Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Review of Traveler Safe-Er-Grip

Originally submitted at One Step Ahead

Safety-proof any tub, anywhere, with our portable bathtub grab handle! It's just as budge-proof as our best-selling Safe-Er-Grip, but small enough to tuck in a suitcase. Helps kids maintain balance and avoid slipping (an even greater risk in unfamiliar bathrooms). Holds on tight, but removes ea...

This is AWESOME!!!!!

By dazed81 from Illinois on 12/31/2009

5out of 5

Gift: No

Pros: Convenient, Easy Use, Portable, Easy Setup, Durable, Lightweight

Best Uses: Toddlers, Travel, Kids, Daily Use

Describe Yourself: Parent of Two or More Children

This is the BEST invention! I bought this when my 2 year old wanted to get in and out of the tub without my help, and she was dangerously slipping and sliding all over. After a couple of close-call falls, I saw this item and LOVED that it was quick to install and remove if necessary. This thing fits our standard tub wonderfully. We don't put it right in the center (that makes no sense to me?!) but a little to one side and it is just perfect. She can hold on and get in and out without a problem and is so pleased with herself.
We also found that when our 8 month old started to pull up, it was excellent for him. Instead of trying to pull up on the slippery side of the tub, he naturally grabbed for the handle. He loves to stand alongside the tub and watch his sister take a bath or wait his turn. I have NEVER had this come undone, and have left it on for months on end. I did remove it recently to do a thorough cleaning, and it went right back on and has stayed secure ever since. Not had a single issue and have had it for close to 6 months now! I am considering buying a second!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Three, Three, Three days in one!

I am so far really lovin Netflix. Everything has been going smoothly and the movies arrive quickly and best of all I don't have to pay any postage! I have watched Benjamin Button, I Love You Man, and I have Slumdog Millionaire here but keep putting it off because I am afraid it will be depressing and sad. I like funny laughing movies that help me ESCAPE from reality. LOL. But I will watch it. Maybe this spring? Thank god there aren't late fees! haha!

The Secret Life of Bees is on its way and will be here tomorrow, which is cool. I have read the book a LONG LONG time ago. So long ago that I barely remember it. I was ecstatic to see that Netflix has all of the Tori and Dean season's on DVD, so I can catch up on Inn Love which I never saw.

This evening was our 2nd round of H1N1 shots for the kids, because they are young they need boosters. It was really slick, we went to the clinic that is at the pediatricians and it was in and out.... really quick. Both kids did really well. Of course, now that we are home, Ardyn is being hysterical about everything (unrelated to the shots and more related to the fact that she's ornery and didn't nap much (just the ride to the Doctor's)

I am noticing that Marek is not putting up with her crap anymore, and is very vocal (growling, squealing and screeching in general when she tries to take something or do something that makes him angry) and I am laughing. But tonight he bit her (lol, can't help but giggle) when she took a toy away from him that is HIS, and then she hit him in the head in retaliation. We had a discussion about Marek being a baby and that he doesn't understand that biting is wrong. We included that next time Marek bites her she should come tell mommy and not hit Marek (right) and that if she doesn't want Marek to touch her or her things, then she should take them into her room and play there. (riiiiiight.) So, the fun continues for the next, oh 30 years, right?

In other news, I have no money. LOL. None. zip. As in "we need bread, but how in the WORLD are we going to get it?" kind of broke. As in "how long can we live without power?" broke. It's just one of those "lotsa bills" weeks. Ugh. So you know that yesterday I made bread. Well, I am pissed at Betty Crocker. In the Betty Crocker cookbook, there was a recipe that I thought I would try for wheat bread because it's been so long since I MADE wheat bread that I don't even know what recipe I used. The directions were all screwy, and told me to heat the water on the stove until it was 225-230 degrees and then add it to my yeast? Um. No!? I have made plenty of bread and anything above like 110-115 degrees is too hot and will kill the yeast. That's just Breadmaking 101. but then I did that thing where you second guess yourself. You know, where you say "come on, this is Betty CROCKER here. Seriously, how could Betty Crocker screw up something so basic as the temperature for water added to yeast? And then I worried that my memory for water temperatures had been erased by double pregnancies and whatever brain cells I may have burned during natural childbirth and sleepless nights. So I thought, Betty must be right.... Right?

No. As soon as I sunk my hands into that dough, I just was NOT feeling it. It was too hot. it just did NOT feel right at all. I had a baaaaad feeling. This dough was not going to rise. And two hours later, I decided it wasn't going to happen. So I made another batch, which I did completely differently (added ingredients more to my liking and experience, and added water to yeast at 110 degrees.) and it did rise. But I was still seriously unimpressed with the dinky loaves and the taste was too heavy and dry. Then in frustration I found a new recipe online that I am going to try hopefully by Wednesday (because we are out of bread. LOL)


Fast Forward to Tuesday night.

Got my hair colored today. I think I mentioned that I am "swapping services" with my hairdresser Kelly, to get my hair colored for "free." It turned out awesome. She asked me what color/s I wanted and I told her that she could do her thing. She has excellent taste and talent and knows what I like. And of course it turned out awesome!

Tonight Evan is "Christmas Shopping" and I am hoping for fabulous gifts from my list like hot glue sticks, brown acrylic paint, a scissor sharpener, and a nursing tank top. (yes, I am serious. All the things that I like.)

I should be sewing. I should. I still haven't sewn stockings. Or Allison's iSpy bag. I am a bad bad person. Santa hates me. Michele hates me. Hates. I will get to them. Tonight after bed we open gifts. And I don't mean our own gifts. I mean the kids gifts. Take them out of the packages and get rid of all that cardboard and those crappy choking hazards (twist ties, strings, plastic waste, etc) and prepare them to be given and played with in an instant. This morning Ardyn discovered that a drawer in her bedroom was still home to a secret stash of mommy's barbies. It took her over two years, but she found them. She got out every tiny barbie shoe and perfume bottle. I had two barbies in boxes that I had bought on clearance about 10 years ago for $5 each. They came with full wardrobes... I thought they would be good to have on hand for impromptu gifts or if we had someone over who needed entertaining. Well, Ardyn was super excited when I told her we could open one. It took me FOREVER to unstitch the poor doll's hair from her box. When Ardyn finally got ahold of her first ever barbie, she walked her over to the couch and said "Hello Barbie, How Very Nice To Meet You! I'm so glad mommy cut you out of that box!" I laughed. How cute is that?!

I have heard in the past that Santas elves deliver toys to good little girls and boys that are unwrapped and unpackaged, all joyous and ready to be played with. So this year I am taking a hint from Santa's crew and going to have everything ready in advance, to be sure that we don't have Christmas morning meltdowns, and parental headaches, and then everything will be primed to play with and fresh with batteries. Ahhhh.....

Fast Forward. Wednesday after lunch:

This is why I can't blog. I can't finish one complete thought, let alone a whole post, without being seriously interrupted! Last night was a serious case of the toddler meltdowns, brought on by the issue where MIL doesn't want to make Ardyn nap, and therefore poor child had been up since 7am and and fell asleep on the couch before supper (after I got home from getting the hair done.) I was blogging while she napped, and did NOT want to wake her, but then she peed her pants and woke herself, and then went right into hysteria.... complete with excessive snot and tears, and completed with the refusal to eat supper.... which she punctuated by throwing up on the dining room table because she had herself so worked up that she choked on her own snot. Yep. Attractive. Pleasant. Exactly how I like to end a nice relaxing day away from home. By this time Evan had bailed to do his Christmas Shopping, so it was a one woman show. Marek was very clingy because he was afraid that I might leave with my boobs again. I fed him supper while Ardyn napped, and then she woke up and I attempted to feed her.... she ended up being so worked up that she went right into bed with a few drops of Bach's Rescue Remedy and some requested Scooby Doo on TV, which calmed her down to the point of finally being able to form a coherent sentence. Then while she chilled down a notch, I took a nice hot bath and read some of my book (Love in the Time of Colic by Ian Kerner and Heidi Raykeil) and then when I got out, she was happily playing in her room and ready for storytime. Just then Evan arrived home complete with his shopping, and bringing supper for the two of us. So I read Ardyn about 5 or 6 Christmas Stories, and then Evan and I settled in for supper and some "elf work" before bed. And I was tired. So I climbed into bed and then remembered that I was "chick of the week" on my mom's board and probably had a few questions to answer. So I pulled the laptop into bed and spent an hour and 20 minutes answering them, and then collapsed.

This morning Marek woke up with a snot fountain and a fever. Poor guy. He is really not feeling well. Sleeping and waking alternately, very lethargic and just cuddly. He doesn't really care for much of anything, but I do get some smiles and occasional jabber out of him, so I am not overly concerned. Just a cold it seems. After nursing him this morning, He lay right down next to me and fell asleep. When he woke about an hour later, his fever felt higher, and so I checked it at 101.3, and decided that he was now miserable enough for Tylenol. I gave him 3/4 of a dose and then about 90 seconds later he threw up all over me (freshly bathed) and the sheets on our bed (freshly laundered.) Too much snot I believe. So a call to the ped to see if I can re-dose him after he puked up the drugs, and then Evan moved the rocking chair from the nursery to the living room, where I have spent the last 6 hours alternately nursing and rocking him to soothe his ailments. Oh and putting saline spray in his nose, sucking out snot, wiping up sneezes, and reinserting pacifiers. And don't forget a couple of temperature checks. Ardyn was pretty chilled out so we just hung in front of the TV and watched BOLT via netflix. It was good. She enjoyed it. Then we watched Kipper's Christmas episode and then lunch. Luckily Marek went down for a real nap (meaning he actually let me put him down) and Ardyn and I ate and now she is in the tub because she had spaghettios from her head to her feet. What is it about the phrase "don't touch anything on the way to the bathroom" that makes a child put her icky hands right on the white wall or the doorknob, or my shirt? Yeah. Or in my hair. Did I mention I just took a bath LAST NIGHT!

So now I am sitting on the bathroom floor in front of the heater with my laptop while she swims and floats and swishes like a mermaid. She just counted to 10, and then 16, 14, 16. LOL. She doesn't know it yet, but her nap is on the horizon. I have the dishwasher running, and although I wanted (needed) to wash diapers and bake bread today, I am not sure that is going to happen with Mr. Cling in the house.

Oh well. Hopefully at least she can nap and he can be awake, and be rocked and soothed.

So that's the story. Sorry it took so long to come to a close!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

13 Days till Christmas!

Well, it's Saturday night. This house is SO quiet that it's eerie! I am watching Jim Bob Duggar go bungee jumping. I am trying to get my fix of the TIVO'd shows before the beginning of the week because WE CANCELLED OUR CABLE!!! Ahhhh! I know. Evan laughs and several months ago I told him that I thought I could easily live without cable. He said if I think we can go "off the grid" that he is all for it. The cable bill was getting INSANE because the 12 month pricing of Comcast's Triple Play Package was over. I think the total monthly bill for Internet, Cable with a DVR Box, and VOIP phone was reaching $150 a month. Seriously, that's a van payment, and that is what I could use more money for! So. We decided to cancel the cable portion and just keep the internet and phone. And in the process I discovered that they had signed us up for the more expensive phone package, $24.99 a month, when there is an unlimited local calling package for $10 a month. And Local calling allows you to call anywhere within a 15 minute area. So we are totally covered. I mean, we each have a cell phone if we need to make long distance calls.... so we cut our cable bill from like $150 a month down to $60 a month. We decided we would try Netflix for a while, because for $13 a month we can have unlimited monthly rentals without late fees (they pay postage both ways!) and also stream TV and Movies directly to our laptops and to Evan's Playstation. Now THAT is cool. And then I can watch all my normal TV shows online, with the exception of a few cable shows.... because TLC doesn't stream their shows unless you pay for them. But I could pay for each episode for less than I could pay for cable. So, right now I know that I am going to miss The Duggars, and Tori and Dean, and the Girls Next Door. But there are worse things in life. Like, say, not having a van to drive or heat or groceries! LOL.

So, we have had a busy week. Monday we had our friends Kristen (a MOPS mom) and Eli over to visit and play. Eli is almost two. On Tuesday we had Jennifer and little Emma over. Emma is almost 3 months old. I also closed my Usborne Book Show, and got $50 in free books and $74 in half price books. Those should be in Monday. Wednesday I was supposed to have an appointment to get my hair colored. I haven't been coloring my hair since I started staying home with the kids, because I can't afford it, and especially can't afford to maintain it. My natural hair color isn't a whole lot different than how I color it (usually it's just the addition of s funky highlights and lowlights via foils) but after each pregnancy my hair has changed. Actually, DURING pregnancy, my hair grows darker than it does normally. And then when I am not pregnant, it goes back to previous. So I have these sections that are different colored from having two pregnancies close together. And as I get older, I am "losing my red pigment" (in the expert description of my hairstylist) and so my hair looks more of a dingy grey-blonde. It isn't true gray hair, just that dishwater blonde that sometimes looks so BLAH. Luckily my hairstylist would like some computer assistance, so we have decided to swap services, which means that I can get my hair colored for free. Otherwise, it wouldn't be something I would be able to afford right now. Yay! I think it will make me feel brighter and merrier this Christmas season.

Well, anyway, we had the snowstorm that came through on Wednesday, so I rescheduled my hair appointment for this coming week. This Thursday I got groceries in the afternoon and Thursday night we had Elizabeth come over with Jadeyn (6 months) and Kelsea (3 years) and had a really nice night at home with visiting and the girls playing. We talked about cloth diapers and I showed Elizabeth some Bum Genius and we tried them on Jadeyn. Then on Friday I was preparing for the big MOPS christmas party and Santa visits. I had planned on making sugar cookies. Cut outs, but not the regular cut outs, a new recipe that is "supposed" to mimic the big poofy fluffy cookies that you buy in the store. I had all the ingredients, and bought the lemon extract I needed, and was going to mix and chill and bake on Friday. Except I really didn't think about the "chill" part and didn't plan accordingly to allow extra time. So on Friday, I fed the kids breakfast and lunch, and then I mixed up the dough. Marek watched from the kitchen floor. For some reason the dough was so crumbly and wouldn't stick together. I was pretty worried. I looked over the recipe and couldn't figure out what I did wrong. I decided to chill it and see if it improved. Then, I realized that I didn't HAVE three hours, and so I put it in the freezer, put the kids down for naps, and took a bath. Before hopping in the tub, I posted on Facebook what my issue was in hopes that some of my baking friends and Pampered Chef friends would have some insight or had made that recipe before. Sure enough, a friend from my girl scout days mentioned remembering the eggs. I remembered the eggs. Once again I thought of the things that would add moisture to the recipe. Eggs (check.) Butter? Well, this recipe was for Shortening (check.) and Milk? Well... the recipe didn't call for milk. Hmmm. OMG! The BUTTERMILK! I forgot the buttermilk! When i double checked the recipe, whoever had typed and sent it to me had put the buttermilk in the ingredients list, but when giving step by step directions on what to add and when and in what order, Buttermilk was skipped. Oy. So I decided to mix up the powdered buttermilk and add to the dough, even though it had already been Chilled. This instantly improved the consistency and it was what it should have been, but it was now not chilled enough, and therefore, I wasn't able to cut it once I rolled it out. Back to square one and officially NOT taking cookies to the Christmas Party. Yep! Oh well. So now I have cookie dough that I need to roll and cut out, but have been busy today and putting it off again.

The MOPS Party was great. Evan got home and showered with Marek and we all got dressed nicely. The other kids were all wearing pajamas for pictures, but I wanted to have a formal photo with Santa like we do every year. The Easter Bunny and Santa are the only two times we dress the kids up nicely and get photos, so I wanted to take this opportunity to do this. We had planned to put the kids' Christmas outfits on and then take pajamas with us to put them in after seeing Santa. I was hoping that we would get the photos of our kids taken first, as soon as Santa got there, and before everyone else's kids arrived. We got to the church early (which is a miracle for us with both kids) and when Santa arrived, I was still having a few issues. The doors which we were taking the photos in front of were BEAUTIFUL ornate wood doors with greenery all around them, but the camera flash was glaring against the wood finish. Oy. No matter HOW I set the flash and the shutter speed (which I am NOT a professional at by any means) the glare was there. Eventually I moved the Christmas Tree to try to eliminate the problem, and it DID eliminate most of it, but not all of it. Then the tripod would not hold the camera completely vertically, and so the photos were slightly crooked. Evan finally was able to rig it to work, although anyone looking at the tripod sitting crookedly probably thought we were drunks. Then Santa (who was by far above and beyond awesom) asked me for a glass of water, which I found, but then he placed it on the floor behind his chair. So in nearly EVERY photo, his glass of water was showing. Grrr. For a perfectionist like me, that's a real issue. The other problem I had was that to the left of Santa was a gorgeous Christmas Tree, and to his right was a blank wall with a framed drawing of Jesus and a pedestal with the Church Guestbook. When Santa had a child that wouldn't sit on his lap, or a large family with lots of children, instead of asking them to stand on the side of the Christmas Tree (hello, PHOTO OP) He asked them to stand over on his right, which then included the water glass, his sack of candy canes, the drawing of Jesus, and the Church Guestbook in the photos. I tried to not have my head explode, and in fact did lots of creative cropping. I was able to get the guestbook and such out of nearly every single photo. Nearly. These small things can really bother an OCD person like me. Santa was wonderful with the children (as of course, Santa is) and he read them all a story (Twas the Night Before Christmas) and also chatted with them and took a large group photo with us.

Ardyn had absolutely no fear of him, and as soon as he arrived she was the first to march right over to him at the stairs and shake his hand. She told him that she liked his gloves, and his black boots. Santa told me that he had a "shadow" (referring to Ardyn, who was with him EVERYWHERE) and when she heard him say that she said "I have a shadow too!" and looked down and stomped to show him that her own shadow moved. LOL. She was very upset when she couldn't just stand next to him the whole time, and Evan had to take her and Marek into the sunday school room for treats and crafts while I took pictures. I was hoping that Evan would watch both kids without any issues (after all, that's what I do every day and at every activity we attend) but he was mostly tied up with Marek and therefore when Ardyn started running rampant, that's exactly what she was going. We have no idea how many cookies she ate, and Evan told me later that she was taking bites of them and putting them back up on the trays and tables. Oh. this made me feel like a HORRIBLE mom. Especially when she was moaning in her sleep the whole night and I was worried that she had a tummy ache. Next time I will specifically ask a mom who perhaps only has one child she is responsible for, if she could be exclusively responsible for Ardyn. I normally wouldn't do that, and maybe it's unfair of me to ask someone else to do that, but when I am tied up taking pictures and Evan is tied up with marek and unable to keep up with Ardyn, I am really nervous about WHO exactly is watching her. I don't know what the best way to handle something like that is. I guess I will learn as I go with this whole multiple child gig.

When Santa got ready to leave the festivities, Ardyn started getting hysterical and crying. She had the real crocodile tears going and said "No! Santa Please Don't GO!" it was heartbreaking. LOL. She was really attached to him. I uploaded the photos that I took to Flickr and to Facebook and Picasa.

I have been working VERY hard to keep this house in order and stop it from falling apart the past two weeks. I have been consistently having people visit, which has been wonderful, and has been a nice incentive to keep things clean and picked up. I have been making Ardyn pick her toys up on a daily basis.... with the goal being that if her room is a mess, so be it, but all her toys need to be IN HER ROOM at least once a day. This allows me to vacuum and keep the table cleared so that we can eat meals... and I have been running the dishwasher and keeping the kitchen clean and clear so that I can do some baking and make meals without having a terrible mess in there. I've also been trying to keep clean laundry put away and not in piles and baskets, and keep the bathroom tidy and the toothpaste funk out of the sink. So far, so good. Only problem is, I have dirty laundry up to my eyeballs, and the master bedroom is a disgrace. And tonight the kitchen is a mess, Ardyn's room is TERRIFYING, and the cookies are still not baked.

