Christmas Giving Experience

Hubby and I decided earlier in the day, we would stop for pizza on the way home from taking our kids to see the musical Annie at our local college theatre as we knew we were low on meals at home and we have been doing well on our dining out challenge.  He called the pizza in on the way home and so it would only be a couple of minutes of the kids and I sitting in the car while he ran in.  Not even a minute after he ran in, a woman approached my car motioning for me to roll down my window.  I was cautious but

Elves on the Shelves

It's that time of year again!  The weekend after Thanksgiving, marks the end of fall decor and the beginning of festive holiday lights, greenery with red bows, Christmas songs constantly playing through my head and of course with all this merriment comes two special little elves; Feedo and Play-doh.  My eight year old is super excited as he has been participating in the arrival of his special elf friend for the past four years.  He knows the routine quite well and is eager to share all he knows with his three year old brother.

Three nights ago, they arrived both sitting upon our mantel along with elf pajamas for each boy.  Yesterday morning

Dining Out Less Challenge- Half Ways There!

When I started this challenge, I knew it would be difficult and I was right!  We have made it half ways through and so far so good although I will 'fess up and tell you that we have eaten at Wendy's for a quick lunch before my son's dek hockey game one day and yesterday my husband gave me five hours kid free to Christmas shop and I stopped at Subway's for a quick wrap.  But no expensive dinners and it has been hard to do!  So many times I haven't wanted to cook and

Dining Out Less Challenge

Ever notice how money becomes harder to come by during the holiday season?  It certainly does for us and there is still so much to manage as far as gifts for the kids, holiday meals, special holiday events and community service.  Of course, now that we are paying a very hefty fee for propane and oil each month, otherwise known as the "monthly budget plan" which isn't very budget friendly at all as it's the size of a car payment.  Not to mention my older son and husband are great skiers and they get ski passes winter. 

Time to start trimming the fat, cutting corners, something has to give right? But what...?   I looked at our monthly bills and was able to cut down my phone plan by $20.00 a month.  Okay, so what else?  Looking through what we spend money on, the big thing that jumps out at me is eating out.  $18.00 for eating at Panera for lunch;  $60 for dinner and drinks for 4 including tip at Chili's.   $22.00 for pizza and chicken wings;  And this is in the course of a week's time!  So I tell my husband, we need to quit eating out!  I challenge us to stop eating out for the thirty days.  No eating a meal out of the house until Dec 14th.  He replies that I need to plan out our dinners out better to do that.  I know, I know!  It's a huge personal challenge for me.  Taking the time to plan out each meal and then find the energy to cook and eat what I planned.  Sounds easy, but some nights I'm just not in the mood to cook, you know?

The exceptions to our challenge are the occasional Dunkin Donuts coffee and hubby can eat out if his work is picking up the tab. 

I will be posting weekly to let you know how we did and what we ate.  As I type this, it has been six days and I'm beginning to cave as we get closer to the weekend and we are eating through our planned out snacks/meals.  We can do this! 

Who wants to take this challenge with me?


A Different Kind Of Building Toy

Wooden planks, all the same size, hundreds of them in one box.  The first instinct is to start stacking them up.  On closer inspection, you will realize that you can do more than just stack them up.  Turn them sideways to make higher towers and ramps.  Create parallel tracks to zoom a little plastic ball down, put walls around your tracks and how about a couple of planks across the top of the walls to create a roof?

These are KEVA Planks by MindWare.

I have tried them a few times at different hands-on children's museums we have visited and have always thought what a great idea!  Easy to create, fosters imaginary play, teaches patience.   The feeling of accomplishment for you and your youngster when he/she shouts "Look what I made!"  

I bought the 200 plank Contraptions set for my eight year old's birthday.  There are many different KEVA sets.  It is the two plastic balls included in Contraptions which sets it apart from other MindWare plank sets.  He was super excited looking through the full colored book showing photographs of the different tracks he could create.  His three year old younger brother also very interested.  The three of us just awoken from sleep, sat on the floor excited with the anticipation of playing with something novel and interesting. 

Following along the instructions booklet, we began our exploring, planning and building.  My eight year old copied what I created and my three year old helped by laying down more tracks.  

We easily passed an hour happily experimenting with many different structures and ramps.

Since that one morning over two weeks ago, my older son has created much bigger and better ramps for himself and his brother to roll a ball downward.   And since that morning, I have been researching other MindWare KEVA sets to decide which we will be adding to our collection on Christmas morning. 


Craft - Making Boats For Puddles

When God sends you rain....    you make boats and go out and play!

Red plastic Solo cups, posicle stick cut in half, carboard and a hot glue gun!

Finding a good spot to launch his boat.  

Both my boys loved this simple and fun activity.  And of course, later they got to splash in the puddles. 

