Thursday, July 31, 2008

Little Man has a girlfriend

I knew this day would come.  I just didn't expect it so soon.  Little Man has a little woman.  
She's adorable, sweet, quiet and playful.  Her daddy works out where I work so when I'm working, she and Little Man get to play together.  Little Man loves to play with "Kay-Tin".  He always gives her a big hug when she shows up.  Today, they had this cute little game where one would "fall down" and the other would help him/her up.  Then, they would run around and hide from the other kids in the room.  
If she threw her ball and he was closer to it, he'd get it for her.
He shared - SHARED - the toys he was playing with, with her.   
I'm sure if he had the money, he'd take her for ice cream.  Maybe hold her hand.  Wipe off that bit of ice cream that got on her nose...
OK, so maybe I'm projecting a little, but still.  He's MY Little Man!
When her daddy came in to change her diaper, Little Man was all up in her business!  Rude little boy!  I was actually embarrassed that I had to go get him - twice - away from the changing table so she could have a little privacy.  
It's just too stinkin' cute.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

after a good brushing and bath and this is what I get....

Today I did something that I've been putting off all summer long.  I brushed and washed our old Husky.  She's an old girl and the older she gets, the less tolerant of brushings and baths she gets, which is why I've been putting it off.
That and the amount of fur that comes out from her blowing her coat is enough to make another small to medium sized dog.
She does this twice a year.  She starts shedding her winter undercoat when warm weather arrives, then as cold weather comes, she starts shedding her lighter, summer coat.  It's insane.  Once, when we were in OK, Trey commented on the fact that it looked like a dog blew up in our yard (not that we would DO that, of course!).  You know - poof - then a cloud of fur.  I can see it in a cartoon or comic somewhere, only I think it was a chicken and feathers went flying everywhere.
Anyway, this worked out well happening today because I needed something to blog about.  Not that you care that I brush and wash my dog, but I took pictures of the mound of fur to prove to you I'm not making this up.  And it gives me something to write about.
This is the mound of fur that I combed out of her coat.  I didn't even really get around her neck or her tail because she was just too grumpy for all that.
This gives you an idea of just how big that pile of fur is.  Anyone need a pillow stuffed?
Now that she's clean....
... she gives me that "whatever, mom" look.  The one I'm sure I'll get from my kids in the not-to-distant future.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Conversations with women when men aren't around

I was able to go out with some other mommy friends last night without children.  How stress-free that was!  It was a local restaurant that doesn't have a liquor license so we were able to brown-bag wine.  Much cheaper that way!  Anyway, there were 6 of us and 5 each brought a bottle.  Needless to say, we didn't get to finish all the wine - I think one or two bottles weren't even opened yet.  
Conversations between women/moms are quite interesting.  Topics included our children, our husbands and our families, potty training and all the bad words our children learn from us.  Summer camps, house shopping and I think all of us at one time or another have hit a stationary object.  Sneaking out as teenagers, college pranks, whether or not alcohol was allowed in State Parks.  We talked about lots of things, both funny and serious.  We talk and talk with lots of detail and information.  It's part of how we share our friendships.  And if our yard ever gets "forked" with plastic forks, I'll know who did it.
We also talked about how different men are with their friends than women.  Not in a bad way or anything, just different.  Guys can go for years without seeing or talking to a friend, and when they do catch up, it's not really a long, drawn-out conversation with lots of details.  Gals need to catch up and talk about every little thing.  Guys don't need to do this.  Example:  One friend's husband was asked to be the best man in one of his friend's wedding.  She didn't even know he had this particular friend - at least that he was close enough to be the best man!  Another friend mentioned that a baby was born and her husband didn't know the details.  Personal example:  we get an email - an EMAIL - from a long time friend of Trey's that he's going to be a daddy.  
When I got home and talked about this conversation to Trey, he said "oh yeah, Shane and Jules had their baby last week (names are changed to protect the innocent)."  As a note to all you men out there reading the blog (all two of you, I'm sure), please know that pregnancies, wedding and births are all very important information to your wives.  There are things to do, plans to be made, gifts/cards/dresses to purchase.  We need to know the weight, size and name of the baby.  How is the mom?  The dad?  How is the baby?  Are the siblings adjusting?  (if they're in town) Do they need anything?  Can we get a meal to them?  If there's a wedding in the future, we need to know when?  Where?  How formal is it?  Where is the bride registered?  What are the colors of her wedding?  Since you're the best man, aren't you supposed to plan the bachelor party?  When will that be?  Where are you going for it?  If you're going to have a baby, we need to know things like due date, how is the mom-to-be doing?  How is the pregnancy going?  (thankfully, our friend understood that I needed details and supplied them, in an email, of course :) ).
Yes, women really do need to know all these things.  I know (because Trey told me) that when Shane and Jules had their baby that the baby is fine and he told them congratulations.  That's it????  

