Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Netflix, I heart you

I just updated my Netflix cue.  I'm telling you, I love that place.  I'm really starting to think about getting rid of cable.  I'm not sure I could do it til' P is in preschool... but I really enjoy movies and what they have to offer.  I'm also slowly realizing that it's OK to watch 1/2 on one night, and 1/2 the next (early bedtimes are a killer for movies).
My cue is fairly eclectic.  Drew and I actually have our movies split.  He has one out all the time, and I have one out all the time (did you know you can do that?  LOVE it!).  Mine is about 1/4 stuff for me, 1/4 stuff for the kids, and 1/2 workout DVD's (check this week's workout du jour on my Losing with Lovers blog... it's an amusing one, especially for people who've done FIRM workouts before).  I REALLY like trying new workout DVD's without having to buy.
So, what have you watched lately that you love?

The Home Chef?

I HATE it when I'm watching Top Chef, or some other cooking show and they'll talk down to the home chef.  As if it's only people who go to culinary schools that have those kinds of skills.

You know, I don't say this very often, but I do believe in this instance, it's warranted.

Screw. You.

Try making a new meal EVERY night, to a table full of varied tastes who think you are their personal servant.  My family tends to be very appreciative of what I cook, thanks in large part to a husband who makes sure they verbalize how delicious the meal was.

I think it was cooking light that I was reading where the editor said hats off to the home chef.  He said how amazing we are to do it day in and day out.  I do wonder that if I was on a show, if I wouldn't be able to whip some culinary school booty on a cooking show if they were given all purpose flour, canned tomatoes and peanut butter as their ingredients.

Sometimes I find cooking for my family my greatest thrill.  To teach my kids to enjoy new vegetables or types of food.  Of course, most days it's drudgery finding a recipe within budget and that will be tasty and not make my waist blow-up like a balloon.

Try that Tom Cholicchio.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Delicious Cookies

I found a cookie handout (scroll down a bit it says "cookie extravaganza") on everyday food storage while trying to find what i needed for the powdered milk day. 
There's a best ever chocolate chip cookie recipe in there that they are TOTALLY right about.  Try it. :)
BTW, I've tried a lot of these, including the ones that use beans and they're all really great!

There Just Isn't Enough Love Out There

This morning I was hit in the face with 20 posts on Facebook about the Mormon Bishop shot in Visalia, CA.  What a sad, sad story, but on the MSNBC story there were plenty of people saying the guy deserved it.  He was the FATHER of SIX, including a SIX MONTH OLD.  Do we live in a country where that type of talk is OK?  So what if you were pro prop 8.  Is it honestly worth enough for you to kill someone over?  It's definately not for me!

I'm just tired of separatists who think that one group is lesser.  I'm tired of the black saying that Glen Beck can't hold a rally on the mall because it's the same day Martin Luther gave his speech (I'm also disgusted at myself for putting up for Glen Beck, eww.).

I'm tired of things like the congressional black caucus.  I mean, if we had a congressional white caucus there'd be warheads... but when we separate out the blacks by their own choice, that's OK?

Really, is it?

What ever happened to equality?  Martn Luther wanted EQUALITY.  He didn't want black rights, he wanted blacks, latinos, asians, cathlics, jews.  EQUALITY.  I think we forget that.

Plenty of people think it's AOK to make a Mormon joke.  It's true, we're not gonna come back at you, there will be no retalliation for this sick instance of violence.  We're taught to ignore the negative and love the person.

Charity never faileth.  It's true, but it sure is hard when portions of people around you thinks the exact opposite.  On the other side of the quarter, there were a lot of very nice posts on msnbc about how nice Mormons are and how sad it was.  It just takes one bad apple...

** Sidenote, bishops in the LDS church serve entirely voluntarily.  They aren't paid clergy, and almost all of them (unless retired) have jobs outside the church as well.

A Pulling Curls Giveaway!!!!

Cooking Light (1-year auto-renewal)I love this magazine.  I really do.  I get a lot of magazines, mostly at crazy low discount prices but I actually just renewed with these guys at a fairly full priced rate (I've looked all year for a discount rate with no avail).  FYI, I think I got it started for like 2 bucks.  Sweet!  Anyway, I love it.

Not only do they have great recipes but they also have health tips and fashion ideas.  It's like everything I've ever wanted in a magazine.

This month's edition happens to have a nice section on pressure cooking and of course, with all my Facebook fury over a new pressure cooker, people were calling me with that news... and yet, mine hadn't come!  I was starting to freak out a bit, wondering if my subscription was out (I only renewed this morning) and the lady was nice enough to send out another copy, in case mine got lost.  Of course, like 3 days later, mine came -- and then yesterday the one she sent came.

So, I have two copies.

And I love the magazine, so I thought I'd promote it a bit on the ol' blog. 

SO, Comments through Wednesday at midnight will be accepted.  I'll do a drawing on Thursday AM for the lucky winner!  And, if you dont' win, I highly recommend getting it!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

In box review

I know, you're all dying to see what my inbox looks like, and instead of beating my children this morning, I decided to take pictures of it.  As seen here:



That is our current computer set-up.  It's an armoir that is supposed to close, but this one doesn't really... I guess if I HAD to.  We're looking into a new situation for ourselves.

Anyway there it sits.

This morning I went through these items:
1.  Cooking light was sitting there for a giveaway -- stay tuned on Monday (it now rests at the bottom of the pile, so I can remember to do the drawing for it on Thursday AM.)
2. Spencer had a bunch of school papers.  Went through, many into the trash.  Trying to get him into the routine of just putting it all in there.  It should help both of us.

