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Welcome to Ask Kate! If you have a question, I'll try to have an answer for you. Email me and I'll post your question and my answer here! Please put ASK KATE in the subject line of your email. (kate@kateplusmy8.com)

Ask Kate: Part 2 of 2

August 4, 2013

Ask Kate: Part 2

17. Q: My mom ALWAYS asks me to do stuff even though I have two older siblings. Do you tend to have one of your kids help or cling to you more?
-Christina

A: Hi Christina! This is a topic of conversation amongst all moms, I think. I’ve talked to my friends, who are also moms, and it seems that in every house — our houses at least — that there are certain ones of our kids who are naturally “more helpful” than others, for whatever reason. We tend to ask more of our “more helpful” kids, but not on purpose, we just need help sometimes (ie: “can you carry this for me?”, “can you remind me to take the coupons along when we leave for the store?’” Etc.)! So to answer you, although I ask all of my kids did help from time to time, I DO notice who of my kids are most helpful (without complaining!) and I make sure they are extra rewarded for their help AND their good attitude! I’m betting your mom notices too! So, keep up the good work. I know your mom appreciated YOU and can count on you, or she wouldn’t ask you for so much help! ;) Take it as a compliment! XO

18. Q: My children are allowed to stay up later during the summer months and with school starting do you have any tips to prepare children to get to bed and wake up earlier without tears?
-Crystal

A: I think I answered this recently, but I’ll answer it again. We start going to bed a bit earlier, and getting up a bit earlier — gradually — starting around two weeks before school starts. This includes ME. We all tend to stay up super late during the summer and then sleep in and it really does help to start moving towards our school year sleep schedule to avoid tears during that first (dreaded) month of school…. Good luck (I know we ALL need it!)!

19. Q: Hello to my favorite Mother of 8! You seem to have it all together in your life and I’m still struggling with that, especially in the organization department. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you talk about things like cupboards, fridge, closets, etc. How do/did you keep those clean with little kids and did you use or do anything special to keep them that way? I have 4 little ones and they are out to destroy any chance of a organized house. Would you be willing to show pics??
-Jessica

A: Hi Jessica. Well, I certainly DON’T have it “all together” but I DO try. And, I happen to enjoy organization. It makes sense to me and saves me time, hassle and headache to have a “home” for everything. It is difficult to keep everything running smoothly no matter how organized you are. You’ll find helpful tips on kitchen organization in my new book “Love Is In The Mix,” which is coming in September. Yay! (You can preorder my cook book right here on my website!) Beyond that, all throughout the house, I use labels and baskets and find a place to store everything that “makes good sense.” If there are things that you don’t want your kids to be able to access (for safety reasons or otherwise) I put locks on those cabinets or use a cabinet that is too high for them to reach. Otherwise, the key to organization is:
1. First, find a home for items that makes the most sense. This is especially important if you “stock ahead” on household/food items like I do.
2. Label it! Label the shelf or basket (ie: “kids shampoo and conditioner”)
3. Change it. If the closet isn’t shelved in order to be used the way to need it to be, either re shelve it, or get baskets or crates to make it work.
4. Make sure everyone knows where items are to be stored. We have storage shelves and closets all through out our house. Everyone knows where paper towels, toilet paper and cleaning supplies are kept, where the kids toiletries are kept and where the band aides and batteries are stored. If everyone knows where each item “lives” they can help you put stuff away AND can go and fetch items for you when you need it (my kids consider it fun to go “shopping” in our house for items needed, lol!)!
5. Be disciplined. Organization takes constant commitment to keep your home… well…..organized! Just because you label and organize once, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. In fact, Murphy’s Law says, it won’t. Be committed to keeping your cabinets and closets organized… Every time (oh, and take a deep breath when you open closets and find that your kids — or spouse — has undone what you’ve worked so hard to do!!!!)
Hope this helps! Good luck!

20. Q: Love you and the kids! What grade is everyone going into this year?
-Kelly

A: Hi Kelly! I have 2 seventh graders and 6 third graders this year. Can you believe it??? I sure can’t! Wow! Time flies when you have a houseful of kids!

