The Birthday Interview with Stella-Blue

My tiny baby is now nine years old…I’m getting so old!

Kraus House Mom

She and I have always been very close and even though she’s getting older, she still follows me around and knocks on the door when I’m in the bathroom.

We have a whole slew of TV shows we watch together (we ask the other two if they want to watch, but they decline). We call them “Our Stories”

Every year I ask the kids interview questions. They were the same for a while, but this year I changed them up a bit.

  1. What is your favorite color?    Black (yellow, blue and orange as well)
  2. What sport do you like?    Soccer and gymnastics
  3. What song do you love?    Chained to the Rhythm and Shape of You
  4. What is your best memory?    Kindergarten graduation
  5. What would you buy with $1000?    Bruins tickets or a bunch of puppies
  6. What is your favorite book?    Ghosts and Flora and Ulysses
  7. What is your favorite app? and YouTube
  8. What do you hate to do?    Clean my room, empty the dishwasher and set the table
  9. What is your favorite family activity?    Vacations
  10. What do you do in your free time?    Math
  11. What is your favorite TV show?    Stuck in the Middle and Crashletes
  12. What do you want to be better at?    Sports and engineering
  13. What do you want to be when you grow up?    Imagineer  
  14. Where do you want to go on vacation?    Washington DC and Texas
  15. What is your favorite part of the day?    Science and social studies
  16. What do you like best about school?    Science and social studies
  17. What is your favorite food?     Candy
  18. What is your favorite animal?    Unicorns, dragons, elephants and dogs
  19. What would you change your name to, if you could?    Isabella
  20. What do you want to accomplish while you’re nine?    Be better at school

There we have it folks, Stella’s interview.

You can watch it here…

Even Kids Need a Personal Day

Kraus House Mom

When I was a teacher, at the beginning of each school year I would get two personal days.

If I needed to go to an appointment that couldn’t be scheduled after school, I would use a personal day. Or, if I just needed a day, there were personal days.

When my kids were younger, I usually ended up taking them on their birthdays.

Now that they are older, my kids get their own personal days.

I let them choose their own days, but there are guidelines.

You can’t use a personal day on the day of a test, school even or sports game.

You get two each school year and you need to give advance notice of when you want to use it. (My kids usually use one on their birthday to go to Dave and Busters without their siblings.)

Once you use them, there are no more until the next school year.

They are pretty good at spacing them out. Teddy and Maizie have birthdays in November and December, so they take them then and then usually around May. Stella ends up taking one around the end of November and then her birthday in April.

There have been times where I’ve called an audible and had everyone take a bonus day, especially if it’s 90 degrees in the middle of May…then it’s a beach day.

Kids get overwhelmed by things just as much as adults. I found that them knowing they can just “take a day” when they feel the need to, helps them when they are reaching their breaking point.

Do you let your kids stay out of school for a “personal day”?




Guess Who Went Blind Again, and Didn’t Know It

Well Teddy pretty much went blind in his left eye and didn’t even realize it.

Who doesn’t notice they can’t see?

Let me backtrack a bit.

Teddy had cataract surgery in October 2015 for one eye and December 2015 for the other because he lost sight that one too.

Teddy went to an appointment to get his eyes checked after having cataract surgery. The doctor noticed a spot, he said it was scar tissue and it was common. It just had to be lasered off, they could do it right in the office. No big whoop.

Then trying go get the appointment. When you call, you ALWAYS seem to  get the recording that they will call you back. If I’m not going to be available to take a call, I won’t leave a message because then it just turns into a long game of phone tag.

I finally got through and got him an appointment, but of course, it’s months away. So we wait.

Now when the kids started at their new school, the school nurse gave them an eye test. She called me to tell me that Teddy failed his test, with his glasses on. I figured it was the scar tissue and told her about it and said he was going to get it fixed and his glasses are really for reading and not distance.

Then fast forward to a few weeks ago when his glasses got broken in a snowball fight.

