Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Tomorrow we celebrate our nation's birthday. For most, this means food, fun, and fireworks with loved ones. It's always been a special holiday for me, being so close to my birthday. It sometimes felt like a big party for me, with a great light show at the end. I loved laying under the stars and looking up at the night sky as it lit up with fantastic fireworks. I love that all of my boys are as mesmerized as I am by the sight of it. I still love to celebrate Independence Day, but July is a busy month now in our lives. In addition to my birthday, we now celebrate Noah's birthday, and our wedding anniversary in July. So, sometimes I don't get to take in the 4th quite as much as I'd like, but I'm going to try to do so this year. Hopefully the weather cooperates, so we'll get to take in another great fireworks show this year!

I decided to make a simple, but pretty banner this year for my fireplace, to help the house look more festive amongst all the dinosaur decorations currently set up for Noah's birthday parties! Haha! If you're also in need of some last minute decorations, you can download this PDF printable for free by clicking here! Just print on cardstock, trim the flags, and hang from some jute/yarn/ribbon. I attached my flags with mini clothespins, but you could also punch holes in them and thread the jute through the flags. A simple, beautiful way to bring the flag into your home for the holiday.

Happy Birthday, America!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Homemade Cajun Seasoning

I know I promised this ages ago, but I'm finally delivering, since I took pics while making a batch up the other night. ;) Here it is, our recipe for Cajun seasoning. I use this seasoning in sooooo many of my recipes. Anytime anything calls for Cajun, which for us is a good number of meals that we eat (i.e., Cajun Chicken Pasta, Cajun Stuffed Peppers, Crispy Shrimp pasta, Orange Dijon Pork Tacos, on grilled/blackened salmon, etc), I use this! It's simple, easy to make, and then you know exactly what's in it. :) It has the perfect balance of spice, with a hint of sweetness. Enjoy!


Cajun Seasoning

Ingredients:

  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper, ground

Directions:
Combine all of the spices in a small, airtight jar or container. Shake it up to ensure everything is mixed together well. Store in a cool, dry place.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Time for Change: Behavior Chart {free printable}

With summer quickly approaching, I knew that I needed to do something to help keep my boys in line. They tend to get a bit crazy when home all day with each other, day after day. This always leads to boredom, whining, fighting and my biggest pet peeve - not listening. Ugh. So, I found this behavior chart while scrolling through Instagram one day. Thanks, Lindsay! You can find many similar ideas on Pinterest, of course. This one has worked pretty well so far for us!

The boys start their day on GREEN (ready to listen). If they behave, and make good decisions, they move to BLUE (good choices). If they continue to do well throughout the day, they move to PURPLE (great job!). If they do something exceptional, then they move to PINK (special privilege).

From green, if they start having problems like not listening, fighting with each other, etc, then they move to YELLOW (warning!). If their behavior continues, they move to ORANGE (oh no! stop!), and finally to RED (consequence).

For us, special privilege includes things like using the iPad, extra reading time with Mom or Dad, a special treat while we're out, staying up a little later, etc. We let them choose what they want their privilege to be. Consequences include things like early bedtime, no TV/iPad, time out, etc. Instead of letting them pick their consequence, I pick. I try to have them line up with the behavior they were exhibiting, or something that works best for them (i.e., no iPad time for my oldest is torture).

To keep track of where each child is, I placed their name on a wooden clothespin. The pin moves on the chart throughout the day. I think the chart works because they can visually see where they are, even as young children, based on the faces. It works well for my oldest because he strives for perfection, and always wants to be "the best," so he wants to stay on blue, purple or pink as much as possible.

My oldest's kindergarten teacher uses a similar system at school for her students. It's a card system with green, yellow, orange, and red cards. When they do something they aren't supposed to (like not listening, talking when they are to be quiet, etc), they have to "pull a card." They all start on green and go from there to yellow, orange, then red. Parents have to sign a form if cards are pulled to acknowledge what their child did. Once my son pulled his first card, it was his last. So, I knew a similar system would work well for us at home, too. :) If they are able to stay on green for the entire month, they get to pick a prize from the box. More motivation. :)

I'm hoping the chart continues to work well for us throughout the summer. I may also be adding something like a "consequence jar," full of popsicle sticks with specific consequences on each one (color coded by child). Then they would pick a stick from the jar if they hit red on the chart. This takes the pressure off me to come up with a consequence that might set off another tantrum. They pick it, they do it.

Here is a copy of the chart. It's a 3-page PDF file. The file includes fields that you can fill in for your family name, and your child(ren)'s name(s). Just print on heavier paper, trim around the color part and tape the pieces together. You can hang it anywhere that's easy for the kids to see it! I hope it works for you, too! :)




Monday, March 16, 2015

Ethan is SIX!

Another year has passed, and the first little man to steal my heart is a big six-year-old now. Seriously, SIX years old! Where does the time go?!? We celebrated his birthday over a long span of time this year due to our big move happening in the midst of all of it. He wanted to have a party with his friends from school in Tennessee, so we had a party there about a month before his actual birthday, but before we would be moving. He decided he wanted to have it at a local gym where he had taken a gymnastics class over the summer. So, most of his classmates from school made it to celebrate with a fun Lego Movie-themed party. More about the parties in the next post!


The weekend before his birthday, the Seeley grandparents made their way to our new house in NC (more about that soon, too!) to celebrate with a small party. The weekend after his birthday, the Frank grandparents, Aunt Katie, Uncle Mike, and cousins Jacob, Hannah, Rachel & Lucas came to celebrate his big day. On his birthday, we had a small party for him with our little family and he opened his presents from us. He requested blueberry pancakes for his birthday dinner, so that's what we had! :) It's amusing that blueberry pancakes are what I made him for his 1st birthday dinner because he loved them so much at the time! I guess some things never change! ;)


I took Ethan to his new pediatrician last week for his 6-year well-check. Everything went great and he appears to be right on track with his peers. He gained just over 2.5 pounds over the past year to weigh in at 44.1 pounds (fully clothed), and grew almost 2 inches to measure up at 45.25 inches (without shoes). This puts him down to the 45th percentile for height and 40th percentile for weight. Looking at both figures, he's down to about the 40th percentile for height-to-weight ratio, with a BMI of 15.1. No shots this year, which made him a happy boy! He passed his hearing screen with no problem, but seemed to struggle a bit with his right eye on the vision exam. I'm still hoping he'll maintain Daddy's perfect vision, but I'm not very optimistic at this point. :/

Ethan has grown so much in the past year. Sometimes it's hard to remember that he is still just a kid! He seems so old one minute, then reminds me 
the next minute that he hasn't completely grown up on me. He is a fantastic helper around the house and continues to be a great big brother to Noah and Amos. He is a whiz on the iPad and enjoys playing games like Angry Birds Transformers and Sudoku. He is a big kindergartener this year and it's been awesome to see him excel at school as well. He loves math and science and has been doing a great job reading beginner books! He can spell fairly well, too, so I guess it's time for Daddy and I to stop spelling words we don't want the kids to hear! ;) Haha! With the move to our new state, he started a new school, which is set up differently than school was in TN. He seems to be adjusting well, but I think we're all still getting used to nightly homework!! He does an awesome job completing it with very little assistance and his new teacher said he is right up to par with his classmates, despite coming in to a new system and the common core philosophies. He has mostly adjusted to going to school all day this year (which meant no more naps!), though sometimes he would still doze off on our 30-minute car ride home in TN. He rides the bus home here in NC though, and is loving it. :) He's starting to make new friends and it appears that the move hasn't been too hard on him. He even commented the other day that he loves his new school even more than his old school! That was good to hear!

He has his Daddy's quick wit and direct nature. When asked by the speech therapist at his new school what he had been working on at his old school, Ethan informed her matter-of-factly that, "I'm tired of speech. I was working on 'r,' but I can say it just fine...carrrrrr!" LOL! That boy gets a twinkle in his eye, and you just know that something crazy is about to come next! :) He's ornery, yet sensitive, and looks out for others, especially his little brothers. He is also fiercely independent, prefers to have things his way, and is "always right," which can lead to conflict and butting of heads. I wonder where he gets that? ;) Overall, he's a pretty amazing little guy. Both Josh and I see a lot of ourselves in him and it's fun to discover new traits he possesses as he grows and matures.


I started asking this list of questions to Ethan a couple years ago, to see how they change over the years. Here are this year's questions and answers (if you can't read them in the pic):
  1. What is your favorite color? pink
  2. What is your favorite toy? little Legos
  3. What is your favorite fruit? clementines
  4. What is your favorite TV show/movie? Star Wars and Odd Squad
  5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? peanut butter and honey
  6. What is your favorite outfit? my Ninja turtle shirt with comfy pants
  7. What is your favorite game? Doggyland
  8. What is your favorite snack? blueberry yogurt-covered pretzels
  9. What is your favorite animal? Daisy and Lego
  10. What is your favorite song? Dynamite by Taio Cruz
  11. What is your favorite book? Knock, Knock! Who's There?
  12. Who is your best friend? Carter and Jonah (in Tennessee) and Easton (in North Carolina)
  13. What is your favorite cereal? Fruit Loops
  14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? climb on the firepole
  15. What is your favorite drink? vanilla milk and sweet tea
  16. What is your favorite holiday? Halloween
  17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? fake doggy
  18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? blueberry pancakes
  19. What is your favorite dinner? tomato soup
  20. What do you want to be when you grow up? an "army," cowboy, or singer

As our firstborn, Ethan still continues to keep us on our toes, teach us about kids and how to be parents. He amazes us daily with the things that he says and does and we look forward to what this year will bring with it. Happy 6th birthday, Ethan. We love you!