Thursday, August 27, 2009

Perfect for Potty Training

I wasn't sure exactly how we were going to potty train. Luke had been interested in going to the potty every since we switched him to cloth diapers at 18 mo. Almost immediately he wanted to be changed as soon as he got wet. And after fighting with him for a long time about putting one on, all of a sudden he'd lay right down to be changed. Anyway, we finally decided two weeks ago that we'd start really giving potty training a try. I read a TON of stuff online, but I was still totally confused at what would work for him.

We had some of the Gerber trainers, but they were horrible. If he did have an accident, they caught maybe 10%, if that. And a lot of courses say to have him run around outside and he'll feel the sensation to pee pee better. Not only did he not even slow his run during a pee, but it was darn near impossible to keep him outside all day with a newborn. So next I looked into absorbant trainers. Even then I wasn't thrilled with what we tried even though reviews said it was "the best." I was stuck until I thought about soakers. Brooke's diapers were soaked overnight and yet the wool kept everything why couldn't that work for Luke? So I ordered up one wool soaker. Laolized it up and put it over some Gerber trainers. Low and behold....perfection. Here is the three we have so far and I LOVE them all!

A new motivation!

A co-worker friend of mine just bought a new house. It just happens to be a ranch home built in the early 80s and very similar to how ours looked when we first moved in. She loves the house and the location but she just couldn't get past some of the 80s decorating. So, to give her some inspiration I organized all the pictures I already had on shutterfly by room and in order of how each room came along. I started looking at it though and it just gave me such motivation. I guess I had just gotten used to a lot of stuff being done in our house. I had forgotten, or maybe not realized, just how far it has come along. Take a look and see for yourself....

Anyway, so just looking through those pictures made me realize that all the hard work we've put into this house is so worth it. And I've really been slacking in the decorating area lately. Especially when I look around and see what seems like everything being destroyed.....oh there goes my rug now that Luke is throwing spaghetti down on it.....oh there goes my floor since he just threw this or that across the room. But really, aside from a few nicks and scratches here and there, our house has held up pretty well against the toddler. I feel like I'm ready to get some rooms finally finished and to start some new ones.....mainly the basement and then Brooke's "big girl room."

Anyway, this weekend I am actually going shopping kid free for house stuff. First time since Brooke was born 3 months ago! So another mommy friend and I are headed south to go to Ikea, the Ballard Designs Outlet and then hopefully we'll have enough time to hit up Kirklands on the way back. I am thrilled beyond belief. Can't wait to shop with my renewed sense of the decorating bug!

Meal Planning: It's working!

It's impossible for all four of us to go to the grocery store anymore, but we all love going together just because we can't spend enough time as a family. So, my solution, cutting down grocery shopping to one large trip every two weeks. I had meal planned in the past and used the sale ads in the Sunday paper as a guide to my meals, but I'd never really stuck to it. Now I've finally found out what is working for us. And as an added bonus, for whatever reason, it's saving us about $40 over two weeks.....down to about $70 per week. I am shopping two stores when I can....usually getting only dry goods from one of the stores so I can go during my lunch break, the other one Friday night or Saturday morning.

Our neighors brought these vegtables over on Thursday night. They knew Todd loved their yellow tomatoes so they brought tons. They also knew I made a green paper casserole and they threw in the ggplant for good wishes I guess. We'd actually never had eggplant before. And I figured I could make salsa with all those tomatoes!

This past week at work was busy, so I braved Meijers by myself with the two kiddos. Luke was in the big part of the cart with his trains and I wore Brooke in the moby wrap. After only bagging up two bags of peaches and Luke already throwing a fit, I thought for sure this trip was doomed. But somehow I was able to distract him long enough to get through the store. Here is everything we got for only $65.50 plus I got an extra $5 off coupon to use on my next shopping trip (thanks to my Entertainment book!)

