Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Saving Money on Groceries in 2011

One of my goals (okay, resolutions) for 2011 is to try to find ways to do so in ways that fit our family, not always ways that work for others or that I read about.

For instance, last summer, I really experimented with using grocery fliers and coupons everywhere I could find them to save as much as I could.

What I found was that I ended up with a ton of granola bars, cereal that hurt our tummies (too much fiber), cans of spaghetti sauce I still haven't touched, and overall, I realized that while I was certainly saving money off the regular cost of the coupon/sale items, these items were a lot of processed foods, not so healthy for us, and I didn't like that.

Sure, it took us through December to go through all the toilet paper, deodorant, and bath soap. That was good, and we used them. One plus.

I found also, that I would still use most of my budget to try to get all the savings I could, and sometimes feel that still, I didn't really have components to make meals I normally make, or would have wanted to make.

So, I started only collecting coupons for items we use all the time and didn't obsess about not having coupons for meals I wanted to make. I felt like I tried the obsessive system, and while there is a place for it, in my busy schedule, I want to know I have ingredients for meals and I'm feeding my family in a healthy way.

I've recently started doing Bountiful Baskets, and have loved, for the most part, what I get from that each week. It has its pluses and minuses too though and I'm wondering if I should continue.

Pluses? It seems like you save a lot on produce for the week. There are also some unique items which get you to be creative and try new things (like my persimmon cookies).

Minuses? I usually do my grocery shopping on Friday late afternoons. Bountiful baskets are picked up on Saturday mornings, and I never know what I'm going to get. This causes me to either wait to grocery shop, cutting into my weekend, or I end up going back to the grocery store again, to have things that are needed for the items I get.

I guess there are pluses and minuses for everything, but I'm curious, what are some methods that work for you for saving money on groceries? My ears/eyes are open to hear all kinds of suggestions I might not have tried yet.

WILTW: This Last Week of 2010

As always, little life lessons are learned in as little as a week, and that's why it is always fun to reflect.

1. The first one I learned just yesterday, while trying to load photos from Christmas Eve in my family blog. Google only allows 1 GB for photos/images and I had exceeded my limit, starting my blog back in the fall of 2007. What? I didn't know there was a limit, and I guess with videos, that goes up quickly. So, I had to purchase 20 GB more for only $5.00. Have any of you had to do that yet?

2. I've learned too, that I dislike my method of "housing" my photos in iPhoto and folders on my desktop versus my old method of using some great Nikon software that was no longer compatible with my upgraded software. It is so much harder to resize and name my photos in one easy step. I must resort to something new. I really like all my photos stored in folders by month and year on my desktop for easy historical reference. It is going to take some time, but maybe that needs to be one of my New Year's resolutions, along with losing the 5 pounds I've gained over the holidays (since Halloween), right?

3. I learned that being 40 and getting little exercise in one's life, due to having a little one and less time definitely has its setbacks. After sitting on the floor helping to unwrap/play with new Christmas toys, lifting one's 37 pound child into a toddler swing moments later can send sharp pains in one's back, causing major discomfort for multiple days afterward... :(

4. Christmas is sure a blast with a 3-year-old. And, he can cry when he sees that Santa ate all the cookies and drank the milk that was left out for him.

5. Bean bag chairs are still really cool, and even better "lounge-size" so Mommy can also sit in it with child to read stories. It is also awesome for a great nap.

For more fun stories, check out Julie's blog.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yummy Sweet Potato Soup

Oh my gosh. I found this recipe for Sweet Potato Soup at allrecipes.com and it is amazing!
I made it last night, and will definitely be making it again, really soon.

I don't know if it was the turnip added, or all the chicken stock, or the spices, but it was...did I already say? AMAZING. I wish I'd taken some photos, but there wasn't really much to see.

I've been on break since Monday and trying to take the time to do some extra baking and cooking of things I just normally don't have time to do. While I am not much of a "pull this and this together and create this" kind of cook, I've realized how much I love learning through cooking, and all the chopping and so forth that go into making something wonderful. That's the trick though....when I do spend my time making something, it has to be wonderful.

I had a not-so-wonderful experience this week making zucchini bread, which I was hoping to give away for the holidays. I found a recipe online, and it said to cook it 80 minutes. Well, most of my bread recipes call for 60 minutes. I really doubted the recipe, peeked in the oven at 60 minutes, poked in a toothpick that came out a little wet, turned off the oven at 65 minutes even, and....well, I shouldn't have second-guessed myself. It was hard. Dry and hard, and when I tried to cut it, fell apart. Guess where it ended up? The garbage.

What is something you've made lately that you really enjoyed, or something that didn't turn out after investing a chunk of your time?

On another note, HAPPY Holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WILTW: Holiday Goodies

Julie from Inmates to Playdates always has this hilarious post on Tuesdays that you have to check out, and join!

This week's in particular cracked me up, on the theme of the Cookie Exchange. I am so glad I have not EVER been under the pressure of attending a cookie exchange with there being a contest, like Julie's. That would be just toooo much! Especially when this year, I actually selected my recipe at 5:30 in the morning and had it made by 6:15 to make sure we had enough time to make my friend's cookies as well, who was visiting for the weekend, and also attending the luncheon/cookie exchange at noon. We had a lot to do! Anyhow, that pressure of having the most (or not having the same as another's would have been too much for me). I was also under the pressure of not having any cardomom (seriously...I'd never heard of that!) for my friend's spritz cookie recipe, so I was also on the search for an alternate for her. The things we do for friends, right?

