Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

I am constantly running out of Swiffer pad refills, and it drives me crazy how expensive they are to buy all of the time. For a while I was just using old rags and a bucket to wash the floors, but this got tiring really fast (E did love to help, but she slipped too many times for my comfort).

Today I realized that we were out of them (again), and since it was too much of a hassle to run to the store, I read where some make reusable pads. It worked well enough for me to say bye bye to the $5 or whatever it is to buy the refills. I just used some microfiber towels, folded them in half and sewed it. Voila - pads. Less trash and more money. Yay.

In equally exciting news, I feel like I'm getting ready to go back to school with the list of materials I need to buy for work. Pens. A planner (old one donated to L). A lunch box and a water bottle. And oddly enough, I'm pretty excited about looking for these items, but I used to love the fall of the year and getting my backpack ready for the first day of class. Strange, silly me.

Anyway, back to the daily grind of chores and figuring out dinner, before it's too late to thaw anything. Note to self: pull meat out the night before you need it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

And We're Back

We made it through the weekend in one piece. Actually camping went much smoother than what I pictured it my head (one advantage to looking at the glass half empty, I guess). The kiddos did struggle a little bit to sleep (and E barely napped), but it could have been much worse than what it was.
It poured the first evening we were there. And I mean POURED. We ran into the tent, and tried to wait until it subsided. This is a terrible photo, but you can see the large puddle of water until K, R, and M's tent - it felt like you were on a water bed each time you took a step inside of it. We managed to get into the car and get to a restaurant, and by the time we got back, the puddle was gone. Crazy.
This is just a cute photo from the our day trip to the falls. E was pretty tired, but kept pushing forward.
The beach at the campground was gorgeous. The first day was extremely windy, and the waves were huge, so it felt like we were at the ocean. We all enjoyed the beach - M chased bird after bird after bird, E was spent much of the time in the sand and found a log that she rode like a horse. I think that we'll be finding sand for months to come.

This was the sunset we were able to enjoy the last night we were there. Wow. God's creation is just breathtaking. The nature, the company and the memories are just priceless. I'd say E and M's first camping experience was a success. Good times.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Off to Camping We Go

This has been a crazy week as we start preparing to have me go back to work, as well as planning for a camping trip this weekend. We're going with some friends of ours from church. They also have a daughter, M, who's a few months younger than E. It should be interesting as we are banking on the kiddos sleeping in their pack n play in the tent. I'm praying for cooperation, and decent sleep. :)

We've also been on the lookout for all natural or organic meat that's been locally grown, and trying find something before my work starts. We had been hearing of prices that seemed a little ridiculous to me. However, we have found a place that sells all natural chicken breasts at a very reasonable price. We might be buying a 1/4 of a cow, too, but I'm not sure how on earth we'll eat that much meat. Guess that's what the freezer is for, right?

As we are chatting about food and going back to work, I'm trying to think of either fast or make ahead healthy meals that will deter us from eating out. No point in spending all of the money I make on food, right? So, if anyone has great ideas, let me know.

All right off to bike to the playground, and then back to more packing preparation. I have a feeling I'm going overboard on the packing, yet still forgetting something. Hmmm....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What To Do, What To Do...

E is all girl - she is OBSESSED with shoes. She calls them "eet" (feet), and is constantly asking me to put my shoes on her, L's shoes... pretty much anyone's shoe. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I only have like three or four pairs of shoes to work with, so she gets bored, and wants to walk in Daddy's boots. Right now she's wearing some slippers we got for free that are one size too big for her.
E is 16 months, and a very busy toddler. It appears that she's down to one nap - from two or three the past month and a half. The more awake time means we have to come up with more activities for her to do. We've been going to the beach a few times a week, but she appears to be growing tired of it. Yesterday we went to the playground at the elementary school, and wow... she fell in love. Even after two hours of hard play, she had a mini tantrum when we left. Guess where we will be spending much of our upcoming days?

What are some at home activities that you guys do with your kiddos? What are your child's favorite at home activity? At the moment my kiddo loves books, play dough, dried beans or oatmeal with cups/spoons, markers and finger paints. Any ideas will keep our days moving in a good direction. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008


These are some flowers that we cut from our yard on Saturday. They died on Sunday. At least we got to enjoy them for the afternoon/evening, and L managed to get some photos for his class. Ah well.

