Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Not to Offend Anyone [again].....

.....But I have decided that we will never have antique farm machinery in our yard. I think those flowerbeds built around an old plow are really neat, and living on a farm for 21 years, I feel a connection to that life. My husband worked on a farm growing up. So we feel like we are farmers.
But I've noticed that the majority of people that have said farm machinery displays....aren't farmers. They're wanna-bes. The I-have-a-horse-and-an-antique-tractor-that-never-leaves-the-barn type. And that's not who I am.
So, lest I be associated with that type, I'll just stick to building my flower beds around what's already there.....
Weeds.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Overheard:

It's pretty hot out. We need to turn on the ABC. (A/C)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Grr!

Our computer automatically updated Internet Explorer to the new version - 9, I think. Ever since then, I can't get Explorer to publish my blogs. I don't know what's causing that, but it's really irritating!
If anyone knows what may be causing that, PLEASE let me know.



I published these using Mozilla. It's not that I have anything against Mozilla, it's just that it's not mine. On our computer, Paul has all his bookmarks on Mozilla, and I have all mine on Explorer. We started this setup a couple years ago, when Mozilla wouldn't sign out of his Hotmail account so I could open mine. So I just started using Explorer, and it's worked out pretty good to have "his" and "hers" browsers.

Waiting....

Paul is at his parents' house, helping with a project, and I'm waiting to be sure the boys are asleep before I head outside to do some yard work. (They slept until after 9 this morning -!!!!- something they have never done, so that's why I'm not sure naps will go on the first attempt.)
It feels like we've been busy the last couple weeks, but I can't tell you with what. This week has been a bit busy - Jacob had his one-year follow up after his surgery. The doctor said everything looked great, so he shouldn't need to see him again. Then Thursday was his regular check-up (18 months). He's 33 inches and 28 pounds! No wonder I've got toned biceps. Other than his still-delayed speech, he is perfect.
The doctor's office called Infant Toddler Program to do an assessment on Jacob's speech. Part of me is like.... GRR! He does not need this! The other part of me is like.... It's our dang tax money paying for this, so I might as well use it! So they're coming this week to start whatever it is they do. I don't like the fact that they're coming to the house.... That's the only way they do it, and even though they market it as "it's more comfortable for the child" - I know it's really so they can check out his living situation and see if he's being neglected or abused. (Same reason the county Health Department brings a "gift bag" out after your baby is born.)
I have been so tired this week. It was cool and cloudy/rainy the last three days, so I know that's not helping. I went for a walk this morning, and that seemed to help. I need to be productive outside for a couple hours while the boys are asleep.... We'll see how that works. I told Paul I'd finish mowing for him, and I'd like to plant some marigolds he bought me.
The roof is finished! We did have a little bit of leakage on the south side when we had a storm with some major wind blow in straight from the south last week. But in the last three days of rain (several inches) I haven't seen a single drop. We got the bill this week, and..... Praise the Lord! It was about $1000 less than I was expecting it to be. I about cried - it seems like any surprises that have to do with finances lately have been in the other direction. I am going to put a note about the leak in when I send a check, and I'm sure they'll come look at it. I've known these guys for my whole life, it seems - they did pretty much any construction/remodeling stuff for my parents when I was growing up, so I'm pretty sure they'll want to uphold their reputation. :)
We finished up Walk Kansas a couple weeks ago. We met our goal - we walked the equivalent of the entire distance across Kansas, and past Limon, CO.
We finished 37th out of 45, which isn't great, but considering the ailments our team was plagued with, I'm pretty proud of the progress. Christina had a sinus infection and wasn't out of bed for a week, Lurenda had pneumonia and was out for the same, I was in the hospital for two days, and out of commission for another couple after that, and Brooke had digestive pyrotechnics one week followed by tonsillitis/strep/urinary tract infection the next. Did I miss anything? And may I just say the weather didn't help out any. Starting it on the first day of spring was misleading.... I'm not sure we were above 40 for half of those days. But it did what I wanted it to - jump-started me to walking more often, and realizing what I need to get me more energy. (And may I say, I'm pretty proud of how my lower legs look now, too.)
Well, Jacob is down. Nathan is humming to himself (he's in our bed), but I think if I mow on the far side of the house, he may go ahead and fall asleep. Better get on it, day's a-wastin'!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My New Go-To Meal

