Silly Sundays

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Sunday is lazy day at our house. Monday is Princess Zoey day so Sunday is the day of “hurry up and get the house swept/cleaned on your day off without a toddler underfoot” day. It’s usually the day we ignore our cellphones, spend the morning recharging spiritually and the afternoon working on getting the house in order and enjoying each other’s company.

Tonight Anthony’s off getting some well-earned guy time, my husband is the best stay at home dad during the week, and Knight Tristan and I are at home playing and listening to music.
Here’s where we get our silly! Tristan loves all kinds of music, especially, as I discovered this evening, PSY and Hyuna’s “Gangnam Style” videos. Daddy is not particularly thrilled about this (at least, not as excited as he was about Tristan’s love of Tool and Apocalyptica) but I think it gives me a very good excuse to dance around the house and pretend I’m still sexy and/or can dance.

Here’s a video of my knight singing along with “Oppa is just my style”, enjoy the baby adorableness:

New things from old

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The last few weeks have been really busy with settling into our new house and jobs. It’s been interesting getting into a routine and working on digging out of the rut we’ve been in. Things are looking up! I’ve had the free time and energy to work on things I’ve been wanting to, like sewing projects and meal planning.

Here is the dress I made for Zoey this week, it was an old shirt of mine and I added the lace and did the straps by hand. I’ll lace the sides with cream ribbon to close the sleeves some without cutting.

 

Big smiles and big bedhead

 

I can’t wait to get my sewing machine for Christmas! There are a lot of old cute shirts that I have that Zoey would love as dresses.

I’ll leave you all with a birds’ nest recipe I found on Pinterest, posted on The Little Birdie Blog.

Taking the edge off of online expenses

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My last post was about cloth diapers, and this is actually related. While you can purchase cloth diapers in brick and mortar shops, they are difficult to find in some areas and many parents choose to buy online. Many times, purchasing online is cheaper, especially if you get involved in one of the many co-ops that can provide parents with diapers at a near-wholesale price. Of course, there’s the waiting game while orders are filled or packages are shipped, but getting surprise diapers in the mail is worth the wait, especially when you know you’re getting a great deal.

For the most part, I’ve purchased my diapers through online retailers, Nicki’s Diapers being one of my personal favorites for their rewards program and free shipping on most everything. One of the biggest benefits for shopping online for me is that I bum around on the internet and take surveys while I’m at home or nursing. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I’ve made over $20 straight to my PayPal account that I can use to buy diapers or anything else online. I love it! I get to save money on the money I’m spending to save money. Now, there are lots of different survey sites online, but the ones that I’ve enjoyed using the most are QuickRewards and InboxDollars. QuickRewards earns cash a little bit slower than the other, but you can cash out with no minimum as many times as you want to. InboxDollars has a minimum of $30 but there are more offers and emails available. 

Between the two of these, only half of my diaper expenses for this month will come out of my pocket, which I think is pretty impressive. I enjoy spending wisely and reducing costs. I hope to save enough money on diapers over the next two months to buy a printer for all the online coupons I’ve been running across!

Fluffy butts everywhere!

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Tristan in his new BumGenius 4.0, Albert print.

After taking a break with cloth diapering my daughter, we are back at full force! With two under two and potty-training on the horizon, cloth seemed like the most affordable method, and I’ve always preferred using cloth to disposables. With working part time, the extra load of laundry doesn’t cause much stress and I usually throw them in with hard-worn work clothes or towels and do an extra rinse.

When I was pregnant with my daughter I did a lot of research on cloth diapers, both the more convenient kinds like All-In-Ones (AIO’s) and the old fashioned prefolds with covers. I settled on a one-day stash of both. I went with KangaCare’s One Size Rumparooz for my pocket diapers (they had seconds available at the time, which made their price lower than normally cheaper brands like BumGenius and FuzziBunz) and Thirsties Duo Wraps with cotton prefolds for my at-home prefold and cover diapers. One size cloth diapers have been my absolute favorite, most fit from 8-35 pounds and range from $7-25 depending on the brand and quality. This allows me to use the same diapers on my 2 month old son and my 22 month old daughter, completely eliminating the need to buy two different sizes of disposables. Now, the Thirsties Duo Wraps aren’t a true one size diaper. Instead of having one size or five (Newborn, small, medium, large, extra-large), they have two sizes available: one that fits 6-18 pounds and one that fits 18-40 pounds. This allows their diapers to fit tiny newborns better than most one size diapers, and also lets them fit larger toddlers (like my daughter, who is 37 pounds at 22 months) without being too tight.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this generation’s cloth diapers, there are many different kinds to choose from and benefits to each. Prefolds and covers are much like the cloth diapers that our parents used and are cheaper than the more convenient kinds, though they require a little more time for changes. However, safety pins aren’t needed for these diapers anymore: there are some products like Snappis that can be used with one hand and without the fear of accidentally sticking your baby! Pocket diapers and AIO’s run a bit more expensive than prefolds, but are worth it for the easy no-hassle changes. These diapers are put on as one piece. Some of them, like AIOs, are always one piece and some, like pockets, have absorbent inserts that are stuffed in the diaper before you change the baby. I usually stuff my diapers as soon as they cool from the dryer, allowing me to have diapers on hand that can be used just as quickly as a disposable would.

