Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Keeping the Relationship Fresh


If any of you need pointers on how to keep your relationship with your spouse new and exciting, you can check out my most recent post at Deep South Moms. Be sure to have a pen and paper ready to take notes- it is that good.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

How Does Grandma Help us?

In Primary this year, we are talking about families. Today we talked about what different members of your families do to help you. My kids were pretty uninterested in the whole topic. They were much more interested in kicking their neighbors, falling off their chairs, and trying to create their own excitement.

Until the question was asked "How does our Grandma help us"?

Then one child of mine got really excited. They put their hand in the air and pumped it up and down, bouncing and waving to get called on.

The leader called on this child. And got a little more than she bargained for:

"If you have a poop problem, Grandma will help you get cleaned up and then go get Mommy".

Can anyone guess what happened at my Mom's house the last time we were there?

Food Friday: How I got my 3 months of food storage

I am now somewhere around 95% for my 3 month storage. Wa-hoo! And after I go grocery shopping next week, I will be at 100%. Even bigger Wa-hoo.

I put this goal on my radar at the end of September. In just 6 months, I now have my 3 months of food supply in my pantry and basement. I will tell you how I did it, in case you are thinking of starting, or need a push to keep going on it.

The very first thing I did was simply decide that I was going to get it done! I have spent years and years saying 'I should do this', but this time I said "I am going to do this. Now." What a difference that made. At the same time, I set up a method of accountability. For me it was creating the 'food Friday' here on the blog. It could be anything you want- work with a friend, have someone ask you about your progress, make a chart to mark off your progress, whatever. But it was a lot easier to keep going with my goal knowing that there was some sort of accountability.





Next, I came up with a list of recipes that would store well. I used the form at Food Storage Made Easy. I also started immediately trying to find new recipes that I could include. My favorite recipe sites have been Safely Gathered In, and Fun foods on a budget. I have a sidebar on my food blog that links to many recipes that I have tried and liked. They are not all food storage friendly, but many of them are. Every single week I would search for and try new recipes that sounded good. Some were a success, some weren't, but I did find a lot of new recipes that I could work with.




Once I had my list of meal plans, I created a shopping list. I started buying a few things from the list, but I was also paying more attention to what I was normally buying at the grocery store, what kinds of things we ate a lot of, etc. I used this information to further tweak and adjust my shopping/storage list. I kept the shopping list in my purse at all times. The tweaking of the list took several weeks, and it still may need a little bit more adjustment, but I am pretty happy with it at this point.




Now that I had my meal plans and my shopping list, I just needed to start purchasing the food.


This part was a little difficult, mainly because we are aggressively paying off some debt, and I had to get a little creative to find the money to buy all these extra groceries. Here are some of the ways I came up with the money:

  • I cashed in all the change we had been storing in little cups all around the house, and used that money to buy some storage items.
  • By keeping the list in my purse, I was able to buy one or two extra things every time we went to the store. Little by little, it began to add up.
  • I bought cereal for Christmas, then quietly hid it in the basement before anyone caught on!
  • Because I was trying out so many food storage friendly recipes, we ate a lot more beans-and-rice meals, and a lot fewer meat meals. As a result, our grocery bill was a lot lower, and I could stock up on more of my storage items.
  • Anytime we got an unexpected check (reimbursed for something, a gift, etc), I would take some or all of that extra money and use it at the grocery store.
  • We decreased some of our other spending (like eating out or buying clothes), and increased our food spending.

There were probably a few other things I did, but the main point is that it was just something that I wanted to do, and was focused on. I was constantly looking for way to make it happen.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fashionista

My friend Christa was at a consignment sale recently. She found a Wizard of Oz t-shirt, and remembered that Abigail LOVES the Wizard of Oz (her favorite characters are the Wicked Witch and Dorothy). Anyway, she bought it and said 'oh, it might be good for sleeping in or playing or whatever'.

Well, yes. She sleeps in it, and plays in it. She also wears it to preschool and anywhere else we go. I have to bribe her to let me wash it. She luh-uves that t-shirt. Not only does it have every character, but the Witch and Dorothy are bigger than the rest. And that big ball in the middle? It has sparkles! She likes to rub it on her lips then ask me if she looks beautiful.

