Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

This blog post could probably be the longest one yet - but I'll do my very best to keep it as short as possible.

What can I say about 2010?  It had it's ups and downs like any other year.  I learned a lot.  I changed a little and watched my kids grow more and more every day.  This is the perfect time to insert this little video that I found at the beginning of last year - and think about ALL the time.

Watch might cry (I do EVERY time) but it's a good cry. If you are in my stage of motherhood, it will remind you to slow down and take notice. If you are at my mother's stage of motherhood, you will still slow down and notice but also remember.

2010 was a bumpy year.  I ended up finally asking for some much needed help and started feeling like myself again.  It took a while for me to get there - but when I did, I noticed the change right away.  I also saw my kiddos head off to preschool - both of them.  I realized that I want time to freeze - but I also realized that it won't happen.

My babies turned 1 and we had a party...they smashed cake in their face and we got the cutest pictures of them taken by my mom's neighbor - check her out here!

In 2010, we also started a new Christmas tradition!  We were visited by Tinsel and Holly Elf from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.  What mischief they got into!  It made the pre-holiday prep so much fun!

We also ended up with our first ever overnight with one of our children at the hospital...hoping that 2011 won't bring anymore of those!

The saddest part of 2010 was losing Jerry's grandmother, Memaw.  We miss her so much - especially with all of the traditions of the holidays taking place.

Here's a picture of just some of the people who love her and will always remember what a wonderful woman she was:

This was taken outside of Memaw's house the day of her funeral

I've noticed a lot of changes in my children this year, too.

Of course, the babies have changed the most.  They went from barely eating any solid food to being able to eat just about anything you put in front of them.  They went from blobs that couldn't even roll over to these two movers and shakers!  Dean actually started walking on his own a few days ago - David has been for about a month but is now walking more than crawling most days.  They notice more and are more curious than they were a year ago.  They've both grown physically and their personalities are shining through!

Nate has learned so much - he amazes me with how much he remembers.  He's so smart and learning more every day.  The questions he asks and the facts he rambles off for me just blow my mind.  He wants to be so many things when he grows up - a hockey player, a doctor, a garbage man and (my favorite) a candle lighter. :)

Danika has become quite an artist.  She loves to color and draw.  She will actually sit for as long as an hour with her markers and crayons and coloring books.  She really loves to just draw on paper, though.  She's coloring in the lines and is always so proud of her work.  When I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up she said, "an artist" - probably because Nate always tells her that's what she is.  :)

I'm excited about the new year and what it will bring - and I'm a little sad to say goodbye to 2010.  It wasn't the best year...but it had it's moments.  I'm hoping 2011 will have even more great moments and less sad ones!

Bring it on!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tomorrow is New Years Eve

I have made only 1's a big one, though.  We are going to get healthier financially.  We are going to make a BUDGET (a real one) and stick to it.  That is going to require some sacrifices and some creativity on our part.  I'm willing to do it, though...because I have an ultimate goal of getting into a bigger house and having more room.  I need my own room - not bedroom, I'm happy to share that with Jerry.  I just need my own space.  The kids need their own space and Jerry DEFINITELY needs his own space.  We need a bigger house.  We need to budget for a bigger house.  We are starting Saturday!  :)

The first thing that we thought about cutting back on was our cell phones.  We both have smart phones.  We are connected 24/7.  We can find information out quickly.  We are never lost and we can reach each other (and anyone else we know) 15 different ways from our phones.  However, our phone bill is outrageous.  Going back to regular phones that simply text and call people will save us at least $60 a month!  That's $720 a year!  That's not a ton of money but it's a start.  Funny thing is, I feel like I'm quitting smoking again.  I quit 2 years ago and was so anxious for the first few months...I feel like that.  I remember reading something about having to redefine yourself as a nonsmoker - which was one of the hardest parts!  I had to find other things to do when I would usually have a I'm going to have to find something else to do when I would usually jump on Facebook on my BlackBerry to see what everyone is doing!

The other thing that is in my control is our food budget.  I have been doing a little research and found out there are a few things I can do to help cut our food budget.  First of all is meal planning - which I try to do but don't always stick to.  I am changing that in 2011.  I'm sticking to my plan.  I ordered these two books with my Borders gift cards to help me out!

I'm also going to try a new approach to shopping.  We started shopping from Aldi.  I can't believe the savings.  I will tell you that there are some things (we are slowly making a list) that we don't like from Aldi.  For example, their american cheese.  But we can get that in huge quantities (which we will have no problem using) from Sam's Club.

I'm also going to stockpile a little and try planning for an entire MONTH so that I can buy things when they are on sale instead of when I need them.  It's going to take a few months and I'm not expecting to get it perfect right off the bat - I'm going to take baby steps.

In January we lose our smartphones, will create a budget, make a monthly menu and shop at Aldi for most of the things I need.  We'll see what we can add to February ...maybe I'll start looking into stockpiling and even adding coupons to the mix.  Whatever it is, we are going to work on freeing up some money so that we can all get some much needed extra space!

Monday, December 27, 2010

It is the day after the day after Christmas - and the toys are still all over the floor

I'm pretty sure that my house still has a floor - but I haven't seen it in 2 days.

I'd take a picture, but I'm afraid the fire marshal will show up and declare it a fire hazard to have so much "stuff" all over the place. Seriously, my children have more toys than the local Kmart.

Anyway, was your Christmas?  Did you get what you wanted?  I really didn't want much.  I wanted my kids to have a great Christmas and they did, so I had a great Christmas, too!  I did get some really awesome perfume from my hubby - and a gift card for Borders (because he forgot what books I wanted).  I got a Kindle case (which is totally awesome) from my Aunt Nancy and some jewelry from my mom and dad.  One of the coolest gifts was the 1 year subscription to Netflix that my parents got Jerry and I!  We had talked about signing up for it and put it off because it just wasn't in our budget.  We watched 2 movies already.  The first one was "I'm Still Here" that Joaquin Phoenix movie where he pretends that he's going to become a rapper and leave acting.  It was awful.  Maybe I didn't get it...but it seemed like a total waste of time and money to me.  Yesterday, we watched "Food Inc." I've wanted to watch this movie since my friend, Christine, had talked about it on her blog.  It wasn't as disturbing as I thought it was going to be but it did give me a lot to think about.  I was absolutely outraged at a few parts of it.  The entire part on Kevin's Law made me sad and angry.  It was a good film and I recommend it.  I was worried that there would be really graphic scenes of slaughter but they weren't too bad.  If you haven't seen it and you have the time, watch it.  It really made me want to cook more and really pay attention to what I'm feeding my children.

Okay - that was a is laundry day.  I'm doing laundry until it is done.  I've got one load done and one in process.  I will conquer my laundry mountain today!  I'll leave you with some Christmas pics...and next time we talk we will be talking New Years prepared!  I'd love to hear yours, too!

Friday, December 24, 2010

I know a man with a big read hat

It's Christmas Eve.  My children have already started to get excited.  Eh ~ who am I kidding?  They were excited a month ago!  They aren't looking forward to saying goodbye to Tinsel and Holly but I think the presents from the "big guy" will help to smooth that over a bit.  Speaking of the "big guy"...he went WAY overboard this year.  He usually does...because he stinks at sticking to a list and a budget.  It's going to be a Merry Christmas, for sure!

I wanted to share some pictures of a family tradition that we have in my family.  I called my Dad this morning to ask him how this started - because I never thought to ask before.  I just knew that it was something that we did in our family.  For first Christmases, we get a Santa.

It started with my Dad (pictured above with his Santa).  His Grandfather bought him this Santa for his first Christmas.  He still has it today.  It is as old as he is.  I remember knowing this when my dad was in his 30s and thinking, "Wow, that's an old doll."  Now I'm in my 30s.

This is my Santa.  It's not in the best shape but it is 33 years old.  It has a hard face and if you pull the beard down around his mouth you can see how white the beard once was.

 This is Jerry's Santa.  Obviously, he didn't get it on his first Christmas.  He did get it on his first Christmas as part of my family.  It has one of those "Awww" stories behind it.  When I was in High School, we use to go and help the nuns at the mother house in Baden during their Harvest Festival.  There were all kinds of things that happened that weekend but one of them was a giant flea market.  People would buy the most bizarre things to take home.  I remember one year someone bought a lawn mower that we had to take home on the bus.

Anyway, I found this Santa.  It was in really good shape but needed some stuffing added to it.  I decided to buy it to give to whoever I married.  My mom added some stuffing to it and I gave it to Jerry on our first Christmas 11 years later.

 This is Nate's Santa.  My Dad got it for him.  He searched and searched when he found out I was having a baby because he wanted to give him the perfect Santa.  He ended up finding it on ebay - it's vintage!  The kids don't play with their Santas.  They have Tinsel and Holly and other Christmas toys to play with but these stay high up so they can't get damaged.

 Here is Danika's Santa.  Nunnu went straight to ebay for this one!

These are the twins Santas.  They are pretty much identical.  They also came with 2 reindeer (Prancer and Ruldolph!) that the kids do play with.  Tinsel and Holly ride them and they've even pulled their sleigh.

This isn't part of the tradition...but I thought I would add a picture of it ~ since I was taking pictures of our Santas.  This was mine when I was little.  It jingles when you play with it.  It bobs and rolls when you push it and all 4 of my kiddos have played with it, too.  :)

Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy remembering all of your traditions and even finding some new ones to repeat next year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oh, those Elves

We are quickly approaching the day when Santa will be by to pick up Tinsel and Holly.  Thank goodness he will also be leaving some presents because my kiddos are gonna miss those elves!  Every morning since they arrived I have heard, "Let's go see what the elves did last night!" before my eyes even open!  :)

Here's what they have been up to lately.

Campfire with other toys

Sleeping in the tent

Chillin' in the freezer because it "feels like home"

They traced each other and colored the pictures

Hanging new ornaments on the tree

Lincoln Logs - Holly read the blueprints

Tinsel built the house

Bearing gifts

Parade with Matchbox Cars

Post it notes!

More Post its!
They also watched Christmas Vacation one night with all of the stuffed animals - and ate popcorn!  They had a snowball fight with some marshmallows and cotton balls, too!  I was in the hospital those nights so didn't get to snap a picture.

Sorry the pics aren't great quality...I keep forgetting to use my camera!  :)

We are off to see Christmas Lights tonight - I'm hoping that will help me get more in the Christmas mood!

It's coming - ready or not!  hehehehehe

Monday, December 20, 2010

Where do I begin?

This has been (and continues to be) one of the worst weeks of my life so far.  I'm overflowing with Mommy Guilt and feeling really really helpless.  I'm also almost out of patience and just about ready to call it quits.  Isn't it funny how God knows exactly how far you can go sometimes?  I think He gave Jerry and I about all we can handle this week - and showed us that sometimes you just have NO choice but to stop everything and take care of that which is most important.  Confused?  Well ~ if you are just a blog reader and not a member of my family or a friend then you are probably REALLY confused.  So, let me fill you in.

Monday was a pretty crazy day.  Nate went to school and I did some stuff around the house but never felt like I got much accomplished.  I did make 14 dozen Chocolate Crinkle cookies, though.  :)  They were pretty yummy.

Monday night I was exhausted.  I had whipped up something for dinner and decided I would make Nate and Danika some Caesar Salad.  They LOVE Caesar Salad.  I put some black olives in Danika's because she LOVES black olives.  We started watching G-Force and eating dinner.  After dinner I let the babies loose for a little bit because it was getting close to bedtime.  We usually keep them in their "jumpers" or as Jerry calls them, "circles of neglect", while we are busy so they don't get into anything.  Jerry was upstairs sealing their window.  I was in the kitchen doing dishes.  Danika and Nate were still watching G-Force.  The babies were playing in the living room.  I had to pee.  Everything looked calm.  Everyone looked fine.  Everyone looked occupied.  I ran upstairs to the bathroom.  I was up there maybe 45 seconds.  Then I heard the scream - and Jerry running down the steps and more screaming and some "Shit...Shit...Shit"s.

David had stuck his hand into the garbage can and found the black olive can from dinner.  He must have stuck his thumb in and got it stuck.  The result was a big slice on his little thumb and a lot of blood.  We didn't panic as much as I thought we would.  We weren't prepared at all.  We did okay, though.  I took him off of Jerry and put pressure on it.  I told him right away that we were going to have to go to the hospital.  It was bleeding a lot and wasn't stopping.  When I looked at it I knew it wasn't going to stop on it's own.  He needed stitches.    

Jerry called his mom and she came over with his sister.  They stayed with the other kiddos while we took David to the local Urgent Care Center.  There was a lot of screaming and crying and I felt awful, but we left with a tired baby and 7 stitches in his thumb.

Not a great pic - it's from Jerry's phone

So ~ I was exhausted on Tuesday, but went to work and had a pretty good day.  When I got home, things were just normal crazy and not really I figured we were good.  Then...around 8 pm...David started running a fever.  It was a long night.   I called the pediatrician the next morning who sent us directly to Children's Hospital, where we stayed for 3 days.  Basically, it was infected.  It required IV antibiotics and they had to take the stitches out.  We were seen by pediatricians, orthopedics and occupational therapy people.  We watched David's favorite movies (which were luckily available On-Demand) 3 or 4 times each.  We left with a giant bag of gauze and tape and saline, antibiotics and all kinds of stuff, along with directions to soak it 2 or 3 times a day.  Poor guy.

What it looked like after stitches came out.

