Easiest Way to Get Your Child Swimming

I had 3 kids in 3 years.  Life was crazy, chaotic and unpredictable.

My older kids at the time were almost 5 and 4 when we tried to put them in swimming lessons.  They were terrified of getting bath water in their eyes, so we thought swimming lessons would help.  Plus, everyone ELSE put their 4 and 5 yr olds in swimming lessons.

It was a nightmare.  Sneezy, my 4 yr old threw a fit and wouldn’t get in the pool.  Bashful, my 5 yr old did better, but was still terrified to put his head under.  I sat on the side with my 4 yr old while keeping my 2 yr old, Grumpy, out of the water!

Time went on and my husband and I became anti lessons.  It seemed silly to put our kids in lessons when they wouldn’t get their face wet!

My husband started looking up pools online. He found that Walmart has a stand up pool that was 3 feet deep and required minimal maintenance and chemicals.  We spent $47 on the pool and probably another $50 in chemicals and supplies like a cover, and bug catcher thingy.


We bought our first one in 2014.  During that summer my older two kids Bashful and Sneezy ended up becoming comfortable putting their heads under water!  They were doing half head stands and half flips by the end of 2014.  However, the youngest, Grumpy, was finally happy to get in as long as she had a floatie (even though she could touch just fine) or a noodle to hang onto.

Fast forward one year to 2015.  We bought another pool (because for $50 it wasn’t worth it to keep, clean and dry out the previous one) and had left over chemicals and supplies from the year before.


Same pool same set up.

Bashful and Sneezy were hesitant at first to get in all the way, and Grumpy was in no way going to get in.  As the first 2 weeks of the hot summer drug on, the older two regained their water confidence and were quickly back to flipping and getting completely wet.  Grumpy was still hesitant, granted, she was just 4 still.

One day, Sneezy’s friend came over.  She had taken swimming lessons and took it upon herself to teach Grumpy to go under water.  Within 20 minutes, Grumpy was able and comfortable to go under water!!!!

The next week we bought a water park pass and spent most of the time at the water park.  The older kids took a brief 2 week swimming lesson, but were the most proficient kids in their class…. good thing we paid for those lessons at ages 4 and 5.

This year, we bought another pool pass.  All of my kids are now able to go on the water slides, even 5 yr old GRUMPY (she’s really tall for her age) who has never had an official swimming lesson.

Grumpy excited to be big and swimming!



Now, Grumpy isn’t deep-end certified yet.  But Sneezy and Bashful, all on their own, decided they could swim in the deep end last year.  So since then, they enjoy completing the blow up obstacle course and play  for hours on the diving board!  This summer it is a goal to get Grumpy comfortable in the deep end.

So if you need your kids to get comfortable with the water, have room in your back yard, an extra $100, and are willing to put in some work to take care of something, get the small $50 pool from Walmart!!!  In total we spent $150-$200 (I doubt we even came close to $200) and were able to go from 3 kids being petrified of water in their faces and holding their breath, to 3 kids swimming comfortably all while this mama can relax in a lounge chair and watch the fun!


Kid Zone

I love having the kids at my house.  I can keep an eye on them.  I know they are safe.  I understand my kids, their needs and love having them around.  Then friends come over.  I love my kids’ friends, I do.  However, 4 kids plus 1 friend each is 8 kids… plus sometimes there are extra kids on top of the extra kids. Needless to say things end up getting pretty chaotic.

The chaos inside just absolutely drove me batty. The snacks everywhere, in and out kids, the noise from the video games, the craft remnants strewn throughout the house.  The cleaning aftermath was insane.   One day I realized, I needed a place for my kids and their friends.  There was my “ah ha” moment.  The GARAGE!


I am fortunate enough to live in California.  Moderate weather is abundant all year around. So the video games and craft stuff was moved into the garage!  There (in my garage) is a tv for both the x box and Wii.  There (in my garage) is the craft table with all the supplies imaginable to make a child’s wildest creations come true.  There (in my garage) is also a mini fridge (found on craigslist) filled with drinks and a microwave (another craigslist find) stocked close by with popcorn.

Alas, the chaos was contained to outside my house.  I don’t have to worry about the mess as often.  Nobody is tracking in and out of my house (with the exception to the bathroom).  And the noise is reduced!

Now we just need a porta potty in the garage and we would be good to go!




Boring to Bling

I am cheap.  I am cheap and therefore I am plain.  I like to buy plain shirts and dress them up with necklaces and reuse them rather than have a large wardrobe.  Cheap necklaces mind you…but necklaces nonetheless.  Likewise, I can’t always spend hours on my half curly hair through straightening it every day after a shower.  The curling iron tends to help hide my post exercise and unwashed hair.  I also tend to get compliments on my simple, but complimentary outfits.

In this post I will take my nasty imperfect post exercise hair and change it into better kept hair.  I will also take the same boring shirt, and change up the look with different necklaces

First the hair-


Now, I did not straighten the roots or any part of my hair before I curled it.  I curled it in 10 minutes.  Ha ha notice the grease from my sweaty head?


Here are the necklace pictures.  Each necklace has a different purpose and a different style.  A lot of my necklace choices depend on my mood.


Lastly, if I was a shoe person, heals, sandals, tennis shoes etc. totally change your look.  However, curling and the necklaces are a great start.

Try it out and let me know how it goes.









Camping Hacks #3 Be Prepared

Camping is difficult to pack for and stressful for moms.  I have come up with a system to streamline last minute camping to make it fun.  You’ve already seen my easy food post, this is my easy storage post!

I bought a huge plastic tote and stuffed it full with sleeping bags & pillows. This stays packed, so when we decide to go camping it’s ready.  We store our sleeping mats next to this tote.    


A smaller tote holds a change of clothes and a few toiletries.  It’s simple to have the kids toss in their clothes and pop the lid on.  No bags!

I try to keep our camping gear all stored together so we don’t forget anything.  We buy charcoal and just light the bag….we go pop the big huge 12 man tent up.  Unload. Eat and play games for the rest of night.  I have a gallon size size bag of different card games and dice.


 We do simple food like hot dogs, prepped foil pizzas, freezer breakfasts, smores, pre-made cinnamon rolls, bagels, chips, etc.  Anything that requires little time and prep.  Convenient food choices!  However, I didn’t mention coffee.  We brew the coffee the night before and then bring it with us on the camp out.  If you have a kettle, heat it over fire, or drink it cold!

We keep it simple and easy.  My kids love for camping is growing. And it’s  a fairly cheap way to have some good family time.  I dont.mind at all how dirty the kids get.   They love it!


Camping Hacks #2

We are continuing our camping series.  Even though this may not be considered a hack, it could at least be considered a camping revelation.  It has changed my willingness to camp and opened up a lot of opportunities for our family for the summer!


Here it is…. Ready…


You don’t have to camp in a TENT!


I cannot sleep  on the ground and I have an extremely difficult time sleeping anywhere but my own bed.  Camping has never appealed to me as something enjoyable for those reasons.  I love the outdoors but sleeping outside or on the ground.  Plus, I live in Northern Idaho!  Did you know that its freezing in Idaho until mid summer?  Uh, yeah, I don’t do the ground and I don’t do the cold….so camping, has been a no go.

However, while exploring a nearby state park, we noticed people staying in cabins.  I saw those and told my hubby “Hey, that could change camping for me!”  We went home and researched Idaho State Parks.  Low and behold, there were cabins at most of the state parks in Idaho and nearby Washington!

These particular cabins come with room for 5 to sleep (really you could squish another child), comfortably, a covered area, to keep outdoor things (we put our bikes there) that when it rains you want to keep dry, a table inside, microwave, toaster, coffee pot, shelving and most of all, heating and A/C.

I should also mention that at this particular state park, to rent a cabin was only $50/night…where a tent site was $30/night.  I would pay an extra $20 for a bed, dryness, and comfort all while enjoying campfires, bike trails and hikes!

If you are like me and not a ground sleeper, here is a link that allows you to  find a state park near you.  Check them out and see if you can find a cabin if sleeping in a tent is NOT for you!  Cause it is NOT for me!  However, we have a cabin booked for next weekend because I enjoy camping now!

Camping Hacks #1

I love summer time!  One thing I love about summer is camping!  I for one love camping, but as a mom it’s A LOT OF WORK! Pack clothes, the equipment, oh and wait make sure you take all your food with you, have a way to cook it, and a way to clean up the mess from cooking.  Seriously, we almost need a camping dishwasher or something when feeding 6 people multiple times a day.
However, with that all said… I have developed a few methods to make camping easier.

Dinner- Easy prep pizza subs!!!


1 loaf of French bread cut in half sauced, topped and put back together. Cut into 4ths


Wrap each 4th in tin foil.

At dinner time, place them around the fire until they are toasty, do not place on open flame, as they will get TOO toasty.  🙂

Serve and enjoy!  No plastic ware, napkins, plates or pans!  A mother’s dream!!!

Doc enjoying his camping Pizza Sub

Easy peasy!

Now,  remember those super saver breakfasts I was telling you about…..yup! EASY CAMPING BREAKFAST!  I am sure you get how that one all works.

Club Sports…. a Kill Joy?

I have a son, Bashful, who is 8.  He is finishing 3rd grade this year.  He is a nice boy.  Not too aggressive, but loves to run.  He is competitive but not enough to make other kids uncomfortable.  He also doesn’t like to push past being tired or uncomfortable.  Bashful is obedient and literal.  If you say you do this don’t do this he will obey.  You say stay in this box, he will stay.

He started playing soccer with the local park and rec teams in first grade.  You know, the  teams with the volunteer coaches, who are typically parents and really, the kids just kick at the ball and try to get it into the net.  There are no positions, no offsides, not really any rules at all.

During second grade, my son was generally faster than the rest of the kids.  This resulted in scoring many goals and quickly being pulled to the sidelines.  Park and Rec soccer seemed to be too easy for the kid.  We started looking for other options for soccer.

We are in a small town, but a soccer town.  All over the town you see club soccer kids playing on various fields.  My son participated in these club clinics the following summer. He enjoyed the kids, the drills and the skills he learned with the club.  When asked if he wanted to join last fall, Bashful thought it was a great idea.

However, club soccer isn’t the same as park and rec.  You learn the game.  The real rules.  The real positions.  The competitive kids.  The intensive parents and coaches.  All while the team had played together in this fashion for 3 previous seasons.

Bashful struggled through the  first season.  He felt out of place in more ways than just his soccer IQ.  The pressure killed him.  He felt out of place.  The kids knew each other, the rules, their positions and he was the outsider in every way shape and form.  By the end of fall season, he didn’t want to go and play anymore.

While we as parents knew there was a learning curve, we encouraged him to sign up for the spring season.  Just give it one more go we said.

Spring season was where his confidence just dwindled.  He would have breakdowns before going onto the field due to not knowing his positions as well as the other kids.  Coach A, his coach, worked very well to help decrease Bashful’s insecurities. He gave him opportunities to score and didn’t harp on him for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  However, Coach A ended up not being at a lot of games at the end of the season.  Coach B stepped in to coach a lot of games at the end of the season.  Sadly, he was opposite of Coach A in every single way.  He yelled a lot, benched kids for under performance, Coach A even was yellow carded (seriously during an 8 yr old game)!

Bashful shut down at the end.  Stopped trying.  He was goofing off rather than playing because hey, he will get yelled at even if he tries so why bother?

7 out of 10 kids quit youth sports by age 13.  That is a whopping 70%.  How crazy is that!?

Now I am not a proponent of the “everyone wins” mentality or the everyone needs a participation trophy thought.  However, the intensity needs to wait until late middle/ high school ages in my opinion.  When kids understand how sports work as well as what it means to push past the pain then yes, change the way sports are played.

My child, Bashful, is totally out of love with soccer, a game that he at least really enjoyed. His confidence as an athlete is squashed.  It breaks my heart a confidence building activity killed his confidence.

Thankfully, I am not alone in this.  The Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports is an organization that sees these sort of problems, and problems that are worse than the ones I experienced with our Club.  I can also say that I am partially at fault in this.  I suggested the club, thinking a bit of a challenge would help him flourish not diminish his confidence in athletics.

So before we push our kids on the soccer field, the basketball court, football field or on the ice rink, just give it a second thought, because we are working backwards now to rebuild the confidence my son once had.  Sports are a game.  Games should be fun.  Let’s keep it that way.



Super Saver Breakfasts!

I am all about saving!  Saving money, saving time, saving hassle, and saving frustration.  With just a little prep and a little forethought I figured out how to make breakfast for 4 kids, for 16 days in less than 90 minutes!

Here’s how….
Preheat oven to 450  [everything cooks at 450]
I bought….

2 -4 packs of pilsbury biscuts ($5.70)
2 dozen eggs ($ 2.68)
4 boxes of jimmy dean fully cooked turkey sausage patties ($10.76)

3lbs of oscar mayer turkey bacon ($4.89)

A few things I had at home….
10 veggie chcolate muffins ($7.20)  (These come is a box of 14 at Costco for $9.99)

Some lunch meat (ham, about 10 thin slices),
some shredded cheddar cheese

and some sausage links.