Today Ardyn went with Aunt Liz to see Santa again. Aunt Liz came over this afternoon. She was going to pick Ardyn up at 1:30 and so I gave Ardyn a bath and put her in a cute Christmas Theme Outfit, and then put a matching korker bow in her hair. And then, she peed in her outfit. Grrrrr! At least I had a spare Christmas Outfit (I had bought two on clearance at Target last year!) and a spare matching bow. LoL. I put her in a Pull-Up this time and changed her clothes. Then at 1:30 she was waiting by the door for Aunt Liz. She was so excited! And THEN at 2pm Aunt Liz texted and said she had fallen asleep and that she wouldn't be here till 2:30. Imagine telling a 2 year old that she has to wait an hour as she stands by the door ready to leave to see Santa and you have been telling her since 10am that she was going to see Santa after lunch. Poor kid. But she really had a great time, and Liz said she was once again attached to Santa and telling him how Mommy and Ardyn are going to make him cookies and leave food for the reindeer and a glass of milk for him, and how she wants Hungry Hungry Hippos. Liz said Poor Santa didn't know WHAT to say to her.

She was fortunate enough to get a great goodie bag with an apple, orange, banana, hershey bar, pack of gum, and a jingle bell on a red ribbon. She also won the door prize! Apparently she has her mother's childhood luckiness... I used to win all KINDS of prizes as a kid.

When she arrived home with Aunt Liz, Grandma Deb had stopped for a visit. She wasn't home 20 minutes when Grandpa Bob and Grandma Susan arrived to whisk her away for an overnight at their house. So, It's been a quiet night with Marek and myself. Well, quiet if I held him constantly. Because he knew no one was in his way, he insisted that he needed me to hold him. Evan made breakfast for supper again and it was delicious. Then I made some new tags for Marek's Diaper Bins in his nursery, and cut and sorted coupons into the couponizer (see previous post.) I keep telling myself I need to be doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen and organizing Ardyn's room and packing up some toys to start a toy rotation. But, here I sit. I just don't feel like spending my quiet night without kids and a husband cleaning my house. Is that so wrong?

Well, I should at least start ONE load of laundry. LOL. And I guess I should go to bed early, or at least go read in bed for a bit.

I hope everyone's Christmas Shopping is going smoothly and you are enjoying all of your holiday parties. I have to admit that I really do NOT miss having to attend two work Christmas Parties. I LOVE my coworkers, but it's kind of nice to not be running and running this holiday season. Winter Nights spent by the Christmas lights in a warm house are a-okay with me!

Let's Talk about my new Couponizer, and about Coupons in general....

So, tonight I opened my Couponizer. In case you don't follow me on facebook, you might not know that I joined Swagbucks, which is the most awesome thing since sliced bread (as mom would say.) I have been a Swagbucks member for about, oh, one-two months and have already earned $30 in Amazon gift cards. I used some of those gift cards to order my Nordic Naturals Fish Oil (Omega-D) which I order from Amazon because it is cheaper than the local health food store, and also cheaper than ordering direct from the company's website. (That's the brand I choose because it is recommended by my midwife, and because I met several of the company's reps at the Chicago Green Festival. They are the only fish oil that comes from the Nordic waters and is third party tested and therefore contains low levels of things that could be especially harmful to a pregnant or nursing mother/baby... like Mercury.) Sorry for that Ramble. But because you have to spend $25 to get free shipping, I also used Amazon gift cards to order the Couponizer, which was something that I have wanted for a LONG time but just haven't justified the cost. But hey, if it's for FREE (thank you swagbucks!) and it will help us save MORE money, then it's a good thing!

So, anyway, I got my couponizer opened up, and I was actually pretty impressed. I don't know WHY, but when you buy a product like that, all they show you is the cover. And then you hear vague promises like "The Revolutionary Way To Organize and Shop with Coupons and Discounts" and you think, what in the F*%# does that really mean? What are you selling me? What does the inside look like? What does it provide me with? And I hate things like that. I feel that there are one of two things going on here... #1, It doesn't really work and if you saw what's inside you would be disappointed and wouldn't buy it -or- #2, It does work, but it's like a trade secret and if you looked inside, they'd have to kill you (or perhaps you would recreate the same system for much less than $20, and then they wouldn't be able to sell you one.)

Right off the bat, I can tell you that the coupon sorting mat was completely different than the one I saw in online photos. I am not so sure that it's better. In fact, I instantly disliked the shape of it, but I got along okay and I liked that the categories on the mat were in the same alphabetical order as the book itself, so once I started putting my sorted coupons into the binder, it was a cinch. What I DID like was the clear plastic cover to the binder, and the elastic cord that keeps it shut. What I also liked were the little round nosed scissors, and the perfect little clear plastic bag, which will also allow me to keep my WIC coupons and information right along with my coupons, which is where I like to keep them. It's a little less "tacky" then my gallon freezer bag. LOL. I also liked that there were two coupon "pages/pockets" that were facing each other, one for "coupons to be used this shopping trip" and another for "Coupons to use at checkout." Yeah. Finally someone who understands that even though you may have set them aside to use this shopping trip, doesn't mean that you actually use it... (might be something cheaper on sale, or perhaps you change your mind, or perhaps it's not in stock at the store you are at.) and therefore this really eliminates (I hope) some of that "coupon-losing, hair pulling, head exploding drama" that I get when I am trying to sort out coupons and keep everything straight when there is no horizontal surface in a store or in your slotted wire shopping cart in which things can be sorted. Grrr. Especially with 4 little sticky hands and 2 paper-eating drooling mouths.

Something that would make it better? a neat little place to store that coupon sorter, within the binder, so I don't loose it (because I will. I can already feel it.)

Okay, now let's talk about coupons in general. I love them. I really do. But the key to actually saving money with coupons, I believe, is only using coupons on things you were going to buy/use anyway. It is difficult for me (and I know that is the reason that manufacturers PRINT coupons) to not buy something just because it's a "good deal" or because it's a "lower price." It's difficult for me to say "yeah, but we don't NEED (insert name of particular brand of food that is too expensive and convenient and that I was raised NOT to expect)" And therefore, I am often torn between my NEED to coupon and my DESIRE to coupon. And then, here it comes, the problem with brand versus generic. Yep. I said it. I am a generic girl. I was raised to adore the yellow can of pop that said one word on it in black letters. "Cola." I was raised on mayonnaise and therefore hate miracle whip. I had potato buds and dislike real mashed potatoes (I am not kidding here.) and I prefer generics of several foods to the actual brand name product. And as an adult, when it came time to make my own decisions, I have found a few brand name products that I prefer. It took me years to find a generic Shells and Cheese that is every bit as good as Velveeta. Centrella Brand has it all the way. That is the ONLY store brand shells and cheese that I can bring myself to buy. And when it comes to Pop, it's 7-up and Coke. I was raised on generic, and that is just something I like to have. I don't buy generic doritoes or cheap oreos. I generally like expensive chips, unless they are plain old rippled chips or cheesy poofs (which I prefer generic.) I prefer generic strawberry frosted pop tarts. I don't prefer generic unwrapped cheese slices. but other cheese doesn't bother me no matter what brand it is.

So. A lifetime of discovering my own preferences, and preferences of my family. And a lifetime of discovering the HUNDREDS of dollars that I can save if I buy all the generics I can handle. Light bulbs. Paper Plates. Napkins. Paper Towels. Suave Shampoo. Equate Detangler and Generic Alleve. Until I started using Ziplocs for freezing things, I would always use the cheap ones. But now that Wal-Mart has revamped their "sams choice" line to "Great Value" they have done something worse to their zipper storage bags and I returned several boxes of them to buy ziploc brand, because there is nothing worse than having 10 pounds of precooked ground chuck get freezer burned because I was too cheap to buy a bag made to withstand the abuse of freezing.

So, where am I going with this? Well, how do you save money with coupons if there are no coupons available for generic items, and you tend to buy generic? How do you save money with coupons when the a name-brand product is priced so much higher than the generic, that with the coupon, the price is then equal to or greater than the generic price is every day? I spent all that time collecting, clipping, sorting, and using a coupon just so that I could have a name brand items instead of a generic? That's okay if you really LIKE and WANT that name brand item, but what if you don't? I am happy to have coupons for Pillsbury Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls, because the generic cinnamon rolls just aren't the same. But a situation like this isn't something that I run into often. And then I run into the problem that the name-brand Items I DO like and intent to purchase, I can NOT find coupons for!?! I don't see coupons for Coke or 7-up. Rarely I find coupons for Quilted Northern. Don't find them for our dog food. Don't find them for our toothpaste. Sometimes when I am on the ball, I will make a habit of checking all the coupon sites, and the inserts from the papers at our MOPS meetings, and start online searches for specific products that I know I am going to buy. But I rarely find coupons for the items that are name brand that i actually want to buy.

I love to look at my receipt and see how much I saved. but it doesn't help me to save $10-20 if I spent 20-30 more than I normally would buying products that I normally wouldn't even use or give a second look to. Whew. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I love to shop Aldi like we did as kids.... and there aren't coupons for those items. I do like to buy Centrella or Great Value brands, and Equate, and often store brands.... and so I don't know exactly HOW I can save money and still buy generic. I wish that there were store coupons for generic items.

Okay. So those are my thoughts on the Couponizer, and I can't wait to use it!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My Review of RoomMates Celestial Peel & Stick Appliques

Originally submitted at Toys R Us

Decorate in seconds with these large appliques from RoomMates! Simply peel and stick to any smooth, clean and dry surface. Unlike traditional stickers, RoomMates remove instantly without damaging the surface or leaving sticky residue. Works on walls, furniture, mirrors, windows, ceramic tiles, a...

These are AWESOME!!!

By dazed81 from Illinois on 12/9/2009


5out of 5

Pros: Cute theme, Durable, Playful Design, Easy to use

Cons: Many Loose Pieces

Best Uses: Decoration, Sleeping

Describe Yourself: Parent of Two or More Children

I put these in my two year old daughter's room. Her nursery had clouds painted on the ceiling, but when her brother moved in, she went to a plain white room. She loves these on the ceiling. It took a while to get them applied because there are lots of little pieces, but I appreciate the creativity that it allowed me, as I am particular and wanted it to look realistic. They stay put and they are beautiful in the dark. They DO glow. We have had no issues with that, but yes, it does have to be dark. I love that these make such an impact in the dark but aren't obvious in the daytime, and that they allow me to remove if necessary without damaging paint. yay!