Highlights include: 4 boxes of pasta for $1 each, Keebler cookies were 2 for $4 + $2.00 off 2 (Luke's potty treats!), Tropicana lemonade and tropical punch $.99 each,, peaches were $.69/lb, 2 boxes each of Wheat Thins and Triscuits were 1/2 off, Light and Fluffy noodles were $.99, Pears were $.77/lb, Cucumbers, Zucchini, and squash were all $.77/lb, 75 ft Recycled Aluminum foil was 2 for $4 + $2.00 off 2.

Then Sunday morning I hit up Krogers before the rush. I scored two loafs of Italian bread for $.69 each, 2 liters of pop were only $.79 and delicious corn for $.19/ear. I don't think there was any other godfather deals this week. Total bil was $79.20.

Later that night though our neighbors brought over even MORE produce. Here is the 6 lbs of green beans they brought and about 5 pints or so of cherry tomatoes. I didn't get pictures, but they also brought over 6 more eggplants, another bag of about 30 tomatoes, 15 assorted peppers, and about 10 more green peppers!

So total for both shopping trips and all the free produce from our neighbors was $154.70.

So, two weeks worth of meals from this?

Hamburgers with grilled broccoli and grilled foil packet potatoes
Ham and cheese quiche
Goldren pork chops with green beans in bacon and corn
BLTs with corn on the cob and chips and salsa
Marinated flank steak with griled zucchini and potatoes
Summer Sausage pasta
Soft tacos with mexican rice
Fried perch with baked beans, beer battered onion rings, and macaroni salad for 8
Stromboli pizza packets
Salsa chicken with mexican rice
Ratatouille with homeade garlic bread
Cheese tortolini with sundried tomatoes and grilled chicken
Marinated gilled chicken with arkansas green beans

Lunches included pasta salad, salads, leftovers, sandwiches, and peanut butter and jelly with granola bars, wheat thins, triscuits and cheese

Breakfast incuded pop tarts, cereal, orange rolls, yogurt, smoothies, bagels and cream cheese, and Christmas breaffast casserole this coming Sunday.

Snacks for Luke include hummas with pita chips and baby carrots, turkey dogs served with pretzel sticks, celery with peanut butter and raisins, pretzel sticks with rolled up ham and cheese, grape and pear kabobs with yogurt dipping sauce, applesauce, dried banana chips, peanuts with banana cheerios and :ahm: 8 lb bag of M&Ms for bribary purposes. Granted, the bag of M&Ms will last about 6 months, but I thought it was funny they came in bags that big! Haha!

And a few extras we got from these shopping trips: frozen pears and frozen peaches for Brooke's baby food I'll make this winter, microwave pickels, salsa (enough to fill 6 canning jars, 4 of which we gave away since I don't have canning supplies yet), oatmeal chip lactation cookies, sundried tomatoes couple pounds of frozen tomatoes I'll make into marinara sauce or salsa later, and a couple lbs of trimmed and blanched green bean.

We literally have more than enough food to eat for the next two weeks and for less than $80/wk. It's not the healthiest food in the world, but trust me, this is much of an improvement over what we used to eat and we're working on it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's been awhile!

I know, I know, it's been awhile! I have no idea how working mothers do this! Anyway, I guess I'm averaging about one post every two weeks. I need to pick that up some huh? Anyway, here are some pictures frm the past couple weeks. I promise, we haven't just been sitting around with our thumbs up our butts! Haha!

So, what have we been up to? Well, the first big thing is potty training. I always thought the toughest part of that would be actually getting Luke to go potty. No, really it's training for the parents. We are the ones who forget to ask him if he needs to go. And by the time we realize it would be good to set the timer for every 30 minutes, now he goes on his own. Things are going well though but he needs watched every second just in case he changes his mind. Nothing repares yu for finding an accient under the dining room table! (Yes, we will never have house guests again now! J/K! I cleaned it GOOOOOOD! Trust me!)

Secondly, my newhews were in town so we got to hang out with them a lot. They are 10 and 12 and the perfect age. They get the fact that if they don't fight when they are down here, they can come more often. Grandpa (Todd's dad) even told them they could go on vacation with us next year if they act so good. A lightbulb went off in their head and they were perfect gentleman!

