Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Review: "Heaven is for Real for Kids" by Todd & Sonja Burpo

I sat down with my children to read this book. It was on the computer, which is very different for our normal reading routine, so I feel like we missed out on some of the actual reading experience, but that is just a preference thing. I prefer to hold a book in my hands and to turn pages. But that's just a side note.

We read through this book in a very short time frame. My children loved the pictures and my daughter especially loved the picture of Jesus' horse, with the multi-color mane.

My children have not experienced the death of someone in their life yet, but when they do, I am sure to load this book back up and let them read through it again (or read it to them again). I think this book serves two distinct purposes. The first purpose that this book serves is as a source of comfort to children who is experiencing the death of another person as a reassurance that Heaven is a great and wonderful place.

The second purpose that this book could serve as is one of a more evangelistic purpose. I could imagine a child who doesn't believe in God or who is having doubts about his faith reading this book and being reassured that there is indeed a wonderful life after this one and that there is a God who knows them and loves them.

I really like this book for kids. It is short, colorful and thought-provoking for the child who is reading it or being read to. I would recommend this book to others.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Book Review: "A Conversation With God" by Alton Gansky

It's been awhile since I have been here. I have been extremely busy with things around here, what with school and activities and work and all that. But I came across this book the other day while unpacking (yes, still unpacking) a box of books and realized that I had never posted my review of this book. It is time to remedy that!

This book is easy to read. It is done in conversational context. The author poses questions that are common among believers at some point during their walk. And then he replies, based on scripture, from the viewpoint of God.

It is a well-written piece but it was not really my preferred way to read about God's answers to believer's questions. I guess I might be more of a Bible study kind of girl. I don't know. But I just do not really like the format for this book.

I'm sure that the conversational approach appeals to some, but I am not in that group. I would much prefer direct quotations from scripture with commentary from the author, but to have it written as if it were God writing it? It just makes it seem a bit "off".

Overall, I'd have to say this is a good resource if you have questions, but as I would recommend with any book written about the Bible, always be sure to double check references and make your own inferences from the Bible directly.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hubby Got Hurt (and other news)

Hubby has a new job and already is having to miss work. He hurt his arm a little over a week ago and has seen someone about it three times now. The last time was earlier tonight. The doctor who saw him tonight said he is not to work for the next five days and is to see a specialist or a surgeon as soon as possible (like Monday) to be further evaluated. He will need a cortisone shot, surgery or both on his arm to make his arm, wrist and hand functional again. Just what we needed. Sigh.

My baby brother, Bub, who is not really a baby, but an 18 year old young man, found out on his 18th birthday (last Monday) that he has a brain tumor. I don't even know what to think yet. I'm angry and sad and hurt, but more than anything, I am scared. This kid does not need that. He already has a tough enough life as it is.

But at the same time, the kids are doing well. They went on a bike ride with my MIL today. Even little Boo rode his tricycle to the park from MIL's house. She rode next to him REALLY slowly and the older three rode on ahead and then would wait, then ride ahead and wait, so on and so forth the whole way to the park and the whole way back. Round trip, it is a two-mile ride. But it was Boo's first "real" ride and it was on a tricycle. I cannot even imagine. LOL! Nor do I want to. But I have to admit, I am truly grateful for my MIL. As often as we don't get along and everything, I am truly blessed to have her in my life.

Monday, September 5, 2011

We are now fully in the swing of the school year. I have been swamped at work and therefore, have had limited online time. Basically, at work I have taken on a managerial position and I am now in charge of communications, documentation, scheduling and also have a key role in hiring and firing people. For the first time this week, I had to fire someone. It's hard to do. Well, sort of. The situation that the employee created made it a very easy thing to do, but even still, it took a few minutes to pump myself up to do it.

Hubby got a new job at Applebee's. I haven't quite yet decided if this is good or bad. I mean, it's good obviously because it is steady income (or at least steadier income than previously) but the food is so good and he gets a discount that ranges from free (during his shift) to 50% off (an hour before or after his shift) to 25% off (all the time).

We like to go to Applebees on Wednesday nights when I get off of work because they have their 2 for $20 (two entrees and an appetizer for $20) plus they also have 99 cent kids' meals (limit of four meals per adult entree) so we often get the 2 for $20 plus 8 kids' meals (two for each of our kids - they eat one right away and then save the other one for dinner for the following night). All together, our meal ends up around $28.00-$30.00 before tax and tip. But now, with Hubby's discount, it will end up being $22.00 before tax and tip. Our Wednesday/Thursday dinner will only run around $30.00 total. Which is still quite a bit, but overall, totally do-able on our budget. And that's TWO nights of meals for everyone. (Hubby and I almost always have leftovers as well) $15.00 per night divided by 6 people equals just a little over $2.00 per person. Not too shabby, in my opinion. And that is based on the lowest discount available to Hubby.

We got the older boys enrolled in Cub Scouts this past week. We now have a Webelo and a Wolf. And then Punky is now enrolled in Girl Scouts as well - she is a Daisy. And I am enrolled in Girl Scouts as well. I'm a Daisy Leader. Woot! I have no clue yet. LOL! Still have to go through my training and all that yet. Hopefully, I will get it all figured out soon though!

Natty is enjoying fifth grade and is actually being very responsible about his homework. I finally found a system that works well for him. Money. He is given 10 points each day for homework. Five points are allotted to his planner. He has space for five subjects. He has to have SOMETHING written in each subject to receive his points for the day. The other five points are allotted to getting the work actually done. Since we implemented this system, he has only missed one day of not having his planner filled out. Oh - and each point is worth a penny. Just my price. It does add up (along with some other things that he is expected to do each day for his chores) but I don't mind paying him to be responsible. That's what happens at our jobs as adults, isn't it?

JoNo has also had homework each night. Spelling and Math mostly. He loves it! It's quite surprising, really. He is in a special reading group because he is not on grade level for reading and last year, his spelling was HORRIBLE! But this past week, he only missed 2 words out of 16 on his pre-test. If he missed one or gets them all correct on his pre-test, then he gets the challenge list for the week instead. My poor reader is a good speller? Somewhere that doesn't make sense. But maybe that just means that the reading is about to jump up to grade level?

Punky is thoroughly enjoying her full day of school every day of the week. She is such a big girl now. I don't know what it is, but suddenly instead of being my little girl, she's jumped up to my big girl. *sniffle* It's okay, I'll be fine.

Boo is attending school everyday as well, although he only attends half days. He gets to ride the bus to and from school each day, which he LOVES! And he is actually talking about school quite a bit here and there. His communication skills have really improved over the summer and even since school has started. He still has some very strong and noticeable characteristics of his developmental delay but he is adjusting to a new school, a new routine, new teachers and new friends very well.

Boo might actually even start going to a babysitter a few days a week, when Hubby and I overlap with our work schedules. That will be a new experience for sure! I'm actually hoping that I will be able to start being at work half an hour later than I currently have to be there. That would be great for me, because then I could be the one to drop the older kids off at school and then drop Boo off with the sitter instead of needing to have all four stay the night with my inlaws and have them bring the kids up to school. It's funny the difference 30 measly minutes can make in a routine!

We have been working hard here at the new place to get it all adjusted and organized and comfortable. I have it mostly there right now. The hard part has been with my work schedule lately. It has since calmed down (beginning this week). It is really hard to maintain a house when you aren't IN the house. I seriously was working 2 7 hour shifts, 3 12 hour shifts and 1 4 hour shift each week. It was CRAZY! Plus, most nights I brought work home with me. That's just the way it had to be for a while there. I actually have work that I brought home on Friday that I had planned to have done by now, but the way I see it, I don't have to work again til Wednesday so I have a little bit of time yet. And worse case scenario, I do that work on Wednesday while I'm at work. No biggie. But I'd really like to be caught up at work before I start my work week on Wednesday. Ya know, just for once.

In the meantime, I have plenty to keep me busy here at home. I have laundry to do, menus to make, shopping to do, meals to make, kids to feed and bathe and supervise and entertain. Scheduling to do and keep. Eye appointments to go to, rooms to clean, chores to oversee, homework to supervise, allowance to give, kids to hold and hug and love on. Because you know, the last part is the best part of being a parent.

