Thursday, October 29, 2015

Our favorite Halloween tradition - Dry Ice?

I wanted to share with you our favorite Halloween traditions.  My husband started it when our kids were really small, and honestly at first I thought it was pretty crazy and extreme.  But our kids beg for it every year and I know it's something they will remember forever.

It's pretty simple really.  We get some dry ice from our grocery store, then fill our cauldron with Kool-Aid (just follow the directions on the package) and then add the dry ice, one small rectangle at a time.  It bubbles and hisses and smokes and they love blowing the smoke around and watching all the craziness!  We put it right in the middle of our newspapers while we are carving pumpkins and it adds a lot of fun.  Plus, they love the super cold Kool-Aid!  Whenever it starts to get too tame, we add another rectangle of dry ice to the cauldron.  We re-use the same cauldron every year, it's just a little cheap one we got from Target.

** Note, dry ice can be dangerous, so watch the kids closely and never let them put their hands inside the bowl.  

And tell me, what is your favorite Halloween tradition?


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Monday, October 26, 2015

3 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Better Sleep and Stop SNORING

Quit Snoring

My husband has always been a poor sleeper, but lately it's gotten out of control.  He is having a lot of stress at work, and this has caused him to start sleep-walking.  I don't love the idea of installing top-notch baby gates just for his safety.  On top of that, he snores like a man who is lost in the woods and the only hope for survival is to grunt at other animals to communicate.  Seriously, sometimes I want to pinch his nostrils, but I fear for his life if I do.

His sleep issues cause him all kinds of problems, and they worse they get, the more tired and stressed he gets.  The poor guy.  He even got super expensive and invasive surgery a few years ago, and they called it "the snore-cure".  They took out his adenoids and tonsils and snipped his Uvula (the thing that hangs down in the back of the throat).  He was snoring again within a few months and actually it's worse than ever.  We've tried snore spray, we've tried sleep pillows, we got a fancy, expensive bed, and nothing seems to work.  So, imagine my surprise when I found something that actually works.

Here's what happened.  One night my husband was snoring so loudly it was shaking the bed and I turned to him so I could get him situated to his side, which usually solves the problem for awhile.  To my surprise, HE WAS ALREADY ON HIS SIDE!  Now I had no recourse left and decided I needed to try something drastic.  My friend has been telling me about these Essential Oils for a long time, how she uses them to ward off colds, uses them to make a natural eye cream, and much more.  She told me there is an oil called Valor II that is specifically designed for snoring and sleeping issues in general.  I really don't usually buy into this kind of thing, but if he was going to snore on his side and walk around the room all night, what choice did I really have?  I ordered her starter oil kit, along with a few other oils she recommended for me.  My friend then told me to put a drop of oil on each of his big toes right before bedtime.  You should have heard my husband, "What kind of voo-doo are we doing?  You want to put SMELLY OIL on my TOE?"

He succumbed anyway and in the morning I asked him how he slept.  He smiled sheepishly and said, "Well, I have to admit that's the first time I have slept through until 5:45 without waking up in as long as I can remember.  I guess your voo-doo worked."

It's been a few weeks now and he is still sleeping great.  I have noticed he is hardly snoring at all anymore, even when I wake up in the middle of the night to deal with one of the kids.

I am sleeping better too, especially when combined with a few other tricks I tried:

1.  Drink lots of water early in the day.  I find that if I'm dehydrated, I don't sleep well, but if I drink water late in the day, then I'm up all night peeing (am I the only one whose bladder never fully recovered from those pesky pregnancies?)
2.  Get the temperature right in the room.  Scientifically, it has been shown that air temperature can greatly affect the quality of sleep, and not everyone has the same magic number.  We have experimented and found we need a high fan and/or a temperature of 65 degrees or less for optimal sleep.
3.  Experiment with Essential Oils.  My husband used Valor II to help with his snoring, but I find that a different one, Cedarwood, works better for me.  I never thought I would be recommending something like this, but truly, it has made such a difference for us!

Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions about these oils.  I am still learning a lot, but I have a lot of resources at my fingertips and can help you find what you need.  You can reach me at katiefnorris (at)

Disclaimer: I have been blogging for over four years and in that time I have never directly sold any type of product.  However, I have finally found one that I am passionate about, so I have decided to become a direct distributor.  I do receive a commission on any oil that is sold through my webpage, but all opinions on the oil and their effectiveness are completely my own.  I do not claim to be a medical practitioner. I do not diagnose, treat or prescribe any medical treatment or advice. You should always discuss treatment of medical conditions with your medical practitioner before using any alternative therapies, natural supplements, or vitamins. The following safety precautions are guidelines only. You should consult with an aromatherapist about essential oil usage and always inform your primary care physician what you are using as they may not be conducive with his/her prescribed therapy and medications.  

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

I’m not a Work-Out Mom, I’m not a Career Mom, so what kind of Mom am I?

We moved across the country this summer, and this meant my kids would be the new kids at school, so I began to have a one track mind on getting them assimilated quickly.  I made playdates with neighbors, I signed them up for soccer and Girl Scouts, but at Back to School night something funny happened.  When we walked into the school, I realized this was also about us as parents, and more specifically, about me.  I needed to meet the Moms too.  Now I felt like the new kid myself and something struck me.  There were Moms dressed in their fancy career clothes, there were Moms dressed in work-out clothes (at 7pm), and there were the PTA Moms.  The problem was, I didn't fit into any of those categories.

I work out a little, but I don't love it.  I used to be a big career Mom, but I quit when we moved to Colorado, since we were only going to be there for a year, so while I still remember vividly what it was like to be a working Mom, as far as everyone else is concerned, I am a stay at home Mom.  I'm not a trendy Mom either, or a shopping Mom.  Suddenly I felt panicked.  Where would I fit?  What kind of Mom was I going to be?  Would I go back to work?  Would I get super involved in school?  Would I join a gym?

I shared my insecurities with my Mom and my husband.  They pretty much thought I was a crazy person.  Why did I care where I fit in?

I tried to get over it by telling myself I was being silly.  I just needed to be myself and all would be well.  But I did care.  I went out and bought a fancy tennis skirt.  Then toyed with the idea of going back to work.  I joined the PTA.  I was sure something would feel normal soon.

Then one day my kids came home from school and for about the fifth day in a row, they were all upset about something that happened on the bus.  The bus company kept changing drivers, and changing pick-up times, and seating arrangements, and I realized this bus situation was causing them a tremendous amount of stress.  They said they loved the bus and truly there were a lot of advantages.  Everyone in the neighborhood takes the bus so they get to socialize a lot.  They got to trade Pokemon cards, which they loved.  Even I loved the bus because they looked so cute getting on and off and plus then I didn't have to fight the car line every day, but I knew it wasn't working.  I made an impulsive decision and decided to pull them off the bus.  They were sad about it at first, and I could tell everyone thought I was a bit crazy about the whole thing, but I decided to give it two weeks.

Two weeks later, I was amazed.  They never complained about school anymore.  They were happier.  There were no more tears at night.  The bus truly had been causing all the angst, they just didn't know it.  That's when it hit me: I'm not Gym Mom, I'm not Soccer Mom, I'm not Career Mom.  I'm Flexible Mom.

Since I'm not working I can change our schedule if we need to.  I can babysit my nephew if my sister in law needs a break.  I can get my husbands tire fixed for him on a whim.  I can go with my Mom on a crazy two hour drive to look at a horse she wants to buy, because I am flexible.

It's good to have an identity.  I think that's why Stay at Home Moms struggle so much, because sometimes just being a stay at home Mom isn't enough of an identity for us.  But for now, I'm content to be Flexible Mom.  Because someday, I might find something I'm really passionate about, and I can be flexible enough to jump on it.  And in the meantime, I'll just keep trying my best to be a good Mom, and I'll keep trying to live in the moment and savor every moment of my flexible life.