Again, I like it and I don't think it's what they had envisioned for it but our "office" is strung out between our actual office (slash, guest room, slash craft room, slash crap room) and the computer in the playroom.  Mostly because I think it's easy to get stuff done in the playroom while the kids play.

Ingenius, isn't it?

You on a Diet

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to direct your attention to the other ring in my 3 ring circus (one ring being dark for the year, possibly for it's lifetime) -- over at Losing with Lovers website I have a book review for "You on a Diet". Good book, and I'd recommend it.  Feel free to check it out. :)  BTW, thanks for wondering, it's the third book I've read since P was born.  Thanks for asking. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Photos Friday: Scary, Garden

I realized on Wednesday of this week that I had no photos, and that just won't do, especially with my new lightroom.  I am still in love btw, so great.

Well, the garden gave me some opportunities:

First off our Japanese Cucumber, I call this one our pretzel cucumber.  Funny that the only 2 cucumbers we have growing have chosen to come right together.  I hope that's the only way I'll ever have twins. :)

Our tomato bushes have gone crazy, much to the delight of our friends and teachers.  We have 6 tomato bushes, and most of them are cherry tomatoes.  That isn't so great as it's hard to can cherry tomatoes.. 

Our garlic matured this week too.  Here they are in my "bulb bucket' all drying out, along with some onion friends.  I love having fresh onions and garlic!


Eww, eww, eww... I found this guy in our compost bin the other day, and you should all be amazed I'm still alive to type about it.  Bugs are NOT my thing.  I hate them, they are vile and this one is super big and green.  Eww, eww, eww!


And of course, what photo Friday wouldn't be complete without a photo of my sweet P.  I had to snap this one quickly as she's deathly afraid of Piglet jumping like Tigger.  Who knew?  Anyway, I played around with my lightroom for a while on this one.  Her shirt is really noisy in the original (because I had to lighten it a lot) and in this one I smoothed it all out, but she kind of looks plasticy.  Again, still working out my kinks (but enjoying it!)


Here's to my new Lightroom, and a great weekend!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

MOM Organization: Step 2 Start the Process

So, inbox set, it's by the computer.  Do I adore the spot? no... but it works.

I am LOVING IT.  I love how the kids can put all their papers in there for me and I can actually look at them rather than glancing at them and not really caring.

So, with this step, you just start going through everything in your inbox.  Thankfully, mine isn't that large, because I tend to deal with the paper flow as it comes in, although it tends towards hectic, rather than orderly. :)

You begin at the top, and nothing goes back in the inbox.  Here's where I fudge a little bit, as my other folders are going in the inbox.  Just because I lack space and for right now, that's the best idea I can think of.  The beauty of it, though, is that it's all there and if you have a spare 10 minutes you can take it head on and then go back to what you enjoy doing. :)

Look at the item, is action required?  Well, let's go through my pile:

1.  Spencer put all the stuff from school in there.  I enjoyed seeing how well he's writing his numbers, and bam, they went in the recycling bin. :)

2.  I had some stuff from back to school night, that went in the to "file" category (and while I have a "to file" bin in the office, I hope to just go file this so I can keep that pile down to a minimum -- although, I do spend a few minutes every Friday filing, and yes -- I am serious).

3.  We have a paper about our water barrel.  It's still here because I can't decide where to put said water barrel.  Anyone have ideas?  With this paper I performed 2 actions.  The paper goes in a "pending" file and I wrote it on a projects list "water barrel -- figure out where and fill".

4.  I had 2 things from the city about my business.  These were just hanging around because for some reason I'm a little sad that I shut things down.  I finally just marked the box, I just need to stamp it and mail it.  Go me.

5.  I had a referral for C to see an orthodontist.  I don't want him to have braces, but they said we should just get a consult and see what they say.  Again, it was something I don't want to do -- so instead I just hold onto a paper forever.  It too goes in a "pending" file and onto the projects list "make ortho appt. for C").

Now, here's where I probably differ a bit from them.  In my head I thought to myself that those items aren't particularly pressing.  If I really wanted them done, I'd add them to the to do list on my phone.  However, things I want to get done "sometime in the future" can go on that projects list that will help me to just think about them for a future date.  Again, nothing pressing.

*MOM is mind organization for moms.  If you're interested in the system, you can find out more info here.

Recipes

For those that are wondering, here's the recipes I used for tonight's dinner:
Lamb Chops with Balsamic Reduction
Pita Bread (I use the whole wheat version, link on this page also)
Baba Ganoush (next time I won't add tahini or sesame seeds, just not my favorite flavor).

It was delish!

Blessings

My friend Lara wrote a great entry on making it through the summer with no paycheck.  I was touched by a lot of what she said.  Lara belongs to the same church as me and therefore pays 10% of her income to the church as tithing.  It's a hard thing to do, esp. with finances are short.  But, we are promised that God will see us through if we do what He asks.  Lara has definitely been an example of that this summer.  I loved her entry.  Of course, I love her, so that helps too. ;)

Recently I was kind of holding my own pitty party that miraculous things don't happen.  I tend to overschedule myself and working is completely a blessing but I also get cancelled nearly as much as I work.  It's just part of the game of being Per Diem.  I was cleaning my kitchen at the time, and is there any better time to have a pitty party?  Answer: No, there isn't.

And then it hit me.  God has blessed me with the power of numbers.  And only in one specific area.  It takes me YEARS to remember some one's phone number (and by then they will have most likely moved).  I can't remember dosages of medications, I always have to look it up.  Memorization just isn't my strong suit, feel free to check my anatomy grade in college -- it wasn't stellar.  I'd walk into a dead body full of pins and wonder what in the heck I got myself into!

I am sensing a tangent here... let me see if I can pull it back to reality.

