On the Road Again

The time has come for our annual pilgrimage up to Green Bay for a Packers game. Yes, we are hard core Packers fans. Haters gonna hate 😉

This will be the 5th time for us to make this trip. While we’ve never made this drive without kids in tow, every year it’s like the first time. And it’s the second year with all 3. You’d think it gets easier the older they get, but it doesn’t. Every year, without fail, the days leading up to D-Day are filled with stress, planning, worry, stocking up on car seat activities, backseat media entertainment options, cleaning the van, packing all the snacks, etc.

Before I get the cart before the horse, let me clarify that we do not take the kids with us to the football game. A) we aren’t made of money and B) that sounds like pure torture that we want no part of. So, here’s how it usually goes….

  1. Drive the 9-10 hours up to Bloomington, IL where my mom & stepdad live.
  2. Stay 2 nights
  3. Leave the kids with my parents and then just the husband and I make the 4.5 hour drive up to Green Bay.
  4. Stay 3 nights (football game on Sunday)
  5. Drive back to Bloomington
  6. Stay 1 night
  7. Load all the kiddos and make the 9-10 hour drive back home to Oklahoma.

As you can see, this is not only a getaway for the whole family but it also gives the husband and I a few days away as well while my parents get the one-on-one grandkid time they always pine for. It helps that my husband has a Green Bay office so he spends some time with his team while he’s there….purely coincidental that the Packers are a stone’s throw away. All in all, we’re killing like 14 birds with 1 stone on this trip.

This year, the kids are 16 months, 2.5 and 4 for this trip. The drive to my parents, on paper, really shouldn’t take more than 8 hours. But, with kids, everything takes so much longer. Potty/diaper changing breaks, breaks to stretch legs and burn a little energy, breaks just to have breaks, breaks from the breaks, and the list goes on.

Remember pre-kids when a “break” on a road trip was like a quick 5 minute stop for gas,  grabbing some skittles and you were back on the road? *insert all the laughter* NOPE! Not anymore. Every break is a minimum 20 minutes. If one kid gets out of the car, they all have to get out of the car.

Although, there is one MAJOR perk to this year’s trip. The is the first time on this drive in 3 years that I’m not nursing a baby. Hallelujah! This will make things a bit easier in some aspects. But, as with everything in parenting, overcoming one challenge only reveals a new set of challenges right behind it.

So, here are my tips for road trips with little kids.

  1. Pack snacks. And when you think you’ve packed enough snacks, pack more snacks. Pretty self-explanatory I guess. But, on road trip days I pay no attention to how many snacks my kids consume. It occupies them and keeps them content longer. Something we are going to try this year is going a step further and packing a full family lunch. In the past we always just stopped for lunch somewhere but it was always difficult finding a place that allowed for the kids to have some place to play and burn some energy…we were usually limited to McDonald’s with play places…not easy to find much anymore. So, I think we’re just going to pack a big picnic lunch and find a quality rest stop on the highway.
  2. Manage the liquid intake. If your kids are anything like mine, they chug water. I give my kids a full water bottle, it’s empty in less than 3 minutes, diapers busting at the seams 45 minutes later, a tight car seat strap between the legs and, well, you know where that’s headed. So, water management begins at breakfast before we even hit the road. Fresh diapers and potty breaks right before we get in the car and never more than a 1/2 full water bottle at any given time on the trip. If they empty it, they don’t get more until the next time we stop.
  3. Embrace the backseat DVD player. I generally TRY to keep my kids’ screen time under control. *note* I’m not perfect at this….my kids most certainly do watch some TV every day. But, just like snacking, I really don’t care how much screen time they have on road trips. A movie easily passes 1.5 hours of time and that is 90 minutes of complete peace for our crew. And we are STOCKED on DVDs for the car. We have an assortment of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes on DVD and a few of the kids favorite movies cue’d up. They can watch them all twice for all I care. For real.
  4. Maybe they sleep. Maybe they don’t. Just let it go. The first few times we made this drive (with 1 and 2 kids) I stressed so much about whether or not they slept enough on the drive. Some kids sleep so well in the car. Mine don’t. They sleep GREAT at home. But, in the car, they sleep in 30 minute increments maybe once or twice (depending on age) and that’s probably it. Rory, my oldest, didn’t sleep a wink the entire drive last year. So I’ve just come to accept the fact that it is what it is. Stressing about it doesn’t change it. Just…let it go. Sure, any 1 or all 3 of my kids may be on the brink of an epic meltdown in the last hour of the drive because they are so tired. But, that also equals a quick and easy bedtime for them as soon as we get there and then a night of solitude for my husband and I to decompress!!
  5. An indulgence for mom & dad goes a long way!!! For me, it’s everything sugar. Soda, cookies, candy, you name it. My husband will almost always go for the salt. Chips, sunflower seeds, crackers and so on. The kids get to snack constantly. So do we, gosh darn it. So. Do. We.

Here’s to another great trip. Please send me all the good travel vibes! We will need them.

Until next time, mommas!

~ Erica

Household Ops: Dishes

This is a touchy subject for me. I don’t love doing the dishes but I am, shall I say, particular about the logistics. How they’re done, when they’re done, frequency, in/out of the dishwasher specifics, etc….it all matters to me.

Because our home has an open concept living/kitchen area, a kitchen piled up with dirty dishes makes even the living room feel messy.  In a household of 5 we go through a lot of dishes so it’s the one household chore that I virtually NEVER let get out of control.

Over the years I’ve developed a pretty solid system of staying on top of the dishes that keeps the task manageable without ever letting it overwhelm you.

  • 1. Clean as you go

Maybe it’s my personality or maybe I’m just crazy, but I can’t stand seeing dishes piled up in and around the sink…even when I have a meal in progress. So, when I have a few minutes in between meal prep tasks I will take care of the dishes that have accumulated in the sink.

The alternative is to let it all pile up and then there’s a mountain of dishes to tackle after dinner which, for our house, really means it doesn’t get touched until after the kids’ bedtime. To walk into the kitchen after having finally gotten the kids in bed and see a mountain of dishes…ugh, I’m not sure there’s anything worse.

Cleaning as I go through meal prep and then everyone bringing their dishes to the sink after dinner means I only have about 5-10 minutes of rinsing and putting in the dishwasher, a quick wipe down of the dining table and kitchen counters and I’m done. Glory, Hallelujah!

  • 2. Run the dishwasher every night

I took this tip from a mom friend of mine and it was life changing!

As long as the dishwasher is at least half full, I run it every night. It’s the last thing I do before I go to bed. When I wake up in the morning every dish in the house is clean and ready to use.

It may sound like a waste of water. And maybe it is to an extent. But the “waste” is negligible and worth it to start every day with a clean slate.

  • 3. Use cast iron as much as you can

This may not seem like a dish maintenance tip but, trust me, it is.

There are the obvious flavor benefits of using cast iron but the dish upkeep benefits are even better. There’s no soaking, no heavy scrubbing, no dishwasher. Just a quick, light cleaning with warm water and a little dish soap and it’s ready to use again.

I have a big heavy cast iron that I use sparingly. But the every day cast iron items I use come from Le Creuset. Yes they are pricey. But I’m not kidding when I say I use this stuff every single day. I have a nice, complete stainless steel cookware set that we registered for and I haven’t touched a single piece of it for years. I only use my Le Creuset stuff because it’s so easy to clean. Some of the enamel pieces do need to soak for the hard, sticky stuff but it’s still easy to clean by comparison to my stainless steel pieces!

If you’ve never used a Le Creuset item and don’t know where to start, I recommend you start with this item right HERE! Get the size appropriate for your household and use it for anything: soups, stews, sauces, etc. Technically these are dishwasher safe, but I hand wash all of mine. Personal preference.

  • 4. Simplify

Scale back the amount of dishes you dirty at each meal wherever and whenever you can. For example, my kids reuse their individual plates at all 3 meals each day. 3 meals does not equal 3 separate plates for each kid. After each meal the child rinses their plate and lays it on the drying rack until the next mealtime. Same with drink cups and snack bowls. They all go into the dishwasher at the end of the day.