I've found a new quick-n-easy meal, for those days that there's no leftovers, and I have no creativity (which is often). I have only done boxed mac-n-cheese a few times (I make shells-n-velveeta a couple times a month), but we eat an inordinate amount of hot dogs around here. Anyhow - chicken burritos! And Paul eats them, too.
1-2 cups of dry instant rice (cook in microwave according to directions). Add 1 can of beans (black, pinto, red), 1 can of chicken, a couple handfuls of frozen corn, and a packet of taco seasoning - nuke for about 2 more minutes. I wrap them up in a 8-inch tortilla with lots of cheese, and microwave again for 30 seconds.... The cheese melts and kind of "glues" the burrito together so it's not as messy. I even threw in some cilantro, which Nathan loved - the only time I've ever heard him say, "I like the green stuff!"
I fixed this (or a variation) twice last week. (The variation was a Mexican lasagna type thing with layers of filling, cheese, and tortillas.) I like it because it's tasty, and not a "kiddie" meal, like hot dogs and mac-n-cheese tend to be labeled - I actually had it for lunch when my mom came over last week. It's also relatively healthy - it's got the grains (I use instant brown rice), meat/bean protein, and cheese, and some veggies, too, with the corn. (I also do a vegetarian version with no chicken... The chicken seems to fill the boys up better, though.) And I can have the whole thing ready in the time it takes to get the water to boil for noodles.
I guess the clincher in making it a lunch-time staple was when Paul pronounced it "pretty good" and told me I could make it again. Coming from my anti-poultry husband, that was as good as 5 stars for me. :)
In a related theme - I found a recipe for homemade taco seasoning that I will be using from now on. I used the last package (we normally have a boon on hand, but swore I'd just bought some last month when I did this month's shopping), so found this on Allrecipes.com:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
The suggestion is to use 3 Tbsp, but I thought it was spicier than the packaged seasoning, so I'd go with 2. I'm going to make up a jar of it to have ready to use whenever we want it. Even with buying the Always Save brand (33c each), this will be cheaper.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Overheard:

Something I hear all too often....

Mom! C'mere! Look! There's corn in my poop!

And along these lines, overheard last week....

Look! (examining the toilet) It's two poops! A little one, and a big one, and they're friends.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Note to Self:

Paul's bike seat = Violation Station.

Get him a new seat. A girl seat. I don't care if he's a boy; I ride that bike just as much as he does. The bike trailer doesn't attach to my bike.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Money Woes

Don't we all have them?
Remember when I said Pastor came to visit me in the hospital and I said the verse he read to me was absolutely perfect for my situation at the time:
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Not just the hospital stay, but my (our) life right now.

After last year's expenditures (Jacob surgery, two emergency room visits, replacing the cellar entrance, car repairs....), we were thinking financially this would be an easier year.
Well.....
We have had a leaky roof since we moved in, but in the last two winters, it has gotten a lot worse, so we knew we had to do something about it. It leaks on the north and south side of the house, around our dormer windows. We got a pretty sizeable tax return, so we called and arranged to get the roof fixed, figuring we'd still have a chunk left for those things that always come up. (They are in the middle of fixing it now, but I have no idea what the total will be.)
We had one random hot day in April where it got up to 90. We switched on the A/C to cool the house down before the boys took naps, and..... It didn't cool. We got it checked out, and it ends up we need to replace it. ($2500) We did discuss toughing it out, but summers in Kansas really need an air conditioner.
So when I had to go to the hospital, not only was I worrying about the diagnosis/possible surgery, but I was also laying in the bed wondering where the heck we were going to come up with the money to pay for the stay.

The verse above encouraged me, because I think maybe Satan was using our financial situation to get me down, to make me worry, and not rest in God. I saw that for what it was, and kicked Satan and his doubts out the window. I know God is going to provide for us. He always has.

I'm proud of the fact that we squirrel away money here and there. We don't do credit cards. (God always provides!) We've got the money to cover these projects, but it will completely deplete our savings accounts (including the money we had saved for a new car). We have been relying on those savings cushions to fall back on when our expenditures are more than our income (which has been a lot lately). I'll try my hardest to pay off the hospital as fast as possible, but you can't get blood from a turnip!

So we've been looking into ways to cut costs. We swore off fast food; we'd been spending way too much each month because I was too lazy to deal with a simple meal. Last month we only ate out once, and that was going to the deli at WalMart after church. As hard as it was, I even gave up Sunday morning stops.... The boys ate biscuits with peanut butter or homemade breakfast burritos (still in the car). We took the boys to McDonalds on pay day to celebrate the food victory - we all got a burger, shared a large order of fries, and drank water, then let the boys play on the slides. And I enjoyed it as much as if we'd all gotten Happy Meals, Meal Deals, and cokes.
I only used a half a tank of gas last month. We just stayed home.

We're putting the boys in the same room so we're not running two a/c units at naptime and bedtime (upstairs has no duct work, so they have to have window units). We're going to put Jacob's unit in our room so we don't have to pay to cool the whole house down to 72 at night so we can sleep. We can turn the house up to 80 at night, and still freeze ourselves out in our bedroom.