The power of numbers, I have it.  And I have it with grocery shopping (and to a certain extent, all of shopping).  I can tell you how much I paid for almost anything.  I have a good idea of what a good price is on almost anything.  Comparing that to my ability to memorize phone numbers, or addresses... it's amazing how I can remember things in one area.  I also remember i have coupons, I'm able to keep track of all of them and how they will interact with ecoupons.  Really, it's a marvel I'm not in a coma after keeping track of all that. :)

So, while it may not be a neighbor dropping off a box of unwanted food, or an anonymous check just as the bank account is making death rattle sounds there is something else which blesses us on each shopping trip.

You just have to look for the blessings and they appear.  How sad God must be when we don't realize how amazing he is to us all of the time.  It'd be easy for me to say that it's just something I've worked on and perfected, but in reality it's something God has given me.  And I'm grateful for it

*Man, this entry sounded a bit self-righteous, didn't it?  I just think too often we overlook the gifts God gives us to get through our lives.  And that is all.

Update Central

Mom Organizaion:  Ladies, (and the 3 men that read my blog) I have an inbox.  I find it quite empowering, actually.  SO nice to have a place for all those papers that don't have to be done RIGHT now, but need to be done.  KWIM?  Excited to move onto step 2.  I see that as an afternoon job. :)

Bohn ButtSaver - MediumTailbone: I have actually gone against Kaiser's better judgement (or, shall we say lack of judgement) and I am seeing a chiropractor.  Thankfully, he's a good friend's husband because I HATE going to the chiropractor.  He finds that this is all related with my extreme planta facitis... we're working it all out, and I think I do see some progress.  Slow and steady, better then steady and mean, which is how I would term my relationship with my previous physical therapist.

School:  I really feel SO blessed to have the teachers we have.  Everyone seems so perfect for each kid.  I was driving home on the first week and just felt so humbled by all the blessings I have in my life.  They are two big ones.  You never know how the whole teacher thing will work out.  This one's a complete winner!

Friends:  Newsflash, I still have friends.  Amazing ones.  I think I have friend storage.  You know, in case someone gets away I'll still have a few to keep me happy.

And happy I am.  Until the guy comes to value our house.  He makes me nervous.... stupid refi.

Oh, and for dinner we're having lamb chops, steamed broccoli (ala pressure cooker), and pita bread with hummus.  Fo. real.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Do you ever think...

Do you ever think maybe your baby was supposed to go to another country, and speak another language?
This girl is certainly speaking, but she (because she is obsessed with the clicker) changed the channel to the asian news network, and they sounded oddly like P.

Just me?

{if only}

I know, I'm kind of blathering on and ons about The Power of Moms but it's something I really believe in.  I'm not paid a cent from them, but I get a lot of good ideas from their page (which you can too).  What if I could spend a whole WEEKEND with those ladies?

Well, it would just be pure bliss.  There's even a retreat within driving distance from my home, sadly it's right smack dab in the middle of marching band season {booo}.

Anyway, I just wanted to get the info out there. I think it would be a GREAT weekend away with the ladies to really focus on our familes and parenting.  If you're from elsewhere around the country they have other locations.  I believe there's one coming up in Boston.

You can also certify as a trainer and make the whole thing tax deductible.  Genius.  That's moms, always multi-tasking.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Food Storage is Good for You: Powdered Milk


Bob's Red Mill Non-Fat Dry Milk Powder, 26-Ounce Packages (Pack of 4)I love my food storage, and I know that when I'd hear other people talk about food storage, I immediately thought of cans of wheat, rice and beans that you bought and never touched.  Mine's not that way at all.  If I was buying the stuff, I wanted to be sure I'd use it and rotate through it.  Also, I wanted to be sure I'd know how to use it if there was ever an emergency.

My favorite thing that I've come to love during my jump into food storage is dried milk.  My mom used to actually mix it and we'd have it as milk in our fridge, but friends would come over and always wonder why our milk tasted so funny (although, I've heard you can add a teaspoon of sugar and some vanilla to make it more palatable, we don't actually use it for that.  I use it in baking.

I learned that you can just add the dry milk when you're adding your dry ingredients, and then add the same amount as listed with just water.  It all mixes-up and whamo, you've used your dried milk.  This has come especially in handy lately as we're buying whole milk for Miss P now and I'd rather use low fat or skim milk when we cook.  Also, I don't like having a large amount of skim milk in the fridge, not knowing when we're going to use it, or IF we're going to use it (my older kids aren't fans of milk, and if they ask for it, I just give them whole).

Now the nonfat dry milk that you get from the cannery can't just be added to a glass with water and stirred, you do need to use some sort of a blender (you could use a hand blender, which is what I do when I'm desperate, or when I try to turn it into buttermilk).  You can buy a different kind that you just stir to create milk.  But, again -- I'm not using it to create milk, I'm using it to substitute for milk in cooking.

My main cheerleader in using my milk has been http://www.everydayfoodstorage.net/ -- she is great at giving ideas on how to use the things you have on hand.  She has a great chart on there showing that in order to create 1 cup of milk, you need to use 3 Tablespoons of dry milk.  She halso has a great post here on powdered milk.  I love all of the info that she gives, she's a great resource.  She has helped me realize that having food storage just means I don't have to run to the grocery store daily, and I can make stuff work by using what I have in my home.  But you don't have to take MY word for it. ;)

Mind Organization for Moms {MOM}: Step 1

I'm going to be sharing how I mull over the Mind Organization for Moms from the Power of Moms over the next few weeks.  I have a pretty good system in place right now, but I'm hoping this will help smooth out some systems and keep me a little more focused on what's important.  Like keeping every blade of grass watered. :)

Bush Furniture Vantage Corner Desk, Harvest CherryWell, first off they tell you to get your supplies together, and thankfully the list isn't very long.  They recommend having a desk for yourself.  That doesn't really work for me but I do have a "space" -- which is all a person can really have in our quaint little villa. :)

The main things I gleaned from step 1 is to find all of your "inboxes".  This was really insightful to me, as I don't really think of all the ways I get info.  Here's a short list of mine:
1.  Email.  Most people who know me at all know email's the best way to get a hold of me.
2.  Telephone.  Duh.
3.  School folders.  Spencer brings his home daily with paperwork, etc. Conner's is weekly.
4.  Snail mail mailbox.  Although rare, sometimes I actually get something in my mail, oh and I do get bills {boo}
5.  Husband. He's not super open and reminding-ful of things I need to know from him.  I often have to pry important dates, etc. from his bloody little hands.  Ok, maybe they're not bloody, and not from his hands... but you get the picture.

They recommend having your family place everything in a specific inbox of yours. 

I like this idea.  I don't currently have one that's really accessible, although I am mulling over making one by the computer.

They also recommend you do a "mind sweep" -- basically clear your mind of every little minutiae you need/ want to do in your mortal existence.  Frankly, I think I'm good on this one.  At the beginning of the year I try to write down "big picture" items.  Like one year, I said I'd like to get published in a magazine and in a matter of sorts I did.  Anything else goes into my phone, and I'm pretty good about putting what I want/need to get done into it.  You will find that my phone is my main organizational tool.  If it dies, I die.  Simple as that. :)  Except, that I do have it backed up on my hard drive.  Phwesh!  I know you were all worried for my health.  I also have other systems of grocery lists and store lists, etc. that help keep my nagging brain from killing me.  I do appreciate how they gave us examples of everything you'd want to sweep your mind of.  I do admit there are sometimes things that nag at my brain, like an upcoming register reward that's going to expire, etc.  It's a really comprehensive system that they've laid out (possibly a little more comprehensive then I need).

I think this week I'm gonna mull over an inbox idea.  I think that might be helpful when I have a lot of papers -- esp. from the kids school, or work.

What do you do with all your papers?  Do you have an inbox.  Do you think that a program like this might be helpful for you?  Don't worry, I'm hoping to delve into a couple of steps each week on this here blog.  Lucky you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mind Organization for Mothers

Saren from the Power of Moms, gave me a sneek peek before summer started at their Mind Organization for Moms tool.  Of course, it was summer, and nothing got done -- no weight watchers, no mind organization, no garage organization... nada.  Oh, I did work a lot, but whatever... work is work. :)

Of course, I think of myself as an excessively organized person but more organization can only help, right?  Or, perhaps just streamline some of my current processes.

So, I'm tackling it now.  I'm gonna go through all that phases/steps and then tell how it changed how I think here on my blog.

Also, if you share the link for it with 30 of your own friends, you can get the whole program free!  I am not going to be getting into the nitty gritty of their systems on this blog, but I will be saying how I adapted it for myself.  I think fall is a time a lot of moms are wanting to roll up their sleeves and perfect the "systems" or "processes" in their own lives.

And if you're a hoarder, and you're totally offended by my post below, now's the time to get a jump on the organization game! :)

Hoarder vs. Lazy

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of ThingsDrew and I caught a snippet of the TLC show, "Hoarders: Buried Alive" last night as we were finishing our movie.  Somehow this show bugs me.  I get the actual medical disease of hoarding.  But those people were meticulous about their things and what they saved, etc. 

But, a lot of the people on this show seem to do a dis-service for those who medically have a problem.  Here's a few facts for these people:

1.  Keeping a house is HARD.  Epecially with children.  Children tend to hoard, they tend to not put things away, and they bring dirt wherever they go.  You also want to buy them 5 million dollars worth of toys so they will STOP BOTHERING YOU.

2.  If you want someone to clean your house, you need to look in the mirror because you made that bed, now lie in it.  Don't pretend like it's because your husband doesn't help you.  Because guess what!  HUSBANDS aren't by nature, big helpers in this arena.

3.  Husbands, help.  Stop saying it's all her fault.  Maybe if showed her a little love and attention she'd stop going to Target or the dump to get crap to fill your home with.

4.  Here's a huge fact for you. NO. ONE. LIKES. THROWING. AWAY. STUFF.  Do you think anyone loves tossing something they spent their hard earned cash on?  Not even me, but I do it -- daily, weekly, forever.  I also ingrain it in my children so they realize that stuff is just stuff and your life is your life.

Anyway, I guess my brightness of hope just couldn't shine on these people. I was one of the rare few who really loved Sister Beck's talk about being a better homemaker.  I think it's always an area that all of us can improve upon.  This isn't to say that my house isn't always spotless, but I do love it a lot more when it's clean.  I feel more peace, more happiness, and more brightness of hope.

As a disclaimer, I do think that there is a small percentage of these people who actually have this problem, but a lot of them are just lazy and that's just sad.  Aren't there enough lazy people on TV already?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I was that mom, for once!

Today I needed to make a quick trip to the grocery store, but it's also the first Saturday I've been home for a while so we had a lot to get done too!

I set-out what each kid needed to get done, and told them if I found them playing or messing around before those things got done, they would get an extra job.  I also give out extra jobs if they SAY they've done something, and I come back to see it wasn't done.

Anyway, they each had about 6 jobs after all was said and done.
Skittles Candy - 3lbs. - 24960-3
They got it all finished and were happily watching cartoons by the time I showered and got dressed (and did about 9 million other things, including organizing our food storage).
So, I told them they could bring money to the grocery store.  I sat there for 10 minutes while they valued out each of their options.  They figured out their best buys, and made their purchases, followed by me and what we needed.  I even let them oogle the coin operated machines in teh front and they each made a purchase there.  They were pleased. as. punch.  So, for today I was the mom I want to be.  Work hard, have fun.  Done, check and finished!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Photo Friday: Yogurt, school, happy

This was our first week of school, but I thought I'd ramp up the excitement until Friday and show the photos now. 

