Thursday, January 31, 2008

13 Cute Things About Josh

I totally forgot it was Thursday so I'm doing an easy one... 13 cute things about my youngest...11 month old Joshua.

1. Whenever you figure out what he wants, Joshua lets out the cutest little giggle. Here's a common example. After running around and playing, he'll come over to where I'm sitting on the couch and start whining. When I finally pay attention to him and ask him, "Do you want to nurse," he giggles. That's his version of "heck yeah!"

2. Joshua gives tons and tons of kisses. He understands the words, "Give mama a kiss," and has for quite a while. I know he does because he'll suddenly lunge forward and plant his lips on me. I had to teach him to be gentle with his kisses after I got a few fat lips from him.

3. Joshua tries to make kissy noises when he kisses you too. He doesn't quite get it right which makes it much cuter.

4. Joshua likes to give raspberries in the middle of a series of kisses. It goes like this: kiss, kiss, kiss, raspberry, kiss, raspberry, raspberry, kiss, kiss, kiss... They are quite slobbery too.

5. Everytime I change Josh's diaper, I lay him down on the changing table and hand him the new diaper. Without fail, he'll give me a sly, little grin and toss it over the edge.

6. Josh is growing into an animal lover like his sister. He just adores the cats way more than they adore him. (Isn't that always the case with babies and cats?) He does pet them very gently. He also allows the dogs to give him kisses...on the lips...yuck!

7. When Josh is very tired, sometimes he'll do the funniest thing. He crawls over to the bottom of the stairs and drapes himself on the bottom couple of stairs (pointing up) and whines, "Nigh-nigh-nigh-nigh." It's pretty obvious what he wants.

8. He has the cutest smile. See photo above. Don't you agree? The cool thing about being his mother is that I get to see that smile all the time because he is almost always happy.

9. He copies everything we do. You know how they say our babies watch and learn from us. Well, it is true. See this post about him dunking his cookie into my milk. He's only 11 months old!

10. He loves music. From a very early age (not that he isn't still young), he bops to the beat. Just this morning I caught him listening to this musical fish toy that he has.

First he pushed the button to start the music.

Then he put the fish to his ear to listen. He repeated this sequence over and over and over.

11. He thinks daddy is a bottle of lotion. Not really but every time I walk into Scott's office holding Josh he points to some stickers on a shelf where a bottle of lotion resides. For the longest time, we thought he was pointing to the lotion. Now we know he wants to point to Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, Eeyore, the butterfly, the cheetah, and the puppies over and over and over again. (The kids put the stickers there with Daddy's permission.)

12. He loves his big sister and big brother. He sometimes even reaches for Mika to hold him when I'm holding him. Can you believe that? There are times when he wants his sister more than his mother! He likes to beat up, torture, and terrorize his big brother who doesn't know what to do about it.

13. He's a pretty good listener. When he picks up something he's not suppose to have and I see it, I can tell him to "give it to Mommy," and he will. If he walks away from me towards a place he's not suppose to (like walking towards the pool at Mika's and Sammy's swim class today), I can call him back and he'll turn around and come back. Yes, I know I should cherish this because it will change soon.

As an added bonus, I'll list a few not-so-cute things about Josh.

1. He screeches when he's happy. It's ear-piecing.

2. He screeches when he's unhappy. Like when he doesn't want you to take something away from him. I have better luck asking him for it back than taking it.

3. He removes most of the DVD's and VHS tapes from the shelf multiple times a day. He's learning to take the DVDs and tapes out of the containers now

4. He tries to steal the dogs' food when they are eating. They don't like that about him. They have no problems stealing sharing his food.

5. He bites when he nurses.

6. He puts his foot in my face when he nurses.

7. Sometimes he pinches my arm when he nurses.

8. He loves water. He plays in the dogs' water bowl at least once a day making a mess on the floor and drenching his clothes.

9. He loves water. He has figured out how to get the water out of his sippy cup and likes to make puddles on the coffee table to play with. If he's too lazy to stand at the coffee table, he'll dump it all over himself or the carpet.

10. He thinks everything in the house belongs to him, including photo frames, glasses, remote controls, video game controllers, your food, your drink. You get the picture?

11. He likes removing tissue from the bathroom trash can and adding it to my bath or shower.

12. He thinks the toilet lid is something he is suppose to slam back and forth between the back of the toilet and my back when I'm using the toilet.

13. He can walk. That means he can reach a lot more stuff faster than before which keeps us on our toes. See #10.

Yellow Belt!

Here's a photo of my Sammy-Man being presented with his yellow belt in taekwondo earlier this evening. He was so excited. To earn this belt, he had to learn a 10-step hand/blocking form, an 8-step kicking form, and a 12-step form. Actually, he has been doing so well that they required him to learn a 20-step form in addition to the 12-step form. He is the only 6 year old that they have who learned the 20-step; it is usually only required of the older kids and adults. He's just awesome!

He really loves his taekwondo class. I think he practices every day, on his own, without being asked. He likes to be my instructor. He tells me things like, "Mommy, you are going to practice your 12-step two times and then I will teach you the 20-step." Then he critques me using the same words Instructor John (the man on the left) does. Instructor John says, "good" and "no good" a lot. He'll also tell me to snap it, use more power, or to sharpen it up. Did I tell you he loves his taekwondo class?

BTW, the other man standing in front of Sammy, is Master Park. He's the guy in charge.

While my son is charging along getting his yellow belt, Mommy is stuck on her second stripe on her white belt. I need two more stripes to test for yellow. I'm almost there.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

WFMW - Kids Closet Organizing

I just love Wednesdays because I now have a reason to finish clearing out the clutter in my house. Lately, I've been sharing the few organizational tips that have worked for me. By the time I'm done with this series of tips, you will think that I have a spotless house because that's all I'm showing you. Really, though, all around the nice area is clutter, clutter, and more clutter. You don't think I'd take a picture of the clutter around the organized part, do you? Of course not! That is why I love Wednesdays. The clutter surrounding the organized part is slowly receding. Hopefully, in time, I'll find tips that work for me all over the house and not just the current sections and then I can post those too. For now, I'll stick with what already works for me. Afterall, this isn't called "Doesn't Work for Me Wednesday."

Up today is my children's closet. We have a somewhat unique situation in that we have a large, walk-in closet in each bedroom. Each closet has tons of shelves so we've never needed dressers for the kids. While I realize not everyone will store their kids' clothes on shelves like we do, some may have a shelf or two on top that needs some ideas or you can adapt the idea to another area of the house. Perhaps you'll see this idea and love it so much that you are inspired to install shelving in your kids' closets and do away with dressers so that they have more room to play. Maybe. Probably not. Either way, I've learned (the hard way) not to assume that I'm the only person in the world that has a certain problem.

My previous problem was that my nice, neat, folded piles of clothes would topple over whenever one of my children tried to remove the item that they wanted. Of course, being children, they wouldn't properly remove the item to prevent the toppling over nor would they fix the pile after it did topple. So, I came up with an inexpensive solution thanks to Organizing Junkie: dollar store baskets!

I now use baskets from the dollar store to organize my children's clothes. Each basket holds something specific. This photo shows my daughter's side of the closet. It looks like a lot but it really isn't. Each basket only holds a few things. Her baskets (from left to right and top to bottom) hold the following: swim class stuff, gymastics class stuff, tank tops, t-shirts, non-denim shorts, denim shorts, capris, soft pants, pants, jeans, pjs, and old daddy t-shirts (used as pjs). As you can see from the list, we do not put away seasonal clothing. My son has eight baskets: swimming stuff, taekwondo stuff, sweatshirts, sweatpants, shorts (2) and pants (2).

We've had this set up for several months now and it has proven itself to work very well. My kids always know where to find certain items of clothes and they can put away their own laundry easily (they are 8 and 6). Best of all, no more messy, toppled-over piles of clothes.

Head over to Rocks in My Dryer for a ton tips from other participants or visit Organizing Junkie for some organizing ideas.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

So sad!

They promised 2-4 more inches of snow overnight. Sadly, they were wrong again. Instead we have above freezing temperatures, wind, and rain...melt all of the beautiful, glorious snow from yesterday.

We are so sad to see it go so soon but glad that we took the morning off to play in it while we had it. Since it is nearly February, I don't think it is likely we'll see any more.

Monday, January 28, 2008

It's Snowed!

They've been predicting snow here for a few days and it finally happened. We were starting to lose hope of seeing any snow at all this year but it finally happened. We woke up this morning to a couple of inches of snow on the ground. Knowing my kids wouldn't want to miss any of it, I woke them up. We immediately got dressed and headed outside (about 7am) without even stopping for breakfast.

Here's my older two posing in the snow. See? We really did get some snow...not just a tiny dusting like we usually get.

Today was the first time Josh has even seen snow. He didn't know what to think of it.

We headed down the street to our friends house to see if they could play before they headed off to school since it was delayed by 2 hours. They played for a while until they had to go off to school and then we headed across the street to our new homeschool friends and stayed there until 2pm. After a fun-filled day, we headed home for a late lunch and some school work.

And then this happened...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

It's NOT Chicken!

If you missed it, look at the title of this post. That is a common phrase in my house.

Anytime I cook something other than beef (which is most of the time), my daughter makes a comment about the "chicken." It might be a positive comment like, "I like this chicken!" It might be negative such as, "Do I have to eat the chicken?" Or it could be something neutral like, "Is there more chicken?" It doesn't matter that we are eating turkey or even pork. It's all chicken to her.

What's worse is that we often have to correct her mulitply times, reminding her that not everything we eat is chicken.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Just Like Mom

My Josh...he can't stand not being able to do everything we can do. So what does he do? He tries anyway. He saw me eating my favorite dessert...cookies and milk. He saw me dunk my cookies in the milk and what does he do? He just has to dunk his too.

And before you freak out that I'm feeding my 11 month old cookies and milk just know that he started grabbing our food off our plates at 4 months old, started insisting that he drink from our water bottles at the same time, and now eats everything, literally, that we do. He had his first bite of steak tonight, chewed, swallowed, and bugged me for more. He fed himself baked potato with a spoon (getting most of it in his mouth no less) tonight also. Visit my husband's blog to see photos of him using a spoon for the first time.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bye Bye Blockbuster

Blockbuster Online has increased my membership cost 95% over the past two months and provides poor customer service to go with the privilege of paying more. My experience below...

At first I loved it. I could get movies in the mail just like Netflix. Unlike Netflix, however, I could then take my movies back to the local store and exchange them for new movies to watch while I wait for my new mailers to come. It was a great idea and it worked for a while...