I am in the process of trying more brands of cloth diapers (I just bought a BumGenius one size pocket diaper last week and I’m really liking it), but I haven’t really run into any trouble with a diaper not working the way it should. Different kinds have their advantages and disadvantages, leaks happen (often due to user error as I’ve never really had to think about which direction my baby is peeing before…), and different brands do seem to fit differently. Though I haven’t had much time with my new BumGenius diaper yet, I like the way it fits my 2 month old better than the way the Rumparooz do.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be getting three new brands of diapers in the mail: Sunbaby pockets, Pororo covers, and a Thirsties all-in-one, in addition to trying out home-made cloth baby wipes. I’ll make sure to keep you all updated on the way that each fit, their absorbency on each of the kiddos, and do an overall comparison as well.

I am not being compensated in any form for this review, all opinions written here are my own.

Moving!

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The last couple of weeks have been insanely busy with working out moving, finding a house, and getting jobs lined up for when we move. So far we’ve only had two things work out well for us on that front: we found a great (though definitely temporary) place and were able to sign it, and I got my job back at the coffee & sandwich shop that I worked at before. I’m thrilled to be back working for them, they are wonderful ladies and it’s a great, stable environment.

The house is nice as well, I’ll get pictures up when we actually get down there and settled in. Actually, about that… we were supposed to be moving first thing this morning but our rental truck was double booked and now we have to wait until Monday. The good news is that we’re packed in advance! The bad news is that we’re going to have to get creative to avoid unpacking much as all of our clothes and dishes are already bagged and boxed. 

Despite the trouble we’ve run into the last week (the moving truck confusion, and my car broke down day before yesterday on our way home from signing the lease!) I’m very excited that we’re finally going to have our own place and work toward getting all of our finances settled. Hopefully we’ll be able to save up some money and keep an eye out for a two bedroom house to move to sometime in the next year. I imagine that move will be much easier, as we’ll already have jobs in the area and may even actually have a functioning car! Maybe maybe maybe.

 

Can I start unpacking and organizing yet?

The Cycle

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I talk a lot about “breaking the cycle”. I realize that this probably makes me one of those really annoying people who make the people around them uncomfortable by talking about things that no one really wants to talk about, or even acknowledge occurs beyond the simple sympathetic nod in the direction of the newspaper before resuming their normal lives. This is because they have normal lives, and while humanity has been gifted with the extraordinary thing that is empathy, few who have not been in a dysfunctional situation can really wrap their minds around what dysfunction means, just as people who have lived in dysfunction have no idea about what they should have been taught as children.

For those of us who grew up in a home that was, for whatever reason, not healthy or functional, there is hope. I read a great book around this time last year, and by “great” I mean “read in little bitty sections with days in between reading so you can process and try to keep your brain from splitting open”. Please, do not skip this book if one of your parents was not specifically an alcoholic. While Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) is geared toward the effect of alcohol or drugs on a home and the ramifications of that as an adult, any kind of dysfunction, even problems your parents may have had as a result of their parents. The book covers a list of behaviors that are common in ACOA’s, see if any of these could apply to you:

  1. ACOA’s guess at what normal behavior is.
  2. They have difficulty following a project from beginning to end.
  3. They lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
  4. They judge themselves without mercy.
  5. They have difficulty having fun.
  6. They take themselves very seriously.
  7. They have difficulty with intimate relationships.
  8. They over-react to changes over which they have no control.
  9. They constantly seek approval and affirmation.
  10. They usually feel that they are different from other people.
  11. They are either super responsible or super irresponsible.
  12. They are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that loyalty is undeserved.
  13. They are impulsive. They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self-loathing, and loss of control over their environment. In addition, they spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.

