A Denver Family's Adventure Through The Ups And Downs of Life

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday's Houshold Tip- Tips for a Hassle-Free Kids Lunch

Thanks About.com:Working Moms

Making your kids lunch doesn't have to be a last-minute scramble in the kitchen as they walk out the door to school. When you make a kid's lunch in a hurry, it's less likely to be healthy, balanced and appealing. Not to mention, it adds to your stress level and working moms guilt.
Consider these quick tips to take the kid's lunch off your worry list.

Prepare lunch the night before. Instead of including the kid's lunch in your busy morning routine, wrap it into the evening when you have less time pressure. In fact, the easiest thing is to use leftover dinner for your kids' lunch -- you can put it directly into their lunch boxes instead of storage containers.

Make food for the whole family at once. Maybe it's been a while since you had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Try it. You may enjoy the nostalgic taste, and I guarantee you'll like the convenience of making lunch for everyone at the same time. You'll also help your budget by cutting out the temptation of buying your own lunch.

Encourage your kids to make their own lunches.
Have your teenager make his/her own school lunch and fix the toddler's lunch. Anyone in between is a prospect for kitchen patrol. If you prompt your children to spread hummus or cream cheese on some bread, it will take the chore off your plate. They can also select the fruit or veggies they'd like on the side. As a bonus, when they have a hand in making the meal, they're more likely to eat it!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Donation Receipts

These are donation receipts from a 2007 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraiser for Teams in Training. I thought that I was such an awesome photographer. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Turning a Corner

I have made a big decision, I'm sick of being fat. Of course, my husband would never say that 3 letter word to me- FAT, but I know that I am.

I have started running again and I have made a commitment to run the Rock 'n' Roll Denver Half Marathon in October. I am using the same training program that I received when I ran the Denver Half in 2007, but I'm going to start training for the full marathon to bump up the calories that I will burn. I'm hoping to complete the half marathon in under 3 hours. It took me 3:28 in 2007.

Maybe I should define my current terms first.
Run- a slow waddle that mimics running in every way but speed. I expect this term to morph and change as I become more fit.

On Saturday morning, I ran for 1 hour. Of course I only went 4 miles, but of that 4 miles I ran one solid mile without stopping. I'm very proud of that.

During the weekday, I have worked through some of my lunches so that I can run or use the stationary bike in the workout room during my lunch. I have even started a new blog to follow my progress, but I'm not ready for it to be completely public yet.

You may not have ever thought that you could be a runner, I never did, but I have found a lot of enjoyment in the solitude of me against the road.

If you are interested in hearing more about my running program, please comment below and I can forward it to you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Top Ten for 2010: Guidelines for Graduates

The Ohio State University President, E Gordon Gee's "Top 10 Guidelines for Graduates."
The graduation season has begun. During the months of May and June, tens of thousands of young people – and some not quite so young – leave colleges and universities across the country with diploma in hand. The great joy of that tassel-and-gown moment is tempered for many people, of course, who walk away from their Commencement ceremonies not only with a degree, but also with uncertain job prospects. It is no secret: These are challenging times.

Having been called a serial optimist, however, I believe utterly and completely in the power of these new graduates to create their own destinies and to guide us all to a brighter future. After leading universities for a full three decades now, I say with all certainty that today's graduates are among the most entrepreneurial, compassionate, determined, and hard-working I have ever known. With great affection and admiration, I offer up a few bits of advice for them.

Top Ten for 2010: Guidelines for Graduates

1. Update your status in person.
2. Make sure your global experience encompasses more than Shakira and sushi.
3. Put away your Guitar Hero and be a hero in someone's life.
4. Disagree without being disagreeable.
5. Take chances: The biggest failure is not to try.
6. Always be just as curious as you are at this moment.
7. Know that you are never too old to play on a swing set.
8. When opportunity knocks, knock it out of the park.
9. Start working in your field before you are hired.
10. Dance when you can, laugh every day, and say thank you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday's Houshold Tip- 6 Thrifty Laundry Tips

From Angela Billings at Creative Homemaking

Keeping the laundry clean takes up a lot of time and money unless you know some quick and thrifty tips. I have put together a list of things that can be done to get your laundry done on a budget.

1. Wash your clothes in cold water and always do full loads whenever possible. If you have to wash a small load, use appropriate water level and wash setting.