And don't you DARE wear the Wizard of Oz t-shirt without your ruby red slippers.


Even if they are a size too small and have been so worn that your toes poke through.




Thanks, Christa! Abigail adores her shirt! I, on the other hand, might try to hide it for a day or two.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Crafty Crazy

Have you been wondering where I have been this week?

Me too.

A combination of busy, busy, busy and lack of bloggy inspiration. I usually get post ideas once or twice a day. This week has been nada. I hope it comes back soon!

Spring seems to be our 'busy season' around here. The weekends get filled up, and the projects seem to mount. I am working my way through them, and enjoying them all, but it is a little crazy!

Now for the good news!

I have these done:

For the 5 of you who requested a 4th of July decoration! They are being sent out TODAY!

And I have the next two holiday/season projects ready to go... but I won't tell you what they are. I know, a lame attempt at suspense.

I am trying to finish these cuties before all the egg hunts start:
I saw some really cute felt Easter baskets in Sam's club and decided "I can do that myself"! They are turning out great- I will be sure to show you when I have them finished.


And thank goodness my mom agreed to take over this project:

Because I was having nightmares about sewing a dress for Abigail for the upcoming wedding! Literally I kept waking up from various bad dreams regarding this sucker. Amazing how instructions and strange shapes and non-cotton fabric can scare the willies out of me!

Now I just have 1 million other things to get done between now and mid-May!

Oh, and Food Friday will be posted sometime... not today... or tomorrow... maybe Sunday?? I know you are all on pins and needles. You live and die by my blog, I am sure. I will try not to keep you waiting too long!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Trying something new

I am trying something new... I am now officially a contributor to a public blog, Deep South Moms.

My first post is up today. Come on over and tell me what you would do with an extra room in your house, or what I should do with mine.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Food Friday: Almost there

I was going to take some pictures to go along with this post, but the camera battery is dead. Adding pictures might delay this post by at least 2 more days, and it is already Sunday for my Friday post.

So, just try to use your imaginations! Picture my chest freezer filled to the brim with food.

Picture my one, sad little shelf piled high with food.

Picture a big stack of boxes and cans underneath that shelf, and picture my FIFO shelves full of cans.

My 3 month storage is getting very, very close to being complete. Hooray! I think I am somewhere near 90%! I have started to wonder if it is actually enough food to feed us completely for 3 months, but I am going to wait until I am at 100% before re-evaluating my quantities. We do keep using it, but that is what we are supposed to do. My plan is to take time every 6 months (I'm picking conference weekend) to inventory and rotate my food. Then anything that is lacking I will replace.

Once my 3 month storage is complete, I will refocus to get my freezer meals back in line (they are almost non-existant now), and keep making progress on the 1 year supply of basics.

The 3 month storage has been by far the most difficult and frustrating part of this process, and it is a huge sense of accomplishment that my goal is within reach.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Baby Hunger

Today I got to babysit my cute little niece, Ellie. Between a sister in law who lives in the same neighborhood, and a grandma close by, I don't often get the chance.

Okay, so last time I was asked to babysit I totally forgot about it and went to the park with the kids and forgot to bring my cellphone, and came home to a message saying "Uh, Shanna? I am at your house.... where are you?" So maybe that is why I don't get asked, but whatever.

Anyway, Aidan especially loves his little cousin, and they were all excited to see her and play with her and see her crawl. I was excited to get some baby snuggles in.

When she first arrived, she was a little nervous, and slightly fussy, and probably freaked out to have Mommy gone and 3 wild animals cramming into her line of vision. So we put her in the stroller and went for a walk. My 3 were walking so wonderfully, talking to Ellie, taking turns helping to push the stroller, just being completely wonderful. It was bliss. (We don't often experience bliss when taking a walk). I was watching how much they all loved her, and how helpful they all were, and how cute she was, and my mind started to wander.....

It might not be too bad to have another baby around the house.... look how much help they all are! And how much they love her.... it might be kind of fun to have another little girl... hmm... look how easy this is.... 4 kids isn't that many.... hmmm.....

We got home, and I was still reveling in the blissfullness of the walk, and how cute they all were. Then Ellie started to cry. And I had to carry and hold her. And cry some more. And then I tried to send the kids out, and something happened involving seeing a red wasp (they are completely freaked out about them since I got stung- and no, we still haven't found the nest) and they called for me, but I didn't come, and that was the end of the world.

I tried to feed Ellie some finger food by putting the bowl in front of her. Which she spilled all over, and I thought "Duh! She is not even 1 yet! What are you thinking?" So I got out the vacuum and cleaned it up, while holding her, and pushing aside the other crying children. Then I tried to feed her some baby food. I remembered about putting bibs on babies about 10 seconds after it leaked out of her mouth all over her shirt. oops. Sorry, Lisa! I was thinking "Hello, I had THREE babies!! This was second nature to me! How could I make such a dumb, rookie mistake?"

Then I set her down for a second and she fell and bumped her head on our hardwood floors. Ouch. And I started thinking about teaching a baby all the things- lean over your bowl to eat. Don't spill. Walk. Get dressed. Use the potty. Baby clothes. Teething. Formula. Sleep schedules (or lack of sleep schedules, which is even worse). I think I have blocked it all out.

And all of a sudden, the baby hunger is gone. Poof. Vanished.

Kydon will be relieved.

And Lisa probably won't ask me to babysit again after she reads this. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Never Fear, the Leprechaun Was Here

After yesterday's disappointment, and bedtime resolve, we did awake to a visit from a leprechaun.

The sneaky bugger took the cushions off the couch, tipped over our chairs, opened all the cupboard doors, turned the toilet water green, and left our shutters swinging open.

I was pretty impressed with his ability to make a 'mess' where the cleanup mostly just meant that we had to shut some doors.

He also left silly string and rolos (they are the most gold-like thing a leprechaun can find on such short notice).
The silly string was a huge hit! They burned through it in 5 joy-filled minutes, and the kids were happy.

Then Abigail expressed her hope that he would come again tomorrow. Sorry, sweetie, once a year is enough.
I decided that kids like holidays a lot more than moms do!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Better late than never (I hope)


March 17th wasn't a big deal in our household. We wore some green shirts, dyed the pancakes green and called it good.

Then, Abigail came home from preschool. She hates talking about what she did at preschool, or telling me anything about it. Usually she says "I don't want to talk about it", or something similar.

But today, she was bursting with excitement. And chatter. CHATTER, people! About PRESCHOOL! It seems that while they were in music class, a leprechaun snuck into their classroom through a window. The little rascal ate some of the snacks, tipped over the chairs, made a bit of a mess, and left them a pot of gold (chocolate coins).

Leprechauns are sneaky. And tricky. And funnny. All of this was told to the 3 of us who don't go to preschool with wide eyes and great excitement and disbelief. And chattered about for hours. She was positively giddy.

The whole day, all three of my little lucky charms kept hoping and hoping that a leprechaun would visit our house. They kept going outside to play, then running in to check.

Boy, did I feel like a loser! Droping a few green drops in the milk for dinner just didn't cut it. They are hoping that since the day isn't technically *over*, that one will visit after they went to sleep.

And I'll be darned that if one doesn't come, I will hunt his rainbow down and drag him back here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Daddy and Daughter

This past week Abigail's preschool had "Daddy Day" where all the Dads came to preschool with the kids, they played games, did a project, read a book, and gave their Daddies a present.

Abigail made this sign about her Daddy.

My Daddy's name is... Kydon
His eye color is... Brown
His hair color is... Black
My Daddy weighs... 5 ... pounds
My Daddy is... 25 ...years old
His favorite food is... vegetables
For fun my Daddy likes to... Chase people
His job is... work on computers
My favorite thing to do with my Daddy is... Go to restaurants, especially CiCi's.
I love my Daddy because... He does fun things with me.
She always talks about his hair being black, not brown. We were a little mystified by the vegetables being his favorite food, but we figure maybe it is because we are always trying to sell vegetables to them-- "oh, broccoli is so delicious! It is my favorite! Do you want to try it?"
Kydon's special thing to do with the kids is take them to CiCi's pizza- they love it and Mommy usually stays at home and gets a little break. The kids all look forward to it so much! And Kydon doesn't really like to chase people, but Abigail loves to be chased- it was cute she put that in!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Food Friday: Who cares??

Ok, I am still totally obsessing over my food storage gathering, but I can't really write a whole post about 'yep, still gathering the 3 month stuff'.

So I'm not really feeling it!

I did go to the cannery. I stocked up on some things like 25 lb bags of flour and sugar. Then went to Sam's Club later that day and realized ALL of those items were cheaper at Sams. Granted, I only overpaid by about $12 total, but for some reason it really, really, really bugged me.

Ok, so there is my lame-o post. Do any of you want to do my post for me? Feel free to write books in the comment section!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Understanding Adoption

The other day we were driving in the car. I was taking Jack and Aidan to sign them up for preschool. I told them that I didn't want to- that I was hoping they would just stay small.

They informed me that they were growing bigger and bigger every day, and they were BIG BOYS, and were NOT small.

I then told them how sad I would be not to have any little kids in my house, because if they grew bigger, I would miss my little boys and will they just stay small pleeeeeeaaaaasssseeeee???

Jack then said 'Mommy, member dat lady? She grow another baby and give it to you and den you have a baby and we can get bigger.' I can only assume 'dat lady' is their birthmom! I guess they do understand how it works!!

And ever since my sister had her baby, Abigail has been adamant that she will NOT have any babies- it hurts too much! I asked her if she would be sad to be a grown up and not have any babies, and she responded "I will just have someone else have them for me".

She gets it too. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

As I was crawling into bed...

Have you ever crawled into bed at the end of a long tiring day, ready to relax, read for a few minutes and then fall blissfully to sleep?

Yes? Me too.

Have you ever pulled back the covers as you were leaning in to absorb your fluffy pillow, crisp sheets and fluffy blankets?

Yes? Me too.

Have you ever been startled as you were pulling back the blankets by a red wasp flying up and stinging you?

No? Well I have.
A quick google search discovered that red wasps have the largest nests and the most painful bites. Good. I hate doing things half-way.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I made it 3 whole hours

I turned off the computer last night. I promised myself I would *not* turn it on today until I had completed a good portion of my very long to-do list.

I turned the computer on at 10:00. I couldn't wait any longer.

I think I am addicted.

But I *did* complete most of my to-do list- vacuum and mop floors, clean all 3 bathrooms, change out the kitty litter, do the dishes, catch up on laundry, and file all the papers that have been gathering on my kitchen counters.

Just goes to show I can get a lot done with the proper motivation!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Food Friday: Already reaping the benefits

I was thinking about doing an update of my goals today, but I think that might be more frustrating than helpful. I need more water, I have less than 1/2 of my 3 month supply, almost no long term storage, and my freezer meals are getting close to being gone. Well, I guess I just updated my goals anyway.

I know I am making progress, and I know I will get there eventually, but it is pretty slow going overall.

But I decided instead to focus on the positives. So I'm going to talk about the benefits of having food on hand, even the small amount that I have managed to gather.

It is wonderful to know that I can cook a healthy dinner, even if I haven't been to the grocery store in a long time. I never have to 'run to the store' to get ingredients, because they are already on hand. I have felt the most amazing sense of peace of mind just having that food in my pantry and basement. It has taken me years and years to accept this counsel to have a supply of food in your home, but now that I have *finally* started getting my act together, it really has made my life easier.

Isn't that always the way? We are given things to do that seem to us like a lot of work and trouble, but if we just do them, we are blessed and find out that it helps us so much to follow that counsel.

There have been so many nights that I was out of food, didn't know what to cook for dinner, and I just glanced at my list of food-storage friendly list of recipes and picked something that I had all the ingredients for, then pulled dinner together. So much better (and cheaper) than running to the store or going out to eat like we might have done in the past.

New recipes this week:
  • Chicken Tetrazzini I didn't have evaporated milk, so I just used 2/3 c powdered milk and 3/4 c. water. I had leftover chicken in the freezer, but canned would have worked just as well. The kids thought it was macaroni and cheese, and ate it up as fast as they could. I think it would be easy to throw in some broccoli or peas or something, but it was good as-is.
  • Curried Lentils and Rice Kydon loves Indian food, and he was quite pleased with this one. I was pleased that it only took about 20 min start to finish.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Guilt works!

Time to pick some winners!!

My guilt trip totally worked- I am now up to 27 comments! Woo Hoo! I love me some comments! :)

So, I have to confess. I went to Random.org, and put in the numbers, and picked 10 winners. But then I looked at the list, and felt really bad for some of the people that didn't win! So I put them in again... and again!

Finally I just decided...

EVERYONE IS A WINNER!
That's right!! I just couldn't leave anyone out!
So.... Melinda, Lisa, Kelly, Merilee, Katie, Cindy, Kara, Cecilee, Kim, Amanda, Erika, Ali, Brenda, Mom, Amanda, Amy, Rachel, Momma to 1 looking for #2, Emily, Alisa, Sue, Wendy, Savannah, and Rheanna... You all win!!
But it may take me a little while to get them all out! And I need to find some cute fall projects- that was the favorite by far! But it will be so fun- projects with a purpose! Quilting makes me happy, and these will be small, easy, fun projects!
Send me your addresses!! And enjoy being a winner!
You can email me at momto3under2@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I once considered stealing a baby

My job in the local pediatric hospital was a great fit for me. I worked in what they called the "float pool". Basically they gave me training for each unit, and 2 hours before my shift, I would call to find out where I was going. They would use me to fill in for someone who called out sick, or if there was a unit that had too little staff, or too many patients, or the right number of everything but things were too busy anyway. I loved the float pool. I am somewhat anti-social, and it worked well for me to be in a different place each night. I joined thinking I would find a unit that I loved and would stay there, but I ended up just liking the float pool.

As a result of my here-one-night-gone-the-next job description, it wasn't very often that I took care of the same patient more than once. A few exceptions, of course, but they were few and far between. I liked it that way.

One patient I will never forget. I still know his name (but for purposes of confidentiality, I will just call him Baby). Our hospital has a huge Neonatal ICU. But not just *any* NICU, it is a Surgical NICU. Meaning that all the preemies in our NICU needed surgery or had just had sugery, or some diagnosis that would land them with us. They are sick, weak, and tiny babies.

I first took care of Baby in the NICU. It was the night before his surgery. I didn't do much with him, just figured out his machines, and the other usual NICU baby things. I don't remember much about that night. About a month later, I had him again. I noticed, because having the same patient was unusual, and especially having the same patient on different floors. He had gone through his surgery, graduated from the NICU, and was on a regular floor, continuing his recovery. His diagnosis was one that was pretty bad. One that was severely life threatening for a while, but once he got past the worst of it, he would be ok. But he would have life-long issues to deal with, his life would not be that easy. But it wouldn't be horrible. He would be able to live a mostly normal life. Just with a few extra issues.

When I went into Baby's hospital room that night, I told his mom that I had taken care of him before. Mom obviously needed someone to talk to, and me simply saying that I remembered him opened a floodgate.

I always tried to make myself available and non-judgemental when a patient or a parent needed to talk. It was part of what I did- a part of my job, why I was there in the first place. I know that stress and anxiety and no sleep can make people crazy. It can make them act crazy, and sometimes say crazy things. It wasn't the first time that someone said something that I didn't like or disagreed with. It wasn't the first time that I had to listen to something that I would rather not. But it was the first time I felt revulsion for a parent.

As I listened to the things this mother told me, my infertile heart just broke within me. She told me how she had not wanted to be pregnant. How much of a burden this child was. She was completely incensed that her doctor had not found out about Baby's problems in time for her to abort. (It was a condition that can sometimes, but not always, be diagnosed before birth). She gave me details about how she had hired an attorney and was suing her OB for wrongful birth. She told me that she didn't want him. She wished he had never been born. She also scoffed at her friend who had suggested she place him for adoption - he was her problem, she said. I knew she would never be unselfish enough to do something like that.

