Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Meme

Did this last year, thought I'd do it again . . .

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

Got paid to blog
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year I resolved to create a 2nd revenue stream for our family. I did do that, and hope to make it grow this year. I also have a goal of organizing family pictures and writing letters to each of my kids.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A dear, IRL friend gave birth to her 2nd child, 1st daughter in September. A number of moms gave birth in my homeschool group -- 1 mom I know well had twins, another had a baby girl.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
B's mother died in April. That was a sad time, and I'm not sure if my husband has fully realized the loss yet. It's one of the reasons I'm focusing on creating a written legacy for my kids, though -- her death was sudden (less than 3 weeks from diagnosis to death) and she wanted to share so much that she was unable to do because she was in so much pain.

5. What countries did you visit?
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Money. More Quality Time with family.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
No dates jump at me.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Starting to get paid for freelance writing, returning to training part-time, raising 3 healthy, happy children.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not earning enough money, worrying too much, losing my temper

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, thank goodness

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Doll stroller for L. She LOVES pushing it around.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband, who has an amazingly positive attitude through everything

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The people who stole our truck in June. My brother's soon-to-be ex-wife.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Bills, groceries, mortgages

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Is it sad that I can't think of something? Nothing really stands out as spectacular, but I am sure I was excited plenty throughout the year.
Although I DID get pretty excited being in front of a class again. I forgot how much I loved to teach, and while it's exhausting, it's also wonderfully satisfying to help others learn.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
Huh. I have no idea.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) about the same; b) fatter; c) poorer ( I almost can't believe that we're poorer yet again, but we are. The economy has done a number on DH's job and his income is off by a staggering number from last year -- which was $30K less than the previous year.)

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
earned more money

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
feel stressed

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
We spent it quietly at home, with just us and my sister. It was a perfect day.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Still am.
22. How many one-night stands?
23. What was your favorite TV program?

can't name one.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
25. What was the best book you read?
I mentioned last year that I should track my books this year, but I didn't. I can't think of a book that I would classify as the "best", but Redwall was an interesting read-aloud and my boys totally got into it. I imagine we'll be reading more of the series in 2009.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
didn't make one.

27. What did you want and get?
paid work

28. What did you want and not get?
I can't think of anything.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Mama Mia. I went to see it with my mom and my sister when my mom was in town and it was a great afternoon together. The movie was fun, and I like Meryl Streep.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 41 in November. I can't remember the day at all.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not stressing about paying for the basics.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Losing weight and unable to afford new clothes, then gaining all the weight back and hating my clothes.

33. What kept you sane?
snuggling with my husband

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
no clue

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
36. Who did you miss?
my extended family. It's hard sometimes having family all over the country, and no feasible way to get together regularly.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I met some wonderful people this year, can't really narrow it down to one.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Positive perseverance will get you through anything.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world

(Money Money by Abba)

So Long, 2008!!

Well, it was a whirlwind of a year and I'm looking forward to see what 2009 has in store for me and my family!

My children all grew in height, weight and smarts . . . my hubby and I grew more in love than before (who could've thought that was possible? But it is! I'm so enamored with this man it's almost embarrassing!) . . . I grew my career that had been pretty stagnant for the last few years.

There's lots to work on in 2009 . . . between business goals, financial goals, health goals, spiritual goals, and family goals. We're all up to the challenge, however!

Tonight, we're having a Wii Tournament (woo hoo! Wii Bowling! Wii Olympics! Wii Baseball!) and enjoying a fabulous spread of snack-y foods. I don't know how long we'll stay up, but if we're all awake at midnight we'll toast in the new year. If not, we'll toast it in tomorrow!

Tomorrow, we'll eat a lovely dinner on the new Radko Christmas plates I scored on clearance at Target today, and the holiday linens I scored on clearance at Cost Plus World Market. We'll have ham, mashed potatoes and green beans with sundaes for dessert.

After dinner, we'll write down our goals and resolutions for 2009 and seal them up with the Christmas ornaments.

We often leave our tree up until the Epiphany, but I think this year we'll take it down tomorrow, as well as the outdoor lights. I feel a need to have a clear slate for 2009, and I'd like some help putting it all away.

I hope you have a wonderful New Year's Eve and I look forward to an exciting 2009!


Over at Simple Mom, there's a great post with questions helping journal the past year. There's even a handy PDF file you can download with the questions listed!

I find it very hard as I get older (or maybe it's just the number of kids) to find quiet reflection time. I hope to carve out some time this week to give this proper attention.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting Ready

One day before Christmas Eve, and I still have cookies to bake, grocery shopping to do, cards to address & mail, and gifts to wrap. And, yesterday I finally went to the doctor and found out I have walking pneumonia. Hmmm, I guess I really was feeling lousy!

At least all the gifts have been purchased . . . and they'll get wrapped tomorrow with help from my sister and hubby. Baking may have to wait until New Years. The cards can go out after Christmas. DH can go grocery shopping.

We'll still have a lovely Christmas.

And, I'll work on that balance issue I've been working on. Maybe in the new year I'll work it out.

Right now, I have a nap to take.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cute L Things

She loves to write. On anything. And Everything. We have to hide all pens, markers and crayons from her creative force.

If you ask her to do something she doesn't want to do, she will look at you quite calmly, bring her finger to her lips and tell you to "Shhhhhh" I often get "Shhhhhh! Mom! Shhhhhhhh!"

She's still nursing before bed, but when she's done, she will quickly scootch off the bed, run to the door, pull it closed behind her and run off. I've turned it into a "Kiss Daddy Goodnight" routine so after she kisses him it's back to bed.

Speaking of bed, she has learned to climb out of her crib. She came out of our room last night rubbing her head and telling me "boom" I knew it was a matter of time, because she is my monkey.

She climbs on EVERYTHING. She will move anything to give her an advantage of height and see how high she can climb. We often find her standing on the table or the kitchen island if she's been out of sight for a few moments. Last night, DH found her standing on the stove. She will scale the pantry shelves. I'm not sure how to channel that skill right now, but I'm working on it. (And also looking for an extra long baby gate to keep her out of the kitchen)

And that's her in a nutshell!