♥   NattyNu   ♥   JoNo   ♥   PunkyPie   ♥   Boo   ♥

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Another Long Break (and now some hodgepodge thoughts)

...from blogging that is. We closed on our house on July 15th and worked like crazy people a few weeks prior and definitely the two weeks following that to get everything packed up, moved (either to the new place or to the storage unit that Hubby has talked me into renting for TWO months) and then unpacked and put away. Well, we are still somewhat in the unpacking and putting away part, but we are well on our way to being completely settled!

We have gotten all 4 kids registered for their new school and even received our classroom assignments this past week. That is exciting stuff! What is really exciting to me is that all 4 of the kids will be in the same school for the first and only year ever in their lives!

My three older children returned home tonight from an impromptu lake camp out with their grandparents. I believe that they left on Thursday morning and they came back late this evening (Saturday) sunburned and tired. I got them bathed and they brushed their teeth and now most of them are sleeping peacefully in their beds. The only one still up is Boo, but his sleep schedule has been off the past few days as he and I weren't feeling well and spent much of our days (AND nights) sleeping while the big kids were gone.

Hubby, Boo and I went out for dinner the other night to an Applebee's restaurant near our place and Hubby was pretty much offered a job on the spot. He hasn't applied for it, but the kitchen manager really wants him to come work for him and to basically be his replacement for when he is not there. Hubby thought about it and still has to go through the red tape of applying and being interviewed and such, but the manager was really excited about the possibility of having Hubby work for him. I'm thrilled about it. We'll see what happens though. The manager might get an applicant with loads of experience in running a kitchen, who knows? But until I know otherwise, I will remain hopeful.

Work has been great lately. A little bit tiring because I have been training new people like crazy and dealing with HR type issues (even though there really isn't HR in private duty home health) and scheduling challenges. I think that is why I ended up sick this past week. Between working TONS of hours and training and dealing with all sorts of stuff at work with other employees and scheduling and all that, plus the move and all that goes with that, plus the housework, the kids and Hubby and all the other things that take up my time, I was burning my candle at both ends and it just caught up to me. That and/or the fact that I was in the hospital the other night waiting on someone who was being seen in the Emergency Room and could have been exposed to any number of things there. But I'm on the mend and that's what is important now and I don't need to be at work until Wednesday now either! Yay for a small break!

This past Tuesday, the inlaws, Hubby and I took the kids out boating. Miss Punky Pie is my water baby through and through! She loved it! Boo actually didn't scream the whole entire time we were out there either! He covered his ears when we would start out with the boat, but once he got used to the sound of the prop, he was fine. Little Miss Punky even went in the tube being pulled behind the boat all by herself (of course, she was wearing a life jacket and we pulled the rope in a considerable amount so that she was closer to the boat and my mother-in-law gave her a gentle ride) but I was so proud of her! She learned the hand signals and used them! We could not get Boo into the tube for anything though! The only thing he wanted to do was stay on the boat or jump in the lake like his big brothers were doing off the side of the boat (when we were stopped of course!) It was a great time had by all! Love it!!!

And next Monday or Tuesday, we may even be going to Worlds of Fun. It will be Hubby, me, Natty, JoNo and father-in-law. Mother-in-law will stay in town with Punky and Boo and maybe take them to the Childrens' Zoo. Hopefully this time, no one will get hurt and require glue to put them back together while we are out of state. (Last time it was Punky - who split her eyebrow open and required dermabond to glue it back together)

And then Thursday, we get to meet the kids' teachers at Open House and then the following Tuesday, all three older kids go back to school. Boo doesn't start until Monday the 22nd. I can't wait! I love back to school time. So many fun things to do and new friends for the kids and new school supplies (okay, really, that is one part that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE!)

But I need to end this post now, so that I can try to get my Boo to go to sleep. Goodnight all!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New House Updates

Well, I have LOTS and LOTS of updates for you all! Where to start? Hmm, maybe with my mom. She is living in her new place full-time and is loving it there. We still have a gazillion projects to do over there yet, but that will come this fall.

Our new place? Well, after a lot of meetings with loan officers and my inlaws and the sellers and such, an earnest deposit has finally been paid on it. I was originally hoping to have a closing date of mid-June, but at this point, it is mid-July. That doesn't leave us much time to get everything done at the current house and cleaned and repaired and such, but it will work - because it has to.

We took my mother-in-law and two of our closest friends to see the new place a few days ago. That was when the deposit was paid as well. I am so excited! And, some of the rooms are bigger than what I had remembered them being (such as the dining room) and there is a built-in storage cabinet that I hadn't noticed last time in the bathroom. And we found out that one of the garden sheds will be staying there after all. There were two of them and they were going to leave one and take the other one apart and move it with them, but have decided it would be more work than what it is worth and so will most likely be leaving it. So yay! I will definitely not turn down additional storage room when we are in the mode of downsizing!

And now, today, I am working on cleaning and packing our living room. I am being very ruthless when it comes to getting rid of things. I don't want to move a bunch of stuff with us. Plus, our financial situation will be much better once we move (to the point of having a few hundred dollars left over every month as opposed to not even being able to make ends meet where we currently live) and we will be able to afford to replace a few items here and there as time goes on. Not to mention the fact that we have enough of well, everything, to set up at least two full, separate households. It's ridiculous. The thrift stores around here are going to LOVE me by the time we are moved to our new place. Either that or they will HATE me, but I think I'll go with the love option instead. I like that one better.

Today's tackle is to get through the living room. So far, I have done one entire wall in here. I have sorted all the stuff that is on our front wall, cleaned off and cleaned out the chairs, flipped them over, cleaned out under them, cleared off my end table, put away paperwork that needed to be filed into the file box I keep under the table. I have a bag of toys that need to go up to the kids' rooms, I have a box of books that I need to sort through. I have a pile of clothes ready for consignment and I have a bag of dirty laundry (Really? In the living room? No idea.) and I have a bag of trash. Oh and a pile of dishes to go into the kitchen. And yep, I'm only 1/3 of the way done with the main part of the living room. It shouldn't take too long though.

The list for the rest of this room:
Fold clothing in totes next to my chair
Put clothing away or pack it
Clear off cedar chest
Pack items on cedar chest
Clear off entertainment center
Pack items on entertainment center
Sort through books on bookshelf
Pack books from bookshelf
Clear off couch
Flip couch over and clean under couch
Clear off Hubby's endtable
Pack items from endtables
Clear off Hubby's desk
Pack items from Hubby's desk
Clear out front closet
Pack items from front closet
Sort through shoes and outerwear
Make pile for consignment store
Carpet clean
Take out trash

That will be my tackle for today. I had planned on doing it yesterday, but other things came up yesterday. I plan to enlist the help from my children and Hubby as well. If we just plug away at it, I think we could have the entire room sorted, packed and cleaned in a matter of just a few hours. Yeah!!!!

(Then on to the basement to deal with the laundry monster. UGH!)

This post is linked up to the following blogs:

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Hey there everyone! It has been long-awaited, but now it is here! It is giveaway time! But before I tell you about the product that I am giving away, I am going to tell you about the product.

Look at this fit! I love this shot! Taken with Hubby's cell phone b/c my camera is MIA AGAIN!
I had contacted Izzy of Bum-Ware Cloth Diapers about doing a review and giveaway. She sent over two diapers. One for my little Boo and one for one of YOU! We have been using cloth part-time with our kiddos for the last 6 1/2 years. First for JoNo, then Punky and currently for Boo. I say part-time because it depends on who is doing the changing. If Hubby or Mother-in-Law or my mom are the changers, the child almost definitely will go into a sposie, If I'm the one changing, I'm more apt to put the child in cloth because I love cloth!

So, anyhow, we have had this diaper for Boo and have used it quite a bit over the last month and a half. The diaper itself is wonderfully sewn. The stitching and elastic has held up well. The materials that Izzy uses are quality. The diapers are made with hidden elastic around the legs, which works so well for my little guy. If it is serged, then he will sometimes get marks from it rubbing against him, but not with the hidden elastic.

