Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Mom is coming to stay for a couple weeks

My Mom lives about an hour and a half away. She moved to Tennessee to be near us the year after we moved here. She doesn't drive anymore, so when we want to spend time together it usually means that I go pick her up & bring her to our house for an extended stay. She and I are working on finding a place for her to move closer to where I live. She is retired & is free to move around, but she has a limited income, finding a good fit has been difficult.

I have Catechesis training this Saturday and she will watch the kids for me. We are hopefully going to work on some organizing things around the house next week & then on Nov 9th, Baby Daughter is being baptized. My Mom will be one of the God Parents. After that, we will start getting ready for Thanksgiving. By that time, it will almost be time for my December Catechesis training, she may just stay for the whole month.

She is supposed to be spending Christmas in California with my brother, it will be nice to get to spend some time together before she goes away. I think she will probably be in California for about a month too. Maybe by the time she gets back we will have found a place for her closer to my house.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Come see what you think

I have changed my background!!! Thanks to Janet for her comment on my request for HELP!!! I was pretty sure I had tried that suggestion previously, but now I think I must not have saved after making the change last time.

This is such a FUN Halloween background. I just love it, but of course I'll have to pick a new background on Saturday. Suggestions gratefully accepted!!!

Can somebody help me.....

I would LOVE to give my blog a renovation. I do not have the foggiest idea how to do it. I have seen the lovely sites offering free templates, but when I tried one, my columns did not line up onto the template.

I'm technologically challenged when it comes to stuff like this. Pink is my favorite color. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We had snow flurries this morning...

Ack!!! It isn't even November yet & I'm NOT in an area that gets much snow even during the winter, so it was a bit disconcerting to see the flurries as they fluttered to the ground. I do have to say they were pretty!! People are saying we are in for a long, cold winter. The next 6 months should be interesting.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Did you LOVE felt board stories when you were a kid?

I have always LOVED felt board stories. I can remember listening/watching them in Sunday School when I was 4 or 5....they were always my favorite part. I also remember going to Story Time in the library and there would always been at least one story on the felt would be my favorite every time!!

When my oldest two were little, I would take them to the library for storytime & they soon shared my LOVE of the felt board. When I started teaching Sunday school & helping at vacation Bible school, the felt board was always how I wanted to tell my stories. I even bought a small one with a set of Blues Clues felt characters for my daycare when my middle kids were babies. It was expensive & the quality wasn't great, but we all LOVED using it to tell stories.

Today I happened on a contest for a gift certificate to a company that sells felt sets. They are very impressive sets. I'm hoping to win the gift certificate!!! But if I don't, I will probably still be purchasing this set for my youngest two for Christmas. I'm impressed with how reasonable the prices are & the quality looks fantastic!!!

If you loved felt stories when you were a kid, you need to check out this company!!!!

Update.....I found another contest. They are giving away one of the felt paper dolls!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm thinking about giving up disposables completely

This has been on my mind for a while. Currently, Baby Daughter only wears a disposable diaper to church on Sunday. She is only 17 months old, so not quite ready for potty training. It seems like such a waste to buy disposable diapers and since I'm almost completely out, I'm thinking NOW is the time to try an All in One or a pocket diaper.

Nobody warned me about how addictive cloth diapers can be. I started out using simple contour diapers, but I couldn't help but look around at all the options. I hate velcro and I'm not fooled by them calling it a hook & loop closure or aplix or anything else. The sound it makes when you open it grates on my nerves. Baby Daughter would have a field day stripping them off & running around naked. Fortunately, there are many diapers available with snaps. I have bought one of just about every fitted diaper I could find. They all work great around the house & even out in the car during the day. Most nights she wears a fitted diaper to bed with an extra soaker. The only slightly inconvient part about them is that they require a seperate cover. The added step of putting on a cover is more than Hubby can handle. This makes me think that the added step of a seperate cover would likely be too much for the church nursery as well. The All in Ones did not initially appeal to me because they take a lot longer to dry & they are pricey. I've heard really good things about Fuzzibunz pocket diapers, and since they are all one piece once you stuff them, I'm thinking they might be a workable solution for Baby Daughter to wear in the church nursery. Buying two of them will cost me almost as much as a months supply of disposables, but it could mean I never have to buy anymore disposables, EVER!!

I've been reading a blog called The Clothdiaper Whisperer, I can really relate. It is kind of nice to see that I'm not the only one who was slow to convert to cloth. I haven't seen any posts about addiction yet, but I'm sure they will get around to addressing that too. Her store has a special package where I can get two Fuzzibunz and 4 inserts to stuff them with for $35.90 & they are having FREE SHIPPING on everything at the moment, I'm very tempted.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to ME!!!

Today is my birthday. It has been a very nice day. My oldest called & sang Happy Birthday to me over the phone. The other kids and Hubby all wished me a Happy Birthday through out the day & the 10 yr old, 8 yr old & 3 yr old baked me a CAKE!!! The 18 yr old took me out to lunch to my favorite restaurant and I got to meet his girlfriend for the first time. She is very nice.

While I was taking the 10 yr old & 8 yr old to choir practice, Hubby found a recipe online for butter cream frosting & made frosting for my cake!!! My oldest is bringing Granddaughter over in a few minutes & we will all eat my wonderful cake together. I'm feeling very spoiled.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm a convert....I'm loving cloth diapers

In July, I decided that I needed to find a way to reduce the amount of money I was spending on diapers every month. My 5th child had just finished potty training and the savings from not buying pull-ups anymore really took me by surprise. I started thinking about how I could cut back on the $40 per month I was still spending to diaper Baby Daughter. I had switched from Pampers to Luvs a few months before, but that only saved me about $10 per month.....not enough to help much.

I've looked into cloth diapers a few times in the past. I actually seriously considered them with my first, but we didn't have a reliable washing machine & the thought of hauling diapers to the laundromat really didn't appeal to me. When my second came along, I was so busy figuring out how to rangle a newborn and a toddler I didn't even give it a thought. Eight years later when I was expecting number three, I briefly considered cloth again. I did now have a reliable washer & dryer at home, but I was going back to work after the baby was born & didn't need the added work. I ended up quitting my job to start a daycare business in my home. I looked into cloth again, but the millions of choices and the expense of getting started really discouraged me. Life was stressful and money was tight when number four arrived, but the memory of the expense of buying cloth diapers to get started kept me from giving it a try. When number 5 came along, I was working long hours & had her with me in the car all day most days, cloth never crossed my mind. As she got older and my schedule lightened up, I started checking out starter packages on cloth diaper websites. I asked my friends for advice & I thought about switching. Then number six was born & I was once again thrown into the craziness of trying to meet the needs of a newborn & a toddler. The idea of cloth & of at least using it to supplement was still in the back of my mind, but it was over a year before I took the plunge.

I researched online & decided the Kissaluv contours looked like a good diaper to start with. Amazon sells them, but by the time I added shipping it seemed pretty pricey, so I looked around & found a local store that sells them. She is only open a couple days a week & finding the store the first time was definitely an adventure, but it was totally worth it!!! I bought six to start & two covers with the intention of putting them on Baby Daughter at times of the day when she wouldn't normally poop. They worked GREAT & the covers were amazing. Next I went to Baby's R Us and bought a dozen Gerber prefolds and a 6 pack of traditional rubber pants and two packages of traditional diaper pins. I started putting two prefolds in a cover for night time & it worked GREAT!!! Within less than a week I had almost stopped using any disposables. I found that I could handle a once per day poop and it wasn't the end of the world I had previously imagined it would be. I had to wash them everyday to not run out though, so I decided we needed to find a creative way to add to our diaper supply.

A couple of ladies I met on a message board suggested making my own diapers. I am not a crafty person, but my Mother has a sewing machine & will usually sew just about anything I want as long as I cut it out. I got together a bunch of old flannel receiving blankets and some fleece baby blankets we don't need anymore and used the kissaluv as a basic pattern. The outside of the diapers is fleece, the inside is flannel and we made a soaker to sew in that has a layer of flannel, a layer of fleece & then a layer of old towel for absorbency. In one day we cut out & sewed 17 of these homemade diapers!!! I now had plenty to get me through 3 days or more without running out.

We have fallen into a really easy routine. I have a bucket in the laundry room with a locking lid. I put the dirty diapers in it after each change & when it is full, I do a load of diaper laundry. I have an HE front loading washer, so I do a cold soak cycle, then a hot wash with a small amount of soap & then a second quick hot wash with white vinegar instead of soap. They come out super clean. Because none of my diapers are more than 3 layers thick, they also dry pretty fast in the dryer. My washer & dryer are pretty energy efficient & I haven't noticed any change in my utility bills since switching to cloth.

I was surprised at how quickly the cloth diapers became routine for our whole family. Baby Daughter now only wears a disposable on Sunday mornings for the Church nursery. She fusses when I put it on her & as soon as we are home from Church she is pulling at it wanting to change into one of her "regular" diapers. She definitely prefers the cloth diapers. I told a friend recently that I really wish I had taken this plunge at least one baby's not hard & I'm saving soooo much money. I did spend about $100 in the first two months getting to the point where I had enough diapers & covers to last several days without washing, but I no longer have to budget every month for disposables. I may have to buy a small package in November because I've nearly run out of "Church" diapers, but the last time I bought any was July, so that's not too bad.

I've picked up a couple fitted diapers recently & am considering trying a pocket diaper, but I'll write about that another day....this got much longer than I had intended.

A visit from Granddaughter!!!

My oldest son, his wife & daughter live less than 20 minutes away, but because of conflicting schedules and all our crazy busy lives we are lucky if we see them twice a month. Last night they dropped by for a little visit and we took a few pictures. Granddaughter is getting sooooo BIG.

CLR Tackle it Tuesday

This was a lot of FUN!!! This is my first time participating in Tackle it Tuesday. I signed up at the beginning of October to receive the CLR Bath & Kitchen Multi-Surface Cleaner spray. It arrived a few days later & I've been thinking about what to do with it ever since.

After reading the label, I decided that the inside of my ancient dishwasher was a really good first project. The pictures on the left are the before & the ones on the right are the after.

It worked really well on the lime/calcium build-up. It also did a fantastic job on the dirt on the outside of the dishwasher, but I don't have a picture for that. I was surprised how quickly it worked. Another plus is that it doesn't have an overpowering smell. It took very little to clean my whole dishwasher inside and out. The 26 oz bottle will probably last me at least 6 months.

My next project is to use it on the soap scum in my fiberglass tub....I can't wait to see if the CLR can actually get it back to the original white.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Music Monday

Stef over at My Love Knot is having Music Monday. This is my first time participating. She always has very inspirational songs. Today, the kids are home on Fall Break, so I asked them to help me find a GREAT's what they came up with. Of course the 8 yr old wasn't in agreement, so here is her choice. They are both very upbeat & FUN. Maybe next week I'll come up with something on my own.

It's Fall Break here.....

Fall Break is something new for us. When we moved to Tennessee in 2004, we didn't arrive until November. But the next year we were presented with a new holiday break we never even knew existed. In the middle of October the schools are closed for a full week....they call this Fall Break. It is kind of like Christmas Vacation & Easter Vacation, but there is no holiday associated with it.

Today some of the kids went down the street & picked apples from a neighbors tree. He told us in early September that we were welcome to pick as many as we like. The 10 yr old climbed high into the tree & passed them down to the 8 yr old, while the 3 yr old put them into a basket. They came home with 19 apples and are now busily peeling them in hopes that I will make them an apple pie.

Update.....They didn't get a pie, but I did make an apple crisp with no oatmeal (10 yr old doesn't eat Oatmeal) came out quite yummy!!! And there are still enough apples left for a pie.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's FALL!!!

The kids had a blast yesterday raking up leaves into huge piles like this one & then jumping in them. The rain we got on Friday has had a dramatic cooling effect on our temperatures. We're all in long sleeves & I've broken out the down comforters. I'm trying not to turn on the heat for a while longer.

The little ones are especially happy to finally be able to wear their sweaters & turtlenecks.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


My baby is getting sooooo BIG!!!

And the 3 yr old is not a baby anymore at all.....look how big she's gotten.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Report Card Day

The first 9 wks of school is over & the kids brought home their report cards today. They both did very well. All A's in behavior. All A's & high B's in their subjects & both were rated above grade level in reading. The 8 yr old's teacher says she is a pleasure to have in class. The 10 yr old's teacher didn't write any comments. They didn't miss any days & they weren't tardy even once. This is the first year in quite some time that we have only had two kids in school.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rotten day....

Thursday is usually Hubby's day off. But today, he had a conference for work. Of course I thought he had to actually go to his office, but he didn't tell me that until we were in the car. Traffic was heavy & the off ramp we needed was closed due to an accident. I didn't get as much sleep as I had hoped for & I was cranky. Hubby only gets one day off this week because of the conference & so he was cranky.

The 1 yr old is cranky because of teething. The 3 yr old is cranky because the sky is overcast & her friend next door doesn't seem to be home. The 8 yr old came home in a "mood"...she was complaining to herself outside before she even got in the door. Seems she didn't sleep well last night & thinks something is wrong with her tonsils. She took her temperature and when she didn't find a fever immediately asked to go outside & play with her least her crankiness was short lived.

The 10 yr old was no where in sight when I arrived at school to pick him up from his after school orchestra practice. He came out of the building a few minutes later & informed me that he is in trouble because I "take so long" to come pick him up. The schedule was changed last week or the week before & he now gets out at 3:30 instead of 3:45 & since all us parents are such good mind readers the school didn't feel the need to inform us about the change, but they did send a note to all parents today reprimanding us for not picking our children up "promptly" and informing us that if we need after school care there is a cost of $25 per hour for drop in care at the school's program. If I fail to pick him up promptly anymore, he was told, they will drop him from the orchestra program. Playing the viola is also challenging for him. He thinks he is the only one who cannot hold the bow properly & he is upset because one of the cello students dropped out & now there are 23 violins, 5 violas and 3 cellos.......the violins will surely drown everyone else out. He's only been playing for about 3 weeks. We've payed the rental on his instrument through the end of November, so the plan at the moment is for him to stick it out at least until then & we will talk again about how it is going & whether he wants to continue. Things in his classroom were difficult today too....they have a new seating arrangement, he is now sitting in a group with his 3 least favorite classmates. He is supposed to turn in the money to be able to participate in the class Halloween party tomorrow.....we don't have the money this week.

Next week is Fall Break....the kids will be out of school for a whole week, I'm sooooo ready!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

My 8 yr old & 10 yr old belong to a service club at our church. Their current service project is Operation Christmas Child. The kids are very excited about it.
Last month their group had a bake sale to raise the money needed to "ship" the shoe boxes of gifts. A fee of $7 per box is required for each & every one. To me, this seems like a lot.

We saw the specialist today...

Hubby and I sat in the waiting room with the 1 yr old & the 3 yr old for over 90 minutes before he was finally called for his appointment. Of course the 1 yr old rescheduled her poop for the day to coincide with us being out in public & the office had no changing table in their restroom. Have I told you how much I've been LOVING having her in cloth diapers? Well, today wouldn't be a good day to talk about it, since it is the very first time I've had to bring home a yucky diaper in a plastic bag.

When we finally got into the exam room, a very nice nurse asked us the usual questions & assured us that the Dr would be in to see us soon. Much to our surprise, he actually showed up less than 5 minutes later. He agreed with the diagnosis we received from the Dr we saw on Monday & explained the next few steps that will help us figure out the extent of the problem & what our treatment options will be. For now we are to basically do nothing. We go back for some tests on November 11th & then see him for the results the following day. Prayers that this will not require surgery would be greatly appreciated, Hubby really doesn't like the idea of surgery.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Whew!!! No poison ivy

We all seem to have escaped the itchies!!! The slight itchiness on Sunday was either all in our heads or very tiny mosquito bites....we are a rash free household!!!

We are of course now dealing with our first round of "Fall colds". It could be seasonal allergies, we are all stuffy & cranky, the baby especially. Doesn't help that she is also STILL teething. She is now 17 months old & barely has 9 teeth. Since I haven't kept very detailed records of the other kids, I can't tell you for sure how that compares to her siblings, but my foggy mind believes that only ONE other child has been this slow to get teeth.

Hubby had a good Dr visit today. He has been dealing with unexplained swelling in his feet & lower legs for several years. We have been to many Dr's, had many tests with no definitive diagnosis & no workable treatment. Hubby is the typical man who only agrees to go to the Dr when he believes that his life might be in danger. Last week his legs starting blistering for no known reason....he paniced & agreed to let me try ANOTHER Dr. The Dr we saw today was a foot & ankle specialist. He took one look & gave a diagnosis that actually sounds plausible & much to Hubby's delight it is not FATAL (my delight as well, I can assure you). The Dr wrote prescriptions to deal with toenail fungus & foot fungus & gave us instructions on how to deal with that & then he secured an appointment for Hubby to be seen this coming Wednesday (yes, this WEEK) with a vein specialist. I'm especially happy with how quickly he will be seeing the next Dr, it gives almost no time for Hubby to decide he is "fine" and cancel. We're hoping treatment will not require surgery, but if it does at least we have insurance.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why do we start to itch at the first thought of having contracted something ITCHY?

Argh!!! The 10 yr old & the 8 yr old went on a fun trip to a corn maze on Saturday morning with their youth choir from church. When they returned all the families gathered for an informal cookout at the fire pit on the hill above the church parking lot. It is a very nice camp groundy (I know I'm making up new words again) area with a very woodsy feel. The 3 yr old & the 1 yr old ran loose through the brush with the bigger kids & since it was a sweltering 85 degrees, they were in shorts. Then it happened, the choir director casually mentioned that we should be cautious because poison ivy could be growing in that brush.

EEEK!!! I instantly retrieved all my children & forced them to sit roasting marshmellows next to the campfire, but it was probably too late. We left a short time later & I washed everyones hands with sanitizing wipes. Then washed the little ones legs & arms with another wipe, being careful not to contaminate from one to the next. Then I used different wipes to wash my own face, arms & legs....just in case even though I hadn't gone anywhere near the brush. I was itching worse than when the word lice gets mentioned in hushed tones. I tried really hard to convince myself that it was all in my imagination, but since I am one of those people who can get poison ivy from walking near a wooded area on a windy day, I was pretty sure we would all be painted bright pink with calomine before night fall.

As soon as we got home, the babies went in the tub. All their clothes went in the wash. Next I took a shower & put my clothes in the wash. I used the most drying soap I could find in the house, now I'm not sure if my itching & little red patches are from the drying soap or poison ivy...of course it could still all be my imagination. Time will tell.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm feeling very cranky about money today

we are currently renting a house that barely meets our needs. There is not enough space for all our "stuff" & I'm not one of those people who enjoy parting with their stuff. The two car garage has no room for cars & I'm feeling totally unmotivated to even attempt to organize let alone purge anything.

Back to the money thing. When you apply for a mortgage they tell you that you can't spend more than 30% of your income on housing, now I realize this is GROSS income, but even so, 30% really doesn't seem like much. We currently pay 54% of the money we actually see each month just for the rent. Utilities account for at least another 25% which leaves us with about 20% for everything else including food & gas for our only running vehicle.

Our lease is up in December & we may have to move again....I'm not sure how we would manage a new security deposit & the expenses of moving, but I've started praying NOW that if we are going to move again it will be to a place that better meets our needs & is more affordable. We somehow managed to only move twice the whole time our oldest was in school, but we have now moved more in the last 4 yrs than we did in the previous 15 yrs.

Have I ever told you that I HATE moving?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I HATE school fundraisers

My oldest daughter came home all upset today because I hadn't purchased anything in her recent school fundraiser. Her classmates who did sell things received their trinkets today & she was beside herself because she didn't receive them too. I know the school feels it needs more money than it receives in the budget, but making kids sell "junk" to make up for that short fall just seems soooo WRONG to me.