The kids all got priesthood blessings on the Sunday before school, but I felt left out so I gave them a mommy cradle and told them how they were once my baby and now they're all big and grown up.  The two of these yahoos thought this was hilarious

Someone else thought that lap is JUST for her and had a HISSY fit every time I did it.  So, she needed a mommy cuddle too.


And, of course the legitimate first day of school shots.  P was pretty happy to be in on the photo action this year.  You'll notice her hair is nice and damp post-chocolate chip pancake-hair.  Thanks wee one!

First day of school 2010 (5th and 1st grades)
Spencer {take that} E.
Conner {sly} E.
Of course, P started her very own mommy school this year, we learned about big and small this week, as well as some table manners (I'm awful at getting the babies to use a spoon, anyone have ideas?).

So, a great week was had by all.  I hope yours was just as fun!

**P.S.  I just downloaded a trial of Lightroom 3.  I am officially in love.  I'm really considering marrying it. :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tonight's Dinner: Buffalo Sliders

For dinner tonight, we had Buffalo Sliders from Rachel Ray's magazine.
They were really good, especially if you like Buffalo chicken.  Fairly low in points since the sandwiches are small.
I really liked the carrot she suggests to add to the top.  We just shredded it small and the kids ate every ounce.  I am not sure, but they may have thought it was cheese.  Sly, I know. :)

Help Me Pick a Diaper Bag!

Ok, so last Saturday instead of work (I got cancelled) I sat around on ebags and looked for a new bag.  I DREAD taking my current diaper bag out with me.  It's so big, it hurts my shoulder and I just don't love it.  Also, P just doesn't need as much anymore.  HORRAY!!!!

Anywho, here are the 3 I ordered, and I've promised myself I'm only keeping 1... or 2.  Kidding, really Drew, I'm kidding.

First off, one from bagalinni
Pros:  Cute color, nice and light, I like its cell phone pocket, I like how it slings across my body instead of a regular backpack style.
Cons:  There aren't much pockets once you get inside the little bugger.  That main compartment is really big, and i think I just wish there was another pocket or two inside it to keep stuff a bit more organized.  It's Also, the front pocket is only separated with mesh from the next pocket.  It's also the most expensive.




Second, one from Olympia.  I actually ordered it in blue, it's so cute (I think if it was entirely based off appearances, I'd get this one).
Pros:  It's really small, it has 2 sippy pockets (I need to double check a sippy will fit in it -- yes, it does, and nice and deep so it won't fall out).  Within each pocket there's organizational areas.
Cons:  It's really small.  I'm not totally sure that there's enough room, and I worry that I will look like I'm headed to preschool when I wear it. Should straps are kinda bear.  But, my friend pointed out that P could wear it.  Did I mention it's cute?



And third, is one from ebags.  I REALLY like ebags quality. My first one was from them, and it's held up well.  They stand behind their products (just don't love it for the "season" we're currently in).

Pros:  It's sturdy, with nicely padded shoulder straps  Nice compartimentalization inside -- LOTS of pockets!.  It's nice and cheap. :)

Cons:  NO SIPPY cup holder on the outside.  Also, it's a little large, but honestly I think it's more on the perfect side then the too large side.  There is one on the inside, but it's mesh.  Is a sippycupon the inside just ASKING for hurt? :)


Ok, writing this review was honestly a bit therapeutic for me.  I'm considering using the ebags one as my "larger" diaper bag, the one I take when we're going somewhere for a while.  And keeping the cute smaller one as my every day bag.  The ebags one seems really great and for 11 bucks... [sigh]  What do you guys think?  REALLY.
YOU.
COMMENT.
NOW.

GREAT DEAL on Groupon.com at the Gap

Buy at 25$ Gift Certificate from gap.com and get a 50$ gift certificate.
Sad news, it can't be combined with coupons, but hey... great deal.  TODAY ONLY!!!!
Looks like it can be used at any Gap.  Happy news!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Power of a Mom

My friend Saren has a great new website, you might have seen my link there on the right:  The Power of Moms.

There's something about reading other mom's blogs, realizing what they're going through and how I've gone through it and so often they say something that helps me.

The power of moms puts that all into one place.  I've started reading their entries daily, and as soon as my life settles a bit, I think I want to play the Bloom Game.  Anyone else want in on that?  Maybe after Labor Day, huh?

Either way, go check it out.  There's no way to lose if it turns you into a better mom, right?

Brightness of hope wavers

TapestryI keep hoping for that brightness of hope, but somehow each year I forget how hard the beginning of school is.  It's a whole shift for us, Drew at school a LOT (esp. with marching band) and the kids have a hard transition, especially the littlest, who is filled with plenty of whine.

Trying to keep the hope alive.

In other news, Drew bought me Carole King's Tapestery album last night with some of his awesome emusic credits.  He's truly a gem.  Love him.  He makes my hope.  Except when he comes home late. ;)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Brightness of Hope

20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.  (2 Nephi 31:20) (2nd Nephi is in the Book of Mormon)

Our stake president gave a talk about this scripture.  "Perfect Brightness of Hope" just seemed to stand out to me.  Hope, in particular.  News to some of you, I'm an extremely sarcastic person.  I tend to expect the worst, and when the best happens I'm just pleasantly surprised.  As nurses we HAVE to do that.  We have to plan for the worst, expect the worst, expect our patients to lie.  It's part of the gig.

