• Efficiency,  Uncategorized

    How to get kids to ask to clean up

    We were getting ready to go on a trip and I like the house to be tidy for two reasons.  1. I feel better 2. We don’t leave something behind and learn about it 100 mile into the trip when Fiona decides to have a tantrum about where her sequin flip bracelet has gone.


    So one area that I try to leave alone is the kids playroom.  We attempt to clean it once a week so that we can dust/vacuum but basically it’s how they want to keep it.  They love when there is wide open space to run around in so that is something that I have tried to use to coerce them in cleaning by explaining that they’ll have a fun, open room.  They love to make things out of recycled boxes etc. The room was overtaken by all of this stuff so we went to the container store one day and organized the heck out of the room. It is not perfect and some days isn’t even photo worthy but what I like about what we did is that is it functional.  We are able to clean up and make it look organized but still fun and lived in very quickly now that we organized it.  I knew that we were going to have a fight on our hands. Fiona hates to clean and refuses to do much but she is 4 so I take what I can get.

    Fiona thinking maybe she can just adjust her jewelry and we’ll do all of the work. No such luck kid. You want candy, you must work. Also her Happy Birthday hat was worn for the month of August her birthday month so it shows up on many non birthday days.

    Zoe will help, but often reluctantly and her arms always get really long, her back slumps over and I think she loses any skeletal system that she once had. She just is made of jell-o and sort of slinks over to the area to clean. I have tried numerous things to get them to clean up that never worked, but  I knew that we needed to clean up before we were headed out for our vacation.  I had been reading a book by Dr Shefali Tsabary called Out of Control.  It talks about not disciplining children.  What she means by that is that you don’t assign odd punishments for random infractions.  For example, if your child didn’t clean their room, then don’t take away their playtime days later.  She talks about allowing children to have emotions, opinions etc and not imposing our rules which are made up anyway.   Instead, put ourselves in the shoes of the children. Why are they crying- are they hungry? Etc So it was playroom cleaning and I thought “Hmm how would I have wanted to clean when I was a kid?”



    Zoe: Do I really need to clean up the whole pile Me: Yes, you do if you want the reward or else I’ll eat the bear.



    The game supplies: post-it notes that I reuse for each game and somewhat healthier gummy bears if you can call it healthy.

    So I thought about a game.  Now normally, my games end with a reward, but I thought what makes the journey fun.  What makes the work fun. So I hid post-it notes under a pile of toys or blocks. The rules of the game were that they needed to start to clean.  Once they found a post-it note, they needed to continue to clean up the area that was attached to that sticky note. I would guide them. For example, if they found a sticky note under a pile of blocks, they needed to clean the entire pile of blocks.  Once finished they got to eat a gummy bear.  I was the inspector and helper as well. So we were all working together but they were doing a lot of the work of cleaning up their own mess.  When we got back from vacation, the mess crept back in.  We weren’t even back for 5 days and the playroom was once again a disaster.  I told them that we needed to clean it again. They jumped up and I wasn’t even able to finish my tea before we had to go and start cleaning because they wanted their candy treat. This particular time was even more exciting because they had gotten a variety box of candy and were excited to get to pick out whatever piece they chose once they cleaned their spot.  They even shared with each other and were in a good mood after the project.

    Anddddd done. Took all of 20 min and they can run around


  • Efficiency,  Z/Fi/Me


    Working from home with kids is a balancing act that sometimes involves allowing a kid to use an entire roll of tape in order to get something done.  I also like to be very efficient with my time. I’ll open my laptop in the kitchen while I’m waiting for the water to heat up, to throw in noodles.  I felt particularly ingenious yesterday when I decided that I was going to combine kiddie pool time with bath time. They hate to get a bath because it signifies the end of the day.  We take a bath, settle down for a little show on tv or some playing before dinner and then it’s off to bed. There is always moaning and groaning. Yelling that I got soap and water in their eyes when I repeated 5 times at increasing volume to look up.