Anyhow, I ended up making Blondies, a super sweet bar cookie, which was delicious and easy, since I only had to throw it in the oven once. We had a great time making my friend's cookies though, all morning, with the help from my son.
So, for this week, I wanted to reflect on what I've learned about holiday goodies:

1. The 2-3 extra pounds one gains around Halloween and Thanksgiving has no hope of coming off during the Christmas season.

2. One CAN have too many Christmas cookies through cookie exchanges and friends. Okay for a little while, then the husband starts complaining about the temptation.

3. One can think one has all of his/her baking done, only to find an amazing recipe at a cookie exchange, for these cake balls, and just HAVE to make them. Good excuse to have the hubby take them into work, right? I am currently in the process of making the chocolate/cream cheese ones and the white cake/cherry ones. Did all the batter yesterday and it is in the fridge waiting for me today to make the balls and dip today.

4. If you're like me and you love wrapping presents, it can take keeping your child in daycare/preschool just so that you can get those holiday presents actually wrapped. Otherwise, he'd sneak in while you're doing it or you'd be up 'til midnight. (Okay, some of you do that midnight thing...but not me.)

5. One's credit card bills can increase during the holiday season when one didn't start with any sort of holiday budget, due to this crazy economy. I'll take that as a goodie though, in that I could at least do that. Some aren't so lucky.

Wishing everyone a really wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

You Know You're the Mother of a Three-Year-Old When...

You Know You're the Mother of a Three-Year-Old When...

*You say, out loud, in your own office, "I gotta go potty."

*You threaten your child with, "Are you going to be good for Santa, or do you want him to bring reindeer poop?"

*You run at the cry of "Mommy, I gotta go _______," to make sure no messes need to be cleaned up.

*You feel like you have a bipolar child, "I don't wanna do that!" (That's him, not me.), so you move on, then he bursts into tears, "I wanna do that!" (Or maybe he's a 40-year-old woman in disguise?)

*You giggle when your child is handed bells for his holiday performance and he shouts, in the quiet, "Mommy, I got bells!"

*You can no longer read a paper, or even have a moment of thought on the potty (or in the bathroom) before your child needs something in the other room.

*Your most relaxing time is the 30 minutes you have to spend each week in the allergist's office, waiting on your allergy shots.

*You contemplate moving into the spare bathroom so that everything you need is in one place for those early morning wake-ups.

*Your idea of downtime is when you are in the shower.

*You can no longer watch any more than 34 minutes of a movie with your child (and it is a kid-type movie) before he shouts, "Mommy, wanna watch Mickey!"

And of course, the list goes on....
How would I know who you are the mother of?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sad News

Here I just did a post on Fun Times, and at the same time, have some sadness. My coworker that I wrote about in this post, well, she passed away last night. The cancer just overtook her body and the tumor in her lungs kept bleeding into her lungs.

I don't want to think about it much. That's the easiest way for me to cope right now. It is just that she has a husband and three children, ages 6 or 7, 10 or so, and 13 or 14. How do they deal with all of this? It is one of life's terrible, terrible tragedy.

She was one of THE most positive, beautiful, and happy people I have EVER met, and she leaves a mark on everyone's heart who knew her. May her family and friends just feel comfort, comfort that she is not suffering any more.

WILTW: Fun Times

I love thinking about what I learn each week, and it is even funner when I have a moment and I think, "I have to blog about THAT one." Had one of those this morning. See #1.

This week I learned:

1) Arguing with your 3-year-old about who is going to empty the pee filled potty bowl into the toilet, pulling it back and forth, won't get what Mommy is after (her emptying it). Instead, said bowl will be pulled out of Mommy's hands and child will quickly, somewhat "toss" the filled bowl toward the toilet, resulting in pee NOT in the toilet, but rather all over bath toys, magazines, potty seat, floor rug, etc. and Mommy ranting and raving about the situation doesn't change it. Hey, at least he wants to help, right?

2) You may be concerned your 3-year-old won't want to sit on Santa's lap. Instead, you have to be careful that he doesn't pile drive himself into the side of Santa's leg, running so hard to get to him.

3) Your child can wake up and insist you are too, because he needs to take care of things (see #1), and you have to get up at 4:55 AM, 3 days in a row (including the weekend!). Then, comes a school day, and YOU have to wake HIM up. What's up with that?

4) You can want your child to make a cook Christmas decoration, but when he's had enough, he'll stick the foam glitter stickers ANYWHERE but where you want them to end up.

5) Lastly, children sure make our lives more interesting, don't they?

For more, see Julie's blog.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Keeping up with the Holidays

Phew! Is there a moment to breathe during this holiday time with preparations, family responsibilities, getting the house ready for guests that will be visiting, keeping up with work....wow!

How do you all do it?

I'm off starting the 20th, which will be nice. I can at least get presents wrapped then and under the tree, get doctor's appointments out of the way, hair cut and colored, lunch out with the hubby...oh, you see? It all just fills back up again, doesn't it?

Life must have been so much easier back in the olden days when all a woman had to do was get up at the crack of dawn (I'm already doing that), collect eggs, make food for the family, do the wash by hand, start making a big lunch for the men working the field, tend to the children, make a pie, shuck some corn, kill the chicken for dinner, call everyone in, eat, do all the dishes, get baths...oh.....lots of work then too, just different.

Anyway, I haven't been posting much at all, just focusing on getting the to-do's done. Sorry if I haven't been to your blog lately too, but I'll be back! I hope you are enjoying the season and not feeling under too much stress.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

WILTW: Illness

Some weeks are busier than others when it comes to learning, and this week's, well, it was interesting. If you are sensitive to sickness, you may want to skip this post.