Summer Frustration

I pictured the summer being busy mornings where we would all eat, get dressed for the day, chores and school work completed and then knowing we had the whole day ahead of us to do something fun and adventurous or stay home and do something creative.   Spend time reading books together, visiting museums and letting the kids run around at the nearest playground.  

WAKE UP!  Is what I yell to myself because the reality of summer is here and it’s not what I have pictured.  Many mornings it’s my 7 year old up before 5 AM, asking why no one else is awake and we need to shoo him away to go play something on his own.  Of course, now that I have been talked to I am awake and not going back to sleep so I lay there trying hard to relax but my 7 year old takes it upon himself to sing ‘Let It Go” at the top of his lungs while he plays.   

By 6:30 we are all up and awake and the chaos of getting breakfast starts.  Each child wants something different to only be met with ‘I want what so and so has!’ while I placing their food at the table  (*sigh* - of course you do).    The dog is whining at passing joggers out the window, crying to chase the chipmunk at our bird feeder and following me around hoping I drop some food on the ground. 

While I’m dealing with the dog, and making my morning shake and/or coffee or just picking up, I peek in the eating area and see yogurt being smeared all over the table with messy fingers and both are laughing as the other throws blueberries across the table.   “Stop playing with your food” is something that is said quite often in this household!   

They both leave the table in total disarray.  Silverware and yogurt all over the chairs and table, smooshed blueberries by my feet and now they are tumbling, yes tumbling on the couch.  One is screaming ‘Stop it” at the top of his lungs and the other is yelling ‘No you stop it’.   “Stop jumping on the couch”  is something that I also say quite often in this household!

They settle down for a minute while I’m clearing plates.   Then it starts again, the 3 year old is rolling on the 7 year old.  The 7 year old is putting his face a half an inch from the 3 year old’s face and saying nonsense words.  They are both screaming and whining again!   “Guys, go upstairs and get dressed for the day” is met with boys that tell me they are playing or watching TV and I have to tell them again it’s time to get ready for the day.   I leave for a moment and come back to big brother picking up little brother and spinning him around  while big brother laughs and 3 year old, isn’t sure if he should be laughing or protesting.   They are dizzy and falling over and when I protest, my 7 year old informs me that little brother loves it.  “NO!  Please go upstairs and get dressed!”   

And they do and it’s now only an hour into our day but I am exhausted and just want to sit in a corner and cry with frustration!    But I put on my smile and I psych myself up for a better day.  I am very lucky to be able to stay home with them - this I appreciate very much so but there are just days when I wonder how I am to get through it.  

And as I type this, am I sitting by myself you ask?  Oh no!  They are at the kitchen table, eating sugar free cookies, rolling a watermelon rind back and forth over the table and on the floor.  Each time it hits the floor, they look at me just waiting for my disapproval.  I don't say a word but threaten to take things away if it is not cleaned up within 5 minutes.  They do it and now it's time to move on to the next thing.   I am trying to keep it together!

How is your summer going?  


So Much For Mind, Body, Soul Time

I read many different parenting books.  They all pretty much have the same idea about kid's behavior and I find that when I am actually reading the book, I am able to implement some of the strategies; however most of the parenting books I've read insist you read the whole book and then go back and try what they say. (Like I have time for that!  I need an answer and/or help right now!)   Recently, I came across a book by Amy McCready called "If I Have To Tell You One More Time... The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids To Listen Without Nagging, Reminding, or Yelling".   I downloaded the sample to my Kindle and began reading with interest.   One of the things, McCready suggests is to start implementing her tools right away.  (Great!)   One every couple of days.  (Even better!)  I purchased the book to start reading. 

After reading the first "tool" in the book "If I have to say it again…"  I decided to try the Mind, Body, Soul time with Dylan while Tyler napped.  I sat on the couch next to Dylan and explained that now that Tyler was sleeping, he and I could have some time to do whatever he wanted just him and I.  He originally asked me with not much enthusiam to play Xbox.  I said 'Yes but is this what you really want to do with just Mommy & Dylan time?"  He thought about it and replied "No I really want to play Legos with you!"  (Great!)  

We sat on his floor and began digging through his container of legos.  He declared he was going to make a pull back motor car and that we need a garage for it.  I told him I would make the garage.  It was peaceful and fun for about five minutes.  (sigh)  He finished his car and then started telling me how I should make the garage since apparently I wasn't making it like he would make it.  Well, I successfully entered the "child phase" as the book called it because I became upset that he wanted to change what I was working on when I wasn't even done with it yet. I gave in and let him do what he wanted.  He ripped down half a wall and added a window explaining to me the whole time on what I was doing wrong.  Apparently, a week at Lego camp and now he is an expert.   I replied that I thought he should allow me to make it my way since that is what we originally agreed and he could make suggestions but that ultimately it would be decision.  He replied, "Fine!" and threw the lego that was in his hand back into the box with much force.  

Okay then.  

Needless to say, lego time together ended after about 10 minutes of quiet play and 10 minutes of disagreement.  