    So yesterday, I just decided to combine fun with not so fun.  We all had our bathing suits on and got in the kiddie pool. After splashing and spraying the water shooter over the roof of the garage, we got out the shampoo and conditioner, used the suds to wash the rest of their body. Voila!  Pool time became bath time.  I saved A LOT of time! They had fun! I had fun! The doorbell rang, I ran into the house as the UPS man was ringing the doorbell. I ran down the hall waving, bouncing along like Pamela Anderson (well that’s the picture I have in my head at least). The UPS man has a hilarious story  I’m sure of that that he can repeat to his friends at a summer picnic (you’re welcome.)  The UPS man himself is the epitome of efficiency. He beeps the horn like a friendly three beep beep beep, walks up to the door but I already heard the beeps, so I’m waiting, delivers the package or waves nicely and gets back into the truck. But his friendliness doesn’t end there. He beep beep beeps as he leaves. Except on my Pamela day, he saw me coming, quickly put the package down and didn’t wave or look back and there were no extra beeps.  He must have been in a hurry.  I’m sure my bathing suit running was not at all embarrassing to him.  Although today, he gave me an extra long wave ;).  So there you have it.  You never know when you can turn something fun into a way to make your life more efficient and entertain your friendly delivery person at the same time.

  • Messy Chef

    The Messy Chef-Name that breakfast tune

    Mess but we can clean up later. Just throw everything into the dishwasher, spray down the counters, and voila!

    I love breakfast.  We enjoy our time as a family and sit down without distractions.  On non school days, we even play music and learn about various musical genres.  My husband and I used to play this game in the car where he would try to teach me about music and have me guess the artist.  I usually guessed Metallica or Smashing Pumpkins.  I don’t know why I was just terrible at it and had no idea about music.  So I would throw out something ridiculous to get him to just tell me who it was.  I think he is trying to teach our daughters to “name that tune” or artist better than I did.  Fun Fact: my dad was a radio DJ when I was very young at a local radio station so me not knowing about music was just embarrassing.  One of our favorite breakfasts is pancakes with Bacon.  I have; however, in the last few years really tried to reduce the amount of gluten, processed foods and refined sugar in our diets so I have found something that fits that bill and is filling.



    I put out the fruit first so that they can enjoy, no one is hangry, and again I’ll leave the kitchen for later. We want to have fun!!

    Cassava Flour pancakes from Paleohacks website –





    I usually double this recipe so that we can have leftovers for a quick school day breakfast one day during the week.

    1/4 cup almond milk- If out just use water

    3 eggs- I use pastured eggs

    1 tbsp Honey- I use raw honey

    1/2 tsp baking soda

    3/4 cup Cassava flour

    1/4 tsp salt

    1/4 coconut oil

    1. Whisk the eggs
    2. Add the melted coconut oil, almond milk or water, and honey.  Mix well
    3. Add the cassava flour, baking soda and salt.  Here is where we found mixing it with a hand mixer makes the batter more uniform and the pancakes fluffier.  Rather than just mixing by hand
    4. Scoop to desired size on a griddle or buttered skilled until golden brown and cooked through- we keep warm in the oven while cooking the batch.


    With that we serve a ton of fresh fruit that I put out for the kids ahead of time, chopped nuts and then maple syrup or almond butter spread on top.

    The adults have coffee because we also have a coffee shop business so we can’t enjoy ourselves in the morning without a deliciously brewed coffee.  Our youngest, Fiona, had a sip when we were out once and liked it.  Since she’s too young to have more than a sip, we’ll wait to someday enjoy fabulous coffee with her.