Here are a few:

1. Husbands do not, I repeat, DO NOT like it when your son vomits in the back of their nice car (and of course, some hits the front too, as his carseat is positioned in the middle of the backseat.) Julie, picture this happening in your new Saturn. Wouldn't you just DIE?

2. They like it even less when they too, spent the day home sick with a cold as well.

3. You can receive "I need you at home," text messages while you are in an important meeting about 30 minutes away. You try with all your might to hope it can be managed without you.

4. You can receive more insistent texts, and calls, upon the second "getting sick" as soon as the two of them start eating dinner together (while the mess is still in the car) and you really shouldn't leave your meeting.

5. The 30 minute drive home can seem like forever as you call your boss and coworker and plan the following day's work together, as you know you will be staying home with said child.

6. Children of the age of 3 can learn quickly, how to use a bucket when sick.

7. Pulling up the floor rug, sleeping on the sofa, and making a bed for your child on the living room floor can save a lot of mess in the long run. (I did do that, not learning the hard way).

8. In the process of all of this, your husband, while sick with a cold, can also come down with pink eye. (Oh, did I also mention you have a cold in the midst of all of this?)

9. 15 days after having a sore throat, it might be best to get in to see the doctor (going today).

10. Your family (or you) tend to get sick on important days, i.e. meeting, and missing seeing Christmas lights at the zoo. It never fails.

To see other interesting adventures, see Julie's blog!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Rush

Anyone else feeling the rush of the holidays? While I am so excited for this time of year, I feel like every cell in my body is on overtime. It wasn't until 1:00 this afternoon that I was able to stop for a moment, put my feet up and read the newspaper that I'd brought in at 6:00 AM.

Do you feel a little like my son in this photo with Santa, a little skeptical that you'll get all of your own Santa work completed? (Really, he was so happy to be on Santa's lap, and my husband caught him in a moment of thinking about what he'd like from Santa. It was a pondering look.)

I have a few things to check off my list:
1. Cards that I want to mail have been mailed.
2. Presents that need to be shipped are all wrapped and boxed and have their mailing labels ready to be taped on.
3. Our spare room is just about ready for guests.
4. My son got a photo with Santa. (We were supposed to go see lights and Santa at the zoo this week, but he got that terrible stomach flu-my son, not Santa, that is.) Sure, it was at a pancake breakfast, but Santa is everywhere this time of year, you know.
5. Cookies will soon be decorated with Grandma in a few hours.

How are you feeling about your preparedness about this time of year? 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Yummy Persimmon Cookies

I purchased my first Bountiful Basket about 3 weeks ago and split it with a friend. What an amazing selection of produce and it was all so good!

One of the items we received were persimmons. At first I didn't even know what they were. Once I realized they weren't ripe yet, I knew I'd have a little time to look around for a recipe. I had my heart set on cookies once I saw that might be a good idea.

I found this 4 1/2 star Moist Persimmon Cookie recipe that sounded so good! Indeed it was.

I had never even touched a persimmon, but had heard you needed to make just the right thing with it, and mostly likely not eat the peel. This recipe has you peel them and puree them. As a side note, the recipe mentions using 2 persimmons and I used three. Here's how they look pureed. (Of course many of you may already know that...but I'm pretty inexperienced.)
In any case, with all the spices, walnuts and raisins, these tasted like wonderful fall cookies. Great for this time of year, if you even find yourself with some persimmons!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WILTW: Christmas Decorating

 Have I mentioned already how excited I am for this holiday season?
I was thrilled to actually start on Thanksgiving morning, working with my son to build a colored paper garland for our tree.
Making decorations with a three-year-old is GREAT fun, really it is, and I had to refrain from wanting to all our decoration making activities over the weekend.

Well, Friday we got right on some more Christmas events, like putting up the tree (that photo was from Friday) and making a gingerbread house.

Here are some things I learned along the way:
1. It says on the box that the icing should sit after assembling the gingerbread house for 15 minutes. Next year I will wait longer than that. See #3.
2. I guess you can eat the gingerbread as you make it? I've heard people saying since that they eat their gingerbread houses. When? Right after you make it? On Christmas when it is hard and nasty? I just figured you made it to look at it?
3. Back to #1. Important to let it sit long enough to harden. Or, have Mommy not work so hard on spreading the icing on the roof while the roof is on.
4.  Just because your son looks cute wanting to open the Christmas decorations that you think aren't breakable doesn't mean they aren't. Christmas ornament + tile = broken mess.
5. Dogs are fun to decorate too and will put up with a lot to please their owners.
For more, see Julie's blog on suggestions on making Christmas time easier.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

3 Things About Me

I've been tagged, so I'm requesting that you write a blog post with the Threes of YOU, then tag as many others as you can think of. I'm tagging the following people:
1. Chelsea
2. Becca
3. Beth (she's my original tagger)
and any of the rest of you if you read this:
Gianna, Kendra, Julie S., Maria, Jerris, Stephanie (Day by Day), Julie from Inmates, Amy L (you can do on Facebook), Eileen, Lainie, Kathy W, Marisa, and the list goes on...

