Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Straight from the Toddler's Mouth

Baby Mo

The good news is his vocabulary is growing. The bad news is he's not so sweet and innocent anymore.

"I say a bad word and I was getting soap in my mouth and it was yucky. Mommy the soap was yucky, the soap was yucky. I spit it out of my mouth PBBBTT. That was in trouble. "

It was multiple words before his grammy got the soap out. He says he won't be saying those bad words again. Of course he also changed his story to say the soap was good after he told me how yucky it was.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Boomer's Life Lesson #1

When the kids make a mess, make yourself comfortable. You know it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Garden Planning

Container cucumbers, jalapeno, and green onions.
It's the end of March, our ground is finally thawing, and it is time to start preparing the garden for spring planting!

I didn't do a very good job prepping the garden this fall, so I have my work cut out for me. This weekend I plan on de-weeding the garden. So far we have daffodils and lillies coming up. The mum that died right after I planted it last year, is already growing again. The crocus are in full bloom, and some of the ground cover is looking nice already.

This year I plan to plant much of the same items, and hope to do a better job. Each year provides a lesson. Last year, I planted container cucumbers, and they did well, but I think they would do better in the garden. The 1 jalapeno plant that I planted in the container did excellent, while the 3 that were in the garden barely produced. So I will use the containers for jalapenos this year, and lots of them!

The container tomatoes I planted did terrible. They had blossom end rot, and nearly all of the tomatoes were composted in the garden. (they are in the brown planters on the steps) I think I may try lettuce or spinach in the containers this year. It will allow me to move them around to shadier and cooler spots as needed.

My garden tomatoes had mixed results. One variety was outstanding. The tomatoes were good sized, had excellent flavor and had a good yield. The variety was Oregon Spring. I suspect that it is meant for growing in cool springs, and it seemed to thrive while the roma tomatoes and early girls struggled. I plan to buy almost all Oregon Spring plants this year.

Yes, I know that buying plants may not be the most frugal way to start, but it is where I've had the most success. I buy them from the local nursery. Local as in, I can see the greenhouses from my garden. I like to buy them local, because I know that the plants they sell will do better in our climate. Also the employees are knowledgable on the plants, pests and weeds in our area, unlike in the big hardware stores or at Walmart. So I do pay a little more, but I feel the results are worth it. To help save money, I don't buy the huge plants, and I buy them a little early in the spring. I have always paid less than $1 a plant for the tomatoes and jalapenos.

I'm hoping to add some squash to the garden, and peas would be nice too. I'd also like to give corn another try. I have a nice place to plant it, but ensuring it gets enough water is the problem. The raspberries didn't make it, but if I keep up the water I think the corn would do well.

What garden plans do you have?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thanks Son!

Black eye courtesy of Mo. It happened on Sunday, and I'm pretty sure he didn't mean to hurt me. But he was in big "twouble" for running straight into me with his race cars.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Budget Friendly Dinners?

When I received my new issue of Everyday Food, I was excited to see that on the cover were budget friendly dinners. But I almost died when I continued reading, "under $10." What?! You mean the people at Everday Food think that $10 per dinner for a family of 4 is budget friendly? You have got to be kidding me!

To be fair, I suspect I could cook many of the meals they showed for well under $10. They also published other articles (egg dishes and 1 chicken, 3 meals) which I know could be made for much less. $10 per dinner would completely blow our food budget. I felt extravagant on Friday when I spent $20 on Papa Murphy's pizzas for the family. Then I realized that they fed all 4 of us for dinner Friday, lunch on Saturday, and I had the remaining slices for lunch on Sunday.

I'm learning the hardest part about our food budget is my cravings right now. They don't always fit into what food I have on hand, or my planned meal. Luckily in the past this has faded by the second trimester. I still vividly remember my first trimester with Kaia.

She was tiny once upon a time!
One Sunday, Dana asked what was for lunch. I told him I was thinking about it. We were still living in our little 2 bedroom duplex, and he was in the living room, which was on the otherside of the wall from the kitchen. I opened up the fridge and was reaching for the hamburger, when I heard, "And I'm not eating a hamburger!" Fair enough. I made him something else for lunch and I ate another burger. I was eating a lot of hamburger for a former vegetarian. It was what I ate for lunch and dinner just about every day.
Luckily I'm a bit more moderate this third time around. I'm keeping our meals varied. Sunday night we ate chili dogs and salad. Total cost: Less than $5 and there were plenty of leftovers. Another favorite quick and cheap meal is Hamburger Helper and salad. Now there is never any leftovers, but for $4 I can feed the whole family. I use just half a pound of hamburger, and buy the helper on sale to keep the cost low. There are also my old stand-by's like Easy Huevos Rancheros and SOS. Both inexpensive, and family favorites.
So what are your budget friendly dinners?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Day of Rest

Yesterday was a busy day! We loaded up the truck for a dump run. Of course we had to unload it at the dump. Then when we got home, we went across the street to pick up the wood Dana told the neighbor we would take. Then we stacked it up against the fence, so we are ready for camping. After that we reloaded the truck with all of the recycling. Then it was dinner and getting the kids to bed.

I'm a little sore, ok a lot sore, and very tired. I'm looking forward to resting today, although that rest has to include laundry and a quick trip to the library. One highlight yesterday was rocking out to Taylor Swift and Def Leppard together on Crossroads. Check it out! You won't be sorry. Dana found this last week, and we all love to listen to it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Start a Streak

One thing I have learned from SparkPeople.com that I have found extremely helpful is when you want to make a change in your life, don't start big, start small. Take that small thing and turn it into a streak. Do it every day. Pretty soon you can add more small things, and before you know it, they are all a regular part of your life and they move you toward and become that big change you wanted.

I started a streak in my housekeeping. I cleaned the house on Saturday. Clean enough that I would not be embarrassed if someone stopped by unexpectedly. In order to keep it up, I chose one thing that I needed to do each night. I chose my least favorite chore: Dishes. Every night I would empty the dishwasher and reload it. I would also make an effort to keep up on the pots and pans, by washing them when I was running the dishwasher.

I am happy to say I'm doing quite well. Right now there is my big pot, a colander and the pan from dinner all soaking in the sink, and the dinner dishes are in the dishwasher. I'll run the dishwasher tomorrow evening when it is full. I just do the dishes right after dinner. I'm exhausted, and really want to leave them til tomorrow, but I know tomorrow will be the same, so I do it. Having the dishes picked up inspires me to be more mindful of what's on the counter too. Our counter top and bar become the junk repository each week, and I'm hoping that it will be my next addition to the streak.

What would you like to change in your life that starting a streak might help?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Miracle

You may remember in December, when I posted about the Christmas Angel? I said it was arragont of humans to believe we can interfere with God's plans through the use of birth control. I just never thought I'd be proving it.

In February of 2007 I had a tubal ligation. It wasn't the easiest decision, but Dana and I both decided that we had our hands full, and that 2 wonderful kids was enough for us. Fast forward 2 years. So if my tubal ligation could interfere with God's plan, how did I see this on March 1st?

This is the egg sac, no baby can be seen yet.

Not only was I definitely pregnant, which we knew from the labwork I was having every few days, but it wasn't ectopic. (yes, I realize that the date on the machine is March 14, 1998. Apparently they don't use this machine much and don't care about the date.) This week I went in to verify that all was well, and I saw the heartbeat.
You probably don't see much. But the arrow is pointing to a light spot. That light spot was clearly beating on the ultrasound. This baby truly is the work of God! While it is still a bit frightening (as in we got rid of almost all of our baby stuff, and we already have a big stack of medical bills) we are also excited to welcome baby number 3 into the world in early November.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Frugality a Turn On?

Yesterday, I was describing to Dana all about my great buy at Target. Boxes of Quaker Granola Bars were on sale for $2 each. Then if you bought 5 boxes, you received a $5 gift card. Making them $1 a box or 10 cents a granola bar. I was so excited. These are a perfect treat for Dana when his blood sugar is low. They fit in my desk drawer nicely, and I can pull one out when I need a snack. The kids love them, of course.

Dana's reply to my great bargain was completely unexpected: Hearing about how you saved all that money makes me horny.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I learned some very disturbing news this weekend. Jen, the Dust Bunny Hostage, was hacked! I'd link to her blog, but it is shut off for now. I'm already having withdrawls from Jen's great sense of humor, and am still shocked at the "Why?"

Then there is the thought, "What if someone hacks my blog?" But, why hack a blog in the first place? I guess there are some people out there with no life of their own. Come on people, if you want a blog, start one they are free. No need to go hacking into one of the funniest blogs out there.

Jen, I hope your quest for a safer, more hack proof blog is short and successful!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Faux Twice Baked Potatoes

The other evening, I wanted to make twice baked potatoes for a side dish. I had everything needed, but when I pulled out my potatoes, they didn't look very nice anymore. The dish sounded so good though, so I improvised.

  • Potatoes
  • Sour Cream
  • Cooked Bacon
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
Peel and cut potatoes. Cook in boiling water until soft. Drain the water, and mash the potatoes. Add sour cream until the potatoes have more of a mashed potatoes consistency. Taste test to make sure you have enough for flavor. Then add crumbled bacon and shredded cheese (you can also add sliced olives). Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix together and heat on low to allow the cheese to melt and the flavors to blend.

These were quicker and easier than twice baked potatoes. They had all the flavor, and made good use of some less than pretty potatoes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Start Small

In my attempt to clean the house this weekend, I began to get frustrated. I'd pick up some things off the kitchen counter, walk into the other room to put them away, and end up picking up something in there to put away. The result was that things were getting done, but it didn't look like a dent had been made. That's when I decided to start small. I'd tackle the one room I knew I could have clean in a short time, and that accomplishment would give me some motivation as I moved on to the next room.

So I started in the upstairs bathroom. First was the counter top. I have too many haircare products, all of which I use, and all of which were sitting out on the counter. I had a nice wire basket to try to arrange things in, but it's slats on the bottom meant things would fall through and get caught up. Then there were the toothbrushes. There isn't enough room in the medicine cabinet for them, and so they end up poking out of the basket or just all over the place.

First thing I did, was get a tote bag. I remembered a friend of mine kept all of her hair stuff in a tote. So when it was time to do her hair, she just got the bag out. I rounded up the straightening iron, curling iron, blow dryer, rubber bands, smoothing serum, hair spray... I could go on, but you get the picture. I put them in a cute green tote bag (the zipper is broken, so it isn't a very good tote anymore) and stashed them under the counter.

Next, I evaluated the wire basket. I thought maybe if I put a cute towel or washcloth in the bottom it would work. That's when I remembered that I had a turquoise washcloth from Christmas 2007. I had purchased a few packages of them to wrap my homemade soap in. It would be just the thing. When I went to grab it, I looked at the great turquoise tote it was in (it had held a tea set I received for Christmas that year). I decided to ditch the basket, and put the soaps, dental floss, and other small things in it, with the washcloth in the bottom. I unwrapped the soap first and put it out for hand washing. Why not enjoy some of the soap ourselves? Also notice the nice faucet. My parents gave us their old faucet when their bathroom was remodeled. It is so much prettier than the old one we had.

Last was the pesky toothbrushes. I was thinking that a toothbrush holder would be nice, but they rarely hold kids toothbrushes, and I didn't want to buy one. So I thought maybe if I had a nice cup. That's when I remembered that after my grandma died, I received 3 of her coffee mugs. They held many memories, as she always had a cup of coffee with her. Unfortunately, within a few months at my house, 2 of the mugs handles had been broken off. (I'm guessing this was due to age, as all of our other mugs are fine.) And my favorite of those mugs just happened to be turquoise and green.