Well I found out that I got the job. This is good news, since I was expecting an offer. :) This seems to be a "God thing". A month or two ago, I decided to start looking for something part time - to get out of the house, etc. Found hospital job. Interviewed hospital job. Hated hospital job. Didn't find anything else, so I took it as a sign that staying home was for me unless a social work job that I would enjoy opened up. There aren't many social work jobs at all, let alone part time ones.

So I go to the garden I volunteer at once a week (it's amazing they let me around plants, but that's another story). M, the gardener, asks me how family life is, and if I was planning on working outside the home or not. I tell him that yes, I had just re-entered the job hunt, but it was unlikely to find anything social work related. He asks me if I've ever heard of Early On. Yes, that's where most of my experience is. He says, well my girlfriend is the coordinator of Early On, and they have a position opening up. I ask if it's part time, he says he doesn't know. Later that day, we check out the website, and find out that it's part time. And the pay is good. And the hours are flexible. And the staff is laid back.

So I took the job. And it just so happens that the wife of one of L's co-workers runs a daycare.
And she's a Christian, and has been running a daycare for 28 years, and just recently had a part time slot open up. So I'm hoping that this will pan out and be the "perfect" place.

Enough prattling on with my overabundance of "ands". I'm excited, nervous, scared, but looking forward to the challenge. Thanks for all of your prayers. Please continue to pray as we hunt for a daycare and that I'll deal with the guilt I'm already feeling.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Green Smoothies

Oh, and since my kiddo is taking a long nap, I thought I'd post the smoothie she's been drinking the past few days. Our pediatrician recently suggested that E be tested for anemia, as her sleeping patterns have gotten especially long at times. His main concern was that she doesn't like meat, and therefore, isn't getting enough iron. Thankfully the test came back that her levels were normal, but it still caused me to think perhaps we needed to focus on increasing her iron intake.

So I've been trying to stuff anything with iron into her. So far she's been a good sport. :) Her favorite thing has been a green smoothie that I make for her each day. I know that it sounds gross, but really, it's good, and you don't even taste the spinach.

Here are the ingredients:

Spinach (or any green leafy green such as kale, romaine lettuce, etc)
Blueberries to taste and change the color

Just place it all in a blender and mix until smooth. Green Smoothies are so good for you, and we've been lucky to get a lot of local spinach lately. They help curb your sugar craving, and are full of great nutrients.

Don't knock it unless you try it. :)

The Dirty Dozen

As most of you know from my blog, we've been trying to eat healthier around here. I try to focus on meals that are heavy in veggies and whole grains. We have our good and bad days, for sure. I came across a list several months ago while doing "research" on eating healthier, and the debate between organic vs. non-organic.

This list covers what items you should buy with the label "organic". The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that even after washing, some food items still have high levels of pesticide residue on them.

"The Dirty Dozen":
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Grapes, imported (Chili)
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
Beef, poultry, and milk are also items that you might consider buying organic.

This is a list of items that don't need to have the label "organic" to be "safe":
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Mangos
  • Papaya
  • Pineapples
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Onions
  • Peas
The cost of organic food is still high, so we really pick and choose what we buy organic. Personally I would love to buy organic milk and meat, but the pricing is outrageous in my opinion. So, we try to use the items "sparingly". That's why I'm hoping to buy in bulk or take part in U-Picks and with the CSA, hoping to dodge some of the cost of organic food. A lot of the time, though, I just can't bring myself to pay what organic food costs (though sometimes there are deals, and we "stock up"). I do the bulk of my shopping in the product section, hoping to avoid at least the preservatives that they add to boxed and prepared foods.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


A couple of months ago, A (my sis-in-law), R (friend), and I took part in a non competitive triathlon. My reasoning for doing the triathlon was to get back into exercising, and it really worked... for about two months. I either biked or ran every night... and I felt good. Of course, after the race ended, I took some "time off", and well... it's been quite a long holiday.

So over the past month or so, we've started doing some lengthy walks downtown (we're a little further away than what we were in our last rental). These would generally be "fun" walks - just to get outside and have family time. Well, in an effort to exercise more and use my car less, I've decided to use the bike for practical reasons too. The kiddo and I have biked to the beach a couple of times, and most recently, I've biked E to her doctor's appt. It was a 4 1/2 mile ride total, but it was a little tricky with the amount of foot traffic there was to deal with (tourists), and then there was "the" hill. Of course, I am still getting over my cold, so I felt a little dizzy after my ride. Still we made it back in one piece, and it encouraged me to keep on "keeping on". So, let's hope the trend continues until the snow flies (which is hopefully a long time from now).

In other news, my interview was yesterday. It went okay - it's been a while, so I definitely wasn't at the top of my game. The staff seemed really laid back and fun, so I felt comfortable. Some positives: the pay is A LOT better than I was making downstate, I make my own schedule and can do a little work from home, good mileage reimbursement. Negatives: putting E in daycare, having to drive on wintry roads, wear and tear on my car.

I'm not going to think about the position unless it's offered to me. Then it'll be a mad dash of decision making and daycare finding. :) L was suddenly more interested when he heard the pay, and to be honest, I was too. So, we'll see. Thanks for all of the prayers. :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Homemade Ranch Dressing

We are pretty boring people when it salad dressings. We are Italian (me) and Ranch (L) kinda people. We like other dressings, but we are loyal to those two. Unfortunately, dressings are full of alarming ingredients that we don't want in our food. So I decided to find a recipe to make some ranch dressing, since that was the first dressing we were out of. Here is what I found:

Ranch Dressing
The Pioneer Woman Cooks

1 to 2 cloves garlic
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (use less table salt)

1 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s or Best Foods preferred)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk or regular milk, to taste
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, more if desired

Directions: With a fork, make a paste with garlic and salt. Mix all other ingredients, adding optional ingredients as you wish, tasting frequently and adjusting seasonings as needed. Chill for a couple of hours before serving, thin with milk or buttermilk if desired.

Just a couple of notes: We only used one clove of garlic, as it's raw in this dressing. I love garlic, but L has a sensitive stomach, so we erred on the side of caution. L still thought there was a lot of garlic in the recipe, so I added more milk, which toned it down a bit. I also added a little white vinegar, which gave it a great tang in my opinion.

Also, we used dried herbs, as we didn't have any fresh on hand, so we adjusted the measurements accordingly.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It's a Tough Job Being a Mom

Sometimes I have a hard time properly modeling how I want E to act.... and it's really beginning to bother me. Boy, it's hard work being a mom - and at the moment, I'm overwhelmed. There were so many things that should have been handled differently over the past week.

I'm a firm believer that actions speak louder than words, and my actions this week weren't that great. As mentioned earlier, the kiddo and I have been dealing with a cold over the past several days. Poor little thing has been miserable - uncomfortable, having difficulty breathing properly, tired... just on edge. She needed more cuddles than I gave her. She deserved more understanding for sure, since I was dealing with something similar, but with the advantage of cold medicine. Yet still I got frustrated and short on patience.

And since I wasn't feeling well, the television was on FAR too much this week. Ugh. I remember being a TV free family, and now I'm thinking that perhaps we need to get back to that. Her interest is starting to grow in the silly thing. I don't care how many educational cartoons they put on that screen, there's no substitute for playing and learning in real life. Yet, how can I say, "Well, E, you can only watch 20 minutes of Elmo in the morning b/c you need to explore life, but I will watch whatever I want whenever I want"?

The TV thing of course leads to the fact that I didn't play with her as much as she deserved. We did get outside a fair bit, but come on - it's summer! We should basically live out there! We didn't read as many books together as we normally do. Or do puzzles, or craft projects.

The TV thing leads to my eating habits the past few days. We were doing well cutting out the caffeine, and it's ridiculous how much we consumed this week. Oh, and the sugar. We may be consuming a lot more fruits and veggies, but the amount of sugar has skyrocketed. Thankfully E has much better eating habits than we do - she loves peas, asparagus, carrots... really mostly all fruits and veggies. I'd like to keep that trend up. She does want what we're eating, and again, it's a "do as I say, not as a I do" sort of thing.

More importantly, my quiet time has really been weakened over the past couple of weeks. And today I nagged and picked at L for no reason. Of course, I want E to know how important a relationship with Christ is, and how important it is to act/speak with love and respect toward your spouse. If I'm the woman E is looking up to for spiritual, emotional, physical and relational guidance, she's been sorely disappointed lately. And that makes me feel very disappointed too.