Three names I go by
1. Suzanne
2. Suz
3. Suzie (long ago)

Three Jobs I have had in my life
1. Teacher
2. Waitress
3. Patternmaker

Three Places I have lived
1. North Hollywood, CA
2. Long Beach, CA
3. Prescott, AZ

Three Favorite drinks
1. Diet Pepsi or Coke
2. Coffee
3. Water

Three TV Shows that I watch
1. Amazing Race
2. Parenthood
3. Survivor

Three places I have been
1. Tuva, Fiji
2. Germany - many places
3. Maui, Hawaii

Three favorite foods
1. Mexican!
2. chocolate
3. pasta
 (Beth, I agree with you on all three of yours!)

Three friends I think will respond
1. Chelsea
2. Becca
3. Kendra?

Three Things I am looking forward to
1. dinner out with another couple tonight (and our son too)
2. seeing Due Date, the movie, with my hubby tomorrow
3. wrapping Christmas gifts

Three Things that are by my side
1.my organizer
2. oddly, a new container of salt, and shortening, something I never have, to make a persimmon cookie recipe!
3. the kitchen knives

What is your list of 3 Things?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

I don't know about you, but I am really looking forward to some down time with my family, and starting to think about Christmas.

This is the first year that I truly, truly feel the excitement I once had as a child through the holidays. I think having a child has brought that back for me, and it is a WONDERFUL feeling!

I look forward to doing some holiday projects with our son, make cookies, and build our first gingerbread house together. I have never even made one myself!

Wishing you all the joy you once felt as a child too. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WILTW: Artichokes Grow WHAT Way?

Some weeks it is really hard to reflect on what I've learned, but this week, when I saw it, I just KNEW it would have to be in my What I Learned This Week post!

1. Here it is, and do you know what it is?
Brussel sprouts. Yeah. That's how they grow! I was at a local organic food store, picking up other items and saw them there. It is kind of like when I saw pineapple growing at a farm in Hawaii. I had no idea!

2. Another thing I learned this week is that my son is at THE perfect age to want to be with me in the bathroom every morning, observing me do all sorts of things. I won't go into detail on this one too much, but one morning, after I'd used the restroom, he remarked, "Mommy, you have a ribbon!", pointing, well...down there. "Yes...I do," was all I could say, while holding back huge laughter.

3. Lastly, I've learned that Halloween through Christmas flies by when you have children. I haven't even put away all the Halloween stuff yet (stacked up in my room), and I'm hauling _____ to try to get my Christmas cards ready to get printed. Like Julie from Inmates, I love to do my holiday cards this coming weekend (well, she likes to be done by then), and I'm not sure I'm going to make it!

What have you learned this week?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

WFMW: Breaking up a Task

So, as a mom, I struggle, like many of you, to actually accomplish some bigger tasks. I say, "Oh, I'll do that on my day off in a month..." and then, the day arrives, and I have too many other  things on my plate.

While I can't claim I've done this for a long time, and it truly works for me yet, I am hopeful, but I have a new strategy.

Here's my scenario: I have two cute aprons that I am making and a photo collage replicating something my father-in-law already has and loves (it will involve scrapbooking too) for relatives for Christmas, and all of this also needs to be shipped in time.

Well, you could tell me, with a little one at home, perhaps I should just buy gifts instead, but I really want to make them. The problem is the time (or rather, time when my little one is asleep and can't feel the desire to want to use my sewing machine or cut pieces of my scrapping paper).

What I am trying, instead of doing it all in one sitting, is to do about an hours worth of work on the project after my son has gone to bed, and work on it night-by-night, or every other night until it is accomplished. Sure, I have to get things out and put them away each night, but, I guess that is just part of being a responsible parent. I think starting mid-November will work too, because I have enough days before I need to ship them.

I'm actually almost finished with the aprons after just two sittings of an hour each: one at nap time Saturday and one last night. It is nice too, because it is not too overwhelming all at once and I can figure out how to best use my time (do all the ironing of pieces at once, or things of one color).

What works for you to get everything done for the holidays?
For more, see We're That Family.

What I Learned this Week

A week passes by like...a flash in the night. (Is that the correct metaphor? I always get them mixed up. It is a trademark of mine.)

The week passed by like a firefly in flight? Ooo...rhyming now...

Anyway, to the point. I have to really think about what I really learned last week. It went by super fast, but was definitely eventful.

I did learn:

1) A little boy can fall in love with a pair of mud boots and have to wear them day in and day out, even with his jammies.
2) Three-year-olds can be just as challenging (and lovable) as two-year-olds. I thought maybe a magic button could be pressed on the actual birthday, to stop the strange and unusual behaviors, but...his button must need new batteries. Still though....lovable.

3) Bountiful Baskets (I made no money for this reference) has amazing produce! I just did my first order last weekend, splitting it with a friend, and am doing it again this weekend. Everything was sooo delicious!

4) The voters in the area where I work (I live outside of our district) let us down on a proposition for educational funding for specials (art, music, and pe). It makes me angry, sad, and wondering what I'll do for our son when he gets to kindergarten. I love public education, but is it going to be right for him, minus all the specials? Will the funding be available for them by then? Will we, as parents, need to pay to help provide those opportunities? Will I, as a believer in all the specials have to be creative and develop some homeschooling opportunities for him?

5) I need to work on getting my son to hold my hand in parking lots and such. He has always been fiesty about this, but it is going to have to become a "have-to". He has random bouts of wanting to run off and it is terrifying me.

What have you learned this week? Check out Julie's blog to see more!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Question of the Day: Company and your Children

I need some advice. If you have children, what do you do to help keep them entertained when you have company over for a visit and are making dinner too?

Typically when I cook dinner, my son gets to watch television, but I felt yesterday, when my parents came over for a visit and dinner (we were grilling burgers and making other things), I felt it would be rude to allow him to watch television, when they are here to see all of us.