I am so glad this week is over for me, and I can breathe a bit!
  • I had a number of regular writing deadlines this week, as well as a deadline for the first part of a new project that I didn't want to lose. I met all my deadlines, with just a few hours to spare.
  • I taught a new class on Wednesday (which went really well, thank you!). There were 19 students and they kept me hopping ALL day. For some settings, 19 may not seem like a lot, but when you're teaching a Level 2 Excel class, there is quite a bit of one-on-one help that is necessary.
  • DH was gone Saturday, Sunday & Monday doing a side job out of town, so I didn't have any help with child care and L has become a climbing monkey so I have to *see* her at all times or she gets into trouble.
  • So, there have been many late nights as I try to get things done and write coherently after the kids are in bed. (and, yes, I do believe I can write coherently. This post, however, is just a stream of consciousness and therefore may not be coherent.)
  • L got horribly sick around 3AM Thursday morning, so my plans to get up early and write disappeared. I also spent a good portion of the day holding the poor, sick babe. It seems like it was just a 24 hour bug, though, as she was pretty chipper this evening.
  • I don't have any more deadlines until Monday, so I am about to fall into bed.
  • Tomorrow (well, today actually, since it's after 1AM) is cleaning and baking and maybe some wrapping. Saturday we'll decorate our tree (that I put up last weekend.) Oh, and DH & I are going out again! To a wedding reception this time.
  • Sunday DH leaves again for 2 days, so actually, I better do some work on Saturday so I don't fall behind before next week even begins.
I still haven't found the right balance, but I keep trying. I'm hoping to spend the next few days getting caught up around the house, and working on yet another schedule to keep things going smoothly and allowing me to sleep 8 hours a night. The 4 or 5 I've been getting lately just isn't cutting it for me.

I know I can make it work. I just haven't quite found the optimum plan to make it all work smoothly. Everything is getting done, except for enough sleep and some household chores. With a bit more tweaking, I am confident that it'll happen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Have you heard about Free Shipping Day?

Tomorrow, over 200 online merchants are offering free shipping, with a promise to be delivered by Christmas. How great is that?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Home Depot Giveaway

Home Depot must have had a nice chunk of advertising money set aside for bloggers to give away gift cards this year. I think I've entered a dozen giveaways for Home Depot gift cards in the last couple weeks (but haven't won yet)!

Head on over to Mommies with Cents for her $100 Home Depot gift card giveaway. Since I'm not winning any of these . . . maybe one of my readers will!

Or, maybe by blogging I'll get some good karma and win! Our not-quite-closed in patio really needs some attention!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Love Your Veggies!

My husband doesn't like vegetables. Well, that's not exactly true. He likes corn on the cob (which is actually a grain, and not a vegetable) and french style green beans from a can. He pushes anything else around on his plate and won't eat it.

Maybe if his mom let him dip his vegetables in ranch dressing when he was a kid, he might eat more of them today. Hidden Valley was inspired by a study that found kids ate 23% more vegetables when they were served with ranch dressing. They created an entire campaign to help parents and kids eat more vegetables, and enjoy eating them.

Please check out the site as it is full of great information, activities for kids, kid-friendly recipes, and an exciting contest!

They are holding a contest right now looking for Veggie Champions! Ten moms will win the chance to visit Chicago for a 2 days retreat where they will learn about planting, harvesting, and cooking vegetables. In addition, they will be given $5000 in order to start or maintain a community garden back in their hometown.

The entry will take some effort and thought, because they want to know about you, a garden that inspires you, what you would do with the five thousand dollars, and more. All the details can be found here.

C attended a preschool that had a wonderful garden in the back where the kids were able to help plant and harvest different crops. It was a great experience for him, and I wonder how that little garden could grow with a grant like this.

If you enter, let me know! If you win, have a great time in Chicago and tell me about your plans!

Thanks to Mom Central and Hidden Valley for letting me know about this contest so I could share it with my readers!

Money Saving Monday #9

Today my tip is simple. Don't look, don't buy. What you don't know you're missing won't hurt you.

I love outdoor Christmas decorations. I get lots of pleasure looking at outdoor displays and have enjoyed having one of the most decorated homes in the neighborhood in years past.

Time has taken its toll on a number of our decorations, but our budget just isn't able to replace anything this year. Which also means that we're not able to add anything new.

So, I've been avoiding the outdoor decoration aisle when shopping this year. I know there are probably some new cute things that would look great in my yard . . . but I'm not going to miss what I don't know is there.

Our yard still is lit up. We have a few inflatables. It's probably the most subdued it has been since we moved in 7 years ago, but there are still lights. I comfort myself with the fact that there are still lights. And that I haven't spent money we can't afford to spend.

Maybe next year!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Save Handmade Goods for Children!

On February 10, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will go into effect. If it goes into effect as currently written, untold numbers of artisans and small businesses will be forced out of business due to the forced testing of each item that is used in the creation of handmade goods for children.

Third party testing of each item used in the creation of wooden toys, handmade dolls, baby slings, and anything that may be used by a child -- will cost thousands of dollars. The cost of testing will force most (if not all) individuals and small businesses who create items for children out of business.

I would hate to see this happen! We have always heard how small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and this act will effectively shut down untold numbers of small businesses. If a small business manages to pay the testing fees, they will have to charge that much more for their items, and will likely limit the number of items they sell.

One mama I know who makes baby slings determined that she would have to test each different fabric and each different ring to comply with this act. The testing for her current inventory would cost more than $3000.00. If she wanted to add more fabrics, or different rings, that testing cost would increase. She would have to double the cost of her slings to meet these new requirements, and would have to borrow money to test the current items in her inventory. If this act goes into effect, she will go out of business.

Cool Mom Picks has an extremely informative post about this act, and gives information about a few different things we can do to prevent this act from going into effect. Please click over there and read the information they've put together.

I know everyone is busy with the holidays right now, but please take a moment to let your representatives in Washington know that this act is not good for American businesses or consumers. Don't put them out of business!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Review: Ultimate Party Meatballs

B & I usually throw a party at our home in January. We hold it around Epiphany, and it works out great because it's after the rush of holiday parties and more people can usually attend. This year, we've having the party in mid-January, because we're celebrating 10 years in Arizona! We arrived on January 15, 1999 and it's hard to believe that we've had snow-free winters for a decade.

We try to serve food that can be prepared ahead of time, and served easily. When Mom Central asked if I was interested in trying the Ultimate Party Meatball, I jumped at the chance. Heinz and Ocean Spray are working together to share this new recipe, and I had to try it out to see if we wanted to serve it in January.

In the past, I've made meatballs in the slow cooker with chili sauce and grape jelly, so I was intrigued with this recipe that called for Heinz chili sauce and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce. I thought I really liked the party meatballs I used to make, but I have a new recipe now! These are still sweet, but not as sweet as the grape jelly meatballs, which makes them better in my cookbook.

I don't think they could be any easier! You can make them on the stove, but I like making them in the slow cooker so I don't have to fuss with them, or find a serving bowl. Just throw in a bag of frozen meatballs, a jar of Heinz chili sauce and a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce. Mix together and heat on low for 4 hours. DELICIOUS served by themselves, or on a roll as a meatball sandwich.

Oh, and want to throw the ultimate party? The Ultimate Party Meatball website is having a sweepstakes for $3000.00 in gift cards! Go put in your entry & invite me over if you win!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

sense of humor

My father suffered a heart attack 2 days ago. This is his 2nd heart attack in the last 6 weeks. He recognized the symptoms, took 3 nitro tablets, and called my mother at work (35 miles away.) My mom called my brother, (who was closer), who went over to my parents' home and drove my dad to the hospital. Thankfully, he is doing okay (after having 2 more stents put in) and is home already today.