Friday, July 25, 2008

Frugal Friday

I didn't really have anything new to add this week, so what I decided to do was visit some other websites and blogs to connect you with other frugal ideas.
The first is this neat page that I found somewhere - I'm sorry I can't remember which blog to give proper credit to.  It's 100 things you can make yourself and you can go here to look at it.  There are a lot of things on the list that I never would have thought of.  Go take a look.  Now.  Then come back to me.
Ok, here's the next thing I want you to take a look at.  It's another blog called Retro Housewife goes green.  She's had some interesting posts and right now she has a contest that anyone can enter to win biodegradable kitchen garbage bags.  You'll have to go back a few posts to find the giveaway, though.
Here's another tip.  If you ever get blood on your clothes (if you have children, this will happen more than you think) use hydrogen peroxide to get it out.  If you apply it right away, give a little rub, it'll get the blood out almost immediately.  If the blood is allowed to stain, it might take a little more work.  I learned this trick working at an animal hospital.  We had hydrogen peroxide in spray bottles just for cleaning blood off clothes and pets' fur.  
I like to eat out.  Not only does it mean I don't have to cook, but there's no clean-up, either!  However, eating out can be expensive.  Here are some tips for saving money if you're just dying to get food from somewhere other than your home.  But do think on brown-bagging your lunch.  Here are some tips and interesting notes about the money saved by bringing your own lunch to work or school.
Thanks for reading!  If you have any tips on living green and/or frugal, please let me know!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Monkey has a solo

Yes, I am one of "those" moms.  Those moms that brag about their children.  
Monkey has been practicing in choir over the summer and working on a program for the fall kick-off of our church's Wed night fellowship.  She auditioned for speaking and singing roles and while I hoped she would get something, we tried to help her understand that she might not. 
Of course, she is the one who said she was "born to sing" in the same matter-of-fact tone that she uses to say she was "born with blue eyes."  American Idol, here we come.
She did not get a speaking role, but she did get a solo.  She's very excited and sings well along with the cd in the car.  I'm wondering how she'll do in front of a crowd.  Last summer, during VBS, she jumped up on the stage to sing and dance with a bunch of other kids, then froze when she saw the crowd.  I'm hoping that won't happen again this year.
For those parental units out there, we're going to try and dust off that camcorder and get it on tape.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

Those of you who know me know that today isn't really my birthday.  But it the anniversary of my baptism through Christ.  I got the idea to post this about a week or so ago and while I'm not good at testimonies and such, here goes.
I'm sure I have friends out there who've known me for years that, if they're reading this, they're saying to themselves "..... wow ..... really?!? ...... wow....."  The thing is, I changed more when I became a parent than when I became a follower of Christ.  I'm still me.  The only thing different is that I'm striving to be more Christ-like in my life.  It's hard.  I'm not very good at it.  Good thing I'm already forgiven, right??  
How did I get here?  It probably started after Monkey was born.  Having a child changes everything about your life and how you live it.  But it really kicked in while we were living in Oklahoma.  I needed friends and moms to hang out with, so I started going to MOPS to meet other moms.  I didn't realize at the time that MOPS is a Christian-based ministry.   My first meeting, I thought "what have I gotten into?"  I wasn't sure about staying, but I liked the women I met.  The longer I stayed, the better I got to know some of them, and the more I was opened to Jesus.  
When we moved to where we are now, again, I needed to meet some people and make friends.  I also started visiting some churches.  I found two churches that I liked - one had a great traditional service and it felt like home.  I can't really explain it, but it had that old smell, old wood and stone, and it reminded me of my grandfather and I just felt comfortable there.  I could see Monkey getting married in that church.  I also liked really liked the pastors, the members were very nice and I made a few good friends.
The other church has a great contemporary service and I also really liked the pastors there.  It's a really big church, though, so I felt lost when I visited.  However, this church had a moms group and it was close to home, so I started going  to the moms group.  It gave me a "back door" to the church, so I didn't feel so lost any more when attending the services.  I met some amazing, faithful women in this group.  I learned so much from them as moms, as Christians and as friends.  I could go on and on, but I won't.  Trey started visiting the contemporary service with me (he's not into the traditional service much at all) and we decided that this church should be our home church.
Monkey, too, has the natural faith of a child.  There are times when she seems more wise than any adult I have ever met.  Her simple faith has led me more than any church service or book.  So, with my family, friends and church(es) to support me, I had the Believer's Baptism last summer.  I'm still a long way off from "figuring it all out" - we don't even remember to say grace before dinner - but having the people around me that I do, the struggles I'll face won't be nearly as bad.
Thanks to all the angels who guided me to where I am.  I hope you know who you are.  
(an old Irish prayer)
May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

yet again...

