Saturday, May 28, 2011

Featured Mama

Each week we will feature an amazing, marvelous mama. You will get a peek into the daily lives of other local mamas, see pics of their family and learn some fun facts. This week we feature...

Nicole Paczesny

~Age- 30 yrs
~Birthday- January 20th
~#2 profession (mommy is #1)- I went to UW LaCrosse where I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. I was originally planning to go on and get my Master's Degree in Social Work at UW-Milwaukee, but as it got closer I wasn't sure that's what I wanted to do. From there I decided to attend massage therapy school. All through college that is what I really wanted to do so I decided to just do it! I worked as a massage therapist in a downtown Milwaukee spa for about 16 months, up until Brady was born. I had planned to go back after a few months but it's now 4 years later and I am still at home! I still hold my national license and and continue to take continuing education courses.

~Names/Ages of Kiddos- Brady Michael 4yrs on June 6th, Nathan Michael 2yrs, #3 is due January 1st, 2012!
~Favorite Nap time Pastime- Well Brady very rarely naps so I never get complete quiet but I sometimes let him watch an episode (or two!) on Disney Junior so I can have some mommy time at the computer or take a shower.
~Guilty pleasure food item- I have absolutely no self control and some of my weaknesses are Cool Ranch Doritos, ice cream and most chewy fruity candy.

~Most Challenging Hour of the day
- The hour before Mike comes home from work. By that time I am just spent and ready for daddy to get home and take over while I make dinner.
~Favorite Baby/Child Product- I'd have to say the baby product we've gotten the most use out of was a crib soother. We were given one when Brady was 4 months old and he used it until he was almost 3 1/2 and Nathan has had one since birth. It gives them something to watch and listen to as they settle to sleep on their own.

~Blogs you like, follow or have- We do have a Paczesny family blog however it has been almost a year and a half since I updated it! Two blogs I follow daily are Enjoying the Small Things and Young House Love, and of course PB & J!
~Favorite local place to take kids- We love the zoo when the weather allows, Bouncy Town and are members at the Madison Children's Museum.
~Your mommy style in 3 words- Eat, Sleep, Learn. I figure if I can get my kids to do at least a little of those each day, it's a good day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer Park Tour

A really good friend of mine and PB & J mama was talking about the summer and what she could do to entertain her four year old without spending a lot of money. At the time we didn't come up with much but as I was sewing that afternoon my mind was of course going faster than they machine and I got an idea. What about a summer park tour... a list of really cool parks all over the Madison area that moms could take their kids to each week. You could visit a new park each week or two in one, pack a picnic, invite others and the only cost would be gas for the car. This option is flexible for weather, works with kids of all ages and could always be combined with mommy errands.

So after my sewing time I created the "Summer Park Tour". I researched and found some awesome parks around the Madison, WI area, included their address and made a table listing out common park features. This way your kids can check off the park features when found making it a little more thought provoking and like a scavenger hunt.

At the end of summer any family who participates can turn in their Summer Park Tour table for a fantastic prize! Have fun.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars

We've become slightly obsessed with homemade granola bars (Earth Day Bars) in our house. Most of you know I am not a cook, don't like food and for sure don't want to spend time making food. However I do like to bake and enjoy finding things my kids like to eat. A few months ago I came across this Earth Day Bars recipe, whipped it up and tried it out on the PB & J group. They were a hit with all and now they've become a weekly occurrence here.

Not only do they taste great, are pretty healthy and super easy you can get creative adding in your own ingredients. Today I added raisins and blueberry craisins. Yummy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All About Animals

This week has been all about animals. Week #2 of themes and it is going well. I have decided to only plan three days filled with games, crafts, fun foods, books and simple spelling words. Thursdays are going to be "Nama Days" where the boys go to my moms for a few hours to play with their friends and then Fridays are PB & J Days.

Monday was farm animal day which is basically our normal around here. They played with tractors, lined up all the animals, pretended to be cows, made cotton ball sheep pictures and we took a run to visit some live cows.

Tuesday rolled around and we celebrated pet animal day. I didn't plan much for this day as we get together with friends every Tuesday but we made puppy chow for the play date, looked through Bella's (our dog) baby book and pretended to be dogs.

Today, Wednesday, was zoo animal day and let me tell you my house was a zoo! It started really rough, Pace decided 3:30 this morning would be bedtime so I was exhausted which is never a good way to start zoo day. Some friends came over for the morning to play and chat which was wonderful. After that it all went downhill. Naps were terrible, lots of crying, whining and watching the minutes slowly tick by. We did manage to paint lion masks, watch some penguin videos on youtube, practice walking like penguins and read books about monkeys.