I ended up have to call my doctor for an antibiotic, too.  I had the worst sore throat I've ever had in my life!

When I got home, I just wanted to sleep.  I slept good the first night home.  Then, Nate and Danika got sick.  Danika's diagnosis is Scarlet Fever (which scared the shit out of me until I read more about it) and Nate has severely swollen glands - which make him look SO puffy and sad!  Both of their strep test came back negative for the quick test but were being sent to the lab because the doctor doesn't believe the results.

Long story short (although it's kind of late for that), 3 out of 4 of my children are on antibiotics.  3 out of 4 are pretty cranky and I can't do much more than tell them it will be better soon.  I have to go back to Children's with David on Thursday.  I have to work tomorrow - which I'm REALLY excited about because I need a break.  I am not done with my Christmas shopping.  I do not have my gifts wrapped.  I have insane amounts of things that need done.  I haven't made a list and am extremely overwhelmed thinking about all of it.

However - the women I work with took over and helped me out a ton getting things done at work that wouldn't have gotten done if they weren't so wonderful.  My parents are going to try to wrap the big presents (they were shipped to their house so they already have them).  Our friends brought over some stuffed shells for us to throw in the oven for dinner and we made a ham yesterday that was way too we have some leftovers to work with!

Plus, none of this is really serious...and I thank God for that.  He may have pushed me to the edge with all of this, but I didn't fall over because I know that I am still blessed with 4 kids who are going to be better by Christmas and have a wonderful holiday!

More on my Mommy Guilt in another post - I'm off to write a list.  :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A week of Elf Mischief

Wanna see what Tinsel and Holly were up to this week?  Here's our week in review!


They baked cookies because they really missed Nate and Danika while they were at Grammie and Nunnu's on Friday night
They built a tall tower to get to the outlet
They were trying to plug in a really cool snowman night light that projects a picture on the ceiling

They were playing with Nate and Danika's toys - they loved riding on the pirate ship!
They got stuck on the ceiling fan while hanging snowflakes in the living room!
They tried sled riding down some blankets after making a hill off of the couch!

They were playing Tic-Tac-Toe on new dry erase boards!  Tinsel won.
They were hiding under Nate and Danika's Christmas tree after TPing their bedroom!
Who knows what kind of mischief they will get into next week!  I know the kids are excited to see what they have in store for us as Christmas gets closer!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I thought this happened AFTER Christmas

I have the "Bluey Blues", as they say in Wuzzleburg.  (If you have no idea what I'm talking about then you obviously don't watch TV with small children on a regular basis)

I'm not really sure what the heck is going on but I just didn't feel like talking much once I got home yesterday.

It might have been something someone said because there were quite a few things my DH said that kind of made my stress level go up a notch.  For example, "Nick moved the listing date to January 21st instead of March for the house." Nick going to come and clean out the closets and organize the cupboards and hide the piles of stuff in some storage unit before he lists the house?

Yes, I'm talking about my house.  Yes, we are planning on trying to sell it and move.  I was hoping to be in a new house (a bigger and more permanent one) by the time Nate went to Kindergarten.  I'm excited to have a bigger place - one with a room for toys...a family room or play room or den or something where we can close the door and our house won't look like it houses a daycare.  Now, don't misunderstand me, I really don't care if you come into my house and see evidence of my 4 small children.  I am not about to try to make it seem like I don't have kids.  However, we are really overrun with stuff in every direction and it would be nice to have at least one room with only small traces of those children and an overwhelming sense that adults spend time in there.

Okay - so it could have been that announcement that made me kind of quiet...thinking about all that needs done.  Or it could have just been the fact that I'm still trying to figure out how to fit everything in and haven't been thinking straight.  I have plans and ideas and don't feel like I have any real direction to go with them.  I'm excited about them but feel like I'm running in circles trying to figure out where to start...and I haven't made a list, yet.  I plan on doing it today.  I think the list will help.

It could have also been that I'm just not feeling all that great.  All the kids were sick and now it must be my turn.  I'm not full fledged miserable...but I'm pretty sure I had a slight fever when I was falling asleep last night.  I did go to bed a little earlier than usual and I did sleep pretty I'm hoping that will help today.

Whatever the case, I need to get out of this funk and get back into my festive spirit!  I think I'm going to give myself permission to mope for about 15 minutes more...and then I will start my list...start my laundry...start another list of things that need to be done in the house...and then maybe browse the internet for house to add to our list of houses we want to check out!  That always gets me excited!  :)

Hope the "Bluey Blues" haven't hit you - but if they have, what do you do to snap out of it?

