Saturday, September 26, 2009

Moving to Wordpress--New URL

For anyone out there reading this blog, I'm moving to Wordpress and have a new URL:

http://cereal4supper.com/

Although there are still some kinks to work out on the new site, I won't be posting here at Blogger anymore.




Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cereal for Supper


I just had a lightning strikes moment. I think I just found my new domain name. I have been trying to think of something more creative than Jennifer's Journal for this blog and think Cereal For Supper would be perfect. It just whacked me in the head when I typed in the title of this post (we did have cereal for supper tonight).

Catchy, short, easy to say and to remember. Captures the idea of my blog of personal improvement and living intentionally without going overboard--sometimes cereal for supper is just the way things go down. And that's OK.


We're Just a Bunch of Turkeys

Here is the resident flock of turkeys. There is a bear in the neighborhood as well. I'm told his name is Charlie, but thankfully I have not gotten up close and personal with him.


Beautiful Fall Day

It was a beautiful, beautiful Fall day yesterday.





Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Perfect Job

Ok, maybe perfect is too strong of a word, but a job that I think I would like and be really good at would be a recipe tester, especially if it was gluten-free baking recipes. Is there such a thing? Does it pay?

Say, for example, you were writing a cookbook and wanted to test the instructions for completeness, ease of understanding, etc. I would cook the recipe as written and then make suggestions based on my experiences.
  • I am thorough and follow directions well.
  • I can write and have a fair amount of editing experience.
  • I love to bake.
  • I collaborate well with others and can also work fine alone.
  • I work well under deadlines.

Blogging

I have been writing on this blog for over a year now.

That seems incredibly hard to believe. I started in May of 2008. I enjoy it more than I ever thought I would.
  • I love that it helps me document activities and projects.
  • I love that it gives me a place to get out some of the thoughts that rattle around in my brain.
  • I love the sense of accomplishment that it provides.

If there is anybody out there reading this, thank you for being a part of something I love.

Preschool

With LM's fall birthday, he will not start kindergarten until he is almost six. He, therefore, has the next two years of preschool.

He is going one day a week for half a day this year, and we hope to increase that next year. I also wanted to do a bit more at home with him. I just ordered some things from Let's Explore.

I am excited about this reusable sticker book about the world, and I know he will love the crayon rocks.






Good Baby Question

Someone the other day asked me if FH was a good baby. Is there such a thing as a bad baby?

He cries when he is tired, when he has belly pains, when he is hungry, when he wants to be held. This seems reasonable to me.

No, he does not sleep particularly well at night with just one four-hour stretch and then up quite a bit after that, but I don't think that qualifies him as a bad baby.

I don't know; I just thought it was an odd question.

Six Days and Counting

Six days until I go back to work, and I am jamming all kinds of appointments into those last few days.
  • meeting with the pastor about FH's baptism
  • haircut (which is desperately needed)
  • chiropractor
  • FH's three month checkup
  • eye appointment
We are also having a four-year-old birthday party for LM on Sunday, and somewhere in there I still need to lose ten pounds. Totally backslid this last week. Eating an entire bag of chocolate chips is probably not a good thing.

I should mention, just for the record, that I do not have a bad job at all. I know it may sound like I am going back to the worse thing ever, but that is not the case.

Of course, there is the proverbial grass is greener on the other side thing. I know in my head that if I truly quit my job to stay home with the kids there would be negative things about that too. For starters, money would be a huge issue. It is convenient to think all things would be fine but that is because my check "magically" appears in the checking account every two weeks while I have been on leave. This, obviously, would not be the case if I didn't have a job.


Sun Room Redo

After several weeks of having various samples of yellow painted on the sun room wall, we (actually W) painted the room. The new Behr paint with primer in it is awesome.



This is the first wall that you see when you come into the house via the side entrance (the one everyone uses). Kinda blah even with the new yellow paint. Ignore the couch cushions that still need to be recovered.



I got 11 x 14 prints made of these photographs and hung them above the couch. This picture really doesn't capture how great they look. The two landscapes are from our trip to Kansas, and the flower is one we found on a walk behind our house. I love them. Isn't that what making a house into a home is all about?!

This Box


I had forgotten but quickly remembered why this box has been sitting in the office for the last two years.

It is full of photographs--random photographs. You know, those one or two photos that someone sends you after an event or school pictures of family members. Honestly, some of the pics could be tossed, like the ones of old boyfriends. I mean really, why do I need those?

What do I do with the rest of them? I could scan them in and toss the originals. I could scan them and keep the originals as is. I could put the photos in an album.

I even drug the box upstairs, so it would be in my sight. Sadly, I think it is just going to go back downstairs unresolved. It requires too much energy to deal with at this time. Lame, I know.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another Bib and Burp Set

For my friend who recently had a baby.



Homemade Lasagna

Yesterday LM and I made lasagna--homemade noodles and all. The plan was to save half of it for a freezer meal, but it is almost already gone. So much for that.




Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gluten Free Journey

I was recently at a luncheon where we got started talking about how I began eating gluten free, so I thought it would be fun to write it out on the blog.

In 2002, I had been going to a chiropractor for awhile to eliminate back pain and some terrible headaches. After many treatments, the headaches still persisted. In addition to regular headaches, I had some major migraines that put me totally out of commission as well as nausea and dizziness. My chiropractor suggested that perhaps it was a food allergy causing the headaches because my back alignment seemed to be fine.

She suggested that I start taking out various types of food one at a time to see if the culprit could be identified and thought I should start with wheat or sugar.

I decided to start with wheat. Literally, within days of not eating anything with wheat in it, I was a new woman--no stomach ache, no headaches. It seems so hard to believe that one ingredient can wreak so much havoc in one individual and how quickly things turned around. I feel like I should be on that show Mystery Diagnosis. I hoped that my physical well-being would improve but was not prepared for how much the change also impacted my emotional well-being. It is hard to explain, but I felt like a huge curtain had been pulled back--I could breathe freely and simply was just happier.

Thinking back, I remember having headaches on a regular basis as far back as junior high. By college, I was taking Tylenol every day just to get through the day. No wonder when I drank beer or whiskey did I get so violently ill!

Initially after making the change, I lost quite a bit of weight. Although some of this weight loss was related to figuring out my new diet, most of it, I think, was my body finding its equilibrium.

It is seven years later, and I still maintain a wheat-free diet. Actually, I abstain from gluten ingredients all together just to be on the safe side since I was never tested for celiac disease.

People often ask if it is difficult to eat gluten free. Absolutely not, and it gets easier every year. Yes, in the beginning I spent a lot of time reading labels, but vegetables, proteins, and fruits are naturally gluten free. If I want processed foods like pasta, breads, and cookies, I can make them myself or buy them. Even my regular grocery store in a smallish Virginia city carries a large selection of gluten-free foods. I'm so glad this is a health issue that can be solved without medicine or other medical intervention.

So far, LM does not exhibit signs of having a problem, as he eats a mix of foods with and without gluten. I definitely keep an eye on it and will know what to do if he starts showing signs, so he won't have to suffer like I have.

Photo: from the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture



Entrances

Entrances to homes that is...should be clean and clutter free, right?

There are four major entrances to our home. Strange, I hadn't really thought about it until I started this project.


Entrance #1
Technically, this is the side entrance, but it is the one everyone uses. All those glass panes were what started this all. I have been wanting to clean them for some time now, so I did today...and swept, and convinced myself that what it really needs are some flowers and a welcome mat.



Entrance #2
This is the front door. Only delivery people and others who have never been to the house before use this entrance. It is really too bad because we have quite a nice front porch except that the spiders had totally taken over. They were none too happy when I whacked them down with the broom.


Entrance #3
Door from inside the garage to the house. This is the entrance that still needs the most work. I wish I had before pictures though because it was Much, Much worse.



Entrance #4
This is the back door. Many little fingerprints covered these glass panes, and the dirt loves to settle here by the door.

There you have it; at least for one day all four doors are clean.



Friday, September 18, 2009

10 Days and Counting

10 Days until I go back to work...I'm not anxious about it or anything, am I?!

I was reading this blog Working Moms Against Guilt and thinking about working for a paycheck and being a mother.

Honestly, for me the emotion is not guilt. Guilt implies that I think I am doing something wrong by working. Nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe if LM and FH had to go to daycare, I would feel that way, but since they are cared for in the home by my most wonderful and loving sister, guilt really doesn't enter the picture much. (This is not to say that I like it when LM calls me Megan instead of Mom.)
a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined

It is more sadness and quite frankly selfishness. For me, staying home is easier than going to work--especially since I am absolutely committed to breastfeeding.

I know, I know that I have done the SAHM thing for only a limited time while on maternity leave, and I know that for the most part I have had just the baby, as LM has been kept on his regular schedule with my sister watching him.

Less Stress
I just am way less stressed out, and the house is better run when I am at home fulltime. Yes, the kids can be demanding, but in a much different way than a boss and other colleagues. I have no performance anxiety about being a mother. There is no one judging me.

Scheduling
I love being able to set my own schedule for the most part. If we want to go to the zoo on Wednesday, we can--no leave requests, no permission needed. When I work, everything just gets jammed into the weekends--errands, grocery shopping, family time.

Healthfulness
Without a doubt, the family eats better when I am at home. We eat out far less, and I have time to try different menu options. There is also more time for exercising.

So......since not working is truly not a realistic option at this point, I would like to make a few changes that will make working and home life more harmonious.
  1. Do more cooking ahead, so there is always a meal in the freezer that can be heated up. One of the things I hate the most about working is the "get home rush." As soon as I hit the door at 5:00, I start cooking dinner since everyone is "starving." Then there are the dishes, other household tasks (paying bills, etc.). Before I know it, it is bath and bedtime.
  2. Hire a housekeeper.I have resisted this option for some time. It seems like a waste of money to pay someone to do something that I am totally capable of doing. We are going to start with just once a month though to help with the things I cannot ever get to.
  3. Get a routine. Although routine can be mind-numbingly boring, I do think there is something said to having a routine around the household. I am talking about things like doing the laundry and cooking those freezer meals. on certain days of the week. In general, I do so much better when there is a schedule, so I am going work on setting one up.

Perry Wildlife Zoo

We were going to take the kids to the National Zoo today but the combination of potential rains and tiredness changed our minds.

Instead we took them to the Perry Wildlife Zoo in Perry, WVa.

They say an interesting blog has good photographs....

I would love to show photographs of the kids squealing with delight, as they fed the bear. The deer shedding its velvet would have also been a great pic. Or how about the porcupines, that also would have been a neat photo.

Alas, I brought the camera, but the batteries were totally dead. Ugh.

I hadn't been to Perry Zoo in probably 15 years. It is a perfect outing for small children--low key, relatively inexpensive, and a good variety of animals. I am not a veterinarian, but all of the enclosures appeared to be clean, and the animals well cared for.

I always have mixed feelings about zoos. On the one hand, I like seeing and learning about different kinds of animals, and the kids certainly enjoy it. It is sad though to see a cougar or lion all caged up though when you know they are accustomed to roaming large areas. In many cases though, zoos take animals that would otherwise die or be treated poorly by individuals. As with most things in life, there is more gray than black and white.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Twelve Days and Counting

Twelve days until I go back to work.

I know about pregnancy nesting. There must be "going back to work" nesting as well.

So far today I have:
  • wiped down door handles and door frames
  • cleaned the glass in the patio door
  • made bread with LM
  • organized the spices
  • cooked a new recipe
  • added additional tags to photos



Yesterday I organized the kitchen utensil drawer and shredded a lot of old files.

New Mom Necessities

I have been writing this post in my head for the last eight weeks. The title New Mom Necessities is a bit of a misnomer, really. Obviously, the only absolutely necessary items for a baby are some type of covering and food.

These are things that I have found extremely helpful that may or may not be on the traditional baby check list.

In no particular order:

laptop/wireless--countless hours nursing, need I say more. Having the ability to work on photos, check email, and surf the web have kept me sane during numerous nights of nursing.

Shout--honestly this stuff is amazing. I have no idea how it works, but all I know is that it gets out every stain a newborn and active toddler throw at it. I could seriously do a commercial for it. I see also that they have introduced a Natural Stain Remover. I wonder if it works?

gas drops--I know there are some people who say that babies don't really have gas pains. Perhaps there is something I am missing, but what I can tell you is that with both LM and FH, these gas drops work, eliminating a writhing, crying baby in the middle of the night.

cloth diapers--not so much for diapering the baby but for everything else--wiping up spills, catching projectile vomiting, and removing disgusting boogies. When the babies are grown, they can be used for dusting and other household projects.

hand pump--This is probably TMI, but with both of my children, my milk came in very quickly. Let's just say that one's breast should not be rock solid. Thank goodness my sister knew what to do. She whipped out the hand pump and saved me from excruciating pain. I am eternally grateful.

dishwasher--We did not have a dishwasher when LM was born, so clearly this is something with which I could live without. However, sterilizing all of those bottles by boiling is just a pain in the a**. As FH sits in his bouncy chair sound asleep, the dishwasher apparently is quite a good white noisemaker as well.

bouncy chair--When we went to the beach (a six-hour trip), this was the only baby apparatus that we took. No play pen, no swing--but we had to have the bouncy chair.

Things that I have found to be totally worthless or at best not helpful:

baby bathtub--We used one of these for the first couple of weeks with LM, but it was terrible. He was so slick and wet, it was difficult to keep him in place, and the thing was bulky in our tiny house. We ended up just putting a hand towel in the bottom of the tub and running a smidge of water. Worked much better.

wipe warmer--maybe I am cold-hearted, but this just seems like overkill. I don't think five seconds of a cold wipe is going to cause any lasting damage.

baby monitor--With both kids, they slept in a bassinet next to our bed until they would no longer fit into it. In both houses, our room and the kids' room are extremely close to each other. I find the white noise of the monitor extremely annoying when trying to sleep. I hear the slightest thing anyway, so we ended up stopping using it with LM.

TV Volume

All I can say is "it is about time."

SRA Develops TV-Volume Leveler. I absolutely hate watching commercials, and I cannot stand how much louder they are than the television program.

Also, why is it that all of the channels go to commercial at the same time? We have 100+ channels, and all of them seem to be on a commercial simultaneously. What's up with that?

In popular culture, I know it is the man who is stereotyped as being a channel changer--not in our house. If I am watching TV, I am following at least two shows if not three or four.

W and I have been together 15 years. In those fifteen years, I have never understood how he can just sit through a commercial. He just sits there calmly like there is nothing wrong in the world. I, on the other hand, am literally twitching to change the channel.

Very rarely do we watch TV together (big surprise). Actually, very rarely do we watch much TV at all. If it wasn't for the sporting events, I think we could cancel the cable subscription.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Preschool

Holy cow, LM started preschool today. I know it is only one half day a week, but I can't help but feel we have started down the slippery slope of snacks, fundraisers, and a deluge of crafts.

I have been assigned my snack days and have typed in all of the appropriate colors for each day into my calendar, so he has on the right outfit.

Today was orange, so you can see how well we are doing already. Ha!

Weight Gain

I gained exactly thirty pounds with my first pregnancy.

With the second pregnancy, I gained 34. I lost 17 pounds right away and the next ten within a couple of weeks of L's birth. If my math is right, that leaves 7.

Seven very pesky, difficult-to-lose pounds. I have eighteen days left until I go back to work and must get into my work slacks. I have been walking regularly and worked out for the first time yesterday. I better step it up though.

It would help if I didn't eat everything in the house.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Emergency Preparedness Kit

First, let me say that I never expected this task to take so long. I thought I could just go to a few sites and get what we needed. Nor did I expect this post to be so long either.

Along with getting our financial house in order, I have had on the "to do" list for ages the task of preparing or purchasing an emergency preparedness kit for the house.

It is amazing (and a bit overwhelming) how many kits are available online. Starting out on the Red Cross site, I spent several hours last night surfing around looking at all of the options. Two days and many hours later spent surfing...

There are small one-person kits like this one, and huge multi-person cases like this one. I didn't even really get into all of the survival sites where people stock up a year or more worth of food and supplies.

By the end of the night, I was totally confused about what we should get.

So, this morning I regrouped and asked:

First question: What is the purpose of the kit?

I am not an alarmist and am realistic enough to realize that in the face of a catastrophic emergency, think terrorist attack or nuclear bomb, no matter what I did would be insufficient.

Ok, when exactly do I think this kit would be used, and why do I feel a compelling need to have one?

In our part of the world, the most realistic emergency would be the extended loss of power due to snow or other inclement weather. In our case, loss of electricity means no lights, no water since the pump on the well is electric, no heat, and no cooking on the electric stove.

No lights--we already have a camp light and numerous flashlights as well as candles.
Tasks: Check the battery on the camp light
Find the flashlight that belongs underneath the sink and return it

No water--not much we can do to run the well without electricity
Tasks: Get an emergency supply of water (done 9/10)
Get water purification tablets (done 9/10)

No heat--we have tons of blankets and two fireplaces with plenty of wood. The laundry room trash always has lint in it for a starter, and the matches are in the kitchen cabinet.
Task: None

No cooking--we have a camping stove with extra fuel as well as a gas grill and a manual can opener. We always have some canned food on hand.
Task: None

No communication--the cell phones would last only so long, but we have a generator so we are ok there.
Task: Find the hand crank radio and return it to under the sink

Other items: We have a lot of tools for whatever might be needed, games and cards for entertainment, a four-wheel drive vehicle, and I would like to think two resourceful adults. W also has a lot of his Army gear, such as heavy-duty rope and a ruck sack.
Task: Get a more complete First Aid kit (done 9/10)

It seems like we would fair fairly well if we were stuck in our house for several days without electricity. Anything beyond a week or so, we would probably start to run out of water, food, and gasoline for the generator.

The other issue would be an evacuation due to a forest fire around our house. In this case, we would simply go to a nearby relative's house. I don't foresee having to camp out in a shelter or some other makeshift lodging.

SO....if we would be OK at home, it seems that the emergency preparedness kit would likely be used more in an evacuation-type situation--getting us from the emergency to safety.

Second question: In an ideal kit what would our family need?

At a minimum, the Red Cross recommends the following:
  • water
  • food
  • flashlight
  • extra batteries
  • first aid kit
  • medications
  • multi-purpose tool
  • sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • copies of personal documents
  • cell phone with charger
  • family and emergency contact information
  • extra cash
  • emergency blanket
  • map of the area
Seems like a good place to start. Since we have two small children and a dog, the following additional items are suggested:
  • baby supplies (food, diapers, etc.)
  • games and activities for children
  • pet supplies (leash, food, carrier, bowl)
Additional suggested supplies include:
  • two-way radios
  • extra set of car and house keys
  • manual can opener
  • whistle
  • surgical masks
  • matches
  • rain gear
  • towels
  • work gloves
  • extra clothing
  • plastic sheeting
  • duct tape
  • scissors
  • liquid bleach
  • blankets or sleeping bag
Third question: To build one myself or purchase one? Should each individual have their own kit, or should the family's be all together? Should we go the backpack route or a waterproof bin?

You can buy these kits for four people, but I think it makes sense to have two bags--one for each adult with additional supplies added for the kids. I went back and forth on this. It finally came down to cost. I budgeted $100.00 this month for this expense and wanted to stick to that. I ended up getting one 3-day adult bag and adding some additional items. Depending on what it looks like when it arrives in the mail, I might get another one at a later date. I figured that if the purpose is to give us a few supplies to keep us until we get to safety, we can split up the food and water meant to cover one person over a three-day period.

Depending on how much extra space there is in the bag, I will likely get another empty backpack and split up everything between the two, including items for the kids and the dog.

After much deliberation and comparison, I narrowed the selection down to these four kits, realizing that none of them had exactly what I needed:
  1. Red Cross Deluxe Emergency Preparedness Kit (Adult, 3-Day)--$69.95
  2. Lifesecure Grab-and-Go 1-Person 3-Day Complete Emergency Kit--$69.95
  3. LifeGear Wings of Life Survival Backpack--$67.74
  4. Survival Gear Source 2 Person Essentials Survival Kit--$73.50
I wanted to get a kit that had as many of the Red Cross recommended items in it as well as some additional "survival" components, such as waterproof matches, a compass, and fishing hooks. (I know these items totally go against the whole purpose of the kit for us, which is a grab-and-go to safety thing rather than living out in the woods with Bear Grylls. I just felt like a disaster kit just wasn't complete without these types of items.)

I really wanted to support the Red Cross, but after comparison, the only thing the RC kit had that the Lifesecure one did not was a hygiene kit. On the other hand and for the same price, the Lifesecure kit has a multipurpose tool, LED safety signal light, notepad, pen, waterproof document pouch, water purification tablets, biohazard bags, and toilet paper.

The LifeGear kit had a drinking water pouch, hygiene kit, compass, thermometer, and signaling mirror, which the Lifesecure one did not. However, the LifeGear kit was missing: plastic sheeting, duct tape, radio, flashlight, light sticks, purification tablets, biohazard bags, and toilet paper.

The 2-person Essential Survival Kit available from Survival Gear Source came the closest to having everything. I decided not to order from them though because I just couldn't tell the quality of the items from the website. The price almost seemed a little bit too low.

I went with the kit from Lifesecure and for added the following items from Wal-Mart to make it work for four people and our family:
  • cloth diapers
  • safety pins
  • 46-piece survival kit (compass, fishing hooks, poncho, etc.)
  • hygiene kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, tampons, shampoo, deodorant, baby soap, mouthwash)
  • 2 rain ponchos
  • 2 emergency blankets
  • 2 whistles
  • Advil
  • miniature coloring book with stickers
These items cost $59.50 with the survival kit at $14.88 and the diapers at $11.00 being the most expensive items.

Fourth question: So what do kids need that is different than an adult? Does it make sense to buy a kit specifically for kids or should I get a two-adult bag and add a few kid things.

There are emergency kits specifically for kids here ($33.95), here ($33.99), here ($44.95), and here ($57.95).

The kits for kids had a few things that were different from an adults kit, but not much:
  • rechargeable squeeze flashlight
  • children's poncho
  • activity book and crayons
  • toys--jump rope, paddle with ball, and jacks set
  • cup
  • child-sized backpack
  • food kids recognize--hot chocolate, jelly, fruit cup, raisins, fruit roll up, etc.
In addition, this article includes the following for kids:
  • extra clothes
  • a favorite toy, doll, or stuffed animal
  • paper with home address, phone number and parents' names
  • $20 in small bills and coins
I am just going to add a few thing for the kids rather than buy them a specific kid-friendly bag. They don't seem worth the money.

I am off to order my grab-and-go bag...can't wait to see what it is like...

Things left to do: (will this project every end?!)
  • make copies of documents
  • find a hold flashlight for kids
  • buy small bottles of alcohol
  • make a "to grab if time" list
  • buy two child ponchos
  • pack some kid-specific items
  • find the under-the-sink flashlight
  • get small bills and coins
  • find long-lasting gluten-free food
  • consider gathering up items for an inhome emergency (candles, matches, flashlight, first aid kit, water purification, lint, etc.)
  • get a map of the area
  • put together a emergency contact card
  • get pet supplies together
  • add the travel sewing kit
  • check the battery on the camp light
  • find the flashlight that belongs underneath the sink and return it
  • find the hand crank radio and return it to under the sink
  • pack everything up


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wet dog food....

...is totally disgusting.

Yard Sale



Well, we all survived the family yard sale. It was busy, hot, and we even made some (a little) money.

IF we do it again, here are some things we learned:
  • Do as much of the pricing beforehand.
  • Price every individual item if at all possible.
  • Make sure the prices on the items are correct. The kids switched some of the stickers without our noticing, and I think some of the items did not sell because the price was too high.
  • The early birds can be REALLY early. We said 8:00 in the ad, and had someone sitting on the curb at 7:15. It was difficult to be finishing up the pricing and dealing with customers at the same time.
  • Do the pricing at a time when people will not stop by, or behind the garage doors. We did some of the set up on Friday morning, and people kept stopping by, thinking we were having a sale. That really slowed us down.
  • Do not underestimate the number of tables or flat surface needed to set out all of the items. We had to go get more tables.
  • No one came after 1:00 p.m. Officially run the sale from 7:00 to 1:00 instead of 8-3.
  • People can be incredibly cheap.
  • People can be incredibly rude.
  • Put baby clothes in different bins that are labeled e.g. 0-3 onesies, 6-9 outfits. People just rifled through the piles, and it was difficult keeping everything straight.
  • Do put an ad in the newspaper.
  • Do have the money box and table all ready to go before uncovering the tables.
  • Do have the tables all set up in the driveway and just cover them the night before.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Habitat ReStore Rocks

Seriously, Adam and Dennis from the Winchester Habitat for Humanity ReStore just made me day...maybe even my week.

I called to see if they would be interested in having the cabinets that have been taking up the ENTIRE garage for over a MONTH. He said, "I'll be there in fifteen minutes." Are you kidding...fifteen minutes.

They also took the toilet that had been sitting in our side yard. Yes, a toilet. How much more white trash can you get than a toilet sitting in your yard.

AND, they also took all of the countertops that were also occupying much space in the garage.

Just goes to show that making one phone call and asking for some assistance rather than doing everything yourself can be wonderful.

Habitat Rocks. I feel like doing cartwheels, jumping around to Hey Ya, and screaming Thank Heavens! I cannot tell you how glad I am to get that stuff out of the garage.




Thursday, September 3, 2009

Glorius Day


What an absolutely fabulous day! Pic from our recent trip to the Outer Banks. Off to the library...


Nighttime

Sitting in the dark
My legs propped up on the couch
Your weight on my chest
My cheek against your head
The gentle cadence of your breathing
And the incredible softness of your hair


Oh, how I wish that moment and those physical experiences could be captured in a bottle.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Important to Remember

Craft experiences are not for creating perfection, but rather for creating memories and relationship.


Thank you I Have to Say for this reminder.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baby Swing

Thank goodness for the baby swing.

We had a swing with LM, but he really didn't sit in it very often.  On the other hand, L prefers the swing over almost every other place.  

Sometimes I feel almost guilty about putting him in the swing rather than holding him.  But this afternoon, for example, he was terribly fussy.  I tried holding him, rocking him, nursing him--nothing making him happy.  Literally two seconds in the swing, and he is asleep.  Hmm...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fun with Whipped Cream and Food Coloring

I saw this post with shaving cream and food coloring and thought it looked like great fun...all except the shaving cream part. 

I had visions of LM getting shaving cream in his eyes and screaming because it burned.

So.....we used whipped cream--no burning eyes (and you could even eat it)




Friday, August 21, 2009

Gluten Free Summit

How absolutely wonderful does this Gluten Free Summit at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY look!!!

I've always wanted to go to a cooking class but never have because I know I cannot eat much of what is usually cooked.

Maybe next year when I am not attached to an infant....

Selling Books

Like any self-respecting, overeducated individual with two Master's degrees, I have a lot of books.  

I am ready to part with many of these books.  The question then becomes, "what is the best way to do so?"  Here are some of the options:

1. Yard Sale--The family yard sale is in a couple of weeks

Positive:  Little preparation or research needed.  Throw (gently place, of course) the books on a table marked $1.00.

Negative: Likely to get very little monetary return.  Many books will likely not sell.

2. Half.com--A company owned by ebay

Positive: Much larger audience than our yard sale.  Can set own price.  Likely to get a little bit more than yard sale prices.  Reimburses sellers for shipping costs.

Negative: Have to research market price.  Must package and ship the books as they sell.  If books don't sell, I still have them in the house.   Half.com charges a commission of a percentage of the selling price.  15% for the price range my books would be in ($0.75-$50.00)  

3. Amazon.com--Similar to half.com.  Amazon collects a commission of 6-15% of sale price, 0.99 per transaction, and a variable transaction fee ($1.35 for books)

4. Powells.com--They have a sell online feature.  Type in the ISBN, and almost immediately a price is returned for what they will give you for the book.  You can get the credit as cash paid via PayPal or as a credit in the Powells store.  The store credit is twenty percent more than the cash option.

Positive: Powells pays for shipping.  No pricing research required, no listing or packaging to different customers necessary.  Make more than at a yard sale or library donation.

Negative: Make less per book than potentially with half.com and amazon.com.  

5. Abebooks.com--very similar to Powells online buy book feature

6. Library Donation--The local library is having its annual book sale soon and is soliciting donations. 

Positive: All I have to do is drop the books off at the library.  Done deal.  They are out of the house--all of them in one fell swoop.

Negative: No monetary return.  Many of the books will likely not sell at the library sale, leaving the library trying to figure out what to do with them. 

Conclusion:  I know some people really get into listing things on ebay, amazon, etc., and I do not doubt there is money to be made if you are willing to put in the work.  For me, right now in my life, I think I am going with the Powells/Abebooks option.  At least I will get a little bit of money for the books.  For those that Powells/Abebooks will not take, I may investigate whether ebay or amazon would be good options.  Otherwise they are going in the yard sale.  If not sold there, then on to the library.

Quite frankly, the whole textbook industry burns my ass.  I pay $40 for a used book.  I can sell it back for $5, and then the book store resells it for $35.  

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Millionaire Next Door

I just finished reading The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, and William D. Danko.  New York: Pocket Books, 1996.  It was a quick read.  Maybe because it is 13 years old now, I did not find anything too revolutionary in it.

In it they outline seven factors for millionaires: 

  1. They live well below their means 

  1. They allocate their time, energy, and money efficiently, in ways conductive to building wealth
  1. They believe that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status

  1. Their parents did not provide economic outpatient care  

  1. Their adult children are economically self-sufficient 

  1. They are proficient in targeting market opportunities 

  1. They chose the right profession 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Side Hustle

On a regular basis, my brother-in-law and I come up with ideas to generate income outside of our regular jobs.  The Frugal Dad gave our potential activities a name:

"side hustle is a sort of part time job, but it typically involves you building something around your current trade."

This also goes along the lines of "minding your own business" from Rich Dad Poor Dad.

OK, so what is my business?  What is it that I know about, am interested in, have a unique contribution?  

General Ideas
  • archives
  • preservation
  • organization
  • technology
  • motherhood
  • gluten free eating
  • beginning investor
  • travel in area with kids

More Specific Ideas
  • Consult with local businesses/individuals on preserving archives
  • Offer a service like This Young House with advice on preservation
  • Become a personal organizer
  • Work with churches to improve their websites/start new outreach like blogs/facebook/etc.
  • Blog about journey as a beginning investor
  • Develop a blog/site about places to visit in the area with kids.  I actually think this idea has some merit.  As far as I can tell there is not a consolidated site that has descriptions and reviews of places of interest--especially from a mother's point of view.  On the weekends, we say, "ok where should we go?"  It is a real pain to visit all of the web sites of potential places, and it is difficult to find out relevant information or even come up with ideas.  I would love to have reader-submitted reviews as well as my own.  It could be tied to Flickr, Google Maps and all kinds of exciting things.  Not sure about the income-generating part though???  

My Life in France

I just finished Julia Child's memoir, My Life in France.

Quick, interesting read.  I was struck with how incredibly focused and driven she was.  

These seem to be traits of other super successful people.  

I am going to read a biography of Child next to see how it compares with the memoir.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Baltimore-Traveling with Kids

Despite, the wicked heat, we had a great time in Baltimore visiting the Maryland Science Center and Port Discovery!

Three adults and six kids (2 six-year-olds, 1 four-year-old, 1 three-year old, 1 one-year-old, and 1 three-week-old)

Things we did well:
  • Had printed directions for various routes
  • Got a late checkout of 2:30
  • Saved the food from the night before for lunch
  • Minimalized walking to and from activities
  • Brought an extra stroller
  • Brought plenty of snacks
  • Stayed in a hotel with a microwave and refrigerator
  • Focused on a couple of activities rather than rushing to a whole lot of things
Things may want to do for next trip:
  • Research local eating options prior to arrival
  • Printed reverse directions for getting home (especially in a town that is full of one way streets)
  • Pack hats and spray-on sun screen in the stroller

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Kids and Going to the Store

We went to the grocery store today, and LM wanted a Curious George book that cost $3.

No big deal, right?; we could afford it, and I would much rather buy him a book than some dumb plastic toy. 

I tried something new today though because I would like him to learn that there are consequences associated with purchasing items.  

I told him that he could have the book but that he would have to "pay" me with one of his toys from home.  He said OK.  When he got home, I told him to pick out a toy in exchange for the book.  At first, he offered up his tricycle, but I didn't think the "worth" of the book and bike were equal, so I told him to pick another toy.  He picked one of his trucks--not an absolute favorite one, but not a clunker either.  Perfect.   

I took the truck and put it up in the closet.  He didn't even fuss about it. 

Don't know if this is the right path or not.  Maybe I have been reading too many financial books lately...

I want him to have and to see different money patterns than that with which I grew up, and I want him to understand that he has the power to make choices about his money and life.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Can't Afford It

I recently read Rich Dad Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki.

One of the ideas that has stuck with me is the difference he talks about between "I can't afford it" and "How can I afford it?"

The first is a statement that shuts down any thought process or creativity and puts one in the role of victim.

The second is a question that really opens up possibilities.  It puts one in a position of control.

I have been experimenting with the two options.  I REALLY want a new laptop ~$1500.  This big ticket purchase is definitely not in the spend plan for the immediate future.  Instead of saying, "I can't afford it," I have been saying "How can I afford it?" and have been brainstorming ways to come up with the $$.  I haven't come up with anything concrete yet, but I have a few ideas for generating the funds to purchase it.  

Although I don't have the laptop yet, this approach has been much more positive of an experience.  


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pudding


Homemade chocolate pudding rocks.  Must make again!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nursing a newborn is a tremendously time consuming task.  Thankfully, a laptop and many trips to the library for books help me utilize this time.  


I have recently branched out and added the following blogs to my blogroll:


A couple of articles caught my eye:


Is It Over-Sharing To Post Fetal Ultrasounds on Facebook?