Please consider trying out my book, The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn!

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

10 Retorts to the Question, "The Kids are in School all Day, What do you do all Day?"

I quit working over a year ago and it was a bit of a rough transition.  I went through every emotion under the sun and I have categorized my transition into 5 phases:

  • The honeymoon Phase - I was so delighted to be able to go to the pool anytime we wanted and not have to deal with needy customers on a daily basis.  This phase lasted for approximately two weeks.
  • The "This is really my new life?" Phase - Once I got over the lure of the pool, I realized how hard this was going to be.  Since it was summer, I had to drag the kids with me anytime I went to Target or the drugstore.  They always complained about going, and I found that Amazon Prime became my new friend.  Suddenly, there was nothing new to look forward to.  There were no big deals that would close soon (and bring a big commission check with it).  This phase lasted for about 1 month.  I began taking a lot of naps during this phase because it helped me cope with my new life.
  • The "I've got to find something to do" Phase.  - During this phase, I started doing freelance work at a frenzied pace.  I began yearning to have conference calls and I wanted a paycheck.  I even did work for free sometimes, just to have something to do.  I NEEDED to use my brain.  This phase lasted for about 6 months.
  • The "Okay, my kids really are fun" Phase - This is where things really got fun.  I began to really appreciate staying home with the kids and my freelance gigs didn't seem as appealing anymore.  I learned to cook.  I began to realize how fun life could be when home with the kids.  This phase lasted about 3 months.
  • The "I can rock this job the way I rocked my other job" Phase.  This is where I am now. I began to really think about what I could do to make my husband's life better.  I could keep the house as clean as possible, I could cook super yummy meals, I could make as many memories as possible.  This is when life really started to get amazing.  Unfortunately for me, the kids also both started full time school, and I became incredibly sad that my special time with them was over.  
That being said, I began to document all the things I do during the day that makes my family stronger, happier, and less stressed.  I wouldn't be able to do these things if I were working full-time.  And that makes me feel wonderful.  So, when someone asks what I do all day, here are some things I can say:

  1. I can read to the kids in the mornings while they're eating breakfast because I’m not rushing off to get ready for work at the same time and I can clean up the kitchen after they leave.  This makes nights easier because the pressure if off for reading to them for the required twenty minutes.
  2. I can take the time to work out and make my body healthy and as de-stressed as possible so I can treat everyone as nicely as possible.
  3. I can run errands during the week so I don't have to drag the kids with me on the weekends and I can focus on family time.
  4. I can make healthy meals from scratch while they are at school and have them ready to put in the oven when they get home.  Plus they're yummy, which make my husband happy after a long stressful day at work.
  5. I can make our home look nice and I have time to get it as organized as possible.
  6. I can be the one who is responsible for paying the bills and keeping the house running so my husband doesn’t have to worry about it at all.  We divide and conquer.  He makes the money, I make the house run perfectly (well, okay, it's not perfect.  Sometimes we have ants and sometimes I forget to turn on the oven.  I'm only human)
  7. I can take naps so that when everyone gets home I have plenty of energy to listen to all their troubles, put everyone to bed without being impatient, and I can help my husband navigate his stressful day and have the energy to listen effectively (something I couldn’t do when I was working).
  8. I can get caught up on the non-urgent but very important things like keeping up to date with our photo albums so that as they grow up they can easily look at memories and find photos for school projects.
  9. I can be attentive to the kids when they are home sick and not just put them in front of the TV while I am on the phone all day on conference calls.
  10. I can make the most of days off and early release days so we can make memories even though they're in school most of the time.  

I know that one day, probably soon, I will get back to work.  But for now, I am thriving and taking pride in every single thing I do for my family.  It's important.  My family is important.

Also, check out my book!  It's about making the most out of the time with your little ones!

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