I wanted to tell her that she was lucky to have a baby- any baby. I wanted to tell her how desperate I felt sometimes to have a baby, any baby. I wanted to tell her that Holland can be beautiful. I wanted to tell her how very sick and wrong it was to sue a doctor because her baby had been born. But I didn't tell her any of those things. I simply listened, I let her get it all out, and then I left.

At this time in my life, I was in the throes of infertility. We had been to doctors, who diagnosed us with 'unexplanined infertility'. Meaning they can't find anything wrong, but we still can't get pregnant. I think we had been trying to conceive for about 4 years. We knew we weren't ready to pursue adoption or infertility treatments yet, but I so wanted a baby. The doctors we saw were fairly confident we would conceive on our own, and I clung to that. I wished and hoped and prayed each and every month that our miracle would happen. I scoured the hospital for babies that we might adopt (Kydon used to dread the phone ringing when I was at work- it was usually me, saying 'I found us a baby! It only has this and this and this! What do you think?). If it hadn't been so sad, it would have been funny.

A few weeks later I was again in the NICU. I was assigned to Baby, who had experienced some complications, had needed another surgery, and was back in the NICU for recovery. By the time I was there, he was well on his way to going home. He was eating from a bottle, and wanting to be held. I took care of him all through the night. One of the night shift jobs in our NICU was to bathe and change the linens of each baby. I relished this work. I loved picking out blankets, and clothes, and carefully making their nest, and then washing each and every little adorable part of those teeny babies. I loved drying them off, slathering them with lotion, and dressing them in the cutest clothes I could find. I loved getting them warm and comfy and watching them droop in exhaustion from the 10 minute ordeal.

As I did these things for Baby, I couldn't help but think of his mother. And all the things she had told me. I fed him his bottles, changed his diapers, gave his medicine, bath, and dressed him in an infant gown. Now let me tell you there is almost nothing in this world that is sweeter than a teeny baby in an infant gown. Especially one that is way too big and falling off the shoulders. Wrap them in a swaddle, and it could bring about world peace. I found myself not able to put him down. Miraculously, he was my only patient that night. I held him for almost the entire 12 hours I was there. I cuddled him, and fed him, and burped him. I watched his little mouth move as he slept. I readjusted his little baby cap so his head would be warm but it wouldn't bother his eyes.

Somewhere in the early morning, very quiet hours, I began to daydream (night dream?) about stealing him. He would have easily fit in my bag. I could swaddle him up, stick him in my bag and just walk right out.

His mother didn't even want him, for heaven's sake. And I did. I started to picture it. Moving to a new place. Pretending he was mine. Raising him. I started imagining what I would tell our family and friends. How I would explain it. What I would say to Kydon. I wanted that baby so badly.

I didn't do it, of course. I couldn't quite figure out all the details. He still needed medical devices and quite a bit of medication. I wasn't exactly sure how it would all work. I knew I would never actually do it.

Oh, but, I wanted to.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Preschool Games

We have found 2 fun games lately that are helping us learn some things.


First, from the wonderful and cute flipflops and applesauce blog, we found a fun number recognition game. My kids were more interested in finding the monkey than learning numbers, but hopefully it will help anyway!


Our other game is learning left and right. We drive around in the car, and they get to take turns choosing 'left, right, or straight'. My mom's neighborhood is perfect for this game- lots of winding, overlapping roads, big enough that we can go for a long time, and I know it well enough not to get lost! When I am in a hurry and can't spend an hour driving around, they take turns guessing which way I'm going to turn. And they are getting very good at knowing right from left!

Come on people! It is FREE!

I only have 13 comments on my Giveaway! I was hoping for at least 20!

Just leave a little comment.... you might win something cute!!

I know I have 37 subscribers.... and about 50 people a day check the blog.... so show me some comment love!

I am mailing out the previous giveaway today... and I am ready for my next project!

I will end the giveaway on Thursday, so that will give you plenty of time to *click* on over and comment!