makes the playroom look neat and organized.  Plus it creates a place for the bins to go, and it clears the playroom's floor space which allows for more playing space.  

8.  Arts and Crafts are my worst nightmare.  These kinds of toys/activities are the- messiest- of- the-messiest for sure.  These items have their own place in our house.  They are kept in a closet, high on the top shelf so that they can only be used with permission.  I learned the hard way to keep these toys "under surveillance" at all times.  Let's just say that my playroom walls will never be the same.  Some toys just need more monitoring than others so I suggest that these don't make it to the playroom without your knowledge.  

9. We use a rotating, weekly chart system too.  The chart lists what each child is in charge of keeping neat and organized for that week in the playroom.  This way, the kids know they have that task to complete all week and it lets me just do quick reminders to get them going. It is especially great to refer to when I hear the infamous "I'm bored" statement.  Now I can always point to the chart and say, "I know what you can do..." The chaos and clutter does not get out of control this way and the rotating system allows for each kid to do different jobs each week so that no, one person feels like they got the "worst job of all". 

10.  Lastly, I think it is important to talk to your kids about why we declutter and keep a room neat.  We want to be able to use the room efficiently and in a fun way.  Plus, we want our kids to be respectful of the things we work hard for.  Them taking care of the playroom space shows us as parents that they appreciate the toys they have and the home we all live in.  Our home reflects on all of us and we want to show each other that we care about the quality of the environment that we live in and that we share as a family.  

So there you have it, a listing of some of the things we do to keep our playroom in some semblance of order.  We loose control once and awhile but often friendly reminders a good, focused cleaning fixes that.  Using these tips though can make for a more enjoyable and fun-filled play space for all.

The makers of Hotwheels know how precious your floor space is and they have created a great system called Hot Wheels® Wall Tracks™ to let your kids zip their cars along the wall instead of on the floor! You can get more info on Hot Wheels® at

Disclaimer:  I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FUN, ORIGINAL and CREATIVE Halloween Costumes from Etsy!

Looking for Fun, Original, Creative Halloween costumes for your twins, multiples, or siblings?  
Well, has done it again, offering up the cutest Halloween costume options for those little babes of yours or for those favorite kiddies in your life.

These costumes are often handmade or made to order and they are so original and creative.  We especially love the Sushi Sets, the Thing 1 and Thing 2 older-girl's tutu ensemble and the knit, baby-size skull caps...

Go to and find your little ones awesome, adorable costumes today!   Some Etsy store Direct-Links are listed below as well.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

How can you help women give birth safely across the globe!

$5 is all it takes to help provide one midwife with the kit she needs to perform a safe, normal delivery. 

One of us is a midwife, and both of us are mothers and thankfully are happy, healthy women.  We grew up in a family that encourages "paying it forward" in life.  We have a strong sense of commitment to helping other women in our world live healthy, successful lives.  We feel strongly that a healthy women equals a healthy mother who can give birth and raise healthy children which in turn helps to create healthy future generations in that same family.  
One way we help is by donating to the International Medical Corps.  This organization helps families all over the globe have healthy, safe pregnancies and births and connects their caregivers & midwives with the needed supplies necessary to help make a birth culminate in a positive outcome.   We hope you will read about this organization and consider giving to their donation fund.  We think it is a great way to say to the women of the world, "No matter your birthplace - YOU MATTER TOO!"

A quote from "Becoming a mom should be one of the most joyous events in a woman's life—but in many parts of the world getting pregnant is the most dangerous thing a woman can do. In fact, a woman dies from pregnancy and labor every minute—the equivalent of five jumbo jets of women dying every day. See what you can do to help end maternal mortality."

Read more:

IMC logo
For $5, you can help provide one midwife with the kit she needs to perform a safe, normal delivery.  Every minute, a woman dies due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Without the proper equipment, midwives cannot adequately handle the problems that can arise during and shortly after delivery. 
International Medical Corps Worldwide
Your generous support enables International Medical Corps to provide life-saving services and build self-reliance by training health care professionals to care for their own communities – from the start of a crisis through recovery.  A contribution to International Medical Corps helps ensure the world’s most vulnerable have access to the services they need today, including primary and secondary health care, food and nutrition, clean water and sanitation, mental health care, and the skills they need to lead healthy lives long into the future.
As a result of International Medical Corps’ longstanding emphasis on leveraging resources, every dollar in private contributions helps generate $10 in additional cash and in-kind resources.

The generosity of donors like you gives International Medical Corps the resources we need to help restore crisis-affected communities around the world to self-reliance. We offer a wide variety of ways for supporters to help:

Donate by phone on our 24-hour hotline at (800) 481-4462

Donate by mail

Send personal checks, cashier's checks, or money orders made payable to International Medical Corps to:
ATTN: Development Department
International Medical Corps
1919 Santa Monica Boulevard
Suite 400
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Planned Giving

Planned giving options are best suited for donors who want to integrate their overall financial and estate planning goals with charitable interests. Planned gifts maximize the benefits for both the donor and International Medical Corps. To learn more about planned giving options, please contact Stacey Freeman, Director, Resource Development, via phone at (310) 826-7800 or email

Gift Catalog

Honor a friend, or family member by purchasing a gift that goes to helping children and families in need. 