I've also been doing A LOT of shopping! We've got a baby shower coming up, fall pictures at the end of September I need to plan outfits for and have some things made for, Brooke is outgrowing yet another size in diapers, so I needed a awhole new stash and with Luke potty training, we've been selling his diapers and buying new ones.

Hee's what I have for the shower present so far. I'm going to try and find hot pink and green fabric and make an applique onesies and some matching burp clothes to finish out this gift.
Here is a fleece soaker and upcycled wool longies I got to go over Luke's underware. Also, those 6 little bags around them are reusabe snack bags. I got them from Etsy seller MojaCreations ( Se is great though and we got t pick out al the fabrics we wanted. So 4 bags for Brooke and 4 for Luke. We go through so many baggies taking snacks here and there the bags will pay for themselves in no time!

And lastly, we've been overtaken by the neighbors produce. This is just one small batch she brought over and it hasn't stopped since.....corn, eggplants, tomoatoes od all kinds, jalapenos, green peppers, etc. I've been trying to freeze them or use them up as fast as possible, but it's tiring for sure! Especially at midnight every night. Last night I tackled slasa. Today I blacned and froze 6 lbs of green beans and made ratatouille for dinner.

Well, I'm headed off to seep for my beautfy rest! Good night!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I am learning to sew!

It's been a busy couple of weeks, so I decided I needed some "me" time to relax. I decided to sign up for two sewing classes at my ocal JoAnne Fabrics. Monday I took Sewing 101 and Wednesday I took 201, How to Make a Tote Bag. Mondays class was all the basics - equipment, terms, and how to thread and perate your machine. This was the biggest obstacle to teaching myself. My machine was given to me by my mom. It was brand new in the box, but from about 20 years ago. And somewhere along the line, the manual got lost. I couldn't find one on line, so I was winging it. Yeah, I never did get the needle threaded. Anyway, so Monday I learned to thread the needle, thread the bobbin, and do a couple simple stitches.

Wednesday we actually made something - a tote bag. I messed up a couple times, but just small stuff like not sewing a straight line or forgetting to back stitch in a few places, but I was still super impressed that I actually made something. I'm totally addicted now. I've already got a list of about a hundred things I want to make! YEAH!!!!!

I'm also going on Saturday to their open house. You get 50% off classes during this event. I'm debating between Table Decor (placemats or table runner) and children's jumper. Each one of the classes is two sessions, but this time I'll get to learn how to read a pattern which I'm eager about.

Starting on the baby food already?!?!

Yes, I've decided it's the perfect time to start freezing fruits and vegtables fr making baby food this winter. When I started making baby food for Luke in November 2007, the pickings were quite slim and might I add VERY expensive. Have you ever tried to find organic peaches in November? Yeah, I think they were something insane like $4.99/lb! Maybe that is why Luke's had so many bananas and sweet potatoes!
Anyway, this time I decided to think ahead since so many fruits and veggies are in peak season right now and if frozen now, will taste their absoute best too. Oh, and as an added bonus, buying in season saves me a TON of money. So tonight I started on peaches. I scored 5 lbs of organic peaches at the farmers market for $.99/lb. All I did was boil a pot of water and prepare a bucket of ice water. I dropped four peaches at a time into the boiling water, let them sit in there about a minute. Then removed them and dropped them into the ice water for another minute or two. At that point, the skins pretty much slid right off. Then just cut the peaches in half, scoop out the seed (or is it a nut? whatever) and then cut the peach into wedges. I then covered the slices with apple juice to keep them from browning and preventing freezer burn. They can apparently stay frozen fr up to 12 months in a deep freezer, but we'll be preparing this as one of the first foods sometime around January I would guess. We will again be processing the fruits and veggies in a blender with breast milk, then freezng in ice cube trays and froze in ziplock baggies. This worked out very for us last time.
Also in season right now is apricots, plums, mangos, green beans, peas, and zucchini. This fall I'll freeze pears, apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash.