Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Shopping at SAMS

Ok, I was in total denial that shopping at SAMS was anything that could benefit me. First, I really love Kroger Clicklist and I wasn't prepared to take my children to the grocery store again. I have only had to do this once since starting on the SAMS journey, and I am avoiding it ever again. There are reasons that SAMS shopping makes sense for our family, and may not for yours, but here are some of the reasons I love shopping at SAMS.

Reasons I love to shop at SAMS:
  • you can buy anything in there- literally. Now, I don't need everything in bulk size, but I love the fact that you can buy anything in there. I could wander for days. 
  • Saving time- since I have started shopping here, I don't have to spend time online making my list for Kroger, or picking it up. Since I am buying in bulk things last so much longer, and I don't need things every week.
  • Saving money- again, I buy everything in bulk so week to week I am buying different things and my grocery budget has been significantly lower than at Kroger
  • We eat three meals a day at home- and several snacks- for five people- four of which are boys- we need a lot of food!
  • We clean eat- SAMS is the perfect place to stock up on meat, veggies, and fruit. 
What I buy at SAMS: 
  •  fruit- every week- grapes, bananas, strawberries, blueberries- once a month (apples, oranges)
  • steam-able vegetable bags- these come 6 to a bag and will normally last a month. I buy broccoli, mixed veggies, green beans
  • Potatoes- sweet and regular- a whole bag will last us about 3 weeks
  • Rice
  • seasonings that we use a lot
  • Chicken
  • Turkey meat
  • Milk- only because the boys drink it and I just don't want to make two stops
  • eggs
  • Turkey bacon- their pack literally will last us about 3 months
  • boys snacks- chips for lunches, fruit snacks, animal crackers, granola bars, pop-tarts, cookie packs, goldfish, popcorn, yogurt tubes
  • bottle water
  • juice boxes
  • coffee 
  • protein bars- I have to buy these every week, and they aren't a real great savings, but saves me from going to Walmart
  • bread- two loaves will last me two weeks (for now, boys only eat one slice of bread sandwiches)
  • frozen chicken nuggets for the boys
  • pull-ups
  • diapers
  • wipes
  • shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotions, etc. 
Really EVERYTHING! At first, I was just buying some things at SAMS and making a separate trip to Kroger. Every week that I go, I find something that I can buy there and save a trip to Kroger. I love things lasting several weeks at a time (or longer), and my grocery budget staying where it should. We budget $250 per week for groceries for 5 people and I normally stay in that with a trip to SAMS, and whatever odds and ends may come up during the week. Start shopping at SAMS!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Advocare story

I know that there are so many products out there these days, and we have tried a few different ones. I wanted to share our AdvoCare story, and why we chose these products.

Last spring, a friend offered me some Spark. I was teaching full time, coaching basketball, and had two 1 year olds and a newly 4 year old. I was exhausted. All day. Everyday. I tried it, liked it, but just wasn't really ready to spend the money on something. She contacted me a few times of the year, and I always just pushed it off. Finally, around Christmas, we decided we had to do something to get our health and weight back under control. Being pregnant twice in two years and one of those with two babies is not good on the weight!

So anyway, on January 2nd we decided to Jump All-in and do the 24 day challenge. It is 10 days of a herbal cleanse, and then 14 days of vitamin packed nutrients. It comes with a meal plan, shopping list, schedule of when to take everything, and a lot of support. I was very uncomfortable for about the first 7 days as I tried to wean my body off sugar. After about a week, I felt great! If you are looking to trim down, this is by far the best way to get a jump start on that!

Some of our favorite AdvoCare products:
-Spark- this is a supplement that we use to enhance energy and mental focus. If you are a mom, it is amazing! A lot of people drink theirs (you just mix in water) in the morning, but I prefer about mid-day, because it really helps me have a productive afternoon.
-Meal Replacement Shake- these seriously are so yummy! We take a muscle gain supplement as well that doesn't taste so great, but these really are tasty. I use these on mornings when I need to hurry the kids out to school, or a lot on Sunday morning because we seem to be late a lot! I also mix a weekly fiber pack right in and you can't taste it.
-Catalyst- this supplement helps build lean muscle- I can already tell a difference in about 2 weeks of taking this regularly. We love it!
-Thermoplus- helps burn off extra fat, but maintain muscle- great with catalyst!
-Rehydrate- love chugging one of these after a run on the treadmill, I can recover much faster replacing those electrolytes with this instead of water

Some suggestions of things to take to get started:
-Catalyst, thermoplus, and slim (like spark but with added appetite control) would be a great bundle
-24 day challenge!

I can't even brag on these products enough, and how I (and hubs) feel after getting on product. It has made such a different in our daily lives as we try to be better and live healthier.

Added bonus to our success so far, clean eating and exercise. More on those tips to come in the future.

If you want to try any of these, I would love to help out!

Below is a picture my before and after on the 24 Day Challenge: (I have dropped from 192-175 since deciding to make a healthier lifestyle change!)

Next on the blog:  shopping at Sams!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Homeschool Preschool

Anders, who is almost 5, will be going to Kindergarten in August. Him and I have had two full school years home together since he was born. One of those years he was 2, and this year he was 4. The other years I was working as a Kindergarten or 2nd grade teacher. This year, I knew we really had to step up what we were doing, or he would be way behind going into Kindergarten. He still isn't completely where I want him to be, but we have until August!

The year he was 2 and we were home together, we did very basic things. We watched educational YouTube videos, played with shaving cream, put his name in magnet letters on the fridge, learned our colors and basic shapes. I have two 2 year olds at home this year, and I don't even do all of that with them. They are learning those things through books we read, watching him, talking to them, and MDO. I have a feeling they will get by much easier. One of my younger ones is a sponge. He remembers everything I read to him, and he can mimic several books we read. My other two (Anders' included) need a lot of reinforcement. Which is ok!

So coming into our Preschool Homeschool year, Anders' did not know anything past basic shapes and colors. He didn't know the letters in his name, or how to write them. He could count to 10, but could not identify any of the numbers. Now I can't take full credit for how far he has come this year, because he has an amazing teacher at preschool two days a week that has done a great job catching him up.

If you are a stay at home mom, this is what we have used as a model this year to catch him up and get him ready. If you work outside the home, I imagine, your child is getting these things at preschool, and I wouldn't suggest much more at home. Burnout is a real thing.

Our morning schedule looks something like this:
6:30- he gets up and picks a show before his brothers get up so I can finish my Bible study, coffee, shower, etc.
7:00- breakfast for everyone
8:00- get dressed and head downstairs where our "school" supplies are
8:15-9:00- Homeschool time- sometimes it is MUCH shorter- or this morning when he had to write his name on his Valentines but wanted to tell me a story about each person in his class. I eventually had to implement a no talking policy so we could finish!

Language- we always start with a language activity. At first it was simply copying his name, and now it has evolved into missed first constant of words. We have used: markers, stamps, letter cards, large paper, crayons, colored paper, magnet letters, white boards, and regular writing paper. We used letter flash cards everyday until he learned those. I hold up the letter card and say "M, mmm, mouse" and he repeats. I also have a few Dr. Jean CD's that we listen to in the car. Name writing and letter practice were everyday until he mastered those about 5 months in.

Math- I keep it very simple. We count calendar days, we count orally, we skip count, we count objects, we pair objects to a number, we trace numbers, we write numbers, and we sing about counting. He can count to 100, count to 100 by 10s, and recognize numbers 0-10 mostly just from oral work. We are still working on writing numbers. He is a lefty, and writing things is not easy for him (or me!)

Bible- We use our Bible time to practice books of the Bible, memory work, or write notes or cards to those who may need them

Now, what to do if your preschooler doesn't want to do any work at home. Believe me, at first, it was maybe 5 minutes. But overtime, he started to enjoy some of the fun activities I would incorporate into his learning, and he didn't mind sitting to do it. At first, I would let him pick a game to play after he worked, and I would play that with him.

Another thing, I always try and do is stay on top of whatever they are doing at school. If I see work come home, I make sure we cover that to some degree. They are learning about a sight word every week at his preschool. I tape the ones for the month on his bathroom mirror and he says them when he brushes his teeth, and then I put them with his school work after the month, and we say them each everyday. He knows all but about 5 doing that. We are working on recognizing them in print not just on the card.

If you are struggling for ideas, pinterest, and teacher pay teacher are my go to's. I also love the big Kindergarten workbooks you can buy at Walmart that cover a lot of different subjects, and they can work right in those. No pages to print!

Main thing to remember, they will learn SO MUCH in Kindergarten. Really! I had students who couldn't write their name when they came in, and they were beginning to read as they left. Their little brains need time to develop. If your child is pushing back, they aren't ready. Once Anders' was ready, he took off. Same with most "milestone" things for your child, if you let them take the lead when they are ready, they will soar.

I am excited to see how Anders' does in Kindergarten, and I am excited to watch all three boys develop and grow over the years as learners of all things!!

(Picture below is our setup for learning)

Next up on the blog... my favorite Advocare products and why we use them!

Thursday, February 2, 2017


I'll start this post with stating, I LOVED some of our nurses during our almost 3 week stay in the NICU with the twins. There are several things about the NICU I didn't love..

Let's start at the beginning..

On Wednesday October 29th 2014, the boys were a month from their due date. I however, was already having contractions and had been for a few days. My OB let me know it would be sooner rather than later. I was 35 weeks pregnant. Needed to get to 37, but just figured that wasn't happening. I took Anders (then 2) to the library for story time. He acted a fool and I ended up having to wrestle him back to the car. 35 weeks pregnant with twins. I got home, called the doctor. He told me to rest until evening and come in if the contractions didn't improve. At about 5:30 my mom came to take Anders to Trunk or Treat and Garrett and I went to the hospital. I was definitely in active labor. I had a c-section at about 8:00pm. (My whole break down a c-section for another blog). The twins were born at 7:59 (Garron- 5.11oz) and 8:01 (William- 6.4oz). Big babies! They both looked good, and I held them for a few minutes. Due to them being 35 weeks, they NICU team needed to take them up to the regular nursery for a few tests. They took me to recovery. The NICU doctor (with the worst bedside manner) came in about an hour later to let me know Garron needed to head upstairs to the NICU floor because he had fluid on his lungs. I kissed him, and sent him off. I didn't see him until the next morning. William stayed with me, and we went to sleep pretty soon after.

The next morning, we sent William to well nursery and headed up to see Garron. I couldn't walk really yet so Garrett wheeled me up. Garron was in a regular infant bed with oxygen, but his nurse (whom I loved) assured me he was doing great. He got his oxygen off a few hours later. I tried to nurse him, and fed him a few drops of colostrum through a syringe. I went back and forth from Garron to William a few times that day.

The next day, they came to get William for his circumcision. He couldn't hold up his body temperature, so up to the NICU he went. This was hard, but actually made life a little easier for them to be in one location. I sent Garrett off to work a football game, and I slowly (like 25 minutes) walked up to the NICU floor to feed the boys. I was pumping in the room, nursing what they would, and feeding with a bottle. When I got upstairs, the boys had been moved to a room with about 15 babies. It was insane!! There was beeping, crying, all kinds of chaos. I sat down to feed William and he turned blue. The nurse that night came over and readjusted his head and he was back to normal. I however, cried for about 5 straight hours. I tried to feed Garron next, he didn't want any part of eating. The nurse let me know that they would either have to eat formula from a bottle, or get a feeding tube. They were like 48 hours old, why couldn't I nurse them. Meanwhile, still crying.

I called the NICU the next morning at like 5:00am, and asked that the boys please be moved. I could not go back to that room. So the same lovely nurse from day one moved them to a room with only 5 babies. Hallelujah! They held steady for that day. Feeding, breathing, all was well. The next day they were put under the head lamp for jaundice, and we had to go home. They had been there for 5 days.

The next two weeks was back and forth everyday. They were really struggling remembering to breathe. They would have spells, turn blue, monitors beeping, nurses running, madness for two weeks. I was still nursing, taking milk, and calling around the clock. I was so thankful for nurses who answered all my questions, held my babies, gave them baths, let me nurse them, etc.

After 17 days, William had gone 5 days without a spell and he was able to come home. Before he could come home, we had to spend the night at the hospital. This drove me crazy. I have another baby at home, not my first go around, and I know how to take care of a baby. Anyway, during that night, a nurse insisted on Garron drinking from a bottle a certain amount gave him too much, he choked, couldn't breathe, etc. I let the doctor know the next morning how I felt about that. Finally, the next day Garron also got to come home.

Things I think the NICU could improve on:
- Unless your baby is extremely ill, there isn't room to stay for very long periods of time. I had one chair, crammed in a room and barely room to get around. Not ideal for visiting two babies everyday.
- The strict visitor policy. I understand that some babies are sick, but mine weren't and they had family that wanted to meet them. It would have helped for someone other than me to always been there trying to hold two babies
- No one really appreciated me trying to nurse. They dealt with, but they still thought the boys needed to be eating from a bottle. Had I brought them home full term at 6.4oz, no one would be constantly judging my nursing.

Things I loved about the NICU:
- They kept my tiny humans alive
- They had conversations with me that weren't about my babies- just normal real conversations
- They rocked them, held them, fed them, dressed them, and loved them. I'll be forever grateful for that.

If we ever have a 4th, I am holding that baby in as long as I possibly can!!

Next up on the blog... "homeschool" preschool ideas