Tails from a mother of five in photos, videos, humor and short stories...welcome to our zoo!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

#AskAwayFriday With Christy from Uplifting Families

What is #AskAwayFriday?

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County, as a way to connect with other bloggers with a great Q & A session of 10 questions and 10 answers, between two bloggers!

This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know others while allowing others to get to know you and of course there is also the added bonus of making great friends along the way. Participating in #AskAwayFriday each week is also a great way to build your blogging community.

Drop by and welcome our fabulous #AAF hosts:




Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings

and Echo from Domain of the Mad Mommy

This week my buddy is Christy from Uplifting Families.  She is a mother of three from Texas. Christy blogs about parenting, pregnancy, breastfeeding and so much more. You can visit Christy HERE to read her answers to my questions.

Below are the questions she asked me.

1. What is one piece of advice that you would give to a single mom?

Goose and I at her fifth birthday party

Reach out to your family and friends and don't be afraid to ask for help. When my daughter was young I depended on my friends and family for many, things. They helped babysit, loaned me money when things got tight, and were my support network as a single mother. If I didn't have their support I probably wouldn't have been able to handle raising her on my own.  I probably wouldn't be here to write this either.

2.Now that you are a mom, what is piece of baby gear would you recommend for moms to put on their baby registry?

Me and Little Bear Christmas 2010 he was one week old


The last time I had a baby was over four years ago, so this one is tough for me to answer.  I used my sling a lot, but that was mostly because I had other small children so I needed to free my hands.  If it is your first child ask for lots of diapers. You can't have too many diapers.


3. I remember when I was growing up that my parents let me play outside unattended with my friend as long as I told her where I was going. I never let my kids go outside unattended even my two teenagers. I always make them stay where I can see them, if I do allow them to play outside unless they are in the back yard, will you allow your children to play outside by themselves when they are older?

I always tell my kids that they can go outside and play as long as they stay in the yard. I make sure I can see them from the window. During the summer I let Goose take her siblings to the park while I stay home to get housework done, go for a run or write. I trust Goose. Besides, she has a black belt and knows how to defend herself and her siblings.

4. How do you manage to find the time to manage two online blogs? I barely can keep up with one most of the time. 

How do I find the time to manage two blogs? I only write in this one 2-3 days a week. When we lived in Spokane I managed to update it every single day. But ever since we moved to Chicago I have less and less free time. So I write a #WordlessWedesday on a Tuesday, then update it again on Wednesday and #AskAwayFriday Thursday night.

I have 16 contributors on my other blog plus I run a ton of guest posts from experts in health, fitness and parenting. I do #WordlessWednesday on a Tuesday and then one or two original articles written by myself during the week. The most time consuming aspect of that blog is answering all the e mails from PR requests,  occasional calls with clients, and the bookwork.

I try to visit blogs and leave comments when my youngest takes his naps at 1pm CST.  If my husband is out of town then I fit in blog reading and commenting after the kids go to bed too.

5. What is your favorite blog post? Why?

From which blog? Both?

This is a good one: Friday Funny and Week Recap at the Zoo

This post really explains what my life is like. Although, it was written when we lived in Spokane and things are a lot different now. It is the most popular post, is humorous, and I like it.

I have nearly 3,000 posts on my other blog so narrowing it down to just one is impossible.

For the Healthy Moms Magazine Are GMO Foods Safe?  Is my very favorite, but it's highly controversial. I love to write opinion pieces and this one is the best. It really showcases my point of view.

This is another really good article that I wrote a while back: The Truth About Popular Healthy Snacks for Kids.

6. Fitness- What is your favorite way to workout or be fit?

I love to run, but Chicago winters are not friendly to runners. Lately, I just work out in my home gym. I have an elliptical, a fitness ball, and some hand weights.  I work out every day for 20 minutes after I take the kids to school.

7. What is your favorite “me” time activity?

Praying and reading my bible or going for a run or working out.

8. What is your go to meal when you are busy and have to get the family fed before bedtime?

Leftovers. We have leftover night two nights a week. Chris can take leftovers and turn it into healthy pizza.

9. If you won a $500 dollar shopping spree (you could only spend it on yourself), what would you spend the money on?

That is a tough one. I am a fitness junkie so maybe some more fitness gear or nutritional supplements and new clothes for myself. I'd probably also visit  The Family Christian Store and get some home decor or Veggie Tales movies for my kids. There is so much that I would love to spend money on, if I had some extra money. Right now I could use some new boots. My favorite ones are wearing out. But I wouldn't spend $500 on just a pair of boots. I'd make sure I spread it around and got my money's worth.