Donate Stock

Donating stocks or mutual funds could help you maximize your tax savings, while meeting your charitable giving goals at the same time. International Medical Corps recommends that you consult with your financial advisor about the tax benefits of stock donations. Please contact Laura Hoganson, Deputy Director, Resource Development, via phone at (310) 826-7800 or email at for assistance in making stock donations.

Donate by EFT/wire transfer

Please contact Laura Hoganson, Deputy Director, Resource Development, via phone at (310) 826-7800 or email at for assistance in making wire transfers.

Donate your Car

International Medical Corps has partnered with Cars for Causes. Bydonating your car you can save lives and build healthy futures.

Make a tribute or memorial gift

Make a donation in memory of a loved one or to commemorate a birthday, wedding, or holiday—a beautiful way to pay tribute to the special people in your life. Make an online tribute donation.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Really? A menopause discussion with my gal-pals? Already? Really?

I swear to Pete, every time I have tried to get on Blogger the last day or so, it has been down.  I was starting to think we would never be able to post again.  Lovely Word press, I think you may be in my future.

Via Cathy:

So today I actually had a conversation about menopause with one of my best friends and her school-mom friend.  I couldn't believe we were actually going "there".  I have noticed some craziness going on in my monthly cycle but menopause?...or I can refer to it by it's medical term...Peri-menopause?  One of the women I was talking to has even been having cold-sweats at night...She's younger than me.  This freaked me out a little.  I know that there is a lot of variability with when women go through menopause but the idea that it could potentially be just around the corner is So-Not-A-Cool possibility.  I mean, I just turned 40 and I figured I had years ahead of me before the "New" crazies start (I already have "old" crazies from my regular monthly cycle...just ask my hubby!)

I do have to admit to a few things I that have noticed recently that I may have to attribute to this whole Peri-menopause thing...

1. I have a mole on my cheek.  It looks more like a freckle since it is small and flat but none-the-less, it is a mole.  Well, I have noticed a small hair growing out of that mole every once and awhile....EEEWWWWW  is right.  Totally skeeves me out and the second I see it, not matter where I am, a grocery store, the kids dance class, work, a friends beach club...I MUST pluck it immediately.  I have become very adept at giving it the old "one-two"-pull and showing that sucker who's boss...But still-EEEWWWW!

2. I MUST use deodorant EVERY day.  I ran out the other day and then kept forgetting to buy more.  I used my daughter's for a few days which is just a antiperspirant and not a deodorizing brand.  Well, after a nice vigorous walk with a friend, I couldn't even stand being near myself especially down-wind, let alone forcing others to be in the same vicinity as me (sorry Michelle LOL)  This was never an issue for me before and it is making me crazy.  I feel like the lady in that deodorant commercial.  The one were she is dancing at a club and swings her arms up into an oh-so-groovy dance move in order to "subtly" get a quick "sniff" in order to make sure she is not too "ripe".  When did I become "that" woman.  Ugh AND EEWWWWW!

3.  My cycle is definitely off.  I have always been as regular as the daily opening of the local bank, but lately it has all "gone-to-pot".  I don't like not knowing exactly when my mood is gonna go "loco" or when my monthly friend is gonna "rock-my-world".  This is one thing that I always appreciated being predictable in my life.  Especially since so much else in my life is Not predictable.  Mother Nature is messin' with me and THAT Biatch better "step-off" -Pronto!

4.  The fact that my friends even talk about menopause now is a sign that it is clearly starting to enter my world.  As I stated earlier, this freaks me out but at least I am not alone in this unpredictable, unpleasant experience.  It's like we are all on the Titanic and inevitably we will all be "going down with the ship" together.  Blub Blub Blub!

I know that I should accept this whole part of life with grace like I tried to with the experience of child birth.  I told myself when I was having my kiddies that in the end all would be okay and that thousands of years had shown that most women do just fine going through the labor process and that the chances of me being fine were great so I should just suck it up, and accept what pregnancy and labor "brought".   I was accepting of that process and experience and I should probably do the same with menopause.  I just have a feeling that I may go into this whole life-stage kicking and screaming.  I mean come on, I had to get a Period as a little kid (hated it) and I had to then spend my younger adult life preventing pregnancy before we wanted to had kids, to then have to be the one to carry 3 pregnancy's to term and give birth to all three of those little buggers.  I just think it should be time now for me and this fab. body of mine to get a break.  Mother Nature likes to mess with us women and I simply DO NOT appreciate it.

So I think I may just fight this "change" simply because I think I have the right to do so.  I know for a fact that I have earned a little bitchin' and moanin' at this stage in my life, which I believe should be met with kindness, support and sympathy from those around me.  So be warned dear family of mine.  I am not going down without a fight, which means you better go buy yourselves some boxing gloves.

Are you with me ladies?...I know what I 'm gonna do today.  I am going to get myself some pink boxing gloves and I may even Bejewel them a bit.  It's gonna be a fight, and a Pretty fight  it will be.