I also don't want to just plug him in front of the TV, though honestly sometimes it feels like the safest things altogether, because he can't get into harm and he's also happy while people are here. Last year holiday dinners were hard that way because he doesn't have anyone else to play with. I though of buying him a special DVD to watch after Thanksgiving dinner so the rest of us can still sit back and enjoy ourselves and he has something fun too.

Just a few minutes after they arrived, and we started chatting a little, my son didn't know what to do with himself, and he will just start to act out, doing things like hitting people, or whining and clinging to me. It is really kind of shocking, because he NEVER acts like that, and of course, a bit embarrassing in front of my parents when he will suddenly hit them. I know deep down, that my son is just missing our attention, and wanting some of his own, but I don't know how to prepare him for that.

I could sure use some ideas. One time, when a friend was visiting we hadn't seen in a long time, I got my son a new toy, to occupy him for some visiting time. It somewhat worked. I also tried to prep a lot of the food during naptime and just have a meal in the oven. Perhaps those are some solutions too?

It is amazing as a mom how much you need to prepare/premeditate situations and try to be prepared for them. That, I am definitely learning.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Morning Routine

My friend Chelsea did this hysterical post on her morning routine. You've GOT to go read it. I felt the challenge to write about my own. It may not be as funny as hers, but it is what it is...

Here you go:

I wake up and glance at the clock. It is typically somewhere around 4:36 AM or 4:40 AM. Of course, because my alarm doesn't go off until 5:05 AM. (Might I interject for a moment that pre-child, I used to get up at 5:30, shower, and relax on the sofa with a good book, some coffee and a bagel or something until 6:30 AM. Yeah, I was sick like that, but LOVED that alone time.)

So then I lay there, checking the alarm every few minutes in case it is almost 5:05 so my alarm doesn't actually go off and wake my husband. Not that he minds, I just figure if I'm already awake, it is a courteous thing. Some mornings I may be interrupted by hearing something like, "Mommy, I scared of that bird on my gate." That was today. My son awake at 4:45 AM, so I tucked him back in and asked him to go back asleep. He didn't. He just laid there too, until I came to get him.

5:02 AM: Get up, put in my contacts, put on my makeup, and do my hair. I learned to stay in my pjs until after breakfast from when my son was still drinking bottles and would occasionally burp and lose the formula on my clothes. TMI? Probably...

5:22 ish: Go to my son's room and take him to the potty. He's usually awake, hanging out or playing. Seriously, and yes, he goes to be at 7:45/8:00 already. I'm not going later. Then I'll have NO time to myself.

We go into the kitchen and I make breakfast for both of us, usually cereal, but could be eggs. I usually read some email and check a few blogs then.

6:00 Clean up, pack lunch, get son dressed, sunblocked (he's fair, and I've had skin cancer, so I'm paranoid), and tooth brushed. The timing on that depends upon how cooperative my son is and how picky he is about the clothes he wants to wear.

6:10 On goes Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or something to entertain him while I get my things packed and myself dressed, as well as get his shoes on. That depends upon how cooperative my son is. Two days ago, it took some frustration, overt maneuvers on part part, and some aggression in my voice.

6:30-6:40 ish: Out to the car, which could take 5 minutes, even in a garage, depending upon how cooperative my son is.

On to daycare dropoff, which could also take some time, and I usually arrive at work around 7:15, depending upon...well, you know.

What does your morning routine look like?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Beautiful Woman

I'm at work and can't concentrate. You see, just about 2 1/2 weeks ago, a coworker went into the hospital to have gall bladder surgery. She's just a few years older than I am, with three children and a great husband. She'd been in a lot of pain, and we all just thought, "Whew, she'll feel better soon."

During surgery, they found she had liver cancer....and later, lung cancer...then blood clots in her leg, and lung.... Last week she had her first chemo and got to go home for a few hours.

They found she had a blood clot in her arm. She had to go back to the hospital and they had to put in filters in her legs and arms to stop the blood clots from traveling to her heart.

Today, we were told she has pneumonia and they went to test the levels of fluid in her lungs and found she's internally bleeding and is being placed in ICU. Some of us are very fearful.

This is the woman you always see smiling, is so healthy, so happy, so loving to everyone who crosses her path. Her family always looks so happy and so loving too.

Why her? Why anyone for that matter? What can we do to protect our loved ones and ourselves?

I know there are no answers, and this isn't about me, isn't about me at all. It is about a beautiful woman and her family, but she affects us all because we love and care about her so much. It helps to write, and that's all right now.

I'm on the list to make dinner for the family and take it in to be delivered Friday. It is all I can do and it doesn't feel like enough.

WFMW: Steer Crazee

I was a winner! Yes, a winner!

A friend of mine, Becca, was offering a giveaway for a Steer Crazee steering wheel cover, and, did I mention, I WON?

This giveaway really works for me too, being someone who lived in a hot environment about 8 months of the year.

Kimberly, the owner and designer, donates $1 of each of the steering wheel covers she sells to the Phoenix Children's Hospital, to buy toys for the kids. That is admirable, and besides, these steering wheel covers are really cute, and great in the heat. They are insulated.

See mine. She has such fun prints to choose from, and they are only $19.99. Go check out her site here and see which one you like, find one as a great gift for a friend for the holidays, or as an upcoming gift in the spring.

Thanks Becca and Kimberly!