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Journey to Save on Groceries...

So...on Cyber Monday I was doing some online shopping and took a break to read some blogs.  I came across a blog that I usually read that was advertising a special for the Grocery University program.  The Cyber Monday deal was a great savings.  You paid $9.00 for something that was normally $24 something.  I had just started using the Grocery Game website again and thought I could spring for the $9.00 program to help get me motivated and maybe learn a few extra tips.

At first, I was VERY motivated.  I made a new filing system for my coupons and started asking friends and relatives for their coupon inserts, if they weren't going to use them.

Now...well...I'm not so motivated.  I know why.  After a few discussions with other moms who are trying to feed large families and doing a little research, I'm not convinced that coupon shopping is for me and how I'm going to save the most money.  My cousin-in-law suggested a few books and I downloaded some samples on my Kindle.  I will probably end up getting the whole book sooner or later to read more ~ but I am starting to think that saving money may involve me changing where I shop and what I buy...and how I cook and menu plan.

I would love to have a pantry stocked with food that I could shop from instead of having to go to the grocery store all for EVERYTHING I need for a week's worth of meals.  I would love to be able to just need to go and get the staples and buy everything else when it is at a rock-bottom price.  I just know that it is going to require me to plan a lot better than I am now - and I'm looking for tips.  Here's what I've discovered so far:

1)  I need to start thinking MONTHLY as far as my grocery budget goes...not weekly.  That way, when there a good deal and I need to spend a little more to ultimately save a lot I can do it without feeling guilty about going over my weekly budget - I can just work it into my monthly budget.  I've also thought about grocery shopping with cash!  That way, when the envelope is empty, I have to try to make due with what I bought.  I'm sure this will take practice - but what an incentive!  Maybe, if I end up with any extra money that month, I can use it to treat myself and/or the kids to something special at the end of the month!

2)  I need to start taking stock of what I have better.  I'm one of those people who just buys things because I'm too lazy to check and see what I have.  I think in the back of my mind I figure that if I do have it and use it I will just need to buy it again so I might as well buy it now and make it easy...Most of the time I have no idea what's in my freezer.  Having a pantry that is better stocked will help with this, too!

3) I need to stick to my menu - I need to think about MONTHLY menu planning.  That doesn't mean cooking once a month (which really sounds appealing and may be something I work up to) but making a monthly menu so that I can look for sales BEFORE I need the item and buy it when it is at a good price.

4)  I need to really look at the product and not just the savings.  Sure, a great deal is hard to pass up but if it isn't something that I'm going to use it doesn't matter what price I got it for . . . it's too much!

5) I think the main thing I need to do is RELAX and take the time to learn what I'm doing and make it work for me.  This isn't going to be something that will be easy right off the bat and I'm so stuck on trying to do everything the way it SHOULD be done that I'm not stopping to realize:
1) I'm not getting a grade on this
2) No one is really watching (except maybe Jerry)
3) All I really need to do is whatever works for my family and gets us fed every night.

Okay - with that being said, I'm off to clip some coupons and figure out what is for dinner tonight...I'm probably not going to do much with all this info (except keep taking notes and searching for more tips and clipping coupons) until after New Years.  I plan on starting in January and really working on it for a year and then looking back and seeing what worked and what didn't.

I'll warn you, though - I'm not known for sticking to resolutions.  I'm hoping that I will have fun with this . . . and therefore will want to stick to it.  I will let you know what I come up with and PLEASE if you have any tips or ideas or things that you do PLEASE share!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A week of Elf Mischief to catch you up on!

Here's what our elves, Tinsel and Holly, were up to this week

On Monday, they recycled my Sunday paper by making paper boats!

On Tuesday, they made a chain out of paper with the numbers 1 through 25 written on them - one for each day until Christmas!

On Wednesday, they wrote on our bathroom mirror and had special ornaments for Nate and Danika to put on their Christmas tree!

On Thursday, they decided to take a bath in cotton balls!   

 On Friday - well...Nate and Danika spent the night at Grammie and Nunnu's.  So, the elves relaxed a little!

We have been having so much fun with our elves - every morning is like Christmas around here!  Nate's first words to me in the morning are usually, "Mommy - can we go see what the elves did last night?"  Then, "And can I open the next door on my Advent Calendar and eat the chocolate?"  hehehe

Oh what fun!

Friday, December 3, 2010

I need some new reading material - Friday Follow

I am looking to meet some new blogger friends and thought that I would try to find a Friday Follow to do -

Here are the ones I found...if you are looking for new blog friends you should head on over and link up, too!

Smart and Trendy Moms