Wednesday, January 30, 2008
DH's income has been dwindling and we need a turnaround immediately in order to retain our home and allow me to continue staying home with our children. We've been praying and praying, and this novena to St. Joseph comes at a crucial moment.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Tear the paper off the crayons. The toughest part was getting the paper off the crayons. It seemed that it was glued on many of the crayons! Break the crayons into 2 or 3 pieces and put the pieces into a muffin tin. I would guess that we broke up 6-8 crayons for each muffin tin.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. When the crayons have been sorted, pop the tin into the oven.
Wait 10-20 minutes, until all the crayons are melted. We found that some of the crayons melted much slower than others -- which I'm guessing was because they were different brands. I'm not sure about the different melting temperatures of wax, but it appears there are definite differences!
When the crayons are melted, take the tin out of the oven and let cool on a cooling rack. This took about 2 1/2 hours. You can see the final product here! (ignore the rusty muffin tin, please -- it's an old one that I use for crafts.)
When the crayons were cool, I simply twisted the pan a little bit and they popped right out. The boys had fun coloring with their multi-colored disks when they were finally cool. They also found it very interesting how the different colors melded together in the oven.
Monday, January 28, 2008
The bins have been working out great! The boys' laundry is done on Tuesdays. I wash and dry the clothes, but they are responsible for putting the clothes away. We always had separate drawers, so it wasn't much of a change except for floor space in their rooms, and they can't leave the drawers hanging open!
I can also easily see how many clothes they have, and if anything is needed. They don't need more clothes than can fit into the bins!
I just read a tip on Parent Hacks this morning about storing sets of color-coordinated clothes in separate bins so that children can choose outfits that always match. My boys are pretty good about matching outfits, but this is a great idea for younger kids, and my storage solution could be easily adapted for that idea.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
If you enter, be sure to leave your email address. If you have a blogger account, check to see if your email address is part of the profile -- and if not, please leave your email. If you don't leave an email address, I can't contact you :( If you don't want to leave your email address in the comments, then shoot me an email (link over on the right.)
Thanks, and good luck!
I don't HAVE to go to the park to walk -- I can walk 2 times around our neighborhood to get 1.6 miles in. I CAN wait until after 9PM or so when DH is home so I can walk without the boys (i.e. quicker.) If I just call my sister, she WILL come and walk with me after work.
The truth is I didn't make the effort. I'm at a low point right now and struggling. With exercise (obviously), with mothering, with my faith, with just about everything. I need to make some changes, and I need to kick myself in the pants to make them happen.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
I'm happy to say that we've finally turned a corner. Almost a month ago I started a chart for both boys. If they stayed in their bed for 30 days after being tucked in (not counting bathroom needs or illness), they would earn something they coveted. (C chose a book, N chose a safari truck) A little over 2 weeks ago the motions were in place so that they no longer shared a bedroom.
In 3 days, C should receive his book. In a little over a week, N should receive his truck. (N had a bit of a backtrack and we had to start his chart over.) Bedtime is pretty much understood again -- when they are tucked in (after bath, books, drinks, snacks, and prayers) they stay in bed. C falls asleep within minutes, while N tends to stay awake much longer. The difference, however, is that he stays in his bed. When they shared a room, they would talk and play and keep each other awake. They spend plenty of time together during the day, we decided that nighttime togetherness was just too much.
This has made evenings much more pleasant. DH & I are able to watch adult shows without interruption. I am able to relax and get some much needed downtime after a day of caretaking.
Our mornings are much easier now. Schooling is going much better now! Temper tantrums, arguments and fighting have decreased dramatically (among all 3 of us!)
We also decided that N was through with wearing pull-ups at night in the last month. C had been motivated to move into underpants at night, but N just wasn't willing to give up the convenience. With C, we went through a process where he had to have a dry pull-up in the morning for 7 days, then could move into underpants. He was motivated and it happened. With N, we went cold turkey. He did have a few accidents, but he's been dry for a couple weeks now and has no desire to go back to pull-ups. He just needed a little push and I'm glad that DH gave it to him.
There was a part of me that wanted the boys to continue sharing a room. The reality right now is that it was hindering sleep for both of them and causing havoc throughout our day (and night!) DH & I are still trying to plan for a room for L, but are not in a hurry to move her out of our bedroom, so we have time for a plan.
We haven't moved all the toys back in the house. I'm going very slowly . . . and it is helping them keep what they do have neat. The new arrangement is helping N gain a bit of independence (for too long now he has refused to get dressed alone in his room - finally he is willing to do tasks in his room without me or C with him.)
There have been lots of changes in our household in the last month. But, they have made for a much more peaceful household! Letting go can make way for so much more!
Friday, January 25, 2008
I am SO glad that I did! L hasn't been nursing as often, but she still likes long nursing sessions. This afternoon, after the boys had lunch and were in their rooms playing, I curled up in bed with L and popped in this movie.
It's a movie about a mail order bride from Germany, arriving in a Minnesota farming community in the early 1920's. The movie is a bit slow, but it was relaxing and delightful. It is a romance, but a gentle romance -- not harsh or pathetic or intense like so many movies portray romance today. The actors did a wonderful job with their characters; and the actors included some of my favorites -- Alan Cumming, Alex Keaton, Ned Beatty.
My DH wouldn't have enjoyed it; it moved much too slow for him and there was a lot of unspoken communication and sparse dialogue. For me, though, it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon!
How many times per day do you usually laugh?
I don't think I could count! My kids are so amusing, my husband is funny, and I laugh easily! I can't imagine it's less than 30 times a day.
I have a pair of Ray-bans that look like this:
You win a free trip to anywhere on your continent, but you have to travel by train. Where do you go?
I would go to Quebec. There are SO many places I can imagine visiting, but I've wanted to visit Quebec for about 20 years and haven't had the chance.
Name one thing you consider a great quality about living in your town/city.
Day after day after day of SUNSHINE!
If the sky could be another color, what color do you think would look best?
I'm pretty partial to blue skies, but I think lavender would be interesting.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The site is easy to navigate, and it takes no time at all to create a fruit roll-up decorated with images and a message that you choose. C & N were excited about the idea, and quickly chose to decorate our fruit roll-ups with an image of a dragon and a t-rex, as well as the simple message of "Happy Valentine's Day!" The graphics on the site are cute, and appealed to the kids.
There were tons of images to choose from, and if you don't want to scroll through them all, it's possible to filter them down to categories - like hobbies or animals. Depending on the pattern you choose, you can put one or two images on each roll-up. You can even choose different colors for the images.
Then, you add your own message! Once again, there are different colors, and also different fonts to choose from. The font and size of letters you choose will determine how many letters your message can be. The site does a nice job of walking you through the steps required to personalize your treats.
You will receive a box of 30 fruit roll-ups about 3 weeks after placing your order. I think this will make a fun valentine for the boys to give out in their enrichment program, and would also make a fun birthday party favor. With so many different choices for personalization, this would make a fun gift for the kids (or even fun-loving adults) in your life!
The full nutritional information can be found on the website, and I was surprised to see that they are made mainly from pear juice concentrate. My sister is allergic to apples and citrus, so it was nice to see that this is an item that the boys can safely share with her.
The price per box of 30 is $29.99 (plus tax, if applicable, and shipping.) Order at www.myfruitrollups.com before February 2 using the code BEMINE to receive $10 off the regular price -- making it an even better deal!
Even better, win a box for FREE!! I have 3 boxes to give away for your very own personalization fun. Just leave a comment (or drop me an email) telling me about the sweetest Valentine message you ever received. The 3 best entries will each receive one box of personalized fruit roll-ups! To make sure you'll be able to place your order in time for Valentine's Day, the contest will close at midnight on January 28! (Offer valid for U.S. readers only.) Please leave your email address in your comment (if you don't have a blog/profile) so I can contact you.
I'll be sure to post a picture when ours arrive in a few weeks!
Monday, January 21, 2008
Camelot is one of my favorite musicals. I was lucky enough to see Robert Goulet as King Arthur while in college in the early 90's and I have the dvd and soundtrack from the early 60's when Goulet was Lancelot, Richard Burton was King Arthur and Julie Andrews was Guinevere. My love affair with Camelot probably began in high school when we read The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
Back to yesterday, though! My sister bravely agreed to watch all 3 kids, so we left around noon. We ended up getting to the theater with plenty of time to spare, so we walked around and found ASU's art museum open. We had never been, and it was a delightful way to spend 45 minutes. They had some interesting pieces in their normal collection, as well as a fascinating exhibit of turned wood bowls.
The play was well-done and enjoyable. Phillips did a very nice job of Arthur, and the other actors played their parts as expected. The orchestra did a fine job. None of the voices compare to Burton/Goulet/Andrews, however, but that may just be years of listening that caused that bias.
The play could have been awful, though, and it wouldn't have mattered! I was able to spend a few hours snuggled close to my darling without one fight to referee, or baby to feed, or question to answer. This was our first time without any children since well before L was born, so it was quite the treat!
After the play, we made a quick stop into Ted's (so funny to see a place from my childhood in Buffalo here in Arizona) and then sped home to find the boys playing Wii and my sister holding a sleeping L.
Everyone survived while we were gone. My sister told me that L had a couple crying jags, but also slept while we were gone.
I know this was a rare chance and I thoroughly savored it. While I love being the mom and caretaker of 3 children, I miss spending more time just with DH. This chance to connect and *be* with each other was priceless!
Sunday, January 20, 2008
For my first week of keeping track, I'm proud of my efforts.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
I took a deep breath and called DH's cell phone. It went to voice mail. I then sent him a text message. I checked the information for his calls (they are sent to him each morning) and remembered that he was supposed to go with another salesperson on both calls. I called his manager back and asked if he was still with CD. He told me that they had done an early call together, but had split up around noon (about 2 1/2 hours prior.) He again asked me to have DH call when I heard from him.
I started praying that he was alright.
My husband would NEVER miss a sales call. In the 12+ years I have known him, I know he sometimes runs late -- but he would NEVER miss a sales call. My heart started beating faster and I started running through various scenarios in my mind. Since I knew he safely left the first appointment, I began worrying that he had an accident on the way to his second. And, it must have been a terrible accident because he didn't call me. (DH calls me regularly - we talk on the phone multiple times a day while he is out & about. And, if he had been in an accident, he would have called me right away unless he was unconscious or worse.)
I began looking online to see if there were any serious accidents reported in the last couple hours. I began worrying that I didn't know the license plate number of his car. Thoughts began running through my mind of who to call for support and who to email and ask for prayers. I got back online and made sure our car insurance was paid up and current (it was!) I said another prayer for his safety.
At the 30 minute mark, I began thinking about calling the sheriff's office to check for accidents. I began worrying that his 2nd sales call were really crazy people that killed him and then called in their alibi, trying to say he never showed up. I went outside to see if maybe he drove home and had a heart attack in our driveway. (while that may seem a bit far-fetched, a previous boss of his was driving home from a golf game and suffered a fatal heart attack only a mile from his house, and he wasn't that much older than DH and had no prior heart trouble.) I started praying that I would be able to handle whatever was about to happen.
I began picking up the living room, anticipating the police officers who were bound to show up at my door. I kissed all my babies and prayed that we would all be okay.
About 50 minutes after the initial phone call, my phone rang again. I saw my husband's phone number on the caller id and worried that it was a paramedic using his phone. When I heard my husband's voice, I burst into tears.
He is fine. He WAS at his scheduled call. He met with the tenant; the owner never bothered to go in the house and didn't think he showed up (because they don't drive branded vehicles.) DH had left his phone in the car, and called as soon as he saw that I called.
I am grateful that he is safe. He is annoyed because he didn't make any sales today, and I had to be worried. The most irritating part of it all? He'll get a mark against his numbers this month because that woman called and said he wasn't there (even though he WAS!)
The best (and only important part) is that my husband is just FINE and coming home to his family in an hour or so.
You can enter once a day, from now until March 7, 2008. One winner per day will be announced on The View from January 28 through February 15, with a final winner announced on their website on March 21. Once you register, it's very easy to go back and enter the drawing each day.
We've been working with about a $150 budget to give each of the boys their own room. I have been daydreaming a bit thinking about what room I would spend $25,000 to renovate and think it would have to be my master bedroom -- unless I could put it towards our much-needed addition!
Take a moment and enter right now! If you win, I can't wait to see pictures of what you do with all that money!
Friday, January 18, 2008
It explains the crankiness! Now, if only I could remember where I put those teething tablets?
ETA: She has THREE teeth trying to break through on the top -- one has just a sliver through, the other two are pushing against her gums. I did find the teething tablets, but she is miserable. poor thing :(
Back to the topic, however -- in addition to diapers, I found some great deals for things we need -- $3.24 sandals for each boy (N's sandals were thrown out a few months back, C has worn his out and they need to be thrown away), sandals for DH for $6.24 (I can finally throw away his beat up pair!), shoes for me for $5.74 (um, ok, maybe I didn't need these shoes very much - I really need a pair of loafer style and these were tie shoes, but I splurged.), pants for me for $6.24 (desperate need -- none of my pants fit anymore. I bought one pair a couple weeks ago, so now I have 2 pair!), and a couple of pieces of clothing for L in 9 month size for the spring. Target has great clearance items usually, but I really have to be careful not to buy things *just* because it's a great deal! It's only a great deal if we are truly in need of the item.
We got strapped into the van -- I looked in the rear view mirror -- and said "Who wants to go to the zoo?" Of course, the boys eagerly shouted that they wanted to go!
These are the times that I'm glad I am prepared -- so that I can be spontaneous! The stroller was loaded into the back of the car. Sun hats are always left in the car. My diaper bag was well-packed for L. We had no problem hopping on the highway and spending a few hours wandering around the zoo.
We all had a great afternoon and came home to find DH already home and doing some more work on the boys' bedrooms. My kitchen may not be clean, but I think we made a great memory today -- and that's what it's all about!
I received 2 games -- Let's Play Count & Cook and Let's Go to the Zoo Seek & Find Puzzle. They're both rated for ages 3+, and while I thought they might be a bit simple for my boys (ages 5 & 7), I planned to share them with friends who had preschoolers as well.
Before I go into detail, I want to share that everyone loved the games! I know that I will purchase these in the future to give as gifts to the preschool crowd!
One of my favorite things about the game and puzzle I received is that they encourage cooperative play. Everyone works together towards a common goal, and while it may be exciting to be the first one to finish -- it's not the only point of the game.
Count & Cook has adorable little chefs as playing pieces. The game includes a cookbook, and players move around the board gathering ingredients for different recipes. Everyone is working together to create one recipe and the player who finds the final ingredient can pull a tab and see a "special" window. The game is fast moving, and encourages simple counting around the board. My boys thought it was cute and it tied in well with a recent viewing of Ratatouille.
It was a bit simple for them, but I can see how it would be a great game for a preschooler. I also shared the game with a 4 year old, and she had a great time playing it. Her mom said she went home and talked about it for a couple days! (guess who will get my game the next time we see them?!)
My boys spent much more time with the Seek & Find Zoo puzzle. The puzzle has 24 pieces, which is a nice number for beginning puzzlers. My boys had it together in no time, and then began the real fun. The game comes with 30 cards and has players search for the items on the cards. For example, they might search for items starting with "C", or 3 tigers. When something is found, they use the included pen to circle it on the puzzle. I worried that the pen wouldn't come off easily, but the boys had no trouble using a dry tissue to wipe off their circles.
When a friend with a 2 1/2 year old stopped by recently, we pulled out the puzzle again. My boys had a great time helping him find the different items on the puzzle after they put it together, and did most of the circling. The cooperation in this game allows kids of varying ages to play it together successfully.
I liked that the games were simple, yet fun. I think that kids would learn while playing, but the most important thing would be that they were playing! As a parent, I would be willing to play the games and wouldn't dread being asked to get them out. In both games, pamphlets were included with more ways to play the games and activities to do in conjunction with the games. I think the games are a great addition to the preschool market and look forward to getting more when L is a little older.
Cranium has released their Bloom line exclusively in Target stores.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
My sister stopped by on her way home from work today, so we took the kids and walked the trail at a nearby park. The boys rode their scooters, and began complaining after the first lap - so we only did 2 laps today.
My short term goal is to walk 3 miles in 45 minutes. I'm not sure if I'll meet that goal by April if I try to walk with the boys all the time, but if I am able to get out without them a few times a week, I should be able to get there. I'll walk longer when they're not with me, and keep working on building speed.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
After church yesterday, we stopped at Home Depot and picked up some blue "oops" paint (returned paint that they sell for $5/gallon!) Once home, we emptied the playroom into the garage and cleaned the floor and DH painted it. Today, we moved his bed into his new room and began moving a few toys into the room.
We decided to get rid of both dressers. DH made the dressers (along with the boys' cribs) when they were born and I'm a little sad about getting rid of them. We decided to put shelves in the closets, and bins on the shelves for their clothes. This will help everything fit better - and the dressers are beat up a bit - so I know it's the right thing to do.
We're splitting up the shelves and bins that were all in the playroom into both rooms. I am going to SLOWLY move the toys back into the bedrooms, and hope to cull a good number of them in the process.
N is very excited about having his own room, and I hope this will address some behavior issues and other things we've been dealing with.
Unfortunately, I don't know where L will go yet. I had been thinking that the boys would continue sharing a room, we'd move the toys into their shared bedroom, and we'd move L into what had been the playroom. We have 3 computers in the office, and I don't know where we could put them. I don't like the idea of having a computer in our bedroom, but it feels like we'll have to do that. There is no room in the living room -- and we don't have a dining room.
DH has talked of closing in our back patio to make an office. The patio is off the kitchen, and leads into our backyard. This would be much less expensive than the addition we would like to complete some day; so it is more likely a possibility.
I have more I want to write about this -- but L is fussy and I've been trying to post this for 2 days now. I'll try to get back to it soon.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Me: Hey, look, they have this one on tape!
Me: Yep, do you want to get it? (the boys love to listen to books on tape - they have pretty much memorized the original Pooh, Trumpet of the Swan, and James Herriot's Dog Stories.)
N: Nope. I don't think they could do the voices nearly as good as Dad does them. I like to listen to the voices he makes while reading.
DH does do a great job of doing the voices in this series . . . which is good, because I don't care for the books at all! LOL!
A few nights ago, we're eating dinner.
C: So, of the three E.B. White books, which is your favorite, Mom?
Me: Hmmm, I think I'd choose Trumpet of the Swan.
C: Why is that?
Me: Well, I like Louis' spunk, and I like how he persevered and wouldn't give up.
C: My favorite is Charlotte's Web.
N: That's not MY favorite! I choose Trumpet of the Swan as well. Because there was music and lots of adventures.
Me: C, why do you choose Charlotte's Web?
C: Because it's about friendship.
Me: N, why didn't you choose Charlotte's Web?
N: Because Charlotte dies. And I don't like books where the characters I like have to die.
I find it interesting that none of us liked Stuart Little very much. It was such a bizarre book, but I know that it is considered a classic. I don't know why that book has received so many more accolades than Trumpet of the Swan?
Tonight, N is dawdling about getting ready for bed.
Me: N! You go and get your pajamas on and I'll try to guess which ones you're going to put on!
N: Okay! You guess! If you're right, I'll give you a kiss. If you're wrong, I'll give you a hug!
Me: Okay! Good deal!
(I guessed wrong, so I got a hug. LOL!)
It's a couple months late (he turned 7 mid-November), but there have been doctor changes, and maternity leaves, and illness in our own house that kept us from earlier appointments.
He is 47 lbs, and 48" tall. That puts him in the 25% for weight, and 50% for height. He has charted like that since birth, although his weight sometimes creeps closer to 50%.
His asthma is well controlled and we made only minor adjustments to his medication schedule.
His hearing is perfect. The enrichment program he attends is part of the public school system, and they recently sent home a letter that he needed further testing for his hearing. I'm guessing they caught him on an off-day, because there was no issue at all with his hearing today.
His eyesight is terrible. They actually did the test 4 different times, because they couldn't believe the results. I felt like a bad mom -- but I have KNOWN that we needed to get his eyes checked, but finances and his lack of complaining allowed me to put it off. I need to call around for the best deal and get it taken care of this week. My eyes have changed since L's birth, but I guess I'll squint for a few more months yet!
While there, I also put L on the scale. She weighed 15 lbs, 15 oz fully dressed - so she's at least over 15 lbs undressed these days!
Monday, January 07, 2008
The tree and decorations are taken down and stowed away for next year.
We attended Zoo Lights Saturday night -- which is a tradition we always try to do the weekend after New Year's, since that usually coincides with Epiphany and the end of the season.
The boys and I wrote all our thank you notes and I got them in the mail.
I finally mailed our holiday cards! (one advantage was that I could include our thank you notes with the cards, which had family pictures! It saved a little bit of postage. LOL)
We're ready to start back to schooling after a nice break, and head into a unit about deserts, among other things.
Yesterday we attended a free gem & mineral show at a local college. There were tons of vendors, and many were giving away free rocks to the kids. Each boy took $3 of their own money and came away with quite the haul! They either purchased or were given tons of fossils, pyrite, calcite, quartz, obsidian and more. It was very informative, and I think we'll do a unit on minerals after we finish deserts.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
February -- DH went on a cruise that he was awarded at work. He went with his best friend since I was too far along in my pregnancy to cruise.
March -- I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I lost weight following the diet, but wasn't able to get the sugars under control without medication. My blood pressure begins to creep up.
April -- My friend, D, threw me an amazing blessing/shower. We attended the annual Easter egg hunt in AJ. We attended the county fair. Our dog died, after a very brief illness. L was born on the 29th, after my blood pressure skyrocketed and I was put on bed rest.
May -- N turned 5. My mom and SIL came to help out. We attended the symphony.
June -- Boys attended summer camps at the Mesa Southwest Museum, the Phoenix Zoo and our parish.
July -- Nothing of particular note happened -- just life :)
August -- We all traveled to WI for my parent's family reunion. We were also able to take a side trip to the Dells, and visit many friends and family we hadn't seen in years. DH & I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. We baptized L and friends from Milwaukee came to visit. Fall ball started for the boys.
September -- We started our 2nd year homeschooling.
October -- My friend A came for a visit. We attended the symphony.
November -- C turned 7 and I turned 40! My parents came again for another visit.
December -- We took a drive to Flagstaff so the boys could experience snow for the first time.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Today, we headed to a different park where I knew they had a walking path that was 1/3 of a mile. I thought I'd shoot for 2/3 of a mile, but DH came along as well and encouraged me to complete one full mile. The path is a little hilly (but not much), and smooth. It's in a pretty park and circles around a small man-made lake. The boys had their scooters again and scooted back and forth -- probably riding a mile and half considering how often they looped back and rode on again.
Encouraged by Carmen, my exercise challenge to myself is to walk 4 or more times a week, working up to 3 miles in 45 minutes. (I'm embarrassed to say it took 40 minutes to walk 1 mile yesterday.) My target date is April 1 to complete this goal, and hopefully shed more weight as well. I lost weight while pregnant, and am down quite a bit from pre-pregnancy days -- but I haven't worked at it since L was born. In addition to exercising, I plan to pay attention to what I'm eating and choose the healthiest options. I'm expecting by summer to be down a few more sizes.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
This year I resolve to meet each day with specific intentions, and try to make many of my actions meaningful. This means shopping with a list and not wandering aimlessly around a store trying to decide what we need (and ending up buying too much!) The last few months I've been forced into this as finances have been very tight. While it's still tight, I can see the advantage of continuing this practice when money loosens up a little in a few months. By spending only with specific intention, we can also save with intention -- and be better stewards of what we've been blessed with.
The things in my home must have an intention -- and if it's just clutter, or something never used, it needs to move on somewhere else.
My day must start with intention! I go through years of carefully making lists and following them, and then periods of letting it all go. I definitely accomplish more when I'm making lists, and I need to get back to it.
And my day must be filled with sharing my intentions with the Lord. With his help, and the Blessed Mother's help, we'll get through these difficult days and rejoice together in the better days.
I realize I'm setting myself up for quite a bit right now - so I think I need to figure out smaller chunks to start with. I'm planning to continue with shopping lists in January, and get even better (I still have gone out without a list a few times) and also compiling daily to-do lists again. In February, I'll add another intention, and so on throughout the year!