I asked him SEVERAL times if he could see okay and if he couldn’t we could go get them replaced, I didn’t really want to since I knew he would be getting new ones once the lasers did their magic.

He kept saying he could see fine and actually go annoyed with me because I kept asking. We went to the Dollar Store and bought some reading glasses (one pair was lost within a day).

Ted takes him to the appointment and texts me that he is basically blind in his left eye.


How did he not know?

If my contact lens in in backwards I certainly know. How can you not tell you can’t see?

He seriously had NO CLUE.

I told Stella, she couldn’t believe it either. She was there a bunch of the times I asked him if he could see.

So now he can see and can’t believe how clear everything is.

He can see with both eyes, now it’s a waiting game until the right eyes has the same thing happen.

Do you think he’s going to notice?


I’m Sorry But I’m Not A Milestone Mom

I am not a “feel all the feels” mom, or what I called a “Milestone Mom”.

I know a lot of people that just like to cry over things, especially when it comes to their kids getting older or reaching milestones.

Some people cry when their kids can hold their own bottle, feed themselves, dress themselves, tie their shoes. They wish they could turn back the clock and go back to when their kids were little.

Me? I’m like Hell yea!! One less thing I have to do.

I couldn’t wait for Stella to be able to sit in the Bumbo seat

Maybe it’s because we had three kids in three years that I was glad when these milestones happened and some time was freed up for us.

Teddy dressed himself for the snow…WooHoo

I must say I was kind of upset when my kids learned to walk. That mean they were going to be getting their hands on EVERYTHING. Let’s face it, unless you have all of your stuff six feet off the floor and have nothing to climb on, your house will never be baby proof.

Free yard work!

My kids getting older means I’m getting older and I am definitely not okay with that. I think that’s what gets me the most.

Stella is going to be nine next month and Maizie will be in middle school next year.

That’s what hurts, me having kids that old means I’m that old.

Before you know it they will be getting ready for college. They have all told me they are NEVER leaving.

I can’t say I’m completely thrilled with that idea.

Will it hit me someday that my tiny babies are getting older? Perhaps, but for now I will see the joy in my tiny freedoms with their independence.


Stop Showing the Commercials!

There are so many things that get on my nerves, but today I’m focused on one…

Showing the commercials to that “Big Football Game” before the game.

One year I happened to see ALL OF THEM before the game. I can’t begin to express my feelings with G-rated words.

I like football (my husband was a football coach) and I have a pretty good grasp on the game, but the thing I like best about this particular Sunday is watching the commercials (I could take or leave the half-time show).

If I were a company that payed a ton of money for one of the coveted slots, I’d be mad if it was fast forwarded over since it was already seen.

I need to pause, turn off of fast forward morning talk shows because they keep on showing them and talking about them. ENOUGH, stop stealing my joy!

I know there are plenty of people that watch them before, then do it online. At least give the viewers at home a heads up that you’re showing one of them.

It’s just a little thing, but it’s a little thing that irks me.

End rant!

Checking Out the Toyota Prius Prime

I was invited to the New England International Auto Show in Boston and while I was there I was introduced to the new Toyota Prius Prime.

It’s not just a hybrid, it’s electric (boogie, woogie, woogie). It’s a hybrid that you can charge electrically, yes gas and electricity.

The new Prius Prime has several of the regular features, but it also has several, what I call “fancy” features.

Kraus House Mom

The Prius Prime has

  • Rain sensing intermittent windshield wipers
  • Heated outside, folding mirrors
  • Remote A/C
  • Pollen filtration system
  • 11.6 inch HD navigation/multimedia display
  • Hands-free, voice recognition capability
  • Satellite radio
  • Back up camera
  • 60/40 fold-down rear seat
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Smart key system
  • Charging cable for standard outlet
  • Collision detection, lane departure alert, steering assist
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance
  • Intelligent parking
  • Hill start assist
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Estimated driving range 640 miles, EV mode driving range 25 miles (up to 84 mph)
  • Starting MSRP $27,100

These are just a small smattering of what available in the Prius Prime (not all features are available on all models). Besides having all these features, there are also tax advantages available for owning an electric car, they do vary depending on your state.