2. Hang your clothes out to dry. You can put up a clothes line if you have room or you can use a folding drying rack. I have used hangers and put the clothes on and then hung them on the shower curtain rod.

3. Save money by not using dryer sheets. You can add 1/4 cup vinegar to your final rinse in place of fabric softener. Don't worry the scent goes away during the drying process. I have also heard you can use a small ball of aluminum foil in the dryer but I have not tried this before and I have tried the vinegar.

4. Make your own laundry detergent. This consists of shredded bar soap, Borax and washing soda. You can find several recipes online for making your own.

Here is a simple recipe for making your own: dissolve a bar of hand soap in water, add three gallons of hot water, mix thoroughly and add a cup of washing soda.Keep it in a bucket and use about 1/4 cup per load.

5. Clean your dryer lint filter very often. I clean mine after each load of laundry I dry. If I do forget and leave it the clothes do not dry as good as the do on the same time cycle with a clean lint filter.

6. If you have to use the dryer don't over dry the laundry. Check it until you get a pretty good idea on how long it actually takes to dry the clothing and then set your dryer timer for that.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Don't break the elastic!

In April 2008, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday. Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older.

And, there on television, she said it was 'exciting...'

Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every day......like her breasts. They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist, first.

The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such a simple and honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words!

Maya Angelou said this:
I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.

I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a life.

I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back...

I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.

I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back...

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Take these life lessons to heart. I know that I will.

Wordless Wednesday- Daddy. Gimme That Hat!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Follow Me Back Tuesday! Week 2

BWS tips button

It's our second week of Follow Me Back Tuesday! A great way to find awesome blogs & gain more followers for your own!
Follow Me Back Tuesday is hosted by Survey Junkie, Little Yaya's, Review Retreat & Boobies,BabiesAndABlog..

How it Works
1. Add your blog to the list (only have to add once)
2. Grab our NEW button & the link code to post on your blog.
3. Follow all 4 hostesses above & then as many other blogs as you would like.
4. After you follow a new blog make sure you leave them a comment letting them know that you are now a follower so that they can follow you back. Don't forget to return follows!

Special thanks to-http://designs.wahmaholic.com/ for our fab new button!

After this week there will be a new link code available for you to grab every Tuesday at 12:00 AM Est. on all 4 Hostesses Blogs.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday's Houshold Tip- 51 Money-Saving Uses for Ordinary Kitchen Items

Living a Better Life

Here's a great list of ways to stretch that dollar, just by using ordinary items from your very own kitchen! Includes milk bottles, soda bottles, ice cube trays, baby food jars, egg cartons, salt, baking soda and more!

Recycling not only saves money, but it creates a mindset of making the best with what you have. Kind of like that old saying "If you’ve got lemons, make lemonade." Well, here’s what you can make with...

Plastic Milk Bottles
1. Cut off a portion of the top, leaving the handle in place. Add birdseed and make a bird feeder, hanging it on a clothesline or tree branch.
2. Make a garbage caddy for the sink, especially great if you don’t have a garbage disposal.
3. Make a caddy for tools or painting supplies.
4. Cut off the bottom and use the top as a funnel.
5. Fill the entire jug with beans and use for exercise weights, or just storage for the beans.

Plastic Soda Bottles
1. Make a homemade tornado, place two bottles together, top to top - filling one with water. Tape the tops together and swirl around to make a tornado effect.
2. You can also make a funnel from the tops of soda bottles.
3. Add some sand or rice and use for a homemade bowling game for the kids, just be sure to glue the caps on.

Ice Cube Trays
1. Add a squirt of lemon to your ice cube tray and you'll have lemon flavored ice for your tea.
2. Kool-Aid flavored ice for the kids, mix the flavors up for fun.
3. Use trays as drawer organizers for paperclips or sewing notions.
4. Ice cube trays are the perfect size for freezing small portions of left over baby food, or making your own homemade.
5. Freeze tablespoon sized amounts of broth or special sauces for cooking soups and casseroles.

Jelly Jars/Mason Jars
1. Remove labels and use for gifts, placing a pretty piece of fabric on top and tying with a ribbon.
2. Great for pencil holders.
3. Fill with candy.
4. Use for storing cotton balls or q-tips in the bathroom.
5. Store sewing notions, crafts or hardware.

Baby Food Jars
1. Perfect for lost buttons.
2. Store small nails.
3. Keep beads or small craft items sorted easily.

Egg Cartons
1. Great seed starters, get a head start on Spring.
2. Storing plastic Easter eggs.
3. Make a memory game for children, matching up items from around the house.
4. Storage for collectible rocks.
5. Jewelry box, great for earrings.

1. Mix with a little salt for cleaning copper or brass.
2. Remove odors from hands or cutting boards.
3. Keep a supply on hand for seasoning poultry and seafood.

1. Use the peelings to freshen your garbage disposal.
2. Cover with cloves and use as an air freshener or Christmas ornament.
3. Place open halves inside a turkey or chicken before baking to add a great flavor.

1. Remove grease and stains from pans and dishware.
2. Put out a grease fire.
3. Clean a sticky iron plate by sprinkling salt on a piece of paper and moving the hot iron over it.
4. Ease the pain of beestings.

Baking Soda
1. Add to a damp cloth and remove crayon and marker from walls and furniture.
2. Pour a little down the drain with some vinegar, let sit 5 minutes and wash down with warm water to clear clogged drains.
3. Mix with facial cleanser to make an exfoliator.
4. Ease the pain of beestings.
5. Line a litter box to prevent odors.
6. Keep an open box in the fridge to prevent odors, put one in the freezer too.
7. Use ¼ c. on a damp food burned pan, let sit for 5 minutes and scrub clean easily.

Paper Plates
1. Place two plates together, edge to edge, fill with beans or rice, staple the edges together, let children paint and decorate for a fun musical toy.
2. Use as a cover for food to keep warm.
3. Place ½ of a plate on top of a full sized plate, edge to edge, staple edges to create a letter holder. Great for kid's Valentines.

Coffee Cans
* Use food bag labels and create unique storage containers for flour, sugar, cornmeal, etc.

Mesh Onion Bags
1. Add leftover pieces of soap and make a scrubber.
2. Contain small items while in the dishwasher.
3. Cut bag open and scrunch together to make a dish scrubber.

Muffin Tins
* Create a memory game for young children, by filling the muffin cups with small items from around the house.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My 2 Cents Regarding Baby Registry Items

One of my friends is starting to try to get pregnant and contacted me about baby related items that I liked and didn't like.

Here is what I told her.

A great resource is the book Baby Bargains.

Pump- I used the Medela Pump in Style Advanced until about a month ago. I loved it.
The Medela Pump & Save Storage Bags 50-pk were great. They hook onto the pump parts and can go right into the fridge or freezer. Make sure that you buy a hands free bra. I used this one

Don’t be afraid to call a lactation consultant. They helped me a lot through the first few months and all the way up through my production issues during the past year.

Cloth diapers- I found out about my favorite cloth diapers when Sam was about 4 months old-- SmartiPants . What I like best about them is that you don't have to take the insert out before you throw them in the washing machine, they are one size and adjust from newborn through potty training (no need to buy multiple sizes), they are reasonably priced, and they are snaps and not Velcro. I didn't want Sam to be able to undo them as he got older. My daycare does not allow cloth, so he goes into cloth when he gets home and on weekends.

Some things to buy if you go cloth
1. Wet bag
2. Charlie's soap doesn't leave build-up on diapers
3. Diaper sprayer
4. Diaper pail
5. Diaper pail liner- Dump the cloth diapers into the washing machine with the liner. All clean and you don’t have to touch anything.

Disposable diapers- we like Huggies
If you use disposable, get the Baby Trend Diaper Champ. You can use normal trash bags and not have more things to buy.

You can never have too many burp cloths, fitted sheets and blankets. Sam just loved to spit up all the time. We were constantly changing our clothes and grabbing clean burp cloths, crib sheets and blankets. A few crib pads are good too. You can also never have enough hangers.

The best newborn swaddle product that I have used is Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe, but I hear that the Miracle Blanket is awesome too.

After he doesn’t need to be swaddled, the Halo sleep sacks are awesome. They come in different fabrics (fleece, cotton, etc. for different temperatures).

Bottles- We initially only had the ones that came with the Medela Pump in Style Advanced plus another 3-4. As Sam got older and went into daycare, we hated washing bottles every day, so we bought 8-10 more of the small size (5oz). Now, he drinks 8-10 oz of whole milk at a time and we have moved onto the 9oz Avent bottles. We never bought the sterilizer or drying rack. You just have to boil them once and then they can go into the dishwasher. We did buy a dishwasher basket to keep everything together.
Bottle warmers are a waste. Just run warm water over the bottle to get to the correct temperature.

Bumbo sitter seat- Some people like it. Sam may have sat in it twice. We mailed it to my sister. Maybe she will use it with her son more.

Bassinet- We didn’t buy one. Sam went straight into his crib in his room which is right next door to ours. I kept the monitor plugged in and stared at it in case he made the slightest noise. I’m anal that way. I didn’t get a lot of sleep for the first few months.

Pack N Play- I have never used ours. My mother-in-law did when she babysat a few times.

Travel system- we got the Chicco Key Fit30, Cortina stroller and an extra base for our other vehicle. If you have a small trunk, the stroller is kind of big, but we have an SUV. We just bought an umbrella stroller for him within the past few weeks. You may want to get one sooner.

Sam just loved this gym- Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies & Lights Deluxe Gym

Highchair- Fisher-Price Space Saver High Chair

Swing- we have the Fisher-Price Open-Top Cradle Swing, but I didn’t put Sam in it much, Brian did.

Sam did like his bouncer a lot. He loved the vibration. It gave me some time to relax when he was sleeping.

Rocker- we did not buy a glider, we bought a wood rocking chair so that we could use it in a different room after we took it out of Sam’s room.

The BabyBjorn carrier came in handy a lot. It was nice having Sam next to Brian when we were walking around or in a store and not in the stroller.

We love this tub and used it up until a few weeks ago.

A wipe warmer is not necessary, but we got one for a gift, so we use it in Sam’s room. The warm wipes did not upset him the way the cold ones did during his middle of the night diaper changes.

Evenflo SmartSteps Exersaucer Mega- Sam used one up until he started cruising. He still pulls himself up around it and plays with it from the outside instead of the inside.

Boppy Bare Naked with Slipcover- It’s just as easy to use an extra pillow. A waste.

Gate- You won’t need a gate until crawling. You can hold of on that for a while.

Bedding set- A waste of money unless you want it for the design. You shouldn’t put up the bumper pad, we never used the blanket (you aren’t supposed to)- use swaddle or sleep sacks.

Sheet saver- you aren’t supposed to have anything in the bed with the baby.

Changing pad- one for every floor. You don’t want to have to run all over the house.

Changing pad cover- not needed. We just used a towel.

That's my 2 cents. These are my opinions. Mine, and mine alone.

Please let me know if there any items that you couldn't live without during the early party of your child's life, please let me know. I love to pass on good advise.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Free digital subscription to Mothering magazine

Free digital subscription to Mothering magazine. A great magazine that supports clothdiapering and BFing.

Thank you Money Saving Mom


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Carter's Coupons- Through May 12th

This weekend’s coupons.

Carter's 20% Off $50 Purchase Coupon. Expires May 12th.

Osh Kosh is having a 2 for $10 sale. Click HERE.


Thursday's Houshold Tip- It's Yard Sale Time!!

The Funtimes Guide

Who knows?... What you can't use may be useful to someone else, or it may even be something that someone else desperately needs.

You never know when your junk may be someone else's treasure. And to top it all off, a yard sale is a great way to bring in a bit of extra cash!

When having a yard sale, you basically have 2 goals:
• To get rid of items you don't want.
• To bring in some extra money.

In order to achieve both of those goals, you'll want to do a few things differently than most yardsalers do.

Here are our best tips to ensure that your yard sale is a huge success....

1. Choose a Saturday for your yard sale. It's the absolute best day for a yard sale.

2. Yard sale junkies rise with the sun every Saturday to search out the best bargains, so be sure that your sale starts early. Get your tables set up by at least 7AM and start your sale at 8AM. However, don't sell anything to earlybirds though -- because this will irritate other customers who are searching for specific items and arrive at your sale's official start time only to find they are gone.

3. It's also a good idea to state an end time, so people won't make unnecessary trips to your sale. I usually run my yard sales from 8AM to 3PM. This lets all potential customers know that the goods definitely will be put away at a certain time, so they must arrive before that time.

4. If you're placing an ad in your local newspaper (or an online community), be sure to mention a rain date. This prevents you from having to advertise a second time, if the weather doesn't cooperate. Your rain date should be the following Saturday, if at all possible.

5. If you have antiques, collectibles, or memorabilia for sale, specify these things in your ad. Many dealers and collectors treat yardsaling differently than your average shopper. They tend to shop early, and they may only attend yard sales which advertise such items.

6. Rather than using a piece of cardboard or paper for your yard sale signs, use wood or purchase durable plastic yard sale signs. If making your own signs, make sure they are sturdy, highly visible, and have arrows directing potential customers in the right direction.

7. Write big and have very few words on your yard sale signs. Drivers should be able to read the signs at a glance. Many yard sale signs have far too much info on them, and it's written so small that few can actually read it as they're driving.

8. Place your yard sale signs at busy intersections near your home to lure yard sale junkies to your property.

9. Place a bouquet of balloons, a couple of flags, ribbons (anything that will blow in the wind and create some attention) and a large yard sale sign on your front lawn. That way, people will be able to spot your yard sale in an instant. If they have to look too hard, they may drive on and pass you by.

10. The day before your yard sale, go to the bank and get lots of coins and small bills -- at least $50 worth. Nothing turns off potential buyers quicker than the yard sale host who cannot change a 20 dollar bill.

11. Have at least one table where everything costs a quarter or $1. Better yet, have a FREE table!

12. Use colored sticky dots that can be purchased at the dollar store to identify the price of your items. For example, an orange dot indicates a quarter, a yellow dot indicates the item costs a dollar, etc. Place a color-code chart on each table explaining your pricing method. This lets your customers know exactly how much you're asking. It also prevents confusion among your helpers.

13. When looking for items to include in your yard sale, keep in mind that people like to collect memorabilia and items that they remember being in their childhood homes. So don't overlook the value that someone may place on old canisters and dishes from the 50s and 60s, for example.

14. All clothing must be in excellent condition and freshly laundered. Clothes that are gently used and those that still have the price tags on them have potential to sell well at yard sales -- especially children's clothes. However, adult clothing generally doesn't sell well at yard sales -- even in excellent condition.

15. Use hangers to display clothing in a professional manner. Never dump it in a heap or pile it in a box. This indicates that you care very little for the clothes. The easier to make it for people to see every single item that is for sale, the more likely some of them will actually sell.

16. Keep your prices fair. Without a doubt, customers will leave quickly if your prices are too high. Your best bet is to visit some yard sales a week or two beforehand to get an idea of what items similar to yours are selling for.

17. Better yet, set your prices lower than those found at most other yard sales. After all, you do want to get rid of all this stuff, right? In the end, your profits will be higher if you sell more items -- partly because people will see so many others walking away with good finds and want to see what they're missing! In order to have a truly successful yard sale, you sometimes have to be willing to let things go at prices lower than you may think the items are worth.

18. Be creative when setting up your yard sale. Place similar items together. For example, you should have kitchen items and linens near each other in one area, and have collectibles and antiques in another area.

19. Wear a vendor's apron (or fanny pack) instead of using a cash box. You want pockets for different denominations of coins and bills. It's also easier to make change quickly. Plus, you can go to the customer who asks you a question without having to carry the cash box with you. And since the cash is always with you, it cannot be picked up as someone is heading to their car.

20. Have at least one helper with you. (The more the better.) The idea is to have someone visible to the customers at all times. That way, you can greet potential buyers, making them feel welcome. They will be more likely to purchase something if they're comfortable. In addition, the more helpers you have, the more you can keep an eye on who's paid and who hasn't.

When your yard sale is over, as long as you've made some extra cash and lightened your load of things you no longer wanted or needed, then it has been a success!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Maternity Session

Photos from the only maternity session that I have photographed.




Monday, May 3, 2010

Look Out World!!!

Sam's walking.

We coaxed Sam into taking a few steps between me and Brian. It was more like a step and a half each way, but I'm so excited that he let go of us and moved toward the other.

90% of our house is Sam-proof, so I know what we are finishing up this weekend.

I know that it's only Monday, but do you know what you are doing this weekend?