Friday, February 27, 2009

A Craft for all Seasons

Abigail brought this home from preschool today:

Various shades of green... hearts... "hop into my heart".

Valentines day? St. Patricks Day? Easter? All of the above? None of the above?

What the heck??

Food Friday: 3 Month Supply Progress

My plan for my 3 month supply is working really well. I am past the frustrated stage, and well into the gathering and stocking up stage.

I feel like I have a very clear, very workable plan. I have figured out the foods I want to store, and a way to keep track of it all (using the FIFO shelves, and doing inventory every 3 months for now, eventually moving to every 6 months).

I did my first inventory this past week. I printed off my list, walked around to where my food is stored, checked off the things I have, pulled anything that is close to expiring (to be used quickly) and put the new list in my purse. Now anytime I am at the store, I grab one item from the list, even if it is only $0.50 or $1.

I am also working to put a price next to each item. I am writing down a normal sale price, so if something is full price, I probably won't buy it. If it is on sale, I can buy it, and if it is significantly cheaper than a normal sale price, I can stock up extra. Now that I have my list, it is easier to think of things like prices.

I do have my list separated into 3 categories- grocery items (things I would buy from the grocery or warehouse store), basics (things I can buy cheap at the home storage center and also these items overlap with my 1 year of basic items), and dehydrated items (things primarily for storage, rather than frequent use, like dehydrated eggs, etc.). My plan is to work on getting the grocery items first, get the basics as I can, and then when I have those two in place I can work on the dehydrated items, since I think they are the lowest priority.

So, after my inventory, I have: (drumroll.....) 50% of my grocery items! Woo-hoo! I am 1/2 way there! And actually, I consider myself to be more than half way, because the hard part was figuring out what to store, and that part is done.

I have 10% of my basics (that should increase next week- I have an appointment to visit the home storage center again, and I am going to stock up some of my basics), and 0% of my dehydrated items.

Also, I am working to expand my 'recipe box' of different foods and recipes that I can make using the items in my food storage. Eventually I will print them off and keep hard copies somewhere. Right now they are all on the internet, so if the internet is down, I will be in trouble! :) But, hey, one step at a time, right??

How are you all doing with your food storage? Any progress? Any ideas or tips or hints or recipes to share?

P.S. My freezer meal supply is dwindling. Oops. I have been using them way more than replenishing them! Why is it that I can't do EVERYTHING??? I make progress in one area and slip in another! Oh well.... I am human, after all....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A second chance

I finished the flags from my previous giveaway! They were SO fun to make! Kayleen, Rebecca, and Mary Kate, you will be getting them very soon!
And, since I had so much fun making them, and since I signed up on 2 other blogs to win something, I am going to do another one! And also, I am a little self-centered, and the comments have been a little slack this past week. Probably because I was out of town, but still.
OK, so, here is the game: I will make 10 (TEN!) more hand crafted items (probably something small and quilted). All you have to do is leave a comment with your favorite holiday or season (the item you get will be based around whatever you say, so I guess it doesn't have to be your favorite- just whatever holiday or season you would like a decoration for). And also, bringing in the self-centeredness, you also have to say one of your favorite posts from my blog.
This will be fun (at least for me!). I am going to disqualify Kayleen, Mary Kate and Rebecca, since they won the last one, but you guys can feel free to comment anyway! ;)
Edited to add: I will pick 10 names from those who leave comments! You can still win even if you aren't in the first 10.

Monday, February 23, 2009

First Day Post Vay-Cay

Also known as: A fine welcome home.

Also: Blogging is great therapy.

Our first day home from Puerto Rico was a doozie. I was about to blow steam out of my ears, when I thought 'hmm... this would make a great blog post". So then I had a much better, humorous attitude about all the craziness!

  • First, one of the things I had bought Abigail for the trip entertainment was a tiny pocket-sized doll. It had 2 different homes- a lipstick case, and a necklace. On the way out there, I gave her the doll and the lipstick case. She loved it! Carried it around every day, etc. So for the airplane ride home, I had given her the necklace, sure that it would keep her happy for a while. I also made sure to put the little doll in the carry on bag so she could play with it. Or at least, I thought I did. I searched, and searched, and searched, but could not find that doll. So then I just spent the whole time on the plane promising that as soon as we walked in the door to home, I would find her the doll. So we came home, and immediately ripped open every.single.suitcase, and tore every.single.thing out of each one looking for the doll. Guess where I found it?? Yep, the last bag- the carry on that I couldn't find it in. Ugh. So we started the day with stuff EVERYWHERE. All ripped apart and huge piles of mess.

  • Second, we left the warm, sunny, beautiful island and came home to cold and rain. Yuck.

  • The kids made up for having no toys for 5 days by immediately dumping out every toy bin we had, then kicking and scattering them all over the house, so that everywhere I walked I was stepping on toy parts. Ouch.

  • As I was clearing things off the counter, I realized that I forgot to stick the phone bill in the mail before we left, and they cut off the phone. Actually, that turned out to be kind of nice, so I didn't bother mailing it for a few more days.

  • The kids were CRAZY. Completely off schedule, and Abigail and Aidan are both sick. And we all know what happens when Abigail gets sick.

  • It was my turn to drive a carpool to the preschool. When I arrived at the grocery store on the way home, I realized that the little girl had forgotton her lunch, so I had to drive it back.

  • Because we left for our trip on Friday, Abigail had missed the Valentines Day party. I was actually kind of glad, because I don't like them to have all that sugar and juice and cupcakes anyway, and I knew she would come home with a bunch of candy that they would all fight over. But don't worry- they saved it for her. And Jack and Aidan fought her over it all day long.

  • I tried to turn the day around by going for a walk when the rain stopped. Guess what- 1/2 way through the rain started back up.

  • I gave the boys a snack of graham crackers. They figured it would be fun to smash them all over the floor with their monster trucks.

  • After finally putting away all the piles of stuff, and going through each bag again, I realized I lost my wallet somewhere on the plane. Nice.
The bright side? I made an awesome dinner- Roasted chicken, cooked carrots, mashed potatos... Yum!!

Traveling with Kids

I forgot one story from my Puerto Rico posts. When we left the rainforest, we bought each of the kids a small toy from a souvenir shop. Jack and Aidan chose recorders, and Abigail chose a coconut purse. When we got back in the car, Jack especially was examining his in great detail. After spending a few minutes checking the whole thing out, he says "Mommy, dis made in China or Innia (India)"? He was pretty happy when we figured it was actually made in PR.

Pretty funny!

I know that Puerto Rico would have been easier and in some ways funner and better without bringing the kids. We would have seen more, slept more, and ate more. But, really, who needs to eat and sleep? ;) I was so glad to have them on the trip. In fact, it was the stipulation I gave when Kydon suggested that we go- I told him I would love to go to PR, but I didn't want to leave the kids.

We have had quite a few opportunities to have nights, weekends, and trips with just the two of us. (Thanks, family!) Before we had kids, we traveled all over the place, and had some great times. But now, with our kids, I just have this strong desire to include them with whatever we are doing. I hate leaving them! It took us so long to be a family, that I don't want to waste any of this time we have together. Even with the tantrums and difficulty and bother, I really wouldn't want it any other way. I love taking our kids along with us, and if we couldn't have brought them, I wouldn't have wanted to go.

There are only a few years of this life when our kids are with us. And the way our family turned out, those few years are condensed even a little more, because once they hit a certain age, they will all be gone (or at least not wanting to do things with us). I am trying my best to simply embrace the stage of life we are in and relish all that it brings- the good and the bad.

Photo Tag!

I was tagged by Katie.

1. Go to my documents/pictures.
2. Go to my 6th file folder.
3. Go to my 6th picture.
4. Blog about it.
5. Tag 6 people to do the same.

This is a picture of Abigail at my sister's wedding a couple of years ago.

And, just because they are so darn cute, I am putting this one in of all 3 of them.
Now I tag Melinda, Lisa, Mary Kate, Erika, Camille and Rebecca :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Puerto Rico, Part 3

We thought swimming at night would be a good idea- still warm from the day, a nice way to get the last bits of energy out. The only problem was that the ocean breeze kicked up significantly at night- and made any kind of swimming very, very cold. Finally, on Monday, we figured out to go in the morning. We went to the beach that was attached to our hotel, then over to the pool. It was great! The water was still pretty cold, but the kids didn't seem to mind (despite having to get out once in a while to warm up).

I got in a little with the kids- just enough to get wet and cold. Kydon preferred to find (or make) a shady spot and just enjoy the view.

Then we headed out to see the rainforest. It was so beautiful- just thick and lush and green! It is one of the few rainforests in the world that is expanding instead of shrinking.

Our one and only family shot. In front of a big waterfall in the rainforest.

The kids loved having their binoculars and finding lizards. And leaves, flowers, rocks, all the things that you might expect them to enjoy!

On the way out of the rainforest, we stopped at the visitors center. They had a bunch of interactive displays, which the kids didn't care about at all, and a snack center, which the kids cared about A LOT.

Then, as we were leaving, we saw a walking stick bug on this sign! This bug has always fascinated me- I have wanted to see one since I was a young kid, but figured I never would- so rare and hard to find/see. I was just as excited as the kids to actually see and touch one!

They thought it was so great, squealing and laughing and jumping up and down every time it moved!

As we were leaving the visitors center, we saw a trail to the side, and decided to walk a little on it just so we could say we went hiking in the rainforest. We only made it about 5 minutes before turning around, but it was fun.

Have you ever wondered how to put a 5 year old into a sling?

Step 1: start low

Step 2: wiggle your way into it

Step 3: Enjoy! She likes it a lot more than I do! ;) But it is nice for a few minutes before my back starts breaking and her feet fall asleep from lack of circulation.

I had all these good ideas of things to put emergency information on the kids- cool temporary tattoos, make a little beaded necklace with our cell phone number, a metal clip you can order... but of course I didn't get any of them in time. So at the airport, we were tagging our luggage, and I thought "Hey- we are cheap and tacky! Let's tag the kids too!" So we did.

And just because it was SO beautiful...

I loved walking along this rock wall with the beautiful greenery and palm trees on one side, and the rocks and ocean on the other!

Monday night we returned home from the rainforest just in time for dinner. We weren't in the mood for Subway again, and we decided to try an Italian Restaurant we had seen several times- it advertised itself as a 'family restaurant', so we thought it would be a safe bet. We paid for parking, got everyone out of the car, and Aidan started screaming that he did *NOT* want to go to a restaurant- it bo-ing. I looked over, and Abigail and Jack were busy poking each other, and screaming about what the other one was doing. Kydon and I looked at each other, and we packed it up and headed back to the hotel.
By this time I was super hungry, and when we got to the room I ordered room service. Even though it was pretty expensive, I just wanted something hot and good, and I knew there wasn't a chance of going anywhere. Kydon decided to get something as well, so we ordered 2 $15 hamburgers.
You know those times when you plan and plan and it doesn't turn out? How about the times when all the plans fall apart, and what happens instead turns out better than anything you could have planned? This room service dinner turned out to be the *best* meal of our entire trip!

The kids were full from snacks and wiped out. We turned on the TV, and they just vegged. Kydon and I took our food (which turned out to be really yummy) out to the balcony, where we just happened to time it right to eat while watching the sunset. (Abigail took the above picture- she is getting pretty good!)

The kids ran in and out every few minutes, eating a fry or taking a drink, but for the most part we just sat, and ate, and had a nice conversation and a beautiful view! It was perfect!

Tuesday we just had a half day. We said good bye to our roomate/sister Kirsten, swam in the pool, then went to Old San Juan for a little more sightseeing and shopping.

Between eating Subway for most meals, and toting kids everywhere I went, it is no wonder I actually lost 2 lbs while here!

Wow- I am actually at the end of the trip! Woo-hoo! Stay tuned to hear about my horrible- no- good- very- bad- post vacation day!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Puerto Rico, part 2

Picking up where I left off....

I made the kids sit for a picture before we got on the elevator.

Sunday we started out pretty tired. Several days traveling, up late, and being busy all day were starting to take their toll. We decided to go to some of the things that were a little farther away, since the driving might be a good chance for the kids to rest/nap.

First, we (well, actually just Kydon) wanted to see a giant radio telescope they have in PR- the largest in the world. If you watch James Bond, there was some sort of big scene filmed in it. So we drove... and drove... and drove. Through some crazy winding roads that went right through some front yards. We got a lot of the 'local flavor'. :) And of course the kids decided they would rather fight and argue and bother each other instead of sleep. Until I pulled out the Leapsters, of course. :)

We *finally* get there, AND hike up 1/2 mile of stairs (carrying all the kids, of course), AND pay $6 each to check out the awesomeness.

Yep, that is one big satellite dish.

...and we're done.

Aidan at least looked at it. Abigail and Jack were too busy begging for ice cream from the abandoned ice cream cart. Well worth $30. Or not. Whatever.

But it was very close to another cool site- the Camuy Cave. The third largest cave in the world (at least, that is what they said... we took their word for it)! Now this was actually really cool. There were also two bonuses here at the Camuy Caves. One was that we got to ride Aidan's all time favorite ride- a tram. He made everyone laugh by excitedly telling them all about the trams at Disney World and how 'Dissey word hab trams ebbey-where"! This was his favorite part of all of Puerto Rico- the tram ride.

The other bonus was that we met Jack and Aidan's matching twin set. The people behind us in line had 5 year old twin boys. One was very round, with blonde, straight hair. The other was skinny and tiny with brown curly hair! The one that looked like Jack was wearing an orange shirt (Jack's favorite color), and the one that looked like Aidan was wearing a green shirt (Aidan always chooses blue or green). It was so hilarious!

My favorite part of Puerto Rico was this cave. It was so massive and beautiful.

Kydon took this great shot of the entrance to the cave. If you notice the line of people on the right, you can get a sense of the massiveness.

Aidan loves to lay in this position- anytime, anywhere!

Eating out was pretty difficult (of course). There was a Subway right next to our hotel, and we ate there quite a bit. Also we made a few grocery store runs, ate breakfast in our room, that sort of thing. So Sunday night we decided to meet up with all the others for dinner (remember we went to Puerto Rico as part of the pre-wedding celebration for Dane and Laura. They were both there, plus many of their friends, and Kydon's sister Kirsten). We knew we probably wouldn't see much of them, but we did want to do a little something with them. Our dinner started about 8pm, prime time for happy kids! Or not.

We paid $8 each for 3 small plates of spaghetti noodles with some sauce. And, after waiting for over an hour for it to arrive, we found out that Aidan was expecting some other kind of noodle, because when it finally came, he threw a *fit*! "NOT DAT KIND NOODLE"!!! After 2 or 3 trips outside, it finally subsided to "I want what I want". Boy, is that ever the truth! Aidan gets certain ideas set in his head, and there is no going back. In any way, shape or form. My favorite Aidan story from the trip is this moment- hanging out on the sidewalk in front of this restaurant, Aidan kicking the wall, and saying "I want what I want". It was hilarious. And after spending almost $100 on a dinner where we were in and out of the restaurant every few minutes and the food was just s0-so, we decided Subway was looking better and better. :)

Well, this is taking forever to get all written down. I will finish the rest in part 3... coming soon!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Food Friday: Is it Friday already???

Oy. The coming-back-from-vacation funk. Still trying to catch up, as well as deal with a whole list of other issues. Still trying to find time to finish posting about our trip. And I have a couple other things in the works as well.

So, for Food Friday, I will just tell you that I continue to work on my 3 month supply. I'm really happy with my list of things I want to store, and I am working on buying some of those items each and every time I go to the store. I will post more eventually... maybe one day next week, or maybe next Friday.

In the meantime, if you want to see pictures from our trip, even without the explanations (yet), head on over here:

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Puerto Rico Details!

Suffice it to say that we had a great time. Yes, we had 3 little kids who were tired most of the time, and there were things we weren't able to do... but we had an awesome trip! You know you love blogging when the whole time you are anywhere you are thinking of blog posts! :)

The first day we arrived in the afternoon. By the time we got our bags, got the rental car, checked in... there wasn't much time left. So we just walked a little. We saw some remains of a fort. I wanted a picture of each of the kids. Abigail and Jack weren't really happy about it, but they cooperated.

Aidan not so much.

I finally got one... sort of!

Then we found a really cool historic park. Most of the play structures were made of concrete. It looked really cool, and the kids LOVED having a place to run and play.

On the way back, we saw this balcony. Abigail got SO excited! "Look Mom- a REAL princess castle!" So we had to get a picture of her on top of it!

When we got tired of walking, we went back to the hotel. Our beautiful, wonderful hotel. We watched a little TV, and went to sleep.

Saturday we set out for the Old San Juan city. We toured an old fort. We had a great time running around, hiding in crevices, and pretending to 'shoot' the bad guys! It was great. But it was also hot, and tiring! The kids were pretty spent when we got through, so we decided to stop on the huge lawn (we found the one spot of shade), and draw for a little while. We were also watching all the people flying kites with the amazing ocean breeze. Jack in particular was fascinated by the kites. He found one that had been abandoned on the grass, and we had a great time flying it for a while. The kids were laughing and chasing it.

A funny coincidence- Kydon works with a man who is from Puerto Rico. He gave us lots of tips and hints, and it turned out that he happened to be visiting the same weekend that we went! So we met him and his wife for lunch. It was great- he directed us to some traditional Puerto Rican food that was really good, and he and his wife are so generous and amazingly nice! She told me several times what a good mom I was, and they both made comments about how well behaved the children are. (You know how nice that is to hear, but especially when you have been in a restaurant for an hour with tired kids who didn't really behave all that well!)

And then right next door was a cute little shop with a lot of figurines and different things... I thought they might have a nice nativity scene- which they did! But taking three restless kids into a place like that was pure insanity, especially when you are coming right out of a long, boring (for them) lunch.
So, I just pulled out the Leapsters!! They were SO great! Good for the airplane, and they were awesome every single time I pulled them out! We did have a few battery issues- we thought we would be smart and buy rechargable batteries. Too bad they didn't work with them! If we had figured out the battery situation a little better, it would have been pure bliss. As it was, it was 98% bliss! :)

Check it out- a five year old and 2 four year olds in a store full of small breakable things within their reach, and they are all sitting quietly and peacefully! Seriously, they were wonderful (the leapsters and the kids- both wonderful)! (Thanks, Katie!) We used them for car rides, airplane trips, boring times at the hotel, and restaurants. Yay!

We then walked over to a plaza. The kids got some ice cream, and fed some pigeons, and just ran around for a while. We had fun practicing our Spanish. I was having a great time teaching the kids how to say things in espanol. My favorite Abigail moment happened here at the plaza. She was running and playing, and a cute little girl came up to her and said something in Spanish. Abigail sort of looked at her, smiled, gave a half wave, and replied "Hola"! She just smiled like "I have no idea what you just said, but I can still be your friend, because I can talk to you!" It was so cute!

We made it back to the hotel, went for a little swim, and went to bed. The kids (and I) were up a lot through the night, so we started Sunday pretty tired. But that was to be expected, right?

Part 2 coming soon..... :)