Saturday, April 24, 2010

First Night in the "BIG Girl Bed!"

Well, tonight is Ardyn's first night in the twin bed! YAY! She is pretty cool with it. She's been in a toddler bed since she was somewhere around 15-16 months old, so really I am not worried much about this, except that it's a longer fall. We didn't get bed rails because I am cheap most of the mom's I talked too said that by the age of 2.5-3, their kids didn't fall out of twin beds. We will see. I took EK's advice and put the toddler mattress on the floor alongside the twin, so that it would pad her fall if she hit the hardwood. It will be an interesting night. She'd better not break an arm or I will feel like CRAP.

Today was really a fairly productive day. Last night I went to one of my monthly scrapbook nights with friends (I attend two a month, each at different local churches) and I started Marek's "birth" scrapbook. I did an 8x8 for Ardyn's Birth, and am doing the same for Marek now. He's 1, it's time I started scrapbooking him, right? Poor guy! I was a little pissed perturbed that I picked up $65 of Photos from Wal-Mart (that's what happens when you procrastinate and forget to order your pics in time to scrap them, you have to pay 1 hour prices! Eeek!) and for some reason the black and whites were just "off" in color, and the edges were often torn or smudged. If I had the patience or time to deal with them and wait for reprints, I might have done something about it. Maybe someday.

Today I took all the scrapbook supplies back to mom's (where my old bedroom is now my scrapbook room!) and put them away. Marek and I got up and snuck away. Because I had Ardyn's seat out of the van and three of the stow and go's folded, I was able to also get my twin bed from mom's and load it up to bring home for Ardyn. But I realized that the protector I had for the mattress was NOT waterproof (uh-oh) and luckily I texted MIL and she was in town and could pick me up one, which she wonderfully did for me and drove it to my house so it was here when I got home. That was awesome of her.

While at my parent's house, my dad was going to take a look at my front brakes, because the dealership had told me during my oil change last week that I needed new brake pads and rotors, and quoted me $340 for the front. Holy Crap. This from the girl whose dad has always done her mechanic work and oil changes, and I just provide the $20 brake pads. Jeez!

So I had already bought 2 Brake pads and Rotors just in case we needed them, and when Dad looked at them he decided that he was just going to change them all out today. Thanks Dad. You are so awesome. You saved me like $250 bucks. I love you!

So Marek and I tried to make ourselves useful, and eat up leftovers and cookies at Grandma's. Then I stripped both spare beds upstairs and washed the sheets, and ran the vacuum in the upstairs hall and the bedrooms for her. I wanted to feel useful, and since I wasn't accomplishing anything at home, I get that itch to be DOING something. I had only brought one diaper (since we were just supposed to be running out there to put away scrapbook stuff, and ALL the diapers were in the washing machine at home) and I luckily had two spare sposies in the van.... because we were there for SEVEN hours, and Marek pooped THREE times. Jeez.

*speaking of that, let me go put those dipes in the dryer or he will be naked tomorrow!*

Okay, first load in the dryer, PUL Covers hang drying, and Second load of diapers doing their first cold rinse. I don't want to forget that I need to go back down in about 10 minutes and add soap and start their hot wash. Ah yes, Soap. Where in the HELL is my soap? Seriously? on Thursday I ordered $287 of laundry soap. I know, you are having a heart attack. I nearly did. But I was out of OxyPrime and OxyBoost, which I use for all our laundry. Never in the past have I had to purchase BOTH at the same time. Some of you may have been here a while and know that I buy laundry detergent in bulk, which saves us upwards of $100 per year, and is HUGELY awesome for our carbon footprint.... no millions of plastic bottles! We use ONE bucket of laundry soap per year, and ONE bucket of Oxyboost per year. Their weight is around 43-50 pounds per bucket (each has a different density) but they are essentially 5 gallon buckets. I originally started using Charlie's Soap and Oxyboost, but about a year and a half after using Charlie's, cloth diaper vendors started dropping it and discussing issues with buildup, rashes, and pretty much it became no longer recommended in the cloth diaper industry. I had always been perfectly happy, but because I was also wonderfully in love with Oxyboost as my stain fighter, deodorizer, and sanitizing agent for diapers, I thought I would try Oxyprime. And by "try" I mean that I jumped in with both feet and bought a whole 5 gallon bucket (that's how much I trusted their company (Natural Choices) and therefore, I made the switch instantly and have never looked back since.

So by buying the detergent in Bulk, I save over $100 a year (that's just the savings for detergent, I have never done the math for the savings I get for buying Oxyboost in bulk instead of buying OxyClean or OxyClean Baby {ca-ching!} but I know that is a HUGE price difference.)

The only downside (and I mean ONLY) of buying in bulk, is the staggering cost of the gigantic bucket once a year. It's something like $115 plus $17 UPS shipping for the detergent, and a bit more for the oxyprime. But I know I am saving money in the long run, doing awesome things for the planet (eco-safe products, one container a year, bazillions of bottles that I am not consuming from the grocery store that had to be packaged, labeled, trucked, stocked, etc.) and awesome things for my babies and their little cloth diapered butts. Not to mention that neither I (or the kids) have had any type of allergic or eczema reaction to the products like I used to have prior to switching. I had been happy with All Free and Clear, but I knew nothing else, and as soon as I started using it on my clothes, I was so happy to have no unwanted residues and chemicals on my clothes! Ahhhh. So we choked out the $287 for detergent. It never comes at a "good" time, but it has to be done. It's just one of those necessity things that we have to have.

*Down to add soap to the diapers*

Oh, and the reason I started on soap in the first place?? It's not HERE yet. Seriously. I am freaking out. I must check the back porch like 500000 times a day looking for my UPS Man. It's bad news. Almost EVERY time I have ordered the soap, it has arrived in 24 hours. ONCE it took two days. It has been 4 days. I ordered it on Wednesday. It's Saturday night. No Soap. I am freaking. We have NO Soap and laundry to do and I literally just used the last two scoops of soap on the last two loads of diapers. As I was coming back upstairs, I started to worry more about the whereabouts of my soap, and I remembered that they told me they would send an order confirmation to my email.... I checked both my email addresses.... NOTHING. Uh-oh. So, I can't check my order status online, because when you purchase that large of a quantity, you have to place the order via phone because they don't have that large of quantity on their website. So I think "I will check the bank account balance!" and then when I go look at the bank, I see that it was never charged. Hmmmmm...... something is not right here?!?! So I am a little upset and I am thinking that it's only fair that when I can finally call them on Monday, they pay to have it OVERNIGHTED to me because it apparently hasn't been charged, shipped, etc. Let's hope they agree.

I wish I would have followed my gut and called them on Friday when it didn't arrive. Now I have to wait till Monday and I have no laundry soap. Grand.

I wish I knew where the remote was for "my" TV, because I think I am missing my nightly Nanny Marathon on Nick and Nite. That's not right. Oh! I found it, it was under the bed. Ahhhh, Fran, I missed you!

So I put the twin bed in Ardyn's room when we got home from our family "Easter" dinner (evan's side had a meal tonight :) And I was super excited to get out the sheets and comforter that I bought like, hmmmm, a year and a half ago, for her big girl room. Soooo fun. She has three sheet sets (one I already had and two I bought on sale, they match her comforter) and a reversible comforter that's super cute from Target. Now I can't wait to put some underbed boxes in her room to store her spare bedding and free up some space in our linen closet! Yay! I also upgraded our towels and re-did our bathroom recently. I had such a problem, we had so many towels that I felt people were using them carelessly. I would use the same two towels for over a week, yet when I needed to do laundry, there were like THREE LOADS of towels. It's just that if there are clean towels everywhere, *some people* who live here seem to think they need to use them constantly. It bugs me.

So, I sold the shower curtain, valance, 4 rugs, and about 15 "newer" JC Penney Home Towels to a friend of mine on Facebook. I'd had the same bathroom theme for 10 years, so I figure I got my use out of it. Then I downgraded the towels we have had for 12 years to "rags" and gave them to Evan for washing cars, etc. I replaced all those towels with 10 new towels from Target, four new handtowels, a valance, and a shower curtain. It wasn't very expensive at all, especially since I picked two striped towels and two striped hand towels, and then just got the rest of them solid colored.... and bath sheets now cost $3.76, when the previous JC Penney towels were like $10-12 each just 5 years ago. I love that now they don't really sell bath "towels" in that stupid small size that won't even wrap around your body.... and all towels seem to be "bath sheet" size. It makes me happy. So anyway, By selling all the old things to a friend, I made a big dent in the cost or replacing them. And by having about 1/3 as many towels, I have less laundry, and there isn't the temptation to use towels just because they are clean. (I hope! LOL.)

Well, I still have a ton I could talk about, it's quiet here, but I should be reading, or I should watch the nanny and do some crocheting. I haven't crocheted since winter, and I have lots of things I could be doing, lots of yarn to use, a new book that I received as a Christmas gift.... so maybe I will do a bit of that before bed. :)

Next week is Marek's 1 year appointment, which I am excited about because he missed his 9 month appointment because the physician's office forgot to make one? The next night is my Pampered Chef show, the first one that I have hosted since I retired from being a consultant back in 2005. I am excited about it! The rest of the week is pretty uneventful, and I would really LOVE to do some bread baking, some pizza dough making, some sewing, and some yardwork gardening. I am *patiently* (okay, not at all) waiting for my husband to build my square foot raised bed garden. The plans are drawn up and laying here next to me on the bed, along with Mel Bartholomew's book "All New Square Foot Gardening." The recycled lumber is in the driveway, the tools are on the porch, and the site is measured and marked out in the front yard. We are putting it right inside the fence so I can be with the kids and garden at the same time, and right by the composter, and right next to what will *hopefully* be the site of a rain barrel someday soon. Can you believe it's almost May! yay!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Earth Day Terrarium Project

I saw a cool magazine article about terrariums, and making them with kids, and the first thing that caught my eye was the use of an apothecary jar just like the one that I have. I have used it for a couple of years in the nursery to hold medicine. It worked great and was so cute and functional, but now that Ardyn and Marek are "into" things, I have put the medicine up and been using the jar for non-dangerous items, but it had become more of a catchall than anything and I wasn't sure what it's next purpose was going to be. Until I saw the awesome magazine article!

We started off with our soil mixture, some pea gravel, my plants (I chose mostly succulents that are small and like warm climates) and a couple of decorations. The article calls for charcoal chips to be used in the gravel, but I didn't have any, didn't want to search forever for them, and really didn't want this project to cost a ton (I already had enough money in plants!) I washed and dried the jar, rinsed the pea gravel, and had Ardyn help me scoop it all into the jar. She experimented with different scoops, shovels, and spoons to see how much she could scoop each time. Then we added our potting soil and planted our little succulents. Ardyn added a special rock, and I added the mushroom. We put the lid on and Ardyn was THRILLED. Ardyn helped add some water, and voila! Earth Day Terrarium. Click the pics to view larger, and then click on them again to zoom to full size :)

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review: Del Monte Ready-to-Blend Fruit Smoothies

Today we tried something new. When getting groceries, we saw the Del Monte Ready-to-Blend Fruit Smoothies. There were several flavors (they make four: Mango Pineapple, Pomegranate Peach Pear, Lite Strawberry Peach, and Strawberry Peach.) We bought three of the four to try (not the lite strawberry peach) and the price really wasn't TOO bad. My friend Sarah A. had told me before that she LOVES the ones that you can buy in the frozen section (can't remember the brand... ocean spray perhaps?) and when I looked at them, I couldn't bring myself to buy them (almost $4 each) but these Del Monte cups are like $2.90 (and that was at Sullivan's) and I thought that they looked delicious. Problem was, I got them home, and then realized that I gave away my blender to a friend who's spouse had lap band surgery... And I had really NOT wanted that blender to begin with. I NEVER need a blender, and I hate how much space it takes up to store it. Well, next time I was out, I checked out the Personal Blenders that Hamilton Beach makes, which have a travel lid on top of the blender cup, so you can drink right from the cup. $15- and so I grabbed one with my babysitting money. Good news is, both purchases were worth it and I didn't have to have a giant blender. LOL.

Today when Marek lay down for nap, Ardyn and I switched the laundry, and decided to go back outside to our blanket in the grass. She was thirsty and I was in the mood for something cool and refreshing, so I whipped out the Mango Pineapple Smoothie. It's really simple. You remove the plastic wrapper (which is perforated) and then you have two separate cups... The lower one is larger, and contains your chunk fruit with syrup/juice. The top is smaller, like a fruit cup, and reminds me exactly of the fruit chillers that you can buy in the applesauce aisle, and then freeze. Ardyn loves those, and especially did before she could have ice cream (because of her dairy allergy) You dump both cups into the blender, then you fill the larger bottom cup with ice and add that to the blender. Pulse, an d VOILA! Really neat! It actually makes TWO eight ounce servings.... so what's great is that for the $3.00, you are getting two servings. I thought to myself "this is going to be one of those things where it says two servings but I would normally drink 2-3 servings as one...." but it was really generous. Ardyn and I shared and there was still some leftover. I think that the $3 would easily make enough for Ardyn, Marek, and myself. That's a great price, In my opinion.

Could I buy fruit and make my own perhaps? Sure. Will I? Nope. No time. Better things to do. Fruit might be bad before I get around to it, or I would make one and then not the rest.

So, bottom line, try them out. I have two more flavors in the fridge to test out, and I am sure they are delicious! Visit their website and click "Get Coupons" in the upper right corner.... to get printable coupon that will make it even LESS Expensive to try them out!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

I promise I'm trying!

WHY is it so HARD to complete a thought these days? WHY can't anyone take both of my children at once, get them OUT of my house, and allow me to find some sort of order in all this chaos? And even better, why do I have to flee the premises to get any sort of relaxation? What I wouldn't give for an empty, quiet house (with my children and husband safely somewhere else, of course... this isn't a morbid dream!) and to have it be clean so that I could crochet, embroider, read, sew, watch a movie? Any of the above. Even paint my toenails. Seriously? Whew. It's hectic in this place.

I don't understand why no one believes me when I say that my house is a mess. Apparently they have never dropped by (thank god!) and lay eyes upon the horror and clutter that surrounds me everyday. I have recently been locking myself in my bedroom. I have gates on both the doors and I can see the living room, front porch, bathroom, and Ardyn's room all from my perch on the bed. I take my laptop, my calendar, my cell phone, and my house phone and climb up high above it all and watch. I can see the kids play. I can fold laundry. I can watch the weather channel. I make phone calls and appointments, I update my calendar. I edit all the photos I take and put them online and categorize and save them to my hard drive.

The kids beat each other play together and I try to play referee supervisor and loving mother, while still accomplishing a few tasks. I feel insanely guilty, but it's the only way I can get anything DONE. Right now they are playing in the living room, in a "tent" that we made with a large tablecloth and four dining room chairs. I would have just done something over he dining room table, but it's piled so high with crap that I don't even know where to begin! cluttered. It was cute that Marek kept pulling the tablecloth down, except that every time I tried to sit on the bed and accomplish something, I was summoned and pleaded to put the tent back up again. Eventually they gave up on the tent idea and alternately hit each other with a wooden spoon (you think I am joking, but I am not) and so I am off the hook for tent assembly for now.

So, a while back I joined Mary Jane's Farmgirl Group. I am super excited about it, because they award merit badges for the kind of things that I get a kick out of. And these are NOT easy merit badges to earn. I don't mean they would be difficult for someone who doesn't do these types of crafty things on a daily basis... I mean they are so difficult for ME to complete (especially with a huge lack of "alone" time) that I am a little overwhelmed with the thought of it, and in some ways, a little nervous that I will never complete any! For example, they send you your membership badge and (just like all other badges you earn) you need to embroider the design (by hand of course) before you display/wear it. I have been telling myself for over a month that I need to get that started, but first I have to find the darn thing! LOL.

I have been seriously considering submitting some entries for the county fair. I have NEVER done this before in my life. I have considered photography, sewing, embroidery, and other crafts. But I don't even know what the categories are, and where to begin. What does seem to be exciting, is that they have FINALLY put the entry forms online for the categories. Except I don't know what belongs in what category, or what the judging is based on. I am such a novice. I wonder if Ardyn's halloween costume would qualify in Textiles? Would the toddler sized mei-tai fit into textiles? How about the dress and hat that I am going to make for the upcoming MOPS Tea Party? Embroidery is a textile or a hobby? Whew. Lots to learn.

The more I research and read about the fair categories, the more I realize I could enter. Like breads and rolls and pies and cakes. Oh My. But, will I find the time to prepare everything? Stay Tuned! haha!

The kids have moved on from the tent to a large empty cardboard box that they alternately climb in and out of excitedly.

I have been away from blogging so long, I can't even remember where I left off, or what I should say. Marek had his first Birthday. That was so much fun. I can't believe it's been a year already! Just in the last week he has started to consistently (every day) walk without assistance or holding on to anything. He has also started saying more words, instead of just Mamma and Daddy, he said shoe, sad, hat, honk honk, and his own version of "What's that?"

He is almost 20 pounds and his hair is starting to redden up. Tuesday I witnessed him take Ardyn to the ground when she took a toy from her. He wrapped his arms around her neck and took her down, and then she couldn't get away because he had her hair. I, of course laughed frowned from afar, and let them resolve it themselves. It was quite eye opening for Ardyn.

We had his party at a local community center, and it went really well. The next week was his birthday, and I took pics of him, and also did a cake smash with him. Then came Easter. We had already visited the bunny at the mall and had our fabulous photo op, and so the kids were ready. Ardyn and I started the weekend by attending the Community Easter Egg Hunt, where Ardyn was chosen to have her picture taken for the newspaper. Marek stayed at our house with Grandma Susan, because he was still battling croup and it was breezy and cool outside. They watched Grandpa Bob and Evan wrestle our old fridge into the basement.

Sunday morning Ardyn and I went to church. We decided on a church to try out, the Open Prairie United Church of Christ. I was absolutely thrilled with the people there. They were so outgoing and welcoming! As soon as we arrived people began to introduce themselves. It was so refreshing and unlike my past church. The environment was very open and relaxed, and worship itself was very laid back and fun. Ardyn had a hard time (a VERY hard time) sitting still, but for the most part, people were more entertained by her than upset. She went down the rows and asked people to stand up and follow her, this in the middle of the sermon. Eventually she had to leave and go to the Sunday school room, and another parishioner who is a retired schoolteacher offered to stay with her so that I could attend the sermon. That was great, except I missed the first 10 minutes or so, which left me a little confused and unable to really drive home the point of the sermon. Maybe Next Time? I am thinking that at the next service I will take Marek instead and just see what happens. I just know that I can't keep them both in church by myself... I am not into punishing myself. LOL.

I signed up to bring Chili for their upcoming Potato Bar. Theirs seems to be a community that I would like to be a bigger part of. Time will tell. The main worry that I have is the lack of programs and activities for children as young as mine. It's not a huge deal, but many other churches in the same community are larger, and able to provide a nursery environment for the kids while their parents are attending the service. We never had that at the church I grew up in, but there was a windowed narthex where the sermon and service were piped overhead via speakers.... so the parents that had to leave could at least still see and hear what was going on. With kids so young, I worry that I won't be able to enjoy the service much because I will always be chasing or hushing them. Although, I think that Ardyn could handle almost every part of the service with the exception of the sermon. The children's sermon was a favorite of hers because they brought in LIVE chicks that had just hatched the prior day, and she got to hold them. She was SO excited about that! That's about as "new life" of a message as you can give a 2 year old!

Our MOPS group has been in full swing. I am sad that when summer comes we won't have meetings anymore, but in their place will be weekly playdates at the park, which to me signify my one year mark with MOPS, as that is how I first became part of the group. That is also hard to believe! I do love our park playdates! This reminds me that I need to turn in my remaining Casey's Pizza Cards to Katie. I really wish I could have sold more!

I just ran into the kitchen to mix up a batch of brownies and put them in the oven. Once the kids saw me emerge it's like they REMEMBERED that I am here. Now they NEED me. Poor children. Poor poor neglected children. Time to call Evan and see about supper plans, we have porkchops that need grilled :)

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Long Lost Love

Dearest Blog,

I miss you. I promise we will be together again, someday soon. Wait for me!


P.S. It's not you, it's me. Ardyn had croup and then walking pneumonia with a blistering ear infection, which we cleared up just in time for Marek's Birthday party. Then the day after Marek's birthday, he came down with Croup and I have been sleeping upright while holding him for the past two nights, and napping with him at brief intervals each day. Tonight we finally went to the ER for what we hoped would be a steroid shot and a breathing treatment, but instead were given an antibiotic. So now he is on oral steroids, ibuprofen, and amoxicillan. Hopefully he does better tonight because I could really use some uninterrupted sleep, or at least more than 6 hours of sleep ;) That is why I must go to bed instead of blogging now, because It's already nearing 1:30 am and I stayed up late to wash diapers because I am so far behind that we can't walk through the house without tripping, we have used every diaper in the house, and there is not an inch of counterspace or clean towels in the place. Forgive me, dear Blog....
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