The inner is made of suedecloth, which is one of my favorite materials to use with my kiddos. It really helps to keep their little tush dry. And a dry tush is a non-rashy tush. The outer is made of strong, waterproof PUL, while the inner (hidden) soaker is super-absorbent microfiber. This is even absorbent enough for Boo, who is potty-learning right now and holds his urine until he is ready to just let go.

Sorry for the blur. The boy was jumping up and down to show off his diaper.
It has hook and loop tabs for the closure with laundry tabs sewn in as well. I love this! Not all of our diapers have laundry tabs. If you have ever washed a bunch of a diapers without laundry tabs, you will definitely know the benefit of having these tabs. For one thing, they prevent the diaper chain (one diaper attached to another, to another, to another, so on and so forth). Two, it protects your fabrics as well. That way, the rough part of hook and loop (not sure if that is the hook or the loop) but hopefully you understand what I mean - doesn't tear into the fabric and make it all messy looking either. It also helps to keep the hook and loop free from those little fibers that can get in there and interfere with closing the diaper.

Some additional features that are also available (but which I didn't request) are the ability to add on a doubler for more absorbency. These doublers can be fleece-topped flannel or hemp. And she is also able to do embroidery on the diaper back for extra added cuteness! She has quite a large selection of embroidery options as well.

In all, I grade diapers on the following criteria - fit, craftsmanship, absorbency, cuteness, customer service. Okay, the customer service aspect isn't a direct diaper grade, but in my opinion, the customer service has to be there for me to be a repeat customer. And Izzy is the BEST! I give this diaper a full 5 stars! You did great, Izzy!

And now, one of you lucky readers gets to win one for your little one! The diaper for the giveaway is a BWX AIO. A Bum-Ware eXtreme All-In-One. It is a size Medium (recommended for 10-23 pounds) with Forest Green PUL outer and white microsuede inner. It also includes the fold-back laundry tabs for the hook and loop closure.

To enter to win, you have some options:

Follow this blog on Google Friend Connect (1 entry) - MUST do this first
Visit Bum-Ware and look around. Leave a comment here with what you would choose if you could pick anything from the site (1 entry)
Like Bum-Ware on Facebook (1 entry)
Like this blog on Facebook (1 entry)
Mention this giveaway on your blog with a link back (1 entry)

Additional entries that can be done daily:
Vote for this blog on Top Mommy Blogs (1 per day) (You can click on the button on the right)
Vote for this blog on Picket Fence Blogs (1 per day) (You can click on the button on the right)
Tweet about this giveaway (1 per day)
Mention this giveaway on your facebook page with a link here (1 per day)

This giveaway will remain open from today, Sunday June 5th until Sunday June 19th at 11:59pm Central Time. Lots of time for mulitple entries! And it is very easy to do!

I will ask that you please leave a new comment for each entry and include the link to the post or to your facebook page to make it easier to verify. But be sure to leave a new comment for each qualifying entry.

I wish that each one of you who enters would be able to win one of these diapers, but I only have one to give away. For the rest of you, I highly encourage you to place an order with Izzy today!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Houses and Other Updates

If you missed the first two posts that lead up to this post, you can go back and read them here and here. Go ahead. I'll wait. They will even lead you from part one to part two and then back here to part three.

Okay, caught up now? Great! Here we go.

Well, we met with two different loan officers from two different banks on Tuesday about the house that we want to buy for us. The first told us she would get back to us later in the day. The other told us we could expect to hear from them within 24-48 hours. On Tuesday, we had errands galore to run and my mom was babysitting the kids so we left Hubby's phone home with her in case she had an emergency or something. My phone is still dead and gone at this point. So we were just checking in with her from time to time to see how things were going.

Apparently, the first loan officer called on Tuesday and my mom either didn't answer the call or didn't tell us about it or something because we would have definitely returned that call! By the time we got home that night, it was late (like 8:00) and I was exhausted. I begged Hubby to take the kids with him to drop my mom off at her house (she doesn't drive) and he obliged. I think I was asleep before they even left the house. Hubby and kids returned and my Father-in-Law knocked on our door at around 9:00. He woke me up, but I didn't get up. He said that the loan officer had called him when they couldn't get ahold of us and that they wanted us to call them back ASAP. Well, Father-in-Law, I'm pretty sure that they will not be in their offices at 9:00 at night when you pass on this message to us. Oh and he also mentioned that my mom had taken Hubby's phone home with her by mistake. He had tried to call us to tell us about this and he got my mom instead. So Hubby had to leave to go pick up his phone. Thankfully, he waited until the kids were all asleep so that I didn't have to get up.

As it turns out, since I am self-employed, they need copies of my last two years' tax returns to make a decision on my loan. I had them put up, I knew exactly where they were but when Hubby went to get them, he said that he couldn't find them. So I guess we have to request them from the company that prepares them instead. Whatever, it works for us. Today, I get to go pick those up and drop them off with the loan officers.

Hubby had a chance yesterday to go look at the place for my mom and he pretty much agreed with me word for word. A lot of work but worth it. I emailed the lady back and we have to take my mom over to apply to live in the community. There are three people (including us) interested in buying it. Whoever gets approved and has the money available first gets it. I have the money, I just need my mom to be approved first! So that's an important item of business to be completed today.

Okay, I had to take a break from this post because I had to take care of some other stuff. And it is now evening and I have more news to share.

This afternoon, my mom and I ran a few errands. The first of which was to take her to apply to live in the community where her home would be.  The manager there asked her if she could afford $250/month for her rent fee, which she assured him that she could.

Then, we went to pick up copies of my last two year's tax information so that I could show my income to the loan officer since I'm self-employed. Then I went to loan officer one and gave her the information she had requested. She asked me a few more questions and said she that she would email her boss with the information and that she would be in touch with me. I don't know anything just yet though.

Then, we went to the second loan officer. He outright said no. That was expected. It was actually what I had anticipated from the first loan officer actually. But she wanted more info, which is definitely not a no. It's more of a maybe.

Okay, so after that, we went to a store so that my mom could look for a present for my little brother, who just graduated this past weekend. We didn't find anything but while we were there, the community manager called and said that mom had been approved, so we went back to my house so I could email the lady about the house.

We get back, I email the lady and relax for a little bit after running around doing those errands. The lady emailed me back with information about where to meet and everything so my mom and I left again and went to the guy's new house. We meet with them (both the contact lady and the guy - the contact lady is kind of like the guy's caregiver more or less) and we get the title signed over and I pay the man and we are ready to go. We hit Sam's Club to pick up some cleaning supplies and then go to Wal*Mart to pick up new locks and  a few other things then head back towards her  place so she can pay the manager the lot rent. When we get there, he says that she needs to pay a deposit as well. I hadn't even considered the possibility of a deposit but it makes sense, in a way. The only problem is that I just spent a chunk on the trailer itself. I hadn't budgeted in a deposit and my mom definitely doesn't have it. So I ask him if he is able to be at all flexible with the deposit. He says no. So I ask him if we pay the deposit now (with the money my mom had intended for her lot rent), if I could pay the lot rent late. He asks me when that would be. I was actually supposed to be paid yesterday but because of some issues at work, it won't be until tomorrow (Friday or maybe Monday) but I know I will get paid on the 15th as well, so I say the 15th. He said that is fine but she can't move in until the lot rent is paid too. *sigh* So as soon as I get paid from work (this check) I will pay the lot rent and she will be able to move in. But by then, the house will be all clean and ready for it too! So, not exactly a bad thing either!

And the fortunate thing is that we actually have a bit extra to be able to do this for her. I had planned for it to be spent elsewhere, but this is a definite step up for her.  And I think it is really worthwhile. I will just have to plan to make those other purchases next month because this month, I'm pretty sure that all my extra cash is depleted. But that's okay. It is worth it.