I have found the CUTEST bag for your budding artist!  They're called Doodlebags and you can see them here.  I found out about them by visiting Life is like Champagne.  Can you tell I'm obsessed with looking at different blogs?  I love it!  I forgot how I got to Life is like champagne, but I'm sure it was through yet another blog.  Anyway, you, too, can enter to win one of these cute bags.  Go here to get more info.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Give away stuff!!

I've noticed that a lot of blogs give away lots of things.  I haven't won anything yet but I'm hooked.  In light of being green and frugal, I'm linking up with another blog who is  giving away really nice reusable bags.  Her link is here and her blog is called Notes of Jubilee.  Check it out!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday savings

I wanted to post this today since I feel like I did really well at the store (and because I wanted to share my savings on to others at another blog, too).  My total out of pocket was $56.39.  Seems like a lot, but I splurged and bought us two T-bone steaks to have for dinner tonight, some hummus that was on sale, plus we needed eggs.  The four 1/2 gallons of tea were all free after sale/coupons, one of the Bounty rolls was free, the others were $0.50, the Suave shower gels were $0.69 each, the deodorant and the toilet paper got me an extra $3 off, plus I had coupons for those.  The protein bars for Trey were $0.67 each.  I also had Kroger coupons for the cheese (which was also on sale) and for the butter.
Over all, I saved $42.51, a savings of 45%.  Not bad when you consider that I splurged and spent $15 on the steaks (which were on sale, too, by the way) and $5 on the hummus.  It's a pain keeping up with all those coupons, but it sure does save money!

poop and pools

What is it about poop in pools and children?  I'm not talking about tossing a Babe Ruth in the pool to watch everyone scatter.  That's for older kids to do.  I'm talking about little ones in diapers (or not in diapers) who can't  take the time to get out of the pool and go do their business.
But what if they're potty trained?  Maybe it makes a difference, but I just don't know.  Apparently, our son likes to poop under water.  I'm sure this will make potty training difficult in his case, unless I actually let him sit IN the toilet instead of ON the toilet.  Hmmmm.... food for thought....
I should have been clued in last summer when at Mawmaw and Pawpaw's house, the kids were playing in a kiddie pool and on a slip-and-slide.  Being the ever-prepared parent that I am, it never occurred to me to pack swim clothes to go to visit for the weekend.  They don't have a pool, or a neighborhood pool, nor are they at the beach, so why would  they need swimwear?  I forgot that they do have running water and a yard - and that's all children need for playing in the summer.  So when Little Man's regular diaper practically soaked up the little plastic pool, we decided to take it off.   Then he proceeded to poop in said pool (after we added more water, of course).  
Isn't that such a cute picture?  He's gonna hate me on prom night and at rehearsal dinner, but I digress....  Had he been our first child, intense cleaning and scrubbing with all kinds of child-safe cleaners (like that Arm n' Hammer magic sponge!) would ensue and the back yard and kiddie pool would have been quarantined for a week.  However, being much more laid back with the second child, we just hosed him off, dumped out and flipped over the pool and sent everyone to the slip-n-slide.
I thought that was it.  I thought wrong.
This summer, every time - and I do mean EVERY time - we have gone to the pool, and once out on the lake with a friend - There has been poop involved and it's usually Little Man (thankfully, the boat incident was his buddy WB, I was beginning to think it was just my kid).  And I don't mean that nice solid poop that's easily cleaned up.  I mean that not-so-solid, running down the leg, takes an entire box of wipes to even start, kind of poop.  And since we're at a pool, with other people using the pool, we must be considerate and break out the child-safe cleaners.  A hose simply won't do.
The first incident this summer happened at a neighborhood pool with friends who supplied me with many wipes.  At least there was a changing table, but I made Little Man stand on it while I attempted to clean him up.   Truly it was disgusting.  For those of you who aren't parents yet, just wait.  You'd be surprised at what you'll do for your children.  After I wiped him down, I stood him in the tiniest sink known to man to try and wash him.  Unlike the YMCA pool where something similar happened last summer (again!  poop in pools - I'm sensing a pattern here), this pool didn't have a locker room where I could hold him under a shower.  Just a tiny bathroom, without ventilation, and a tiny sink mounted to the wall, without a counter.
He did the same thing at the same pool the second time we went.  This time, I was a little more prepared - I brought wipes with me.  Thankfully, it wasn't quite as messy.
He did the same thing yesterday at a different pool (beautiful pool, by the way, I want this one in my back yard).  Only here's the thing.  I caught him making that "stance" so I knew he had to go.  Since we're working on potty training, I thought this was a perfect chance to get him to poop in the toilet.  So we go to the bathroom.   I explain (to a two year-old) that we can't poop in the pool.  I'm sure he understood.  We go and he sits on the toilet and he does nothing.  What is it about pooping in the toilet that freaks kids out?  I'm sure there are people who can't go a day without pooping and it feels great when they do (did I really just type that?).  I explain again that he needs to poop in the toilet, not the pool.  I think he understood.  He said he was done, so I put his only swim diaper back on (usually I bring two because of our history of soiling at least one at the pool) and we head back to swim.
He didn't understand.  
A few minutes later, as he walks by, I smell it.  Off we go, back to the bathroom, this time for cleaning.  There's no changing table, so I do all the clean-up I can with him standing on the floor.  Didn't have wipes (you'd think I'd learn) so I used what I could find.  He wasn't happy that I told him no more swimming because he pooped in the pool (and because I didn't have another swim diaper) so we put a regular diaper on and headed out.  He looked great walking around in a diaper and his sandals.  What a look for my little man.  
I don't think we'll be invited to any more pools this summer, without at least asking if he's had his poop for the day.  We should stick to back yards where I can just hose him off and be done with it....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Frugal Friday

