Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kidspeak: Sunshine

Ardyn today while in the van "Mama, will the sun ever come out again?"

I know Ardyn, I know. It's terrible isn't it? All brown and dead. No snow to brighten up the days. No sunshine for weeks now. :(

Cup of Freaking Cheer

I feel like I could rant for hours. Except I don't have hours. I don't know what the deal is, but I suspect it is most likely that PMS and Christmas do NOT mix.

I have decided to direct my rant one direction for a brief moment. Walmart's one hour photo center. THREE TIMES in the past two weeks I have tried to place a one hour photo order and have been told that there is a problem with the one hour photo in the local walmart and that the order will take longer than an hour. Now, am I the only one that thinks there might be a good inkling that something is going on over there? Should customers be charged for 1 hour photo prices when it takes more than three hours to process your order? Hmmmm. I am super frustrated with this whole scenario.

I ran away tonight. My kids weren't awful today, but they weren't especially good either. I tried to think of when I was away from them last, and it seems like it might have been about a week ago tonight. Since then we have had preparing for the cleaning ladies, violin lessons, Christmas Present shopping and wrapping, Church Christmas Pageant practice, the Church Pageant, Caroling, Fellowship and movie after caroling, movie night (Chipwrecked) with just me and the two kids, Took the kids to see the Festival of Lights with my parents, followed by supper at Steak and Shake and a visit to the most awesome new Outdoor World at Bass Pro Shops. Then last night we finally got to spend some time with daddy and ate supper at the Mexican restaurant.  This is all good, but also all stressful, because the majority of it was done by myself with kids, or luckily with my parents.... Frustrating. I don't want to choke the life out of my husband with my eyes each time I look at him, but tonight when I saw the opportunity to get milk I decided that I was not coming back until after bedtime. When you start to feel at 2:30pm that the rest of your day would be best mellowed by alcohol and cigarettes (and you don't drink or smoke) you know it's time to escape. I have been away from them for nearly an hour and my jaw is still clenched so tight that it hurts.

I get so furious at how much these seem to be ALL my kids. I shouldn't rant about that I guess, but man it gets difficult. It's the stay-at-home mom's curse. It's the thing that makes me want to scratch my husband's eyes out when he acts like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for two kids is over his head. I am probably exaggerating that a bit, but man, that look that he gives me like How DARE I ask him to do such a thing.... just boils my blood.

I told my husband that I wouldn't be home until the kids are asleep. Period. I just need to breathe a bit. I just need no one screaming at me or talking over me for a few hours. I need to get my wits about me. I started a big load of diapers before I left so I have those to look forward to when I get home, and I need to do some dishes and a serious lot of laundry so I have something to wear for Christmas. I also have just a few presents that I need to wrap yet for the kids. There are three under the tree right now and they are just killing themselves with excitement and curiosity over what might be inside.

I decided to high-tail it to the library. Quiet. With Internet Access. and My own clear horizontal space. I have my laptop and KK's, because his has a virus and some malware and I have been working on it all day to get it cleared off and updated and running smoothly with fresh AVG and Zone Alarm. Problem being we are on week two of no internet at home, which is a stress in itself, considering that I do EVERYTHING Online, including pay all my bills. So I have my computer working on all the things I need to get done, and his right next to mine doing software updates and virus and malware scans.

I love that when coming to the library I see so many people who I adore, and just happen to work or hang out here. Tonight I was blessed by encounters with Ron and Ann and also saw Jax and Laura and Cullen. All in less than an hour. I could sleep here, I swear. It's so QUIET here. I saw a mom back in the children's section of the library, working on her laptop at a table, while her children sat quietly on the floor reading books. I was like, seriously? Did she DRUG them? Will my kids EVER act like that? Ever? Oy. Bless their overactive and loud little personalities, straight from their parents (me being loud, Evan being overactive, in childhood at least)

Once again this year comes the stress of trying to be at three Christmases in 24 hours. This year another was added to the mix, and we declined. We made our decision two years ago that we would go to ONE Christmas Eve celebration. It seems that although last year we went to one, and this year we are supposed to alternate, we will still be eating at one from 6-8, then going to church at 8:30, and then AFTER church (when any sensible parents would have their 2 and 4 year olds into bed for Santa) we will be going to another Christmas celebration in order to not piss anyone off. I already want to cry. I want to bawl and scream and stomp my feet. I love our families. But WHY can't they understand and let it go, and realize that we DO NOT ENJOY dragging two toddlers to three locations in one night, particularly when at least one of them has to be after their bedtimes. It isn't anything personal. It ISN'T favoritism. It's plain ole logic. I don't know a better way to deal with it. It makes me want to smash my head into a wall, and this is without PMS. THIS IS NOT HOW CHRISTMAS IS SUPPOSED TO FEEL! Even though we implemented this last year, and went to just one Christmas Eve, as soon as this year came along and we were due to switch to my family on Christmas Eve, the guilt trips started rolling in. What about their presents? Couldn't we just "stop in" after church? Do You Think You Could Find The Time to come to Aunt Patti's on Christmas Eve? Oh my. We can not go four places on Christmas Eve. WE CAN NOT. This isn't something personal. It really really really really is NOT. I now feel really really really upset with myself for giving in and saying that we would go to a second Christmas Eve after church. This is entirely breaking the "every other year" thing that we had agreed to two years ago. I didn't "cheat" and go to my family last year. We completely went with his family on Christmas Eve, but this year I am already being made to feel like I am choosing a favorite, which is NOT the truth. But here I am back to square one. Back to the year when I had to start taking Anxiety medication right before Christmas because everyone demanded so much of us right after I started to go back to work after having Ardyn. *sigh*

Dear Lord, please help me to enjoy this Christmas and not go postal on any family members.
And Please Please Please bring snow. This warm and brown and un-sunny Christmas is horrid.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kidspeak: Santa

the kids are playing Mr and Mrs Claus.... Overheard from the living room.

Ardyn: "Mr Claus! You're feet are freeeeeeezing! You'd better go put on your big black boots!"

Then a few minutes later...

Ardyn: *heavy sigh* "Santa, this checking twice thing is killing me!"


Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Monday, December 12, 2011


I really do not like waiting. Even though I have no "plans" this afternoon or tomorrow, today we are expecting the Comcast guy from 1-4 and tomorrow the Sears repairman from 1-5. I HATE Waiting. I HATE the time range. I badly want to take a nap when the kids do today, because I didn't get much sleep last night. But in order to do that, I have to wait until the Comcast Guy gets here. And since I don't have any CLUE as to when he will arrive (It's already 2pm now) I am trying to weigh in the factors of when exactly I give up and put the kids down to sleep without getting a nap myself.

The worst part is that there isn't a real exciting reason for him to come, just that they are doing equipment upgrades and it's our turn. *sigh*. I don't like planning my day around waiting. I have picked up the house and done some vacuuming, and some other chores, but I just want him to get here already, get in and get this done, and then let me be so I can nap. :(

Then of course I will feel the exact same way tomorrow as I wait for the Sears guy to arrive. Oy. the waiting part tempts me to cancel my appointments every time. I always think "this is stupid. He can just come another time."

The kids watched the Grinch (animated version) after lunch and I thought FOR SURE that the second they got all locked in to that, he would show up requiring me to turn it off and make them cranky. I was even okay with that.... but nothing yet.

I am having a hard time believing that it's getting so close to Christmas already. I haven't gotten my cards out, which is UNHEARD OF for me, because I always send cards out ON December 1st. But this year we got some really cute pics of the kids taken by Nicole Isaacson Photography, and I just need the FUNDS to pay her for the photo disk, so that I can go make the cards and get them mailed. Surprisingly, it is two weeks till Christmas, and we have only received cards from four people this year. That's stranger than usual, that's for sure. Hopefully we do get some soon because the kids love opening them and especially displaying them. We put a string of flashing rice lights around the doorway to the playroom and I am taping (with painters tape) the cards around the door frame woodwork this year. Simple but effective. We are at such a prime for space here there isn't an inch to display them anywhere else!

I still haven't found the tree topper (Well, to be honest I haven't really looked either) and I think I might be okay with that. I did want to get the peg rack painted to hang stockings, I have had it like, oh 11 months and not done it yet. Lot of good that was, considering it's so cold out it's not like I can just step out and spray paint it now.... but I will anyway. Spray it outside and bring it in to dry and see how it turns out. Hopefully before Christmas.

This week I have a ton to accomplish, from just the everyday things like preparing for the cleaning lady to arrive (she hasn't been here in over a month because of our incredibly knack for spreading sickness around amongst ourselves) and also next weekend is the Christmas Pageant at church and I need to make an angel costume and a shepherd costume this week. I have the fabric from a bin in the basement and it is washed and ready to go to the dryer, but I just need to get that whipped up. Ardyn also has Violin this week per usual, and we need to make a serious effort to practice. I also have my BUNCO Christmas Party, the Health Ministries Team Christmas Party (for our church team) and Ardyn has Dance and School. Add in the Cable guy, the Sears Guy, and Friday night hoping to get everything off layaway and wrapped or opened accordingly for Christmas.... and I am only mildly annoyed with the schedule. This weekend Evan has a gig, and so that will mean at least 36 hours of me and kids, and during those hours we have practice for the church program and then the program itself. This Sunday is also caroling to the sick and shut-ins, which Ardyn fondly remembers from last year (and me too!) so we are looking forward to that!

Chicken Coop

I realized tonight that I never did post a finished photo of the chicken coop on the blog :) Sorry readers! Apologies! I just facebooked them and forgot :(

Here you go... The top left is Marek helping me to remove the old siding from the dog house, which belonged to my in-laws and was what we revamped into a coop. The upper right is a photo of Ardyn admiring the coop in progress, the day that we added the nest box and got the side door opening cut.

The bottom left is the coop with the run attached to the front.... and the bottom right is the side open on the coop, with the double doors and the screen in place. the screen is out for the winter and the doors stay shut unless I am cleaning out or checking in or if it's a warmer day and we just need to air out a bit :) The ladies are so at home :) The coop features two rear 12x12 ish nest boxes with a hinged roof, an interior two leveled perch with room for six fluffy and heavy breed hens, a nice front ladder, an adjacent and removable front run with hanging feeder and waterer (a heated waterer in winter) 24x24" concrete diamond paved floor for easy washing, a hinged front door with a pulley so I don't have to go IN to the run to open the door, and a double "barn door" on the side for easy access and cleaning. The siding is recycled concrete style siding painted "Victory Red" and it features white vinyl trim and corner caps and a green steel roof with a handcrafted galvanized ridge vent. The house itself is fully insulated.... the nest boxes are not, but are filled with pine bedding.

There is an entire album of "coop in progress" photos here, if you are interested :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kidspeak- naked fries

Ardyn: "mom, some of these fries were showing their potatoes. I hid them at the bottom of the box"

Me: "what?!"

Ardyn: "naked."

Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Chicken Sweaters! FREE Pattern for Personal Use :)

Yes really. I really truly crocheted a sweater for my chicken. I saw a blog post this evening that had each of their chickens in sweaters. I thought it seemed incredibly unnecessary and that my chickens would not be happy in the winter without them. Absolutely no way, no how. Since I seem to have tons of Yarn remnants left from my recent scarf escapades.... I decided that while the kids were watching the Grinch after supper, I would make one. I actually took some orange yarn and a hook to Ardyn's dance class and while Marek napped in his seat and Ardyn was dancing, I was going to make one. I had found patterns online but only one crochet pattern, and I wasn't really happy with the coverage that the particular pattern provided, so I thought I might have to modify it as I went. Especially because my chickens are all heavy breeds and I didn't know what hens this sweater was made to fit, but it looked more like a smaller regular sized hen. Plus, I don't like to check gauge and never do check gauge, so I was just gonna see how the pattern went. Well, fast forward to dance class and I ran out of the house without the pattern. Grrr. So I sat in the van and thought, you know, I can totally wing it (pun intended, lol) and make my own chicken sweater.

So, I started. I visualized and I conquered. And I like mine better than the other pattern so I was happy. I will go ahead and share with you here. But first, a few photos and a feature overview....

1. No ties. I was nervous of the ones that tied and if a chicken would strangle or hang themselves.
2. Covers more of the chicken's back.... and dips a bit lower to cover a few tail feathers
3. Keeps wings free and allows flight if desired :)
4. Covers the chest/breast area while still leaving the feet free and the rear end clear for poo and eggs :)

So, I don't write patterns so please let me know if my rules screw you up. The first rule of crochet is, there are no rules :) If you have followed enough patterns, hopefully you will know what I am doing.
I used what I would consider to be regular medium weight yarn, very washable, and a J hook because that's what I could get my hands on. Like I said, I don't do gauge. Just start and try to visualize your chicken :) That's how I did it.

Row ONE- Start Your Work: Chain 31. This is not really a set number. You can chain whatever you want. This is the length of your chicken's body. Eyeball it. Chain whatever you want. the pattern will work no matter how many you chain.
Chain Two and Turn

ROWS 2 thru 6- *Double Crochet in each Chain till end.... Chain Two and Turn again (repeat from star until you have six rows completed)

ROW 7- After you have chained two and turned to begin your SEVENTH row, DC in next SIX stitches. Then, Chain Six (not in previous stitches) to create a chain that will make your wing opening. On the 7th Stitch, instead of chaining, DC back into your work again. This will make a "hole" that is six stitches long.
Continue to DC in each stitch until you reach the THIRD Stitch from the end. You should have THREE STITCHES to fill,
in the first stitch DC TWICE (increase)
In the Second stitch DC TWICE (increase)
In the LAST stitch in your row, DC once, then chain two and turn.

ROW 8- DC in first stitch
DC twice in each of the next TWO stitches (increasing twice, Rows 7 and 8 will create a longer tail area, which you can eliminate if you don't like that idea, but I like the way it looks and fits.)
DC in each stitch till end, Chain two and turn

ROWS 9 and 10- *DC in each stitch till end, Chain two and turn (repeat from star to create row 10)

ROW 11 - DC in each stitch until you are five stitches from end. Then DC once in next two stitches (Decreasing) and DC again ONCE in next two stitches (Decreasing a second time) and then DC once in last stitch.... Chain two and turn, completing row 11.

ROW 12- DC once in first stitch (not in turning chain) and then DC once in next two stitches (DECREASING) and then DC again once in next two stitches (DECREASING AGAIN.) then DC once in each space until end of chain. Complete Row 12, Chain two and turn.

ROW 13- DC once in each of next six stitches, then Chain 6 (creating other wing opening.) In the next stitch (stitch 13 from end) DC again and continue DCing in each stitch until end, creating wing hoed and ending Row 13. Chain Two and Turn.

ROWS 14 thru 18-
*DC once in each space. Chain Two and Turn (repeat from star until you have finished row 18 and are have chained and turned to begin row 19)

ROW 19- DC once in each space, FIFTEEN TIMES, Chain two and turn. (end Row 19)

ROW 20- DC once in each space, FIFTEEN TIMES (do not chain and turn. End Row 20)

To finish Sweater, Fold in half and match last fifteen DC's (the short rows that you finished with) up with first row. Join them  together with 15 slip stitches. Finish off and weave in ends.

For durability, I actually Slip stitched it across twice, once each direction, before finishing off. Then I turned it right side out so that the slip stitched were inside the sweater. See photos and I hope to heck it turned out like mine. Sorry I am not a pattern writer. I can crochet any ol way but I am no pattern genius!

The End.
Feel free to share this and crochet away. This pattern is for personal use only. Please do not use this pattern to create sweaters for profit (this means don't crochet them and sell them!)


Today I finished the sixth Chicken Sweater. That's six in about a day and a half. Today the chickens wore them out in the snow for the first snowfall. :) Here are a few pics :)


ETA: This post was my inspiration for finding a practical chicken sweater. Check it out for a smile:

Kidspeak: it snowed!!!

Daddy: have you looked outside Ardyn?

Ardyn: let me get my drawers on first!

It snowed! We can go outside an build a snowman!!!

Mommy: I don't think there is that much snow on the ground.

Ardyn: well there is grass sticking up but we can use the grass as
His eyebrows!!!!

Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Kidspeak: Salmonella

I was putting away clean diapers in the kids' bedroom when I heard them busily cooking away at the kitchen in the playroom. Ardyn said "This is going to be some delicious salmonella when we get done!"

Launch discussion on salmonella as a bacteria that makes people sick.
Launch Ardyn's counter-discussion about how Salmonella is delicious and that people love it.


Friday, December 02, 2011

Marek in his Glasses, with his new Christmas Ornament

Today Marek wore his glasses for the first whole day! He got them last night and today he wore them from 7:30-9:30am, and then from 10:30am-2:15pm (when he took a nap) and from the time he woke up from nap around 3:30 until now (6:45) and he is still wearing them now! What a great first day! We celebrated by hanging his new ornament on the tree. He was all smiles!
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Monday, November 28, 2011

The EyeGlasses that Took Forever....

I don't recall if I have ever actually blogged about it, but we recently took Marek to a Pediatric Ophthalmologist for his eye. His right eye was showing signs of being lazy, and initially (like before he was 2) I only noticed it being very slight and only when he was very tired or very angry or upset. Then It started to become noticeable when he was thinking about something or trying to find the words he wanted to say. Eventually it became more prominent and more noticeable, and The pediatrician (who hadn't noticed it) said I could take him to a PO for evaluation. We had to wait close to 2.5 months to actually get in to see her. I had prepared myself for what I was sure would be patching of the good eye in order to strengthen the muscles in the traveling eye. What I was NOT prepared for was the announcement that he needs glasses. He has astigmatism in both eyes, and the astigmatism in his bad eye is preventing or making it more difficult for the muscles to pull the eye back to center. So while she can see the muscles working, she believes the astigmatism needs to be corrected so that we can see how his eye responds to the muscles.

So. I was kicking myself because never once, not even ONE TIME did glasses cross my mind. Oy. We have Health Insurance Through UHC of the River Valley, which does not include any vision coverage. Luckily, the lazy eye is a medical problem that would be covered under our health insurance.... but the vision/astigmatism and needing glasses part is not. Amazingly, we had JUST began to use a secondary insurance in November (the month of his appointment) which covered vision and 1 pair of glasses. Our income qualifies us for Illinois All Kids, at a premium level. This means that we pay a monthly insurance premium and get coverage in exchange. The monthly premium is fairly low (based on your income) and it eliminates or lowers most of our current co-pays and deductibles. I don't like to talk about this program, or WIC, with many people, because I often get to hear the "Popping out kids on welfare" crap that people like to spew.... and I don't want to be a part of that discussion. WIC and All Kids are not comparable to Welfare in my opinion, but again, not going to start that conversation because if I needed welfare to get my kids what they need I would have it.

Anyway. The Pediatric Opthalmologist that we had chosen was highly recommended locally by lots of friends and family who had been to her and her practice. She also was a Preferred Provider on our UHC PPO. Turns out that she also accepts Kid Care, which ended up being nice, but we didn't know that until we were there at the appointment, and it wasn't even relevant until we knew he needed glasses. So that day, after his appointment, we were taken right into the "optical" store in the Illinois Eyecare Center. It was very nice and everything they did at the center was AMAZING. They did so well with checking his eyes, I know already that there aren't many other places that would have had the knowledge, experience, and all those little tricks and tools to get his eyes checked. Well, we find out right away that the even though the doctor accepts Kid Care, the optical center in her office does not. This means that I get to spend the next 30 minutes in the parking lot on the phone with Kid Care and Illinois Health Connect trying to find somewhere that not only provides exams, but actual GLASSES. That proved to be very difficult. After searching unsuccessfully for a place in Peoria, we decided to go closer to home. Just by chance I decided to pull up my own eye doctor at Lifetime Eyecare in Geneseo, and they DID accept Kid Care and also provide glasses through the program. So Marek and I put gas in the van and called Grandma to see if they could keep Ardyn for a while longer, because we were going to drive from Peoria to Geneseo to get eyeglasses for Marek.

Now come the downsides.... Please don't see these as "complaints" for KidCare, but more as things that I have learned from the experience. Firstly, KidCare gives you a limited amount of frames to choose from (which is not unreasonable) and for Marek's size, that meant there were TWO Frames that we could choose from. One metal and round and one plastic and squared. Luckily they did come in various colors :) Secondly, Kid Care and Family Care glasses are made at the State Prisons in Illinois. Which also means that ordering a pair of glasses takes 3-6 weeks to receive. Now, bear in mind that the PO's office had expected that we could take our glasses home THAT NIGHT, or perhaps the next morning. An average pair of glasses takes about a week to receive at the eye doctor's office. And the PO had made an appointment for Marek in one month, to see how his progress with the glasses would be, and to re-evaluate his eye periodically. But in one month, we wouldn't even HAVE his glasses yet, let alone be able to have worked up to full-time wear as we were asked to, or to be able to analyze how well they were working. Above all, this frustrated me and made me feel like the world's worst mom, because I couldn't just go drop $200 for glasses for my son who obviously needed them. Yuk. So now we wait.

During this waiting period I find a cool website and facebook group "Little Four Eyes" (group of parents who have small children with glasses) and get information on the different types of frames that are available for kids, unbreakable, or at least LESS breakable, and made of lightweight materials, twistable materials, and with warranties. This leads me to ask the girls at the eye doctor's office what happens "if" (when?) the two year old breaks the frames. is there a warranty? Will we need to wait another 3-6 weeks? This is when I find out that there is no "warranty" but that the Kid Care Program will replace broken glasses within reason. AND that the wait will then be TWO MONTHS because someone will have to approve that second set of frames and then the whole process will have to start over again. And Kid Care won't cover a spare pair because their program allows for a pair per year. I decide to make some phone calls and ask some questions. Kid Care tells me that if the PO writes a letter to the state to request that Marek be provided with two pair of glasses for the purpose of backup and necessary full time wear, that the state may allow two pair to be made. Might. And who gets to make this decision? Someone at the State Prison. So I get to call my PO's office and ask them to write a letter directed so the state prison, and then fax it to the eye doctor who is placing the frame order so that they can send it along to the prison and ask for a second pair. And the PO Agrees to do it, no problem, but tells me that she is pretty sure it won't happen anyway. So now we wait another week for the letter to be dictated and faxed... with me following up the whole way via telephone calls. AND it's been nearly two weeks since we requested the letter and it hasn't been received from the PO yet.

In the meantime I start to investigate how much it will cost to get glasses for him if we have to buy them. $179 for the frame package and lenses through my regular eye doctor, and that is a 2 year warranty on frames with complete replacement with any breakage. Isn't cheap but doesn't seem unreasonable. IF you happen to have an extra $200 laying around before Christmas in addition to your $200 of license plate renewals due, and your $300 power and gas bills. And IF you want to explain to a 4 year old and a 2 year old that Santa didn't come because mommy had to buy marek some glasses and couldn't get the gear off layaway in time. *sigh*

I decided to look into eyeglass assistance and programs. VSP (who I used to get my eye insurance from when I worked at the hospital) has an awesome program for kids with no insurance that allows them to get glasses free of charge. But that won't qualify us, because we technically have insurance  (Kid Care) and this is more of a timing and replacement/spare issue. So next I contact the Lions Club and find that I have to go to Wal-Mart to get an application. In the meantime I hear from someone that Wal-mart has $9 kid frames and cheap lenses and that I should be able to get two pair of glasses from Wal-mart for him for $60 or less (for BOTH pair) So I need to go there sometime and get some better information on that. But hopefully with just ONE CHILD and not with both of them, so that if indeed there is a chance to get glasses for him there, I can actually try them on him right there and get them ordered. That's like 1/4 of the cost of one pair through the eye doctor. Nothing involving kids can be easy!

So, We Wait. More.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Feminism Kidspeak

Ardyn "mom why can't girl reindeer pull Santa's sleigh???" with a VERY disgruntled look on her face.

Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"that's what ladies do" kidspeak

Marek "Ardyn don't hit me wit yur purse!"

Ardyn "I have to! That's what ladies do when me aren't paying attention!"

Mama "where did you hear that!?"

Ardyn "it was on Tom and Jerry!"

Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chalkboard menu

Nothing fancy, but just whipped up a little chalkboard menu for the kids play kitchen/restaurant :) they are gonna love it!

Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Serious Book Shortage!

I am starting to worry that my poor children do not have enough to read. I was cleaning and reorganizing rooms and the books had to be re-shelved.... Craziness! This doesn't include the pop up books and lift the flat books, which I keep put up, and it doesn't include ANY seasonal books (which rotate into a basket in the living room when in season) OR the clothes basket full of "baby" board books in the attic. OR the little paperbacks I am saving for them, like Indian in the Cupboard, Matilda, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.... etc. Oh. My. 
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Jack Frost

Ardyn "he's evil!"
Mom "Why is he evil?"
Ardyn "because he has cobwebs in his house!"
Mom "we have cobwebs in our house... Does that mean we are evil?"
Ardyn "no, he has cobwebs all OVER his house!"

.... The narrator says "he
Is evil and cruel"

Ardyn "see I toldya!"

Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Papercrafting and Play

It is Tuesday, but we aren't going anywhere. Ardyn complained of her stomach hurting all day yesterday and right as she was getting ready for bed, she threw up once, and then one more time an hour later. It's really tough to tell how much of her complaints are real or fake or just the degree of seriousness that might be involved, especially when they arise right around the time of a meal that includes a vegetable she doesn't want. I have pretty much gotten to the point that when you tell me your tummy hurts, you go lay in your bed and then if she feels okay she seems to be out about 5 minutes later. We also make it clear that if you are sick you can't attend school or dance or violin lessons, and that often works well too. But last night after she threw up she was convinced that she was going to school tomorrow, and I felt bad because she was going to indeed miss her class Thanksgiving Feast and also the opportunity to add her decorated feather to the class turkey. But that's how things go sometimes and we don't want her spreading germs to other families right before Thanksgiving, or throwing up during the thanksgiving feast! So today we have pretty much done nothing. She has been eating crackers and drinking pedialyte and watching TV and I have tried to make Marek follow suit with a chilled out day. We did get LOTS of sleep last night, I went to bed at 9 right after we got them all settled, and besides being woke up at 10 to help her, I went back to sleep and did fairly well until about 8-8:30 this morning. The more sleep we have the less likely this bug will be rampant or prolonged. Although she had the same issue about a month ago where she complained her stomach hurt and threw up once. I don't know if it's a little bug or what, but last time Marek then got diarrhea that lasted almost 2.5 weeks and was certainly no joke.... and I had been sick before her... so I guess we will see what this Thanksgiving Week germ brings. 

