Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Story time/bedtime

I think we have finally found a solution to the bedtime issue we were having, but let me give you a bit of background first.

When Jacob first started sleeping in a twin bed, we were a bit worried he would have issues staying in bed, not going to sleep, etc. And he did, for a WEEK. For a while (several months), after that first week, he wouldn't even get out of bed in the morning until I came to get him!! The way our house was set up, all the bedrooms were in the same hallway, so we just put a gate up where the hallway opened into the living room. That way, if he needed us, he could come straight into our room without being able to roam the rest of the house. I could probably count the number of times he's gotten out of bed during the night (other than sickness, night terrors, leg cramps, etc.) since he moved out of the crib in late summer of 2005. He's always been a great sleeper and until Eli came along and hit the same stage, I took that for granted.

Fast forward a couple of years to February of 2008 (when we moved Eli out of the crib)...

Eli is the complete opposite of Jacob, he's never been a super sleeper and he's very strong willed. When we moved him out of the crib we knew it would be a challenge, but I don't think we could have anticipated how much of a challenge he would be. For a while things were fine. For several months he did really well. Then, it's as if one day a switch flipped. The child would not stay in bed. It didn't matter what the consequences were, he would get out of bed several (up to 15) times a night. We tried every method we had ever seen or heard of. EVERYTHING.

Recently, I finally had the thought that maybe he doesn't need as much sleep as we're trying to force on him. So, since it wasn't fair to Jacob for us to let Eli stay up later than him, we decided to give them "bedroom time" starting at the previous bedtime - 8:00. Beginning at that time, they are allowed to read books in their room (they share a room) until they either decide to turn off the light and go to sleep, or until we come up to tell them it's time to go to sleep at 8:45.

This system has been awesome! Often, Jacob will put his books away, then get in bed and go to sleep, even with Eli still up and the light still on. Is he a champion sleeper, or what!! And Eli goes to bed when he's told and on average only gets up once a week (and usually only one time before he settles down and goes to sleep)! We have even noticed that around 8:30 some nights, after Jacob has gone to sleep, Eli will put his books away, turn off the light and go to sleep with no prompting!!

This definitely works for us!! I am so thankful that God finally gave me that lightbulb moment of Eli's bedtime being too early because we were getting to the point of extreme frazzlement (yep, I just made that word up!) and neither of us could figure him out.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You Capture - letters

All week I tried to think of something catchy or really great that was a letter that I could photograph for this week's You Capture and really just couldn't come up with anything. That is, until I started going thru the posts that had been submitted, then I got the perfect idea and had to go take photos immediately....

This is a letter my dear husband wrote to me on my 25th birthday, in 2005. Our love letters have evolved over time and have decreased in frequency, but increased in significance! This one was especially lovely and meaningful to me and it has remained in my wallet ever since. I read it often and it means just as much to me each time I read it. I love him dearly and words can never truly express just how much these simple gestures mean to me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In honor of Earth Day

I thought I would just give a little run down of how we are doing our part to be good stewards of what God has given us.

Here are some things we do:
* Cloth diaper Rachael (about 90% of the time) and use cloth wipes, as well
* Mama cloth (if you don't know and really want to know, I'll tell you....)
* We grow a garden and it provides most of our veggies during the summer months.
* I am learning to can fruits and veggies
* Most of our food is home cooked from scratch, very little is prepackaged and we don't eat out much
* I make Rachael's baby food (with the exception of cereal and a few snacky type things)
* Breast fed my babies as long as was possible in my situations
* Recycle and only put out 2-3 bags of trash each week (the recycling can is usually full)
* Buy in bulk when possible, this not only saves money, it reduces packaging and waste
* I use reusable shopping bags and try not to use the little plastic produce bags

These are just the things I could think of on the spur of the moment

EDIT TO ADD: I wash and reuse all ziploc type bags until they die/get a hole, etc.

9 years

9 years ago today was a Saturday. It was perfectly, perfect spring day in Panama City, Florida, made only more perfect by being able to sign that marriage certificate as husband and wife!!

We were so young (I was 19 and Michael was 20), and in retrospect, so naive as to what lay ahead.