I'm happy to report that the bathroom has stayed clean for over 3 days, which is a record in this house. I love that it looks pretty, and was redone with things already in our home, so the only expense to the new look was the glass cleaner I bought to scrub the mirrors.

Instruction Manual

No matter how much we may wish, no one has written an instruction manual for kids. Oh sure, there are thousands of books out there about how to parent, but they aren't always right, they don't work for every child, and who can read them all to sort out the good advice?

Driving home with both kids in the car is often an adventure in itself. I never know what they will say or do. Last night started out just fine, they were playing with the "tangle" (bungee cord for those that don't speak Mo). They were laughing, except when Mo lost his end and Kaia had it, and having fun.

Something happened though, and Mo tried out one of his new phrases. "Oh D@mmit." Before I could scold him, Kaia who has reached the tattle-tell stage, was anxiously shouting at me. I must point out that there was no need to shout, as she's right behind me in her seat, but shout she did, "MOOOOM MO SAID A BAD WORD." I told her I knew, and told Mo not to say that. So Kaia, also being in the bossy stage told him, "Mo, you don't say that!"

Now what is a 2 year old to do with a bossy sister that won't stop? Repeat everything she says, of course. Mo looked at her, and seriously stated, "You don't say that sissy!" Kaia didn't like that, and tried telling him she hadn't said a bad word, he had.

"No, you don't say that sissy."
"Stop that Mo."
"Stop that sissy."
"Mom he's copying me."

At this time, I decided to give my most sage advice ever. "Kaia stop talking. He won't be able to copy you, if you aren't saying anything."

It didn't work, I'm pretty sure she rolled her eyes at me, but I was busy driving so I can't be sure. Soon Mo was bored with that game and onto something else. Kaia forgot about it as soon as she began arguing with me over going to visit our neighbors Grandpa Carl and Grandma Mikey. They already had guests over, and my answer was no. That argument continued into the house, where Dana reiterated my no. There was much whining and stomping from Kaia, and at that point I thought:

"Who needs an instruction manual? Just give me a mute button!"

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lazy Days

Not this weekend, although I wish it could be. No, there is plenty of housework to do, Sunday school to prepare for, and laundry. Lots of laundry. Our dryer is fixed with a price tag of $100. A zipper off one of the kids sweatshirts (I'm guessing since we found a tiny zipper piece) broke off, and destroyed the thermal fuse. The part was only $13, the rest was labor. But, the dryer is fixed!!!! And the price is far less than a new dryer.

That's just a part of the mess I'll be cleaning this weekend. Hope you get some rest!

Friday, March 6, 2009

In case you were wondering...

Many readers may remember a few months ago when I stated that I was applying for my concealed weapons permit. To some that may seem strange, but around here, it's called protection.

Just yesterday, I drove home down Tieton Drive, about a mile past 16th Avenue, a police car came flying by, back toward 16th Ave. I learned on the news this morning that a man was shot in the leg right outside the convenience store on the corner of 16th Ave and Tieton Drive. I was at the stoplight right next to that convenience store. This must have happened within a minute or two of me leaving that intersection.

Also last night, in a town just a short drive from here, a man was shot dead, and another wounded.

Both of these incidents are gang related. Both are fairly common occurrences around here. We don't live in a big city, but we rival them with our crime rate. The police and swat team often close off the streets just East of our office. And last month a gang fight, luckily one that didn't include weapons, happened to be on the sidewalk in front of our office, and up against our front door.

We live in a town that has some amazing things happening. The downtown is being renovated, there are numerous shows, art activities and we are in a prime location for skiing, hiking and camping. It really is a great place to live, but until the gang problem is dealt with my family, and many more that I know, will have protection just in case.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Breakfast Casserole

Last night we had this delicious casserole for dinner. It's easy to put together, and gives you a bit of time to put your feet up while it cooks. And did I mention it's fairly inexpensive?

First I fried some sliced potato and covered the bottom of the casserole dish. You could also use tater tots, or sliced leftover baked or boiled potatoes. Then I topped the potatoes with onion, green pepper, olives and crumbled bacon. You can use your favorite veggies and meat, just slice things thin so they are fully cooked.

Next I beat together 5 eggs with a little bit of water and about a tablespoon of potato flakes. The restaurants use the flakes to help give the eggs some fluff, and it really works. Pour the egg mixture over the veggies, then top with shredded cheese.

Bake in a 350-375 degree oven. I didn't time it, I always look for the cheese to start browning just a bit, and I tip it to make sure the eggs are completely set. We served it with salsa for the adults, ketchup for the kids, and it was devoured!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's hard not to laugh

Mo was re-enacting a scene for Cars last night with his toys. In his 2 year old voice I heard, "Mack, Mack." Then the truck said, "I'm not a Mack, I'm a refrigerator truck. Get it right you moron!" It was hard not to laugh while telling him that it was not nice to say "moron." I'd never thought there was anything in the movie he shouldn't repeat, but last night I heard it.

Mo also has some funny new games. Mo says, "huh?" and then tells you to say, "huh?" This game will go on as long as someone will play it with him. He likes to play the same game, with the variation of one person saying "no" and the other saying "yes." And then there's the Knock Knock jokes. Except Mo doesn't understand the process, so it generally ends up like this: Mo says, "I say Knock Knock, you say Who's There?" "Knock Knock" "Who's There?" "Knock Knock" "Knock Knock Who?" "No, you say Who's There."

It's funny how easily entertained they are at 2. Kaia wants to play elaborate games that involve the alphabet or counting or stories, and I only occasionally understand her rules. So for now, let me just say, "Huh?"

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Weekend Review

Kaia became an official Ramette this Saturday at Dance Camp. The camp is a fundraiser for the high school drill team, and a great one. Would you rather have the drill team at your door trying to sell overpriced wrapping paper, or pay them $30 to teach your child some dance moves and team work for 3 and a half hours on a Saturday morning?

Kaia had a blast, and most of the girls in her kindergarten class were there. She did a pretty good job dancing, considering it was her first time, and loved the pom poms that they gave her.

When we got home from watching Kaia perform, I tried putting clothes in the dryer. It wouldn't start. So I hung them out on the line. Dana took the dryer apart to see if it was something easy that he could fix. It wasn't. So Sunday after church Kaia and I went to the laundromat to dry 2 loads of wet clothes. I realized when we got there that my blankets and some towels were still on the line. No big deal, except it was pouring rain. So they are still on the line...

The repair man comes today to see what the damage is to the dryer. I'm of course embarrassed that the house isn't all clean. Ok mostly that the laundry room has 2 litter boxes, full garbage cans, and it's just not made for strangers to be in. But to have my dryer working again, I'll deal with it!

Monday, March 2, 2009

I didn't realize I missed it

Yesterday, I taught Sunday School for the first time in 6 months. Now most people would be ecstatic for a break and ready for some adult Bible study. But for me, it was just, ok. I thought I'll enjoy not planning for lessons, and it will be good. But the break was wierd. I had been teaching that class for 3 straight years, and before that, helping in Kaia's class.

So I was a little unsure yesterday getting back in the teaching seat. Once I got into the classroom though, and put it back to the way I like it, it was great. I had so much fun. My co-teacher Jenny is amazing, and together we had a great class.

The kids designed uniforms for what they wanted to be when they grew up. Kaia wanted to be a farmer, so she drew fruits and vegetables. One girl chose dentist, another librarian, and the last chose veterinarian. The boys both wanted to be Nascar drivers.

Then we listened to the story of Peter and Cornelius. Told by actors in the first person, which I thought was fun. Afterward we did a maypole activity where we talked about how our differences are what makes us strong together.

The strangest part is having Kaia in my class, and convincing her that I'm teacher when I'm in there, not mommy. After class was over, it felt really good, and really right. Like I'm back where I belong!