    Finally, we serve uncured bacon on the side which is baked in the oven.  A friend told me that she makes hers in a skillet and I was befuddled because in the oven, the pan catches the grease for easy cleanup and you save your stove and counters.  Because if I did it on the stove, the name Messy Chef would totally be earned.  Grease would be everywhere.  On the windows, one the walls  . . . . . I don’t know that we’ll ever play Lil Jon but maybe when their older who knows. 😉


    Most of the pantry items I buy from Thrive Market. They have great prices and for every membership that is purchased, they gift a membership to someone who needs it through their nonprofit partners.





  • Messy Chef

    The Messy Chef

    My husband has always called me the Messy Chef. Why?!?!?


    • I don’t chop veggies and remove the bits of waste as I go.  The cutting board or plate (whatever is handy) is messy and sometimes wet because I don’t shake out the excess water very well.  In fact, the whole counter top is wet
    • I don’t have things measured out into little bowls to add to recipe.  I measure the seasoning and spices out as I go or just eye ball it.
    • I clean up when I’m all done and not as I go
    • I tend to multitask and not just focus on the cooking- occasionally burning things and causing the smoke detector to go off and my children to find “smoke helmets”

    However, I still get the title of chef because I am good at what I make.  I make nutritious, delicious food and still hold out that I will make enough someday that I can have a real chef cook for me but until my retirement from making meals, I will still hold the title of messy chef.

  • 'Ole Girls Club

    Study – Don’t Compare


    I think we all have a problem comparing some aspect of our lives to other people at some time in our lives or another.  But doing this is so painful.  When you’re comparing, you’re leaving the present and trying to put yourself into some alternative reality.  Now if you want a different reality, that’s fine, but then make a plan to get there.


    Another thing to remember is  that if you have exactly what they have, you have their life, and not yours which may sound good for a second but I’m sure there are a lot of things about your own life that you wouldn’t want to give up.  Once you start thinking about a significant other, kids, pets, family, talent etc etc that you have, you’ll be grateful for what you do have. Instead of comparing and having that burning feeling in your belly, that cold sweat of not achieving enough, get out a notebook, a phone app, or a giant piece of poster board and start taking notes of the things that you do want and are what is working for someone else.  Study those people who you would like to emulate or who have the things that you think you want.  See what they are up to and look to them to give you clues but don’t feel jealous (while this is hard) because you are trying to take from their joy.  Let them shine and learn how you can too!


    Tim Ferris is a great example of someone who is very successful.  He has learned many things by talking to other even more successful people for his books, podcasts, and social media posts,.  He enjoys talking with them and learning from them.  He doesn’t say “I wish I were Tony Robbins.”  Instead, he figures out how he can talk to Tony Robbins and learn from him to improve his own Tim Ferris life and the life of his audience.


    Also when you are sending out these negative thoughts it’s like you are sending negative mojo to these people who you are comparing yourself to.  If you actually wrote down these thoughts and sent them to this person, you would be embarrassed and it would sound pretty mean (at least some thoughts I have had are pretty rude.  I am embarrassed when I catch myself).


    I have done a lot of listening and watching my young daughters recently and they are constantly learning from other people.  They trace a picture to learn to draw.  They follow along with a song or poem to learn to read.  They watch the figure skater to learn to skate and say “I want to do that too.”  They don’t ever wish that skill away from someone so that they can have it. They get that they can have it too.  The get that they should be happy for the other’s success and hard work.  So we should follow their lead and study but not compare.


    Because isn’t life a journey of studying and learning. So don’t worry about when you get somewhere because if you check everything off of your list now then what?!?!?  What fun do you have for the future.  So enjoy the learning.  Enjoy the studying and keep finding new things to reach for.  If you think of it that way, you’ll never lose your zest for learning and improving.

  • life

    Eat Dessert First

    I have always liked to savor my food and take the perfect last bite of food.  Weird, I know, but I would often save that last yummy bite of pie or juicy slice of peach for the very last.  Well over the years, I found that I would over eat because I was overly full by the time that I got to the last bit of food and definitely by the last bite.


