Monday, March 23, 2015

Ebb and Flow of the Work at Home Mom

Just over a year and a half ago I wrote about the ebb and flow of our schedule.  We are in flux again, and this time it is much more stressful. After a minor mental breakdown over the weekend and break-through I think we are going to be okay.

So instead of showing you my "Facebook Happy Life" I am going to keep it real.

I am sure I don't have to tell you this.

LIVE IS HARD. Life as a Work At Home Mom is HARD.

Our reality.
1. Our 3 year old is out growing naps. Goes from full gear to crashed in the matter of nanoseconds. He wants to nap from 330 to 5 and be up until 1030 pm. Our 5 year old can make it until 7 without a nap then she goes into full meltdown mode.

The struggles with this

-- if I let them stay up they are a little unbearable the whole time they get to spend time with Daddy during the week. Then he doesn't get to spend all that much time with them after work.
-- if I force them to nap bedtime needs to be pushed back and I am worn out by the time 730 rolls around. (It literally is forcing them to nap. Threats of lost toys and lost playtime. Yeah, it's bad.)
-- I work during nap. This is when I get the most done. It is my laser focus time. ... for the last 2 to 3 weeks it has been discipline every 15 minutes and I have gotten nothing done.

2. I have been sleep deprived for 4 years now. -- but Little Miss is 5 ... yeahp. She was a great sleeper. She slept through the night by 4 months. She took naps great, and for the most part still does. HOWEVER she tosses and turns like she is sleeping in a darn washing machine! Her blankets end up who knows where, she can't find them to cover herself up when she gets cold at 3 am. So what does she do ... Mommy, can you help me? Listen to crying or just get up and do it? Ongoing discussion in my house. Then there is Little Mister. At the same time when Little Miss is getting cold so is Little Mr. instead of asking for help he is coming over with blanket and stuffies in tow to sleep with Mama.

The struggles of this

-- when is Mama supposed to get rest and recover from a full day of being Mama?
-- of course Mama has been trying to get work accomplished so she has been staying up late. When this insanity starts at 3 am I have maybe gotten 2 to 3 hours of sleep.

3. The job front is not as secure as one would like. That just adds a whole different level of anxiety. Is it ever going to end? Is it ever going to stop raining?

So I say again. Life is hard.

I went looking for some answers.

I went to church and walked out feeling so beaten up spiritually. Here is the funny thing - that is not AT ALL what the message was even about. I left church wondering if the love of Jesus was in my heart of just plain hatred. I didn't go home (Hubs knew I was going to take some alone time before I even went to church). I started venting - in the form of a blog post that will now, never see the light of day.

That is when I had a breakthrough.

The biggest thing I realized is that my schedule, my work time and non-work time needed to be revamped. The second biggest thing I realized is that I had to stop playing and delete Farmville2. It was doing nothing but causing anxiety and taking time away from important things -- like my kids. I realized that the enemy was using my attempt to get time in The Word against me. I was having thoughts like "It is not okay to read just 1 chapter a day -- if you can't read more you should read it at all." and "listening to The Word be read to you is not the same as reading it yourself -- you aren't even paying attention to it."

I realized that without changes my life would continue to spin out of control and fall apart.

Changes I am going to make - mainly I am going to go back to things that worked before.

1. I feel better when I go to bed, lights off by 10:30.
2. Life is better when I get quiet time in the morning. BEFORE everyone gets up.
3. I am going to find ways to adjust our schedule and keep the kids happy busy when I need to be working.
4. I am setting work hours and non - work hours.

I will keep you posted on how things are going.

Feel free to leave your work at home tips in the comments.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Review: Against the Grain by Nancy Cain

What happens when you are a mom known for your homemade pizza Friday nights and your son is diagnosed with celiac disease? You realize that gluten is in everything! You head out on a mission to find a way to make pizza. This is exactly what happened to Nancy Cain, owner of Against the Grain Gourmet and author of "Against the Grain."

The introduction to "Against the Grain" tells the Cain family story that lead them to creating a gluten free baking company. She then explains the fundamentals of gluten free baking and why gums are not necessary. In the fundamentals you find out so many things about the importance of the pans (much more important in gluten free baking than standard baking) and the essential items for a gluten free pantry.  

I had wanted to experiment with gluten free baking in November since I was tired of the constant stomach aches. I had gluten free pizza at a friends house and it was the first time in a long time I was not in pain 15 minutes after eating. I purchased a gluten free flour mixture, gluten free bread mix and xantham gum. I had made the bread and that was nice to be able to eat a sandwich. I had cut it out for the most part in bread and pasta for a week. I realized that I am sensitive to gluten - I can eat some, but when I hit a limit I then get 'sick' again. 

When I saw this cookbook available to review at Blogging for Books I jumped at the chance. I had experience with a few gluten free mixes and although it was nice not having stomach issues after eating, the texture of the foods left much to be desired. After the introductory pages I found myself leafing through the recipes. I found things that I was SO excited to try. I had The Hickmans pick out things to try and I added the items to my grocery list. 

Now I typically get everything I can at Aldi and Dollar Tree. This is how I feed us typically for around $75 for a week.  Knowing I was going to be trying out some new recipes I added $25 to our budget for this week. I also knew I was going to have to head out to some other stores. I found most of what I needed at Kroger. I think I would have found it all, but they were out of the Buckwheat flour. I got all the extra I needed (except the Buckwheat flour) for 17. The coconut flour and coconut milk were on sale, it would have been 20 without the sale.

I found a recipe for pancakes and instead of the flours suggested I just used the flour mix I had. They turned out. They were good, but not great. I knew it was because I didn't follow the recipe exactly I used different flours. I read the introductory pages, I understood that different flours need different hydration levels. I knew not using the exact flours listed would make a difference. 

So with the next recipe I followed it, to the letter. We are trying the little Hickmans pick. Tater Donuts. Gather your supplies and helpers.

Follow the directions and get this scrambled egg looking dough. Be fearful that it is going to taste like fried eggs and potatoes, but keep going and trust the process.  

Taste the donuts with a little hesitation ... the whole fear of fried eggs and potatoes. Then realize that your fears are -- once again -- unwarranted. 

These are delicious! 

I called my dad (a chef).

D: "Hello."
M: "Dad, I may never buy donuts again. These are as if french crawlers and cake donuts had a love child."
D: Laughs at me.

Then I text the husband.

"Oh my these are a little bite straight from heaven. As if it is a tantalizing dance just for my mouth. Seriously, you might not get any!"

The kids are crazy and didn't like them. These are very airy and they like a dense cake donuts, so that makes sense to me. 

There is something else that I just love about this cookbook. With each recipe there is a little story, reason behind the recipe, or tip to make the recipe even better. I love aspect. 

I had mentioned it earlier, but I want it to be known. I was given this book in exchange for a review. At no point was I asked to give a positive review and all the opinions are 100% my own. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tell Me About It Tuesday: Freebies!

As many of you may or may not know - I was a social worker, turned preschool business owner, turned teacher, turned at home mom. Some days I just "stay-home" and do all the fun stuff - play, errands, parent. Other days I "work-at-home" - I run a Teachers Pay Teachers Store. I also homeschool my two for preschool. 
Clip Art: Edu-Clips // Background: Ashley Hughes

Of course I love to test out my own creations, but then you get sick for an entire month and you are able to rely on other teachers creations.  Here are some of the Spring and Easter freebies I am looking forward to using with Little Miss and Little Mister.

Yeehaw Teaching in Texas
You hide pictures in eggs and they will match the egg to the answer sheet provided. They will color the eggs on the answer sheet to match the color egg they found the picture in.

Miss Mittereder

The flip flops come in two sizes and it comes with a worksheet. We will make a game or two with this resource. The worksheet will come in handy when I have to give Little Miss her own things to do to keep them separated and occupied.

Wild About Teaching

We do this activity different ways all the time. Around Fourth of July we did this with M&M's. At Valentine's we did this with conversation hearts. My two love these activities. I am looking forward to the added aspect of sorting into the circles first with this activity.

A Special Kind of Class
Matching games are LOVED in our house. How cute are those bees?!? When this is printed out the kids will match the noun on the hive with the noun on the bee.

Last year I made these color by number grids.  I am looking forward to using them again this year. 

Sara Hickman

10 Things ...

Yep, I had a birthday - and I didn’t do much about it on the blog. I think most of you would make a better stink about it than my extended family did.

1. My daddy is always the second person to tell me happy birthday. Hubs has him beat every year (now). If I am not called by 10am on my birthday I am worried about him.

2. My all time favorite cheeseburger comes from “The Works” in Loveland, Ohio.

3. The dessert pizza there is AMAZING!

(I decided my birthday present this year was doing NO kitchen work of any kind - and no house cleaning. Went to a restaurant for it all instead of meal then dessert.)

4. I have learned that I may never actually sleep through the night, ever again.

5. I have tons of friends that like to use Facebook to wish you a happy birthday. Which I love people taking time to wish me a happy birthday.

6. I miss personal contact on your birthday. This is why we sent a video to our friend and babysitter on her birthday.

7. I really miss getting cards on my birthday now that my grandparents have passed.

8. My kids are going to be great gift givers - they already put their heart in their gifts they give. Even if it is just a colored picture from the coloring book.

9. I would rather spend my birthday with my Hickman Five than anyone else.

10. 37 will be better than 36 -- it has to be.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What's New Wednesday #9

What's New Wednesday is here again!

Here is something that is not new -- we are sick again. Round two for me, round one for hubs. It's just great!

With sicknesses and birthdays I haven't really finished anything new. I am working on some Robot stuff for Little Mister and updating Spring for Little Miss. I hope to have those all done soon.

We all are really looking forward to warmer weather where we can get outside and play.

Like you I have been looking around Pinterst for some fun things we can do.

How about this... Mud Paint ... Yummm ... YES! from Learn Play Imagine

Oh my word -- my two would just love this!

Snip Snip Snip Away with School Time Snippets.

Now it is your turn!  What have you been up to? Let us see it!

Remember: 1 Paid Product, 1 Free Product - your newest / latest product. try to not link something already linked to a What's New Wednesday.

Review: Complicated Creatures by Alexi Lawless

Yesterday I finished Complicated Creatures Part One by Alexi Lawless. I was making lunch for the kiddos and I found myself still thinking about the book and how it ended.

I have done much of my reading on my phone/tablet lately. My new PC version ... LOVE IT!
Next read will be paper and in my hands though.
Then I found myself thinking about things like ... this book would not be for everyone. I would not recommend this book to this person or that person. I remember one time I was talking about books I have read with a group of bible study ladies. One said, "I couldn't finish that Emily Griffin book - too much sex. Too descriptive."  If you feel that way about Emily Griffin books you need to run from this book. There are sex scenes. There is more than one. They are explicit. If you don't like books with harsh language. This book is not for you. There is frequent use of four letter words.

I have been reading a lot of Christian fiction lately. This is book in no way is Christian fiction. In fact the book description asks, "Over 50 Shades?"

Now -- if you are still interested - time to talk about this book.

The characters are Sam Wyatt and her team including Carey Nelson, Jack Roman and his "team" including Mitch and his brother Jamie. The story is set in Chicago with a lot of travel.

Sam and her team are all part of a Human Asset Protection team. They protect high profile people. They are all former military special agents of some kind or another. Sam was a naval negotiator, and she is a Texan. She is strong, sexy, and intriguing.

Jack and his 'team' are in real estate. Jack is the tall, dark and handsome Italian playboy.

Sam and Jack meet when she purchase the penthouse across from his in The Whitney (a building that Jack owns and restored). He has no clue that S. Wyatt that just bought the penthouse was a woman which begins the "who is this woman?" for Jack.

The story takes you through the blooming of their relationship. While keeping you at the edge of your seat as you go to all these intense places Sam and her team have to go.  Since she has a dangerous lifestyle Sam keeps relationships "fun" and doesn't make attachments. Jack falls for her hard and fast.

Jack just keeps loving her and he wears her down. She starts to get attached, she starts to fall in love.

To be honest in the middle of the book I was starting to think if it would take a turn that would make me want to read part two. I wasn't loving it. It was a good story, but it was just a romance with some excitement to give it a different flair.

Then a new client brings Sam's past right into her present. Protecting an ex-lover, her boyfriend's brother testing out technology in a violent area with her team there to also protect him. Then things take a turn and ... THE BOOK ENDS!

It ends without any conclusion to any of the stories. You are left asking what is going to happen to Jamie, Carey, Jack, and Sam. Who is this new guy and what happened when to make that happen? Talk about a cliff hanger! I felt like I was watching a season finale of a show and now I have to wait ... for how long??? When does Part Two come out?!?!?!

Would I recommend this book to my friends? Depends on the friend. I would warn them about the language and the explicit nature. Would I recommend this book to my mom? No - I know this is not something she would read, but I would totally pass it along to a few of my aunts who read "steamy romance novels" or even my sister.

Get your copy here:

Interested in more? You can connect with Alexi Lawless here. Join her mailing list and you get a Free Novella for a limited time.  Complicated Creatures 1.5!

I was contacted by the publishing company to review the book a while back. When I reached out (I was ready to review things again) I was told that the book was free on Amazon right now and I was more than welcome to review it. I was not compensated for my review in any way and the opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What's New Wednesday #8

I am in a bit of funk the last few weeks. I am sure it has to do with us all being sick at some point and time over the last three weeks and now Hubsy has caught it.

One would think that I wouldn't be in such a funk with my birthday on Saturday but I just can't shake it. I get this way when I am trying to get tons of stuff accomplished and not really focusing. I should take that as a sign I need to refocus.

Since I am in a funk and need some inspiration I have a different kind of post today.

I am currently developing a Robot Unit.

How cute is this little guy from Make Do Friend?

Or these adorable recycling bin collage robots from My Adventures in Positive Space.

I am sure my kiddos would have fun with both of these.  

So what is new with you?  Link up below and share it with us all! 

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