But this scripture blows in the face of that.  "A Perfect Brightness of Hope"  Things change, that's part of life but things can CHANGE!  I can expect the best out of my children.  Conner and Spencer can both be responsible individuals who I enjoy being around.  I can be that mother I want to be.

My friend Lara has a "theme" in their house each year. I think she got it from nie-nie.  They do a whole party to introduce it.  I didn't go that far, but I did talk to my children about how the school year is a fresh new beginning.  How a perfect brightness of hope tells us we can change.  Of course, coupled with that hope in the scriptures is enduring to the end -- which, is the hard part.  It's so hard to have that hope sometimes when there's no end in sight.

I think it's something I will try and reference back to during this school year.

And yes, I do have first of school day pictures but the morning went a big awry when P decided to wash her hair in the chocolate chip pancake I'd just placed in front of her.

perfect brightness of hope, perfect brightness of hope, perfect brightness....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

School: Are You New At This?

Uh, that first day.  Sitting alone in the cafeteria, listening to lots of parents ask stupid questions... having oodles of thoughts al la high school wondering who could be my friend, who looked like they knew what they were doing, who even spoke my language?

And then I found her.  The woman who looked to know what she was doing... so I pretty well just did everything she did.  Turns out, she really did know what she was doing and was a great role model.  Those first few weeks at school can be a doozy, and now that I have a fifth grader I feel as though I can speak as a pro.

1.  Join PTA (or whatever your parent organization is).  Besides being a great cause, it's a good way to meet other moms, who may possibly be the moms of your kids friends so you can see if they're playdate material or not. 

2. Pick-up, drop-off.  Put-in some face time.  I will tell you I met 4 moms my first year in Kindergarten.  They're still rock stars.  The moms who provide face time run the school.  They are also often there to pick your kid up when you're late (and vice versa).

3.  Be there for favors.  Once you've gotten to know a few of the moms, let them know if they're ever running late, you'd be fine if they call you.  Even though (cross your fingers) they may never call it's always nice to know someone has your back.

4.  Go to any other meetings.  In the fine state of CA they have school site council, which is actually what I attend instead of PTA (Tuesday nights don't work for us, in general).  In this meeting they discuss budget issues, goals of the school, and since there aren't usually a ton of parents who go, you get some face time with the pricipal.  Score.

5.  Help in the classroom, and talk to the teacher.  I can truly say that each of our teachers has been a friend by the end of the year.  Every teacher needs help.  Every teacher wants a friendly smiling face.  YOU want your kid in the right classroom next year, so pony up chick. :)

It CAN be intimidating those first few weeks, but look for people who know what they're doing.  They usually do, and they always want help. :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

And... Scene.

Don't you feel like the summer closes a chapter on your life?  Maybe because we were married in August and school has always been a huge part of our lives, I feel extra like that...  I just feel so much like it's a new beginning.

This past year has been one of tailbones and travel.  Everyone's growing up so much.  Conner was such a stinker, but an amazing Willy Wonka.  Spencer had a great kindergarten year, and I'm excited for him to really blossom academically in first grade, and perhaps actually find a big boy voice.  P is a crazy whoop-holler-er who loves her brothers (and I'm a little afraid how she and I will handle it, just us 2).

I hate transitions.

Today at 5 pm we'll figure out who will be the directors in this year's movie.  I am fairly sure Conner will have the same ol' lame teacher he had last year (kidding, he's perfecto for the con-dude -- he was in a 4/5 combo and the teacher ususally teaches 5th grade, no -- Conner's not being held back, at least not at school).  I hope hopes for who Spencer will have, but I have heard nothing but great stuff about all of our 1st grade teachers.  That, of course, is a happy thing.

On the first day of Jr. High I was faced with a class list with none of my usual friends.  I was intimidated, scared, and not at all loving to be at a school where bats had recently flown out of a wall (true story).  My mom told me that I needed to give her the name of a friend that afternoon when I came home.  I remember sitting in homeroom and I met Emily Harrison... who, in fact, continued to be one of my best friends through high school and even in College (although, I have yet to find her on facebook -- anyone?).

I kind of feel like that now.  I don't know why.  I have lots of friends, just like I did in junior high, but they're not in my "classes".  There's no more Friday walks with Miranda, or hour long conversations with Becky to help fill the boring time during naps/cleaning.  Things are new, different, and I must admit, a little exciting.  Who will I turn into this year?  It's time for lessons with P, and we can even start going to the moms group at church (once we're done with our AM nap).  Things are a changin' and I'm hoping for the better. :)

The Week in Photos: Mover


Wow, they're both of P... actually, I had a few of her but she's such a mover lately... well, let's just say these had the LEAST amount of blur.  She, true to her pictures, IS all over the place.  Shes' so fun though, and full of personality.  I'm glad I captured these photos.  I've moved my camera into the playroom in hopes it'll be more accesible for all the good times. :)

{happy dance}

Guess who just had 37.xx transferred to her bank account from blog her.  Thanks right, I started in MARCH and I got paid in AUGUST.  But, I don't care.  That's 37 bucks I wouldn't have had otherwise, and I still would have written this blog...
This facinating little blog.
First time I've made money off the little dear.
{stroking my blog}

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Goals: Child #2

My goal for S was to be more independent.  And man, was this a toughie.  We're all just used to helping him out.  I think it was extra hard on Drew, as having him do something himself is WAY more harder then just helping him with it.

I tried to extend it to all areas in his life.  Lessons, chores, wii, computer time.

Did I mention that Spencer didn't talk until Conner left for Kindergarten?  Let's just say that when someone sees him struggling, he just does it for him... isn't that helpful?  Just this morning at Spencer's typing computer game, I saw Conner doing it for him... HELLO, the idea is to LEARN TYPING, not to LEARN HOW TO GET US TO TYPE FOR HIM!!!!

Neeldess to say, it was a struggle for all of us and it's been fairly successful.  We're working hard on having him "talk like a big boy" (and any of you who know Spencer -- knows what I'm talking about). 

I know this one is going to take time, but welcome to the big leagues little guy.  It's first grade time now!

Word Verification Off

Hey Peeps, I was pretty sure that the word verification was weighing you down so heavily, you just couldn't comment.  So I turned it off.

We'll see if Mr. Spam rears its ugly head, but if not.... enjoy.  Also, I saw blogger has a spam box now for comments... so I'm hoping that will catch the ugly beast.

Summer Goals Child #1

ConsequencesMy goal for C was to learn consequences.

Honestly, I think it's harder on me then him.  I had to let the consequences fall -- whatever they were.  AND, if I said something -- it was the law.  He spent a lovely ward BBQ looking off at the playground because he had lost the opportunity to play at the playground that night because he lied to me.  It was pretty sad... but i think he "heard' it because the next day he was good as gold (ok, gold with some black streaks).

It's hard as a mom to dole out the consequences... to not be there when they fell.  This time when glasses spilled, or he didn't do what he was supposed to... there was the consequence.  Of course, WITH the consequence comes crying, whining, saying it's not fair.

But it is fair.  I was sure to make sure he knew consequences (that weren't of the natural -- you spill it you wipe it up variety), and understood.  This kid has plenty of perks in his little life...  HE doesn't see them (much like I don't see my own, I'm sure) but it's time he realizes that I'm there to back him up or back things down all the time.

A fellow blogger wrote a piece about how her daughter didn't have the same classes as very many friends and how she wanted to fix it for her...  Although these were smaller things I get that mom -- but I also get that consequences have unintended perks. For Conner it's been learning how to do things better, cleaning, chores, practicing.

And the consequence of THAT is a happier mom. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just Saved 90% on my Grocery Bill...

and they gave me 6.50 to spend on my next shopping trip!

Safeway has some great General Mills brand savings going on right now!

Simply Fruit Fruit Rollups Varity Pack - 42x0.5 Rolls - 90% Fruit Juice & ReaHere's how I did it.

Bought 5 granola bars (2 fiber one, 1 nature valley) 1.49 each
Bought 5 fruit snacks (all of the fruit roll-up natural ones, those seem to look healthier, am I wrong?) 0.99 each
Bought 2 boxes of cereal (cheerios and cinnamon toast crunch). 1.79 each

For each set of 4 you buy, you get 4 dollars off your grocery bill -- BUT the numbers above reflect that savings already.
If you buy 5 boxes of the granola bars, you get 3.50 on your next order.
And if you buy 5 boxes of fruit snacks, you get 3.00 on your next order.

There are a TON of paper and e-coupons out there to save a ton on these items.  Here's a post where I talk more about that kind of stuff.  This blog post talks more about it, and lines up some coupons to go with the deal.

I will tell you it took me almost an hour and 15 minutes to get the grocery list together, figuring out what e-coupons and I had what to print... blah, blah, blah. 

BUT, currently I'm playing SAHM and it's worth the time. 

Two notes, somehow my cereal rang-up as only 79 cents... not sure that happened. 
Also, I only paid 5.13 for all above plus a bag of tortilla chips and 2 things of gogurt.  I got back 6.50 for my next shopping order.

Fo real.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Kind of Mom I Want To BE

This morning as I said my prayers I asked Heavenly Father to bless me with the things I need to be the kind of mom I want to be.  I, apparently think that God already knows what kind of mom I want to be.  Good for him, because after that I was left to wonder what kind of mom I want to be.

As I thought more about it I realized I want to be the kind of mom that I want my kids teachers to be.

There is one thing I really took away from marching band back when I was young and virile:

Work Hard, Play Hard

Well, that and a phobia to memorizing music.  Man, when we worked -- we WORKED.  Pushups, focused, the whole nine yards (including hashes, ha, ha) but some of my fondest memories is when we played.  Loads of fun, really enjoying each other's company.

But that IS the kind of mom I want to be.  Really, the kind of person I want to be.  I think that's why I like schedules so much.  I really like to focus on ONE thing and really DO that thing.  That doesn't mean that I'm not also dealing with a million different things at once, but in a perfect world....

That is to say that when it's time to work I want to show my kids how to stay on task, stay focused and really do a great job.  Then, when it is time to play I want to be the funnest moms on the block. Of course, that wouldn't be hard considering much of our block is retired... but I digress...

I hope I can gain the attributes necessary to BE that kind of mom.  I know with God's help I can.  What kind of mom do you want to be?  How are you going to make that happen?

P.S.  Conner's blog (xplod xplodes, on the right) could use a little comment love.  In case you have some comment love to give. :)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Welcome Back Mom!

The summer is through.  Drew's directing the marching  band as I speak (or, someone else is and he's cleaning his office).  Transitions aren't my most favorite thing in life.  It's hard to go full time work (OK, part time work, but a lot more then I USUALLY work) to full time mom in the blink of an eye.  I think that has a little something to do with my extra-moody-ness on the blog as of late.

It's hard to face all this housework that I normally do that kind of gets pushed aside all summer.  I would name all of it... but let's just say that Drew and I have different priorities... crumbs are mine.  Surviving is his. :)

I'm sure it's hard on the kids too.  I'm strict on the schedule and making sure that they're on task. 

BUT, even with all that we had an amazing time this summer.  I really enjoyed having Drew home and the fun things we got to do together.  We made our financial goals, we had a good time and I am reminded that Conner's summers are slowly going to start filling up and not with visits to Utah...

Aren't summers an amazing thing?  I must admit I do love that Drew has them off.  I love that he got a giant big gulp taste of the things I do all school year (although, for those of you SO jealous over that, realize that he only does so much -- I still pick up a LOT of slack, including cooking dinner on most nights).  I love the free time to do whatever we fancy.  We are truly blessed with that.

We have one week left, I'm bound and determined to make it a goodie!  What are you going to try to stash into your last few days of summer?

Friday, August 06, 2010

A LIttle Story About Furniture

I heard a great story when we were going through the Beehive house while we were in UT.

Furniture SetThe Mormons in Nauvoo were being driven out, and they made the decision to head west.  The prophet (at the time, Brigham Young) told them to only take the necessities.  Farming equipment, seeds, food to get through the trip. Of course, the Mormons had done very well for themselves in Nauvoo and had lovely furnishings, etc.  Women weren't happy at the thought of leaving it all behind.  The prophet went to the Lord and felt so much pressure from these women who rightly loved the things in their home.  The Lord told Brigham Young that if they were righteous and only took the necessities that he would bless them with fine furniture in Utah.

Of course, they got there and it was a barren wilderness...  All is lost.  Woe is them...

However, the soil was really fertile in the valley and through their irrigation techniques they were able to produce an abundance of food. Fast forward, but who's coming through the valley with all their fine furnishings, but no food... why, the gold rush folk... who were starving.

Death, or fine furniture.

They chose to barter furniture for food, and those Mormon women got some lovely furnishings, just like the Lord said they would.

I learn so many things from this story:
1.  God cares so much about all of us, even with our petty needs.
2.  God knows everything.  He's on our side and he knows the beginning and the end. Also, if we listen to him, he keeps his promises.
3.  The prophet only tells us truth.  I'm sure it was hard for Brigham Young to tell everyone to leave their precious things, but that's what he needed to say.  I'm sure no one was happier then him to see those starving furniture-filled wagons!

I've had a hard time with the whole prop 8 thing lately.  Truth be told I'm not sure why we campaigned so strongly against it (I know the basic reasons why... but now that it's overturned anyway... but I digress).  BUT, my prophet told me to do it.  I know God knows the beginning and the end, and I know our prophet only speaks truth when asking the church to do something.  I also know as bugged as I am by it, he's probably even more bugged by it.

Either way, I can just have hope in my heart, as well as love.  I know it's a hard issue for people on both sides.  I love people on both sides and I know in the end, we will all get what we need.

Making the Decision

Happy: Simple Steps to Get the Most Out of LifeToday, I looked at my life and decided I needed to make the decision to be happy.

Normally I've always had a lot to look forward to, good friends, time with family...

But as I look out, I mostly see pain (the tailbone variety), Drew doing marching band and me spending a lot of quality time at home, alone, with 1-3 kids.

You always hear that you can't let the "things, or others" rule your life.

Here's the sad news, it totally does.  That isn't to mean that I have agressive screaming attacks... but it does mean that when I have a good walk with a friend I feel happier.  When my husband is home I am happier.  When my kids have good behavior I am happier.  When I have something to look forward to, I am happier.

I just don't see that.

My body is really sore today, my heart is sore and it's Drew's last day home for the summer.  I looked at myself and thought I need to make the decision to be happy.  I don't mean to say that I plan to be happy every day for the rest of my life... but it is to say that I will find some areas in my life that are bright spots.  I know that God is my brightest spot, and with his help I can find other bright spots.

I'm just wondering how you make the decision to be happy... especially when life doesn't seem to be going your way?  And no, that book has nothing to do with this post.  I'd just like to be more happy.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Delicious New Recipe

Hey Peeps, in an attempt to pretend to be a SAHM before heading off to work, I made these muffins.  Delicious, one point each.  Yes, you will want to eat the whole pan, but you don't have to. 

They do taste a lot like donut holes.  And who doesn't love a donut hole, or a donut, for that fact. :)

Surgery

I spent yesterday in the OR at work.  The real one, not our little pansy OR with happy little things coming out.

I realized that I'm just not a blood and guts person.  I don't enjoy just watching surgery.  I'm fine when I'm doing stuff and feeling active, but SHEESH just watching it.  Ew...

I know a lot of people don't go into nursing because they don't like blood.  Well, WHO DOES?

I'm just writing this blog to say that if you like helping people, and you don't FAINT at the sight of blood (although, I did faint during my first OR rotation -- and I was mildly worried I'd faint again yesterday) it's a good career.

But then, so is being a big executive who gets to dress-up and not worry that they'll come home with clots on their clothes...  But I digress...

I was thinking that each area of nursing has its nice parts in ways.  People are so nervous in when they come to the OR.  Having a caring nurse (and anesthesiologist) is quite a gift for a person.  The OR team that I worked with did a great job. :)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

I Love My Blog

I love my blog.

I just read through the last few entries.  I love how it is SO many things to me:

1. A journal -- I actuall keep another journal for private thoughts and feelings.  My kids each have their own journal that I write as well, but it's so nice to be able to type out things like our trip and have those memories down and able to go into a blog book someday (I just realized I am going to do another blog book at the end of this year, and I'll be honest, that thought does NOT excite me!).

2.  Therapy.  I write out so many thoughts and feelings and it's so helpful to be able to re-read them and get another perspective on the whole thing.  Plus, people sometimes comment and that helps even more!

3.  It's pretty.  I love showing pretty pictures on it, and while there haven't been a lot lately, I really want to start once school is back in session.

4.  I love other people's blogs, and it makes me happy to have my own.  I've been reading some old school friends blogs, and it's so nice to see them all grown up and suffering with kids like me.

Anyway, just feeling blessed that it's a medium we have now, glad that I am taking advantage of it. And so, apparently, are you. :)

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