This hasn't been a very frugal week for me.  The one trip to the grocery store was painful - which itself is evidence that the grocery game is working for me.  When was the last time spending $60 at the store painful for you?  Less than 6 months ago, I couldn't get out of the store for less than $90, no matter what few things I was going for.  
Anyway, for $60 I got milk (2 gal), bread, fresh fruit and veggies, meat and some organic juice boxes for the kids.  I also picked up some snack crackers, carpet cleaner and I think that's it.  Not a huge amount, but I managed to save roughly $20.  I still have to stock up on some things that are at the other grocery store, but that'll probably be later tonight or tomorrow before I get there.
Here's a frugal and green thought for cleaning.  I picked up a spray bottle last week and mixed about 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water.  It's great for spot cleaning the floor (especially as I'm cleaning up after the puppy) and it's safe to use around the kids.  I even caught Little Man using it (I think he was trying to clean the cat).  Had it been one of those chemical cleaners I would have been much more concerned.  I already use vinegar and water to clean the floor instead of anything else.  It works great and once the floor is dry, it doesn't smell like vinegar any more.  I also have a friend who uses vinegar as a fabric softener in her wash.   Haven't done that yet.  She also makes recycled totes.  I'll try and feature her one day.  I have a zillion different tote bags, but she said she could make me something that had pockets and such, so maybe we can work something out.   Anyway, she gets fabric that people are giving away/throwing out and then makes pretty bags from them.  I think it's really cool and a great way to reuse and recycle.
Anyone out there have any other frugal or green suggestions?  I'd love to hear about them...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I can paint!

I have a dilemma.  I've been told that I can paint murals.  I guess that I can, because I've painted 3 so far and will be painting a 4th in the near future.  Here's the thing.  The first ones I did more as a favor and because I thought it would be fun.  I did them where I work (a local YMCA) so I just clocked in as I would if I were working a normal day.  The thing is, people are encouraging me to pursue this more as a business and tell me I should charge accordingly.  Even the director of the YMCA is telling me that.  So my dilemma is figuring out how much to charge.  

I've looked at murals online and researched some painters, however none that I have found so far post a billing scale.  I can understand why - each job is different, requiring different skills/time/materials so each job is estimated differently, but that doesn't really help me out now.  I've made up an estimate/contract sheet for the upcoming jobs that I have, and I do have them!  I have several people telling me that they want me to do something in their home, just let them know what it would cost.  So you see my problem!

I also have a confidence issue.  I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, but it isn't in painting.  I didn't like painting in college and didn't really do well in the class, although I do like some of the paintings I did.  But I look at some of these mural artists' work online and think "there's no way I can do that!"  Artists - good artists - have an ego.  They do good work and they know it.  They have to, to be able to do the work they do.  I don't have that ego.  I like what I do, but I don't think it's "amazing" or "incredible" or some of the other things people have said to me.  

I'd love it if you can leave feedback for me or any suggestions you may have to go about doing this.  I'm all about getting ideas and suggestions from others!

The mirror was already there, I just painted the frame around it.  Since this was in the children's room, I thought a fantasy theme might be fun.  I don't like my dragon, though.

I got the idea for this one from reading Stephen King's new book, Duma Key.  Fantastic read if you have time!
Monkey helped paint the flowers and butterfly on this one.  

Monday, July 14, 2008

what about the puppy?

Well, we may have to find a new home for the puppy.  One thing Trey and I have learned about a puppy is that it requires a LOT of patience and time, something we really don't have a surplus of these days.  Neither of us remember this from when we each got our dogs 13 - 14 years ago.  Maybe it has something to do with boxers.  Or that we have children.  Or that Trey works full time and travels and I'm doing the "mommy thing" with two children.  Maybe it's just that we're getting old.  I mean, gosh, Trey will be 40 next year!  That's positively ancient.
I see the potential in the pup.  I've taught him the "sit" command.  He ~almost~ goes to the door when he needs to go out.  He's great in the evenings, stretched out with us on the couch and the kids love to play with him.  However, he's still biting and snapping at us and the children, albeit usually in a playful manner, but sometimes not.  Enough that I am concerned that at some point, blood will be drawn.  He needs more focused training, more than we can give him, and the children - Little Man particularly - are too little to really help all that much.  He still has accidents in the house, too, which is frustrating to both of us.  Again, good thing we have plans to replace the carpet in the not-too-distant future.
The thing is, though, is that this isn't really us.  We're generally not the type of people to  give up pets for adoption - we take them in.  At one time we had 5 pets (this is not including the puppy).  Two have passed of old age, one is on the way and two are in middle age.  We love our pets.  But I'm not loving this puppy.  Sure, he's cute as puppies go, but where's the love, man??  I think we're doing the puppy a disservice by keeping him and not training him up to be a good family dog.  That's just going to take more time than we have right now.  He was given to us with a good heart and the best of intentions, but now isn't the season of life where we need to be raising a puppy.  I'm hoping Trey will be able to find a good home with someone he works with.  They already have a boxer (puppy does great with other dogs - our old dog is even tolerating him now) and no children.  We'll see what happens.
Monkey will be devastated.  We've talked that the puppy might have to find a new home, but she will still be upset.  Another one of life's lessons learned....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yesterday was a busy Saturday.  Monkey had been invited to TWO birthday parties to be held on the same day.  Now, for some of you out there, this might be a common occurrence, especially if you have more than one child or a child who is friends with everyone, however this was new to me.  Luckily for us, the two parties weren't overlapping or at the same time, forcing us to choose which party to go to - a fate worse than death to an almost-6 year old.
Party one was for a girl that Monkey became fast friends with in Kindergarten, a truly sweet girl.  We'll call her Claire (remember, we change names to protect the innocent around here).  Her party was at 11:00, at a local park, near the lake.  I'm thinking "this will be fun for the kids, lots of room to run around, they're grilling hot dogs, I like it!" until we get there and it's nine-THOUSAND degrees outside and about 1000% humidity.  I've always said that kids have anti-freeze in their blood (when I was growing up, I'd see them swimming in the ocean in March).  Apparently, they also have coolant in their blood.  God's little radiators.  I was thankful that the tables and such for the event were under a grove of trees, making it only eight thousand degrees.  Unfortunately, in these parts, shade has no effect on humidity.  
Claire's parents planned well, though.  They had lots of ice-cold drinks for the children and parents, lots of food, lots of good humor.  Other than being really hot, I had a good time and the kids had a great time.  Monkey got to see many of her friends from school and play hard, as kids do.  Little Man got to chase geese and throw sticks into the water and basically run amok.  Neither of them ate much lunch (because of the heat and excitement, I assume) but they sure didn't miss out on cake!  
Shortly after lunch, we headed home to get Little Man down for his nap.  We only had about 2 hours before the next party started.  This one, also for a classmate, was to start at 3:00.  We'll call him Sean.  His party was indoors (YAY!) at a big bounce house.  There were actually four different inflatables  in the bounce room.  Since I had to wake up Little Man from his nap, he wanted nothing to do with anything for about 30 minutes or so, then I couldn't keep him off them.  They had a toddler area (Sean has younger sisters) for the little ones and then, of course, the giant slide and obstacle course.  I followed Little Man around most of the time, making sure he followed the rules, so Monkey I would only catch glimpses of.  She was too busy running with her friends  (a look into our future, perhaps?).  After the bounce room, everyone moved to the party room for cake and ice cream and presents.  Little Man kept trying to open the presents and when that didn't work, he kept trying to go back into the bounce room.   Again, a good time was had by all.
Having two birthdays in one day certainly makes the day go by faster!  