For yourself, use the same drinking glass throughout the day. Reuse dishes when you can. A plate that propped up a piece of toast for 4 minutes can be rinsed and reused.

And, hey, ain’t no shame in the disposable plate game. Not all the time, but on the crazy days where maybe you’re having to do a lot more meal prep or food distribution than usual, whip out those paper plates and don’t feel guilty about it.

Now….go forth….and dirty dishes….and clean them….and do it all again tomorrow.

Until next time mommas 🙂

~ Erica

Household Ops: Laundry

The daily grind.

Being a stay-at-home mom who is also responsible for a business requires things to operate pretty efficiently. It helps that I’m very Type-A and efficiency might as well be my middle name. If I can shave 90 seconds off a frequent task/chore, I WILL do it.

This may seem counterintuitive but I truly believe that my ability to rock the efficiency game is because of my equal ability (and desire!) to be lazy. So I go, go, go putting in extra effort here and there all for the grand prize, which is complete and utter laziness for a predetermined set period of time. I also have a really hard time fully relaxing when a specific chore/task on my mind is incomplete.

So, I’m bringing a little series to the blogosphere. A peak into my world. Household Ops…one specific chore at a time.

Let it be known, laundry is my absolute least favorite domestic chore. I hate everything about it. But, it exists and must be conquered. And, as I’m sure all of you mommas fully understand, letting the laundry spiral out of control only makes it worse.

So, here are my tips for staying on top of the bane of my existence: Laundry.

  • #1 ONE load every single day

I know you’ve heard it said before. But it’s truth. Just do it. One small to medium sized load every day (washer to dryer to folding to put away) is manageable.

  • #2 Kids laundry is done together (no separating colors, one kid at a time)

A hamper in each child’s room. Toss it all together (one kid at a time) in the washer on cold and DONE! No sorting through a clean pile of laundry to figure out whose clothes belong to who.

  • #3 Stop ironing! Just stop

I may be speaking blasphemy here but I haven’t ironed hardly anything since before my oldest was born and I couldn’t be happier. If you or husband require crisp, ironed work clothes just dry clean them. We use one of those dry clean super center places and it’s very affordable. It’s worth the few bucks to save my sanity. There’s several of my husband’s shirts that don’t require dry cleaning but do wrinkle easily so I pull them from the washer IMMEDIATELY after the cycle is done and I hang them to dry. And I dry everything on the permanent press setting. There may be a wrinkle here and there on our stuff but I guess I just don’t care. Maybe that should be tip #4: stop caring so much! LOL.

Side note: overcrowding the washer can also cause excessive wrinkles. Following #1 will help minimize this since the loads are never that large to begin with.

  • #4 Get the kids involved

There will come a day when the kids’ laundry will be their own responsibility. So, start with age appropriate tasks today to get them involved. My 2 and 4 year old carry their own hampers into the laundry room and put their clothes in the washer. My 15 month old isn’t there yet but he watches and is learning from big brother and sister every day. Now, having a 2 & 4 year old be responsible for getting their laundry to the laundry room and into the washer doesn’t sound efficient, does it? Well, it’s not. It them probably about 10 minutes to do this. But, when I’m able to get dressed and do my makeup without 3 kids at my ankles, in those 10 minutes….that IS efficiency in action.

  • #5 Cut yourself some slack

Not every day will go as you planned. You’ll skip days because you’re too busy. You’ll skip days just because you don’t feel like doing laundry that day. Some days you’ll need to do an extra load…or two. Sometimes, you’ll forget about the clothes in the washer for hours or even days at a time. Sometimes you and/or your kids will live out of the clean clothes in the laundry basket because you haven’t mustered the energy to put them away. It’s all normal and it’s ok.

These small adjustments have helped my home run efficiently and I hope they help you too.

If you have any tips of your own please share!!

Until next time mommas!