When I finally was able to talk to him today (he'd been doped up / drugged the last couple days when I called), I immediately asked why he hadn't called 911!?

His response? "Me? I never call those 900 numbers. They're expensive!"

I'm glad that his sense of humor is intact, but I hope that (if there is a next time) he doesn't hesitate to call 911. My mom has decided that if he calls her again, she will call 911 and meet them at the hospital.

Bullet Points

  • We went to the zoo today. It was a perfect day -- sunny, warm, breezy. Since it's a Wednesday before school break, the zoo was mostly empty other than moms and preschoolers. We met a dear friend with her 2 yo and infant and enjoyed the day until L started melting down because it was nap time.
  • My Christmas cards arrived over a week ago, but I still haven't addressed them. I have debated back and forth about including a Christmas letter, and am still on the fence. I wrote one, but it's not clever or cute or funny -- it just gives the facts. I think there are those that might appreciate knowing the facts, though . . . so I may print it after all.
  • I need to sit down and organize our schooling efforts. I'm in that overwhelmed place where I tend to avoid everything and get nothing down when I have a million things that need to be done. We're still schooling, but it's not as organized as I'd like.
  • I found a stapler, so we can start working on the Advent lapbooks again.
  • I need to wrap gifts.
  • I need to finish buying gifts for my parents and my in-laws, and get them shipped.
  • I have a stack of coupon flyers that I need to go through and clip coupons from.
  • I have to facilitate the boys making thank you / Christmas cards for their teachers (they attend an enrichment program one/day week)
  • I think I'll depress myself if I keep writing my to-do list here so instead I'll hit publish and go get some stuff done!

Saving at the Pump!

My wallet is happy that gas prices are lower ($1.61 last time I filled up the van!) but I'm still looking for ways to cut my budget. I am fortunate that I live close to a few different grocery stores, including Safeway.

Safeway has great produce, offers sales on products I buy, and also has a reward program for their gas stations. They are currently doubling the reward when you buy $100 worth of gift cards in their stores! You can buy gift cards for over 300 merchants at Safeway -- which is so handy when you need a few different gift cards, but don't have to travel to find them.

Gift cards are great to give as gifts, but I also like to use them myself. They help me budget things like dining out, Starbucks, and even entertainment! Since I receive a bonus at the gas pump for buying them, it's an even better deal.

Visit the Safeway site to find exact locations and details for your area. In my area, I can earn up to .40 off each gallon depending on how much I spent for groceries, gift cards and prescriptions in the current quarter!

The gift card rewards program expires on December 24, 2008 -- so buy your cards soon!

Mom Central and Safeway asked me to blog and let my readers know about this great program.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Review: Baby Einstein Mozart DVD, and more!

I have appreciated the Baby Einstein video board books since C was a baby! Since C was a baby 8 years ago, many of the Baby Einstein's we own are on VHS, so I was excited to review the 10th anniversary version of Baby Mozart on dvd with L (19 months).

She thought it was great! As soon as it started, she began pointing at the screen and calling out colors and shapes. She loves music and seemed to enjoy the soothing sounds of the dvd. It's funny how I was transported back to C's infant days just listening to it. We played Baby Mozart quite a bit when he was tiny! We had fun talking about the different toys on the screen and she giggled at the puppets. When the boys came in from outside they had fun watching it with her as well.

We also received a Baby Einstein touch and feel board book -- Baby Einstein: Touch and Feel Farm Animals. L loves touch and feel books, and she loves making animal noises so this book became a fast favorite. She insists on putting it in her bag and carrying it everywhere -- when she's not asking someone to read it to her.

And, lastly, we received a copy of a lullaby album -- Baby Einstein: Lullaby Classics. This has 35 minutes of tinkly lullabies that help soothe L to sleep. All of my kids have fallen asleep to music, and it helps them transition into sleep. This CD will definitely be added to the rotation of music I play at naptime and bedtime. If you have watched any of the video board books, you will recognize the style of music as Baby Einstein.

I have a few friends with children under 2 and Baby Einstein products will be part of a few gifts this year!

I am very appreciative of Mom Central and Baby Einstein for including me in this tour! I have always been a big fan of Baby Einstein products, and I'm glad I have another little one to enjoy these products.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Money Saving Monday #8

My tip for today is to make lists of what you need to purchase, and stick to the list!

I have a notebook where I keep a running to-do list for myself. At the back of the notebook, I note items that need to be purchased. Sometimes this might be larger items, like a new vacuum, or smaller items like paper towels. This list keeps me from buying things on impulse just because they appear to be a "good deal!" If I don't really need something, then it's not a good deal no matter what the cost!

I also keep a list on my computer of gifts that I've purchased. This list helps me from having a too-huge pile of gifts to wrap for the holidays, and it also helps me from realizing at the last minute that I've completely forgotten my FIL. This time of year, the list receives careful consideration almost daily, and helps me from spending too much.

Lists also help keep grocery costs under control. When I shop with a list (and a menu plan), I will buy less and avoid "hmmm, this looks like a good deal . . . " It also prevents me from bringing home another box of cereal when there are 6 in the cupboard already!

Lists are definitely a money saving tool in this household! The better my lists, the more in control I am of our budget.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Mom Central Gift Guide & Mom Central Giveaways

Mom Central is my link to many of the reviews I do on this site. They are a great company with amazing ideas and a fantastic staff.

This holiday season, they created a Mom Central Gift Guide which gives you ideas about EVERYONE on your list! They have ideas for all price points for everyone from kids to tweens and even pets!

In addition to all the great ideas they've shared, they are also hosting giveaways each day. All you need to do is register with the site and enter each day's giveaway for your chance at some amazing prizes. If you tweet about the giveaway (and leave a 2nd comment) you can earn another entry for each giveaway.

What are you waiting for? Head on over and check it out! (And let me know if you win any of the giveaways!)

Going Out

Last night, my DH & I went to a party. Without the kids. It was lovely!

I can't tell you the last time we went out without the kids. We're all about the family around here -- but it was so nice to spend time with him and not have to worry about our kids. I am battling a horrible cold, and I almost considered not going -- but I am glad that I went.

The party was thrown by one of DH's co-workers, and I guess the joke around the office is that I didn't really exist. The last couple years DH has gone to a number of work functions solo because of sick kids or lack of sitters or something. I was happy to be there and show that I really do exist!

The best part of all was just spending time alone with my husband. There were tons of people at the party, but the house was huge -- so we ended up in a game room upstairs where a few of us played pool. It was very laid back, and um, I know I'm repeating myself - but it felt SO GOOD to just BE with my husband. I did have some house envy (we *almost* bought a house in the same neighborhood when I was pregnant with L . . . . ) but we were able to talk about it and we weren't interrupted or pulled away.

We need to make it a point next year to go out regularly. We do everything as a family, but we need to spend some couple time. I didn't realize how much I missed it until this morning when I was thinking back on how wonderful the evening was.
This post will sit at the top of my blog for a week, so please look below for new content :)

Are you looking for my Wreaths Direct review? Click here and you'll jump to that post!

Be sure to leave a comment for the giveaways that are part of the wreath blog tour! You can win a Starbucks gift card, or a chance at a gift bag!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Review: Priority Club Rewards

When I was younger I traveled quite a bit, but our traveling has slowed down in recent years with the kids and all. I expect to travel more in the future, but my parents travel quite a bit right now. So, when Mom Central and Priority Club asked if I would take a look at the rewards program Priority Club offers, I thought immediately of my parents.

Priority Club
is a loyalty club designed to help you find the best price on hotel reservations, and give you the opportunity to earn points to earn bonuses towards future stays. You earn points staying in hotels, but also by using their partners to buy flowers, renting cars, or flying on certain airlines.

The registration process for the site was easy and didn't take long. The membership is FREE. The membership card is available for download immediately, so you can start using their services without waiting for it to arrive in the mail.

I passed along the information to my mom, who also visited the site and signed up for a membership. She spent some time checking out hotel rates for various cities they visited recently, or plan to visit in the future. She found the site easy to use, and had no questions about how it worked.

Even if you don't travel much, Priority Club seems a great deal! I like that I can earn points by spending money on things other than travel, and that my points never expire. In a few years, I imagine I'll be using my reward points to stay in a great hotel.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

start for Advent

I got the Advent wreath out and set up in time for the first Sunday -- which I think was good! I found the box of Advent / Christmas / Winter / Holiday books before Sunday as well. I didn't wrap them this year, but at least I found them and we've been reading a few each day.

It only took me until the 3rd to put together the Playmobil Advent Calendar . . . but we still haven't opened any of the boxes because I haven't figured out a safe place to put the pieces (ie someplace where L won't eat them.) Hopefully tomorrow!

Today we put out our Little People Nativity.

The kids started their Advent lapbooks earlier this week and are having fun. I haven't taken any pictures yet, but will in the next few days.

I'm done with my Christmas shopping. Now I need to wrap everything so I'm not doing it on Christmas Eve (which makes me crabby.)

The kids and I all have a terrible cold. So terrible that it kept L (and me) up ALL night last night. I don't know how she managed to stay awake the entire night, but she did. I'm just glad it wasn't over Thanksgiving, and now we should be healthy for Christmas.

I have some deadlines to meet in the next few days, a party to attend Saturday night, a new class to prepare for, and a Christmas dinner menu to decide. We don't have a tree up yet, but we usually do that about 2 weeks before Christmas -- so probably next weekend.

Amazon Toy Deals

Amazon is starting to deeply discount various toys before Christmas. I've been watching this Colorforms set for almost 2 years now, and I've never seen it below $19.99. Tonight it was $10.99!

I loved Colorforms when I was a kid, and I think N will get a kick out of creating pictures with them. I finished shopping for him for Christmas, so this set may be put away for his birthday.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thankful Meme

Alexa, of What is in Front of me, tagged me for this thankful meme. How did she know that I really needed to count my blessings today? I have to list 6 things I'm thankful for, and then tag 6 people.
  1. I'm thankful that my family and I are healthy. C's asthma is well-controlled with medication and N & L do not have any chronic conditions. DH & I could stand to lose some weight, but are healthy.
  2. I'm thankful for my darling husband and his steadfast love. I'm reminded daily how lucky I am to be his wife.
  3. I'm thankful for my 3 children. Their ability to make me laugh and fill me with love. Without them, I wouldn't be a mom -- and I love being a mom (most days!)
  4. I'm thankful that I have good friends, both in real life and online, who I can count on to brighten my days and lighten my load.
  5. I'm thankful that my efforts to create income with minimum child care needed for my children is working out and continuing to grow.
  6. I'm thankful for my sister and that she lives close to me and is always willing to help me out. She makes simple things like grocery shopping much easier just by her presence when I have all 3 kids, and she absolutely loves and adores her nephews and niece. Plus, she's funny and can always make me laugh. Oh, and I appreciate all our inside jokes too -- like slushy people. And her level-headedness. (is that a word? probably not.)
I'm not sure who to tag, so if you read this and you're feeling thankful -- then please consider yourself tagged. (And leave a comment so I can go read your post!)

Giving Up Soda

We recently stopped (well, almost) drinking soft drinks in our house a couple months ago. I just blogged about it over at -- Giving Up Soda

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, December 01, 2008

Free Songs at Amazon!

Did you know there are 673 Free Songs at Amazon right now?

For the music lover on your gift list, what an awesome way to create an eclectic mix of music to burn to a CD.

Money Saving Monday #7

Today's money saving tip is to make your own! My 6yo loves beef jerky, but I don't buy it for him very often because it's full of chemicals and pricey.

DH bought N some beef jerky while they were out the other day, and N was thrilled. DH remembered that we had a dehydrator in the cupboard (a wedding gift we used maybe twice? And I almost gave it away multiple times.) He asked N if he'd like to make our own, and N jumped at the chance.

So, they went off together to the grocery store and bought a piece of London Broil for $5 and change (they got 1.5 pounds.) Came home and mixed up a marinade of 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 T honey and some red pepper flakes. Sliced the meat up in strips, put them in a freezer bag and marinated them for a few hours.

Then, they took the strips out, laid them out in the dehydrator, flipped it on and left it for around 8 hours. DH went out to play poker last night, so when he came home he checked the jerky and declared it done.

When N tried a piece this morning, he was in heaven. He said he never wants to buy jerky from the store again. With all the ingredients, it probably cost us $6.50 to make a big bag that should last a while.

I love that it's all natural, and Nate just loves it. Sometimes making things from scratch doesn't save much, but in this case, it's definitely worth it!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Quote

I read this quote today from Pope John Paul II --
"Advent keeps alive our expectation of Christ Who will come to visit us with His salvation, fully establishing His Kingdom of justice and peace. The annual evocation of the Messiah's Birth in Bethlehem renews in believers' hearts the CERTAINTY that God keeps His promises. Advent is therefore, a powerful proclamation of hope, which deeply touches our lives.

Obstacles, disputes and difficulties of various kinds burden our life and sometimes overwhelm it....It is especially at these moments that hope comes to our rescue. The Mystery of Christmas assures us that God is EMMANUEL-God with us. That is why we must never feel alone. He is close to us. He shared our pilgrimage on earth, guaranteeing us the attainment of that joy and peace to which aspire from the depths of our being."
A mission is starting this week at our parish. I probably won't be able to attend, since there's no childcare option, but the priest who will be speaking this week spoke at today's mass. The theme is Hope and Faithfulness and he reminded us all that if we live in FAITH, we cannot live in FEAR.

It's an important reminder right now for me, as we struggle (again) financially. I don't believe that living in faith means giving up. I believe that we have to do what we can to help ourselves. I do know that worrying (instead of action) is draining and depressing. I can spend my days in worry, or I can spend them in prayer and effort. At the end of the day, I will have accomplished much more if I haven't wasted time in worry.

It's a good message to start the Advent season. I worry quite a bit, and I need to work on my faithfulness. It's something I have been working on, but this is a reminder to me that I can't stop striving for more.

A Few of My Favorite Etsy Shops

I love etsy! It's a wonderful site to find wonderful home-made items and interact with some amazing people. I have a few favorite shops I thought I'd highlight today in case you're looking for gifts this holiday season.

Sister Mary Martha's shop is full of bracelets, keychains and necklaces with an amazing number of saint medals. Each item arrives with a card explaining more about the saint. I have a St. Gerard bracelet and have gifted more of her bracelets to friends. She also has an interesting blog.

Andrea of Quirky Bags has a shop full of cloth bags. She made a custom order for me of small bags for all the kids at my parent's family reunion a couple years ago and they were absolutely perfect. She is a delight to work with, and has the most interesting fabrics. She has bags in a variety of sizes to fit all your needs of shopping, gifting and toting library books. They are extremely well-made and are a much better alternative to plastic bags.

I haven't purchased anything yet from Juicy Bags, but I have my eye on 2 wallets for the boys. She uses empty Kool-Aid pouches to create wallets, gift card holders, purses and laptop bags. They are so very cute!! I follow her on twitter, so I know she also does custom work.

Those are the etsy shops on my mind this morning. Go check them out and if you can't make gifts yourself, consider giving hand-made by someone else.

Friday, November 28, 2008

St. Nicholas Novena

Today's the day to start a novena to St. Nicholas that will end on his feast day (December 6) We always celebrate the feast day with some treats left in the kids' shoes, and reading The Legend of Saint Nicholas.

This will be the first year I've prayed a novena to St. Nicholas. I recently read about an idea to write your intentions on a piece of paper each day of the novena, then burn them at the end of the novena. I think the kids and I might do this.

I'm excited for Advent to begin on Sunday, and think this is a nice way to lead into the season.

Review: Madagascar 2 Wii Video Game (& Giveaway!)

Last weekend, my family and I went to see Madagascar Escape 2 Africa at the movie theater. We loved the first Madagascar movie, and looked forward to the sequel. It didn't disappoint, and we all laughed throughout the movie. As long as we kept feeding L mini M&M's, she was happy to sit and watch as well.

So, it was a great treat when we received a package earlier this week from MomCentral with the game Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa for our Wii to review. The boys couldn't wait to try it out and were immediately drawn in by the graphics that were very similar to the movie. The characters were funny, and the boys were challenged by the game.

There is a main storyline adventure type game, as well as a bunch of individual mini-games that can be played. The main game is a single player game, but most of the mini-games can be played by one or two players. It is a safari-type adventure, with all the characters from the movie. Colin has declared the game a ton of fun, and has eagerly played it every day since we received it. Nate has enjoyed a memory-type game the most.

They do wish that more of the game was for 2 players. We did have some trouble saving the game for future play. We found that the game did save, even when the screen warned you that it didn't.

Overall, though, it is a fun game that we're glad to add to our library of games. I was impressed with the graphics, and the kids loved the range of movement possible for the characters. I struggled a bit making the characters jump and run, but the boys had no problem at all! After some practice, I finally got the hang of it.

The official website for the game has more information, downloads, and sample games you can play on the computer. The game is also available for DS, PSP, XBox, Playstation and PS2.

I also received a voucher for a free ticket for the movie in theaters. I'd love to give it away to one of my readers! The voucher is good only in the USA and expires on December 7. Because of the expiration date, I'd like to get it in the mail ASAP! Please leave a comment on this post and tell me your favorite character or scene from the first Madagascar movie (or just say HI!) I'll draw a winner tonight (November 28) at 11:59PM. In addition to the giveaway of a voucher, I also have 4 dogtag necklaces of the main characters to send the winner. These would make a fun stocking stuffer!

ETA: The ticket voucher and dogtags are in the mail to Valerie! Thanks for entering the giveaway!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Review: Fresh Evergreen Wreaths

I don't have the opportunity to smell many pine trees living where we do in Arizona. I was fortunate enough this year to receive a fresh evergreen wreath from Wreaths Direct to hang on our front door. When I opened the box, it smelled like Christmas!

The picture to the left is the wreath I received hanging on my front door. You can see how full and large it is, and what a wonderful decoration it makes!

Wreaths Direct is a family-owned company from Oregon. This wonderful Italian-Catholic family has been caring for trees for five generations! The family lives in a farm house built by the family in the 1930's. They care for 500 acres of land full of douglas and fir trees in Oregon.

A brother and sister run the business now, along with help from their young children. The family started making and selling wreaths about 20 years ago, and provide fundraising efforts as well as direct sales.

Denise, one of the owners, shared that the business keeps her busy year round with marketing and planning with a real rush this time of year with sales. It doesn't take away from her being full-time mom to her 4 & 7 year olds, though!

She also shared that she loves "the Pacific NW and loves the legacy our farm and business has created for yet another generation to come."

I know my boys would be excited at the thought of living on a farm, and my N would be beside himself at the thought of all those pinecones! (He collects pinecones, and they are pretty precious to find around here!)

Wreaths Direct offers 24" wreaths as well as 20" table centerpieces. They are absolutely lovely and I am thrilled that one graces our door this year.

You can have one on your door by visiting their website, or calling them at 888-449-9485. You won't be disappointed! These wreaths would also make a wonderful gift! A wreath like the one hanging on my door would be only $29.95.

As a special offer to readers of this blog, you can receive FREE UPS GROUND SHIPPING by using the code W0834.

As an extra bonus, if you leave a comment on this post, you will be eligible for 2 different drawings! One commenter on this post will receive a $5 Starbucks gift card, and one commenter from all the blogs participating in this blog tour will receive a gift bag full of goodies. So, leave a comment and share your favorite Christmas decoration!

Many thanks to Wreaths Direct for the beautiful wreath for our home!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gift Idea: Scentsy Wickless Candles

B doesn't like most candles, because of the soot they put into the air. When I saw these Scentsy wickless candles, I was intrigued! They have 80 different scents, and there are no wicks to create soot. Warmers melt the wax, and release the fragrance into the air. The warmers are very attractive and would fit into anyone's home.

I was expecting them to be expensive, but was pleasantly surprised that the Scentsy warmers were $15 - $30, while the bars of Scentsy wax were $5. These would make a nice gift for anyone on your list this year.

Of the 80 scents, 4 include cinnamon, which is one of my favorite scents. I think the hardest thing would be choosing which scent to buy to get started! Scentsy also offers car candles and room sprays in their 80 different scents.

Encouraging Kids to Wash Their Hands

Just a few tips to help your kids wash their hands, and maybe avoid some illness this winter! My latest Prevention post: Encouraging Kids to Wash Their Hands

Posted using ShareThis

Giveaway! Come back Friday!

Come back Friday for a quick giveaway! I have a ticket voucher to see Madagascar 2. It expires on December 7, though, so the giveaway post will go up on Friday and the winner drawn Friday night, so the voucher can go in the mail ASAP.

Don't forget to come back!!!

Review: Zenses Ocean & Zenses Rainforest

I was lucky enough to receive copies of Zenses: Rainforest Edition and Zenses: Ocean Edition to review. These are both Nintendo DS games, geared towards adults (and I'm guessing females.)

All the boys in my family have Nintendo DS's, so I was able to borrow one to try out these games. One of the annoying things (to me) about most DS games is the music. I'm always asking the boys to turn down (or off) the sound when they are playing games in the van. I was pleasantly surprised by the music for these 2 games, however. It was gentle and soft, with no jarring sounds. I preferred the music and sounds on the Oceans game a little bit more, and was surprised there were no rainforest sounds on the Rainforest game.

The games themselves were fun. I was afraid that both games would offer the same puzzles with different backgrounds, but the puzzles for each were different. They offered different ways to use your brain. The games could be played for 5 minutes, or 20. I liked the fact that they were fast, and didn't require much time. I also liked that they offered a bit of a challenge.

Both of these games have you use the stylus, and no button pushing is necessary. The games had easy to understand rules and kept me entertained. Since I received them, I have played all the puzzles for both games multiple times. The game is marketed as a stress reliever, and I think that's accurate. Playing is a nice diversion, and something that I did while riding in the car as well as waiting for an appointment.

These games may even encourage me to get my own DS, and stop borrowing my husband's! I'll be adding that to my Christmas list this year.

If you're looking for a DS game for a teen, or adult that isn't necessarily into traditional games, I would definitely recommend these 2 games. They are both rated E for Everyone and retail for $29.99.

Thank you to Game Factory for sending me the games to review!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Review: Knit Two by Kate Jacobs

Last year, when I finished Kate Jacob's novel, The Friday Night Knitting Club, I desperately wanted to know what happened next. I fell for the characters, and I cried with the characters, and I didn't want the book to end.

I was very excited when asked by Mother Talk to review the sequel, Knit Two, which is being released today. When the book arrived at my door, I immediately sat down with a big glass of iced tea and began to read. I was glad that the book came during L's nap. It took me a couple days to read, because I forced myself to put it down so I wouldn't finish it too fast.

This sequel didn't disappoint. The characters I grew to love were there, with new problems and triumphs. The close knit group was still there. I think the thing I most appreciated about these two books is the close female friendships portrayed. She writes of a group that I think any of us wish we could find, or if we have a similar group in our lives, it makes us appreciate it even more.

The story starts up five years after the first one ended, which gives all the characters time to develop more of their lives. The camaraderie is still there, the fierce friendships, the loyalty, the honesty and the absolute comfort in knowing that others have your back. I loved this book as much as the first, and hope there's a third coming out in the future.

The book makes me want to take up knitting. Well, no, not actually. What it does is want me to work towards building the friendships around me and taking time to develop them more fully. To take the time to truly care for others and make the time to spend time together. In our busy lives, it's sometimes difficult to carve out time for friendships, but this book gives me a push to work harder at caring for my friendships.

I heartily and completely recommend this book -- and if you haven't read her first novel, this book stands by itself. I do think you should read both, however. You won't be disappointed. If you're looking for a gift for your favorite girlfriend this holiday season, this would make a great gift!

Check out Kate Jacobs' website for more information about her, her books and her future plans.

Many thanks to Kate Jacobs and Mother Talk for sending me a copy of the book and giving me a chance to review it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Crustless Cranberry Pie

Looking for a unique holiday dessert? Then you have to try this Crustless Cranberry Pie!

Posted using ShareThis

Advent Lapbook

3 years ago, I took a class on lapbooks and was very excited. I bought some books and materials . . . and then the stuff sat in my cabinet because my boys really weren't old enough to create lapbooks.

This morning, one of my friends on facebook linked to this lapbook -- Advent Lapbook -- and I knew that my boys were now old enough so I ordered it.

I've just taken a few minutes to go through the materials, and I'm very excited to print everything out and have the boys get started making their own lapbooks for Advent this year. It includes so much information about the season! Things like feast days and prayers and plenty of space for their own writing. She includes both colored pages and blank ones if the kids like to color their own (mine do!) There are 84 pages of information to create this lapbook -- so you know there is plenty to do over the 4 weeks of Advent!

The file is a downloadable .pdf file, so I don't have to wait for shipping. The checkout process through paypal was easy and the download link was in my email inbox before I could click back over.

I was trying to find a project for this season, and am so glad this popped up for me today! I will post pictures of their progress as we get started.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Useful Toddler Gifts

I try to give useful gifts, but I think I'm leaning that way even more this year. For toddlers, especially those that aren't the first child and probably have plenty of toys, here are some useful gifts that I own and enjoy!

I first saw a friend using this when we met her for lunch at a local restaurant. I thought it was a neat idea, but I find it even more useful at home. It keeps the table clean around L, and the cupped lip keeps extra food off her lap and the floor. It washes easily, rolls up fairly small, and the suction cups underneath stick to the table with no slipping. For $10-12, I think it's a great value and would make a super gift!

This is probably the most expensive sippy cup you would ever buy. I think it is worth every penny, though! It keeps drinks cold for a long time (even milk) and the one we have has never leaked. It is stainless steel, with BPA-free lid and spout.
L drinks from an open cup when we're home, but I love this option for when we're out. I also love their thermoses that come with a straw. Each of my kids has one, and I'm always amazed at how long drinks stay cold in them.

For the boys, I used inflatable covers for the spout in the tub. When I saw this one by Boon, I was intrigued by the waterfall effect. I love it! The water pours out gently from the faucet, making hair washes much easier. L also likes to stand in the flow and let the water pour across her back. There is an area to add bubble bath, but I'll be honest and say that I never use that, so I don't know how it works.

If you're looking for a gift for a toddler in your life this holiday season, I hope I helped! I bought these items for L, but would have been thrilled to receive any of them as a gift. One thing that I couldn't find a link to are my favorite bibs. They are made of corduroy and have a snap instead of velcro. I don't like the way velcro sticks to everything in the dryer, so I prefer bibs with snaps. Just a thought if you're gifting bibs!

Spaghetti Sauce, Again

A month or so ago I used up the last of my batch of spaghetti sauce. Around the same time, I was able to buy a jar of sauce for $2.00, so I bought it to tide us over until I made another batch. We had it a week ago, and everyone mentioned how much better mine was.

Today, I stocked up on cans of sauce and will be filling the house with the wonderful aroma of spaghetti sauce again. I think this time I'll throw in some rosemary sprigs from our plant out front. I'm also making it with ground italian sausage instead of ground beef. Wouldn't you like to come over for dinner :)

I also shopped today for Thanksgiving, finally! I couldn't believe that a can of pumpkin was $2.99, while a pre-made pie from the bakery was $2.89. I stopped at another store later that day, and found a can for .99, which seemed much more reasonable.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Save Money by Shopping from Your Pantry This Week

Thanksgiving week may not be the best time to try this out -- but keep it in mind! I posted over at Prevention about how to Save Money by Shopping from Your Pantry This Week

Posted using ShareThis


I have a couple things to get for L for Christmas, and then I'm done with shopping for the kids. I don't have anything yet for DH -- or anyone else I just realized. I'd like to be finished by the first week of December, so I will be scouring the ads during the next week and trying to find USEFUL gifts for those on my list.

I am bummed, but we won't be attending Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Gardens again this year. We had done it for 7 years in a row, but the cost became prohibitive. It was a holiday tradition that I enjoyed, but Zoo Lights is a better bargain and enjoyed more by the kids anyway. We usually attend Zoo Lights on the last night (early January), but since we won't be attending Luminarias this year (usually attended early December) maybe we'll go earlier this year.

One of my favorite traditions is having an old-timey portrait taken. DH & I have been doing them since our honeymoon and I realized the last one we did was in August of 2007. I think we'll make that a priority over the next couple weeks.

I haven't shopped yet for Thanksgiving! I'll do that this weekend and stock up on flour and sugar for holiday baking before the prices rise after Thanksgiving. (Did you know that traditionally the best prices on flour and sugar are right before Thanksgiving?) We're having a traditional meal this year -- turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, cranberry pie. Nate wants corn on the cob, so I will look to see if any is available.

DH usually puts up the lights the day after Thanksgiving. Holiday lights are one of my favorite Christmas traditions! We won't be adding anything new this year, and we had to retire a bunch of stuff last year -- but it'll still be pretty.

I need to create our Christmas card and get those ordered and mailed.

I need to wrap the Christmas books. I have a box of books that I wrap for Advent. We unwrap and read a book from the basket each day. There are some old favorites in there, plus I try to add a new one or two each year. I don't think I picked up any new ones after the holidays last year, so I'll keep my eye out for a new one this year. The boys love this tradition, and I'm guessing L will as well.

I purchased the Playmobil Advent Calendar Xmas in Forest a while back (at Target, for less than $20 - I don't know why it's so much more right now?) and have to put it together soon. I almost bought the LEGO City Advent Calendar 2008 one this year, but decided to stick with Playmobil (3rd year I think). I'm glad I did, because N said to me the other day "And, we'll have a Playmobil Advent calendar, right?"

My sis and I have to look at calendars and find a weekend for holiday baking. We need to put together a list and decide what we're making this year.

This post became a mash of stuff, didn't it? I was thinking of tradtions, and then threw in some of my to-do's on top of it. What are some of your traditions for the holiday seasons? I know we have more, just need to think on it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Another Offsite Day

I'm posting about my day again because my hope is that in 6 months or a year I can read this and say "Oh, it's so much easier now!"

I had an assignment to teach at a new site today. The class ran from 8 - 5. I like to be there at least 30 minutes early, so that meant I had to leave my house by 6:40. DH had his weekly sales meeting that required him to be at his office by 9:30.

Last night, I wrote out the boys' assignments, packed their schoolbooks into their backpacks, packed L's diaper bag, packed my bag, printed out directions to the site, packed a cooler with snacks and lunches for the kids, filled a thermos with milk for L, packed my lunch. I set out L's clothes, told the boys to set out their clothes, and I set out my clothes.

Since DH could be at work later, he was going to drop the kids off at the sitter's house. We have only one car seat for L, which makes sense because our pickup doesn't have a back seat and only seats 3. DH had to move his samples and things into the van so I could drive the truck to my class.

I left this morning right on time, proceeded to struggle finding a place to park, and even though I was in the vicinity by 7:20, wasn't able to enter the building until 7:40. Not really a big deal, but I do like at least 30 minutes to make sure everything is set up correctly. Thankfully, it mostly was and class went well.

We didn't know what sales calls DH would have, and wouldn't know until after noon. We hoped he would be able to pick up the kids, since I couldn't (not having enough seats.) Somehow, it worked out that he was able to pick them up late afternoon, I got home later, and then he headed out for a 7PM sales call.

After I got home, normal stuff happened -- made dinner, did some laundry, cleaned the kitchen, reviewed the boys' schoolwork, etc. I teach a 1/2 day on Thursday, and I want to get caught up on housecleaning tomorrow. I was also able to finish some writing assignments this evening after the kids were in bed.

And, now, I'm off to bed myself!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

National Diabetes Awareness Month

Much of my family has been affected by diabetes. Did you know that 95% of all diabetics in the United States have Type II Diabetes (also known as adult-onset)? That was one surprising statistic I learned recently when writing a post about National Diabetes Awareness Month. Head on over to to read more.

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, November 17, 2008

Money Saving Monday #6

We recently changed our cable / phone / internet service companies. We had talked about it for months, but the various companies do not make it easy to compare services directly. It was hard to decipher if we could actually save money by changing services, and the confusion caused us to remain with one provider too long.

My husband took 2 days and determined that we could save $70/month and maintain very similar service if we made a change. There were a few minor glitches when making the switch, but 2 weeks later and I'm glad we did it.

We are seriously considering dropping our landline soon and keeping just our cell phones. My husband has to use a fax machine daily for work, but we've looked into internet services where he could scan the documents and send them via the internet. There is a fee for that, but it would be less than a landline telephone. We haven't quite decided if we're going to make that change yet, but January may find us without a home phone.

Take some time this week to look at your expenses and determine if they really are necessary. Sometimes we're lulled into complacency by assuming we have the best deal, or that we couldn't do without something we've been paying for. Make a few phone calls and do some research, and see if you can lower your expenses. I try to do that regularly, and am always surprised when I find something else that I can change.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Suddenly, he turned 8!

My sweet, oldest boy turned 8 today. He outgrew his bike months ago, but I kept telling him that a new bike wasn't in his future.

So, this morning, we headed out for our morning walk. DH asked for his help finding a tool that he thought he left in my folks' garage. C headed over to help look for this mysterious tool. DH encouraged him to lift a blanket to see if it was on the shelves behind the blanket.

He lifted the blanket and said "There's just a bike here. A brand new bike."

I said "Hmmm, who do you think the bike is for?" at about the same time he was saying "It's a bike that is just my size."

Finally it dawned on him that it was HIS new bike. He was thrilled. I hope you can see his excitement in the pictures!

He had a lovely day of bike riding, eating off the birthday plate, receiving many fabulous presents, and having his requested birthday dinner. He requested ham -- and real ham, not that stuff you buy to save money (that would be turkey ham), and fresh -- not leftover!, with scalloped potatoes -- from a box, not from scratch, but from a box like Grandma makes, and cooked carrots -- but plain cooked carrots -- not with anything added to them, and garlic bread. With a bakery cake, because Basha's was kind enough to send him a birthday card along with a coupon for a free cake. He declared it a wonderful dinner.

Our boy is intelligent, kind, thoughtful, considerate, friendly and a joy to be around. He's an eager student, and a joy to teach. He's a great big brother to his siblings and a steadfast friend to his friends. He loves to read, build with Legos, ride his bike and spend time outdoors. It's hard to believe that in 8 more years we'll be taking him for his learner's permit!

(For those curious, this is the bike C received: Mongoose 20-Inch Gravity Games BMX Freestyle Bike (Gunmetal) We didn't pay that for it, though -- more like 1/3 of that. I got an awesome deal!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

All in a working day

One of the reasons I read blogs is because I like to see how other people order / live their days.

In light of those of "what I do" blogs and posts -- here's mine for today.

Today, I had an assignment to train. It was a 3 hour one-on-one session helping someone learn advanced features of Excel. I was happy to have the assignment, and this is how my day looked:

7AM: Wake in a bit of panic because I didn't go to bed until 1AM and was tired, but still needed to review some more so I was well-prepared.

7:15AM: L woke, which meant the hour I thought I was going to have in peace just disappeared. Nursed her, and kissed DH goodbye as he headed off to a training session at work.

7:45AM: Convinced L she was done nursing. Quickly showered with L and made her breakfast.

8:15AM: The boys are awake. Sent them outside to water/feed/play with dog. L refused to go outside with them, which I think was a first.

8:30AM: Boys back inside, I ask them to watch L while I try to finish my prep. They turn on a cartoon and I think all is going fine. L comes into office and wants me to hold her, um, no she wants to crawl on desk. I try to work around her, become frustrated, and ask boys to please help.

9AM: All is quiet and I am furiously scribbling notes and trying to make sure I fully understand things I haven't worked with in 8 years. Thankfully, much is coming back and I have been studying the last few days as well.

9:45AM: Walk into living room to find that L has completely emptied my purse and wallet and everything is strewn from the back door, through the living room and into the boys' bedrooms. Ask the boys why they didn't stop her? They tell me she was quiet. Spend 15 minutes finding important things like drivers license and ATM card.

10AM: Put together lunch for the 3 of them to take to sitter. Pack L's diaper bag with extra clothes, bib, sippy cup, blanket, etc. Pour whole milk into thermos. Pack my bag with manuals, paper, etc. Realize I can't find my phone. Panic a bit.

10:30AM: Find my phone. It was in the car. Load everyone into car and drive to sitter's house.

10:45AM: Arrive at sitter's and unload kids, lunch cooler, diaper bag. Talk briefly with sitter. This is the first time kids are staying with her, but she's been a friend for a few years. She's a homeschooling mom of 5 boys, so I know the kids are in good hands.

10:55AM: On the road to the office. Realize I haven't eaten a thing and forgot to grab my water cup. Hope that traffic is light.

11:35AM: Arrive at office and make sure everything is ready for student. Check on computer files, talk with owner, verify certificate is ready, check my email, talk with salesperson who scheduled this class.

Noon: Student arrives. Spend next 3 hours helping her learn new features of Excel and refreshing things she knew before but hasn't done in a while. Session goes very well and student is happy.

3:05PM: Student leaves. I clean room, delete files, make sure all is neat. Talk briefly with staff and head out door. Call sitter and hear that everyone did just fine.

3:10PM: Hit traffic. Lots of traffic. Looks like a big accident ahead.

3:55PM: Am finally about 2 miles from sitter. Realize I have no cash to pay her. Stop at store to get cash.

4PM: Arrive and pick up kids. L actually napped and is still asleep (I had no idea how this would work, since she's never napped anyplace but at home. Apparently, she had no problem at all!) Talk briefly with sitter, but she has piano student coming at any moment so whisk kids out of there.

4:05PM: Stop at grocery store and pick up some fresh chicken nuggets and deli mac and cheese for dinner.

4:45PM: Arrive home. Send kids out back to care for dog. Heat up dinner and set table.

5:15PM: Kids come in, wash up, and sit down to eat. I read chapter from Redwall.

5:45PM: We all go back outside and I push L in the swing. She loves loves loves to swing.

6:15PM: DH arrives home. Chat with him briefly. Go into office to work on a writing assignment.

7PM: Send oldest to the bath. Give youngest a bath. Feel grateful we have 2 tubs. Put pjs on youngest and hope to nurse her to sleep.

7:30PM: Put L to bed, encourage N to bathe, work on another writing assignment.

8PM: L wakes up and cries and cries. DH gets her up. I clean the kitchen. Tuck boys into bed. Read email and a few blogs.

9PM: Sit with DH and watch a tv show. Nurse L again.

9:30PM: Put L back to bed.

10PM: Go out to hot tub with DH and relax.

10:30PM: Write this post, read a few more blogs. Wrap presents for C's birthday tomorrow.

11PM: Into bed!

Milk and Sugar Scrub

When I have some free time, I like to use this simple Milk and Sugar Scrub that I posted about over at Prevention. In fact, I need to *make* some free time to indulge in this.

Posted using ShareThis

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

simple syrup

For years I've read about simple syrup, but only in the last couple months have I bothered to make it. I don't know what took me so long! I gave up soda a few months ago, and while I drank a lot of iced tea before, I drink even more now. I don't like it unsweetened, unless it's an herbal tea. DH doesn't like herbal teas, so I tend to make it plain most of the time.

Simple syrup is simply an equal measure of sugar and water, heated until the sugar is dissolved. I pour it into a glass mason jar and store it in the refrigerator. When I have a glass of tea, I dip out a spoonful and add it to my glass. I like the flavor that it imparts to tea better than granulated sugar alone and I know now the secret to some of the sweet teas that I love at certain restaurants! I used to think it was the tea they used, but now I know it's the simple syrup.

One tip, though -- don't let the sugar and water sit on the burner and boil for 20 minutes or so because you leave the kitchen and forget it's on the stove. Then, it becomes crystallized and isn't useful at all. (Why, yes, I do know that for a fact! LOL)
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Design by Linda of Berries and Cream Blog Design