Around lunchtime Ardyn declared that she would like a piece of string cheese, and I gave her one. She didn't even get the whole thing eaten (well she did, but barely) and she told me she was going to throw up. But then she proceeded to remove her dress up dress and sparkle shoes so they wouldn't get puked on, and then she argued with me about which COLOR bucket she wanted to throw up in, so.... I took that with a grain of salt. Then once she chose her color of bucket she proceeded to cough into it in a way that made me think she might be making herself throw up for attention, and when I reminded her that people who throw up can't spend the night at Grandma's or go to Thanksgiving.... she promptly spun around, put down the bucket, and started jumping on the couch. Um.... yeah. 

In other news, we are going to be putting the bunk beds back together soon, in favor of a bedroom and a playroom, and because they are now spending more time PLAYING with their toys during naptime than actually napping.... and we will bring the kitchen back down for the winter so they can play with it. You may recall that we swap toys and circulate them in and out of service by stashing some in the attic. The kitchen hasn't been out for a while, so it's time. This time around I decided to also make them some Menus so that they could play restaurant. But since I still screw up spelling restaurant, I decided to call it the Sunny Day Cafe. I was going to look online for printable play menus, but all of them I found had only words, which was no help to kids who need food pictures and can't read. Ardyn is starting to read words here and there by sounding them out (Thank you WORD WORLD and Super Why!) but not Marek. Finally I found some AWESOME Printables for menus and matching tickets for the waiters and waitresses... at Delightful Distractions. Gotta love a fellow blogger. :) While I loved her photo concept and the part about there being a dollar amount with photos of the actual money so that kids could visionalize (is that a word? Did I totally just screw that up?!) VISUALIZE what the food cost.... I was really wanting a fun and personalized outside to the menu. So I made up my own and added some pie to the back cover. Although I didn't really check out her prices before I just randomly priced my pie, so you can get a $2 steak but a slice of pie costs $2.50. Um. Oops. So much for realistic. LOL. But we tried to center it around fresh eggs since we have those right here at home, and the hens that lay them. The kids are gonna love these!

The other fantastic paper craft of the day is a set of cash envelopes. I don't follow Dave Ramsey's principles... mostly because I am still convinced we don't have enough money to do all the things he talks about.... but I do have his DVD's on loan from a friend and they are WAY overdue to be returned to her. Oy. Anyway, I do use cash envelopes myself, and I can't credit Dave at all because my mom has been trying to pound this into my head way before he came on the scene as it was her method of choice years ago. I just keep cash in bank envelopes and other envelopes labeled what it's for. I saw this free printable on Pinterest and thought it couldn't hurt to make pretty ones with cool labels (you know how much I like pretty things with labels!) and although I really liked her other envelope method better, I wasn't planning on paying for it when I knew I could make my own easily, including making my own SVG files for the cricut if I wanted too. Plus I didn't want to pay for something that I may or may not use or lose or destroy... so I thought I would start by making the free template ones and go from there. I had seen some fabric ones on Pinterest that a woman was selling on Etsy, and I thought, I can sew these with a zipper or velcro if I decide I want them to be more sturdy... but that's a bit excessive from the get go.

So anyway, Here are mine, made with some double sided coordinating Papers that I bought on sale from my Creative Memories Consultant that was clearing out product stash.... And I just cut a 6.5x3.5 cover and back cover from cardstock that matched, and used my Crop-a-dile to punch holes and then used some funky trim ribbon to sew them together. I think I might prefer if they were bound like those notebook binder things that schools have that you can buy in the scrapbooking section at Hobby Lobby and such, but I don't have one and her idea was the best one I could think of, so that's what I did :) I thought of split rings but they wouldn't lay flat in a wallet IF that's what I want them to do. So. Here it is. I used 1.5" round avery labels that I ran thru the printer, and various large scalloped circle punches to make my tags. :)

Oh, and are YOU on Pinterest? Addicting!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dance Recital, Laundry, and Christmas Walk.

This has been an amazingly productive weekend! Friday night was Ardyn's First Holiday Dance Recital and it was awesome. She did SO well and our favorite part was the moment that she discovered that there was a stage "set" behind her. Normally all the decorations are up at Dress Rehearsal, but there was an incident at the school the night before Rehearsal and they were unable to get in and decorate the stage. So the first time Ardyn saw the candy themed decorations was the moment she was dancing ON stage. She didn't notice them when they walked out, but after she made a turn she caught the giant candy castle that was all sparkly behind her, and she stopped mid dance and pointed at it, and then looked at her "assistant teacher" and also the crowd with a look on her face like "DID YOU seeeeee that?!?!" It was hysterical and I hope they caught it on the DVD, but with our luck they were panning to someone else at that moment :)

She did beautifully and she also really was in good spirits because I finally DID get her to take a nap that day, which really made it a better experience than the spring recital when she was so excited that she didn't sleep at all. She was even more excited when she started to hear the song that she danced to on the radio.

I was able to do her hair myself this year and found my inspiration and photo tutorials on which I highly recommend. Very nice and fun ideas. Grandma Susan and Grandpa Bob got her an adorable little nosegay style bouquet that she adored, and Kyle and Liz brought her a dozen red roses which matched her costume as well. Grandma Deb and Grandpa Dave brought her a beautiful ballerina ornament for the Christmas Tree. She was thrilled.

Marek spent the evening with Monica and a few of her girlfriends, and when we got home we all ate a late supper and went to bed. I was thrilled that the kids slept in for the first time since the time change, and we didn't get up until 9:45 on Saturday. Then the kids and I got ready to head to Princeton for the Annual Christmas Walk. Our Church hosts the Christkindl Markt and there are fun activities for the kids like decorating miniature gingerbread houses made of graham crackers and frosting. I wasn't able to work the Christkindl Markt this year (last year I was working all day) so Ardyn and I made soft pretzels to donate ahead of time and I was also able to go help make some gingerbread houses the week before. I took the kids for the first time this year, and Ardyn made a gingerbread house while Marek and I visited and saw Father Christmas.

We also did lots of other fun things, like riding the Christmas Train, visiting Santa and sitting on his lap, Taking a stroll through the Clark House for the PJWC Vendor Fair, Meeting the "reindeer" named Grace, Listening to Carolers and the Hand Bell Players, Riding the Horse Drawn Carriage, and Lunch at McDonald's with Lisa and Hallie. It was so much fun, and the kids really had a great time.  Evan had a gig that night that was a ways away, so we were on our own. I rearranged the living room to make room for the Christmas Tree this week, and hit the laundry HEAVILY. I have nearly caught up, which hasn't happened for close to a year. No joke. I am working diligently to get the kids helping to put the laundry away, and also hoping to implement the "socks in the mesh lingerie bags" to keep it all separate. I also liked the tip from the mom who takes her laundry to the basement EVERY NIGHT and sorts it before bed, so that she can start a load here and there when she gets a full bin of some type. First I have to get caught up and get the laundry room picked up. I am nearly there. Nearly.

The worst part is all these random socks and washcloths and things that come out of the laundry when you are trying to catch up. And then I have a bunch of random stuff that I need to put away. I also have a sudden shortage of kid hangers.

Tomorrow is Monday already. But it doesn't matter much around here because we don't have any plans. Probably just work around here, the kitchen is my next task to tackle. I have a ton of dishes to do. And I need to check the animals and refresh their feed and water. I haven't been able to do that all weekend, but they generally are good for about three days, especially with their heated waterers. I would prefer to check them all daily, and hopefully that will happen more regularly. The hens have ceased laying in the cool dark shorter days, so there aren't really eggs to be gathered daily now.

Another bit of good news, Marek is back in Cloth. I got tired of buying diapers or pull ups and I decided that part of the difficulty we are having potty training is because the disposable diapers make it difficult for him to feel he is wet. Just one day in cloth and he is already telling me every time he pees, which will help immensely. It sure did with Ardyn.

I am watching the episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted gets all drunk and gets a tattoo.... a butterfly tramp stamp. Hysterical.

I took a nap this afternoon and now I am NOT tired and it is 11pm but feels like 8pm. This does not bode well for my tomorrow morning. Although the kids didn't get to bed till 10, so maybe I can get lucky enough to sleep till like 8 or NINE. :)

Evan brought home Subway for supper tonight and brought me some pretty fall flowers.And that. Is all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kidspeak Daily Digest

Ardyn "mom how does a baby get out of your stomach?"
Me "ask me after naptime, you're supposed to be sleeping"

Ardyn "it's a vampire mouse, who is invisible when he turns on his tracking beacon"

Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Operation Do It Yourself

Got the little baskets ready for the kids to start working on putting away their own laundry. We are going to start with socks and underwear and pajamas and move forward from there. Now I just need to get Evan to install the new drawer glides for Marek ASAP!

Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A few gathered Laundry and Organization Tips :)

Pinterest is making me angry tonight. It's amazing how a free service can incite such rage (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc)

Nothing will pin, from a mobile device or from a browser on the laptop, and it is SO frustrating, especially considering I found a cool solution to try for the mitten fiasco.  Oh well. If I link it here I will find it again.

I also got frustrated while doing laundry tonight. Every laundry basket I own is full of.... well.... Laundry. Mostly clean things that need to be put away, but also clothes that the kids have outgrown and are waiting for me to buy a couple of totes to pack it away. I also just topped off two totes of shoes that they have outgrown. I matched 10 thousand socks and wanted to put them away, but they are in bed and not sleeping yet, so I was thinking "tomorrow" but I also know that if I try to put them on the couch that tomorrow they will have them all mixed up and I won't know whose is whose, and they can have that accomplished before my feet even hit the floor. So I was really wishing that I had a smaller clothes basket that I could designate for each of them just for their laundry that I fold. That might eliminate the back of the couch being full of folded laundry, but I doubt it because there is a good chance that the baskets will just be full all the time. However, Ardyn does put away her own socks and underwear and I am thinking that this is a good time to teach Marek to do the same. He is now able to reach and open and close his sock drawer, so now is a good time. I might even do some rearranging so that he can do it easier. If only Evan would install the new drawer glides in the changing table.... HINT HINT. I would have two whole drawers that have been unusable for the last year. I have had the drawer glides for at least six months, probably more like 10. *sigh* Men.

So I decided there must be two matching containers SOMEWHERE In this house that could be used for little laundry baskets, and I came across two collapsable crates (of which I had many at one time, but one broke and others have become catchalls for crap in various corners of attic or basement or garage) and so I scrubbed two up and have them drying on the porch in front of the portable electric heater :)  And I am determined to make little tags to go on them, like their collapsible croc crates that I use on the porch. (see right)

I did end up temporarily packing up all the crocs and putting mittens and hats and scarves in the crates.... and we will test it out. They aren't really feasible for all the mittens, so I kept all the spare pairs back in the clear totes that they were originally in. Otherwise I can just see more mitten loss than necessary and mismatched mittens. I want them to succeed in getting their things ready or on their bodies, not want to smack their little heads against the wall in frustration. I swear I had more of those primary colored collapsible crates,  I got them at a dollar store YEARS ago, like 12 years ago, when we first moved to Wyanet. I used to keep kid toys in them for friends who brought their little ones over to visit. They are so sturdy and have lasted forever. The croc baskets sit atop a wooden shoe shelf/bench that my great great grandpa Joe made, and I found out in the old chicken coop at the farm and asked Grandpa Kenny if I could have it. It is far from fancy but painted white it fits nicely along the front door and holds shoes and things. One thing that is great about this house is that it is so original and craftsman style with lots of built ins. But of course, there is one room without a closet (Marek's) and there are no coat closets or entryway closets anywhere. I find that incredibly frustrating with all the gear that comes with two kids. I can only imagine myself in a house with an entryway or mudroom that could house something fantastical like this.....

Yep. That I don't have. Someday. In a bigger house. Please.

So anyway, back to the laundry thing. I often think that what I really need is two washers and two dryers, but at the same time I realize that perhaps I just need to be better about DOING the laundry on a more regular basis. I get going good for a while and then some life event or illness comes along and it all falls apart.

I was reading a few tips for managing family laundry, and while some of them were far from rocket science, a few others struck me as things I would like to move towards:

1. Have kids sort their laundry themselves. Right now the kids both know about the hamper and where the hamper is. For the longest time I just put all their clothes into one load, but now that they are getting dirtier, I wash their white socks with ours, and their jeans with ours, and the rest of their clothes all together. I was thinking that they couldn't sort because Marek doesn't even know his colors yet.... but then I realized that he DOES know what jeans and socks are, and that with photos he should be able to put jeans in one container, socks in another, and all other clothes in another. I have laundry sorters in the basement and I was just thinking, maybe that is something I should have them doing. If not IN their rooms (space is seriously at a premium here) then perhaps have them go down with me and sort clothes in the laundry room when I do my sorting.
2. Hang a mesh Lingerie bag for each child and have them put their dirty socks in the bag. This will keep their own socks together in the wash. I used to use the sock pro holders when they were younger but I don't now that they are bigger. My biggest problem is inside-out socks. I spend so much time unballing socks in this house it's ridiculous. But if I don't, then they don't get clean.
3. Give them each a stain stick and teach them to use it on their own laundry. Hmmm. Intriguing.

I read this from Kelly S.
The children all have their own sock bag. This is a large lingerie bag that also hangs on the back of their bedroom door. On sock-washing day, I grab all the bags, throw them in the washer, and put an empty lingerie bag on their hooks. Then the socks go, bag and all, in the dryer. When dry, contents of the bag are dumped in the appropriate party's sock drawer. If they put socks in the bag inside out, that's how they get 'em back. If they put "sock donuts" in there, the socks don't come out very clean, so they quickly learn to unroll socks before putting them in the bag.
And thought that I could probably at least get Ardyn to unroll her socks. Although her biggest problem is that they are usually inside out and I would have to teach her to turn them, which she currently can not do. But even if I didn't want to ride her ass about it constantly, there is also no reason I couldn't sit her down on laundry day with her bag of dirty socks and tell her to please turn them all and unball those that she didn't take care of initially. That might just work!

and she also said this, which is probably all tooooo true. I have a TON of labeled hampers in the laundry room so I can sort, but I have to admit that I never once thought of sorting the laundry every day. Now THIS might actually get me somewhere. Hmmmm....
I have six laundry baskets in my laundry room and one hamper in the bathroom. Dirty clothes get tossed in the hamper. Once a day, I sort the contents of the hamper into my six laundry baskets. (Jeans, whites, brights, lights, delicates, linens.) Monday I wash, fold and put away jeans, Tuesday I do whites, etc. The key is to fold and put away the same day they are washed. I used to have clean clothes, waiting to be folded, in piles all over my house. This way, laundry takes almost no time at all.
 I also read this from No TV Mom:

We are now 2 months into my new laundry plan. The child with the LEAST amount of clothes in the wash wins $1. This one dollar a week has transformed my wash. I do wash on only 1 DAY! We are a house of six. I am down to just 3 or 4 loads of laundry a week.
I bought cheapie laundry baskets for each child. As I wash and fold the dry clothes, I just place them in the appropriate basket. Then when the wash is all down, out comes the dollar and dad is the judge as to who has the least amount (not counting underthings and socks).

and was intrigued. Maybe not there yet as far as age goes, but this sounds interesting to say the least. Especially when we have the problem of Ardyn trying to wear multiple outfits a day.

and Paula H said
With a laundry marker, put one dot on all of your oldest child's clothes, to identify what belongs to whom. I'd suggest marking all similar items at the same place; e.g. put one dot above the center toe on each sock. Mark your second child's clothes with two dots, and so forth down the line. That way, when your oldest outgrows his jeans, simply add a second dot, and they are marked for little brother. If you have a large family, you may want to use dots for the boys and dashes for the girls, so your ninth child doesn't start to think that polka dots are in fashion.
Which solves the problem that I have of passing things down. I can't use different colors on different socks because I am going to PASS THEM DOWN. Aha! Magical moment just happened here.

Okay, now I had better go DO laundry instead of just talking about it.....

Stupid Mittens

I will conquer winter gear. I did a pretty good job last year. But the difference this year is that the kids are more independent. The difference this year is that I really want them to be able to get out and put their own winter gear away, instead of me having to manage it constantly. They have done really well the past year with being responsible for their own shoes, coats, and bags... putting things on their designated hooks and also keeping their shoes in their room's shoe organizers and their crocs and flip flops in their baskets.

Last winter I kept their winter gear up in clear totes, each labeled with a name. This year, we have more winter gear than last year. Explain that you say? Well. Last year we had the "great mitten shortage of 2011" when the kids began losing mittens. Losing mittens in the middle of the winter is not cheap. And although they each started out with at least two pair of snow-worthy mittens, the gear slimmed down really quickly. Something happens to mittens that go to school. Names on them or not, there is a mitten monster SOMEWHERE between our house and back, be it in the van or at preschool or in the parking lot or something. Mitten clips are not really my favorite but I have tried them. It seems that when I use mitten clips the coat comes home with no mittens AND no clips. *sigh*

So at the end of last season, everyone got new mittens from the clearance rack. Ardyn is starting the year with FOUR pair of snow mittens and also various small "stretchy" mittens from the dollar store. Marek is also starting with FOUR pair of snow mittens and about 6 pair of stretchy mittens. They each have one "mom-made" scarf and At least four-five hats. A couple for really cold days, with ear flaps or face mask like protection, and a couple that are normal cheap stocking caps. This means that the "totes" that I have used for about 5 years, which alternately hold swim shoes and suits and coverups and hats, mittens and scarves... are suddenly too small to hold the gear. This might be okay. I don't know. I am not entirely ready to let it go, but the clear totes can't hold what we need and they aren't easily reachable and accessible for the kids to put their own stuff away and get it out when I ask them to. Part of me thinks to just empty their croc baskets out and put their gear in there. I think that might be what I am going to do. But then again I can see the search for mismatched mittens already. That leads me to think that a system with the shoe pockets would be better, a pocket for each pair. But the problem exists that we don't have wall space or doors to hang one, because they are all already spoken for.

Problem = too small house. I already know this. But for some reasons mittens are throwing me into this tissy that has me wanting to reorganize the whole house. Problem is you can't reorganize a whole house when it isn't even picked up. *sigh* *double sigh*

So tonight I toss around ideas. I have already organized the winter stuff three ways and none of them have made me happy. Hmmmm...... I even googled it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Week in Motion Again

as we inch towards bedtime, I am trying to determine what I am going to do tonight. There is plenty to do, that certainly is NOT the problem. But I don't feel like I will actually get enough done to consider a task completed... so it seems much easier to just do nothing. But... probably not the answer. Tonight is the interview with Gabby Giffords and Diane Sawyer, which I do NOT want to miss, so I am thinking bedtime, pear pie, and laundry started so I can be folding and such during the interview.

Today was a busy day, but not overwhelming in the least bit because I didn't have to drag kids with me. I got my eyes checked for the first time since pregnant with Marek, and picked out new frames (I have had the same ones since around 2003/4) and got a new lens Rx. Now I wait the 3-6 weeks for Marek's glasses and my own to come in. Although, I should backtrack to say that last week Marek went to his Pediatric Ophthalmologist appointment  for his traveling right eye, and they determined that in addition to the traveling eye, he has astigmatism's in both eyes, and that although the muscles in the traveling eye are working visibly to control it, the astigmatism is likely contributing to the fact that it is getting slightly worse with time. Unfortunately our primary insurance doesn't cover vision at all, but they do cover medical, and because it's a traveling eye, it is potentially a medical issue. But the glasses to treat it are NOT a medical issue. Our primary AND secondary insurances both consider the Pediatric Eye Doc to be a Preferred Provider, but we discovered after learning that he needs glasses, that the eye center in her office does not accept the same insurances. So we drove from Peoria to Geneseo that afternoon to pick out glasses at my REGULAR eye doctor who accepts both insurances. When We got there, they pointed out that I was way overdue with my eye appointment, and that is what led to my eyes being checked today.

So ever since last week, we have been working on getting Marek's brain wrapped around the fact that he will be wearing glasses, and the goal according to his doctor is wearing them 100% of the time. Unfortunately, although the insurance covers one pair of glasses and lenses, they do NOT cover a spare pair, and IF (um, When?) he breaks or loses them, we would have to wait another TWO MONTHS for insurance approval and the reordering of a replacement pair. So even if he gets the glasses (which will take 3-6 weeks to begin with) and wears them for a week or two with no issues, if he happens to break them then we will have to wait a whole two months to replace them. Oy. So at this point I am faced with appealing to the insurance to see if they would cover a spare pair, or forking over the cash out of pocket to have a spare pair in the wings in case he breaks or loses his primary pair. The child package with frames and lenses is $175 for single vision. So, the same week as the driving all over for doctor appointments and getting a new van battery at $150, I have the glasses thing come up. Right before Christmas. So, does Marek want glasses for Christmas? Oy. But from my gut feeling, and online reading, and talks with the technicians at the doctor's, I just see broken glasses in the future of a two year old. And if the specialist wants to see him every two months to monitor his progress, and we want to avoid surgery if possible, than it wouldn't be very prudent to be without glasses for two months at a time while we wait for new ones.

And then there are less stressful decisions, like whether or not to watch Jason Segal on Letterman tonight. Although since he got on twitter this past week I feel more connected to him than I was when just watching constant reruns of How I Met Your Mother. :)

This evening we had a Health Ministries meeting at church, which was really nice, and I also helped for a short amount of time, making Gingerbread houses for the Christkindl Markt this Saturday. We offer free Gingerbread house decorating for kids who attend. It's lots of fun :) Last year I did pretzel serving and manned our church craft booth, and then also worked with the kids on making free Pinecone Bird Feeders. This year I won't be able to volunteer that day because Evan has a gig, so I plan on taking the kids if things go well, and they can just visit and enjoy, and I will do my volunteering by making soft pretzels at home beforehand and making a bit of the gingerbread houses.

This week is dance recital week, which means that we are filled with dance related things three nights this week. Regular Dance Class, then Dress Rehearsal, the Recital on Friday. I have Ardyn's costume all ready, and I just have to figure out how I am going to do her hair since it is too short to pull back. I had to buy her new recital tights because hers from spring recital have a big snag in the knee. 

Well, the Gabby Giffords Story with Diane Sawyer was AMAZING. Inspirational, sad, empowering.... just amazing. I hope you saw it. I think I would love to read her book. And I swear if she decides to go back to congress and ANYONE naysays her, I will be so furious.

Kidspeak today :) nov 14th

all today

Marek "no sissy, don't turn me into a zombie!!!"

Ardyn to Marek while playing with tractors "when it gets old, they call it an 'Old Holland' but now it's called a New Holland"

Ardyn to daddy "4 + 3 is 7!"

Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Kidspeak- overheard conversation

Marek "I am going to pizza hut. I am hungry!"
Ardyn "I am not eating. Princesses don't eat."


Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Ardynisms... Kidspeak

Ardyn "my underwear are in my butt and I do NOT appreciate it!"

Ardyn "Good Grief! Doesn't that baby have any parents?" (in reference to baby Smurf)

Nov 3rd 2011 4 years old

Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Antiquities Photo Shoot, and Chickens

Ardyn is at school this morning and Marek and I are hanging out at home. We took baths (which I really needed.... every time in the last two weeks that I have attempted to shave I have gotten interrupted and had to get out early and never got to it) and it has been nice and quiet. Marek played cars and monster trucks and I have actually been able to have full conversations with him without him being interrupted or talked over. Nice!

Trick or Treat was fun last night. At first Marek was all worked up about not wanting his costume on, and he fought me, just like he did for the costume party, but as soon as he got into the wagon he got a huge smile on his face, and at the first house he marched up and puffed out his chest and said "I a robot!" so proudly. He didn't wear his helmet at all to trick or treat, but it is awkward and he doesn't like it on, and the costume worked fine without it, so it was okay. He won "Most Original" for his costume in his preschool age group at the community halloween party.

This week is fairly laid back. We have lots going on, but none of it is really stressful. Except I have to get the house picked up by Friday for the cleaning ladies. The kitchen is picked up, and I cleaned all the robot costume making supplies off the dining room table, but there is laundry to fold and put away, and both the kids rooms appear destroyed again. We have date night tonight and we get to go pick up photos that the kids had taken from an Antiquities Photo Fundraiser. Basically you buy a $10 ticket and then they do a photo shoot in which they provide the props and clothing. Then you get a free storyboard that is 10x13 and the option to buy more if you want. The best thing that I liked about it was the props of course, but at the same time they were the downfall. Some of the photos I thought had TOO MANY Props, and some had really icky props (IMHO) like cheap plastic flower sticks that looked like they cost $1.50 at Walmart, for "bouquets." Ick. I tried to eliminate icky photo props for the kids but the photographer was an older man and he kept sticking things in the photos that I really disliked. So we shall see. Marek got to wear a tuxedo that was ADORABLE with a top hat, and that might just be my favorite, but when he was taking Marek's pic in the tuxedo he had a REALLY cool black and white patterned background, but then stuck an ugly white pillar in the picture. So I am not sure about that. Hopefully some were actually really good. The kids cooperated really well and had a great time. The ticket and the fundraising organizers said that we could pick one set of outfits and then switch, but the photographer wasn't cooperative about that, which I found really really frustrating. They had a really cool motorcycle that Marek wanted to get his picture on, but instead of letting me put his jeans back on with the leather motorcycle jacket, the photographer kept his tux on but removed the jacket. I had picked a cool outfit for Ardyn to wear in that shot and for her to stand next to Marek on the motorcycle, but he was rushing and although I rushed out and swapped outfits in like 3 minutes or less, he only allowed me one photo with the two of them together in those clothes, and by the way Ardyn was positioned in front of the background divider I could tell he had no intention of making it an actual shot, and that it would probably be scrapped and he was just appeasing me enough to get me out of his way. I think that as a perfectionist and a photographer myself, I am overly sensitive to that type of thing, but attention to detail is very important to me for good photos, and if they actually intended me to PURCHASE any from them, it would have been helpful if they would have been accommodating and also asked which props I actually liked. He took a ton of photos of Ardyn with a teaset and a mirror and pearls, and while those will probably be cool in sepia, I felt like he spent way too much time on Ardyn and not enough with Marek or much with the two of them together, which is more what I wanted and expected. Oh well. It was certainly worth $10 and I know the organization was pleased with their fund-raising results, so the goal was achieved. All I could think is what FUN I could have with a little tuxedo and my OWN camera.... Which means that when Marek is ring bearer for Darrel and Leslea, I will just have to be especially sure to use a camera to my fullest advantage. I am excited about seeing the pictures tonight, but a little worried about exactly what poses and prop photos they will put in this "storyboard" because I am sure it's already printed and I can't choose which shots I want in it.

On another front, Chickens! We have had some strange chicken happenings lately. Yesterday morning we went outside to find a missing chicken, which shortly changed over to a dead chicken. It was one of our beautiful Buff Orpingtons that we had raised from a chick. You probably know or recall that we started with six and that FOUR of those ended up being roosters that we donated to new homes. That left us with TWO Buff Hens that were just gorgeous. We also had three hens given to us by Jeremy and Cherie of Meadowhaven Farms, and when we were overwhelmed with lots of chickens, I gave one of those away to a friend in need of a hen. Now we have two of those left, which left a total of four hens. So one was missing when we went out yesterday, and shortly after I found her dead, unharmed, between the garden and the picket fence. It appeared that she had crawled in between the space in the boards because she felt safe in there, and was basically "roosting" outside for the night, which isn't entirely shocking around here. Boyd keeps all predators at bay in the fence, and we have never had any issues. But I think what happened was that it rained that night and got down to freezing temp, and I think she got chilled and died. I don't know. She had appeared totally healthy. So the kids and I put her in a box and took her to the farm. That afternoon when we got back home, we put Marek down for a nap and Ardyn and I set to working outside in the yard. We filled the back of the old blue truck with dead weeds that we pulled. We burned all the cardboard. We trimmed the forsythia and picked up the trimmings, we shoveled an entire wheelbarrow of chicken poo and wood chip bedding into the composter. We lit up our Halloween lights on the fence and fed and watered all the animals. We picked up trash around the house and when one of Cherie's hens walked by me, she was limping. I looked closer and sure enough her leg had swollen and totally engulfed the leg band on one of her feet. Uh oh. It did NOT look good. I picked her up and decided we needed to cut the leg band off. When I touched it, it started oozing grey pus (gross) and I was like, this is not pretty. Best we can do is cut it off, medicate it, and see what happens. It will either drain and heal, or it will kill her. So as I am holding her, I notice another problem, she has a hernia on her butt. Oy. and it's not pretty at all. So on second thought, I realize that she just needs to be put down. Too much hassle and worry for a chicken that is already past laying age and not healthy anymore. So now, we have TWO hens. We went from NINE chickens to TWO in a matter of like two months, and no predators were involved. Yikes! I am really sad. I want more hens so badly right now, but everyone I have asked is not in the position to sell or donate any. Buying a full grown hen is expensive from a hatchery, because the shipping is KILLER. It costs more to Ship a hen than to buy one. Problem is, I can't raise from chicks right now (I don't think) because winter is upon us, and even though I would start them in the basement, I am pretty sure they wouldn't survive going outside in the winter until they are much much older. So now all that hard work and we are down to two laying hens and I worry that the two of them together won't make it through the winter. Not enough friends to huddle up with! So if you hear of anyone who has nice healthy hens to part with, I could use a couple. Most people I have found are giving away older hens, that are like 3 years old. Which would be a warm body, but they tend to have health issues and are done laying or close to it, so that's not really what I am looking for. I finally found some pullets for sale on Craigslist, and am investigating that avenue... Brahmas and Javas :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Marek- ranch dressing/ kidspeak

marek saws hidden valley ranch commercial on TV: "I love ranches! Mommy do you love ranches? I love ranches! And TATER TOTS! And soups! And and and pinecones!"


Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ardyn- kidspeak

A: mom let's watch Harry Potter 3!
Me: we just watched it yesterday!?
A: Ahhh... But this time I'm gonna pay attention!

Meagan ~ via blogpress on my iPhone :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Random Sunday Rundown

Tonight I am testing out the new blogger interface.  It's not too bad. It is clean. Almost too clean. Not very colorful and pretty plain, but I don't think that's a serious problem. I can't say that it makes me "happy" to look at, but I guess that's not everything.

We had a great day yesterday, carving pumpkins and eating delicious food. I have two more pumpkins to carve, and there is a slim chance that I might do that tonight... however I know that PanAm is on tonight and it looks like the kids will still be awake, which makes it next to impossible to actually watch a TV show based on the fact that you can't hear yourself think. It's been pretty quiet this evening as it is, with a fairly late nap and everyone doing their own thing with the TV's all off, which makes me happy. Ardyn is playing her DS, but Marek has been playing with toys, and I loaded the dishwasher and lit the Jack-O-Lanterns while Evan went on an emergency toilet paper run.

Today I was in charge of fellowship at church, and Evan woke up sick in the early morning hours so I had to get both kids ready and take them with me while doing fellowship, which I really try to never do. We hightailed it to Sullivan's for some after-church goodies, and their bakery selection did NOT let us down. Everything that we took (something like 5-6 dozen treats) was cleared out quickly. But the issue I had at Sullivan's this morning, besides having to take both kids in during a brief downpour, was the fact that they have now decided to put a stand in the checkout line that includes MANY toys. How annoying was that? Incredibly. It was a constant "I want this", "Can we buy this?" and "Can I take this home?" that just did not quit. It was one toy after the other and they were so distracted and overwhelmed that it took twice as long to checkout our 6 items and get them paid for and out the door. What should have been a 15 minute trip (8 minutes with no kids involved) took us TWENTY-THREE MINUTES and then we were running in the door at church just as it was about to start. Oy. No matter how far in advance I plan for fellowship, it always ends up being stressful on me, because there is always some child-related situation that comes up.

This time, however, I did manage to keep the kids in the kitchen with me while serving and replenishing food and coffee, because some miraculous idea told me to buy a package of juice boxes to keep in the church fridge to keep my two occupied and nearby, and I sat them on the kitchen floor with their napkins, treats, and juiceboxes. I did make two observations... one being that keeping them in the kitchen made a world of difference. I knew where they were, they weren't trying to leave the church and go outside parentless, and they sat there and had their snacks while I served. Problem being, keeping the two doors to the kitchen shut and them inside. I realized at that moment that the only garbage for napkins and such was located IN the kitchen (which I quickly remedied) and that all the people are very helpful and return their dirty glasses and mugs to the kitchen sink so that I can wash them afterwards, which means the door is constantly opening and not as often closing as opening. But Paul came in and played with the kids for a bit and they were excited to see him, and then Becky came and took them out with her to play until I was just about completely finished with cleanup. THAT was a blessing for sure. And it was so cute because Becky came back and said "Um, Ardyn is in the bathroom and she said she has to poop!" and I thanked her and went to do my mom duties. Isn't timing everything?

Sharon was so helpful and stayed to dry and put away glasses for me, which cut down on my cleanup time immensely.

Then we came home and made lunch and watched a Harry Potter Movie and then we had a nice nap. The day really flew by.

This week I would really like to get to JoAnn Fabric, but I just don't think I will be able to afford to. I need a few SMALL cuts of cotton with some lycra to use as underwear wasitbands. I have several 40-50% off coupons, but I just don't think even that is going to make it affordable right now. In addition to Class Picutres being this week, we have all the usual expenses and they are always so overwhelming.

I have gotten into the habit of taking the things out of the paycheck right up front that I anticipate we will need that week, and then the rest goes in to pay bills. Oy. Problem is by the time I put gas in the van and grab enough cash to cover what I know I will have to pay for, I already am like $100-$150 less on the amount I deposit, which never bodes well. Expenses are just overwhelming! Unfortunately it wouldn't be any better if I were working, because daycare costs are through the roof. It doesn't pay to work but one income is also stressful.

It seems like every single week someone is selling something. I have been doing really good at saying no, but sometimes I think that people think I am lying when I tell them I just can't right now. Sometimes I ask them what type of profit their organization is actually getting, and when they say 10% I often say "So I could spend $20 for something I don't need, or I could just donate $2 to your organization, right?" That is so frustrating. I can donate and get a tax deduction at least. I really hate "selling" fundraisers. I'd rather have a chance at a 50-50 raffle or something like a gift certificate than to buy crap I don't need or overpriced food we don't eat. Especially on a tight budget. Right now I had to tell a friend from Gateway that I couldn't buy a fresh wreath from him. I feel horrible. I know how excited he gets with each sale, but spending $30 on something that will die when I have TONS (too many already from years of accumulation) of artificial wreaths already... it just is not something I can justify. especially when our spluges as of late have come in the way of Violin Lessons, Tickets for Dance recital, and one pair of jeans that actually fit me, which I do not regret yet.

This reminds me I have to get chicken feed, (which isn't expensive at all in the sceme of things, and with egg prices) but I think I neglected to budget for that out of the last paycheck and now I hope I have enough to last the rest of the week for the ladies. Gonna need bunny food too!

We recently did the photos for the MOPS Fundraiser that sold Antiquities Photo Shoots with a FREE Storyboard for $10. It was a great deal, but I know that when we go back in the beginning of November there will be other cute pics to choose from, and that there is a chance I will want one. The reason I know it will be hard to resist? Marek in a tiny tuxedo and top hat. Oy. He is the most handsome boy EVER. And he SMILED so well! Oh did he smile! I am thinking I wish I had a little tux to take my own photos, but then I am remembering that he will be in Darrel and Leslea's wedding in May, although I am not sure if that means a Tux in his future. I had wanted to get some family photos done for this fall/winter to give to grandparents for Christmas, and because we haven't had them done in over two years... but I am not sure HOW in the world I am going to pull off that cost. Luckily my photographer friend who is uber-amazingly-talented has a great deal for a mini-shoot package... but I have nothing for us to wear, and by the time you add in clothes and also the package, Ouch. Not practical when I am struggling to just make basic ends meet. Thank GOD for layaway this year, although even that has me stressed out a bit. I wish Farm and Fleet's Toyland had layaway, but I am glad that TSC does.

This afternoon while the kids were watching their movie I entered things into my MobileMe Calendar, which I hadn't really been using as of yet, and I really liked the options for reoccurring events... however I instantly discovered the limitation that I can't print any of the calendars, which is frustrating because Evan doesn't have an iPhone so I can't send him our calendar. And no, I am not using Cozi, because he doesn't even have a smart phone so he isn't going to use any of it. I just wanted to print it out so he could see it but I just can't. Grrr. That's a serious limitation. I can print a screenshot, but if there are several things on one day, you can't see them all that way. You can actually only see like the first Six letters of each event and the start time. ANNOYING.


This morning Ardyn asked me if we could get the church choir to sing "livin on a prayer" by Bon Jovi (which was on the radio on the way to church) and then right after that was "Highway to Hell" Which she didn't comment on. :)

Well, our pizza in nearly done. If you haven't tried the Great value self rising pizzas, they are delicious and actually taste BETTER than a Digorno. Amazing. We love them here.

My son is dismantling a battery powered candle. Grand. Goodnight.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wearever honors my warranty claim (#2) and Goes Above and Beyond

Special Thanks to Wearever for their awesome customer service. This is my second warranty claim on the pots and pans that I purchased 12 years ago before Evan and I moved in together. They sent me this Stainless Steel Set that is AWESOME and so nicely made. I hope it lasts! When I called I was told they could ONLY replace it with an identical set, but when I sent in the defective set I included a letter explaining that this was my second warranty claim for the same teflon flaking issue and that I wanted to request a stainless steel set for replacement so that I wouldn't keep having the same issue. They listened and I couldn't be happier! I used the skillet and the colander and spoon today while cooking the ground beef for my chili, and I adore them!

Here is a link to my previous post with photos and documentation of my warranty claim...
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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Illinois' Spoon River Drive, October 8th, 2011

All Photos Copyright Meagan Johnson. Do NOT Reproduce or Use without Written Permission!
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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

October It is.....

What a beautiful fall day :)

My kids are inside watching a movie. Yep. Well, for what it's worth I had intended for them to be outside today. And they were outside until lunchtime. They played in the yard, and Ardyn played outside at preschool. But after lunch, they both wanted to watch the Winnie the Pooh movie, and although I thought about pushing them back out the door, I realized that the movie might be a good wind down to naptime, and violin practice, and it would also allow me to dump the 4000 photos and videos that are on my iPhone and making it full. And switch the laundry and such. I spent the whole beautiful day yesterday inside (although the windows were open) because I am really trying to get caught up on regular housework and get some serious clutter under control. I have been working on our bedroom for several days now. I have cleared out my bookshelf, and Evan's dresser, and my jewelry armoire, and 94% of the floor and a good portion of laundry baskets and hampers of clean clothes. I still have two that need to be packed away (too small clothes of the kids) and one of kid clothes that needs put in their dressers yet. But even those need to be reorganized. Oy. I have been trying to sell pants and jeans of mine that are too small, I have sold all but seven of 17 pair of pants. I bought myself one new pair to replace them :)

My sock drawer needs gone through again, and my underwear drawer. So little time!

Fall weather gets me in the cleaning mode, plus the fact that I am hosting Bunco next week means that I need to find some horizontal surfaces to have room for everyone in this little place. I still need to go buy the food ingredients and also the prizes, which I think I might get this weekend while I am on the Spoon River Scenic Drive with my mom. I am so looking forward to that. But first I must get through this week, which includes getting the house picked up before the cleaning ladies come on Friday. There is also a PJWC meeting Thursday night, but I don't know if I am going yet or not. There just seems to be a TON going on.

Today I finished painting a footed bowl for my friend EA. She is part of a Race for the Cure team and is doing a large fundraiser in a couple of weeks, and asked if I would hand paint a piece of pottery that could be auctioned off at the fundraiser. I worked on it last week and finished it today, while Ardyn was in school. It was fun for me because I didn't have to pay for it, and she watched Marek so I could go while Ardyn was in school. It was like "me time" in most regards. I can't wait to see it finished, it's hard to tell what it is going to look like when it is unfired. If you have never painted pottery before, the paint colors are dull and chalky looking and most of them don't even look like the finished color, so that leaves a lot to the imagination. I sure hope it's pretty.

After school the kids and and I came home and collected a BUNCH of eggs. I think Gloria might be laying again, and now I think BOTH pullets (young hens) are laying. There were 5 eggs in the last 30 hours or so, and we were lucky enough to see ONE of them being laid first hand. One of the younger hens was pacing around the bunny hutch, and you may know that we have recently found an egg on two separate occasions, inside the bunny's nest box. The chickens fly into the attached run on the front of the bunny hutch (which has an open top) and then they settle in the bunny hutch to lay in the nest box. it's so much like theirs, and lined with the same pine bedding, they just feel at home. The bunny is not terribly fond of it. She doesn't seem to mind the chickens themselves, even when they are in the hutch with her. It's the foreign oval object in her nest box that terrifies her. She won't even go IN the hutch if there is an egg in there.

So today we watched the hen fly over the top and go right into the bunny nest box and start to make herself a nest. Then I even caught the laying off the egg on video, and the kids saw it, which was pretty cool.

While we were watching the hen in the nest box, Briar Bunny was in the other side of her hutch watching, and Licorice (the wild bunny that escaped) hopped inside the fence to check out what all the fuss was about. Talk about crazy!

Although it's a beautiful day and I have a ton to accomplish, I am seriously thinking about taking a nap with the kids today. Partially because I know Ardyn won't take one because she will be busy peeking out her windows (and if she lays down with me I can prevent that) and partially because I am tired. I stayed up late last night working in my room on the dressers. It takes forever because they seem to be landing place for all kinds of confiscated items, and all kinds of things the kids lay up there. Like hair clips. There must be 5000 hair clips around this place. Ardyn takes them off wherever and hands them to me or sits them on the dresser, and then I find them as I uncover the layers of crap that get stacked there.

I also went through all my DVD's and put them into a DVD organizer (a binder style one just like this one) that I have had for exactly EIGHT MONTHS but have yet to take out of the package and take the time to organize the DVDs. Yep. That's how my life is. So I finally say down yesterday and took all the DVDs out of their cases and put them into the binder. I really like it. It is a pretty THICK binder, but it does take up less space than all the DVDs did. I decided that I do need a few more movies, I only have the first two Harry Potter movies, which the kids started watching, and I also only have the first Pirates of the Caribbean. Plus the Bourne movies are some of my favorites and I love to watch them over again, and would love to have all of them on DVD. I keep the kids DVDs in a separate binder that is smaller and doesn't hold liner notes. I just keep the cases in the same cabinet that holds all the VHS tapes. But with mine, I didn't have room or the desire to keep the cases.

I went to JoAnn this past weekend to grab the plastic for the dining room table. About once a year I use a 50% or 40% off coupon to buy the heavy 16-18 gauge plastic to cover my tablecloths. If I don't cover them, the kids have them destroyed in no time. the last piece of plastic I bought cost me about $14 and lasted me almost a whole year. it would have lasted the whole year had Ardyn not decided to stick foam gingerbread stickers onto it. Those foam things are EVIL. They do NOT come off. So anyway, I had a cool fabric halloween tablecloth that I had bought on clearance last fall, and I wanted to use it but didn't DARE until I got more plastic. When I was there they also had a tie-dye fleece print that I hadn't seen on sale for about 3.5 years. I was super excited and it was 40% off so I got 2 yards to make a blanket with. Of course, they were out of the coordinating orange anti-pill so I have to go back another time to get that other side of the blanket. I was frustrated because they had ELEVEN bolts of Orange Blizzard fleece, but no anti-pill. Sounds like an ordering mishap if you ask me.

They had their paper stacks (like DCWV) on sale for $9.99 instead of $19.99 and I was excited because I wanted to see the "performance stack," which is new, in person. It has lots of musical and violin papers, but they were almost all GOLD and I was kinda like eeeew. the paperstack wasn't as impressive as I wanted to be, and the few papers that I really did like can be purchased separately on, so when the time comes I will just do that instead.

I have more I could say, but my wrists are bugging me (ala carpal tunnel) and the iPhone still has 97 videos to upload, so I will just call it quits here for now. Look out for the egg laying video, which I will try to get posted today, hopefully here, but at least on facebook if I can.
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