Friday, July 11, 2008

Frugal Friday

Well, since Wednesday's week in review didn't work, how about Frugal Friday?  One of the things I've been priding myself on lately is doing really well at the grocery store.  I've been doing the grocery game since about February, and my pantry is pretty well stocked.  As you can see from my blog margins, I like to find ways to be frugal with our money and conserve resources where I can.
I've been to the store twice this week.  I've seen people on forums list individually what they bought and saved - well, I won't do that here.  I'll just give you a quick rundown.  At Ingles, this week, I bought things like Dole fruit cups, Cascadian Farms cereal, Adam and Eve organic apple juice and Mission tortillas, plus milk and eggs, organic chicken breasts and a roast.  A few other little things filled the basket.  The total before coupons and sale prices was around $90.  I actually spent $65.  The trick is matching sales with coupons.
Today, I did better at Kroger.  I used to think - no way am I shopping at Kroger, it's too expensive.  Now, it's my favorite place to go.  I got 20 Met-RX protein bars for Trey at $0.67 each, plus fresh bag salad, strawberries, Coffeemate creamer, Sargento cheese, pepperoni (we had pizza tonight) and vitamins.  Again, before they started discounting everything, I saw the total was $92 and change.  Then they scanned my card and coupons and I walked out of there paying $37.  I want you to notice that I'm not buying that many store brand items.  When I do the math, I'm getting these name brands for LESS than the store brands.  If it hadn't been for the Grocery Game, we would never have been able to do this.  If you're curious and decide to try out the grocery game, be sure to include me as your reference.
I have also started taking my bags to the store.  I've gotten the Kroger shopping bag for free (by going to their website and designing a bag, along with a gazillion other people) and a free bag from Earthbound Farms for filling out a survey.  I have other tote bags that I use, too, if those two aren't enough.  If I happen to forget my bags, which I still do, I ask for paper.  Not only do the baggers put more in each, so I'm not carrying 15 bags for 20 things, it's easier to recycle.  I just put them in with my newspapers.
Another frugal tip is we use cloth napkins.  I found some plain white jersey fabric at a yard sale that I paid $0.50 for and cut it up into about 15 or so 12x12" cloth napkins.  I don't care if they get stained, they're cheap, and I just throw them in the wash when they get dirty.  We're not filling up the garbage with paper napkins nor spending money on more.
We've started recycling, too.  We hadn't been recycling for a while but there is a new recycling center just down the road so we started again.  I'm amazed at how much less trash we have now.  
Hopefully, I'll have more ideas and links next week.  Maybe this will be easier to do than the Week in Review.  Now go, be frugal!

ElfQuest, the movie

Some of you may or may not know this, but growing up, I was (and still am) a HUGE ElfQuest fan.  I get emails in newsletter form from one of the two writers, Richard Pini, and the latest one was that ElfQuest is FINALLY on track to be made into a movie!
If you are curious, here's a link for the press release.  I'm very excited :).  

Thursday, July 10, 2008

lightning struck tree

I took Monkey to the Cove one afternoon a while back (same park where we rented a kayak, actually) and as we were walking around, I noticed this tree with a hole in it.  As I looked closer,  I noticed that there was also a split along the front leading from the ground up. As Monkey and I examined further, I noticed the charcoal of burnt wood all around the interior cavity of the tree.   I first took pictures of the leaves that I could see through the hole in the tree.  This first picture I categorize as a "happy accident."  Isn't it cool?
This is the other side of that tree.  Notice the charring around and above the hole.
a closer look at that hole...
This is the same view as the first picture, only with better exposure and lighting.
The split from the ground went several feet above Monkey's head.  The base of the cavity was about 2 to 3 feet across the ground, completely burned out.  Amazing what lightning can do!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wednesday Week in Review

