Friday, January 28, 2011

A Little of This and a Little of That


It’s Friday.
Can I please get a Holla?!

It’s been an especially long week here at Haus of Girls filled with spills, tears, whining about school outfits and more.  
Having three daughters, there is no shortage of clothing/hair accessories drama, I will say.

100_2685 (A glimpse at their individual fashion sense as they pose in front of our tree one last time before taking in down.)

So today, when I woke up to begin another wonderful winter day, I was a little more excited than normal that it was Friday. 

Four of the six children I care for during the day did not come today, (only four kids all day instead of the usual eight = spa retreat!!!) so I had the rare chance to take Mia and Sophie to school.
This is a real treat for them because, after taking on a few more children to care for at the end of the year, I have not had room in my big ol’ Suburban to do so.  I am so thankful for some extra special and kind Moms who have helped me out in the carpool department.  I couldn’t do what I do without their help and support.  So a big thank you Amber, Rachel and Kandi.  You are all such blessings! 

I took full advantage of our road trip opportunity and decided, after dropping Sophie off at preschool, to take the cuties to a little place I like to call coffee heaven.  
Also knows as Starbucks.
I think they enjoyed the road trip almost as much as my taste buds did. 

Here’s a little more of this and that to recap what’s been happening in Haus of Girls the past few days.

#1.  I DARE you to try this Jackie Warner workout DVD.  And then I dare you to not cry when doing the abs portion of the 40 minute full body workout. 

jackie warner 

Seriously.  Go buy it from like I did (thanks to a gift card from my sister Adie!) for less than half price and do it.  Your body will thank me.  I am back in the swing of working out after a two month hiatus due to sickness.  I am thankful to have my body back.  Not thankful for the awful feeling of my stomach being on fire.

#2.  T-minus two weeks until Baby Smith arrives!!!

adie 35 weeks And how cute is my sister Adie’s 36 week pregnant belly?
I can not even wait to hold her new teeny baby boy.
I may or may not steal him for a few days.  Do you think she’ll notice?

#3. At Starbucks today I went out on a limb and tried something new.  I know, I’m such a dare devil.  I normally get the plain Jane boring Skinny Vanilla Latte, but I risked it and tried the Skinny Carmel Macchiato. 
I almost fainted from the yumminess.  I want one every morning from now on.  If only I had a gift card for every diaper I changed during the day.  I ‘d be one happy, and caffeinated, momma.

#4.  My computer is being shady, again.
I must save all my pictures on my sd card TONIGHT.  Someone remind me later tonight.  Threaten me.  Force me.  I am counting on you!

#5.  It has finally stopped snowing for a few minutes.  Last week was a snowy blur of sledding, shoveling (not by me of course!), and family game nights inside. 

#6.  This girl is getting too old.  Too fast.
100_2831She is so over all the skirts I have sewn for her, only takes showers and does her own ponytails.  Tears. 
She even had a special day with Dad and went up in this…

stl arch

the St. Louis Arch.
Something I have yet to do.  Will never do, I’m pretty sure. 
Just a tad too high for me, and I won’t even talk about the fact that when it’s windy, you feel it swaying back and forth when you’re up at the top.  No chance. 

#7.  Speaking of no chance…
No chance that this girl is about to turn five.  

Sophie has recently determined her upcoming party will be  Rapunzel themed.  I guess I better gather up some of my Grandma Viefhaus’ German recipes for the big day.  
Kraut Flakel anyone? (One of my favorite foods of all time!)

This almost five year old was a “Beterinarian” today at preschool for their Occupation Parade.  Stethoscope and all. 
And when I sat down by her at lunch this afternoon with my baby spinach salad with grilled chicken she said, “Wow, Mom.  That smells like lice.” 
The end.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What I Whipped Up Wednesday- Life is Beautiful


My friend Kimmie has been doing a fun “What I whipped up Wednesday” post on her blog, Sugar and Dots, for awhile now.  
I am finally joining in on the fun and showing some of the things that I whip up on a weekly basis. 
It’s amazing the creativity that flows when you are stuck inside for six days straight due to snow!

Luckily, after somewhat mastering a daily routine with eight kids (ages 10 months, 2, 2, 2, 2.5, 4, 4 & 4) I am able to get them all to sleep at the same time for two hours each day.
Pure awesomeness. 
Awesomeness that gives me plenty of crafty time as well as getting-back-in-shape time after taking two months off due to all the winter diseases Haus of Girls has endured. 

What I whipped up the other day, after being inspired by a fantastic wall of photos in, none other than, Kimmie’s very own home, is a vinyl cut out of “Life is Beautiful.”
I just love this phrase and had to find somewhere to incorporate this in my own home.

  kimmie's wall

Here is Kimmie’s adorable wall, that inspired me.


And here is my version in our front sitting/computer room.


I already had all the photos, plate and other fun decor hanging up, but by simply adding a little phrase at the top, it has made it even more personalized.



I love this little reminder, right next to all my favorite photos, that life is truly so beautiful and that I am blessed to have so much love, joy and richness in my life. 

My next project? The phrase ”It’s a Wonderful Life.”
One of my favorite movies of all time.  I just need to figure out which wall to put this on. 
Then I think I will make some silhouettes of the girls for their bedrooms.

Look out What I whipped up Wednesday, I am on a snow day crafty binge!
Hope you’ll follow along with Kimmie and her What I whipped Up Wednesday fun as well!

what I whipped up linky

Happy whipping up Wednesday!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Snow Crazy

Last week Mia only had school one day.
The rest were snow days.
Our family loved every minute of the indoor fun and having nowhere to be, however yesterday we were happy to have somewhere to go: my parent’s house for a day of sledding!




My three stooges all bundles up and ready to go.


We hit the “small hill” first and  Mia smoothed out a great path.


Sophie’s face is priceless on her first time down.


And Gracie girl braved it alone in a sitting down style,  after already attempting a ride down on her belly and getting a face full of snow.
There were a few tears, but being the trooper she is she hung in there and followed her big sisters around the rest of the afternoon.


“I don’t like snow in my face,” she told me a few hundred times.  Me neither, Gracie. 


Steve and Gracie’s first attempt down the “big hill.”
Super fast, more snow in Gracie’s face, and a few more tears.


A picture of the trek back up the “big hill.”
Notice Steve’s stellar baby carrying skills.


All smiles from this purple layered girl.
Note the hat on backwards ;)


Mia braving the big hill alone.


At the end is a cliff which drops down to my parent’s pond, so my Dad had to stand down at the end and stop/catch us. 
To say the least, he had his work cut out for him.
My mom also helped by blocking the trees at the end.
All and all a super safe day  ;)

My dad put it best when he said at one point, “As parents you put helmets on your kids when they ride their bikes, but you throw them down a snowy hill on a sled with no problem.”
So true.


Hiking back to the house for some hot chocolate and cupcakes.


Check out their waterfall! It’s frozen!


Mia’s yummy hot chocolate…


and such a yummy winter day!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why My Kids Sleep

When I hear parents talking about their difficulties
in getting their babies & children to go to sleep, stay asleep,
or having their child wake up at the crack of dawn, I can't help but cringe.

I feel, being a parent is difficult enough as it is, but the thought of screaming fits every night as bedtime approaches or waking up super early to a crying child makes ME want to cry.

For me, life has enough stressors.
Sleeping should NOT be one.

But to answer a question I have been asked a time or two,
why do my kids sleep?
It's very simple. 
They sleep for the very same reason that they say please and thank you. The same reason why they do not hit people,
throw things in my house, or jump on furniture.
The same reason they don't run in the house,
say nasty things to people, or throw their food at the dinner table.  We taught them.

A concept I feel many parents overlook in regards to being such an important tool for any child to learn.
A healthy independence if you will.
Something they will have to do the rest of their lives.
Like brushing their teeth or getting dressed.
As a parent, it is your job to teach them these things.
It always puzzles me why parents don't take teaching their children healthy sleep habits more seriously.
To me, it’s one of the most important things you can teach your child!

Steve and I have tried to teach our three girls (and are always in the process of teaching) them correct way to behave, in our opinion, politely, kindly, and lovingly. This goes the same for teaching your child how to sleep.

I always say that your baby comes out of your belly knowing
NOTHING.  So it’s your job as a parent is to teach them how  want them to behave.
If you WANT them to get up at 3:00 am and come in your room and sleep in your bed with you, then bring them in to your bed.  I, however, did not want this.
I wanted the stress free nights of having my girls each go to sleep in their own cozy beds so they could get enough sleep and be healthy.

If you want your children to get up 20 times every night, that’s fine and totally up to you. No judgment.
If you want to get up at 4:00 am to a crying baby, that’s your choice. Again, no judgment.
I, however, wanted none of the above.
So I made it happen.
I'm the parent.
I'm in charge.
And I definitely not claiming to be an expert, by any means.
But I am a Mommy and know what’s best for my children and my sanity.  

When it came to getting my babies to sleep, from the minute I had my first little girl Mia, it all came very easily to me. 
So I want to share with you, a few tips I have learned in the past six years.
I feel that if I can have three sleeping beauties, anyone can!

First of all, I feel I taught my girls that sleep was something everyone does & it's FUN!  From day one, (like first day in the hospital!) sleeping was part of our everyday routine.
Something they anticipated every day for nap and
every night at bedtime.
Something positive.
No drama.

This is just what I created for our home.
I can literally count on one hand the nights I have had any issues with any of my girls not wanting to go to sleep in the past six years.  One hand. 
And almost all of those were when they weren't feeling well or when our Elf on a Shelf was visiting from the North Pole and freaked them out a bit.

I can also count on one hand how many times any of my three girls have gotten up in the middle of the night. Once again, it's mostly been when they weren't feeling well.

And although I am so proud of my mommy accomplishments as it’s made for such a joyous journey, I’m not here to brag.
I am simply here to share a few tips on what I did to make it happen, after several requests from family and friends, in hopes to help even just one other mommy.  I will walk you through our routine from day one.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment below.  I’m happy to help in any way!


1. Pacifiers.
I can’t even begin to stress these magical creations.  I care for 6-7 other children in my home during the day and the difference in the sleeping success of babies  with no pacifier to the babies that suck away is night and day.
Babies have a natural instinct to suck.  I compare it to when you have an itch.  You then have the natural urge to scratch it.  Well, imagine the annoyance if you couldn’t scratch it. 
Let 'em suck is my favorite phrase.   Babies that use these time-tested baby soothers cut the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, by 90 percent. 90 percent! That is reason enough to let ‘em suck, in my opinion!

2. Start from day one.
The minute you get home from the hospital, set up their sleep space.  Never put your baby there to just chill or play.  It is only for sleeping.  We put all three of our girls in our bedroom for 12 weeks in a the bassinet of a pack and play.  On their 3 month birthday they permanently moved into their crib in their own rooms.  A simple routine like this makes everything run smoothly.  Have a plan and a goal.  It helps in every aspect.  The more calm and collected you are, the more calm and happy your baby is. 

3.  Swaddle.
Babies come out of your small belly where they felt all cozy and snuggled up.  Such an abrupt change in scenery can be a bit overwhelming to some babies.  Snuggle them up in a swaddler every time for naps and nighttime.  It will trigger a signal that it’s time to sleep.  Remember, it’s a learned process and this helps with the greater picture in my opinion.

Gracie, three days old here with Mia, all swaddled up.

4.  Sound machine.
I lovey, love, love the Sleep Sheep.  If you don’t have it, get it.  Having your baby fall asleep to the sound of rain or the ocean is fantastic.  Plus, I see it as another “signal” that accompanies sleep time.  They will soon learn to incorporate the swaddle and sound machine as triggers that it is sleep time.  It’s all about routine.

Bigger Babies…

5. Do not feed your baby in the middle of the night.
Now, obviously this does not apply to newborns! They NEED the nutrition to grow for the first two months.  But, in my opinion, after around 8 weeks, they do not need to eat in the middle of the night to survive and nourish.   If you teach them that when they cry then get up and get to eat with mom, guess what they will do every night?  Cry for mom.  Boo.
Remember the big picture when it gets tough.  You are teaching them the way you want them to behave.  If you want them go cry at 3 am for food every night, then keep feeding them.  I did not.  I wanted to teach them that we, in this Haus of Girls, sleep until, at least, 7 am.  Harsh, I know.  But guess what? This is just what all three of my girls did.  Around 5/6 weeks, all three of my babies slept through the night.  I did a final midnight feeding usually, because I am a night owl, and they learned to sleep until 6/7 am every morning.  I frequently see a lot of moms putting their children to bed too early, in my opinion.  You can’t expect a child to even be ready for bed at 6:30 pm, much less sleep all the way until 7 am the next morning.   That is most likely too long of a stretch for most young babies.    

6.  Have a sleep and feeding schedule.
This, in my opinions, is so important.  Your baby needs to sleep and eat a certain amount each day.  One day is twenty four hours.  So try to set up a schedule when they will eat and sleep within the twenty four hours.  Don’t just fly by the seat of your pants and randomly lay them down or feed them just because they are crying.  I see so many moms that do this.  No judgment, but if you shove a bottle or boob in their face every time they cry, aren’t you teaching them that if they cry then get food? Yes you are!  Only feed them when they are hungry.  Otherwise they will never get truly full and just snack every hour.  Awful.  Set a goal like every 4 hours.  This was always my time allowance.  So I would know that they would eat when they woke up in the morning around 6/7.  Then again between 10/11.  Then between 2/3.  Then between 6/7.  And then one final time before bed at around 11.  If you can stick to a schedule like this, it makes your day so much more manageable and organized.  At least it did for me!  That way they were definitely hungry when it was time to eat.  They would eat a lot each meal and get full.  Full equals satisfied.  Satisfied equals happy.  Happy baby equals a happy mommy.

 Gracie was the happiest baby in town.


And as they get older…

7.  Stick to your guns.. routine rules.
As your babies get bigger and grow into a more opinionated wanna be rule breaking toddlers, stick to your guns. 
Bedtime is bedtime.  There is no talking their way out of it.  There is no crying their way out of it.  If you give in once, they learn super fast that it worked and will continue to try over and over.  This is no fun for anyone.  It makes my head hurt just thinking about it.  If they scream and cry when you put them to bed, they will stop.  However, if you get them out when they cry, they will not stop.  You have only reinforced their crying power!  After your bedtime routine of bath, brushing teeth and reading a story, it’s time to get into bed.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  Ever!  Don’t let them wander around the house and fall asleep where they want to.  This is chaos for their brains. They will learn, as you are clearly teaching them, that getting in their own special bed, is not an option.  Just like it’s not an option whether or not they have to put clothes on to go to school.  They learn the ways of the world, even though they might not always like them, and realize they must abide. 

8. Once you are in bed, you stay there until morning.
This is a fan favorite.  I have used this since the girls transferred into big girl beds.  Once we get into bed, we must never get up, except if we have to go potty.  But since we always go potty right before getting into bed, this should never really occur.  Do not every allow them to get up and wander.  This does not enforce the rules of bedtime and structure needed to have a smooth sailing night.  I have three girls so the thought of putting them all to bed and then having the three of them get up as they please to roam the house, looking for snacks, or playing with their dolls really stresses me out.  It will never happen.

Sophie, at 22 months, loved having a friend to sleep with.

9.  Never ever allow them to get up and get in your bed to sleep. 
I know some parents are into co-sleeping, and that’s fine.  Steve and I, however, are not into that.  We are into everyone sleeps in their own special space called a bed.  I wanted my girls to learn, from day one, that there are boundaries.  I don’t barge in and sleep in their bed whenever I want to, therefore, they should not come into our room and bed whenever they want to.  I don’t take their special new toys and start playing with them without asking, so they should not do the same with our things.  It’s about respect and acknowledging that other people, besides themselves, have feelings that matter.  After dedicating our whole life to caring and loving for our children and allowing them to enjoy anywhere they want in our home, I feel that there has to be ONE space that is just for  Mommy and Daddy.  Our bed is that place.  Plus, once you allow them sleep with you, they will come to rely on you in order to fall asleep.  I believe in teaching children to fall asleep on their own.  Such an important tool! 

10.  Find a system that works best for you!
Most importantly, every family should figure out a plan of what will work best for them.  No two families are alike.   But realize that babies learn everything from you.   If you want them to sleep in or sleep longer, you really must teach them these things by not feeding them every time they cry or getting them up super early in the morning if it’s not time to get up.  Rules and structure give children a higher self esteem and confidence by allowing them to feel comfortable having a sense of what to expect next!


Have a happy sleep-filled Thursday! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snowy Tears


img_0114Last week we decided to make some paper snowflakes as part of our “snow dance” in hopes of increasing the girls’ chances of a snow day.
We used this
YouTube video, but ours did not turn out quite as stellar.  This, in part, is due to my awesome ability to read and follow directions.
It’s much more fun, in my opinion,  to just wing it and learn as you go!
Hence the lame snowflakes.


We strung our good luck snowflakes, all covered in glitter, above our sliding glass door.


And this is the view out of that very same sliding glass door when we woke up the next morning.
Our snowflakes worked like a charm and Mia was off for two days!
Steve and Sophie? Only one day off. Wahh wahh.


That morning Steve shoveled our driveway and chatted with his brother who was doing the same across the street.
That’s right folks, our new neighbors are Steve’s brother and his sweet girlfriend Angela. I am already counting down the days until summer and all the block parties we will have…


Gracie waved to Daddy and gave him the thumbs up as he froze outside.


Then it was time for some sledding!
But not before Mia decided to chuck a snowball right in Sophie’s face.
Sophie cried, Steve reminded them of the snowball rules, and then the sledding began


Sophie pushed Mia down our front yard slope.


Then it was Sophie’s turn.



Unfortunately, due to a few numb fingers, the sledding fun had to come to an end. 
I snapped one more picture from the front porch and in they hustled for some hot chocolate.

I live for summer, but snowball and sled filled days like this remind me of all the magical memories that I have of all the snowy fun my sisters and I had.
Memories that can take me back in time in a flash and ones that I will cherish forever.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Leading Me All Around in Circles


Don’t you just love when you hear a song that instantly takes you back in time.
Back to the exact place you were when you used to listen to it.
Reminding you of who you were then while evoking all the exact emotions and feelings you were feeling at that time in your life.
Almost as if you are reliving them.

viefhaus sisters 2010 modeling pose

A fun picture Haley recently found on her camera of me and my sisters posing during our Country Club trip last summer.
Strike a pose.

Like the time my sisters and I ruled the school…
um….by ruled, I mean, if there happened to be a competition of who drove the most ghetto car in high school, we totally would have ruled the school in that.

Remember The Scheiss? (German for…I’m sure you can guess.)
AKA brown bomber.

What about the Maroon Missile?
AKA dead bird smell.
(However, oddly enough, it never hindered the frequent requests for rides home that I had after sports, so that was good. They just politely (manually) rolled down the window as not to gag too much on the dead bird smell. Ghetto.)

We grew up learning that life was not about things.
Cars, fancy clothes, or who had the biggest house?
We were not impressed.

My sisters and I were, however, impressed with surrounding ourselves with people who cared about us for who we were, not what we had. 
We also happened to surround ourselves with people who were fans of all things music.
We were slightly obsessed.

I remember my sisters learning all of the words to Hold My Hand, Hold My Heart from the movie That Thing You Do, as well as the entire dance routine!
Similar to
this. (We have ours on video too but I’m not sure where it is.)  They tried to teach me, but I am the worst dancer ever, so I would just follow along with them in the back row.
I have friends from high school that kindly watched our performance and they still remember it to this day!
Every time I hear this song, or any other from this movie, I am back in high school, so carefree, dancing in my living room.  

When I hear songs such as Everyday is a Winding Road by Sheryl Crow, Wannabe by the Spice Girls, You Were Meant for Me by Jewel and Hypnotize by Notorious B.I.G. I am back in high school with my sisters and friends, cruising around in the Scheiss. 

How Do I Live, by LeAnn Rimes, takes me back to my childhood home vividly hearing my dad singing while joking about my sister’s boyfriend. 
Brutal, yet hilarious.

Thriller, by Michael Jackson? I am standing in my living room doing the dance with my sisters after watching the video ten times.

And a Viefhaus family fave, Crusin. This was the first time I ever heard Gweneth Paltrow sing. We were fascinated, and I’m pretty sure that we listened to this song at least 1,000 times at our parent’s house the summer of 2000. Duets are kind of our thing.
We may or may not pretend we are singers, a lot. 

Speaking of all the music flashbacks we can all relate with, I wanted to share this video that a friend recently posted on Facebook.
It’s one of my favorite Dave Matthews song and it instantly takes me back to college. 
In a flash I am in Steve’s old apartment for a softball/baseball party celebrating someone or something.
The best times ever. One of the best songs ever.
You’re welcome.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Our Version of a Hoe Down Throw Down

Every once in awhile Steve and I get to sneak away from Haus of Girls to have a night out sans kids. More often than ever before due to the fact that we have found the best babysitter we could ever dream of, Carly.

Her family recently moved here from Wisconsin and we couldn’t be more thankful for their sweet daughter who often comes and hangs out with our girls for an evening. She is a such a blessing to us, as we have always found it difficult to ask others to care for our girls just so we could do out and do something. It always felt so selfish.
Maybe because I’ve always taken care of them and feel that it’s my number one job, or maybe because we’ve always had a baby. Three babies in under four years is non stop fun but it’s also non stop diapers, bottles, learning to crawl and walk, childproofing, potty training and more.
So much to just pawn off onto others. At least it was for us.

However, Steve and I have just entered a new chapter in our lives.
A chapter than has left the cribs, diapers, childproofing and bottles in the dust. We have three potty trained, big girl bed sleeping, rule following, funny girls.
So now, it is not as difficult to ask someone to watch our girls and get a night out. Especially when you have a girl like Carly to call. She always happily walks four houses over, with her huge tub of Barbie dolls, and the girls smile from ear to ear.

This is just what happened last Saturday night.
We ventured out, without the girls, to a yummy Mexican restaurant with my parents, their good friends of over 30 years Janet and Nelson, along with their hilarious son Kevin and his wife Mary.
After dinner we headed over to a local line-dancing phenomenon called Stovall’s Grove.
Best. Place. Ever. if you ask me.

Stovall’s Grove is a family owned bar that has been around for years. My mom actually went to high school with some of the Stovall’s.
We had so much fun that I’m pretty sure Stovall’s will be a once a month occurrence in the future. Here are some pictures from the night…. 


Kevin may or may not have brought his cowboy hat for the occasion.


My dad had to borrow it a few times.


Steve twirled me around the dance floor, literally.


Who took these with my camera? I had no idea until I uploaded them today.


My mom and dad sharing one of several pee-in-my-pants-style stories.
Seriously. The stories they, along with Janet and Nelson, were telling that night made Steve and I cry laugh.


Kevin and Mary working the dance floor.


My dad and Mary trying a fun step. I think it was called the eleven step, thanks to my sisters’ friend Ashly, whom they went to high school with, I now know how to do it. Holla!


Kevin and my mom dominating.

100_2769However, the best dancer of the evening was, by far, Janet.
She had mad skills. I am jealous.

But don’t worry, a flyer on that big post on the right said that they have lessons starting soon. Adie, Haley and Maggie, we must take lessons.


And finally, I conclude with a stellar photo of Kevin “the stud” Glock and Ashly. Love this. And love that Ashly is a self-proclaimed Haus of Girls stalker. What a doll. I’m so happy we ran into her and that she took the time to teach this horrid dancer some moves.

Happy Hoe Down Throw Down Tuesday to all!


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