These weekly themes have been fun, make me feel better and definitely a great time filler during the most challenging hours. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Featured Mama

Each week we will feature an amazing, marvelous mama. You will get a peek into the daily lives of other local mamas, see pics of their family and learn some fun facts. This week we feature...

Jenny Dickinson

~Age- 30 yrs
~Birthday- April 4th
~#2 profession (mommy is #1)- Hmm... First I went to UW Eau Claire for Communications and Web Development. I worked as a computer programmer for 3 years before deciding it wasn't for me and went back to school at MATC to become a Certified Veterinary Technician. I worked as a surgical nurse for a specialty clinic on the west side of Madison for 2 1/2 years before deciding to be a stay at home mom when Elin was born. I am currently doing some free-lance web page support for a couple of places in my free time and plan to go back to being a veterinary technician when Elin is around 2 or 3, but who knows where I'll end up to be honest. You never know what opportunities life may throw your way!

~Names/Ages of Kiddos- Elin 5 months
~Favorite Nap time Pastime- Staring at the food porn on Smitten Kitchen and deciding which of her recipes I'm going to try next and/or trying a new recipe.
~Guilty pleasure food item- Sugary cereal, I don't eat the whole box but definitely way too.

~Most Challenging Hour of the day- Between 2 and 3pm, usually I am bouncing Elin pleading with her to go to sleep for one more nap because if she doesn't she will be crabby when Garret gets home and dinner will be rushed. This is also the time she is least likely to want to nap.
~Favorite Baby/Child Product- Baby Bjorn. I would never get the dishes done/dinner cooked/laundry done/vacuuming done/etc, etc, etc without it.

~Blogs you like, follow or have- Smitten Kitchen and of course PB & J.
~Favorite local place to take kids- So far we haven't gone to tons of places since the weather is just now starting to get nice, but going downtown Madison and walking around the Union/Monona Terrace is nice.
~Your mommy style in 3 words- Structured attempt at chaos (ok that was four)

As a new mom I love advice and meeting/talking with other moms!

The Great Outdoors

The goats were talking, sun shining and kids running through apple trees, the great outdoors sure were great this week. Lapacek's Orchard offered a wonderful adventure and another successful playdate. The kids loved being able to run wild, sprinting ahead of the mamas thinking it was so cool to lead the way. Chocolate mini cupcakes were the perfect treat to celebrate Mia's birthday and the warm air was much appreciated after our unusually cold spring. We met little Pip and swooned over the two cutest babies.

Thanks for another fantastic PB & J Day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Our mid-week day was filled with green and blue activities, lots of whining, a fun play date, way too short naps, helping my mama out with her daycare kiddos and an anything but peaceful dinner. It hit me today how God's timing really is absolutely perfect. A year ago, heck six months ago, there is no way I could have stayed at home full-time with my boys. We dealt with colic, crying and no sleep for almost two and a half years making my time away at work necessary and restful. We needed my mom during the day so we could stay sane at night.

Life is different now, they are generally sleeping and we have a consistent bedtime. Just knowing there will be an end to the day, a time just for me, some quiet helps get me through the day. Yes my kids are still difficult (if you've ever come for a play date you know:) but they are easier when I get to sleep, so thankful for this time.

A few tips from my current read, The House that Cleans Itself:
  • Determine a floor plan and flow- prioritize your spaces and determine what to clean 1st, 2nd, etc. Follow this same flow each time you clean.
  • Decide on your "Home Base Zone"- what is the one spot in your house that makes you crazy when dirty??? (kitchen sink, closet, bathroom, pantry, etc.) Keep that one spot clean at all times, this will relieve stress and anxiety.

More to come along with a fun new "Meet Mama..." feature thanks to miss creative Kim L!

See you at the orchard Friday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Yellow Day

Bright sunrise, yellow tulips, ripe breakfast banana and a day full of yellow activities. Since I planned my sister's "sweet as honey" bridal shower a few weeks ago and everything was yellow I have really embraced the color. In the past yellow hasn't been on my favs list, it is hard to wear well, difficult to find the right paint color and challenging to match shades. After seeing my house decked out in yellow and enjoying delicious yellow food at the party I've decided it is a really happy color. Yellow just makes all things cheery, joyful and full of life.

Today was "yellow day" and I anticipated a day filled with happiness, laughter and sense of mellow. However lemons are also yellow, the sour, cheek puckering fruit and sometimes when life hands you lemons you must make lemonade. Boys boths woke up incredibly crabby, not sure why but it was ugly. By 7:15 am we had sped through #3 on the schedule and things weren't improving. In the end though we gave some yellow duckies a bubble bath, met friends at a park for a picnic, took good naps, picked dandelions and filled up on eggs and lemon pudding for dinner.

We shall see what green/blue day brings tomorrow...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Red Day

What a wonderful first day as stay at home mom! Today was red day and the boys were excited. I have a white bin from Target that I am using to keep our daily activities in and it worked great. The day started with me actually getting up at 5:30 when the alarm sounded and going for a run. We had a rough night with Trex and I didn't sleep much but my husband is also so skeptical of me actually getting up (every night I tell him my morning plan to wake up early but it never happens) I just wanted to prove him wrong.

After the run I was able to write our tentative schedule on the board:
~Get Dressed
~Game (included cleaning the bathroom:)
~Craft (didn't happen- had an impromptu visit from Nama and friends)
~Outside (even had a snack of red popsicles- yes before lunch)
~Snack- red jello
~Basement Playtime (didn't happen- Trex wanted to go outside instead)
~Daddy Home
At the end of red day a few games played, laundry done, successful sewing time and overall a peacefully fulfilling day. I am not crazy enough to think all days will be like this but I appreciated a good first one.
Now onto making "red" spaghetti!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Upgrade and Promotion

Our PB & J (play, bond and join) blog is getting a bit of an upgrade and I a promotion. I start my new job as a stay-at-home mama Monday and I view it as the most wonderful promotion. More time with my kids, more playing, more snuggling, more fun and more opportunities to show them the world.
As I've been preparing for the change it hit me that for one we will need some kind of schedule and for two I now have time to show my kids and teach them a variety of things. I love teaching and for the past 4 years have prepared lessons for over a hundred kids each week yet haven't had much time to do that with my own little ones. Well now is the time!
(Picture below: our new chalkboard schedule area)

Up until now this blog has been a spot for me to organize weekly playgroups, post pictures and occassionaly share my mama experiences. Moving forward the blog will continue all that and in addition include weekly themes because well life is just more fun with a theme! Under the "weekly theme" page you will find themes including easy craft projects, games, lunch ideas and other fun stuff. Use this blog to best suit you, if that means you try some of our weekly themes-great, if you attempt one of the crafts-awesome or if you simple want to read, laugh and move on with your day- fantastic.
(Picture from our playdate today)

Winner of Beans-n-Cream gift card...commenter #2- Jenna!!! Your gift card will be on it's way.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Week of Change

Change is good, necessary and exciting but can also be scary. My transition week is here; wrapping things up at my job and preparing for my new one as a full-time mommy. I am extremely excited to be a stay at home mom and can't wait for this summer but part of me is nervous. Not that I can't handle my kiddos or housework but that I won't be able to fully enjoy it.

My type A, on the go, get it done side of me is literally freaking out. I need a schedule, a plan, some little lessons, daily craft and way to feel accomplished when 6pm rolls around. I love to have big projects going on, big plans and dreams, big events to look forward to and all this freedom is making me anxious. I can plan our day any way I like, I decide what to teach my kids, what experiences to show them and when to take them to Nama's.

These next few weeks will be tough but amazing at the same time. I am going to try to find the right balance, embrace my personality yet learn to be present in every moment. I plan to share any mini lessons, craft ideas, daily disasters and wonderful mama moments with you.

I'd love to hear from you as well. I will post questions, parenting topics and of course some giveaways! Comment on this post to let me know which day of the week you would prefer to have PB & J- any day works for me now! Do you like the same day every week, change it up or don't care? A random commenter will get a Beans-N-Cream gift card, they have delicious ice cream!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

As Planned

Planning is a large part of my life. I like to plan, feel secure when planned, enjoy looking forward to plans and get filled up when things go as planned. Since a little girl I have planned my whole life out; from my occupation to how many kids. I couldn't wait to grow up and live life as planned.

Funny how things work out sometimes. Much of what I planned has happened; I live close to my family, married my best friend, God is the center of our life, have amazing friends and I had my first child at age 23. However lots of things are different; I didn't become a teacher, I haven't been a stay at home mom, I don't live in the city and I definitely don't have little girls decked out in pink.

As I find myself smack dab in the middle of a huge unplanned transition I realize although plans are wonderful and many times necessary, experiencing something unplanned can be great too. For the past 5 years I have worked in ministry and loved it all. Truly I have had a job I absolutely loved and got to use so many of my gifts to serve God and others. In one week though I will leave that for a completely unknown, scary yet exciting new season of life. For a short time I will be a stay at home mom, this fall I will get to be a teacher and who knows maybe a baby girl is even in the plans.

Continue to plan, dream and enjoy life, all of it.