    I was always told to do the homework or work that I liked the least first to “get it over with”  You know, complete the homework in the  the subject that I didn’t like or struggled with, and then I could focus on what I liked.  Do my chores around the house then I could relax.  What I found over the years is that I didn’t then relax.  Instead I watched mindless tv or was exhausted.  So instead of enjoying my math home, in my case, I just wanted to get everything done because now it was ALL a chore.  When I have housework to do, I would clean or organize, but then when I wanted to write or be creative, I would “poop out”


    I started reading these Miracle Morning Books.  One in particular, Miracle Mornings for Parents and Families by Lindsay and Mike McCarthy and Hal Elrod basically states to get up and have some time to yourself to mediate, write, exercise and plan out your goals. The Book doesn’t  say to mop, scrub toilets, balance your checkbook,make a doctor’s appointment first thing.  And all of these things that sound like they would take forever, can be done in 5-10 when necessary so you can get into the right mindset everyday.  One day, I exercised and wrote first thing.  Then when my husband said that we had to do some mundane thing around the house because it was some special trash pickup it was actually relaxing and kind of enjoyable.  My daughter told me that she eats what she doesn’t like last, since she wants to enjoy the good things.


    I have started doing the “fun stuff” because it energizes me.  It makes me more relaxed and creative for the rest of the day.  I don’t resent anyone because I’m doing something boring.  I’m happy right where I am.  It’s hard to reprogram myself to do this because sometimes I get caught up in that trap where I accidentally look at my phone because I get an urgent text and then it is downhill from there.  I check on this that and the other thing and before you know it, I haven’t been productive and it has taken me double or triple the time to get my to-do list done.  It’s like I’m in mud and trying to walk with labored steps.


    So tomorrow when you wake up, have your dessert first.  (ok maybe not really but sure if you find a really good french pastry well then who can blame you.  Do the fun work and literally have your dessert before anything else).    By doing this I’m in a better mood and I actually have more confidence because I feel like I can accomplish anything once I get these fun, creative things going.  Also that weird phone call that I have to make (and hate by the way) isn’t so bad anymore because I’m in such a good mood from my creative endeavors.

  • life

    You Can’t Do That

    In preschool  (how I remember something from when I was 4 I’ll never know but I remember it very clearly when I’m faced with a challenger), we were given a picture with a lady dressed in an elegant dress to color.  I colored her dress purple, of course, my favorite color.  Then I did something that no other kid did.  I colored her arms purple, but just up to the elbows.  My lady in my picture was wearing long gloves in my story, in my head.

    Just then I was interrupted from my daydream of this elegant being by a fellow classmate.


    He said “you can’t do that.  You can’t color her arms purple”


    I said “But they are gloves.”  I stopped for a minute.   The teacher came over and again reiterated to the boy that I could color my picture however I wanted to.


    It starts as early as preschool/kindergarten.  We are told that we can’t change  and color outside of the lines of the prescribed lesson plan, the coloring book pictures, the job description, the life our family has decided for us.


    A lot of times we waste time thinking we actually can’t do something.  In high school, I wanted to be part of student council for some reason.  I can’t even remember why now but I loved to be involved and be part of everything.  So when my classmates basically told me “You can’t do that” because they didn’t vote me in, I decided to use my talents and go the route that allowed me to get where I wanted to go.  There was this special position called “Student School Board Representative”  I had to attend school board meetings every month and report back to the student council on what was going on as well as give updates to the school board on the goings on of the high schoolers.  For this position, I needed to interview and be selected by upperclassmen and faculty.  I got in!! It was more work, than the run of the mill student council member, but I wanted this position so badly, I didn’t care.  When I had the position, the school board decided that they were going to start charging the students to park at school.  Basically, I had to report back to the students that they would be charged like $50 per year just to drive to school.  Most people would just accept their fate, but I wasn’t ready to back down just yet.  That $50 doesn’t sound like a TON of money but for a high school student in a public school in the 90’s who may be paying for gas, insurance and whatever else for the car to drive it to school so that they can play sports or go to a job after school, $50 is a lot.  They were telling us that we could no longer drive to school and park for free.  Basically, “You can’t do the things you were doing last week”  So I thought “Hmm how can I maintain our free parking”   I decided to put together a survey of why each student drove to school and present my findings and my case to the school board.  I even  had my mom print out the pie charts in color at work.  (Hey this was the 90’s, color printouts were a very big thing.)  But it worked.  They decided to stop the pay for parking initiative and to go back to the way it was.  I was determined to make sure that I took my position seriously and even though we were 16 or 17 years olds, we weren’t going to be told that we couldn’t park at our school for free when there was plenty of space and plenty of reasons that students couldn’t pay the fee.  When someone tells you “You can’t do that.”  Think twice, heck think three times about why they are saying this and how you can prove that yes “I can do this.”


    Go out and color your picture of your life however you want to.


    You can’t do that


    Oh but I can …. and I will

  • Uncategorized

    Say what you mean and mean what you say

    Often times as women we are taught to “play nice”.  As a child, I said what was on my mind.  I once told a Catholic priest that I thought that a catholic nun may have not gone Heaven because she used to spank (ie beat to a pulp) kids (wellll?!?!?! where do you think she went.  I think her gates were a little warm to the touch rather than pearly).  He looked at me with disdain and I can’t remember but there were probably a series of Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s to make up for what I said.


    However, as I grew older, maybe it wasn’t exactly proper to “tell the truth”.  If you just got along and followed some arbitrary rules you would be promoted, get chosen for special favors, or at the very least just keep your job.  I had this sick feeling in my stomach if I had to follow a rule that I wasn’t comfortable with.  Hopefully, my conscience would win out and I would do what I felt was the right thing to do.  Could I tell the truth and defend someone who may be defenseless against someone who was perceived as being more powerful?  Maybe even harder than that is the ability to tell that person that you truly care about that they have to move out, leave the job, or end the friendship because, in the end, it will be best for both of you.


    As women we are taught or bred to be nurturers (I’m not sure which?) It’s ok to be honest and if someone is upset or holds a grudge then so be it.  As long as we are coming from a place of trying to change the situation for the better then  . . . . they will just have to get over it.  So recognize that there is something that is hard to say and just say it already!?!?!?!?!

  • Uncategorized

    Is 95% the new 100%

    In college, I had a class in which once per week we had a group project to work on.  We did the research, wrote the report, and worked on our oral,  in class, presentation.  We worked and worked and worked.  One day as we were walking back toward our respective dorms, we were discussing the final touches on our project. As we walked down the street and this guy Adam- a close talker- for some reason I remember he was a close talker and would keep moving in to fill the space between us.  I hate when my space is invaded.  So I was focusing on his walking closer and closer and me practically banging into sidewalk signs.  I wasn’t paying any attention to what he said.  I was just thinking, “Am i almost home?”


    Then suddenly he said “you know we have worked really hard.  So hard that I think that right now, we would get a 95% on our project”  In order to get a higher percentage, I think that we would need to work an additional 5 hours to get a 97% and if we wanted to get a 98% we would need to work another 15 hours.  The last little bit would require so much work that I don’t feel it is worth it when we have a solid project.  WE could be spending our time on other valuable things.


    Ok space invader.  What say you?  I think you are onto something. So we don’t need to eek out every last ounce of work and effort for some project or job.  If we do that, we lose all of our energy and then have none to start another project or to be in a good mood even to enjoy the process of ending the current one.  I sometimes hold on tight to eek out that last good bit of work and keep perfecting and perfecting and then maybe that project just fizzles because it wasn’t quite right, but if I would’ve launched it at 95% it would have been magnificent and helped people and been exactly what was needed and now no one gets to enjoy it.  Or maybe I keep trying to eek out perfection and then I do that and by the time that it’s done I”m exhausted and having a miserable time.


    Just remember, get to 95% does not mean that you didn’t give 100% to the project.  It just means that you know when the project needs to be published, executed whatever it is.  Because often times continuing to press forward, causes the thing to not even reach 1%.  It gets thrown in the trash or tabled because it is too darn exhausting to continue.  It feels so good to just let it out into the world. Go and figure out what you need to complete to 95% and just do it!

  • Z/Fi/Me

    Don’t go chasing water balloons

    Over the summer,  my youngest daughter Fiona (age 3 ) was throwing water balloons into their pool on the deck ( the $14.99  blow up version from the toy store)  She kept retrieving them by bending over the side and getting an arm wet or  sometimes not depending on her technique (she was in her clothes and didn’t have her swimsuit on so she couldn’t get into the pool).  She then would throw them back in. Some would float under the lip of the blow up pool and would be hidden for awhile, but either I would help her or she would find it. Once they were all out, she threw them back in until we had to go inside for the day.  At first, I was getting a little annoyed thinking

    “Why in the world do you want to put them back in if you already accomplished the task of getting them all out. You’re done.  Move on”

    However, I’ve been observing my kids lately to get their take on the world.  They are like aliens, really, discovering things for the first time. They were a being outside of their body that chose this new adventure,but now they are feeling out this new body, the environment, and other people.


    What she was doing wasn’t annoying.  It was discovery.  She wasn’t getting frustrated at all. She was enjoying picking out the color balloon that she wanted to and figuring out how to do that.


    Did she have to lean in?


    Did she need to ask for help?


    Did she save the easy reaches for last or get those first?


    It was all a fun adventure to her. But to us,we like to check stuff off of our lists,accomplish and move on. Sometimes the real fun is trying it a different way. She wasn’t saying “All of the other kids in the world can get the balloons out faster.”  or “Why am I wasting my time throwing these balloons in there and fishing them out. It’s so much fun, but I have laundry to do.”


    We are all starting to try and do things that we have wanted to do and so what if we don’t get it right the first time or even the 100th time.  What if you send out 100 resumes only to get an interview on the 101th try.  Just because we are a particular age doesn’t mean anything.  What I did realize is that she learned from her mistakes.  She didn’t get upset but laughed that half of her sleeve was wet. But after that,her clothes stayed dry.  She was having fun and she wanted to try things every which way she could try it.


    She even surprised me the other night after dessert.  We had a really rich cake that our 5 year old picked out.  Fiona, ate some and got a stomach ache.  She said “oh well it’ll feel better and I don’t want to eat that again” The next day when the rest of us ate leftovers, she didn’t want any. She learned her lesson and asked for Banillva ice cream instead (vanilla but banillva sounds sort of Scandinavian so I’m going to keep that one).  Again, her night wasn’t ruined by the stomach ache.  We let things ruin our days, weeks, and years because we think that we made a mistake and it can never be undone.  Instead, how about thinking that we learned something that didn’t work for us.  My husband can eat near spoiled meat and his steel stomach feels nothing, but I eat one wrong thing and I feel it for a day.  So two people can do the same thing with different outcomes, so to him what he ate wasn’t a mistake.


    Having that confidence to shrug off the mistakes, the missteps, or the learning can help you to get where you want to go and propel you towards your dreams.  Getting stuck in the muck and ruminating will get you headaches and sleepless nights (believe me I speak from experience).  I used to ruminate about everything I messed up.  As a young girl, I was taught to behave, get good grades, and don’t make a fuss.  So if I didn’t follow this, I felt like I had messed up and I should have known better.  Well, we have to live and try things.  If no one tried something new or pushed themselves, it would be a very boring world.  Know that if you want to succeed, there will be things that won’t go according to what your structured brain planned and ride the wave of adventure.  Because sometimes, you find a new way to do something or a new way to have fun.