Thankfully God gives us grace to cover all of our sins, and strength to help us in our weakness. It just shows how MUCH and OFTEN I need to be on my knees daily, begging for guidance, patience, strength, and love. Hopefully E will learn what it means to be a godly woman and see what I've done right, and not so much what I'm doing wrong.

Because seriously. How cute is this kid? She deserves the best.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Christmas in July

Well I have to admit that I do love free stuff... or at least free stuff that we'll use. Recently a friend offered to let me sift through eight totes of stuff she was going to donate to Goodwill. I found lots of Patagonia, Gap, Children's Place and Gymboree items... and E doesn't wear most of those brands simply because of price.

I found quite tons of free items for the kiddo, which made me very happy. I was also very impressed with how well this woman took care of her clothes. Either E is much messier than her children, or my washing efforts aren't quite as successful.

And generally Saturday mornings are my time to get to the farmer's market and stock up on produce for the week. I had to stop off at the grocery store on the way back, and to my surprise they were giving away free bananas that were getting too ripe. I think one of the ladies watching me thought I was crazy grabbing two grocery bags worth of almost-too-ripe bananas. Now that we have our little chest freezer, we can store extra food items like this and pull them out when in need.

Really, though, it felt like Christmas in July. I guess it's the simple things in life that matters, right? :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Incoherent Thoughts

This is what I wish I was doing right now. E and I have caught a cold from someone somewhere, and now all I want to do is sleep. Of course as a mom, that's not really possible, so I'll have to live vicariously through my kitty. She looks like she's having a good rest, yes?

It's been a quiet couple of days around here. Dinners have consisted of salad after salad for the most part (thanks to our CSA). Time to start thinking of some ways to spruce up our salads, so we're not sick of them by the end of the harvest season. We are enjoying the peas that we've gotten the past couple of weeks. You must eat them straight out of the pod though - they're more nutritious and taste SO much better. Just try it. You won't regret it.

And of course, with the summer season here, I've been loving the watermelon we can buy so easily... seriously. I think I could eat a whole watermelon, it's that yummy. E's still loving her blueberries. Must find u-pick farm for these. As soon as she sees the container of blueberries she'll point and say "Blue! Blue!!" until there are a few in her hands.

Anyway, forgive this post if it's not the most coherent. My mind is feeling very fuzzy at the moment. I can tell because I've been staring at that sentence for about five minutes now... just staring....

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Our Weekend

Hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa's house on the 4th. Cousin A is giving E a hug. A's curly hair is just too cute for words. :)
At K and R's house, celebrating M's first birthday. Yes, little M is in there somewhere. :)

Watching horses at T and L's house on Saturday.

This is Uncle T holding E, as she got "up close and personal" with Nick. She was pretty nonchalant about the whole experience, but I wanted to take the horse home with us. I mean, we have a big garage, right? :)

And of course, the beauty of summer. This is a photo of the sunset on the beach.

Ah, summer...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

More Joy

This little girl has taught me so much about life in the short time she's been on this earth. These are just a few things:

1. She's taught me how quickly time flies.
2. How much fun it is to laugh so hard it hurts.
3. That life is meant to be LIVED to its fullest.
4. That sitting still can be a blessing!
5. She's shown me how much beauty one person can hold.
6. How to be alive.
7. How we're surrounded by an exciting world, ready to be explored.
8. That simple things are the most interesting.
9. She's taught me how much God has blesses His children.
10. And of course, how much one person can love another.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


So we've been swimming in strawberries since we picked a few days ago. I have frozen most of our strawberries for future use. We've been eating a lot of berries as of late, and so we've enjoyed Strawberry Spinach Salad (yum), berries and cream, smoothies and most recently:

Smoothie Pops!
Put ingredients in blender and mix. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze, after the molds have started taking shape, put Popsicle sticks in molds, and continue to freeze.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Just One of Those Days

Ever have a day when you wake up feeling good about yourself? Since having E, it's really a toss up whether I feel that way or not. Today, however, I am feeling good about myself - feeling productive, like my body is down to its pre-pregnancy weight (and I know this is a fact and not a feeling, but today I feel it), and ready to see what God has in store for me today. I like days like this.

In other news, I have another interview on the 15th of this month. This is a little more exciting, since it's social work related, so we'll see what happens. I'm still going back and forth about returning to work, but this position has such strange coincidences, I just couldn't resist applying. :)