And hopefully soon, we will find out about the place that we want to buy too! But I figure, buying one home out of two so far isn't too bad! Even if it is the house that needs the most work and it isn't for my own family. But I'm really happy that I was able to help my mom out and that she will once again have her own place to live and be able to work on stability and self-sufficiency again! ♥

That's it for tonight. Will keep you updated as I know more  as well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Other House

I had mentioned that I have another house to tell you about in my last post. That house you can see here:

This is a different place that I came across recently. It's a fixer-upper. I am contemplating the option of buying it for my mom. It's in my own personal monthly price range. It would allow her to be independent. She is currently living with a person who is a bonafide and true hoarder (believe me, I have been in the house - she could be on the show!) and really needs her own space. This is a trailer that is centrally located in our city and she would be close to shopping and restaurants, would be on a bus line and a bike path, next to an elementary school where my brother (who is 17 but has developmental issues and really has more of the mindset of an 8-10 year old) could go play on the equipment. It's a quiet neighborhood and I think it is just a good fit. Plus, she can afford it and wouldn't have to live with her current roommate.
This place has a lot of updating to do. And by a lot, I do mean A LOT. But they are (mostly) cosmetic issues and things that could be fixed while she is still living there and most of it can be done inexpensively. There is something going on with the pipe under the kitchen sink. I can handle that myself. I have fixed many a kitchen sink and pipes pertaining to it in my time. It also needs a new stove. We aren't really concerned about that issue at this point though, because my mom only uses a stove in the winter as a means to quickly warm herself. The rest of the time, she uses a microwave, an electric skillet, a toaster and a coffee pot. As long as she has those four things, she is happy. Plus, stoves aren't all that expensive. We could buy one for just a few hundred dollars or keep our eyes out for one on craigslist or even when my in-laws upgrade their stove. But essentially, it is a non-issue.

In the living room, I would want to pull down some paneling and put up some new insulation and drywall. Once again, something that I can do (and HAVE done before) and can do for low cost materials. The carpet will (eventually) need to be replaced as well as the windows and exterior doors/frames. And once again, I can do that work.

The first bedroom is small but needs very little (if anything) done to it. The bathroom has washer/dryer hookups in it so that would be great for my mom. We'd just need to find a set for her...hmm, maybe that set from the couple selling the other house would come in handy after all! The tub needs new trim around the bottom but that's pretty much it for that room. And the back bedroom (the one that would be my mom's) just needs cosmetic work done in there. And maybe new carpeting if we were already working on the carpeting.

The place first and foremost though, needs a good, thorough scrub down. That would be the first order of business. I took my mom by the place yesterday and we both saw it for the first time. It's rough, but could be a real gem. Plus, it could be her's. I'd gladly pay the cost of it and put it in her name and just go from there. There are a few things we want to have checked out first, like the furnace, the hot water heater and the electrical. Just to make sure they are all in good working order and are up to par on current codes. And so that we would know what the cost would be if we needed to make repairs to it (and by we, I mean my mom funds the repairs as it would be her house and I would do the research and hire any specialized people that we would need - I have a few connections that I would put to good use for cheap or free). Gotta love having an electrician in my back pocket!

So that is the second house that I wanted to tell you about. That place is much more likely to happen. Oh, and the really cool/sad thing about it. I have enough furniture in my current house to furnish not only our (possible) new place but also this place COMPLETELY. Absolutely no need to buy ANYTHING for it. My mom would get a matching sofa and chair, a set of end tables and lamps, a TV stand and a desk from us as well as a kitchen table and chairs, a full size bed frame, mattress and box springs, a twin size bedframe, mattress and box springs, a dresser or two, a bookshelf or two and she is set. And we wouldn't miss it. I am actually really hopeful about both places because it would be such a wonderful boost for both my family and for my mom. And I would feel really good knowing that my stuff was going to my mom instead of  to someone that I didn't know and know whether or not they really needed it or if they just wanted it. I know that may sound harsh, but that's just my perspective. So here's hoping!

(EDITED to add: You can read the next part here.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Quite the Absence...

I hate not blogging. I feel guilty when I stop blogging and generally, it isn't intentional. Life happens and the longer that I am away from it, the harder it is to come back to it. But back I am. And hopefully, I won't have another unplanned hiatus for quite some time.

I thought I had some super exciting news to share with you guys, but I guess I don't really. You see, we recently found a new place to live. Our current place is MUCH  too big for our needs and we have a lot of wasted space (as in rooms that we don't even use) and way too much stuff. I hate stuff.

This new house that we found would be a wonderful thing for numerous reasons. For one thing, it is much smaller than our current place (like by half!). Two, it would force us to seriously declutter. Three, the monthly payments on it (plus ALL the utilities!) would be a couple of HUNDRED dollars less than our rent alone in our current place. That equates to more money to do more things and less stress about money in the first place! Four, we would own instead of renting. That part is the major deal for us!

So, we went in to two different banks today. My father-in-law had already said that they would help us out with this (and I tried not to get my hopes up...long history of getting excited about something only to be let down by it later) but he wanted us to go in and apply for the loan on our own. So, we did. We knew that we would be denied (though we haven't yet talked to the lady - but I'm just being realistic here). You see, the cost of the new place is so low that it doesn't qualify for a mortgage, but a large personal loan. Our credit is not favorable. I know that and so does my father-in-law. But whatever, he wanted us to go apply on our own and so that's what we did.

The one loan officer tried to call us back today, but apparently my mom took Hubby's phone home with her (and my phone - well, let's just say that it got dropped and the back and battery both were lost/trampled by a crowd in a small dark room on a Friday night by heavily intoxicated people a few weeks back...but that's another story for another day - or not) So Loan Officer tried to call Hubby but we missed the call b/c my mom had the phone so she called Father-in-Law because we had listed him as closest relative. I figured it made sense to list him because his original plan had been to co-sign with us on the loan or to just take out the loan himself and we just pay it off.

So, Father-in-Law shows up at our door at like 8:00 this evening and tells Hubby that the Loan Officer called him because she couldn't get ahold of us and that when he tried calling us, he got my mom instead. Oh and by the way, he isn't sure about the loan at the moment. (Mind you, he has been CERTAIN about it for the last week and a half since we first mentioned it all to him, even up to the point of being certain about it at 10:00 this morning.) So frustrating. And he goes out of town tomorrow and I work 12 hour shifts tomorrow, Thursday and Friday. He'll be back on Friday night though, so maybe we have a chance at the whole loan thing either Saturday or next Monday. We'll see. Right now though, I feel so defeated about it and disappointed in myself for allowing myself to be excited. :/

But anyhow, do you want to see the pictures of the house? Hear a little bit about it? If for nothing else, I will at least have it on here as a memory of what could have been and a reminder about getting excited about things...

It has two connected living areas, but one (the bottom right) would be used more like an office area. That is the area that you step into when you first walk in the door. The bottom left shows the room you see when you walk in (though that pic was taken from the corner of the kitchen) There is a sliding glass door on the wall behind the couch (it's actually between the back of the couch and the kitchen bar). And then there is the kitchen. It's beautiful. All the appliances stay. It has a newer (WORKING!) dishwasher and a large refrigerator and the stove is a glass flat top too. I have never had one of those. Hubby was super excited about it too because as he said, "It's flat. That means no more tilted pots or pans and unevenly cooked food!" I love that man! He so gets me!

The dining room is just off the kitchen and that front area that you first walk into. It's smaller and I think we might have to get a smaller table for that area or maybe just different chairs. We aren't exactly sure until we try it out. Initially though, we'd make what we have work in the space. And it even has cute little built-in cabinets in the corners. Love the little details in this space!

It has a large bathroom (only 1 compared to the 3 we currently have - most willing to give up 2 bathrooms though!) and the washer/dryer actually go in there - directly opposite of the tub. So when the kids get into the bath at night, their clothes from the day could go directly in and then be washed once all of the kids were bathed too. Talk about convenient (and no more excuses for laundry piled up!) It has a newer furnace and hot water heater too! They even offered to throw in the washer and dryer but since we already own a set ourselves, we passed on that. They will probably pass that on to her middle son instead, which works for us!

Then there are the bedrooms. The bedrooms are tiny, especially compared to the rooms that we all have now. Punky and Boo would still share, Natty and JoNo would go back to sharing. And Hubby and I, well, of course we share! Eventually, though, we'd really love to get a bunkbed for the boys that also has a pull-out trundle bed for Boo to sleep on. It would be the most space-saving option and the boys will have the biggest room anyhow (since there are three of them) and then Miss Punky would have the smallest room (since it would be just her) while Hubby and I would take the middle room (which has a ceiling fan and a custom closet system already in place....droool!) The kids' bedrooms have smallish walk-in closets that would be the perfect size for their clothing and they also have shelving in there too which would work out wonderfully for toy storage as well.

The front porch has a nice swing and the back deck, well, it's kinda plain, but it's bigger than the deck that we currently have and that is a bonus. Also, we could fence in the yard. There is a grove of trees behind the house which I love, but also scares me a little bit because of Boo's wandering. Because of his issues, he wanders a lot. We can pretty well redirect him into something else, but it can be a challenge. Also, because of his issues, there is a program here that would help out with certain things for him. One of which could be respite care for him. It's not a huge issue because we have a pretty decent support base of people already in place if we need that time. And besides, if we had respite for him, that doesn't cover the other three, so really, it would feel like we were singling him out and sending him away (when really he is probably the easiest child of the four to take care of) and it just doesn't feel right. Anyhow, our family coordinator suggested that as an option for him. But when we were talking today, I said, "Ooooh, a fenced-in yard!" because the form was talking about home modifications. I was joking, but she said that I should put it down because it would be a valid request for Boo.

Of course now, we don't even know if we are going to get the place and if I request a fenced-in yard and they grant it and we don't get it, I'm not sure what happens after that. It's kind of confusing. But anyhow, as much as I hate to remain hopeful, there is still a part of me that is. I will be devastated if we aren't able to get this place. We really need it so badly. We cannot afford to stay in the place we are living right now past our lease (which is up July 31st). The new place is just SO affordable. Even with the much smaller space, the fact that we would move to the other side of town, that the kids would have to change schools, that they would be moving away from some great friends that they had (FINALLY!) made in our neighborhood. All of those things are worth it to our WHOLE family (even the kids are supportive of it - though they will miss their friends but the power of the internet will allow them to remain in touch even after we move)

So, that's where that stands right now. Oh, and there's another house that I want to tell you about too. But that will have to wait til tomorrow my friends. Until then, think good thoughts for our family and our ability to get this place, please?

(EDITED to add: You can read Part Two and Part Three by clicking on their links.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tackle It Tuesday - Laundry

This week, my main tackle was keeping up the appearances of the front closet and my newly created workspace near my chair in the living room. The other thing that I worked on was the laundry situation.

I just sorted and folded about six loads (give or take, I kind of lost count) of laundry. And I am happy to report that I have a small box to head to go to the donation drop-off tomorrow, added a few items to a box that I'm preparing for a friend's son, and added a number of items to both our spring/summer consignment box and to the fall/winter consignment box. Yay for getting rid of stuff! I still have a lot more to go though!

The other major thing that I worked on this past week was our garage. My mom came over again in the past week to spend some more time going through her things out there. We had our double driveway lined with things to go to the dump this morning when the garbage truck came by. It was great! But it was also highly addictive. Hubby had to convince me to come back into the house because I just wanted to keep going. I was so excited about the progress that we were making and I just wanted to keep going. The change out there is just astounding to me. We think that by next Tuesday, we  will be able to park both vehicles in the garage. It has been such a long time since we were able to park both vehicles in the garage that it will seem weird to actually use it. I think I could handle it though!

Outdoor Furniture from Pier 1

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pier 1 for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

March 20th was the actual start of Spring 2011. We are gearing up for spring and summer weather and I am so looking forward to being able to sit outside and watch the kids run around and play while I sip a tall glass of sweet tea! It's the life I tell ya!

But we don't yet have any outdoor furniture. We have a spot that I'd like to transform in our yard to be able to have a table and chairs for outdoor evening enjoyment.

I was excited to see that Pier 1 has their outdoor furniture in stock, both on their website and in the stores! Since I am in the mode to start looking at outdoor furniture, I was able to look through and see all of the different things that they have available.

Things like this:

I can totally see myself using this at our annual Independence Day block party to wheel our drinks and side dish contributions down the block to our neighbor's house, while back at the house, my family is relaxing in these chairs:


and eating around this table:


I mean, seriously doesn't that just look fantastic? And maybe add these cushions to the chairs too:


Yes, that looks quite nice indeed. Although I must admit, I am totally in love with this option for seating as well! What do you think? Isn't this the greatest look?

Pair up some of those options to create your own custom outdoor sectional! I don't think I'd ever want to go back indoors with furniture like that outside. And the beauty of it all - many of their outdoor pieces are outdoor/indoor pieces, so you could use them outside during the warmer months and then bring them in during the cooler months and continue to use them! Love it!

Have you seen their Papasan chairs? Seriously cool stuff. They even have a a Papasan swing! Who has ever heard of something like that? Check it out! They call it a Swingasan. Love it! All of the cozy comfort of a Papasan but in a swing. I could definitely see myself snuggling up in this with a book and falling asleep in the warm sun this spring time! Can't you just picture it? Bliss, I tell ya! Just bliss!


I hope that this has given you some ideas for decorating for the spring and summer months as well! What is your favorite item from the website? Leave a comment with your favorite item. I plan to do an outdoor feature post sometime within the next few weeks and would love to see your spaces as well! Check out Pier 1 for some great ideas for your yard this season as well!

Also, check Pier 1 Tweetups to see when it will be in your area.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Another Shameless Brag!

So my oldest child, he knows how to make me eat humble pie or crow or however you would like to phrase it. And I respect him a little more each time he does it, to be honest.

The other night, I sent the three older kids up to bed. Boo was already asleep. He fell asleep on the couch at 4pm and I was sure it was going to be a LONG night up with him. (It wasn't by the way, he slept through til 4am).

Our bedtime rule is that once the kids are upstairs in their rooms, they are to be silent. Not quiet. SILENT. If I can hear them in the living room, they are definitely NOT being silent. And I could hear Natty talking.

I called up to him a reminder of the rules, he apologized and said he would do better, but soon after that, I heard him talking again. I call up a second reminder. He apologizes again. The third time, I tell him to come back downstairs. He comes down and Punky is with him.

I tell her to go back up to her room and precede to lecture the boy. He apologizes again and says in his defense, "I was reading to Punky. She likes me to read her a bedtime story before she goes to sleep. And reading out loud is good for me to do, because it helps me to read faster."

Awwww. Okay, no punishment. Send both back up to their rooms.

Next night the same thing happens. Exactly the same thing. Except he calls down and tells me that he's reading to Punky and JoNo both. Hmmmm. Okay, fine. Finish the story and then go to bed. All goes well.

The third night, same scenario and then after they are supposed to be in their own rooms, I hear Punky and Natty talking. Story time was over. There was to be no talking. I call up to them for them both to come down. Punky comes down with a huge smile on her face. "Natty brushed'ed my hair for me. It's so beautiful now!" as she twirls to make her hair fly out.

"And this way it won't be so tangled in the morning."

Okay, back up to your rooms, you two.

Granted, all of this happens between 8:30 (their "up to bed" time) and 9:00 (the latest point that they are allowed to have lights on) so technically, they are still within the rules, sort of. They have hit on a grey area of the rules and I figure, well, they are getting along, working together, helping each other, I'll let it go.

And you know what? It's worked out so well. Bedtime has been a no stress event. And all three of the older kiddos are developing a stronger bond with each other. I can't fault that. :)

Last night, I had a late night working in our garage with my mom. (I really should remember to get before pics when we work out there but I never remember to) and then this morning, I was really tired. I slept in until shortly after Boo got up. I got up and went out to the den to head up to the kitchen/living room level of our house and Natty says, "Go back to bed, Mom. I got this. I fed my siblings breakfast and they are playing quietly in the living room."

Which of course, makes me worry just a teeny tiny bit. Because well, when I was ten, if I told my  mom to go back to bed, I was trying to hide something. I went upstairs anyhow. He was correct though. The younger three were playing quietly in the living room with toys and he was in the kitchen, doing a surprise clean in there. Awww! Such a thoughtful boy he is!

An hour later when Hubby wakes up for the day, the same scenario ensues. Except that Natty tells Hubby that I am up and am watching them. But Hubby doesn't go back to bed either. He sees the work that Natty has done in the kitchen and we are both pleased with him.

We offer him the option of choosing whatever he wants to have for dinner and dessert for the evening. His choice? "Grilled cheese sandwiches! And can I make them?" We have a panini maker. I think that he can make them on there easily enough. With supervision of course. So that is the plan for tomorrow night. Natty's "reward" for his thoughtfulness and unselfishness on a Saturday morning is to make grilled cheese sandwiches for the family for Sunday dinner. And so therefore, that is why I had to do another shameless brag about this child!

Taken last October at JoNo and Boo's joint birthday party. My silly, sweet, thoughtful boy. My NattyNu!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I have been debating with myself about posting about Boo. You see, there is just so much that we are still learning and discovering about our sweet boy and his educational diagnosis of PDD-NOS.

PDD-NOS is the acronym for Pervasive Developmental Delay - Not Otherwise Specified. PDD-NOS is sometimes included on the Autism Spectrum but not always. And even though he does have PDD-NOS, we have not been told that he has Autism. It's kind of a weird, confusing thing to me actually.

But to explain what he does have and how we have gotten to where we are right now, I'll go through the basis of his history. When he was born (at 39 weeks via scheduled c-section) he was not breathing. The umblical cord was tied in a knot. Much like the knot you make when you are tying something. Just a simple knot. But a knot that was cutting off vital oxygen and blood to him. We were told that had we scheduled the c-section for later than we had, he could have died. As it was, he wasn't breathing and had to be resuscitated and given blow-by oxygen. I didn't get to see him for three hours. It was horrible. They got him to breathing well on his own and by the sixth hour (I believe it was around that time) he was able to stay in my room with me. Prior to that, he had been able to come in but had to go back for further monitoring. His apgars were something like 2,9,9. The only thing he had going for him during that first set of apgar scoring was his heartbeat. That's it.

He recovered well from his birth and was a nursing pro. When he was just shy of three months old, he began having bowel and reflux issues. We thought maybe it was just reflux. We took him to a doctor who deals specifically with nursing babies and allergies/intolerances. She diagnosed him with MSPI (milk, soy protein intolerance), so those things were eliminated from my diet. But he still was not getting better, so we eliminated more and more things. Eventually, I went on TED, the Total Elimination Diet. I was able to only eat turkey or lamb, baked or boiled potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice or millet, squash, pears, and pear juice. That's not a lot of options. It was hard, but I did it. After two weeks' time, I was able to add items back in one at a time (much like you do when you are introducing solids to your baby for the first time) and then had to watch him to see if he began reacting to it. What we were able to determine was that he had intolerances to not only milk and soy but also to beef, eggs, nuts, hmm, there were more things but now I cannot remember them... Eventually (around 7-9 months of age), he was able to tolerate most of those foods in my diet in small quantities. He stopped nursing around 9 months old and we had him on a soy-based formula, then switched to regular formula. He began babbling and even saying a few words by a year old. Around 13 months though, he started reacting to something again, and at that point, we eliminated all of the foods we knew he had issues with prior to that. We even had him on goat's milk for awhile because he seemed to tolerate that but eventually, he began reacting to that as well, so we switched to rice milk for him instead. It was around this time that his world went silent. He didn't talk or babble anymore, but he was also learning to crawl and so we thought maybe his energies were tied up in mastering this feat. More and more though, he withdrew and after awhile, he wouldn't make eye contact either. He didn't play with the other kids, didn't really even acknowledge them. We made an appointment with his pediatrician.

His pediatrician ran a battery of tests to try to determine a physiological reason for his delays and regression. But there wasn't a physiological one. He referred us to our city's public school program.

At 19 months old, he had his first evaluation with the school system, at which point, he was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. Basically, PDD means across-the-board developmental delay. He was behind in EVERYTHING. From social and play skills to cognitive abilities to gross and fine motor skills. He had learned to walk just one week prior to the evaluation. The NOS part of the diagnosis means that there isn't a physiological explanation for it.

So, we started services. We had a wonderful home teacher, Jane, who came out about once a week to work with us and Boo and he gained quite a bit of ground while we worked with her. We worked with Jane from May 2009 until October 2010, when Boo enrolled in a traditional classroom setting.

We had two options for his classroom. One was more of an ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education) format, where most of the children have IEPs (Individual Education Plans) with a few peer models thrown in for balance. The other was basically an inversion of the first. Mostly peer models with a few kids who have IEPs. We chose the second one, feeling that it would be of the most benefit to the boy.

He has done wonderfully! He is still behind quite a bit socially but is catching up. His motor skills are just minimally behind, his play skills are also still fairly behind but we have seen some recent improvements in that as well.

For instance, we went to a classmate's birthday party a couple of months ago and the main activity was bowling. The event was slated to start at 11:00 sharp. We got there a few minutes prior but waited in the car until a few minutes before 11:00. We went inside and I let him run loose around the alley with the other kiddos (it was a confined area at a fun center and we were the only party in there). We didn't actually get started until around 11:15. That is a LONG time to wait for something fun to happen in Boo's world and I was fully prepared for the meltdown that I was pretty sure that would happen, but it didn't.

We started out on lane four, as you can see. The guy is the birthday boy's father. He was helping the kids bowl down the lanes (and we had bumpers for the kiddos too.) Boo was in a lane with two little girls that we didn't know. I think they were family or family friends, not classmates.

He had a hard time waiting for his turn to bowl, though no meltdowns there either. At one point, our lane broke. I don't know what the deal was, but of course, it was Boo's turn. I had just spent the last two kids' turns telling him that it was almost his turn and when we finally got up there, he got his ball and I had to stop him. "Not yet, Boo. The lane isn't ready. They are going to fix it though." So, he stood there patiently and my heart grew with pride about how well my little Boo Buddy was waiting. He stood there and held that 8 pound bowling ball for a full five minutes (it felt like an hour to me!) until they decided that the lane was unfixable and then worked us into another lane that already had three kids bowling in it.

And the kicker? He went from it being his turn to having to wait for FOUR children to bowl before it was his turn again. So in all, he had to wait for TWO children, then for a broken lane repair attempt, readjust to the new lane and then had to wait for FOUR more children to bowl. That was kind of difficult to explain to him. It was supposed to be HIS turn after all. But he took it in stride.

I think this is what helped. His little friend from school, Miss H. Isn't she a doll? So, I got to talking with Miss H's mom and she was telling me that H talks about Boo at home and I just stood there. Because while Boo talks, he doesn't exactly tell stories about things that he has done, people that he knows. All of his communication is in the moment or the immediate past (i.e. "Punky hit my back!" as he tattles on his sister, and even that has been a recent development).

I love this picture of Boo. I think it is probably one of his best. This is one that is going to go into our portfolio this year for his school. We have to make a portfolio of some of the family activities and things that we have done with him.

And then lastly, a shot of Boo with two of his classmates.

One really recent development with Boo has been in his communication. Although he doesn't really talk much about things that he has done, seen or experienced, I try to prompt him for information. After school one day recently, I asked him if he had played with Master C (the birthday boy in the above photos) and our conversation went like this:

Boo: "No. I play wif [Master M],"
Me : "You played with [Master M]?"
Boo: "Yes. I play wif [Master M]."
Me: "What did you play with [Master M]?"
Boo: "We play cars. Vroooooooom!"
Me: "You played cars with [Master M]! That sounds like fun. Was it fun?"
Boo: "Yes. Fun play cars wif [Master M]!"

That was the longest "conversation" we had ever had. It still might be.

I just love the way he talks! He has some really unique ways of saying things and he is very obsessed with letters and numbers. Some examples of Boo's language:

"Open hand!" This is said when someone is holding his hand or arm to keep him from running off. Instead of saying "let go", his command is "open hand". It would get the same result if obeyed, but is just a different way of saying it.

"Mommy, you home. I home." This is what he says to express that he missed me while I was at work. It doesn't matter if we are in our house or if I am picking him up from Grandma's or whatever. If he missed me, this is what he says. He also says this to express love. It's a situational phrase.