Cook all biscuits for about 8 mins and let cool

Cook bacon in oven as well  5 to 7 mins and let cool

 Now for the eggs:
This is how I make quick eggs
Grab 2 muffin tins, & 2 dozen eggs
Spray with I can’t believe its not butter or Pam
Crack 1 egg per cup
Break yolk by mixing
Top with cheese and diced up ham

Cook about 8 to 10 mins and cool

Grab some ziplock baggies, and fill them up.
These are the combos I made
1 egg cup and 1 biscuit
2 biscuits 3 bacons
2 biscuits 3 sausage links
2 biscuits 2 sausage patties
1 veggie muffin and some meat.


I freeze these baggies.  In the morning, the kids take them out of the freezer, open the baggie and toss it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  The kids get 1 baggie each morning and can choose a piece of fruit to go with it.

I have 4 kids and all this made about 63 baggies which is about 16 days of breakfasts.
Quick, easy and cheap!  63 meals for $31.23 in less than 90 minutes!  Now that’s a Super Saver Breakfast!

The 3 BIG Reasons Why I Exercise at HOME

So I LOVE to exercise.  No, I am not a health nut (in fact I LOVE to bake and LOVE processed junk- judge away, it is true) but I really enjoy exercising.  I started exercising at home at  age 16, when my parents brought home an elliptical, before they got popular, over 16 years ago.  For some reason I was fascinated with the machine so I started using it during the “off seasons” from my extra curricular activities.

My mother exercised regularly.  Her regular exercise habit is one that I picked up “by example.”  I am grateful for it.  However, when I miss my workouts I get cranky…. over the years I have become accustomed to my endorphin high every morning I guess.

Fast forward 10 years and I now have 3 kids.  Their ages 4, 3, and 1 and I am well… still working on that baby weight, living as a poor, beginning career family, so my time and resources are limited.   But I needed to fill that exercise void.

Chalene Johnson and her turbo workouts then entered into my life.  All I needed was a DVD player and a living room.  No mat, no work out equipment, just me and my TV.  Since then, and for the last 5 years, I have enjoyed working out with Chalene on a regular basis.  In fact, I just finished up week 12 of her Turbo Fire work outs and I am feeling good.

I have tried other at home work outs.  I needed something to do when I had a spare 20 min and needed to move my body when it’s below freezing outside.  This is when I got my bike trainer. A bike trainer makes your every day bike a stationary one.  I have it set up in my garage and at times I find 20 mins to escape.  It helps me refocus and gives me some “me” time without leaving.  Many times I read while riding, chat on the phone with a friend or watch Grey’s Anatomy.  My trainer also allows me to get out some frustration or gives me a place for “time out” when it’s needed.  And trust me it IS needed.

Figuring out how to work out at home without buying a home gym has helped me immensely.  It has improved my mood, my health and my overall well being.  Which leads me to my 3 reasons why I work out at home:

  1. CONVENIENCE– If you find a way to work out at home you can do it at your own pace, on your own, time and however it works for you.  I frequently wake up early or stay up late to work out.  Sometimes I even work out in the middle of the day if I have time.  This way I don’t have to rely on my husband to be home to watch the kids, or find a babysitter to just make it to the gym. I am boss and choose my own time to do it.Also, I live in a place that gets super cold in the winter.  All my work outs can be done indoors, which allows me to not give myself too many excuses as why I shouldn’t work out.

    Plus, lets talk not even get into the time it takes to get ready to go work out at a gym, do a kid swap with whomever, drive there and do all that on the way back.  Totally, not convenient….

  2. MONEY SAVER– Have you ever looked at a gym membership?  Yes, My Turbo Fire DVD set with 10 work outs was 100$.  But my 12 week program at 35ish dollars per month is cheaper than any gym I could find around my area. Plus, it’s Chalene Johnson… can you really put a price on her?Work out apparel is another money saver…. I don’t have to find work out clothing that looks great to wear at the gym.  Pajama pants some days with a tank work just fine.  Hair a mess… just fine.
  3. VARIETY–  The internet has opened up a whole new variety to workouts.  HASFIT, MYFITNESSPAL, and are just a few, FEW of the MANY, MANY sites and aps that bring workouts to your home.  Even beachbody is in the middle of a trial of their online site, in order to bring more variety of workouts to your home.  You are not just stuck with what is at the gym or what a trainer at the gym knows.Plus if you do purchase a workout like PiYo or P90X you can cycle through those work outs that you’ve already paid for and switch it up a bit.

Anyway, there are more reasons why I work out at home, but they all seem to be a variation of these  three big categories.  Let me know if you agree with me or why you think it’s better to go to a gym.  I have friends who swear by going to the gym and feel they need to get out, which I totally understand.



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