21. Q: I have really learned so much from you and was wondering — will you keep writing books and if so, what would your next book be about?
-Brandy

A: My next book is “Love Is In The Mix” and its my FIRST ever cook book. It’s coming out in September and it is SO much more than “just” a cook book! There’re pages and pages of my tips and our family traditions too! You can preorder it right here on my website! Hope you love it! We can’t wait!

22. Q: Hi Kate! I have to admit that I have always paid for school lunch for my kids. However this year I have decided to make their lunch for them. I really don’t know what to send them. And also I noticed that you do your kids the night before. Does that make the sandwich soggy? How sad is it that I have no idea how to pack a lunch. HELP!
-Amanda

A: Hi Amanda. First, congratulations for attempting to pack your kids school lunches! It’s not as hard as you think, is healthier and less expensive! So yay for you!!
I focus on packing a daily well balanced and healthy meal for my kids that excites them when they open it up! I get pretty creative. I’ve included these detailed tips in my cook book that’s coming soon (see above. I’ve mentioned numerous times in this post already, lol).
As far as avoiding “soggy” sandwiches, here’s some tips:
-I always “blot” the meat, lettuce, tomato etc before making the sandwich.
-if you’re packing chicken, tuna or egg salad, I’ll usually put the salad in a container and pack the bread separately. My kids can then spread the salad on the bread OR sometimes they eat the salad and the bread separately. Either way, it’s not soggy.
-I pack their entire lunch IN their lunch box the night before. I put the packed lunch box IN the fridge overnight and add an ice pack in the morning. This helps it stay colder longer and it’s always worked for us!
Hope these tips help! Happy packing!

23. Q: Are you doing signings for “Love is in the Mix?” If so, please try to schedule one in Pittsburgh, Pa!
-Jess

A: First of all, thank you for your email full of kind words. Second, I am planning some book signings and I’ll keep Pittsburgh in mind! :) I’ll get there if the opportunity presents itself! Hope to meet you and sign for you soon!

24. Q: What is your day to day routine like during the school year? Getting 3 kids out of the house for school every morning is going to be a new experience for me, and I’d love some tips to make it run smoothly!
-Jennifer

A: Hi Jennifer. Our school morning routine is very much like clock work (have you seen our Celebrity Wife Swap episode where the kids come downstairs at 6:03 am? Well, they really do!)! We are up at about 5:45 am. Eating breakfast by 6:05 am, teeth brushed, hair done, shoes on and out the door! On the bus by about 7 am!
The key is: routine routine routine! Do the same routine painfully every morning and soon your kids will catch on and do it themselves. This routine will also ensure that you don’t miss anything. Also, I plan/ lay out breakfast the night before and also pack lunches the night before. All book bags are packed and ready to go at night as well. You can’t take chances so plan ahead!!! Here’s hoping for happy school mornings for you….. AND for the rest of us too!

25. Q: I have lost the weight I wanted to take off! One problem though, I’m having a hard time toning! What exercise works the best to help me?
Barb

A: Yoga!!! It tones the flab and strengthens muscles! And it’s fun and challenging too! I prefer “hot yoga.” Look into it.. You’ll probably love it too!

26. Q: Mady’s pictures were amazing. I am wondering what kind of camera she uses?
-Cindy

A: believe it or not, she uses her iPhone and iPad!!!! I’ve thought about getting her a “real” camera but she prefers those “cameras” because she can edit them immediately with all of her photo shopping apps!

Ask Kate: Part 1 of 2

July 30, 2013

Ask Kate: Part 1 of 2
You asked. I answered… Well, as many as I could fit in… Thanks for your questions AND your kind and encouraging words! We appreciate it!

1. Q: Hello Kate! I’m 15 yrs. old & I’m learning how to drive & I was just wondering if you will put your kids in Driver’s Ed when they will be about that age? Will all of the get their own cars or share them?
-Allison

A: Hi Allison. I’m betting that I will put my kids into driver’s Ed when they are learning to drive.. Anything that best prepares them to be safe drivers gets my vote! In the meantime, I have to put it out of my mind… It totally stressed me out! I hope your learning experience is going well… Please remember that you are operating a large fast machine so be alert and make good decisions each and every time you get behind the wheel! :)

As far as cars go… I am not sure how I’ll handle that yet. I got a job and bought my own first car, so I’m sure that it I won’t handle it any differently for my kids. Buying my own car and paying for my own car insurance policy helped me to see that things cost money (!!) and therefore I took care of my car better than I probably would have if it had been bought for me.

Good luck to you and safe driving!

2. Q: I was wondering, now that your reality show is off the air, have you ever been doing something and thought to yourself, “Man this would have been a great episode”? Examples?
-Heather

A: Ha! Many many times I’ve said “well, where are the cameras when stuff like THIS happens??” Examples?
- We’ve flown places and had sinus attacks and motion sickness (never happened before?!) within minutes of each other — a harrowing experience at best.
- There are MANY days when I am racing the clock to get the kids to birthday parties, friends houses, picked up from school events and sports.. And have almost forgotten to pick someone up etc.

I’m sure all moms experience this and more (these are just two examples) but with 8 kids and only one mom, it truly gets interesting, daily. We are still the same fast paced, organized (mostly!) loving and loud family.. It’s just that the cameras aren’t here anymore capturing it for you all to see… I’m sorry :( I know our craziness made you all feel better about your own crazy lives, right?! :)

3. Q: Did you run before the 8 came along? I want to run but I feel like I’m so out of shape there’s no way I can. Tips?
-Nicole

A: Not really. I had run on the treadmill at the gym while I was in nursing school but never outside. I basically took up outdoor running around 2010 and found it to be so enjoyable and addicting. It’s a great healthy way to burn off stress and calories… And helps you look and feel better! Do it! Do it! Do it!

4. Q: What kind of coffee do you like & do you use a Keurig to make your coffee?
-Will

A: I love my Keurig maker and also use my regular old coffee pot (to save $!) too. When I buy Keurig cups, I most love: green mountain breakfast blend, Wolfgang Puck breakfast in bed and Starbucks veranda blonde (something blonde, fitting, right?:) !!! With school starting soon, I may have to order more k-cups and fire up my bedside coffee maker again. Thanks for reminding me!

5. Q: What was the name of the CD that you listened to while on bed rest with the sextuplets?
-Kathryn

A: Hi Kathryn: It’s a set of CDs that are called “Praise Baby.” We still listen to them occasionally, especially at bed time. Although I have no ties and receive no benefit from doing so, here is a link to the CDs on Amazon (simply because they are so special to us!): http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000B19AS6

6. Q: How early do you get up during the school year?
-Melissa

A: Sadly, I have to get up at 5:30am each and every week day morning to get the kids ready and out the door on time… I must add, I am NOT fond of mornings and I’m hanging on to the last days of summer as long as I possibly can!!

7. Q: My girls start school this year and are late sleepers, not looking forward to getting the used to getting up! Any advice?
-Katie

A: Well, a few things: First, brace yourself for a rough September. I always do. It helps to get in the mind set that it will be tough. School means brains are tired and that means kids are cranky in the evenings (and mornings!) until they adjust! Second, Start going to bed earlier in 15 minute increments at least 2 weeks before school starts. The goal is to land at your “targeted” school bed time by the time school starts. And this includes mom! I try to go to bed earlier too because its a time shock for ALL of us once school starts! Third, plan ahead. Don’t leave stuff til the day before school starts. I try to be under control and calm so that my kids don’t sense my anxiety about the start of school. [Yes, moms feel it too -- we just have to keep it to ourselves for the sake of our kids (Wink!)!] Fourth, be available to hear your kids’ concerns and be excited about their stories from school. This will help send a positive message about school!
Good luck! And get ready! :)

8. Q: Being a single mother of four AMAZING children, organization is the key to a smooth running household. What are your top tricks to keeping so organized?
~Nina

A: I’d have to say: plan ahead, always be two steps ahead, make (daily) lists and cross stuff off, rid yourself of clutter, have a set daily schedule and (mostly/when humanly possible) stick to it, make meals ahead and freeze them (see my cook book, Love Is In The Mix, for more on this topic) , and get sleep! A rested mom is always a better and more organized mom because she can think CLEARLY! :)

9. Q: Hi Kate, How do you raise 8 children on your own without losing your mind?
~ Tiffani

A: Ha, it’s not easy and no one (including myself!) said I was still sane..lol! I’ve been a mom for almost 13 years and a single mom for almost 4 years now. It’s definitely harder now that I’m doing this job mostly alone, and I’m never actually alone (without at least some kids!), but I’m still as determined as ever to provide the absolute best life possible for each of my kids. I guess that my love for them ————->determination–> motivation = keeps me going, doing all that they need, deserve and as many of their wants as I can manage to make happen! Aren’t all moms the same tho? We take the punches and keep on rolling….why? for our kids!