For more of what works for others, see We're That Family.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What I Learned this Week

This was a very big week for learning, and here are just a few of the things I learned:

1. The biggest? A two-year-old can be thrown out of daycare for attacking a parent. No, not my child, another one who had been constantly biting my son. Yes, he attacked me, trying to scratch me, spit on me, and kick me, then threw things at me. Well, this wasn't the first incident, that that doesn't count at THE only thing he got thrown out for, but wow...that was a shocker. I learned crazy two-year-olds can take you by surprise.

2. Red is a difficult color to make with food coloring. At least my son didn't really realize his cupcakes were more pink than red for his birthday at school. I heard red is hard. Any suggestions?
3. A 6' 6" man can throw his back out and become quite unmovable. But I also learned he can heal a lot faster than expected. That's been a big plus.

4. When asking your newly three-year-old son what he'd like to be when he grows up, he can answer, "A flower." I hope that isn't the case, for numerous reasons. I hope he doesn't hate me later in life, for putting that on my blog too!

5. Three can be more challenging than two. The age that is. I've been told by three people anyway. I might be in for a rough year.

6. When you realize you've hit 55:00 on your microwave timerfor your lasagna, realize at 53:00 that you've actually turned ON the microwave, not the timer, and go to reset it. Be cautious you are paying close attention, because you might actually, in also turning on the microwave light, get a little crazy and turn off your oven that was once cooking your lasagna, and be terribly disappointed, once the timer does go off, that the oven is not as hot as you expected, and your lasagna, which you were anticipating for dinner, now STILL has to be cooked, and you have to now make something else, while it cooks.

7. It IS possible to successfully take a three-year-old grocery shopping and actually have a good time. It just takes some prep work.

8. You can warn your child all you want, that he better get wherever he's supposed to be by the countdown of 5-4-3-2-1, then be prepared to follow through with the consequence you threatened, as he WILL test you, you WILL have to follow-through, and he WILL pitch a hissy fit.

9. It can feel like your house will truly never be clean, or picked up, or that you'll have the time (or energy) to do so.

10. Fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, even if it is at 9:15 PM.

For more, see Julie's blog.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Great Things about Friends

My favorite things about friends are (by the way, this is me with my great friend Amy this last weekend at her daughter's 3rd b-day party):

1. They are so great to laugh with.
2. They are so wonderful to confide in.
3. They are there to listen to your concerns and share stories that are similar, to make you feel so not alone.
4. Back to #1, sometimes you laugh so hard you almost pee your pants. That's the best (not the pee part, but laughing so hard).
5. They are wonderful to just hang out and spend time with (so hard to find that as moms now).

The list goes on, but today, I'm just thinking of my wonderful friends I see every day (K and M), those I saw this weekend (E, L, A, and P), one I'll see Thursday (M), those who think of my son on his b-day (so many), and just, all my friends.

Thank you! I love and cherish you all!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thank You (Seeking Advice)

Thanks all of you who posted suggestions for me! You see, not having grown up around smaller children or having had experience with little ones, even at my wise old age :), I just don't have many answers when it comes to children. All of you suggestions were great!

I took my son grocery shopping this morning, on a big shopping trip, EARLY. I figured that way we were bound to get a car cart. Sure enough, he got to choose between red and blue. I also let him bring some fun toys, and snuck some fruit snacks in my purse for later also. As well, one of you mentioned having a separate list for him. Great idea! I had him hold it, and as I collected those items, along with some others, he held them down in his car until checkout time.

Funny thing, as we started out by dairy, there was a rack of bananas and he turned to me to say, "Mommy I'm hungry. Want a banana!" So that kept him occupied for some time (just have to remember to pay for that extra banana at checkout. I forgot once and paid two weeks later!), and I saved the fruit snacks for the produce section, which has always been tempting to him.

It is a big start, and something I really want to keep up, so we have that quality time (if you can really call it that) together and it is no big deal to him too.

Thanks again!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Seeking Advice

All you moms out there. I need some advice on a number of things I need to get better at:

1) How can you successfully go grocery shopping with a three-year-old (I've been avoiding it, but want to start doing it so he does a good job and has fun too)?

2) Can you only paint your nails during naptime or when your child is in bed?

3) How can you distract your child (or entertain) in the kitchen when you do some extensive cooking?
 (I don't want to promote too much TV watching.)

4) Can you get bills paid and do paperwork when your child is awake? What is a good activity for them to do while you do this?

In other words, I am in a transition, where I don't want to try to shove so much into time when he's sleeping or I need to go off on my own to do it. I want to involve him and/or plan activities for him to have fun doing while I'm doing my tasks too. I'm getting too tired trying to do it all in limited time and want to branch out on my thinking.

Thank you for any suggestions you have!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

WFMW: Doing it all at once

Been eating Activia or Yoplait lately? See their pink lids? My husband and I have been saving up our lids, dragging them home from work (after a good lick, of course), and keeping them in a ziploc bag to enter online (the Activia ones) all at once and send the Yoplait ones in as well.

As I write this - actually, I took a little break to write this - I am putting all my codes in at the Activia site, all at once. It is a great task when you're at home from work with your husband who threw out his back. Isn't that awful? Well, maybe that's why I have the time to do it on a normal busy day, really.

I think that's the trick with things that add up. Keep them and then do it all at once. Works with laundry too, you ask? Well, maybe not so well as it takes much longer, but for other things it can:

*dishes from the day (note I mentioned day, not week)
*sending short email responses
*Christmas cards
*you name it

What do you save up and do all at once?

For more ideas of what works for others, see We're That Family.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What I Learned this Week: Colored Frosting

I had a BIG "Ah ha!" this week that some of you may laugh at. You see, a few weeks ago, I made some Halloween cookies with my son. I kept wondering where you were supposed to find colored frosting. I only saw white, sprinkled and chocolate in the store. With it Halloween season, where was the orange frosting?

Some of you are thinking, "Duh...." Right?

Well, I decided for my son's birthday party last weekend, that I wanted to make him this cake. After my 40th b-day cake that I made, and I swore I'd never make another, this was quite a feat to undertake, but I was ready.

Part of the ingredients were for food coloring for the frosting. So THAT's how it is done! For being as old as I am and never having done anything with food coloring, that was a BIG thing to learn! It was fun to try to make the exact color I wanted, and I'm even more eager now to decorate more sugar cookies with frosting in the future. :)

I made sure to give myself plenty of time, when my son was sleeping, to decorate. I didn't have any special tools and mainly used a small butter knife to get in those tiny places. I learned it might be nice to have some accessories, and also make the frosting thicker. One thing I left off were the windows. I wasn't sure how to even tackle them.

I think it turned out okay though, do you?

Here's the final product the night before, with candles, and during our celebration.

He immediately knew it was Mickey's Clubhouse and that thrilled me. The tough part was cutting it all up into pieces!

It has actually made me feel adventurous and want to try more things related to cake/cookie making, so we'll see what lies in my future!

What did you learn this week? To see what Julie learned, go here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Recognize me from Toy Story 3?

Two weeks ago, my work decided to dress up as Toy Story 3 characters. With a little (okay, a lot) of work, here's what came out of it!

And here, riding my horse Bullseye (okay, don't laugh too hard!) Kathleen's my data coordinator, and I know I ride her almost every day, but not like this!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ever Play...

catch the flying electric toothbrush? Yeah...the start to my day. It is spinning around and I lose my grip. It drops, and I'm imaginary spittle everywhere, on me, on the mirror, and BOOM! I catch it, with nary a drop of spittle. Well, maybe one on my pj top.

If this is any indication of my day, I may be close to dropping some balls, but hopefully I'll catch them before they hit the ground. I don't know about you, but this is a frantic time of year for me, with the holiday, my son's b-day, and lots of family in town. I've never been busier, and we've never had (okay, that's not true, with the monster episodes a few months ago) more sleepless nights. Even my little guy was sick yesterday and needed a catch-up day.

Wishing you a day where you are able to catch all the balls you are juggling mid-air, or maybe even not let go in the first place! :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

WFMW: Looking Ahead

I'm a planner. You could definitely call me that.

I like to look ahead, plan ahead, and fill in my organizer.

One thing I have found that really works for me is to write those things on the side of my monthly calendar that I need to remember to do in an upcoming month, as a reminder.

For instance, as I turn the page to November, I see:
*Condition leather car seats
*Call and make dentist appt. for Feb.
*Make gift for Aunt Pat

It is really the only way I can remember some of these things, and by writing them down the month I need to do them, I can clear out my mind for more important, current events.

What works for you related to remembering dates?

For other great ideas, see We're That Family.

What I Learned this Week: Halloween Time

I think I'm in love with the holiday season (any holiday) have a child. It is loads of fun, but also loads of work too. Here are some things I've learned in the last week.

1. People dressed up in animal costumes for Halloween can be very scary and only Mommy should go near them (his perspective).
 2. Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas can be scary to Mommy, but intriguing to son (his perspective) and call for a High Five!
3. The time spent making a Mickey Mouse shoes and shorts for your son can be well worth it, and having a practice day, trying on the costume and trick-or-treating with Mommy helps.
4. Halloween time can be LOADS of fun as a parent, seeing it through your child's eyes.

5. The theme the staff choose at your work, for dressing up for Halloween, (Toy Story 3), can be exciting, and cause you to have to create yet another costume for yourself in just a few days (well, really nights as a working girl...oh, that came out wrong...working professional).

6. Working on a costume can cause you to miss your favorite shows and have to DVR them, so friends, don't tell me anything about the most recent Survivor, last or this week's and Amazing Race!

What are some things you love or learned about Halloween?

For more, see Julie's blog!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Case of the Icks

Don't you hate those days, where you go to bed feeling a bit off, slight sore throat, little headache, then wake at 4 AM realizing you really don't feel too good, and to top it off, lay there awake pondering, "Do I go to work, do I stay home, do I go to work, do I stay home?" and never go back to sleep, adding to your not-feeling-so-good day?

I think that may have been the longest sentence I have ever written, but seriously, I could have gone on.

If you're like me too, you figure you'll throw in a load or two of laundry while you're home sick, because it is so easy, only then you realize you still have to fold it, and punish yourself mentally because you'd rather be lying on the sofa or bed, sleeping.

You finally lie down on the sofa, two dogs curled around you, blanket on top and every so often think, "I'm going to sleep soon, I can feel it," and that kind of wakes you up? You lay there for oh, an hour and a half, get really hot under the blanket, feel drugged from sleep or lack of sleep, or this bug you have, and wonder if you ever really fell asleep?

Yeah, it is one of those days today, an "Ick" day, where I just feel downright icky, achy, and not worth much of anything, and I hope a good night's rest will turn all of that around. Afterall, it is Halloween season and our family has so many fun things planned!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WFMW: Lunch Break at Work

My lunchtimes at work are precious to me. I have found that sometimes this is my only quiet time in the day to think and organize things on my to-do list. Sometimes it is the only way to get "me time" too.