Well, I've realized something.  The "Wednesday Week in Review" isn't really working for me.  Anything that happens during the week that is worth blogging about will get it's own blog, so there's no real reason to review the week.  You readers can just scroll down to review on your own.
Didn't you hate that in school?  "Review on your own" for any given test.  That's just not fair.  Why not give topics or problems to review.  Why force us to do the dirty work of coming up with review material?  I've had good teachers and great teachers and not-so-good teachers and I remember the good and great ones would always guide us on what to review.
The not-so-good teachers would tell us to "go review everything we've covered in the last nine weeks.  You never know where your questions will come from."  Hated that.  Mainly because I'm not a very good freeform studier.  I need guidance on what to study for.
Too bad life isn't like that.  Sure, we all get tested and retested but we're never given any review material for the tests.  All of a sudden, you're faced with a situation you haven't really prepared for.  Your "test," if you will.  Where's the review material?  Shouldn't there be an answer key somewhere we can refer to, at least for the review questions to help us know if we've prepared properly?
I need a review sheet for potty training.  It's been a few years since Monkey went through this and now I'm trying to train Little Man.  I have no past experience in the details of potty training a boy (nor do I have any experience with peeing standing up.  Trey will have to take over in that arena).  Sure, I remember the basics of potty training, but I'm getting the idea that the basics aren't going to be on the final exam.  Just a lot of urine in, on and around the toilet.  Have I mentioned somewhere that I dislike cleaning?  I'm pretty sure I did.  And did you know that boys like to play in the toilet while they're sitting on it?  Or is that just mine?  I don't remember Monkey doing that.
I don't like tests and especially those essay ones that don't have the specific right answer.  I have a feeling that I won't be able to BS my way through this test, like I did in Philosophy, decades ago.  There really wasn't a wrong answer as long as you logically argued your point.  Have you ever tried logic on a 2 year old?  It doesn't work.  Neither does arguing, but that's another blog for another day....  

Monday, July 7, 2008


In today's energy "crisis,"  wouldn't it make green sense to stop using a dryer (which draws a TON of electricity) and start using a clothes line?  Makes sense to me!  Here's the thing, though.  According to Trey, they don't "look nice" - and that's cleaning up what he really says - pun intended.  Who cares what other people think, right?  If I see a neighbor hanging clothes on a line, I don't think negative thoughts.  I might wonder about their taste in clothes or sheets, but that's just a personal thing.  Purple paisley sheets are no longer fashionable, unless you are the Artist Formally Known as Prince.
We use those cheap wooden drying racks on the back sunroom/screened porch.  Sure, it serves the same purpose but it takes hours and hours for things to dry - even in this heat.  Yet a clothes line, now THAT's speedy drying.  Not only do you have the sun doing the dirty work, you also have whatever light (or heavy, if you live in Oklahoma) breeze to assist in the drying time.  Years ago, when I used one, I could wash sheets, then a bedspread in the morning and have the line clear for jeans in the afternoon and bring everything in nice and fresh and dry by evening.
And lets not forget that fresh scent and softness of being beaten into submission by the sun and wind.  On a drying rack, even with fabric softener, clothes tend to be more like sandpaper, only a softer grit.  Heaven forbid we forget the softener!  Might as well use those clothes when you need some 50 grit heavy duty sand paper for stripping paint off the door.
I really do miss some of the simpler things in life (as I wait anxiously for my iPhone) like hanging clothes out on a quiet morning then folding as I go when it's time to bring them in.  If only we could get over letting people look at our undies...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy 4th of July!!