10. Quick Favorites

1. Book - The Bible
2. Movie - It is a toss up between The Princess Bride and Forrest Gump. I can quote both of those movies just about from start to finish.
3. Food - Chocolate. This is my weakness. Dark chocolate is okay every once in a while.
4. Season of the Year (Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall) - Spring
5. Holiday - Easter
6. Music/artist/song or genre - I love anything country. Right now my favorites are Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line, Zac Brown Band...Okay I have way too many favorites. My kids love Blake.
7. Celebrity - Jim Parsons. He is so funny and Chris and I love The Big Bang Theory.
8. Historical Figure - Saint Mother Theresa. I know she was from recent history but she was an amazing woman.
9. State in the United States - I was born and raised in Wisconsin.  I love being a cheese head and Packer fan.
10. Animal - house cat I grew up with cats and always thought that a home wasn't a home without one. Now that we rent I haven't had a pet cat in years. Once we buy a house I will go to the animal shelter and adopt a little kitty.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why Do I Have Boys?

Boys. When I was a teenager I couldn't stop thinking about them.  By the time I was in college, I found most boys obnoxious and immature. Besides, I had better things to do with my time, then. I had a little girl.

I remember when my oldest brother's boys were little.  . They were hyper, full of energy and listened to my brother and sister-in-law about half of the time.  Today, they are wonderful, handsome young men.

I love my two girls. When I am alone with just my girls the decibels in our home are at the lowest level.  They quietly talk about school, music and ponies.  They read books, listen to music, and do girlie things.  I savor the peace and tranquility around my girls.


But boys are totally different.  I am awakened before 6am every morning to the sound of two boys arguing.  Then the stomping down the stairs begins.  "I'm hungry, Mom. I want breakfast!"

Struggling to open my eyes I realize that the sun has just began to creep up from behind the trees. It's 5:55 a.m. "It's not even six yet," I grumble, "Go back to bed."


This is repeated every single morning.  While getting ready for school my boys race to eat, and get dressed. Whoever is dressed first gets to play the video game of his choice on the Fire TV.  I barely get my second cup of coffee poured down my throat when the fighting over the video games begin.

After school the yelling and fighting continues.  Don't get me started on the messes either! My boys can turn anything into a weapon.  Socking your brother with a pillow is a favorite past time.  I can't have nice things because I have boys.

But, at the end of the day I can look forward to hugs, snuggles and "I love you, Mom." from my boys. I guess boys are not that bad after all.  I'm sure they will be great men someday.


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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

#WordlessWednesday with #linky on a Tuesday - The Many Faces of Kitty

Wordless Wednesday is live on thehealthymoms.net and talbertzoo.com. Link up to your Wordless Wednesday post.

This morning I realized that I didn't have any good photos on my phone for Wordless Wednesday this week. So, I told my nine-year-old to pose for some pictures.  In her cute, creative and entertaining way she came up with this.
















Rules of this #BlogHop

  • Place my button on your blog so I know that you are linking up here.
  • Add your Wordless Wednesday Link
  • Leave me a comment so I can visit your blog.
  • Visit the other blogs linking up.
Wordless Wednesday




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Thursday, February 19, 2015

#AskAwayFriday with Live By Surprise - Blogging and Mini Me

What is #AskAwayFriday?

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County, as a way to connect with other bloggers with a great Q & A session of 10 questions and 10 answers, between two bloggers!

This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know others while allowing others to get to know you and of course there is also the added bonus of making great friends along the way. Participating in #AskAwayFriday each week is also a great way to build your blogging community.

Drop by and welcome our fabulous #AAF hosts:




Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings

and Echo from Domain of the Mad Mommy

This week my buddy is Liv from Live By Surprise. Liv is a mother of three children who has been through divorce and than true love with her current husband. She blogs about her family, being a divorced mom and co-parenting. Make sure you visit her blog to read her answers to my questions.

Below are the questions she asked me.

1. I know that you’ve recently made a big move with your family to somewhere completely unfamiliar.  What do you miss most about your last home?

Leaving Spokane, WA

Actually I am not completely unfamiliar with Chicago. I grew up in a small town outside of Madison, Wisconsin. When I was a kid we took trips to Chicago on occasion. I love the Midwest and have always considered it my home.  The thing I miss the most about our old home was the neighborhood. We lived in a younger neighborhood than the one we are in now.  It was filled with families with small children like mine.  My kids always had friends over to play.  The homes in our new neighborhood were built in the nineties. Most of the neighbors are the original home owners and their children are either in high school or grown. Kitty complains a lot about not having neighbor kids to play with.

2. What do you like best about the new one?

Our New Home in Chicago
It has a basement.  Our old home didn't have a basement so we had to rent a storage unit for all our extra stuff. When you have five kids junk accumulates quickly.  Now we have all of our junk in boxes in our basement.

3. You are a veteran blogger with a TON of experience.  What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Great question. I could easily devote five different blog posts on this topic. I'll try my best to make my answer brief.

Content is key. Make sure you write something that is worth reading. If you wouldn't read it, than nobody else is going to read it either. Know your audience. If you have a personal diary blog like this one, write your posts like you are having a conversation with your readers. If your audience is looking for answers to questions, make your posts educational so that they go away learning something new.  I have both kinds of blogs. This one, which is a personal diary blog where I share stories about my every day life and my emotions. My other blog is an educational resource.

Create a community with your blog. So you have awesome content, but it's no good if nobody is reading it.  You need to network with other bloggers who write about the same things that you do. Get them to visit your blog and spark conversation in the comments.  The easiest way to grow your blog community is through commenting. Visit and comment on as many blogs as your free time allows. I went through a period of a couple of years when I just stopped visiting other blogs.  Life happened and I just didn't have time. That was a huge mistake. My blog's traffic went way down and so did my comment count. I lost touch with fellow bloggers that I used to have strong online relationships with. When I fit commenting into my schedule again, most of those bloggers quit blogging.  So now I am rebuilding a new community and reading new blogs.  Use a feed reader and make sure you subscribe to blogs that you know the owners will visit yours and leave you a comment.  When I am looking for new blogs to follow I find a blog that gets tons of comments and I visit the links from other people that have commented.  If she is leaving a comment on someone else's blog chances are she will leave you one too if you visit her blog.

Make sure you have a presence on all the major social media sites. If you are on twitter, use it every single day. If you have a Facebook fan page post to it every single day.  Pin all of your blog posts to pinterest.  Sharing your blog on social media will help you gain new readers and improve your SEO rankings.  I tweet all day long and have 15K followers on twitter.  Interact with people on social media who are interested in the things that you blog about. This is another great way to build your blog's community.  Also, the bigger your following on social media, the more attractive you are to advertisers.


4. You have FIVE kids!!  As a mother, which of your personality quirks have they each inherited?

Yes I have five kids and they are all a little like me.  I wrote a little bit about this in my previous blog post. A Parenting Failure.  Growing up I was always strong-willed, independent and stubborn.  I also compared myself to my siblings and wanted to do everything that they did. I was the youngest of five. Sometimes I wanted to be my older siblings.  All of my kids except for my oldest are very independent, just like me.  But, Kitty is the most like me.  She is so much like me at times it is scary.
Mini Me AKA Kitty

She is strong-willed, stubborn, independent, throws a fit if she doesn't get her way, is very creative, talented and entertaining...all of which are my traits too.  Part of me is looking forward to when she is a teenager because I remember what I was like when I was a teen, but part of me is not looking forward to when she hits that age because again, I remember what I was like as a teen. Chris thinks that we are going to get into a lot of fights when she is a teenager. Only time will tell!

5. How do you make sure each of your children has “mommy time”? 

When we lived in Spokane we used to go on mommy child dates once a month. But we haven't been able to fit that in our busy schedules out here.  My kids get one on one time with me when I tuck them in at night. I make sure I say their prayers with each of them one at a time, give them a kiss and tell them that I love them. Goose gets a good night hug from me every single night before she goes to bed.  Bear has me all to himself all day long when his siblings are at school.


6. I love your Wordless Wednesday pics – you must be taking pictures all the time!  What was your favorite this week?

Thank you! My favorite?? I don't know. I take photos of my kids nearly every single day with my phone. Most of them are blurry and don't turn out. But when I do get a good one then I make sure I share it on Wordless Wednesday.  Here are a couple of my favorite photos that I've taken recently.

Little Bear



My little Monkey



7. The HealthyMoms Blog has a lot of advice for pregnant women.  What was your favorite part of being pregnant?  And your least favorite?

This is a tough one, that was over four years ago!  Time flies fast.  I can't find a photo of myself pregnant to share, I'll add one later when I can find it.  I loved the times when my baby was moving and I could feel it. I loved getting ultrasounds and seeing his/ her tiny features.

What I didn't like? I hated the heartburn in the third trimester and being on bed rest. I was on bed rest for three of my pregnancies due to preterm labor.  I also found it very uncomfortable to sleep and always had a sore back.

8. HealthyMoms also has a number of fantastic recipes.  Which one was your favorite and why?

Healthy and Delicious Frozen Fruit Cubes  This is a summer treat and I know it's hard to think about eating frozen fruit when it's 20 below zero outside.  I love this recipe because I did it with my husband's help. Chris is always busy with work and doesn't have free time to make recipes with me. But he is a genius in the kitchen and spoils us with his fabulous cooking.  When he helps me put together a healthy recipe I feel honored.

9. You’ve been on some pretty amazing adventures.  Have you got something planned for this year yet?

When I was a kid we drove down to Florida for spring break every single year.  Now that we are back in the Midwest after being away for six long years, I am excited to be able to share that tradition with my kids next month. We are leaving on March 20 for the sun and sand in Florida. We are not going to Disney because taking five kids to a major amusement park just isn't in our budget. Instead we are going to relax on the beach.  I can not wait!


10. Fast five favorites
a. Fish (eating)..Um, salmon? Shrimp? Crab? Lobster? Is that what you mean? I love all seafood except for sushi.
b. Monkey (at the zoo) What is my favorite zoo animal? Or do you just want to know what my favorite monkey is?? I don't have a favorite zoo animal.  They are all God's creations and they are all beautiful.
c. Flower daffodil
d. Bird cardinal - truthfully, I don't have a favorite bird either.
e. Last but not least – dog or cat? Cat

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Parenting Failure

This week is nearly over and it feels like it just begun.  The kids had Monday off of school because it was President's day and tomorrow the wind chill is going to be 20 below so they are off again.  My world revolves around the kids.  They consume my thoughts every single day.  How can five small people make such a huge impact on someone?



The school day for the four younger ones doesn't start until 9:30, yet I wake at 6:30 because I know my boys will already be awake and be hungry.  My day begins with the kids and ends with the kids. Where I go they go. I feel like a mama bird and her chicks.

image credit: freedigitalphotos.net

I've been told many times by different people that I am a strong person and can accomplish anything.  They are correct, but this parenting thing is waring me out.  Chris travels every week for work. I don't get a break at 6pm like most stay at home moms do.  If I want to go out the kids go with me.

Sometimes I question how good of a mother I really am. I am trying, but sometimes they embarrass me and it's those times I say, "Cascia you can do better as a parent. You can teach them better.  You failed this time, don't fail again."



My kids have many of my traits.  Some are good, but some make my job very difficult.  I've always been strong willed, independent, creative and very determined.  I want it my way.  My kids want it their way.  Only one person can win.

Today is Ash Wednesday.  For us Catholics that means we go to mass and receive a cross of ashes on our forehead.  The ashes are made by burning the blessed palms that were distributed the previous year on Palm Sunday. After the priest blesses the ashes and sprinkles them with holy water, we come forward to receive them. The priest dips his right thumb in the ashes and, making the Sign of the Cross on each person's forehead, says, "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return" The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance.

Ash Wednesday also marks the first day of Lent.  Lent is when we prepare for Jesus' resurrection on Easter Sunday.  

I decided to play my flute for mass this evening.  Chris is up in Minneapolis so I toted all five kids to mass.  Before we left I said, "Mommy is going to be playing her flute at mass today. You must sit still, be quiet and behave. I can not chase after you during mass."

They didn't wait to embarrass me. Right when we got to the front of church, Parrot started yelling at Monkey. Monkey decided he needed his own music stand right next to Mommy. He wouldn't sit still either. Bear took off when I was in the middle of playing one of the songs.  Kitty got upset when Parrot decided that the ashes were too weird and he didn't want them on his forehead.  By the time mass was over, I had a missing kid, one kid lost his jacket and broken crayons littered the floor where they were sitting.

Where did I go wrong? After mass was over the liturgical director approached me.  She was sitting in the pew right in front of my kids.  She told me that she and the music director want to help me with my kids.  She noticed that they are naughty and she wants to help teach them how to behave in church.  She also said, "We want you to continue to play your flute, because you have a gift." I almost cried.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#WordlessWednesday with #linky on a Tuesday - Valentine Cookies

Wordless Wednesday is live on thehealthymoms.net and talbertzoo.com. Link up to your Wordless Wednesday post.

I know Valentine's Day has come and gone but I thought I would share some cookies that I made for the parish pot luck this past Sunday.  I love baking and these turned out pretty good. Do you make any special treats for your kids for Valentine's Day?