Then last November, just two short months ago, my plan changed. Blockbuster Online decided to change their pricing structure. They said that they sent out an email informing me of the change and they may have. However, they also send out many other emails that remind me of my in-store rental due dates, that ask me to rate a recently viewed movie, that inform me that they've received my mailers back, to inform me that they've mailed out new movies, and to advertise new releases and recommendations. When you consider that each mailer received back and each mailer mailed out is sent as a separate email (we had a 3 at a time membership), that A LOT of email. Easy for the important ones to get missed. Agree?

So, one day I go to take my mailers back to the store and rent some new releases that my kids were extremely excited to see. Upon surrendering my mailers with my membership card and my new choices, I'm informed that I have maxxed out on my in-store rentals. Huh? I have unlimited in-store rentals! I always have! Apparently, when I did not go online and update my account following the above email that I may have received, they updated it for me and chose a new limited plan. My kids were disappointed and I was unhappy. Fortunately, the in-store people are wonderful and they allowed my kids to have their rentals free of cost (on their store's dime) despite my limit being reached. I went home and called Blockbuster immediately and was told that they sent out an email...blah, blah, blah. They changed my account back to the unlimited plan that it was originally been set up as. But they didn't. My next trip back to the store resulted in me again being told I had reached my in-store rental limit. Another call to Blockbuster Online finally resulted in my account being returned to normal, albeit at a higher cost (from $19.57 increased to $27.19). I went on my merry way, somewhat disgruntled about the inconvenience and the 39% increase.

Then today happens. I visit my bank's online banking website and see that Blockbuster Online has taken the monthly fee out of my account as expected. What wasn't expected was the amount. There's nothing at Blockbuster Online's website that helps me figure out why the wrong amount was removed from my account nor do they have a phone number to contact them. They only provide an online form. So, I called my local store because I know that they have a phone number since they gave it to me back in November. I called the number and was informed that they had a pricing structure change. Again?! My response? I said something along the lines of, "This is ridiculous. You increased the fees two months ago and now you're doing it again? My cost is nearly double what it was two months ago." Their response? "We sent you an email about it." That doesn't work for me...see the above paragraph. I KNOW I did not see an email about the increase. I canceled my account. They tried to interest me in a lesser plan (fewer movies out at a time or limited in store rentals) but I wasn't interested in doing business with Blockbuster anymore. They canceled my plan. I hung up.

Then I remembered something. The money for the coming month was just taken out of my account today and I canceled today. I need to make sure I get a refund because 1) I want one, 2) I won't be using Blockbuster in the coming month, and 3) I don't trust that I'll be able to continue using the plan in the coming month after November's fiasco. I called back and was informed that they do not offer membership refunds. I ask to talk to the supervisor but she can't transfer me until she has my account information. I give it and get put on hold. A supervisor finally comes on the line and tells me she can't issue me a refund but she can reinstate my account so I can use it. I'll just have to cancel it before the next billing date. Folks, I know my memory is faulty so I do not want this. Plus, I'm done with Blockbuster and don't want to do business with them again. Really! So, she offers to reinstate my account and extend it another month for free. Again, I have the same answer. I do not want my account reinstated. I want my money back. She says over and over she can't do it. I ask for her boss but apparently she is the highest up. I doubt that. She's just the highest up they'll allow me to talk to. I threaten to inform every person I know, plus every person I know online (I am a blogger after all), and contact the BBB. She tells me she'll issue me the refund and that it will show on my bank account in 3-5 business days. Just to be sure, I called my bank to see what my options were for disputing the charge on their end.

Here's the cost increase breakdown.
October 25, 2007 - paid $19.57
November 25, 2007 - paid $27.19...a 39% increase
January 25, 2008 - paid $38.07...a 40% increase from November and a 95% increase overall

Do you want to do business with a company that increases your rates 95% over the course of two months with nothing more than an email (hidden amongst the dozens of other emails they sent you) for notice? I don't.

Kids Say the Strangest Things

Last month, we took our children to see The Sound of Music at a local playhouse. My daughter LOVED it. Despite it being 3 hours long and not ending until 11pm, she was wide awake and enthralled. When I told her that there was a movie as well, she asked to see it. I bought it for her because I've been wanting a copy of it for a long time anyway. She watched it right away. Again, she sat through the whole thing. I figured she'd probably lose interest in it soon enough. I was wrong.

My 8 year old daughter is watching The Sound of Music as I type. I told her I was surprised she was watching it. She said, "Well, I did say if I don't watch it right now I'm going to blow up!" How's that for drama queen?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

13 Reasons I Want to Move

We have lived in this house for 9 years. There are many reasons we want to move: we've outgrown this house and need more space, we want to own a place with a backyard larger than a matchbook, we want more snow rather than snowless cold weather, we are tired of 9 months of rain every year, and we want to live in a house on a quieter street where the kids can safely play outside. But there are other, more frustrating things about living here that makes us want to move...

1. There's gang activity in the area. Two weeks after we moved in, we found ourselves calling 911 when we witnessed two young men beating up a third young man in the middle of the street in the middle of the night. Turned out one of the houses across the street on my block was a known gang house. The two were angry that the third was in their girl's place even though she invited him in...or something like that. Thank goodness they were evicted when the house was sold to a new owner. At another time, I witnessed a drive-by shooting one block away. Fortunately, they didn't hit anything or anyone.