If you’re in the market for a new car, want to lessen your carbon footprint, save money on gas (and possibly on your taxes) then I suggest you head to your nearest Toyota dealer and check out the new Prius Prime.


Disclosure: I was provided entry to the auto show to facilitate this post, all opinions are completely my own.


My Plans for 2017

Every year I come up with “plans” for myself. I don’t say goals or resolutions because resolutions are rarely kept and if goals aren’t met, there can be a feeling of failure attached. I like to use plans, because plans can change and adapt.

Kraus House Mom

This is what I came up with for 2017…

  • Get back to my high school weight, somewhere around 115 pounds.
  • Exercise for at least 90 minutes every day.
  • Have my kids in activities everyday, they need to be enriched.
  • Make all of my meals/food from scratch.
  • Not leave the house without my hair done and full make up done.
  • Buy a whole new wardrobe for each season.
  • Keep the house spotless…like a museum.
  • Reach at least 500,000 followers, subscribers, views on all of my social media platforms.
  • Join every committee I come across.
  • Get my doctorate.

I’m just kidding!

That list would end up a complete failure first thing in the morning when I bring my kids to school. Here’s my real plan.

  • Lose the weight I put back on and get back to where I need to be. This is a health priority. The more weight I carry, the worse my heart disease can get.
  • Exercise again. Once again, this is a health issue. I need to do more cardio (walking) and definitely need more muscle mass.
  • I do need to get my kids into some activities. We recently moved and they need something new. We’re planning on swim for all three, gymnastics and art for Stella, Teddy wants to do lacrosse again and we need to find something for Maizie.
  • Plan my weekly meals in advance. I did this before we moved and it was great, I just need to get back into doing it again. It makes grocery shopping much easier and I won’t be racking my brain trying to figure out what to cook for dinner.
  • I need to get my hair cut and highlighted, the grays are multiplying rapidly. I also need to get a foundation that can cover up the spots on my face that haven’t been burnt off yet.
  • Get myself some new duds. Last summer I did buy a bunch of new shorts, but I currently have 3 pairs of jeans that I wear. I seriously don’t remember the last time I bought a pair of jeans. Some new shoes would be nice, but I HATE shoe shopping.
  • I need to get and keep the house organized. We recently moved and there are still things that don’t have a permanent home. I need to find them one and make sure they find their way back home (huge issue in our house).
  • I really, really want to grow my blogs and You Tube channels. I don’t have any numbers in mind, but if 500,000 happens WOO HOO!
  • Work on my writing projects. I have three projects that I am working on right now. One just needs to be edited, one needs to be sorted through and revamped and the other needs to get off of the tiny pieces of paper and onto a real page.
  • I want to learn something new. I have no idea what.

So there it is, my plan for 2017.

Do you have any plans?



Christmas Scouting Mission

Every year I take the kids on what we call a “scouting mission”.

Kraus House Mom

This is when we go to the toy store and look at all the toys and take pictures of or point out anything that they may possibly want for Christmas.

It doesn’t matter what it is, they can take a picture of it.

As it gets closer to Christmas, they need to narrow their choices down to the top three items they want to put on their list for Santa, within reason.

Right now, Stella has about twenty two things on her list.

There’s a reason they only pick their top three items. In their top three items, they know that Santa doesn’t bring them electronics or elaborate gifts.

One, Teddy and Maizie both have birthdays fairly close to Christmas (November and December).

Two, because of what I do, they get a lot of toys sent to them anyway.

And three, they know that Santa needs to make sure that he gets gifts to the less fortunate kids before them.

Because of reason number three, my kids know that Santa won’t bring them electronics or anything expensive. If they get something like that (tablet, game system) it will be from us.

We have done this for several years and they love it.