Snow Day

I am hoping, briefly, for a little bit of peace. Marek is playing on the floor, Ardyn in her room, and I am parked on the couch watching the Duggars on my DVR.

This morning I am in plenty of pain. I have been having issues with what I believe to be a pinched nerve that is causing my hip to give out and sometimes makes it practically impossible to walk. After a couple of trips to the chiropracter last week, it was fine, but over the weekend it seems to be slipping back out of alignment, and the chiro is closed on Tuesdays (which of course is when I always notice that I need an adjustment) so today I need to go out in the cold and snow and try to get adjusted because this morning I couldn't sleep and then when I tried to get up, couldn't walk either. It's a total pain, and I mean that both literally and figuratively, because I can't do things like carry Marek or lift Ardyn onto the potty or anything like that. I can't wait until this goes away!

Right now sitting on the couch seems to be the best thing I can do, and so I am hoping that the kids cooperate and stay out of trouble. And as I type this, there goes Marek.... out of my sight. Ugh.

For some reason the kids were really wound last night. We did get in a much needed late nap... but they were still going at 10pm and showing no signs of stopping. We were kinda waiting for Daddy to get home, he's been in the fields trying to get everything done before the storm hit. Well, at just after 10pm, Marek started to show signs of exhaustion so I just put them to bed. I was exhausted myself, and really thought that I would be in bed shorttly, but I started working on folding and stuffing Christmas cards, and putting return address's on them, so pretty soon it was midnight. Then I went to bed. But since my hip had been bugging me, I didn't sleep very well. And then Ardyn woke up at 7am! She hadn't even had 8 hours of sleep. So I am already dragging today. Whenever I don't get enough sleep, I tend to get a little nauseous. I don't know why, but it's happened ever since I had the kids. So, it's not shaping up to be a fabulous day.... but oh well.

Hopefully everything will straighten out soon.

It is snowing more, but not a ton. But any snow is nice before Christmas. It puts me in good spirits.... as long as I don't have to bundle up kids and drag them around in it (in the van I mean.) We did play outside a couple of days ago. I meant to take them out yesterday, but we had a visitor, and it just ended up not happening. Today it's REALLY windy, so I don't see that happening. Not to mention that I can't WALK. LOL. I could easily lay down and sleep right now. I am hoping that since we have been up since 7am that by noon both kids will be in nap mode and I can nap also. That will really help me to feel normal again! The hard part is not nodding off while being stationary on the couch!

Yesterday we had a "christmas miracle." We always have two Christmas Eve's to go to each year, and they are always at the same time. For the first time in the 13 years we have been together, one side of the family has decided to have their celebration earlier, which makes us able to go to BOTH without rushing and stressing. I am so pleased about that!!!

I don't know what else to talk about, but this is the only thing keeping me AWAKE right now. Whew! Well, I guess I will go help Ardyn search for "Wendy" before the whole world ends over her absence.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Homemade "Giraffe Stopper" (draft stopper)

Well, if you've ever been here, you know that we have an AWESOME front porch. Beautiful windows, natural light, and it is also heated and cooled.... but has really neat old windows that open the whole place up in the spring and summer. We have white wicker furniture that is on the porch, but in a previous post, I talked about how for the winter, we decided to convert it into more of a play area. I have my sewing stuff out there now that we have two kids, because it was too difficult to get to the sewing room in the basement with both kids, and every time there was an issue (potty, diaper change, naptime, meal) we had to take a bunch of trips up and down the stairs with two kids who couldn't GO up and down the stairs without assistance. Logistically, it just did NOT work.

So,now that everything is up here, it works so much nicer, and I get a ton more actual sewing done. I also have a white table that folds in half and so I keep that out on the porch for impromptu projects, like our recent "popsicle stick Christmas trees":

And Marek's 8 month handprints that are "in progress":

And the three painted frames that I just made for Marek's room:

And even laying out large sewing projects like my mom's curtains, and the kids' "car blankets." Marek's is shown because I can't find the picture I took of Ardyn's, and they are both IN the van right now and it's freezing and the place is covered in snow, so no matter how much I want to show you, I am SO not going out there to get it to take another pic right now. They are David and Goliath cotton knits prints, with a core of "warm and natural" blanket batting, and a backside of beautiful minky fabric. I had to order all the fabrics online to find what I wanted.... and Ardyn's is pink and chocolate brown print with "chocolate chip cookies" that have muscles, and say "one tough cookie" and the backside is a pretty minky print of white with brown and two colored pink dots. Marek's in a black print with alarm clocks that says "you snooze, you lose" and has a bright kiwi green minky on the backside:
Anyway. It also houses things like the kids' "tree tent" and the Little Tykes Activity Garden, Ardyn's Desk, Marek's Pack n Play, and All the Little People toys.

So, the problem with our fabuous porch? It's rotting. Well, it's past rotting. It was rotting when we moved in here 9 years ago. The windows are so rotten that the wood is crumbling. The door has never been an "exterior door", it's just a metal storm door that leaks very badly. So, keeping it "heated" is pretty much impossible. We have all the windows covered with plastic, and we use a little ceramic heater out there when we want to use it. It's not efficient. The windows and door are scheduled to be replaced next spring and I can NOT WAIT. So because there is a big gap under the front door which allows a serious cold front (and snow) to come inside, I decided to sew my own "draft stopper."
I just made a tube of fabric. Inside I needed "weight" so I used a 1lb bag of Pinto beans. I put divided the beans into two ziplocs and put one ziploc inside on each end of the draft stopper, with poly stuffing in between. of course i ran OUT of poly stuffing, so I ended up using fleece remnants to stuff the last 12 inches or so. Then I just quick serged it shut (not pretty, but quick and functional!) The whole time I was making it, I was explaining to Ardyn what It was going to be, and no matter how hard I tried to get her to say "draft stopper" she would say "giraffe stopper" and I knew she didn't understand because she kept telling me that giraffes live in the jungle and that I was making a giraffe puppet. Yeah. eventually, I did get her to say "draft stopper" and then I showed her where it was going and the difference that it made in the amount of cold air "sneaking in" under the front door. Of course, while doing this, I was thinking about how I could sew a giant "front door" out of fabric and velcro it over the opening. But then I realized what a dork I was and how fabric really isn't going to provide much insulation.

So, we've been busy here. I apologize for not blogging more, but that's the way it goes. Hopefully more will come soon! We had playdates today and another today (at our house0 and we have played outside in the snow, and we have a visit with Santa this week and Evan is in the fields trying to get things finished!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

My Review of Ski Gear Snow Pant Womens

These do NOT fit as expected! Junior's?

By dazed81 from Illinois on 12/7/2009


2out of 5

Waist: Feels too small

Inseam: Feels true to length

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

I purchased these snowpants because I was looking for something inexpensive that I can wear in the snow with my kids. I didn't want bibs, and I wanted something that is warm and comfy, as we are in Illinois and weather can get quite cold, especially with windchill. I ordered a size XL. I wear a Large or XL in women's athletic and lounge pants, and size 14/16 in jeans. When these arrived I was so excited, but when I put them on, they fit everywhere, but the waist waas literally about two sizes too small? Now I know that I am not a tiny person, but I was shocked. These are NOT a true XL. I believe these are not women's, but more like Junior's sizes. I just want those of you who might wear a bigger size to be aware!


Thursday, December 03, 2009

The "I'm Still Alive" MeMe

Well, I am still here. I have been busy (we hosted Thanksgiving, and attended two others) and I just have not sat down to write, and facebook sucks me in when I do get online, so here is a post that Janice tagged me with, and since I adore her, I will just do as she says. LOL.

5 Things Meme

5 Things I was Doing 10 years Ago:

1. Working full-time in IT and Web Design for a local healthcare facility.
2. Sleeping as late as I wanted and going wherever I wanted without a second thought as to how that would change.
3. 5 years ago I had JUST gotten engaged and was planning our wedding and honeymoon in Vancouver, BC (Canada.)
4. I had JUST turned 26.
5. Volunteering at a local dog shelter, and the Princeton Computer User Group.

5 Things On My To-Do List Today:

Well... it's 9:30pm so I don't know if I am supposed to list things I have accomplished already or things I still have to do. I think I will go with things I still have to do.
1. Finish Decorating Christmas Tree
2. Load and Run Dishwasher
3. Wash Bras
4. Pick up Supper mess
5. Charge my Cell Phone.

5 Snacks I Love:

1. Pretzels (not fat free ones. Ick)
2. String Cheese or Avanti's Farmer Cheese
3. Apples (Braeburns, Jonathans, Honeycrisp)
4. Vanilla Ice Cream and Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes
5. Homemade Chex Mix (by me cuz I double the kick)

5 Things I Would Do If I Were A Millionaire:

1. Get a few camera lenses and a remote, and take a REAL photography class for a DSLR
2. Get a big old house in the country with several acres and remodel it to give it my own charm, fence the whole acreage in, and add a HUGE garden and a barn full of animals.
3. Have the biggest family I could stand without being in a nuthouse.
4. Buy 4 Britax carseats
5. Pay off all debt and give some to my charity of choice... then invest or save the rest

5 Jobs* I’ve Had:

1. Pre-K Teacher's Aide
2. Loss Prevention (security) officer and safety educator at an Ace Hardware Warehouse
3. Bookkeeper/Office Manager/Secretary (in several different places)
4. Landscaping/Florist/Greenhouse work
5. Grain Bin Construction and De-Construction, Soil Testing, Spraying/Chemical Mixing, Horse Caregiver on a 15 horse ranch, Crop Scout and Field Statician for Pioneer Hi-Bred, Grain Elevator Scale Bitch.

*There are so many more

5 People I Tag: (That I know will respond)

Sorry, I am just not a tagger :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sew Happy!

I am going to make this a short one, although I have plenty to say. I NEED to get to bed but I just swallowed my nightly 7 pills and therefore if I lay down right away I feel like I my pills are trying to float back up my throat, so I might as well pass the time pleasantly.

I have been very busily sewing today!

Last night while Evan was gone at the Hank Williams III Concert, I was really restless and uneasy. I just had a bad vibe. It made me pretty nervous. The kids and I dove into the front porch with a vengeance. I removed ALL the furniture from the west side off the porch (Wicker loveseat, two wicker chairs, wicker coffee table, wicker trunk, white wood side table, etc) and vacuumed and mopped the floor. Then I put down the alphabet foam play mat that had been in my sewing room in the basement (which I am currently not using to sew, because it's too hard to get both kids up and down the stairs all the time for potty breaks, meals, toys, diaper changes, and still get anything DONE!) Then I took the Little Tykes Activity Garden out to the porch. Marek is just now getting to the ideal age to start using it, but if it's in Ardyn's room, there's not a chance she will let him play in it. We also moved out all the little people toys, which we did last winter, and they are a BIG hit out there, and safe for both kids. I put the Pack n Play across the room so that Marek could see my sewing area really well from inside it, and moved Ardyn's desk closer to my work area. I moved my fabric and notions closer to my sewing table. I cleaned a BUNCH and got everything a little safer for little bodies. I am really loving it! We still have to move the slide and playcube inside, and probably the teeter totter. After Christmas we will have a mini-trampoline to add to the mix. I love that the kids can play out there and I can see them, plus because my sewing area faces the window to the living room, if they are in the living room watching TV or playing, I can see them because they are RIGHT in front of me. How cool is that?

Porch in Progress (West Side)

I don't mind if Ardyn plays in her room because everything is safe in there, but I don't want Marek in there with her because he is a crawling maniac and he is putting electrical cords, dog food, and everything he finds EVERYWHERE into his mouth now. I can't believe how much he has changed in just the last WEEK even. I have video of him crawling that I took today, and i hope to get that on Facebook before the end of the week!

This week is about to get REALLY Crazy! I am ordering our new family photos and our Christmas Cards at the photographer tomorrow. I have Library Books due back and errands to run. I have a shopping trip with my friend Angela O. this week, because I just fixed a computer and got some cash and I NEED some new shirts for the holidays. Everything I own has a bunch of stains on it. No good I say! I also have a scrapbook night at the church this week, AND the kids are going to BOTH stay overnight at Grandma's! This will be the first time that Marek has ever been away from me overnight! I am excited because Evan and I are going on our first "Date" since he was born.... 8 months seems long enough, right? Next week I have a fun mom's night to look forward to, and then my BIRTHDAY! We also have WIC appointment, Evan has an acoustic gig at Kelly's Place, and we are Hosting Thanksgiving.... and then we have family to meet for cocktails later next week, and ANOTHER date night as the kids are staying overnight at the OTHER grandparent's the next weekend! AND another Thanksgiving celebration, AND taking Ardyn to the Polar Express night. We have watched the Polar Express to prepare for our pajama train ride and also to see Santa! She wants Hungry Hungry Hippos and has been telling me for a couple of weeks now that when she sits on Santa's lap she is going to tell him that she wants it. The Hungry Hungry Hippo thing was not prompted by us... she kept seeing the commercial and one day I asked her what she was going to ask Santa for and she said "HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS!" She also says that she is going to get a Polka Dot Present from Santa. She loves Polka Dots. LOL.

Marek moved up into size Medium Fleece, so I made him four pair of Fleece Longies today (and one pair last night.) Ocean/Pirate Theme, Insect Theme, Car/Travel Theme, and a Tree/Bird Theme... and then a pair of "boyish" Polka dot pants too! I use the Little Comet Tails Crescent Moon Yoga Pant Pattern and I ADORE it. They are so easy and fit so nicely! I have modified the pattern to add my own contrasting leg cuffs, an inner sling style soaker, OR an inner Shorts style soaker, AND for board shorties in the summertime. I have, several times, considered trying to get licensed instead of just being a home seamstress (which means that I would be able to sell items that I make with Little Comet Tails Patterns.) But I am not sure if the market is really there, and on top of that with the new CPSIA laws, it's really too much hassle. So I will just stick to making them for my own kids.



I also made two pair of shoes for Marek today, with the pattern that my friend Leslie made back when our girls were little. I never made any for Ardyn, but I got inspired recently and the pattern is for a size 2-3 so I started this evening and made two pair tonight. They are just so CUTE and are really simple to make. I altered the pattern to do some serging, because they seem so clean and simple and well made if serged.... and I also skipped stitching the elastic and decided to KNOT it instead because it's quicker, simpler, and just as secure. Then I modified it again to use wider elastic and a wider casing, because they weren't staying on his feet as well as I would have liked. They are sweet! He always has cold feet, and they are two layers of flannel with an inner padding of fleece in the sole, which will help! Now if I could figure out a way to keep his HANDS warm!

Insect Shoesies

Space Shoesies

I have bunches of fabric in the dryer right now. My mom wants me to make her some new kitchen curtains and tie backs.... so I have her fabric ready to go now, and then I have David and Goliath fabric that I am going to make car blankets for the kids with. I am just waiting for the Minky fabric to arrive for the backing (soooooft!) and then I can make them to keep in the van. I have been tempted to make them each a car seat poncho.... but I think if I do that I will have to get more fleece. I might have enough in my stash for Ardyn's, but I don't have any boyish fleece to make one for Marek. Maybe I will make Ardyn's first and see how much I like it.

Okay, I really need to go to sleep. It's been like 45 minutes. I started uploading photos, and then somehow I was geo-tagging my pics in Flickr, and then I remembered that I had entered Scenic Drive photos in the photo contest and so I started to look at their websites to see if they had announced the winners yet.... it's never-ending!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Parents Magazine is really Pissing me off.

Well, I just have to get this off my chest. It's my blog, and it's what I do. If it bugs me, I talk about it (to a degree :)

I got my newest issue of Parent's magazine. Tonight I decided to flip through it after the kids went to bed. I can say that usually I like the craft ideas, and their information on new children's products. This issue, unfortunately, was not only disappointing, but frustrating, and to the point of making me question WHY I have a subscription (Oh yeah, cuz it's free. That's why.)

The first thing that made me angry was the special "cover" that unfolded to show you the "Health Pledge" that included ten items that I am supposed to "make a priority" in order to keep my kids healthy. If I write them all here, they will probably sue me or something..... but let me just briefly mention a few. #7 "Handwashing will be a house rule- before eating, after using the bathroom, or sneezing without a tissue- and I'll make sure kids can reach the sink, and soap.

*sigh* I agree with handwashing. Especially after using the bathroom. Or doing something "germy." I try to remeber to have Ardyn wash her hands before eating, but honestly, I don't always remember. And if you have a potty training toddler, and she goes pee EVERY 30-60 minutes, and you wash her hands after every potty break, that's an average of 12-24 handwashings in an 8 hour period. Add in before three meals and two snacks, and that's 17-29 times in 8 hours. Add in EVERY TIME SHE SNEEZES WITHOUT A KLEENEX? Seriously? She's two, not thirty-two. Her hands will have no SKIN on them if we wash them anymore. And I still say, there is SOMETHING to be said for germs that are beneficial. The overuse of antibacterial hand soaps is a major issue and I am frustrated by this whole handwashing every time you sneeze scenario. Not to mention, that just because she SNEEZES doesn't mean that I am there to see it. I might be, in the bathroom myself! Folding laundry in an adjoining room! Changing her brother's diaper! *gasp!* What a horrid mom I am! Grrrrrr. Why couldn't they just say "practice good handwashing." PERIOD. And then there's the whole "keep the soap and sink accessible." Right. Because every mother of a two year old wants them to be able to get handsoap out themselves. In case the Dora Doll needs a bath. or the walls need washed. Or for any other given "toddler" reasoning. Do they WRITE these things for REAL parents?

#9. "We'll play outside EVERY DAY, even if it means stomping in puddles." Again. For real? Do these people live in Florida? California? Every day? Like windchills of -15 and snowdrifts as high as my waist? Like "It took me 49 minutes to get the kids dressed and then one was hysterical and the other one had to pee."??? I am all for playing outside, and for getting fresh air. But what they are saying here is NOT realistic. We do NOT play outside every day. We don't. And they are still healthy. If it's nice outside, we try to play, or even go for a walk. But what about climates that don't allow for every day? How about encouraging exercise in general? Indoor activities? Yoga for kids? mini-trampoline? Hide and Seek? REALISTIC! How about an article that gives advice on exercise ideas for children when you CAN'T go outside. Now THAT is realistic! Something a real family could USE!

Last but not least, #10. "No matter how much they beg, I will not allow my children to have a TV in their bedroom." Okay, this I can understand. But it still makes me angry. If a child has TV in their room, they aren't healthy? Really? So if I put a TV in my child's room, and regulate what they can watch and when they can watch it, I'm a bad parent? It's not like my two year old has Pay-per-view. But if she wants to watch Dora or Sesame Street or Little Einsteins.... why can't she watch it in her room, where all her toys are, instead of dragging everything out to the living room and making EVERYONE in the house watch whatever show she wants to watch, even if it's the same episode of Dora that she's seen over and over but she LOVES to count to ten in Spanish? *EVIL!* Do not allow your children to speak spanish! No! Don't allow them to learn ANYTHING from a television! It's EVIL! I think that the majority of parents are adults and are able to make healthy decisions about what their kids watch and how much they watch. I know there is all this advice about how kids under 3 years of age shouldn't EVER watch TV. It stunts their growth or makes their head spin or something, I'm sure. But when my 2 year old can count to 10 in spanish, and very fluently says "Vamanos, Gracias, Delicioso, De Nada, Brinca, Ayudame, buenos noches" in perfect context and pronunciation.... I am proud! These are not things that I could have taught her myself, at least not CORRECTLY, but now we both know more Spanish!

Okay. Off that little soapbox, but about to take a step higher and delve deeper into this issue. Which, by the way, is so full of ADVERTISEMENTS it might as well be a TV Show. They talk of new products, and the new MAM Training toothbrush caught my eye. $4 at - but when I got to the website it's $5.99, and it retails everywhere else for like $9-12.00 plus shippping. That's accurate information.

An article about how much Bribing is going to hurt my child in the long run. It's going to make her expect rewards for regular behavior. But I pottty trained her for a long time and didn't get "finished" until I offered her skittles and smarties for #1 and Dum-Dum suckers for #2. Less than 2 weeks later, fully potty trained. But I am pretty worried she is scarred for life. When she's 14 she won't go poop in the potty without a reward. WHAT have I DONE?!?!?!

An article on finding the right birth control for you, which gives the same generic information that we've been given since Freshman Year HEALTH CLASS. No information on side effects or lasting issues that can come with birth control options, especially with hormonal types. Nothing new. Nothing that most women don't already KNOW. Something tells me that every person who has HAD a baby, has had plenty of chance to learn about birth control. Assuming, that is, that they are having sex.... since having children is the best birth control method that I know. (Why didn't they put THAT in the article?)

After that is a very frightening and eye catching article about choking hazards. It is introduced with a very bright and in your face two-page spread, that really got my attention: a photograph that looks much like an "I Spy" Book, and shows colorful things like Jelly Beans, toothpicks, pushpins, nails, screws, dimes, balloons, rings, plastic army men, jacks, gummy bears, life savers, paperclips, and legos. We know about choking hazards. We are PARENTS. (hence the name "Parents" Magazine, eh?) I like that they talk about first aid, and trying to determine if your child has swallowed something. It makes sense. But I have to say that in life, the whole "choking hazard" thing can seriously give you a complex. EVERYTHING is a choking hazard. Everything must be LABELED a choking hazard. If my 6 month old got ahold of a screwdriver, he could disassemble the TV Remote that he likes to chew on and everything inside would be a CHOKING HAZARD! If he could just figure out how to get the keys off my key ring.... CHOKING HAZARD! Everything in my HOUSE is a choking hazard. This whole universe is a choking hazard. The best I can do, is try to keep small things out of their reach, away from my floors, and supervise them. I can try to teach them that we don't put things in our mouths, and try to teach Ardyn not to put anything in Marek's mouth. What bothers me, is that despite my best efforts, there is a chance that one of my kids could stick something up their nose, or choke on something. But an ACCIDENT does not make me a bad mom. But constantly hearing about how the whole world is laden with choking hazards might just put me in a padded room with some Xanax. Is it no wonder that as mother's we have So much Anxiety? Every toy that is marked to me is a "choking hazard." "Small Parts, Not for Children under 3 Years of Age" might as well be an acronym. SPNFCU3YOA - It's EVERYWHERE. It's overwhelming. (But, I must admit, this is at no fault of Parent's Magazine :)

But right AFTER this huge scary article about Choking Hazards, was a big article about moms "not sweating the small stuff" with their little kids. It talks about not worrying about whether your child is eating enough, sleeping properly, crying too much, etc. So in one place they are trying to scare the crap out of mom's with choking hazards, and in another, they are telling moms not to be anxious or worry over small stuff. Ha. Ha ha hahaha!

BUT the last article that really made me ANGRY. "Playdates with Cocktails." Yeah. you know, we are all drunks. Playdates are really just an excuse for us Mom's to get all sloshed and misplace our offspring. Let it be known, for the record, that I do not drink. I have never been *drunk* (legally or otherwise) in my entire life. I have never had more than 3 drinks in a 24 hour period in my entire life. I hate the taste of beer and only like a few wines and a few mixed drinks. I don't like to be out of control. That's just my choice, and my personal preference. Last weekend I had the first drink (an Amaretto and Coke) that I have had in.... hmmm..... 1 year and 11 months exactly. Yep. I had my first ever drink since Thanksgiving Evening of 2007, when I had 1/2 of a glass of white wine with my dinner. And before that 1/2 glass of wine, I hadn't had a drink since.... August of 2006. So that means that in the past 3 years and almost 3 months, I have had exactly 1.5 drinks. Yep. Dead Serious.

The reason that I point this out, is because the "statistic" that they used in this article is as follows "A 2009 Survey by The US Dept of Health and Human Services found that 55% of women with a child as young as 15 months old had at least ONE Drink in the past month, while 63% of those without children did." Okay. What. The. F*&@$%)! does that have to do with mom's drinking on playdates? By this statistic, I (who has had 1 drink this month, and has a 7 month old child) am a statistic, that is supposed to be supporting an article about moms drinking at playdates? Seriously? I, the mom who has had 1.5 drinks in the past 3+ years, am a bad mommy!

This article pissed me off so badly. Where are all the statistics in this article about the FATHERS of children? Where are all the statistics about Fathers who can drink whatever, whenever, and leave their wives or partners to be the responsible ones? Where are the statistics that show that thousands and millions of moms all over the world are getting DRUNK and that their judgement is impaired and that children are being injured and neglected as a result? The fact is, there ARE NOT ANY. And then there is the quote from an article in a Texas newspaper "If you're the primary caregiver, I don't think you should be drinking." Um. If I am the primary caregiver, I should NEVER Drink? If I am the primary caregiver I should not drink while I am responsible for the kids? I don't know what she means. The article says "for every mom who is affronted by the accusation that she can't care for her kids after a single, legal, adult beverage, there's one who's aghast at the notion of sipping a martini while her kids are slurping juice boxes." Um Yeah. So what. Just because I don't drink, doesn't mean that I would be judging a mom who has A DRINK when around her children. Now being drunk, or driving when drinking, are different instances altogether, But we aren't talking about being DRUNK. We aren't talking about DRUNK DRIVING either. We are talking about having "A Drink."

The article pointedly mentions the GROWTH of the Facebook group "OMG I So need a glass of wine or I am going to sell my kids!" and I actually laughed out loud and thought that I should join that group. that is comical! Seriously people, it's a JOKE. it's a joke about how HARD it is to take care of small children! It's a joke that I often say out loud and to my husband "Now I know why mom's DRINK!" I'm not an alcoholic! I'm not an unfit parent. If I DID Choose to have a glass of wine, I would still be able to care for my kids. In that same Texas newspaper article, the author talks about having seen a group of moms have wine with their lunch and then go pick up their kids. Seriously-- If they had a glass of wine with their lunch.... then they are now "bad moms?" I tell you, if I had lunch at Olive Garden, I would LOVE to have a glass of wine and a delicious indulgent dessert. I could still DRIVE (both legally AND Safely) and I could certainly be responsible for my children if that was my choice. I am not condoning drinking and driving with children (or at all) but seriously, this sounds like an accusation being thrown from a high horse! The article also talks about how if you do an online search you will find a recipe for Coffee and Kahlua that will "cut the edge after a long day of chores." SO. WHAT.

The part that I thought was interesting, was the statement "Are today's mothers really heavier drinkers- or are they just more open about it?" Um.... have you heard of the 70's? LOL. When no one "knew" that you shouldn't smoke and drink while pregnant? (at least that's what the drunk and smoking moms say in their defense, LOL.)

Seriously, I think that this issue of Parents is a little disgusting. It's a little too preachy, judgmental and mainstream. And seriously, does it take a rocket scientist or a magazine article to tell a parent that if your 4 year old wants to buckle their own booster seat, it's a good idea to check and make sure they have done it correctly?

What is this world coming to?

Sunday, November 08, 2009


I'm getting (okay, I've already got) that itch again. It comes and goes, but it's been "coming" a lot more these days. I just want things to be simpler. I want things to be streamlined. I want to focus on spending times doing things that I like to do, instead of all the crap that I don't want to do. I want to dress like this all day every day... I want to collect fresh eggs, make soap, make yogurt, fold diapers, and watch the kids play in the yard. I want to sew. I love fall, but I am feeling like I would just like to fast forward through winter and head right for spring.

I think that part of this continued desire for "simple" is emphasized by a two year old with an attitude, and spending yet ANOTHER two hours on the phone with Sears about the dishwasher that they can't seem to repair. It's difficult to think straight when Ardyn is screaming that she wants CHEESE or SUCKERS or BARNYARD (on TV) or that she wants CUPCAKES (Play-doh, because we make cupcakes from the doh.) It's difficult to think straight when there is so much CRAP in your house that you can't keep up with it, can't keep it picked up, and don't even get to use or enjoy half of it because you are too busy stain treating poopy toddler underwear. I didn't say it was glamorous. But it's life and it's real.

Part of the problem is the SIZE of our house. Yes, many people, in many prior and current generations raised giant families in much smaller houses. But it's tough when you can't get a moment's peace and there is nowhere to get AWAY from each other. If you want to take a nap, you are exactly 10 feet and one old wooden door away from the zoo that goes on in the next room. There is no "second story" in which to hide. I love our house, but we have rapidly rapidly outgrown it. We are not done having children, but I can't see exactly how we are going to stay in this house and have more. I have an office in the middle of my dining room. I have to walk through Ardyn's room to get to Marek's, which means that when he wakes up early and wants to eat, she wakes up early too, and even though she is still tired and cranky, refuses to go back to sleep. It also makes naptime difficult.

Another part of the problem is the fact that I have not been on ANY vacation (with our without kids) since I went to visit my friend Carrie in Utah after she had Cara. This was in 2006. So it's been more than 3 years since my last trip ANYWHERE. The last time I went anywhere WITH my husband was when I was pregnant with Ardyn and we went to Milwaukee for the weekend (which we hated)... and that was late 2006/Early 2007. The last time we went on a true "vacation" was our honeymoon in 2005. The last time we went on a date.... well, let's just say we've been out ONCE together since Marek was born. And I have been out to see his band play maybe twice since Marek was born. One date in 7 months.

And then I get cranky because when we DO go somewhere, I own two shirts that are not stained or defiled in some way by my children. I reserve these shirts for occasions when I leave the house, and therefore feel like people see me in the same two shirts whenever they see my in public. And with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, I realize that I am going to need a couple of new shirts. Grrr. I can't even write a blog post without being kicked or pinched or screamed at. Oh well. I know I shouldn't complain, because there are plenty of people who don't have two beautiful children. But it can sure be frustrating to belong to everyone else but yourself.

I find that it's sad when I look forward to grocery shopping because I no longer take the kids with if I can help it. Right no, I am starving for me time. I am starving for simple. I miss growing up on the farm. I miss the quiet.... the lack of "traffic" going by the house... the ability to get your mail in your underwear if you damn well please. I miss having livestock around me and tall grass and wildflowers. I miss the country. And if I feel this way with a cornfield in my backyard, I know that I wouldn't last a second in the city. Not one second. Sometimes I wish I could just take my hand across the desk and sweep everything into the garbage. Every paper, every folder, every thing I have to read or file or pay.... garbage. Just light a giant match and watch it burn.

How's that for a pleasant Sunday attitude? Well, time to go. Ardyn is climbing the loveseat and Marek is kicking my arms as I type. *sigh*

Saturday, November 07, 2009

What IS Swagbucks and WHY did I wait so long to join?

Seriously, I feel like an idiot. I have known about swagbucks for about a year and never joined. And now, I am totally kicking myself. Swagbucks are defined as "the web's premiere digital dollar" and there are absolutely free "virtual bucks" that you easily earn and then can trade in for REAL Merchandise, and REAL paypal money, and REAL Gift cards to places like

Seriously people, this is not a scam. if you are a coupon cutter, or you like a good deal, I have to tell you to stop stalling and join.

I am not trying to lure you into something evil here. It's the real deal. What I did was install the swagbucks toolbar and instead of using google for all my searches, I use swagbucks to search. It pulls search results FROM google, and from other search engines. BUT every few times you search, you randomly win swagbucks that are automatically added to your account. If I want to win MORE swagbucks, instead of typing half-assed addresses into the address bar of firefox (or IE) I type then into the swagbucks search and I get chances to win. They give out single swagbucks, and even 3 and 5 swagbucks randomly.

Then there awa swagcodes, which are posted here and there, like on the swagbucks twitter page, facebook feed, blog, and flickr page. You simply find and enter those (usually daily) codes and you win MORE Swagbucks.

Then there's shopping. If you buy online, if you buy from retailers by clicking on their link from Swagbucks, you get one swagbuck for every $5 you spend at their store. So tonight when I was looking for snowpants, I searched all over the web, and found the ones that I wanted at Dick's Sporting Goods. After I knew that I was going to buy them there, I checked swagbucks site and sure enough, there was Dick's as a participating swagbucks retailer. SO I clicked through to my shopping cart and for spending $30 on something I needed and was going to buy already, I earned $5 in swagbucks. I have only been on swagbucks for a week and I have already earned more than half the bucks I need for $5 at Amazon. Maybe that seems like just a tad bit of cash, but if you do the math, let's say that I get better at this as time goes by, and I could EASILY earn enough swagbucks to get $5 at Amazon per week. That's $20 a month, or a grand total of $240 a year, which I did NOT have before, and I got for doing NOTHING except what I am already doing online, searching, researching, shopping! Seriously?! How cool is that?

I haven't even scratched the tip of the iceberg on prizes... MP3's, airline miles, clothing, gift certificates... It's insane!

So swagger on over and sign up. Just follow my referral link and be my swagbuddy!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Can't wait to get my new Kamsnaps!

Well, the BGOS Conversion was successful. The diaper that I converted is WONDERFUL and I am so pleased. I don't have enough snaps to get too much further, so I knew I would have to order more. This is when I discovered that carries snaps in ALL the BGOS Colors! Even the new ones! Whoooo! So tonight I placed my order for the remaining snaps that I will need. I can replace the velcro on 13 BGOS 3.0's for less than $30 in snaps. And this is having lots of snaps leftover too. I could do it even cheaper if I used plain white ones, but I'm kinda funny like that and I really want to have them match, not just for my own happiness, but for resale value.

For those of you who are curious (I know you are out there and have already heard from some of you) I apply a total of 32 caps per BGOS. This includes two rows of 12 on the front of the diaper, and 4 per wing for a total of 8 on the wings. I prefer to use sockets across the front as they are flatter than studs, and therefore one diaper conversion requires 32 caps, 24 sockets (female) and 8 studs (male). I used size 20 industrial snaps on the Blossom diaper, and will use size 20 standard glossy snaps in the BG Colors for the remaining 13 diapers. I have two of each color remaining (minus blossom, which I already converted, and minus zinnia, which I don't own since DS is a boy) and I have three Grasshopper diapers.

So I ordered 100 of each color cap ($1.90 per 100 caps) and then I ordered variety packs of the other pieces in each color, which amounted to 50 sockets and 50 snaps in each color. I did order a pack of 100 Grasshopper sockets because I have three of those diapers to convert, and that will take more than the 50 sockets that comes in a variety pack. sells a variety pack which allows you to get 50 pieces (any piece you want) in any of 4 colors, for a total of 200 pieces for $5. This is awesome if you don't need 100 of one color. :)

And, if you go place an order with kamsnaps, please do let them know that I sent you. They have a cool referral program and also a point system that allows you to accumulate points towards money off orders. When you place your order, create a login and it asks who referred you.... Please put Meagan Johnson for your referrer's name and dazed(at)dazed81(dot)com for my email address. And they do accept paypal from buyers in the USA. Yay!

I can't wait for them to get here so I can proceed with my conversions!

Another REALLY cool thing that Judy does at kamsnaps, is engraved caps, with cool things like butterflies, dinosaurs, monkeys, love bugs, airplanes, trains, and OOGA BOOGA'S! She even has really cool photos of caps matched up to Ooga Booga fabrics, Fabrite PUL, and the Bum Genius PUL Colors (scroll down after following this link to see those photos).... so you can SEE how they match and pick the right color. How AWESOME is that?

Soapmaking and Creative Karma!

Tonight I was entirely thrilled by the Soapmaking Class that I took at the Community College. Our Instructor was at first very quiet, but as the class began, I really started to enjoy her knowledge, and sense of humor. I feel that if she were not my "class instructor" and if she didn't live a ways away from me, we might have a lot in common and could become friends, or at least two women who share some ideas about crafts, farming, family, and green lifestyles. I am excited to visit her blog tomorrow, as I just won't have enough time tonight because it is already midnight and I am TRYING to make it to bed before my recent 3-4am time. (seriously. I have literally been going to bed between 3-4am for a couple of weeks now. How ridiculous is that?!) So, if it didn't sound creepy-stalkerish, I would say, out loud, that I feel a friendship could be had, between the instructor and myself.

There is just so much to do, and it seems like there are NOT enough hours in the day to do them. But seriously, I can go to sleep around 1-2am and somewhat function, but 3-4am.... can't happen. It just can't.

So, back to soapmaking. When I first decided (a year ago!) that I wanted to make my own soap, I started reading online and was put-off by the complication, mathematics, and danger associated with "true" soapmaking (lye, saponification, etc.) I decided to start with melt and pour glycerin soaps. I thought it would give me a feel for soapmaking and decide if it really was for me. It was simple. It was fun. The end result smelled great, but honestly, it wasn't the soap I was looking for. I was looking for Goat's Milk, Oatmeal, Honey, or patchouli orange soap. I was looking for sensitive skin soap. I was looking for eczema friendly soap. Allergy friendly soap. BABY Friendly soap. Paraben and SLS-free soap. I just felt that there was SO much more than glycerin melt and pour soap. But I didn't know where to begin, how to begin, or if I even WANTED to begin. I wanted to save money and buy my own soap. I wanted to control the ingredients in my soap. I wanted to soothe the itchy, dry, allergy and eczema prone skin that I had also passed on to Ardyn.

Then.... I had Marek. And my life became enswirled by my toddler tornado and bombarded by breastfeeding, double diaper duty, and eventually potty training and baby-food making. I was doing good to keep my head "above water"... let alone investigate soapmaking, PAY for the supplies, teach myself to do it, and actually find CHILD-FREE time to do so. After all, it isn't wise to involve children in lye mixing activities. Not to mention that I couldn't focus on one task long enough to even get it started, let alone accomplish anything.

Along came the fall continuing education flier at my local community college. Filled with Wire Jewelry, RAW Beading, Sewing, and yes, Soapmaking. These things, I believe, come to me as destiny. Some may call it an act of God. I don't care what YOU call it, but I know that things happen to me for a reason. I know that sometimes, when I start thinking of things in my brain, and I roll them over in there, sometimes in complete silence.... it is ironic how many times something will appear before me and just call out to me "this is your sign! Do this now! It IS possible." People may think I am nuts, but I share this sentiment with my mom.... Things happen for a reason. There is a reason that you may have never heard of something before, in all your 30 years, and then, one day, you hear about it, it interests you, and after that you are suddenly bombarded with information and random snippets about that exact thing. To myself, I call it "Creative Karma." I put it out there, and somehow, it comes back to me.

So, creative karma was screaming "soapmaking." And while I wanted to take a class a week at the college, in varying crafty endeavors, money just wasn't on my side. But I VOWED that I would take soapmaking. Well, by the time I had raised myself the money, I called, and the class was full. AND I was SO Disappointed. And by that time, a SECOND Class was sceduled, but was ALSO Full. Oh Creative Karma... Why do you taunt me so? But I was told that my name would be placed on a waiting list and that I would be contacted when they could fill another class. Well.... here comes that karma again. It really is kind of evil that I am calling it Karma at all this time, because it really was a series of unfortunate events. Namely, the instructor had her first ever "soapmaking" accident in her 6 year history of soapmaking. While preparing soap to take to that second class, she was pouring soap into her molds and there was a "volcanic" eruption of sorts which splashed hot lye soap directly into her eye.

Not everyone knows that lye is really Sodium Hydroxide... which can cause very serious chemical burns, and is used as a drain line opener. I know this because I personally have a sulfuric acid burn, sustained from 99% Sulfuric Acid in drain line opener. I received it when I was working at a Hardware Store Warehouse and was a "Loss Prevention" (Security) Officer. I was involved in security, and another part of our job responsibility was to clean up chemical and material spills. I actually had quite the background in safety at that time, and was the person who taught safety classes and things of the sort at the warehouse. And ironically I was the officer on duty when a forklift operator speared a pallet of drain line opener. Of course, hindsight being 20/20.... we should have immediately pulled the MSDS Sheet and known that it was much more serious and toxic than the average person probably knows, and that in addition to our neoprene gloves and neutralizing lime, we should have had Neoprene Boots, Goggles, and PERHAPS Neoprene suits. At the time I was working with a wonderful Maintenance Team Member, who was older than I (I was just like 19 at the time) and I trusted him and thought his knowledge on these chemicals was all we needed. Looking back, we both made mistakes.... but that's how it goes. So anyway, while picking up a 50 POUND bag of Lime to "sprinkle" over the spill to neutralize the acid, I slipped in "splashes" of acid that we didn't see, and fell INTO the acid. Yep. Slick (no pun intended.) on my part. Well, the driver of the forklift had speared the pallet and didn't know that he had missed his "fork slots" until he had gone a whole aisle over.... so he had a nice dripping trail down the aisle, and then a giant puddle where he had removed his forks and set down the pallet. this caused some type of splashing. To add to the issue, there were a couple of lightbulbs out in the aisle where the spill had landed (a safety issue and a neglect issue of sorts) and therefore it was darker than usual and difficult to SEE the full spill, which is how we missed the "sprinkles and splashes" and how I stepped into some and slipped. And the fact that I was carrying a 50 pound bag of lime didn't help my steady cause any. So, anyway, hands landed in the lime, butt landed in the lime, and legs.... and my FOOT landed IN the large spill area, and the acid immediately ate my pantleg from the knee down, and ate my leather oxford shoe AND my sock right off my foot. So right at the area where the tongue of your shoe meets your ankle, I had a severe acid burn. Immediately it started eating through my skin. Unless you have felt that sensation, it is difficult if not impossible to explain what it feels like to have acid eating your skin away. So the maintenance member who was working with me got onto our cart and we sped away towards the showers, where I stripped off what was left of my pants and started rinsing. He clocked the rinse from outside the shower room, and although I kept telling him "come here and look at this!" he was all modest and shy and wouldn't enter the room. He found me a blanket and by the time my "required rinsing" was complete, I was wrapped up and escorted to the cart again and whisked off to the exit where a company van was waiting, filled with MANAGEMENT and I was whisked off to the Emergency Room where I received saline flushes and sulfadine cream. I followed up with daily, bi-weekly, and weekly visits to the ER for flushes, cleanings, and wraps to my ankle. For a while I was told it was severe enough to require skin grafts. It freaked me out seriously. And then I found that it would heal, although I had a "forever" scar aout 2-2.5 inches in diameter. So. That was my acid experience. And after that my employer did a huge revamping of their spill cart, placing the 50lb bags into smaller flip top totes with scoops and buckets to make the spill cleanup safer and more efficient.

So, sorry.... back to the teacher. She was unfortunately injured (although not permenantly, thank goodness) by the lye in her eye, and had to cancel the class and undergo treatments and medical care to heal her eye. And she now wears safety goggles.

But because that class had to be "canceled," they rescheduled it and I was able to take the next class. So, in a Karmic way (not that I am suggesting the teacher was INJURED so that I could take the class.... but it is interesting how things come together sometimes) the very afternoon that I called about getting IN to the class, I was told it was full, and later that evening was called back and told that there would be a rescheduling. (Now you all think I am a witch who hexed my teacher, don't you? I really belong on Eastwick, it's true. My powers are unprecedented. I'm kidding. Seriously.)

So, tonight was the class. And it was wonderful. And I brought home a pringles can of soap (yep, that's her clever mold for round soaps!) and now I need EVERYONE I know to start saving me their pringles cans and lids. LOL. In 24 hours I can slice the soap into bars. Then It will cure for 1 month, and then I can use it. I am so super excited, because via Facebook, I learned that my friend Kristen also makes soap. It is sometimes very very eerie how much Kristen and I have in common. The breastfeeding, the cloth diapering, the love of animals and farm life. I covet her garden and her fresh eggs (I really really miss my garden and have ALWAYS wanted my own chickens for eggs!) and now, she pops up with soapmaking? Will it ever end? (that's mamma karma!) So now, I am hoping *disclaimer, Kristen does not know this yet* that she will agree to entertain me with soapmaking discussions and that I can invite myself to her farm sometime soon and see how and where she makes her soap. My goal is to have my first batch of soap made before Thanksgiving. I want to make Patchouli Orange soap, because I LOVE Patchouli Orange, and my father-in-law also uses Patchouli soap.... and so I would like to make a batch that I can split between us and surprise him with some for Christmas. *hopefully.*

So before Thanksgiving, I have some supplies to gather. I want Evan to make me a mold, or have enough pringles cans gathered to make a batch. I need a couple of silicone spatulas (heat safe) that I can designate for soap making. I am considering knocking down some of my Pampered Chef spatulas for the cause, because I have owned them since I started selling in 2002, and now the silicone is sticky and I don't like using them in the kitchen. I also need to dig out an enameled stock pot (I think I have one or two in the garage that I had set aside for canning and can also use for soapmaking) and I need to get a cheap stick blender and a digital scale. In a pinch I can use a handmixer (I have an antique Hamilton Beach Chrome one) or my blender (which i NEVER use anyway, so good use for it) I need some goggles. I need a large pyrex measuring cup (8 cup) and lye, oils, and essential oils. I can't use the expensive Young Living Essential Oils that I use for aromatherapy, because one recipe calls for as much as 4 ounces of oil.... and that would be NOT cost effective to use that much expensive oil in soaps! I would like to use some ground oatmeal in my soap, and also honey, as I have a couple of jars of raw honey harvested from the Outlaws' Timber this summer (the family has bee hives located there, how cool is that!?) So. I have things to gather, and things to pay for. I am really not sure that is even remotely possible before Thanksgiving, as the bills this month are IMMENSE with the addition of two License Plate renewals to our regular bills, and Evan and I have birthdays (AND Our first official date since Marek has been born 7 months ago, and the FIRST time Marek will stay away from me overnight!!!)

So I may be overly optimistic. Especially considering the calendar is filling up INCREDIBLY fast, and the house is a wreck. I really need someone to take these kids for like TWO DAYS so that I can clean. I can't even keep this house picked up, let alone CLEAN. It's really affecting my brain. I have piles of things to do, piles of things to organize. The sewing area is a DISASTER (post emergency Halloween costume sewing) and I have so much that I need and want to sew, it's insane. but I can't seem to get away from the daily tasks of FEEDING kids, washing laundry and dishes, and the like, to both CLEAN the sewing area AND sew something. Baby steps. I am trying to not let my head spin around. It's getting a little hectic.

After soapmaking class tonight, my head was just reeling with thoughts, ideas, plans off action.... It was too much. I called my own cell phone three times on the way home to leave MYSELF messages of things to do and lists to make. That's how nuts it's getting.

And then I have all these brilliant ideas, like "I'll make my own crackers from scratch" and tear out articles from my magazines on making my own organic yogurt (we eat a LOT of yogurt, especially mixed with fresh fruit, in these parts!) and I have Christmas Stockings to sew, and Pajama "dresses" to make for Ardyn, and Fleece diaper covers for Marek, and an iSpy bag for Michele's Allison (which is on my list forever now!) and then my MOM wants me to make her kitchen curtains next week... and I have all my Bum genius OS diapers torn up and waiting for new snaps and the correct die size (which I have to order tomorrow online) and then I have to set about 1400 snaps (seriously) to get those finished. I am hoping for a diaper a day once the snaps arrive. The computer desk is a landslide of papers. I have bills to pay. I can't even reach my closet or my makeup table in our room. We desperately need to go through Ardyn's toys and put up small "choking hazards" because she doesn't understand that she can't leave them lying on the floor, and Marek has really started to step up his army crawling this week and I almost broke my leg trying to get out of the bathtub fast enough to pry a choking hazard out of his drooling mouth this afternoon. I have magazines to read. I have a guest list to make for my Usborne book party. I have Thanksgiving invites to send out to family. The kitchen needs cleaned. The floors need mopped. The diaper pail is full again and if it's nice this week still, I need to get some out in the sun before there isn't any sun anymore. I have a defective Baby Bouncer to ship back to Fisher Price and a broken humidifier to get rid of. I need to get a few groceries, clean out two freezers, and finish y husband's to-do list so that he can change lightbulbs, replace smoke detector batteries, switch the door on my dryer to the other side, and pump out the pond and cover it for the winter. It's hard enough to remember what I need to do, let alone remember what I need to remind OTHER people to do. Ugh.

So, let's talk about MOPS now. I am really enjoying MOPS. I missed the October meeting, but this month was great. We did "freezer meals" and we all broke up into groups. Each group had a station in the kitchen and each station was in charge of a specific freezer meal. There was Chili, Italian Beef Hoagies, Sloppy Joe's, Beef Stroganoff, Tacos, etc. Our $5 "meeting fee" for the month allowed us each to take home 2 freezer meals, and for another $6, we could make another 3. I just did two, and chose Italian beef Hoagies and Beef Stroganoff. We also brought home a neat little freezer meal cookbook with contributions from our fellow MOPS and also with tips and ideas on how to freeze and prep various meals.

So, this has me motivated to do more frozen meals, but this also reminds me that I NEED to get the freezers cleaned out. But this is not a one person job.... especially when that one person is myself who is in charge of two children who can't be left alone. Naptime is getting shorter and shorter these days... and so it's barely enough time for me to take a shower or bath.... let alone accomplish anything. Marek is my good napper right now. Ardyn is the nap resistor. She is really starting to give us a hard time about sleeping in general. She can go to her room and still be awake two hours later. Her new thing is that she wants us to leave the door open when she goes to sleep. Otherwise she is pitter pattering and opening the door and standing behind it and being all goofy and awake. I have learned that if I let the dog into her room with her and shut the door to keep him in, it's okay to keep her door shut and she will fall asleep, and then we can let the dog out later. He isn't thrilled with this prospect, but it works.

Well, I am feeling pressured to make lists now, and I still need to go to bed, and it's almost 2am. Jeez. More later, and if you are still with me, holy cow. Thanks.
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