2. Someone stole our stroller off of the porch. We were barely eeking by on a small single income with a new mortgage, and a new baby. That stroller was a gift from my dad and it meant a lot to us at the time. We could not afford to replace it. Fortunately, my brilliant husband suggested I call around the local children's resale shops. One of them had just bought it. We were able to positively identify it over the phone so we were able to recover it without cost. Despite having the resale stores records, the police refused to act until we contacted a city counselman. Even then all they did was "investigate" and refused to do anything to the thief who claimed he found our stroller in the park. They said that they could not prove he was the person who stole it. Isn't it illegal to possess or sell stolen property?

3. Someone broke into our car. While our car was parked in our driveway, someone decided to break into it. They broke the window to get into it. They stole the entire center console with the stereo, my husband's few tools and his suade jacket. Again, we could not afford to replace what was lost. We fixed the window and gaping hole in the dash on credit. My dad replaced my husband's tools. The jacket...well, he went without and has actually never gotten another suade jacket. The police agreed to take a report over the phone.

4. Someone broke into our neighbor's house. The woman of the house was in Vietnam caring for a sick relative at the time and the man of the house was at work. The thief obviously knew their schedule because he hit their house at exactly the right time.

5. Someone put a slingshot pellet through our car window. I hope they had fun. Us? We had to replace the driver's side window.

6. Someone broke into another neighbor's garage. I don't remember what they took but I remember that they busted the side door (the people entrance). I was so angery when he told me. He is a sweet old man in his 80s.

7. A drunk driver hit our car and ran. The driver hit our car so hard that they moved it from the street where it was parked against the curb to my neighbor's front yard even though it had the parking break set. The car was totalled costing our insurance thousands of dollars and us our $500 deductible. We had to contact the city counsel again. Despite having car remains positively identifying the color and type of car that hit ours and an eye witness, nothing was done other than to take a report.

8. Someone broken into our car. This time they managed to get in without breaking anything but they stole all of the CDs he had in it...a visor-type CD full of Christian music. They also left behind their cigarette butt. Nice.

9. Someone stole mail off of our front porch. Did you know that priority mail will pick up at your house? They do...if the package you left for them is still there and hasn't been stolen before they arrive. Fortunately, the package, destined for an ebay buyer, was only worth about $10. Ever since, we tell every company mailing packages to us to instruct the delivery company to not leave the package on the porch and require signature confirmation. They never do.

10. We had a meth lab across the street. We came home one night to lots of activity across the street. Our neighbor came over to inform us what was up. Apparently, the house behind her was a meth lab and the police cracked down on it. Clean up was in process when we arrived home. I was a bit freaked when I realized that I had returned their dog to them...knocking on their open door to do so. They also had a kid living there.

11. Our neighbor's purse was snatched. Someone pushed our 60ish year old neighbor to the ground and stole her purse as she was waiting for the bus half a block from our house. Her purse had everything in it including her license with her address and keys to her house. She was badly shaken by the experience. The police took a report and suggested my neighbor not carry a purse when walking or riding the bus.

12. A drunk driver hit our new (to us) van and ran. The police wouldn't even take a report this time until I contacted city counsel...again. (We LOVE this city counselman.) Two days later a witness knocked on my door and told me this story... After hitting my car, she hit another car and got stuck for a minute. At this point, the witness tried to take her keys away from her. She got her car moving and continued on her merry way until she hit a third car. They told me the make, model, and license plate of her car. I got into my broken car (still drivable with $3000 of damage) and drove to the third car. I knocked on their door to give them the information I had just received and he told me this story....Her car refused to move after she hit his car but she was spinning tires trying to get away. They were able to call the police and get her. He told me she was taken to jail but the police report indicates that she wasn't arrested. She had two kids in the car with her as well. This just happened in November and we have not been able to recover our $300 deductible. I don't know if my insurance company has been successful in recovering their $3000. I have to give them a call and follow up.

13. Someone stole my hubcaps. I left to take my toddler to the doctor this morning to discover my hubcaps missing. The only reason I had those hubcaps is #12. The collision repair company couldn't match my existing hubcaps so they had to replace all four. Fortunately, the hubcaps will only cost me $35.89 but do I really want to replace them so they go missing again next month?

Meet Zach and Sybil...
They are quite protective of us. They bark when ever someone walks on our property...even if it just someone walking along the sidewalk. They greet everyone who comes to the door. They'll attack anyone who tries to hurt a member of the family....they've nipped at us if we aren't careful in play-sparring in their presence. At least I know we'll probably be protected if anyone decides to try to enter our home.

There are houses for sale nearby. Wanna be my neighbor?

Visit other Thirteeners here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Yes I'm Awake

Yes, it is 1:00 in the morning. Yes, I'm awake. Yes, I'm tired. Yes, I want to be asleep.

But it seems that Sammy isn't fairing as well with this cold as Josh is. You see, Josh got sick with a runny nose and cough a few days ago. The cough lasted about a day and a half and never got worse than a minor irritation. His nose is still a little runny with occasional, "Oh my! Get tissue quick!" moments. Sammy, on the other hand, is coughing and coughing and coughing. It's keeping him and me awake. So, I got up and asked him if he wanted cough medicine. He did. Then I found out that I do not have any children's cough medicine. Oh well. Gave him a little less than 1/2 a dose of Nyquil cough. That should do it. I'm sure he'll be out soon.