When we go see Santa and he asks what they want for Christmas, they can tell him without hesitation.

This way everyone can have a Merry Christmas.

How do you handle super long Christmas lists?

Stella Built a House with Arckit

If you have a young builder on your list or a budding architect, then I have a toy for you.

I was sent Arckit GO Colors to review. It was nominated for Best Construction Toy of the Year by the Toy Industry Association.

Arckit Go

What is it? It’s a creative, free form model making system that opens the world of architecture to everyone.It’s a fun way to learn design skills using large floor plates and easy “click and connect” components make this perfect for budding architects.

Well, it was really for Stella, she loves to build. She couldn’t wait, she loves to have houses for her small toys.

When she opened it the first thing she was thrilled about was that all the pieces came in a big ziptop bag, she didn’t have to worry about them getting lost. (Great thinking in the packaging department.)

Kraus House Mom

The instructions are all illustrated, step by step.

I’m not going to lie, she got stuck on some parts. That was because she wasn’t paying close enough attention to which pieces she was using.

Once she realized she was using the wrong piece (a four block instead of a three block) she was good to go. She had the house together in less than an hour.

There are interactive directions on the website (which I suggested she look at) but she wanted nothing to do with it. She was going to figure it out on her own.

It is kind of a challenge to get the ceiling for the first floor on, it takes patience, but she got it done.

Kraus House Mom

She was thrilled to have a new house for her room.

Kraus House Mom

The age suggestion is 10+ and Stella is 8, if it can be built, she’ll get it done.

Stella says she wants a to build an entire neighborhood.

Now, do you have a builder on your list?

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I was given an Arckit Go Colors to facilitate this review, but all opinions are completely my own.

The Sisters Go to New York City

Over the summer my sister and I went to New York City. We go every year.

As usual we had a list of things we wanted to do.

Kraus House Mom


Some were achieved, and one was not!

The list was short this year.

We wanted to…

  • Go to Dylan’s Candy Bar (of course)
  • Go to the top of a building
  • Get a cupcake from the Sprinkle’s ATM
  • Go to Minus 5 Bar
  • Go to Central Park

We went to Dylan’s because I have three kids and all hell would break loose if I came home and didn’t have candy for them. Not to mention that I love that store.

Kraus House Mom

We were trying to decide between the Freedom Tower and Top of the Rock. We ended up going to Top of the Rock because it’s closer to Dylan’s and Central Park and deep down, we’re kind of lazy. The only problem was that it was SO humid that we couldn’t see as far as we would have liked.

Kraus House Mom

We went to the Minus 5 Bar, in sandals and dresses. We had been at an event and there were quite a bit of drinks already consumed before we even got here, I won’t mention what number beverages those two were of the day. One of us spilled her drink as she was picking it up, the bartender was a great guy, good thing it wasn’t crowded. That place is so cool, I wish I could have brought in my camera.

Kraus House Mom

We went INTO Central Park, after we were accosted by several vendors trying to get us to ride in their bike thingy. Every single one we walked past jumped in front of us to ask if we wanted a ride, not if it’s $200. Since is was so hot, we did a quick loop and were done. We saw a childhood friend while we were there, we didn’t say Hi.

Kraus House Mom

Kraus House Mom

Now we get to the Sprinkle’s Cupcake ATM saga. I’ve been trying to get one out of that machine for over 3 years. How do you think it went this time?

Kraus House Mom

We also got to do a some other things.

We saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island while on a boat tour.

Kraus House Mom

Kraus House Mom

We went on The Ride. It’s very entertaining, the best part is watching the people around the performers. They look around trying to figure out what’s going on, it’s great.

Kraus House Mom

We made a homeless lady cry hysterically when we gave her our dinner.

I finally found the LOVE sculpture.

Kraus House Mom

We got to see pigeons flying around Penn Station, I didn’t even know they stayed up that late, but it is New York City.

Kraus House Mom

We had a great few days, despite the ridiculous heat.

Until next time…