 

I’ve been working through the list over the course of the last year, trying to identify the problem areas that I have and focus on the ones that are effecting my life the most. Because these behaviors are learned from our parents, it is ridiculously easy to pass them on. Even staring down an unhealthy behavior and knowing that it is unhealthy does not make it any easier to un-program that thought process from my brain.

I have a serious problem with procrastination. I take procrastination to a level that is frankly ridiculous. This entire blog post is actually probably me procrastinating on something else I should be doing (like the dishes that are sky-high in my kitchen, or the laundry that has taken over my living room, or organizing the kids’ bedroom that is still a random mess even after 4 weeks maternity leave).

The idea that ACoA presents is that in dysfunctional families, the children grow up being horrible procrastinators because they simply do not have the indirect teaching of breaking a large project down into smaller pieces and allotting a reasonable amount of time for each section. In school I struggled with not giving myself enough time to complete projects. This was only exacerbated by the fact that I was a bright student and got away with pulling all-nighters and slapped-together research papers and projects for a long time. However, that doesn’t work with trying to manage housework regularly. All I can do is try to get organized and rein myself in when I start tackling something in huge chunks that can’t possibly be handled in the amount of time I have to spend on them, otherwise the rest of the things I need to accomplish don’t get the attention that they need and it only gets backed up to the point where I have the uncontrollable urge to hide out and watch television and facebook and write blog posts and not do anything because I frankly have no idea where to start and I get overwhelmed. Even being aware that this is something I struggle with doesn’t make changing my behavior any easier. I’m trying to learn a process I should have learned gradually throughout my childhood and teen years all at once, while functioning in the adult world of work and money and all that stuff I have to pay for.

With that, I leave you with an oatmeal cookie recipe that I made and return to staring at all of the other things I should be doing, wondering what I can actually make a dent in today:

White Chocolate Apricot Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup diced dried apricots
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup almond slivers (optional)

Cream sugars, shortening, vanilla extract, and eggs. Add dry ingredients and add to shortening mixture. Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

These cookies are very filling and can also be spread onto a cookie sheet with raised edges to make homemade nutrigrain-like snack bars. If you do this, use two cookie sheets and bake for an additional 5 minutes or so. Allow to cool halfway before slicing.

Let’s get it started!

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I’ve been pondering making a mommy/cooking/writing/whatever-else blog for a while now, and have finally taken the time to do so! A friend of mine has recently fully introduced me to the amazing network of mommy, review, and giveaway blogs that is on the net and I’ve become hooked. After taking baby steps – joining some survey sites, reviewing more products online, and joining Influenster – I’ve decided to take the plunge!

Please be aware that this is a free-for-all blog. I love cooking, saving money, and I lean toward the crunchy side of things more often than not. With that said, let’s get it started!

I talk about Bountiful Baskets a lot. I can’t say enough good things about this great non-profit food co-op. It provides a basket full of fresh fruits and veggies, bought as locally as possible and usually worth about $50, for a contribution of $15. It’s run completely by volunteers, and has pick-up sites all over the US. Many sites also offer extras like organic baskets, homemade bread, granola, and extra themed veggie or fruit packs. This week, my area’s site has Tropical Granola (with macadamia nuts, coconut, papaya, and pineapple), an Asian-themed Veggie Lovers’ pack, organic 9 grain bread, organic blueberries, small brown lentils, organic multigrain bread with Omega-3, and white corn. The extras cost more and come in bulk (the bread provides 5 1lb loaves, and the lentils are 25lbs, for example) but boy is it worth it! The sourdough bread tastes like the loaves I got from the farmer’s market in San Francisco, and the bread is unsliced, so we made lots of cheesy garlic toast with it.

I recommend this organization to everyone – I absolutely can’t get over the value. The produce you get in the standard basket each week is always a surprise, but I like it that way. It encourages us to go outside of our routine and find or think of new recipes to try, and I love getting surprised with the occasional pineapple or bundle of asparagus. Who doesn’t like surprise asparagus? Here I have a recipe for you that we came up with to get rid of our extra yellow squash and zucchini, toddler-approved as always!:

Southwestern Garden Chicken

• 1 package of skinless boneless chicken tenders

• 1 can of Rotel

• 1 1/2 cups of cheese or Velveeta

• 2 medium sized squash, we use 1 yellow and 1 zucchini

Put thawed chicken in a casserole dish, a 11×9 works fine with room to spare. Slice squash thinly and add with Rotel to the chicken. Add a pinch of salt and pepper or Tony’s Creole (we swear by Tony’s) and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Grate cheese and sprinkle generously over the chicken before returning it to the oven for 15 minutes. Goes great with brown rice.