The Juggle, July 22, 2009, 1:58 AM ET, By Marisa Wong


I say yes, but I tend to be a more private person and have a really like/find it fascinating/think it is weird relationship with Facebook.  Personally, I did not post much about my pregnancy on Facebook although I certainly know people that do/have.  I did post an announcement about his birth, but didn't include anything that wouldn't have been in a regular print birth announcement. 


Tri-Level Emergency Fund


Frugal Dad recommends keeping some cash on hand (around $500), about $1,000 at a local bank, and the largest bulk of the emergency fund in an online account or other savings account. 


I had certainly heard of having cash on hand and having a large emergency fund for unexpected issues.  However, I had not thought of having money in a local bank.  For families like us whose bank does not have bricks and mortar branches this makes even more sense.  In some kind of disaster we could not get at the bulk of our asset easily.  I am not a doom and gloom person, but it is something worth thinking about.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Student Loan

Yippee!!!

One student loan paid off!!  (one to go)

After some deliberation about six months ago, we decided to get really aggressive with our student loan payments.  After years and years of paying, we were just sick and tired of having these payments.

We actually reduced the amount of money being withdrawn into my retirement account and have redirected that to the loans.

I know some advisors would advise against this, saying that the money earned in interest in the retirement account is greater than the money paid in interest to the loans.

However, for us, it made sense.

  1. Psychologically it was just depressing to have these payments.  We have both been out of school for some time
  2. I think debt, in general, is not a good thing
  3. I pay the student loan immediately once the funds are available, so we do not use that money for other things.  This is key.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Get the Look

Washington Post, July 23, 2009, Terri Sapienza

  • White floors create a nice foundation for furniture to rest on
  • Paint different rooms in variations of one color
  • Freshen rooms with painted furniture
  • Stay away from formal, fussy fabrics
  • Group like items together
  • In the kitchen, leave bare wall space for found objects
  • When arranging furniture, start with one large, quality investment
  • Avoid a neutral palette that is flat and dull by using different shades of beige and by picking fabrics and finishes with varying textures
  • Affordable doesn't mean unstylish
  • Replace fussy, old china with simple white ironstone
  • Grandfather clocks can be very serious and very boring.  But Swedish grandfather clocks are nice because they are whimsical and can be an architectural element

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I am constantly cutting out articles from the newspaper.  What inevitably happens is that the articles then pile up, and I eventually throw them out.

Trying a new strategy today.  Going to document what I think is interesting out of the article on the blog, and then throw the paper away.  

Article on procrastination from Washington Post, March 31, 2009, by Erica Davis Bak

The gist: if you are a procrastinator, you are not alone and that there are strategies to help.  

A study divided procrastinators into two groups: those that delay out of fear of failure, judgment and even success and those called "arousal procrastinators" who wait for the thrill of it.  

Never really thought about there being differences in the types of procrastinators.  I would fall into the first category.  I thought it was interesting that they included the fear of success as a reason.  I totally agree though.  In most cases, I'm not afraid of failing at something, but what happens if I succeed?  What else will be expected of me?  Can I live up to those expectations?  What if I am not as successful next time?

"A recent study suggests that consciously changing the way we think about things we have to do --approaching them as concrete steps rather than abstract ideas--may help even chronic procrastinators."

Agreed.  Saying, "I need to clean out the office" is a whole lot more intimidating and overwhelming than breaking it down into discrete tasks: for the next 30 minutes, I am going to shred any bill that is older than one year out of the top file cabinet drawer.  OK, totally doable.

"The issue, he said, is giving in to feeling good in the moment.  'We're always looking after how we feel.  Facing a task doesn't make us feel good.'"

Totally true.  This concept has been coming up a lot also in the personal finance books I have been reading lately (more on that to come).  Step back and stop to think and not feel.  Obviously, feeling is important, but there are times when the thought is a better guider than the heart.  I am going to buy this grill because I want it; it will make me feel better to have it.   Instead of thinking about how that fits into the spending plan and thinking logically.

"The greatest grief people have on their deathbed is the things they left undone....For me, procrastination is not the problem of the all-nighter and the last-minute effort," he said.  "It's a problem of not getting on with life itself."

Two words: live intentionally

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

EAT THE FROG!!!

Just do all of those icky, yucky things that you don't want to do first!!

Got them off of the list.  Clean it out, move along, do what it takes.

Have a bit of self-discipline!

Just finish them!!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Self-Pity

Self-pity is an ugly, ugly thing that must be constantly guarded against.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Decisions, Decisions




Because what you need to do days before having a baby is to decide to paint every interior wall in the house.  


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Totally Awesome Woodworking

My totally awesome husband made this wooden box for our niece whose birthday is in a couple of weeks.  --countless hours of scroll saw work for the cross

It is for her special treasures.





Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunprints




Inspired by The Light Garden, LM and I tried out Sunprints yesterday.

I had done this as a child and totally forgotten about it.  Thanks for the reminder!  We had a great time looking for things to put on the paper.  It was totally hands-on, quick (and cool) results.  And even included water, which is a major plus for a three-year-old.