During our marriage we have definitely experienced the most trying of trials, but we have also experienced the best of the best. It was those times (years, really) where we pushed God to the back burner in our marriage that the enemy attacked with full force and steam rolled us. And it is only by the grace of our wonderful, loving God that we survived those trying times and have since built a marriage that thrives!

But, you know what? We have a story and a testimony and that testimony has helped people. I will never know the "why's" of the depths that we have endured, but I do know one thing. God NEVER lets us experience a trial that we will not be able to withstand (come out stronger, even) with God's help.
I am proud to say that trusting God has gotten us this far and I can truly say that Michael is my 'other-half'. I'm not sure how I would survive without him! He is the perfect husband for me, the perfect Godly example for me and our children, a wonderful dad and a great friend. I consider it my pleasure to be his helpmeet and mother to our children! God definitely knows what He's doing!
Happy Anniversary, Babe!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Shampoo free: Weeks 2 and 3

I realized that I never gave you the gist of what my hair type is. My hair is moderately thick, medium brown (all natural), approximately 6 inches below my shoulders, semi-curly, but also easily straightened, and in DIRE need of a trim. Even before I stopped using shampoo, I was having to flat iron it just to get it to be un-fuzzy on the ends (I think that's a pretty good sign you need a trim), but haven't been able to get an appointment because Michael has been working 12 hour days and taking all 3 kids with me really isn't a viable option, so I wait...

If you missed last week's post about my first week of going shampoo free, you can read it here.

Here's how this week went:

Sunday - no wash because I knew I was going to the gym Monday morning (I typically wash at night)
Monday afternoon - baking soda wash with vinegar rinse
Tuesday night - baking soda wash and I went back to using conditioner on the ends because of the whole desperate need for a haircut issue; then I brushed it out and let it air dry; also, I used baking soda again today because it seemed and looked insanely oily
Wednesday night - HOT wash, conditioner and leavin cream; brush and mostly air dried (finished it off with the blow dryer so I could go to bed)
Thursday - no wash
Friday - baking soday wash, conditioner, leave in cream, brushed out , air dried completely then only used a comb until next wash.
Saturday - baking soda wash, conditioner, leave in cream, brushed out and blow dried

At the end of this week I am seeing decent hair. It seems/feels a bit oily, but doesn't really look oily and I know a little oil is normal so I'm not too worried about it. All-in-all I think my scalp is reacting nicely and I'm not feeling like an oil slick. And my scalp is completely clear of eczema!!! Hooray!

The only issue I'm really having is how time consuming it is to 'wash' my hair. I've played around with different dilution/solution of the baking soda and water mixture and the mixture that works best for me is a very thick paste. Then I section my hair off (like you would if you were flat ironing or blow drying with a round brush) and rub the paste into my entire scalp section by section. I've tried just dumping it on and rubbing it in, but that doesn't seem to get very good coverage and I end up with spots that aren't clean, so the section method seems to be the best for me and it's extremely time consuming. It takes me approximately 10 minutes (usually 15) just to get my scalp covered in the mixture and rubbed in. I've tried doing it after I've gotten in the shower and wet my hair, I've tried drawing a bath and rubbing it in with dry hair and with wet hair and I've tried just standing in the dry shower and rubbing it in dry hair and can't seem to find a method that's any faster....

Week 3

Sunday - no wash because of gym Monday morning
Monday afternoon - baking soda wash, conditioner, leave in cream, brushed out and air dried
Tuesday evening - FAIL - I gave up. I absolutely couldn't stand how long it was taking me to wash my hair. So I will be open to suggestions! I really think my scalp was doing well and I liked how my hair was responding, so I'm willing to go it again if someone can help me on the time consuming factor.

Side note - I did finally get my hair trimmed on Friday afternoon!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Homemade baby food - price breakdown

Last week I gave you a general run down on how to make your own baby food and I'm wrapping up the subject this week with a cost comparison on conventional baby food vs. homemade.

Keep in mind, these are prices in Colorado for mostly in-season produce (typically in-season produce is less expensive, and locally grown or from your farmer's market is even better priced).

The prices below are broken down based on how much Rachael (7 mo.) is currently eating.