In years past, I have bought at least one thing from each child in the house who is selling something for school, but this year the money is too tight & we really didn't need a coupon book packed with coupons for places we can not afford to go. The schools pitch is that for the $10 paid for the book you will receive $1600 worth of coupons. The problem for me is to receive these "offers" you invariably have to buy something...something that I have eliminated from our budget due to necessity. Try explaining that one to an 8 yr old.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Handy Mommy...

My 3 yr old occasionally watches Handy Manny on Disney channel, it is not one of my favorite shows and I try to avoid it. Yesterday, I got to be Handy Mommy.

The kids computer has been on the fritz for at least a week. Since mine died last month, that left us with only one computer in the house that could connect to the internet & that is not a pretty picture in a house full of internet addicts. Last night after dinner, I ran a diagnostic on the wireless connection & suddenly got a connection. Yay!!! But within 3 minutes the connection was lost & rerunning the diagnostic did nothing to get it back. I sent one of the kids to find an ethernet cable and started trying to figure out how we would get the DSL modem close enough to the computer to use the cable. Then I had a brainstorm....maybe the antenna on the wireless card really was the problem. (one of the babies had pulled the cover off it last week just before we lost internet). We have boxes of old computer junk in our garage, so I went looking for a compatible antenna. First I tried the router, two antennas, but they don't come off. Next, I found an old DSL modem in the garage & while the antenna was shorter, the connection was compatible & it WORKED!!!!

Later, when the kids were getting ready for bed I told the 10 yr old to help the 3 yr old get her teeth brushed. He started screaming for me to come into the bathroom. It seems the 3 yr old had forced her toothbrush down the drain. She is obsessed with brushing her teeth & was very upset that we couldn't get it for her. I sent them all to bed & after they were asleep, I got a wire coat hanger to see if I could fish it out. No luck. Hubby was sure we were going to need a plumber. We can't afford a plumber, so I unscrewed the pipe & out popped 2 toothbrushes. The pipe is pvc, so I just put it back on & screwed the pieces together. I ran the water for a couple minutes & was very pleased that it didn't leak. The toothbrushes went in the outside garbage & the 3 yr old will have to wait until Friday to get a new toothbrush, she's devastated....hopefully she won't put anything else down the drain.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's October already....

Wow, sometimes I just don't know where time went. I've been busy, but not THAT busy. For some reason the fact that it is OCTOBER already really snuck up on me. I'm struggling with a lot of things right now and it being October just makes that so much worse.

I'm trying really hard to get connected with people in real life and get things accomplished on a daily basis. My Mom was here over the weekend to watch the kids while I went to my Catechesis training on Saturday. She wanted to go home on Sunday, but we had a full day of activities to accomplish for the kids at church & I just couldn't find the energy to make the 3 hr round trip drive to take her home Sunday night. I spent most of my day on Monday taking her home, nothing else worthwhile got accomplished and I didn't even get a nap.

I'm fighting a depression right now and of course my Mom's answer was that I should talk to a Dr & get on an anti-depressant. I know prozak has saved my mother's life, but it is not for me. I have valid reasons to feel depressed and I need to be allowed to work through those things on my own terms. Going on medication is not going to help me have more money for utilities and groceries, it won't get our second car running & it won't magically get my laundry done or my dishwasher unloaded. Yes, I'm crying more than my mother is comfortable with, but crying is one of my only outlets for my frustration. I would LOVE to be able to stay in bed for days at a time like she did when I was a kid, but I don't have that luxury, my kids and hubby need me to cook for them, clean the house & transport them everywhere all day long. If I don't do these things, nobody else will & the whole family will suffer. If I get to the point that I am not able to meet my families daily needs, I will talk to a Dr, but for now, I am functioning just fine & she will have to accept that I do have emotions & do feel the need to cry when the frustration is overwhelming.

Our Rector talked about how tough the economy is now, in Church on Sunday and about how those who were having a rough time needed to speak up & allow the church to help them. I am one of those people who is having a very rough time, but I'm not ready to admit defeat and ask for help yet. What he was saying hit home so hard for me that I had to leave the service and miss the sermon to get my emotions under control. I truly feel invisible most days in regard to how tough things are financially. I am sure that nobody who knows Hubby or I would ever consider that we may be struggling. All I can do at this point is keep praying and hope that next month will be better.