~ Erica

New Normal, Ever Changing

Pedicures? Reading a book? Getting my oil changed? Planning my soon-to-be 4 year old’s birthday party? Blogging?

All things I’m currently wishing I had more time for.

I feel like I have so much insight, wisdom, encouragement and advice to share with fellow mommas. I just want to know the best way to share it. Then I remember I have this blog. Why am I not using it more? Because blogging is intimidating. It’s time consuming. Is anybody actually reading it?

Also, where do I start with all of this. I don’t know want to give the impression that I have it all figured out. I REALLY don’t! But one thing I have figured out is that just as I perfect the “new normal”, it changes. The kids get older, the family’s needs change, the schedule gets tossed around and we are back at square one.

So let’s recap. In May of 2017 I had my 3rd child that put me in the 3 under 3 club. Currently they are almost 4, 2.5 and 15 months. Boy, Girl, Boy. Rory, Sydney, Reince.

The question I get most often is “how do you do it?” To be honest, I never really know how to answer this because I know that as much as it’s a question, it’s also an expression of somebody’s admiration towards me. I, like most of society, post my highlight reel on social media and that’s what pretty much everybody sees. So, it appears that I’ve got it all figured out….but I don’t. So, I want to be real with all of you.

First, Erica Weddings is still in full operation. However, I’ve become pretty detached from the day-to-day operations and working with the clientele. Prior to baby #3’s arrival, I passed off full day-to-day management duties to one of my Associate Consultants who is now the Primary Consultant for the business. I stay in contact with her regularly to oversee the financial aspect, marketing/branding, etc and I do the monthly payroll. I have 3 kids who are all still very LITTLE and they require my full attention every day. So, for this season of life, this is how it has to be. And I’m ok with that!

Second, some days I slay this stay-at-home mom gig. And, others, it’s an epic fail. Case in point, I was up at 5:45 this morning, went to the gym, took baby to a well-check, all 3 kids are napping simultaneously, kitchen sink is clear of all dirty dishes and I just moved a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer. WIN! Also, I noticed a sticky mess under the kitchen table a few days ago, undoubtedly from some toddler spill that I didn’t see, and I have yet to clean it. For no reason other than I just don’t want to. FAIL!

Third, my love for my children is endless. I can’t imagine my life without them. They bring me so much joy, excitement and laughter. I’m blessed beyond measure. BUT…..there are some days I just don’t like them very much. Maybe it’s a day where one or all 3 of them are being more challenging that normal or maybe it’s a day where my mojo is off and I’m more irritable than usual. Regardless, these days come….and, thankfully, they also go.

So, while the mompreneur aspect of the blog will pop up from time to time, there will be a shift to more focus on the usual everyday, stay-at-home mom grind stuff because that’s my current reality.

I’ll wrap up this post for now, but just know that more momma wisdom and encouragement is coming your way.

I’ll sign off with a picture of my crew.

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Until next time mommas!

Behind the Scenes

This morning I made a post on social media showcasing my master multi-tasking capabilities. While the actual act of the said multi-tasking was real (submitting my company payroll report while simultaneously cooking Little Man’s breakfast), it dawned on me how misleading social media can be and how I am so guilty of posting things that make it look like I have it all together – things that make me appear to be some unicorn version of a wife/mom/business owner/domestic engineer who has every aspect of her life running so smoothly and according to plan. In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.

So, here’s the ugly truth….

  • My office is a disaster area!! It’s been so messy for so long that I’m simply overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning/organizing it. So, I just ignore it instead and beg every guest in my home to just not look as they walk past.
  • I’m on week 3 of a consistent workout routine and it’s painfully obvious how out of shape I am. I have such a long way to go and I get easily discouraged because of that. I remember the days, sadly it was long before kids, when I was going to the gym 4+ times a week and having a blast doing spin classes, yoga classes and such. There’s no way I could make it 10 minutes in a spin class right now.
  • I drink too much diet coke.
  • My kitchen floors have not been cleaned since 2015. Gross!
  • I have no idea what I’m making for dinner tonight. 3 hours and counting to figure it out.
  • I’ve procrastinated on my 2016 revenue/expense reporting for my business. As in, I haven’t done any of it yet! I’ve got a long project ahead of me whenever I get the motivation and energy to tackle that.