*Bananas: 6 semi-large @ $.69/lb. = $3.03
Total servings = 12
*Sweet pots: 2 large @ $1.59/lb = $1.87
Total servings = 12
*Butternut squash: 1 medium size @ $1.49/lb = $3.01
Total servings = 15
*Avocado: 6 semi-large @ $5.99 (bag from Costco)
Total servings = 24

Total spent: $13.90 for 63 servings

Earth's Best baby food jars (this is the brand I would buy if I bought conventional baby food, you may wish to substitute the price of your favorite brand in place of this for a more accurate price comparison):
*1st foods: $.69/jar; 2 jars = 1 serving (63 x 2=126 jars)
Total spent = $86.94
*2nd foods: $.89/jar; 1.5 jars = 1 serving (63 x 1.5 = 94.5 jars)
Total spent = $84.11

Using an average of the two different sizes of jars the difference is incredible.

$71.63 (this is the amount I saved for 1 month's supply of food, it is 18% of my grocery budget!!!!)

I have not included the cost of cereal for breakfast (and to mix in when veggies have gotten too soupy from too much water added during pureeing) because Rachael receives WIC, so we do use conventional cereal because it is provided for free. For added accuracy, add in the cost of how many boxes of cereal your little one goes thru in one month and then calculate the difference. It's still substantial if you do buy cereal.

Be sure to visit Frugal Friday for more wonderfully frugal tips!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A sampling of outtakes

This is what happened when we tried (read: failed) to get a decent photo after our resurrection service today. All I really wanted was all the kids looking at the camera at the same time!!
Eli and Rachael were yelling at each other!!
Rachael was falling off Jacob's lap and Eli forever has this silly face on...

This is the best one we got... Not sure what's going on with Eli and why he's so upset though.

Total chaos!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It is most definitely a growth spurt

Rachael is by far my easiest baby! She is very laid back, extremely low maintenance, a wonderful sleeper, tolerable of just about all circumstances and loves to be entertained by her big brothers!

So, when she's cranky, I know there's something up. The last few days she's been quite cranky and eating more than normal, which is typically a sign of a growth spurt. And, just as I thought, today was the sleeping day!

This child slept almost the entire day.

*She slept 13 hours last night, waking at 9:45 this morning.
* Ate and then was up for a little over an hour, went to sleep at 11 and slept until 12
* Ate lunch and then went back to bed at 1:45
* Slept from 1:45 to 5:00
* Ate dinner and went back to bed at 6:30 until 7:30
* Had a bottle and then went to bed for the night at 8:45
For a grand total of 18:15.
The typical sleeping schedule for her is a morning nap of about 45 minutes, a mid-day nap of 3 hours and an evening nap of 45 minutes, plus 11 hours at night. Today, she slept just under 3 hours more than she normally does! I bet by the end of the week she won't fit in any of her clothes!!!

*The above photo was taken last week when she had somehow managed to get her arm completely out of her onesie during her long nap!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Homemade baby food

This post has been in the works for a while because I've really been wanting to share how much money I save by making my own baby food.

Jacob is 5 now, but when he was little I was introduced to Super Babyfood by Ruth Yaron and it totally changed my perspective on feeding my precious child. I also absolutely love how she lists every fruit, vegetable and grain you could possibly think up and the age at which it is considered ok for baby to eat, along with choosing and preparation instructions!!

After reading thru the sections on actually preparing the food, I was amazed at how easy it all seemed and I knew this was for me!

Jacob was in daycare at the time because I was still working (long story and I'm so glad God finally got it thru to me about being a stay home mom!) so his lunch meal was provided at the daycare center as part of his fee, so I ended up only preparing foods for his breakfast and dinner.

When Eli came along, I was no longer working and knew that the majority of his food would be prepared at home and it has been the same for Rachael. She has been eating solids for about 6 weeks now, so I'm back to preparing baby food and I really enjoy knowing what goes into her food1

I'll give you a short tutorial now and then a price breakdown next week for a one month supply of homemade food at Rachael's current appetite!

Butternut squash seeded and cut into large pieces. I believe I baked the squash at 375° for a little over an hour. The goal is to bake it until soft all the way thru - I find that the time varies based on how thick the squash is.

While the squash is baking, gather the rest of your supplies: * Food processor (this is a 3 cup version and it's plenty big enough); * Ice cube trays; * Filtered water; * Utensils for peeling/cutting and scooping

Once squash is cool enough to handle, peel and cut into chunks and fill food processor bowl approximately 3/4 full.

Begin with adding a small amount of water and turning on the processor. You'll need to add water in small amounts until you get the squash the correct consistency (based on the age and eating abilities of your child). The amount of water you add will vary greatly depending on what kind of food processor you have.

Once that batch is the correct consistency, scoop it into the wells of the ice cube trays, filling them almost to the rim (leave a little room for expansion because you added water). Then repeat the process until you have your entire squash made into baby food.

Place trays (uncovered) into the freezer overnight.

In the morning, label a large freezer bag (if you don't have a freezer bag, you'll need to double bag it) with what it is - because once you get several foods of the same color in the freezer you won't be able to tell them apart - and the date prepared. Then break them all free of the ice trays, dump into the bag, seal and place back in the freezer.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: appx. 1 hour
Work time: appx. 30 mintes
Servings: 15-16

Be sure to visit Frugal Friday for more wonderfully frugal ideas.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Shampoo free: Week 1

Well, I have taken the plunge and am no longer using shampoo! I know, you're probably thinking I'm crazy, but let me assure you I am still "washing" my hair!

For a very detailed post on the how's and why's, you can go here. The basics are washing with a baking soda and water mixture and conditioning with an apple cider vinegar and water mixture every other day to begin with (with a plain hot water wash on the other days). Then moving to only washing with baking soda when you actually need it.

And for a few extras, you can go here.

My reasons for making the switch are pretty straightforward. Sure, environmental factors played a part, but the most important reason for me is eczema. I have pretty bad eczema on my scalp and NOTHING I have tried (and I have tried all sorts of shampoos with herbal treatments, eczema shampoos, organic/natural, etc.) has had long term success. In fact, a lot of shampoos made it much worse. I figured this method was as close to natural as I'm going to get because the ultimate goal - once your scalp has been weaned off of traditional shampoos- is only washing 1-2 times per week!!

This week was my first week of shampoo free living. I'm still weaning my hair and scalp off of conventional products so the first few days I continued to use conditioner on my ends.

Sunday evening - baking soda paste, condition with anti-breakage conditioner
Monday evening - HOT water wash, condition with anti-breakage conditioner
Tuesday evening - baking soda paste, condition with anti-breakage conditioner
Wednesday afternoon - HOT water wash, no conditioning
Thursday - no wash
Friday afternoon - baking soda paste, condition with apple cider vinegar rinse
Saturday evening - baking soda paste, apple cider vinegar rinse

Also, Saturday evening was my first attempt at letting my hair dry with out brushing it while wet.

Results after week 1:
* My scalp is a tad oily, this is just my body trying to figure out what my natural oil production should be.
* My hair dries faster
* I have softer hair once it's dry.
* Finger picking thru my hair to get out major tangles doesn't cause nearly as much breakage as brushing
* Letting my hair dry is hard to do, but the texture of my hair is so much better when it's air dried

My natural hair type is fine, frizzy and semi-curly. I'm hoping that the frizzies are tamed once my natural oils are spread to the ends and my hair will actually be the nice kind of curly, rather than the crazy kind!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Seeing all kinds of crazy happenings

Last week I called the fire department to come put out a fire someone had started in a dumpster across the street from my house.

Today, I saw a hit and run car accident. Actually saw it happen. Crazy stuff.

I was sitting in the turn lane at the main intersection near my house. For those of you in the Springs, I was turning left from Academy (facing northbound) onto Airport. I was on my way home from the gym and getting gas. The light was turning red and everyone was stopping, when all of a sudden across the intersection a white Cavalier, clips/sort of smashes the front end of a black Avalanche, sending it sideways into a minivan. The Cavalier took off lickety-split, weaved thru the cars and turned right and sped off hit-and-run style.

I guess, in an attempt to chase after him, the guy in the Avalanche tried to do the same and ended up clipping/half way rear ending a GrandAm and sent it drifting thru the intersection (thankfully it was that split second when all lights were red and only a cross walk was lit).

Everyone got out of their cars (no one was hurt) and I reached for my phone and dialed 911, after 9 rings, there was no answer, so I hung up. I then called Michael and while I was on the phone with him 911 called me back, so I told them the short of the story and she said there had already been a call placed and police were en route!

So, I proceeded home. I was too far away to see the plates on the Cavalier....

Probably didn't have any insurance, people like that disgust me.