I hope everyone had a happy 4th celebration.  Yes, I know it's the 5th,  but I was busy yesterday!  We were invited to a good friend's house, who was throwing something like a block party (only it was in the driveway - it just included most everyone around the block) for the 4th.  It was great fun!
Picture this:  Bright (hot) sunny day, lots of adults being outnumbered by lots more children, lots of good food, lots of what little Monkey called "daddy's juice" when she was a toddler.  Yeah, that's going to come back to haunt us, I'm sure.  Anyway, the kids were confined to the back yard for a while with a water hose, some balloons and a sprinkler, only occasionally escaping in an attempt to douse some unsuspecting adult.  Then when that got old, they infiltrated the driveway with sidewalk chalk and races with Razor scooters, only stopping to grab a drink (NOT "daddy's juice") and some food.  I'm pretty sure Little Man ate an entire watermelon.
Dinner was great, thanks to some considerate friends.  You see, this was a BYOM (bring your own meat) get-together.  Well, we forgot ours.  But we didn't forget the dessert!!  At least our priorities were in line.  Anyway, kind souls shared their smoked chicken (note to self: must look into this "green egg" thing), grilled chicken legs and some bacon wrapped venison tenderloin.  The retired vegetarian in me said  "no way you're eating that!" but she was overruled by the current carnivore.  I only had one, though, so that makes it ok, right?
When dessert was served, you would think the children hadn't been fed since birth.  Little Man and his sidekick, WB, each had 3 ice cream cone cupcakes like this.  Monkey had one, too, plus some of my trifle, key lime pie, butterfinger cake and a brownie.  This was just the first course of desserts.  Throughout the evening, there was also ice cream and blow-pops.  Well, something had to keep these kids going 3 hours past their bedtime!
Then it was time for the fireworks.  Little Man watched some that were far-off, visible through the trees, but he wasn't too enthusiastic about the ones just up the street.  I think terrified would be more accurate.  He had a death grip around my neck for the first, oh, 30 minutes of our amateur fireworks show.  It made me wonder how he'll do for Rockin' the Docks tonight, when the professionals put it together.  He did eventually relax, but I think that was sheer exhaustion taking over.  Monkey sat with Trey a little closer to where the fireworks were being staged until some rogue rocket launcher or some-such thing went just over their heads. Then they moved back to where we were sitting.  Monkey is such a little drama queen!  She screamed and squealed with just about every pop and sparkle, hiding her head in my armpit like a freaked out puppy.  Speaking of puppies, ours slept through the whole thing, in a friend's lap.  I think he might be deaf.  That would certainly explain his lack of listening skills - or is that just because he's a puppy?
After the first "show", we started packing up.  I wanted to be out of there before the daddies on the street started having bottle rocket wars, using the mailboxes to aim at each other's houses.  I guess that's what happens with daddies when there's a lot of their juice around.   

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wednesday Week in Review

Thanks to Daddy, I was reminded that today is Wednesday, therefore I need to review my week.  It's been a busy one.  Since Saturday we've chased fireflies (which I'll post about later), started camp at a local YMCA, spent the better part of today hanging out at a park with a friend and landed a new job.
There.  That's pretty much it.  Doesn't sound like much, does it?
Monkey started a summer camp on Monday.  It is the first "full-day" thing she's ever done and she loves it.  It keeps her busy and gets her tired at the end of the day, so I love it, too.  She goes on days that they don't leave the facility.  Trey and I still don't want to put her on a bus just yet for swim days and field trips.  Today she whined that she won't get to go to the zoo tomorrow with everyone else from camp, so I'm guessing this will be part of the camp experience.
"I had fun today but (insert whiney tone here) why can't I go tomorrow??"  She has this unique skill of pouting and lip trembling that resembles crying without any actual tears.  It's a skill she has developed extensively over the last year or so.  I'm sure it'll get her far in life.  
The park is in one of the old sections of town.  You know, those old, historical style homes that are so unique and just exude old money, lots of ivy and old oak trees.  She lives in the "golden ghetto" that she lovingly calls her area.  Those homes are the little cottages that are so cute.  What's really cool is that her front yard looks out over the park.  It's big - has a tennis court, play ground, basketball court and lot of really big, old trees and run-around space, so we stayed out there, ate a picnic lunch and talked while the children played and with each other and the puppy.    It's a quiet, friendly neighborhood and it was a good way to spend the day.  
Needless to say, Little Man and the pup were exhausted by the time we left.
The new job is one that Trey has been hoping for for quite some time now.  Now he can quit his other job (that he really dislikes) and can do something that he enjoys.  The benefits are great, as is the pay, so we're having a good day!
Naturally, there were the normal day-to-day events like:  get up, let the puppy out, fix coffee, fed the puppy, let the puppy out, get ready for work, get Monkey ready for camp, wake Little Man, feed the rugrats, work, go home, let the puppy out, clip/organize coupons, read a blog (or 10), laundry, let the puppy out, run dishwasher and wash leftover dishes, clean puppy's accident, let puppy out, start dinner, go pick up Monkey, finish dinner, get the kids ready for bed, clean up, eat ice cream, watch TV, let the puppy out, go to bed.  And that was just Monday :).  Have you seen the Minute Rice magazine ad with the "to do" list that covers the whole page?  Yeah.  That's what I feel like on any given day.
PS:  Monkey pulled out her tooth tonight.  How exciting is that??