He missed swimming and gymnastics today. He skipped swimming because I didn't think the water would be a good idea. He skipped gymnastics because I didn't want him running around with a cough. You know how running always sends you into fits when you have a cough. I hope he'll be better by tomorrow evening so he can do his favorite...taekwondo.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

WFMW - Toy Storage

It's time for another Works for Me Wednesday. I think this is my favorite blogging day because I get to browse through everyone's Works for Me Wednesday tips and glean some great ideas to implement in my own home. Check out this week's tips over at Rocks in My Dryer.

Last week, I posted about how we store our large collection of stuffed animals. Someone asked me if I had a tip for the millions and trillions of action figures in their house. Well, yes...yes I do. Here it is...

I've seen these bins at Fred Meyer, Target, Walmart and other stores like that. To my knowledge, they come in primary colors, white/clear, and pink/purple. They aren't expensive. I've seen the white/clear ones as low as $9.99 but they are usually about $15-$20 each. The colored ones usually cost a bit more. They come with caster wheels but I prefer to use them without wheels in this situation; the drawers stay put better.

What I have done is sort out the toys into natural categories and placed each category into a drawer. For example, some of our drawers are sorted by balls, cars, action figures, Legos, Barbie, My Little Pony, Polly Pocket. etc. Some of these categories are too large for a drawer so I've further broken those down into subcategories such as Barbie and Barbie assessories.

Each drawer is labeled making it easy to remember what is in each drawer. There are two benefits to this; the kids can find all the pieces to a collection without having to dig into the bottom of a toy box and they can put their toys away quickly and easily. I have also found that guests can easily help put away toys after a play date as well because it is easy to find where everything goes. If someone doesn't know where something goes, my kids can simply say that it goes in the yellow one on the left or that red one there. I have found that since I've implemented this storage system, it is easier for my children and their friends to pick up after playing. If needed, each drawer can also pull all the way out which makes taking just a few toys to another room for playing easy.

Now, I'm not saying that their room stays clean all the time. We generally try to make picking up their room part of the nightly routine. Over time, though, it does tend to get messier and drawers get stuffed full of things that don't belong. I've found that once every few months, I need to take a day to help my kids sort through their things. We declutter and reorganize when needed. Overall, though, I find that this system works well for us and has lasted us for several years.

If you don't like plastic bins, try doing the same thing with the wooden cubicles that use fabric bins instead. They look very nice.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Menu Plan Monday ~ January 21, 2008

Last week didn't go as planned at all. My week was way too busy and things got pushed around and a few just didn't happen at all. I started off well; the Apple Dijon Pork Roast on Monday was delicious. My husband and I enjoyed it and my kids liked the pork without the sauce. Tuesday is our busy day and I was crazy to think I was going to pull off homemade lasagna. I pushed it to Wednesday and we had the Turkey Meatloaf instead. My kids didn't like it because it had green things (bell peppers) in it. I thought it was good and wouldn't mind eating it again. Wednesday didn't end up working for the lasagna either so I pushed it to Saturday, the birthday celebration day. Thursday we had the Chicken with Mushroom Sauce. I liked it. My husband thought it was missing something. My kids ate the chicken without the mushrooms. Friday I ended up grabbing tortellini and Alfredo sauce on the way home from taekwondo class because I forgot to get the slow cooker started. Saturday didn't work for the lasagna...again...because of a full day decorating and putting on my daughter's birthday party. My dad bought us KFC instead which is one of my daughter's favorites. Finally, today we had the lasagna and boy was it good. I follow the basic idea of a recipe on the pasta box only I double the cheese. WE LOVE CHEESE.

This week is easy. My husband is going out of town for four days so it's me and the kids and no Weight Watchers points. I'm just wanting to relax after over a month of stress and craziness.

Monday: Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches that I didn't make last week with oven fries.
Tuesday: Leftover Lasagna and a salad
Wednesday: Pancakes and Eggs
Thursday: Lasagna Rolls
Friday: Homemade Popcorn Chicken and Mashed Potatoes
Saturday: Steak (we have a couple of filet Mignon my dad bought us...yum!) and Baked Potatoes
Sunday: Jeannie-O Butter Herb Turkey Tenderloin with Wild Rice, a veggie, and salad

I cool thing about this menu is that I don't have to buy a single grocery item this week. I have literally everything we need already.

The lasagna rolls are simply a creation I made up using leftover lasagna ingredients that wouldn't fit in the pan. I took a cooked lasagna noodle and laid it flat. I placed about a tablespoon of ricotta cheese mixture (ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, parsley, egg, salt mixed for the lasagna) on the noodle and spread it out. Then I sprinkled some mozzarella over the top of that...about a 1/4 cup each, maybe less...then I sprinkled a little Parmesan on top of that. Then I rolled them up and placed them in a pan seam side down. After I made them all, I ladled some spaghetti sauce on top of each and sprinkled some more mozzarella on top for garnish. Then I put the pan in the freezer for a later date...which ended up being just a few days from now. I'll let you know how they came out.

See more menus at Organizing Junkie.


Every year, I go through two extremely busy seasons. One of them falls during August and September The other comes in December and January.

The end of summer is chocked full of fun activities, preparing to start another year of homeschool, and getting into the swing of our new school schedule. We continue attending free concerts and movies in the park, finish up the library's summer reading program which ends in a free trip to the zoo, pack for and go camping in Oregon, and attend the Puyallup Fair. I also have a 4 day retreat each September for which I pack and transport the supplies. It makes for an expensive and exhausting but fun time of the year.

Just as we are finally getting into the swing of things and I feel as life has become peaceful in our routine, December arrives. There's the usual Christmas activities: the shopping, the baking, the wrapping, and the decorating. To this I must also prepare for a birthday as my son was born just one week after Christmas on New Year's Eve. So, I'm shopping and wrapping birthday presents too. Then there's the birthday party to plan and prepare for in the midst of packing up Christmas. The new year doesn't bring a break, though, as I have yet another birthday just two weeks after that. Finally, amongst the midst of the post birthday party mess, I can sit back and breathe a sigh of relief. I can rest....just as soon as the house is picked up again, the trash thrown away, the new toys find homes, the dishes are done, and the laundry is caught up.

Do you feel tired yet?

Here's my daughter's birthday cake from yesterday. She loved it. She also has four new stuffed animals to add to her zoo.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fighting Fear

My first two children very rarely got sick. I figured it was the breastmilk that did it. Josh, on the other hand, seems to be making up for it by being sick for all three of them. I'm starting to feel like my breastmilk soured or became defective or something because I can't keep him healthy for more than a few days.

First there was RSV. One evening, when Josh was 2 1/2 weeks old, he and I developed cold symptoms. I wasn't worried about it because my older son, Sammy, had just gotten over a mild cold so I figured we picked it up from him. I'd just nurse Josh and he'd be fine like my other kids always were and because I'd have antibodies to share. The next morning we went to church like normal (he wasn't going to the nursery). When we came home, I noticed he felt warm as I was carrying him in. He hadn't been warm at all at church. I took his temperature and found it to be moderately high. I checked my hospital paperwork and found it was over the limit listed. I called the doctor and was told to take him to the ER. Off we went.

At the ER I found out it was crucial for them to determine the cause of the fever because of his age. They had to do a full workup: urine, blood, nasal secretions, and spinal tap. The spinal tap was torture.

Not long later, I received the first bit of bad news; he had a kidney infection and would require a minimum two day stay so that they could administer IV antibiotics. I called my husband and we arranged for my children to spend a couple days with a family friend so that he could join us. We told his job he wouldn't be coming in; we didn't care if he lost his job over it either. They started the IV in ER while we waited for a room to be readied for us.

Then we received the next bit of bad news; he also had RSV. I was instantly scared; I knew about RSV. We were told that he'd now require at least a four day stay. I called my dad to see if he could get time off work to come care for my other children as my friend could only keep them three days. He could.

We spent 8 days in the hospital with our baby. He was obviously suffering and many times there was nothing we could do to ease his discomfort. We listened as monitors sounded alarms when his blood oxygen level dropped too low. We watched as respiratory specialists came in regularly to thread tubing up his nose to suction out the thick mucus that was keeping him from getting the vital oxygen he needed. We never left him, not for a minute, without one of us in the room with him. Every time a nurse or specialist walked in the room, we stood and joined them at his bedside, day or night. By the third day, he could no longer breathe well enough to nurse at all, not even a little, and he went 18 hours without eating anything at all. He cried for two hours, in pain and hungry, while we stood by helplessly and cried too. He lost a full pound, ten percent of his body weight, in just a few days. Finally, he passed the hump and started to get better. But he wasn't getting all the way better and they couldn't get him weaned off the oxygen. He was able to nurse again but I was in such a state of fatigue and stress, that I broke down. I was in a state of depression (a state I know well and was afraid to revisit) and couldn't bare to hold him let alone nurse him. My husband sent me home to shower and see my other kids and, hopefully, come back better able to cope again. I called my best friend and my dad fixed me some food. I showered, hugged my kids, and drove back to the hospital with enough energy to make it one more day. Finally, after eight days, he came home. It took several days after that for him to recover fully.

That was last March. He had a few colds after that. Then somewhere around September he developed an ear infection. Antibiotics didn't clear it so he had another round of antibiotices, only this time a stronger one. Immediately after that, we discovered that he had a bladder infection again. He was placed, once again, on antibiotics. The goal: to get rid of it before it developed into a kidney infection requiring IV treatment in the hospital. Two weeks later, we went back in for a recheck. I knew it wouldn't be gone because the medicine was bitter and he wouldn't swallow it. Antibiotic number four was started. It didn't work. Antibiotic number five was prescribed. This one made him throw up several times; probably more psychosymatic from having to take so much medicine. We went back for a recheck and I told the doctor, "Enough!" I requested some time to try to treat it naturally and started him on cranberry supplements. It's been 12 days and he hasn't developed a fever. We go back Thursday for a recheck (and another catheter...poor guy) to see if the cranberry did the trick. I'm praying it did because I'm worried about what these medicines are doing to him and the consequences of not being able to get rid of it.

In the meantime, he's sick again. He has a runny nose. It's clear and doesn't run all the time. When it does, though, you better be quick. He started coughing last night. It was worse today. A few times the coughing made him throw up. Mostly he's acting okay...still playing, still smiling, still have, no fever. However, during my last visit I asked my doctor about RSV season (I'm still paranoid about him getting it again). RSV season hasn't started yet here; however, whooping cough is going around. And he's coughing....

I can't help feeling afraid.

Having a baby in the hospital changes you. I never used to be this paranoid about my children being sick. We use to keep playdates even if our friends were sick. Now, I won't take Josh to church because I see runny noses in the nursery. Every runny nose is potentially RSV, potentially a stay at the hospital, potentially a life-ending event.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Win a Hamilton Beach Mixer

A Cowboy’s Wife is having a contest on her food blog! You can win a Hamilton Beach® Stand Mixer and she’ll ship anywhere so everyone is eligible!

The Prize:

The winner will receive a brand new Hamilton Beach 4.5-qt. Eclectrics Stand Mixer, Pineapple Yellow!!

About the mixer:
From Hamilton Beach’s “Eclectrics” line, this all-metal stand mixer comes with a host of accessories - a Flat Beater for cakes and cookies, a Dough Hook for bread and a Wire Whisk for whipped cream or pudding. The 4.5-qt. stainless steel bowl comes with a Pouring Shield that helps prevent splattering while in operation. The pouring shield has a built-in chute for adding ingredients. Powered by 400 watts, the stand mixer has a two-way mixing action to ensure all ingredients are incorporated into the mix. The quick-release, tilt-up head assists when removing the bowl. 9 x 14 x 14-in. When you’re ready for a kitchen re-do, don’t call in the carpenters! Instead, “counterscape” your kitchen with Hamilton Beach’s retro-designed, affordably priced electrics in happy, sun-saturated colors. Their “Eclectrics” line includes updates to those classic appliances from the 1950s. All of their “Eclectrics” are available in six colors: Apple Green, Moroccan Red, Pineapple Yellow, Intrigue Blue, Sugar White and Licorice Black.

Lack of Boundaries

Did I mention that my cat loves attention to a fault?

See what he does? I had to get my daughter to snap a photo before I kicked him off. It's not the greatest photo with me looking out the window at the mailman and my head missing and all...but you get the idea. My poor, poor child is sleeping on my lap in this photo. He's used to the laptop being propped up on him but the cat is another story. He just curls up where ever he wants without concerning himself on whether the space is already occupied.

13 Things about Gracie

Ok, this is just a silly Thursday Thirteen and will probably mean nothing to anybody but us. But that's ok because I want this blog to be fun.

We have this cat, Gracie. It is a strange cat in so many ways that coming up with 13 things to say about Gracie will be easy.

1. Gracie is a boy. Yes, I know Gracie is a girl's name but we got him as a young kitten and were told he was a she and we didn't bother to check ourselves. Then one day my husband and I were playing Yahtzee while sitting on the floor. Gracie walked in and around us and I happened to look over at him just as he was walking away from us. I was shocked to see boy parts hanging down. I grabbed his tail and lifted his hind-end up while telling my husband, "Look at this!" We decided that since he and we were used to his name by this point, we'd just keep it.

2. Gracie sneezes. The vet tried telling me that he had an upper respiratory infection that needed to be treated. We tried treating it several times but he never did stop sneezing. So, we have a cat that sneezes....often...when he is laying on top of you in bed. Yuck!

3. Gracie has dark gunk that comes out of his eyes. The vet tried telling us he needed treatment for this. Sound familiar? We tried treating it several times but it never clears up. So, he lives with brown gunk around his eyes. When it gets bad, I clean it. He hates it...the cleaning that is.

4. Gracie was sewn together. Or at least that's what he looks like. He is completely solid white with a few oddly placed exceptions. The top of his head, including his ears, appears to be sewn on using a brown and black striped fur. His tail also does not appear to be original as it is also brown and black striped. He also has a patch on his back that is vertical brown and black stripes. Oh, there's a strip of patchwork down one of his hind legs as well.

5. Gracie LOVES attention to a fault. Yep, he does. He follows me every where I go, even to the bathroom. He is known to jump on my lap while I'm using the toilet. He lays on my chest, at my head, or between my legs when I'm sleeping or nursing the baby. He lays on my lap between the laptop and my chest while I am typing...he's there now. He lays next to (or tries to lay on top of) the baby when he is nursing on the nursing pillow. HE WON'T LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

6. Gracie is determined to prove he has 9 lives. By our count he is on life number 5. The next several listings will explain why.

7. Gracie had at one point smelled like he had been dead for several days. Once Gracie came home smelling like he had already died. It was horrible, aweful, and disgusting! He had some sort of blisters all over his tongue. We didn't know what was wrong with him but he smelled so bad we did a horrible thing...we kicked him out of the house. We were sure he was going to die. He didn't. Somehow, he lived. 8 lives left.

8. Gracie has a crooked face. Once he came home obviously very hurt. We think he got hit by a car. All we know is that he healed but his face is crooked now. It's not that noticable but if you look at him closely, it looks rather odd. 7 l ives left.

9. Gracie knows how to fly. One morning our neighbor knocked on our door and asked me if that (pointing to a cat on top of a very tall telephone pole) was our cat. Yes, yes it was. I called my husband at work and we decided to leave him there and see if he comes down himself. About an hour later, he was still up there, panting, and obviously very distressed. I called the fire department and asked them if they really do rescue cats. They do. Does it cost us anything? Nope. Ok, can they come get my cat. Yep. When they arrived, they explained that cats normally jump when they get up there. I told them that was fine; at least he'd be down. Well, that's just what he did. In the process of trying to get down, he ripped out claws from all four legs. Can you guess what happened to him? He got better. 6 lives left.