10. Q: Now that all of your kids are getting to the age where they are getting more and more involved in after-school activities, how in the world do you keep track of all of that, and how do you have the time to attend all of their games, concerts, as well as getting them to and from various friends?
-Carlene

A: Birthday parties, sports events, sports camps, school programs, dentist, orthodontist, doctor appts, friends houses, having friends over..oh my.. It is becoming QUITE a social nightmare around here… My calendar consists mostly of where to be when to drop which child off or pick which child up where. It’s crazy… I once jokingly said “someday I’ll have to trade my part time babysitter for a part time driver… And I’m almost there.” Yikes!

11. Q: On the renovations episodes, you weren’t sure about the little drink fridge. My question is are you glad you put it in? And do you use it often?
-Mom of 3 sons

A: Well, what a great question! I am still extremely thankful for that fridge EVERY DAY! I remember being unsure of a purpose for it but, turns out, it fits eight lunch boxes perfectly inside. So, I am able to pack lunches the night before and store them in the lunch boxes, in the fridge. In the morning, we just have to add ice packs to the lunch boxes and off we go.. I think I say every day — “oh what would I do without this little fridge?” because our main fridge is always packed full and there’s no way lunch boxes would ever fit in there! Oh, and, there’s no way I’d want their lunch boxes in my main fridge either (yuck!). In the summertime, we use it as a drink fridge and over the holidays, it stores all the “over flow” side dishes and baked goods too… It’s perfect!

12. Q: Hi Kate, I was wondering if your kids ever miss being on tv and or having the cameras around. Have they ever asked you about going back on air?
-Bella

A: Hi Bella. They DO miss being on tv and especially miss the fun trips and events. They also miss our crew, although we still keep in touch with some of them. However, life has gone on and that’s okay with all of us too… :)

13. Q: Hello Kate! What is your morning routine in the summer? Do they kids wake up at the same time because Alexis wakes up?
-Kennedy

A: During the summer, it’s pretty quiet here until about 8 am. Alexis does wake up first but even she sleeps in until 8 (at the latest). The kids go downstairs and watch tv and eat breakfast as they wake up. Hannah and Leah sleep until 10 am sometimes and Mady and Cara would sleep all day, I think, if I let them! We have been staying up late almost every night this summer, doing night time swims and playing card games.. So it’s no wonder everyone sleeps in these days! That’s fine by me.. I’m a night owl too! :)

14. Q: My question is – on average, when the babies were newborns, how many hours of sleep do you think you got per night?
-Rebecca

A: Hi Rebecca. My answer is: never ever ever enough! I lived for YEARS on about 4-5 hours of sleep a night. Whew! I’m still so tired at night and always thankful for (enough) sleep!

15. Q: Even though I eat great and run regularly, I feel like my legs will not change their shape, the rest of me seems to be in much better shape and I can’t get my legs to comply!! How did you get your legs in such amazing shape??
-Steph

A: Well, first, thanks for the compliment but I sometimes feel like you do! Everyone has their “stubborn spot” and I sometimes feel like my thighs are that place for me too. I run, inclines and sprints and keep my carb intake as low as possible (although I DO eat carbs). Yoga is great for toning trouble spots too! Keep up the hard work. And congrats for eating healthy and working out! :)

16. Q: I am VERY excited for your cookbook release!! I can not wait to try more of your awesome recipes that I’m sure will become staples in our home! Do you have “Freezer meal” recipes in your new book? You know, raw meals I can prepare and store in a freezer-bag/containers and freeze for later date?
-Rebecca

A: Yes! There’s lots of tips and tricks in my book, as well as my recipes that I make for my kids! You can preorder it right here on my website!!! I hope you love it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it!

Whew! So many questions today! Part 2 is coming tomorrow…
XO
K8