I close my office door and do any of the following, depending upon the day of the week, while I eat my lunch:

1. Write a blog post (doing that today)!
2. View coupons I might be able to use that week grocery shopping.
3. Send a much-needed and late email to a friend or family member.
4. Peruse other blogs I like to read.
5. Make my grocery list.
6. Write down my home to-do list.

Sometimes it is a little messy and I may get a little chip grease on my keyboard (oops), but it allows me to go back to work a little more focused and feeling like I accomplished something too.

When do you find those little snippets of time for to-do's or things you like?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What I Learned this Week

What I learned this week:
1. First of all, if you type "learned", really quickly, it turns out "learnded" and then you don't appear too learned.

2. On that same note, we went to a new park this weekend and saw these words in graffiti: "bich" and "fuch".....as an educator I think, if you're going to spray paint something, at least spell correctly! I'm glad my son didn't have to spell those out as he does many signs he runs across lately.

3. As the sun starts coming up later, my son is sleeping in more. Like now, it is 5:29 AM, and he is still sound asleep! (Remember those 3:45 and 4:30 AM mornings?)

4. Sometimes pumpkin flowers can be as fun to pick and carry around as the pumpkins you find.
5. Last, but not least, I learned something about myself last week. When I have serious time off, I take it seriously, and do too many darn things in that time. I think that's why people need getaway vacations, so they don't see all that needs to be done at home.

For more, see Julie's blog!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I'm feeling that it is time again to write a Thankful Thursday post. I have been so frantically busy the last three days of my "break" that I need to take time to reflect on all I've accomplished, be thankful, and move ahead these last two days, doing LESS.

Today I am most thankful for:

1. Getting my son's Halloween costume and accessories all finished. Check out these Mickey Mouse shoes!
2. Having time to get some birthday and Christmas present shopping done.

3. Having time to go have lunch out with my husband and a day off with him as well.

4. Being healthy this time of year and having time to get extra allergy shots. I usually have bad allergies and have been getting shots. Hopefully they are helping!

5. Getting as much done as I have. Lots of errands and ability to do some shopping I needed.

6. My dog not having anything more serious than a possible prior bug bite that he has been consistently licking until he's licked all the fur off his paw. Poor guy has to wear this for a few days and is seriously in depression.
7. Having the opportunity to see my son in his little soccer class at preschool.
8. The weather finally trying to cool off out here. The car has still read 100 degrees a few times, but it has been noticeably cooler. I LOVE being able to be outside in the cool, fresh air.

9. My son really getting the potty training down! He is doing soooo well. Only #2 accidents at this point, and he'll be 3 on November 6th. I'm happy to have pushed the issue a bit, as I think he was ready and able.

10. Lastly, having two more days of break by myself, in which I really, really, really need to slow down and veg a bit. Really veg. Really try to let the stress of being so busy slide away, and get invigorated again.

What are you most thankful for in your life right now?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Think I'm in Love

Through We're That Family, I just found an amazing (at least to me) blog called Simple Organized Living. I think I'm in love. Seriously. Not with her, but her blog. A little disclaimer though, I just read she doesn't have any children and I'm sure that plays a part in how much extra time she may have, and I say "may", because keeping up with a quality blog like the one she has takes time and commitment.

You should check it out too. My favorite section right now is Time & Money, though that is all I was able to read while eating my bagel (homemade...Trader Joe's..yum) and drinking my coffee, prior to having about 45 minutes to scrapbook, and this I must!

Oh, running a little late on that too, because as I dropped my son off at daycare this morning, he asked me to come read a book to him. Who couldn't resist on a day off, right? Before I knew it, there were three cuties sitting around me while I read them two books. My son had the cutest little smile on his face and I just know he was tickled that his mommy stayed to read to them. I so wish I could do it every day!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What I Learned this Week

I had an interesting "dropping things" weekend. I wasn't feeling particularly clumsy, but something was in the air.

Here are some of the things I learned about that and others

1. I still "have it" when it comes to light mountain biking. See here. I made it without any injuries at all. Surprising after over 3 years.

2. I can have no injuries on a mountain bike ride, and then jam my toe into the edge of the shower and scrape the skin off the top of my right toe 15 minutes later.

3. Half an hour after that, I can drop a soda can out of the refrigerator onto the top of my left toe, denting the can, causing me to yell in pain, and blood can seep out of the cut it made.

4. Three hours later,  my heavy water bottle (non-BPA of course) can fall out of my purse, onto that same toe.

5. Two days later, that same water bottle can go crashing out of a backpack and go sliding under two bathroom stalls in a park bathroom. So sanitary, yes?

This is all a few days prior to a scheduled pedicure appointment. Do you need to worry about sanitary foot soaks at a nice spa with any cuts/abrasions on your feet?

WFMW: Making Cookies with my Son

This weekend, I made cookies with my son for the first time. The funny thing is, I think he's done it before at daycare, or at least done the motions of rolling out the dough and using the cookie cutters. We've used cutters for playdough before, but he seemed to have the groove already!

I bought pre-made dough, just to save time and have my son keep his interest up. I also chose to just use a few cookie cutters he could choose from in Halloween theme, and kept the frosting to simple vanilla, rather than any intricate designs (I don't even know how to do that anyway!)

As I was using the roller and trying to get it not to stick, he was telling me to use the handles. He had to model it for me. :)

He was much more into putting on the sprinkles than he was frosting the cookies, so I did that part. And most of all, the eating of them is the best part!

For more of What Works for Me Wednesday, go here.