10. Gracie was, at one point, on his death bed...again.
Gracie once was so ill we thought he was going to die. He crawled into a small space in the back of our closet and wouldn't move. We thought he went there to die. We made him a bed so he'd be comfortable and did our best to nurse him back to health. Do you think he died? Nope. 5 lives left.

11. Gracie loves just about anyone. See number 5. If you'll pet him, he'll love you.

12. Gracie sheds ALL year. And I mean ALL year. As fall turns into winter most cat owners are silently celebrating the end of shedding season. Not us. We have white fur in abundance 12 months a year.

13. He scratches the windows. When Gracie wants to be let in, he scratches the window with his claws. Think fingernails on a chalkboard. If you ignore him, he will persist. You'll never win that battle.

We jokingly try to give Gracie payment for a trade...or even for free just because. No one will take him. So we are stuck with this strange, shedding, sickly, half-dead cat. Just kidding. We actually do kind of like him despite everything.

Have fun viewing other Thursday Thirteen participants here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WFMW - Stuffed Animal Storage

My post on the awesome way that we store our stuffed animals has moved to my new blog. Read about our stuffed animal zoo at Homeschool Distractions.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Mika!

Happy Birthday Mika!

Today is my daughter's 8th birthday. She's growing up so fast. If you are so inclined, head over to her blog and wish her happy birthday. She'd love i!

Apple Dijon Pork & Steak Burritos

I've been participating in Menu Plan Monday hosted by Organizing Junkie to help me get organized with cooking dinner. I'm doing Weight Watchers and have found that if I don't preplan my meals, I don't lose weight. So, Menu Plan Monday is good for my weight loss efforts.

Because I'm doing Weight Watchers and because my typical cooking got me this way, I've been trying new recipes. Probably 5-6 meals each week are new to us until I get a list of things we like enough to keep. Each week, I'll update on how we liked the meals.

I got a request for a review on the Apple Dijon Pork Roast that was on my menu this week. We had it last night and it came out very well. My husband and I liked both the flavorful pork and the sweet and tangy sauce. My kids gave the meat a thumbs up without the sauce. I'll be making it again. I think I'll try browning the roast before putting it in the slow cooker to make it look nicer when it comes out though.

I also mentioned that the Steak Burritos from the week before were very good. I can't wait to have these again! Yum! I wanted to post a photo of that meal but I forgot so here it is. This whole plate full of food was 11 points.

Doesn't it look like it came from a restaurant? See you next Monday with another menu and more reviews.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Menu Plan Monday ~ January 14, 2008

I can't believe it! Last week I actually made every meal on my menu with one substitution; neither of the grocery stores I shop at had plain turkey tenderloin so I substituted a Jennie-O Lemon Herbed Tenderloin. They were on sale for half price too. It was very yummy and I'm glad I have another one in my freezer.

The steak burritoes were very simple to make with only a few ingredients and a crock pot. They were very good; I will be making them again soon.

The beef and beans ended up being too spicy for the kids so you ever make those, you may want to adjust the chili powder if you don't like spicy foods or have children.

Here's this week's menu. Weight Watchers points are in parenthesis and are based on the nutrition information provided with the recipe. I lost 3.8 pounds last week! Whoo hoo!

Monday (slow cooker): Apple Dijon Pork Roast (5) with 1/2 cup Stuffing (4) & 1 cup Green Beans (0) & Salad (1)

Tuesday: Lasagna with Homemade Garlic Bread & Salad (It's my daughter's birthday so I'm making her favorite food without regard for points. I'll be using my weekly points for this one.)

Wednesday: Terrific Turkey Meatloaf (5) with 1/2 cup Mashed Potatoes (3) and 1/2 cup Corn (1) & Salad (1)

Thursday (slow cooker): Barbeque Chicken Sandwiches (5) with 12 Oven Fries (3) & Salad (1)

Friday: Brown Rice Turkey Soup (5) with Sandwiches (7)

Saturday: Chicken Cutlets in Mushroom Sauce (3) with 1 cup Wild Rice (4) & 1/2 cup Peas (1)

Sunday: Leftover Buffet

Find more menu plans at Organizing Junkie.

Friday, January 11, 2008

PhotoHunt: Skinny

Today's theme for is skinny. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had just the photos...

This is my husband way back when. This was before we met and if I were to see this photo today without knowing it was him, I would never recognize him.

Updated to clarify my comments: My remarks about my husband's photo are not meant in a mean or derogatory in any way. He looks a LOT different in many ways. Even if he was still this skinny (he's not fat now...just not THIS skinny), I don't think he would look similar to this old photo.

And here's me a long time ago too. This photo was taken around 1993 when I was about 19. It was when I was at my lowest weight because I had just recently dropped out of college (yes, I'm a dropout) and left ROTC behind. ROTC was the reason I was thin. They thought I was 15 pounds overweight and required me to workout 5 days a week instead of the normally required 3 days per week. Despite all the exercise, I didn't drop a single pound but I did get smaller.

You'll find other people's photos pertaining to the theme of skinny if you follow the photohunt link above or click on the button at the top.