This was actually a staged mean look for fun but its pretty much how he looks in a tantrum.

I headed back to the book and found out it says to only do ten minutes at a time and to set a timer.  I will definitely do that because if we did end it at the ten minute mark, he probably wouldn't be having the tantrum he is having right now!  Perhaps, I should have read the entire book first.  I can't win!  


Outside Chalk Fun!

We moved about five months ago and now that it has been warm and sunny out, we are getting out a lot more around our new yard.  We have a fantastic smooth asphalt driveway that has been perfect for the kids to draw and play on with chalk.  Here are some of the things we've been doing as well as more ideas that we will trying out soon!

Shapes:  Draw a bunch of different shapes such as square, rectangle, triangle, crescent, heart and ask your child if they can jump in whichever shape you are requesting them to jump into.

  Other variations:  

  • Can he/she name the shapes as they jump into them?  
  • Can he/she count the number of sides of each shape?
  • Make a 'ladder' for them to run or jump up and then jump down.
  • Can he/she jump into the shape on one foot? 

Letters:  Draw the letters of the alphabet from A to Z either in a grid or create blocks or 'stepping stones' with a letter in each one.   Can your child go through the entire alphabet jumping on each letter?

  Other variations:  

  • How about going through the alphabet backwards? 
  • Can he/she jump on the letters in their name?  
  • How about creating numbers instead of letters and having them jump from 1 to 20?


Roads:  Draw roads for your kids to race their cars down.  Use cars that rev up and go if you don't have a sloped driveway or area to use.  My boys loved doing this.  They used many different cars and had a great time creating their own roads and exploring which car went the best in their opinion down the driveway.


Happy First Day of Spring!

I love the season of Spring!  Budding flowers and trees, green grass, birds singing, more sunlight.  Perhaps something like this beautiful Wren gathering nesting material which means warm weather is soon on it's way.

*Photo taken from Birds & Bloom magazine

Truth be told, I look out my window and I see ice melting from the trees and banks of snow no longer white but black and brown with sand and mud thrown upon it when a car races down the street.  Here in Massachusetts,  March and April are more likely to be called mud season than the glorious warm thoughts I have about what a spring season should be like.  But it will come in time, ever so slowly, the bulbs underneath the frozen soil are starting to thaw out.  Miniature tree buds will slowly breathe life again.  The ice and snow will melt.  I won't have to worry about sliding down my sloped driveway when I try to get in my car in the mornings.  Today will feel like spring with the temperature reaching high 50s, only to be doused with a cold shower of reality as another snow storm moves in next week.   That is how we ride the weather roller coaster in New England.   Roll down your window and enjoy as next week we will be shoveling the 'white stuff' again!



I need to share this great idea with you all!  Have you heard about GrooveBook?  I heard about it while watching ABC's TV Series 'Shark Tank'.

If you have a smart phone, chances are, you have many pictures stored on your phone.  Perhaps, like me you transfer them to your home computer for that day that you will finally sit down and put together some family albums or at least that is what you hope to do someday! I'm still working on a baby book for my 7 year old, you know with all that 'free time' I had thought I would have.

So check this out! There is now a way to not only print out your photos but to group them together in an album and be able to easily take them out if you do want to display the photos.    Get your smart phone and download the Groovebook app for either your iPhone or Android.  Upload between 40 to 100 photos directly from your smart phone.  Enter in your credit information and in 10 to 14 days, you will have a book with your 100 4x6"photos bound together in a little book.  And they easily tear out as the pages are all perforated!

Want to print out a 100 4x6 photos at your local drug store such as CVS?  We are talking $0.19 a picture which comes out to about $19.00.  And then after you have the 100 photos, how do you store them?  Throw them in a shoebox?

With GrooveBook it costs $2.99 a month which includes shipping and handling and as mentioned above they are all bound together.  I printed out a book with 100 of my favorite pictures from the summer of 2013.

Want to try a book for FREE?  Enter in promo code:  GAUDREAU25    You will still need to enter in your credit info but should not be charged for the first book.   Check it out and let me know how much you love it!


Being an Awesome Mom

The Top 10 Countdown to Being an Awesome Mom*

10.  Remember, he’s a boy, not a girl.

 9.  I know he’s adorable, but he needs to be held accountable.

 8.  Don’t always pay attention to how he looks; pay more attention to his heart.

 7.  How you handle his failures is more important than how you handle his victories.

 6.  No two children in a family should be treated the same, because they’re not the same-including your boy. 

 5.  Remember that your boy will only stay weird for about 15 years.

 4. He’s the wavy line-all over the place.  You need to be the consistent one.

 3.  Start with the end in mind.  Who do you want your son to be?

 2.  You don’t get to relive moments.  Make every day count!

 1.  Many have tried, and no one’s succeeded—you can’t do it all.  But what you do will make a lasting difference in the life of your son.  

*Taken from Dr.  Kevin Leman