Rules of this #BlogHop

  • Place my button on your blog so I know that you are linking up here.
  • Add your Wordless Wednesday Link
  • Leave me a comment so I can visit your blog.
  • Visit the other blogs linking up.
Wordless Wednesday




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Friday, February 13, 2015

Our Week in a Nutshell

Here I am sitting at the counter with my laptop and empty container where my salad for lunch once was. I have realized that I haven't written much here lately so I must get a post up before it's time to pick up the kids from school.  It is exactly 1:56pm and I leave at precisely 2:25 in order to get to the school an hour before the kids get out.  I need to be there an hour before the day ends otherwise I will be parked blocks down the street. I like to pick them up and get home before 4pm.

I'll begin with the weekend. On Saturday I began to really work hard at writing my book. I go to the library every Saturday from open until close and sit and write. I enjoy the peace and quiet of the library setting. Last weekend I got 25 pages written in those eight hours.  If I continue to do this each week I should have the first draft done by August.

The rest of the week flew by way too quickly.  I played my flute at mass on Sunday morning, we went sledding that afternoon, Little Bear lost his cute puppy dog hat and Monday the kids went back to school.  We started a behavior chart for the four little ones at the suggestion of Monkey's therapist.  So far the kids are not too thrilled with it and I haven't seen an improvement in their behavior yet. I'm wondering if the $30 I spent on the supplies to make it plus the time it took to put it together was just a waste. It looks pretty cool on our wall, though. (I tried to upload the photos of it to Google but I can't find it.)

Little Bear Wearing his Missing Hat

On Tuesday I spent most of the day searching for the missing hat.  I remember seeing it inside out on the floor of our front room. Sunday afternoon when Little Bear was taking his nap, Kitty, Parrot and Monkey cleaned up the front room. None of them remember what they did with that hat.  With my luck it will show up in July.

Okay it is now 2:10 so I need to wrap this post up.  After school yesterday the kids went to a local assisted living facility. They sang songs and gave the residents hand made Valentine's  It was a service project for the Little Flowers Catholic Girls Club and the Blue Knights Catholic Boys Club which my kids are involved in.  Kitty, Parrot and Monkey sang solo songs to the residents about love and Little Bear befriended a resident named Eugene.  He climbed on his lap and watched the kids perform. It was so darn cute!

Monkey


Little Bear Praying





It's blurry but he is on Eugene's lap here








Time to wrap this up! How was your week?






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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

#WordlessWednesday with #linky on a Tuesday - Sledding Videos

Wordless Wednesday is live on thehealthymoms.net and talbertzoo.com. Link up to your Wordless Wednesday post.

We took the kids sledding on Sunday and I managed to capture each of the younger ones on video.  Have you taken your kids sledding this year?











































Rules of this #BlogHop

  • Place my button on your blog so I know that you are linking up here.
  • Add your Wordless Wednesday Link
  • Leave me a comment so I can visit your blog.
  • Visit the other blogs linking up.
Wordless Wednesday




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Monday, February 9, 2015

Kitty's Birthday in Photos

I'm sorry I haven't updated this blog that often this month. February has had a busy start for the Talbert Zoo and I've fallen behind on my posts. Kitty turned nine on January 31 and we had a huge party over here for her. I'm not going to share the photos from the party because we had about 20 kids over here. In order to protect the identities of the other children it will take me a long, long time to edit all the faces in those photos. Instead I will share with you a few photos I took before the party.


I made home made cup cakes per Kitty's request.  The kids gave me a frosting dispenser for decorating cakes for Chirstmas. This was the first time that I used it, and the first batch of cup cakes flopped. After using Betty Crocker cup cake icing, they looked much better.




I had a lot of fun frosting and decorating her cake.  I use a special family recipe that has been passed down on my father's family for birthday celebrations.




I placed the party decorations and favors out on an extra folding table. In order to cut costs, I got all of the party favors and decorations from the Dollar Tree. As a family of seven on a budget, the Dollar Tree is one of our favorite stores.


Kitty's serious expression with her cake.  After this pose I told her to smile.




She looks much happier here.




Here she is with her cup cakes. I had five dozen cup cakes at the party. When the party was over we had forty cup cakes left over. I think I might have gone a little overboard on the cup cakes!

How do you celebrate your kids' birthdays?




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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

#WordlessWednesday with #linky on a Tuesday - Playing in the Snow

Wordless Wednesday is live on thehealthymoms.net and talbertzoo.com. Link up to your Wordless Wednesday post.

On Sunday here in Chicago we got blasted with nearly 20 inches of snow. Yesterday the kids had a snow day and Little Bear took advantage of all that fun, fluffy white stuff and played outside.  Do your kids like to play in the snow?

































Rules of this #BlogHop

  • Place my button on your blog so I know that you are linking up here.
  • Add your Wordless Wednesday Link
  • Leave me a comment so I can visit your blog.
  • Visit the other blogs linking up.
Wordless Wednesday




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