…just to name a few.

I’m not perfect. I’m enormously imperfect.

My hope is always to be better in my business, at home, as a wife and as a mom. Every day is a new day to make the decision to try to be better. Some days I do better than others. As of this moment, my office is still a mess, I got my workout in, I drank too much diet coke for today, kitchen floors are still dirty, I’m about to make plans for dinner and the business accounting stuff is pushed to another day – so, today is just so-so.

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

Finding My Way Back…

I’ve been on “maternity leave” for almost 10 weeks now. I put the term maternity leave in quotations because being an entrepreneur doesn’t really grant you all of the perks that one might want or expect. Business has continued, thanks to my amazing team!! But, I still have to stay on top of the office stuff like payroll, emails, balancing the business account, etc. all while taking care of 2 kids under 2.

This weekend, I’ll be back to work at a wedding. While I’m not working the whole day because my staff has EVERYTHING covered, the few hours I’ll be on-site requires quite a bit of planning. Primarily, my extreme hatred of pumping means I’m working my hours around Baby Girl’s feeding times – thank goodness for an eating schedule that keeps me sane!!!!

So, I’ll pump once before I leave the house so The Husband will have a bottle to feed her while I’m gone and I’ll be back by the time she’s due to eat again. I’ll help with dinner and bedtime and then I’ll go back to the wedding to work a few hours during the reception.

Yes – I hate pumping! Although, I’ve somehow still ended up with over 600oz of pumped milk in my freezer. LOL

I’m really excited about this wedding. It’s a bride I’ve been working with for over a year. She and her mom were so gracious and understanding when I found out I was pregnant late last summer. My due date meant I would not be able to commit to being available for their wedding day and I’d have to hand off the planning torch to one of my staff to take over once baby came. They were so great about the whole arrangement and things have gone so well. My Associate Consultant, Whitney, has just killed it!!! So many fun things in store for this wedding and I’m so excited it’s going to work out for me to be there at least for the few hours that I can to see everything come together.

I’d like to dream more about this wedding at the moment but I can’t because Little Man is desperate to go play outside and I’ve got laundry to fold. How can I do both at the same time, you might say? Well, that’s because I have no shame folding my laundry on the driveway…underwear and all. Multitasking at it’s finest.

I also need to meal plan for the week and find time to get to the grocery store today. But that will have to come later…

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

This Just In…

The rumors you’ve heard are true. I can confirm that I am, indeed, STILL pregnant! Ugh! 38 weeks and more exhausted and the most uncomfortable I’ve been in my entire life.

For all my fellow Friends fanatics…this about sums it up….

You see, Little Man arrived at 36 weeks so I never got the pleasure of experiencing the last month of pregnancy that I had heard so many women complain about. Well, this time around, I’m in the thick of it. The complete 60-70%-effaced-and-1cm-dilated thick of it. Yes, that’s where my doc told me I was at may appointment 6 days ago. Let’s hope I’ve progressed a bit more when I go to the doc tomorrow.

I’m trying to rest in gratefulness that Baby Girl has chosen to stay in longer than her big brother…I know it’s what’s best for her. Not to mention, I’ve had a very healthy pregnancy thus far and no signs (knock on wood) of preeclampsia which I dealt with with Little Man.

The bright side of this time is that we are about as prepared as we can be for baby’s arrival. The nursery is ready (except for the rocking chair that hasn’t arrived yet), the freezer is stocked with food, the hospital bags are packed and our list of cleaning projects to finish is nearly complete.

On the business front, I’ve worked hard on getting some final few client meetings in this week before Baby Girl comes and I won’t be available for a while. Thank goodness for a great team of consultants who will keep trucking along while I enjoy quiet time at home after her arrival.

Hopefully my next post will be all about a beautiful baby girl entering the world in a very quick and pain-free fashion. Here’s hoping 😉

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma