"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Peas, Inspections, and Doctor's Visits, Oh My!

Okay everybody, let's take a little vote here, shall we?  Who says "Oh yum, give me those peas on the right, in the baby food jar!!"  Go ahead.  Raise your hand.  Yeah.  Didn't think so.  What color is that, anyway?  And would YOU want to eat it?  Anyway, our latest baby food making trial was ... you guessed it ... peas.  As beautiful as those lovely homemade peas on the left are, the baby didn't like them.  And for those of you wondering, no, he doesn't like the canned variety either.  He ate the fresh ones, but kept wincing and shaking his head with shivers.  Then after he was done, he kept trying to gag.  Not while he was eating, but after he was finished.  So we're going to lay off the peas for a little while and revisit those another time.  I seem to remember the three year old had a similar response to them when he was little, and he loves peas now, so there is hope.  I personally don't like peas either unless we're talking about snowpeas, which I love. Fickle, yes. I know.

So I've been kind of quiet around here lately.  Sorry for that.  We have had a lot going on.  I had my annual inspection for the daycare today, which we passed without any problems.  But that does take some time to get all the records in order and the house super-cleaned.  Not that we don't clean on a regular basis, but you know what I mean.  You just clean a little better when you know someone is going to be looking at everything closely.  We had the health and sanitation inspection (surprise visit) last week, and it went very well too.  Now we just have to wait for the fire marshall to show up, and we'll be good-to-go for another year.  None of this is really nerve wracking or anything.  It's just time consuming. And it makes that little voice in my head say, "No, you can't make that awesome felt heart bunting you saw on Pinterest.  You need to print out all your updated records instead."  So maybe soon I'll be able to cram in a little craft time.  I'm actually working on something over at the church... thanks to a certain 3 year old of mine who thought it was high time to remove the 1960's era wallpaper from the nursery wall.  Yup.  I'll share some photos of that sometime soon too.  I've really bitten off more than I can chew on this one folks.  But I'll leave that story for another post.

Tomorrow the baby will be 7 months old.  He has a checkup scheduled, so we'll be making the hour and a half drive to the doctor's office.  Hopefully he's gained enough weight that we can stop being so concerned about it, and decrease the number of doctors visits.  At $100+ a pop, we'll be glad to slip into the normal schedule of visits, especially if we can stop having to run all these pricy tests too.  But really, we're very grateful to have access to good healthcare and a doctor who knows what he's doing.  So I won't say a word of complaint about paying those bills.  It was all certainly worth it!  I do think he's gained a lot of weight, and definitely gotten taller.  He's really coming out of his shell and he's a lot of fun.  I'm thinking there must be something else that he is allergic to though.  He's still very itchy and though most of the rash has disappeared, he still has it on his back and his scalp.  It is showing up in more predictable places like you would expect eczema to though, so maybe it's just that rather than more allergies.  But when the doctor suggested trying three different formulas especially designed for babies with allergies, it didn't go well.  All three of them make him spit up a lot more - as in repeatedly until I'm sure he has lost as much as he had taken in.  I don't know what to do about that other than make sure to keep nursing.  Hopefully the doctor will have some idea.  And hopefully it doesn't include cutting any more staples from my diet.  I've done really well staying away from eggs, dairy and nuts.  Not sure what I would eat if I had to cut wheat (which I don't expect to as he tested fine for that) or soy - which I'm thinking is the next likely target.  There just aren't a lot of options for things like substitutes for dairy products that don't contain soy either.  I guess I will find out tomorrow what the next plan is.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Few Of My Favorite Things

 Wanna see a few of my favorite things?

 Here you go - Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Thank you Dr. Seuss.  The seven year old loves that they both have "Thing" shirts and insisted on having a picture taken with them both dressed in them.  But he wouldn't quit making goofy faces.

 Here you can see the shirts a little better.  Of course in reality the seven year old is "Thing 3" and the baby is "Thing 5."  I guess Dr. Seuss came up a little short in his numbering...

 And then there's this thing.  He insisted on having his picture taken too.  See the mixer shirt?  He loves all things that have to do with mixers, since Daddy drives one.  You should have seen how excited he was (he and all of the daycare kids) the day Daddy forgot his sunglasses and came by in the mixer to pick them up.  He never does that, so this was the only time they've seen the mixer.  I had two and three year olds jumping up and down all over the place by the time he left :)

Now here's an unconventional way to take a bath, right?  He's my little water baby :)

The three year old has figured out how to get all the daycare kids to be his little servants.  He sits in a big plastic toy tub with his blankie, and has all of them bring toys and push him around.  One day this past week he spent most of the entire day in the bucket.  But at least they were all having a good time.

The baby has been especially cheerful lately.  His complexion is much better, but he still seems really itchy.  So I'm wondering if there's still something else he is allergic to that we don't know about. 

He's a lot of fun anymore.  He waves to us, "talks" to us and winks - or makes blinky eyes at us.  He's such a little flirt.

 And he loves playing with his toys now too... especially the stuffed animals.

Oh, and he has been "hanging out" with me a lot lately.  He's at that age where if he can see me he thinks I ought to be holding him.  Makes it difficult to get anything done, or take care of the daycare.  So I remembered this sling I picked up at a yard sale last summer.  I know this isn't the conventional way to use it, but he likes being able to sit up and it holds him securely so.  I have my hands free to work on whatever I need to get done, so we're both happy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why I LOVE Our Thrift Store

This is why I love our thrift store.  $1.65 - That's exactly how much it cost me to get these three reference books and a cute book about pigs.  That's a savings of over $75!  Can you believe that?! 

 These aren't the beginner dictionaries and encyclopedias either.  See how fat they are?

 There is a lot of great in-depth info in these.  Just what I was needing for the next step up.  The Lord always knows, and He always provides at just the right time!

 While we're on the subject of homeschool, I thought I would throw this picture in.  The skeleton is a puzzle that came with an anatomy book we bought at a yard sale this summer for a dollar.  Compared to the dictionaries and encyclopedia, that was a fortune, lol. 

 We had a pretty good snowstorm over the last couple of days.  Nothing out of the ordinary for Wyoming, but noteworthy because we haven't had any snow since before Christmas, which is very unusual.  Today they called for 100% chance of snow.  So of course it isn't snowing, and doesn't look like it will.  I was surprised to hear the weathermen didn't even give themselves that 1% chance just in case.  They ought to remember that saying about never betting on a sure thing...

 Anyway, after school yesterday the boys (mine on the left, and one we watch after school on the right) made a snowman.  I thought it was funny that they used four snowballs.  But it's art, right?  They can be as creative as they want!

 The younger two keep us on our toes.  The poor baby!  He can't even lay on the floor without his 3 year old brother trying to smother him.

He's a pretty happy guy now that we've gotten his allergies figured out.  I can't believe how much different he is now than he was a month ago.  It's so worth it for me to have to be more careful about my eating habits.  You would be surprised how many things dairy products and eggs are in.  He's allergic to nuts too, so that's even more limiting.  But like I said, I'm glad to do it for him.  Besides, I'm winning in the exchange too.  So far I've lost 10 pounds (since Dec. 21, when I found out about the allergies).  That's a total of 18 pounds lost from my highest weight!  I figured when I had to cut eggs, dairy and milk, I might as well add sugar to the list and ensure a change in me as well. 

My next goal is to get on the treadmill 6 days a week, and to cut my consumption of sodas.  I only drink caffeine free diet coke or pepsi, but that's all I drink.  So it's going to be quite a radical change for me.  I'm not trying to go completely off it, but at least have half of my liquid intake be from water each day.  As far as the diet goals are concerned, I have fought my weight (and been the loser of the battle) my whole life.  It occurred to me that I am turning 40 this year at the end of April, and I have to renew my driver's license.  For once, I'd like to honestly be able to lower the weight listed on that card, and feel like I look better in the new photo than the old.  I also thought about how people say the older you get, the harder it is to lose weight.  It occurred to me (like a 2x4 hitting me in the forehead with a giant "duh" written over my head) that it would never be easier to lose weight than it is right now.  Wow.  That was profound, huh?  So, I'm working on it.  My goal is to have lost 40 pounds by my birthday, and losing 120 by the end of the year.  That's a doable 10 pounds a month, or the recommended slow loss of 2.5 pounds per week.  There will be no "before" pictures until I feel good about the "after" picture.  And I doubt I will ever tell you what my top weight was.  I'm adding a ticker to my sidebar to keep track of my progress.  My debt tracker is so motivating that I figured a weight tracker would be too.  Well, anyway, I hadn't intended to get into the weight discussion, but there it is.  Wish me luck, and please pray for me!  So far I haven't cheated at all, and it feels really good.  I'm wondering how long I can keep it up :) 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Loose Ends and New Beginnings

 This post is a little scattered.  I'm trying to get caught up on my blogging, and I think this post should pretty much do it.  So here goes.  I was inspired by an ornament someone had pinned on Pinterest around Christmas time, and thought I'd give it a shot.  The pin was a link to an etsy shop where someone had made ornaments with glitter footprints on them.  I thought that would be super cute to try with the baby.  The difference is that the ones on etsy were made with glitter stickers, and I was going to use glue and real glitter - and a squirmy baby.  I used Mod Podge glue.  I was worried that the Elmer's would crack and peel off eventually.  And my tacky craft glue was all dried up (as usual).  So I got out the Mod Podge, and painted it onto the baby's foot.

 He wasn't sure what to make of that.  He's incredibly ticklish - more ticklish than any other baby I've ever met.  So that was the first obstacle.

 The next problem was simple enough you would think I would have thought about it sooner.  His foot was too big.  Apparently the ones on the etsy ornament are not life-size.  I had to turn it sideways and roll it.  So his foot looks stretched out even longer than it is.

 Not a real life-like footprint, eh?  Oh well.  I tried.  I tried using his hand too, but that turned out even worse.  Oh yeah.  Then I spilled that super-fine glitter all over the place when I was trying to pour the leftovers back into the container.  Me & glitter ... not such a good combination.  One good thing came of the project though.  I was reminded of how much I HATE glitter!

 In other, completely unrelated news, the three year old has been sweet lately.  He loves to read (or more accurately, be read to) and one night he was so tired that Daddy actually read him to sleep.  You'd have to know our energetic little man to understand how noteworthy this is!

 Aren't they sweet?

I mentioned the other day about the baby already being too spoiled to eat store-bought baby food.  Can you blame him?  I mean, have you ever actually tasted that stuff?  So last week I cooked up some homemade baby food.  Butternut Squash, Acorn Squash and Sweet Potatoes.  These are the easiest things to do.  I just baked the squash whole (I poked a few holes with a knife to let out steam). I baked one of each of the varieties of squash, and three sweet potatoes.  I put all of them in a 9x13 and slow roasted them.  Once they were soft, I pulled them out and let them cool enough for me to handle them.  I pealed the skins off, removed the seeds from the squash, and one at a time blended them into a smooth puree.  I had to add a little water to the sweet potatoes and acorn squash, but the butternut squash was juicy enough.  Then they were spooned into ice cube trays and frozen.
 Once they had frozen solid I took three gallon-sized bags and labeled them.

 Then they went back into the freezer.  I wish I had paid more attention to the exact price I paid for each of these things.  I know the butternut squash was $2.12, and I would guess everything together was probably $5 or less.  Each of these cubes is the same amount as a large jar (the ones that are about two and a half inches tall).  So what I have here is about 66 jars worth of baby food.  The organic ones I had recently bought were on sale for 85 cents a jar - so if I would have bought this many jars of premade baby food, it would have cost me $56.10!!!  Certainly makes the time and effort (and mess) worth is.  I just saved over $50!  As I type this, I have a pan of apples baking in the oven.  We bought a case of apples from my niece who was selling them for an FFA fundraiser so I have no idea what the cost per apple was (very cheap - we got a case of oranges and a case of apples for a total of $33).  Even if I had purchased the most expensive apples I could find, I would still be saving tons of money.  Not to mention, the baby loves this stuff!

I mean, really.  Have you ever seen a seven year old beg to lick the spoon from the baby food jar, and then rave about how wonderful it was and ask for more? Yep. Didn't think so.  And yet, here's the seven year old, who licked the spoon after every batch of baby food was made.  Look out cookie dough, you've got competition!

 Extra money in my pocket is what I am hoping for by the end of the year.  My sister mentioned while we were in Colorado visiting them, that she uses a thermometer picture to motivate them to pay off their debts.  She emailed me the template, but also mentioned that she has used coloring pages marked off in sections as well.  She said seeing the form and coloring in the sections was very motivating to them, causing them to look for more money to put onto the debt.  I knew I wanted to do the same thing, and when someone pinned kids coloring page printouts on Pinterest, I knew I wanted to use one of these.  The hardest thing was counting all the spots.  Then I divided our debt by that many spots and realized that each spot would be close to representing $25 of debt.  This is all medical debt we acquired last year.  I had already pre-paid my OBGYN before he was born, so that was not included here.  But I had some potential complications before the birth (very high blood pressure), which required hospital tests.  Then the birth was more expensive than anticipated because they had to keep him longer than they expected.  I also had the epidural (well worth the money) after planning to go natural.  Then the baby has had several health problems since he was born, so that all added up to extra tests (thing like a heart echo, two series of chest x-rays, followed by being on oxygen, tests for allergies, and so on.)  I'm not worried about it though.  I'm confident we can pay it all off this year, and hopefully also rid ourselves of several other debts.  That's what my daycare income is for.

See this?  This is one week after the picture above.  So far we've paid off $650 worth of debt.  And we're only halfway through January.  I expect to be able to add even more to this before the end of the month.  So it's manageable.  I'm glad a put up the coloring page.  It is very motivating and I can see that we really are getting somewhere.  Now, I'm thinking of forgoing our weekly date night of a fancy steak dinner and staying home (or convincing my husband that burgers sound great ;) - any of you who know my husband will understand what a challenge that will be!  I do have to say though, now that I can't have eggs, dairy or nuts, my urge to eat out has been seriously curbed.  We live in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, with no chain restaurants (with the exception of Subway).  None of these places have websites or can tell you for sure what is in anything.  And I have a real hard time trusting the baby's health to someone's word that there's no dairy in something.  Not that I don't trust them.  Just that I only feel absolutely sure when I can read ingredient lists for myself.  Did you know even the French fries at McDonalds and Wendy's contain dairy products???  So it makes it a lot of work to eat out.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Star Wars Snowflakes

 My oldest son (21) is in the Air Force and wasn't able to join us for Christmas for the first time ever this year.  It was sad, but at the same time, we are incredibly proud of him and know this is just a part of growing up.  He had recently been stationed to a new base, so he didn't have a large group of friends who he could spend Christmas with.  I was pretty sad about that.  We didn't want him to feel like he was left out or forgotten at Christmas, so we sent him a care package full of wrapped gifts - mostly little things like gum and homemade peanut brittle, as well as a couple bigger gift cards.  In the package I sent these snowflakes I made.  They are Star Wars figures.  Now I haven't even seen Star Wars, and can pretty much guarantee you I will die happily never having seen it.  But he likes it, and that's what matters.  And besides, it was fun to make the snowflakes.  I found the idea on Pinterest, as well as the print outs, so all I had to do was cut away the grey parts.  He liked them and now I'm going to make more (different characters) to send to him.

For those of you who care, this is Boba Fett...

 Darth Vader (the only one I recognized).

And these are Clone troopers. 

I wouldn't say these were easy to make - be sure you have a really sharp exacto knife if you try this, and good scissors that can cut through several layers of paper.  After seeing these, my sweet husband picked up a fancy 13-piece precision knife set (like exacto knives, but with several different shaped blades) from Harbor Freight for me while he was out spending his Christmas cash in Colorado.  Now I definitely have to make more of these!  I'm wishing I had some more flimsy computer paper though.  Mine is plenty stiff for this project.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

 Between Christmas and New Year's we had a great vacation, going to my Mom's house in Colorado for the week.  (I'm going to let the pictures do the talking for the most part here, with just a few comments.)  The first thing our three year old found when he went in the door was this dog - a draft dodger for Mom's door.  He figured it was just for him, and made friends right away.  He stopped in the middle of playing with him to tell our 19 year old daughter "He's growin' FAST!"

 He loved visiting his little cousin again - she is 5 months old now.

 She seemed to enjoy having a new toy :) and lots of attention.

My sister turned 35 while we were there, so my daughter baked her a cake and decorated it with skittles... and lots of candles. :)
 She had lots of help with the unwrapping.

I walked into the back bedroom one day and found my boys all lined up watching television.
 So I added the baby to the pile and got a picture of all the important men in my life (minus the 21 year old, who is living on an Air Force base in California, and couldn't make the trip).

 The babies got re-intruduced.

Mine wasn't so sure he wanted to share the limelight.
 Of course there was lots of baby holding...

 And we all figured out how to play Scrabble and Mancala on my daughter's new Nook color.

I bought a new camera - just a cheap, tiny little thing that will fit easily into my purse or pocket.  The bigger one is too cumbersome to lug around all the time.  And now I can take self-portraits again.  The bigger one was awkward and impossible to take self portraits with unless I used both hands, which doesn't make for great pictures.

 Sorry Uncle J.  Had to include these :)  Our seven year old was trying out the new camera and was giving very specific instructions on how to pose...

 My daughter's one request was that we eat out at HuHot.  I'm not sure what culture that is - Mongolian, maybe?  Anyway, you go through a line and choose all the raw ingredients - putting everything into a bowl or two as you go...

Then you take it up to the big round cook surface and they cook it for you.
 The line was pretty long to get your food cooked, but it's fun and tasty, so it's worth it.

 We were seated right next to the line for the cooking, so we could visit while we were in line.  Still, it took a good 20-25 minutes to go through the line and get back to the table.  We had to do it in shifts too because of the babies, but in the end, everyone was full and happy :)

Of course we had to do a size comparison picture with the little ones, who are 30 days apart in age.  Our son is about an inch longer and still weighs barely more than she does.  But it's hard to tell.

 Of course the three year old had to get in on the photo shoot :)  It wasn't that long ago that he was this little!

 We played several games. This is a card version of Trivial Pursuit that was really fun.  I love Trivial Pursuit, but can't hardly get anyone to play it with me.  The card version was easier because it moves faster, and you get multiple choice answers and can steal other players' wedges.  Very fun.  We played it all New Years Eve - up through midnight.

The next morning everyone was very tired, especially the kids.  We got up to head to church, but the three year old was in a horrible mood so I ended up keeping him and the baby home.  (When he gets like that, there's nothing we can do - just let him rest).  We had planned to head out right after church, but the seven year old wasn't feeling very well, so we stayed long enough to watch the Bronco's game, then headed home after that.  It was a great week (and thankfully an uneventful trip home.  Everyone but me slept most of the way home.) I love our home here in the mountains, but I do wish we were closer to my family so we could get together more than a couple times a year...