"Mommy, I find your blue!" He says this as he runs to me, holding either my (blue) phone or my (blue) camera. I tell him, "thank you Boo, for finding my blue phone!" He will look at me and say, "Blue phone!" and I will hold it up for him to look at and then repeat the phrase.

"Can I cars, please?" He just said this a moment ago. He wanted to go play with his cars, but he doesn't always use verbs in his sentences, so we give him permission as we rephrase his question, "Yes Boo, you may go play with cars."

He knows all of his alphabet letters on sight and can put the alphabet in order when using manipulatives. He also knows his numbers by sight up to 19 and can count up to 49 now. He also rote spells his name, his sister's name, JoNo's name (well, an abbreviation of JoNo's name but says it as the full name), as well as Mom and Dad. He does get stuck when spelling Dad or just refuses to spells it.

His Magna Doodle Jr. is his best play toy. I keep that in his backpack at all times if possible. No matter where we are or what we are doing, I can almost always get him back on task (or at least out of a meltdown) by using this toy to practice letters or numbers. He also knows the sound that each letter makes. He will spend quite a while "reading" letters off of signs or walls or whatever he can find. He loves it! A while back, I was dropping him off at church and he sat down and started "reading" the wall. "J-E-S-U-S-L-O-V-E-S-Y-O-U" It's all just one big long word to him, although he does recognize the words as separate items when I am reading to him.

And that is Mr Boo in a (VERY large) nutshell. He is such a joy to have around and to experience life with. The world is such a different place from his prospective. I love seeing things from his point of view. ♥ ♥ ♥

I am also going to link this up to Company Girl Coffee and

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tossed It Tuesday - April 12

First of all, I want to give a little shout-out to Violet for her wonderful encouragement on this weekly post! It seems that she and I have been trading off weeks where we have a lot to post about.

Well, since last week, I have gone back to the consignment shop and paid my consignor's fee and am now ready to start taking over loads and loads of kids' clothes! Yay! So, you will see my box total each week for the consignment shop.

We rearranged our living room this past weekend and as a result, we had lots of miscellaneous items that we were able to get rid of. I don't even know what all left the house because as soon as I came across something that needed to leave but wouldn't fit into a trash bag, a child was summoned to take the item directly to the trash outside. There was absolutely no "make a pile until there's more to go out" for this project. Lots and lots of stuff went out.

Then, last night (because Tuesday is our trash day) my mother came over to continue going through her stuff that is stored in our garage. We also went through a lot of our stuff that is stored in the garage. I got rid of a LOT of stuff. I don't know what exactly all I threw away because honestly, I didn't look all that closely. My main plan with going through the items was to look for the one or two items in each box/container/whatever that was worth keeping around (if there was anything worth keeping around) and the rest of the box got pitched. I gave myself about 30 seconds per box. It doesn't take all that long to look through an item to see what is worth keeping. The thing that took the longest amount of time was books (we LOVE books around here and kept more than we tossed) and clothes (because of the whole consignment situation!).

In the end, out on our curb was:
  • our two regular trashcans, plus another trashcan with our yard waste
  • an endtable/microwave cart/stand type piece of furniture
  • an old smaller television that actually belongs to my mom
  • some old broken or just worn down toys of the kiddos
  • an old lamp that no longer works
  • and probably about 10 boxes of useless junk
We also got rid of three boxes of recyclables. Yay for purging stuff that we don't really need in our house or in our life!

Tackle It Tuesday - Shaklee Style

This week, we did a number of tackles. We tackled our living room and re-arranged it while also going through a bunch of "stuff" that was in it. At the moment, it is slightly messy due to kids and well, living in the room, but it will be cleaned up as soon as I am done with this post.

Our living room is long and rectangular and has a bank of windows on one side that make it difficult for some arrangements. Also, we have three vents in the room, which we try to not to cover up with furniture. We have a dog that covers the vents enough as it is.

So, here is what the room looked like before:

The main problem with this layout is the corner where the chair is. Stuff would get stuck back there and it was difficult to get to without pulling the chair out. I was getting tired of having to do that. Plus both the dog and Boo loved to hang out behind the chair (next to the vent) so there were a myriad of issues with that there.

Another was the entertainment center. The couch sat in front of the bank of windows and we would get a horrible glare on the TV if we had the windows open, which we didn't very often because it made watching TV up here nearly impossible.

The area behind the other chair (closest to our entry way on bottom right) often was the spot where we would put things that needed to leave the house, which makes sense. But it also often made it look cluttered and messy and let's face it, you open the door and that is the FIRST thing you see, followed by the entertainment center.

So, we changed it. The couch went to where the entertainment center was, one of the tables went with it, the entertainment center went to where the small bookshelf was, the small bookshelf went next to the door, and the two chairs and one table scooted in towards the middle of the window bank to balance out that side of the room. The cedar chest also got transplanted next to the entertainment center, instead of being used as a coffee table.

So now it looks like this:

Personally, I'd prefer to have the tall bookshelf on the wall next to the entertainment center, but Hubby says no to that for now. Plus that bookshelf may soon end up in our bedroom anyhow, so it's kind of a non-issue anyways.

And now, the small bookshelf next to the entryway is for our shoe storage, instead of having the shoes on the rectangular linoleum area that you all have seen before here. And that was okay, but it just didn't stay neat. And I am not about to spend 5 minutes ten or so times each day, straightening up the shoes. It's just not my thang. Yes, I said thang. No, it was not a typo. So anyhow, that's why the small bookshelf is over by the door. It is called the small bookshelf because it's short. Lower shelf, upper shelf and then top of the set. Three levels total. Lower shelf is generally used for kiddo shoes. The shelf has an open back and allows the vent to shoot air through it. The upper shelf is for more of the overflow shoes. The top of the unit is used for the things that need to leave the house. It can still look messy, but it still looks better than having the stuff sit on the floor behind the chair. Much better!

Then this weekend, I traveled to Erin's house to try out some Shaklee products. So, as of now, she and I are no longer online friends. We are in real life friends! Yay! So, anyhow, I came home Saturday night to a mess that Hubby left for me from his preparation of the family's supper. (I ate at Erin's house that evening. Thanks again Erin and Dusty!) The house was empty when I got home. Hubby had arranged for the kiddos to spend the night at Grandma's house and he had gone to his friends' house for the evening, so there I was with a stove looking like this:

Yummy right? Inviting? Wanna come over for dinner right about this point? If that isn't bad enough for you, try removing the burner and the drip tray. Just for fun. However, if you have a queasy tummy, I'd suggest looking away right now. Because I removed the burner and the drip tray and this is an example of what was below.

Yeah, um, gross. Just sayin'. I have no idea what it is or how it gets down there, but I *do* know that I don't like it and I had an idea that my handy dandy bottle of Shaklee's H2 would clear that issue right up, so I decided it was time to give it a try. I sprayed a generous portion of the H2 into the areas below the drip trays. Yes, our style of stove can lift up, but it is screwed shut and one of the screws is stripped, so I can't do it the easy way.

I let it set for a few minutes, just so it could do its thang under there and then I got busy and cleaned all the gunk out. It took several swipes and a few paper towels (sorry, but my nice microfiber was NOT going in THERE!) and then it was done. The end result?

Okay, let's do the before and after thing now:

I also took the time to do my microwave (inside and out), my fridge (inside and out) and my freezer (inside and out). It was awesome! I love the H2! I also have a bottle of the Basic G to try out in the bathrooms, but I haven't made it in there just yet. I was more concerned about the kitchen at that point.

I am sold though! As soon as my check situation at work gets figured out and settled, I am DEFINITELY going to be ordering my own shaklee! And then you can sign up to become a member under me as well! Doesn't that sound AWESOME?! I think it does! And besides who wouldn't want to transform their icky yucky stove from the before picture to the after picture? Seriously? My stove SHINES now. It truly does!

And that was my main level tackle for this past week. Phew! I'm exhausted! Even if Hubby was the one that did all of the work, except the kitchen cleaning. But I am so happy with the results!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - 4.11

Last week was terrible about the menu plans. I honestly have no clue what we ate most nights and it worked out, but man, do I ever prefer to have at least a guideline AND follow it!