Paul is taking leftovers in his lunch. Not that he had anything against leftovers, but it was much easier to just take a slice of frozen pizza - when they got up to $7.50 each, he decided leftovers weren't that bad. He's also trying generic snacks (chips, crackers) - I'm proud of him for making that choice on his own. He was also doing 2-liters of Pepsi instead of cans (cheaper), but then we found a really good sale, so he's went back for now.

I'm still doing my once-a-month shopping, which I maintain is cheaper than once-a-week shopping. I don't do coupons, but that's because most things I buy are store brands and are still cheaper than name brand stuff with coupons. I need to buckle down on the "milk only" trips. Not "milk and Pepsi" trips (ahem, dear).

Netflix is the next thing in my scope. We like the movies, but I'm not sure how much we'd miss it if we didn't have it. Especially during the summer, we spend so much time outside that by the time we come in and get the kids to bed, it's too late to start a movie. And honestly, they're just not putting out any really good movies lately.
One big expenditure is our internet costs. The cheapest thing in our area is our providor, and it's $45 a month. We could go to dial-up, but I don't have the time to wait on dial-up (we've tried it before, and my time is even more precious now, with two kids). And honestly, it's a necessity to us.
So what are other ways we could cut costs? What are some ways you save money with your families?

Taking Things for Granted

Sometimes I realize that I took things for granted how easy they were with Nathan. Like getting him to talk. He has always talked, always interested in talking, and easily picked up new words. Jacob.... He's got seven words now that are mostly distinguishable: Mom, Dad, more, milk, cow, bye, night-night, and uh-oh. (Okay, so that was eight, but I'm not sure uh-oh counts.) But he just doesn't seem to be interested in learning more or practicing the ones he does know. And he shuts down when you push him. Like he walks to the fridge and says, "Mil?" Then you say, "What did you say?" And he'll revert back to his usual hm or ah. (Oh, and he says "yeah" too. So that's another one.) So he's maybe a little behind for his age, but to me it seems like he is way behind, because Nathan was speaking sentances by this age. I just took it for granted.
Another thing I took for granted was how easily Nathan switched to a big bed. We got Nathan a new bed when he was about this age (a month or two older) and he switched right over. Jacob is not taking to it so easily. We got the bed Tuesday. He slept in it Tuesday night, woke up screaming at 5, and then wouldn't go back to sleep. (The trash truck came, and both boys saw it from their window, so it was game over, especially since they could see it was already getting light out.) We tried nap in it yesterday, but after 3 attempts, I finally put him down in the crib. He went to bed fine last night, but woke up at 6, crying again. He cried when I put him down for a nap today, and also at night, so he's been in the crib again. (Paul's working nights, so I don't have the backbone to fight with him.)
I just had the thought: it may be because he's switching beds and switching rooms.... Maybe we should try putting the bed in his room first, and letting him get used to it, then move him across the hall. But he has to be in Nathan's room by the time it's air conditioner season, so we're pushing him.

Two Things I Love

As I was getting dressed this morning, I pulled on a shirt I filched from my Grandma during our garage sale. (Which ends up as much of a giant swap meet between the families that participate as it does an actual sale.) And before you're like, You'd wear something your grandma would wear? Let me tell you that my grandma has excellend (albeit expensive) tastes. J. Jill, Woolrich.... You get the picture. I love it when she gets me clothes for my birthday or Christmas.
This shirt is what I call a "dressy tee" - t-shirt material, so it's nice and comfy, but it's dressed up with button embellishments on the shoulders and cuffs. This has 3/4 length sleeves.
And that's what I love.
I love 3/4 sleeves, and I love capri pants - which I guess could be called 3/4 length pants. (?) Now, some might just say that's wardrobe choices for the indecisive.... Can't decide if it's cool enough to go short, but it might be too hot for long, so go somewhere in the middle.
But that's not it at all for me. I love 3/4 length sleeves, because my arms are so freakishly long (they got the memo and have started making tall pants for women, but have yet to think of it that women with long legs would tend to have long arms as well). Long-sleeve shirts and jackets typically hit me a good 3 inches above my wrist bone. So this length provides me with the warmth, but not the awkwardness of feeling like my arms are hanging out. And the bottoms of the sleeves are already out of the way, so you don't have to worry about them sliding down while you're washing dishes or giving baths or similarly messy jobs.
I love capri pants for a different reason. Well, kind of the same reason, I guess - with really long legs (34 inch inseam), it's hard to find shorts that don't leave me feeling naked. (Have you seen some of those shorts on the rack?) But I also have ugly legs. I am knock-kneed, and I have varicose veins in my right leg all the way from my thigh to the top of my foot. So capris cover all that up. Not to mention, you also only have to shave half of your legs - a definite benefit. I was bad about shaving (or, more accurately, not shaving) before kids, but now.... Yeah, it's lucky to be once every other week.
So that was my random thoughts on wardrobe this morning.