This week our menu includes:
  • Monday
    • beef roast with mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Tuesday
    • pork ribs
  • Wednesday
    • grilled cheeseburgers
  • Thursday
    • chicken stirfry
  • Friday
    • homemade pizzas
  • Saturday
    • kids choice
  • Sunday
    • company's choice
It should be good!  I don't know why I try to plan for Sundays usually. For lunch we always have sandwiches, something just quick and easy for the purpose of getting something to eat after church and before the littles' nap time. And then for supper time, 9 Sundays out of 10, we have company over and we usually try to coordinate with what they want to eat. Saturday lunches are usually something Hubby fixes for the kids and we eat leftovers and Saturday nights, the kids choose to have a light supper so that they can have more junk food during our movie night. Saturdays are kind of the fly by the seat of our pants day of the week. We just never know for sure (until Friday night) what we plan to do on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

For the very first time ever, I am joining in on the Ultimate Blog Party excitement! So, here we go!

I am Deanne, a mother to four children, who I affectionately named NattyNu (age 10), JoNo (age 7), PunkyPie (age 4), and Boo (age 3) for the internet. I have been married to my wonderful husband, Hubby, for 10 1/2 years now and am incredibly grateful for everything he does for our family.

I am a busy lady. I work as a housecleaner Monday-Friday and have a very "flexible" (read: unstable) ending time each day. Some days I am home by 2pm, other days, I'm not home until after 6pm. It's hard on me and I cannot imagine how hard it is on the family to never know when to expect me home.

I am also a CNA and wanting to get back to doing that as soon as I possibly can. Not that I don't love my job, but I really don't love my job. lol I also want to go back to school and finish my degree in Business Administration with an Accounting focus, but first I have to make sure that I am doing my part to make ends meet at home.

I also work out of my home as a crafter (I have an Etsy shop with a few items in stock - more as soon as I get around to taking photographs and listing the items!) and I also sell Tupperware and am looking to possibly start selling Shaklee as well in the near future.

I am a kind of crunchy mama. I believe in being as green as possible, we use cloth diapers at least part-time (Hubby and MIL prefer sposies and that's okay too - we do what works best for all of us - and this is how it has been for the last, oh, six years or so in the diapering department). I also try to use safe, homemade cleaners as often as possible. I want to be able to have any of my children help with the cleaning without worrying about the chemicals that they may end up having on their skin. (That is kind of part of a big reason behind wanting to become a Shaklee distributor.)

I have recently been working to lose weight by making better food choices (not dieting because dieting is temporary and I want this to be a lifestyle change that will be forever) and getting more exercise. So far, I am down 30 pounds over the last two months and I am very excited about that! I still have about another 60 to go, but already I am feeling better and overall, healthier.

My blog here is a cross between a mommy blog and a niche blog for cleaning/organizing and crafting. I tried doing multiple blogs before and you can see them if you click on my picture and go to my profile, but I tend to just be more of a one-blog kind of girl, with the exception of one blog that I am a contributor to.

Hmmm, I am trying to think of what else there is to tell you all, but I can't really think of anything, so if you have questions, feel free to ask! I'm pretty much an open book. Glad to have you visit! And if you'd like, follow me via Google Friend Connect and like my blog on Facebook. I will start hosting giveaways when I hit 25 followers on here. And considering that I am a crafter (a knitter and scrapbooker to be exact) AND sell Tupperware AND plan to sell Shaklee AND will be reviewing products from time to time as well (not too often because I don't want this blog to become all about reviews - they can get kind of old when that's all you see in feed reader), there are a LOT of possibilities for giveaways! So, come on in, sit down with a cup of tea (instant with artificial sweetener is my current choice) and have a nice read. Leave some comment love here and there so that I can check your blog out as well!

Until next time...

Tackle It Tuesday

This week for Tackle It Tuesday I tackled my lower level bathroom. I don't have a before picture, but let me describe it this way - I live with four males and one of them is potty training. And it seems that none of them can actually hit the target. Just sayin'.

So, I started with my shower. I sprayed some straight vinegar on my shower door to help tackle the hard water and soap scum build up and let it sit. Then I moved on to the mirror and used the same straight vinegar there and wiped it dry with a microfiber cloth.

Then, I moved down to the sink and sprayed an all-purpose cleaner into it and scrubbed it down really well. I used an old toothbrush to get between the faucet and the sink itself and really scrubbed it out well. Then I wiped it all out with a second microfiber cloth. After doing that, I used my first microfiber from the mirror and shined up the faucet and the knobs and the drain stopper thingie. Because that is what it is called, right? A drain stopper thingie? The vinegar and the microfiber together really makes it all shiny and nice.

Then I cleared off the toilet and picked everything up off of the floor. I think it was something like 6 bottles of shampoo and conditioner and other things, plus a large container of laundry detergent. Doesn't everyone keep a large bottle of laundry detergent in their bathroom? And then I cleared off the little shelf we have hanging above the toilet and straightened it up and made it look nice and neat.

Then it was time to tackle the toilet. I'm sure you all know how to clean a toilet, but bear with me. I sprayed the entire toilet down with the all-purpose spray, tank lid, tank sides, top of toilet lid, underside of toilet lid, top of toilet seat, underside of toilet seat, toilet rim, inside of the bowl (and then a little bit of powder in the bowl), then sprayed the outside of the toilet base, being sure to get the area by the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor. Then I started wiping it off with a large terry cloth towel. I like to use barmop towels personally because of their large size, but you could use a standard 12x12 terry cloth cleaning towel as well. But anyhow, I used my barmop towel and began wiping in the same order as I did the spraying, down to the toilet rim part, then I used my toilet brush and cleaned the inside really well. Then I finished up with the toilet rim and the outside of the bowl, all the way down to the floor.

The floor area in our bathroom is very small so it is more trouble than it is worth to try to use a mop in there, plus our toilet is not placed squarely in there either, so it's a very tight space between the side of the toilet and the wall anyhow. So, I just used my all-purpose spray and sprayed the floor on that side of the toilet and hand-wiped it while I was hanging over the toilet to get the area by the bolts cleaned on that side. I then worked my way from the wall behind the toilet to the wall in front of the toilet and then worked my way around the toilet. I used a thin line grout brush to get the area around the bottom of the toilet and let me assure you, it was DIS-GUST-ING. Blech! Then I continued hand wiping the remainder of the floor area. Oh - and in case it wasn't clear, I used the same rag for the toilet and the floor. Because honestly, the floor is much worse than the toilet 'round these parts. You could use a separate rag if you wanted to though.

For the finishing touches in the bathroom, I also shined up the handle of the toilet with my mirror microfiber cloth as well as the toilet paper holder and the switch plate. Then put things back into the bathroom neatly. The only thing left to do was to finish the shower.

Normally, I would have done the shower completely in one shot, but because of the hard water and soap scum, I wanted to give the vinegar some time to cut through it and break it all down. One warning though - when I opened the shower door to clean it, the vinegar smell assaulted my nostrils. It was a little bit overwhelming at first. It won't hurt you, but it is powerful.

I used a steel wool scratchy on my shower door - I don't think my shower door is glass, but it might be. But I used that scratchy on my shower door until it looked pretty decent. It always looks clearer when it is wet than it does when it is dry though. I then wiped the door with the mirror cloth. Then I sprayed down the inside of the shower itself and scrubbed it all really well and then dried it off with the same cloth I used for the sink, and then finished by shining the metal in the shower - the shower head, the shower knob, the shower door handle and the piece that holds the shower door on. Not sure what to call that piece though.

The one thing I realized that I missed when I was done was the window and blinds. I should have used a dry microfiber to dust the blinds before starting the toilet and then cleaned the window with the straight vinegar and mirror cloth and then dusted the window ledge with the dry cloth as well. But oh well, it's definitely in much better shape now than it was before I did it.

And that my friends, is how I clean our tiny bathroom.

Using this method, it took me all of maybe 15 minutes to clean the bathroom. Do you have 15 minutes available to kick your bathroom into tip top clean shape? I bet you do!

Also, I will be linking this up to Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.