Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lake House

Here's some pictures of our time last weekend at Ben's Dad and Amy's Lake House, I think you can make the slideshow bigger if you click on it. Just a two hour drive away, we had a lovely time. I only wish I'd gotten some pictures of the hosts! Sorry guys! I also missed out on pics of Ben's sisters, Biz, Debbie, Bekah and her boyfriend, Jeremy. Time flies when you're having fun!

Z is feeling better now and getting his appetite back. I only wish he weren't in the whiney, "No, No, No!" phase right now. Then things would be perfect. Thankfully, he's only randomly saying "No" and not to us when we tell him to do things. I wonder where he got that from...

We're in the market for a cheap, used, pop-up camper or something small like that to sleep in when we go to WV. Often there's so many people that go, it would be nice to not take up one of the two bedrooms, which we've been so graciously given time and time again since I've been pregnant. If anyone has advice for us in the world of RVs, do share! We don't know much. Thanks!

Finally...Christmas in July (at least it's still July today)...
We made home-made ornaments last year for family for Christmas and couldn't share about them with you or else I'd ruin the Christmas surprise. So, I took pictures and planned to share them later. Since I'm just starting to think about Christmas presents and what I can make I thought I'd share our last year's Christmas craft with you:

Using foam paper from the local craft store, we used a razor blade and cut out circles (with a glass as our guide). It was hard not to make them stringy (or hairy), but the razor worked the best for us. Ben was better at doing this part.

We glued tiny pictures (printed from a Kodak machine) to each little circle. I considered putting our names or the year on one side and a picture on the other, but opted for two pics instead.

...glued the circles together...

I made wire hangers with beads on them, you can use ribbon or a paper clip, anything would work. Foam paper pierces easily.

We got fancy and crocheted the edges with cotton string, but you could have kids help and weave pipe cleaners or yarn around the edges. This helps detract from any hairy edges on the outside. Yes, Ben crocheted a bunch too!

And voila! Each ornament is two-sided.

I have no idea what we'll do this year!!! Something easier. My Sweetie heart would like that, I think.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Just a little bit to share...

Modern Day Mayberry
Back by popular demand, I had to chuckle when I saw this down the road from my house. Yesterday, I heard tons of sirens, found out from my friend, Melissa, there was a house on fire near the high school. Turns out, a boy was playing with the signal flare on a boat, set it off and caught the boat on fire, which caught the side of the house next to it on fire. Which, as you can see, also singed the neighbor's house too a bit.

These fine entrepreneurs were making the most of the local gawkers and rubber neckers by selling Kool-Aid. Two of the boys said they live in the house that was burnt, and all denied that it was them that started the fire. "It was a little kid," they said. "Oh," I replied, "how old?" "Seven" they replied. Just a baby to them, I guess. "Do you plan to donate what you make to help repair the house?" "I do with my part of the money," replied the one on the right. Yes, I did buy a glass of green Kool-Aid, which my son screamed for, it was his first Kool-Aid!

Last week, I was surprised with a box in the mail. In it, was this perfectly knit baby girl sweater and matching hat, and a shirt for Z and a note. It was from my friend, Kristina, over at Yarnsticks. I found her site when I Google searched, "free washcloth patterns" about a year and a half ago. I got reading her site and left her a comment that I was in awe of her knitting abilities, which I still am. We got writing and regularly e-mail nowadays about theology, personal stuff and budgeting. She has become my mentor in how to CVS shop for pennies and to maintain a budget. Oh, and she inspired the recycling of junk mail I told you about in my last post. We have lots in common including a son and a daughter (soon), and a love of craftiness, cleverness and resourcefulness. Receiving a home-made gift from her, is so special because it reinforces that she's real (not just an internet persona), really can knit, and is truly a sweetie heart. Thanks so much, Kristina! By the way, those are tiny heart buttons!!!

Cooking with Becca
I'm just so excited to have made these, I just had to share. I love Indian food and love love love vegetarian Samosas. While sitting in some doctor's waiting room a few months ago, I read that you can make you own quickie samosas. A long time ago, I had my friend, Audrey over and we made from scratch, home-made samosas, where we rolled out the dough, boiled potatoes with veggies, then deep fried them. They were awesome, but took all day to make. Here's the cheater version. Buy pre-made pie crusts, and roll them out. Cut into triangles and with cold water seal two sides together to make a pocket. Stuff with the below, seal, and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. No frying, no making dough! It gets better...
The stuffing is just potatoes, random veggies and seasoning, fried in a little butter or ghee if you have it. Get this, you can use fake potato flakes if you want for the potatoes! I actually had more potatoes than flakes, and so boiled potatoes. I never had tried running cold water on them right after boiling, but I did it and sure enough, the skins just about fell off. I was feeling lazy and was planning on throwing them in skins and all, but they came off easy. This is really backwards, sorry, but here's the beginning. Into some melted ghee or butter I toss in frozen corn, peas, chopped bell pepper, carrots, garlic and onion. Also, the seasonings (chili powder, cumin seeds, coriander powder, cardamom, celery salt and sea order of most to least). Fry up till the carrots are soft, add cubed boiled potato or fake mashed potato, stir and fry for about ten minutes. Use a little spoon and stuff your triangles, seal and bake. Voila! And they're better for you because they're not deep fried!

OK, so, it's the longest post ever (or maybe this one is). This is what we finally decided on for a solution to Z's birthday present. We researched sandboxes and found them ridiculously expensive for what they are and set out to find one used. This, though old, came with a lid that fits well and is sturdy enough for several kids to jump on it, and is big enough to allow two kids to play inside and was only $25. We had a gift card to Home Depot and so the sand was only $14. So, we're happy we didn't break the budget and Z has something fun to do everyday on our own back porch!

Warning to those with foot squeamishness, the following photos may contain a lot of foot nudity.
By the way, last week I featured my whole belly as I got a doppler reading, this week my feet, next week I'm thinking a close-up of my elbow. Whaddaya think? About ten years ago I bought these Doc Martens from a seconds shop in England when my folks still lived there. Probaby paid $40 for them. Definitely got my money's worth. This week they were replaced. Drum roll please...
Anyone heard of Earth shoes? I knew from my friend, Cara, that they were awesome and had been wanting a pair for years. Found these on on sale, then found a coupon code on their site for 20% off, then got another 10% off for registering with the site. And they always have free shipping. Earth shoes are neato because they tilt your feet back (Kalso negative heels) in a way that makes you have better posture, which relieves back pain and burns more calories when you walk (toning thighs and calves, they say). I'll let you know when I've worn them for a few months if any of this is true. They're not very exciting looking, but they'll go with most everything and they are very comfortable. Eric, at the airport, called them "Jesus sandals", yeah, but will these soles never die? (Bad pun, I know) We'll find out as I wear them for the next decade, but I do really really like them! The only problem I'm having is reaching over my belly to buckle them.
Z is still recovering from his MMR reaction, but is slowly getting back to his normal self (it's been a doosy of a week!). The doctor confirmed that it's just a reaction, nothing else. No fevers anymore now, thank the Lord. We've got big plans for this weekend, I'm sure you'll hear all about it, and no, it's not in WV! Thanks for reading, I believe that's all folks!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No pictures!!!

Hey there, lots of updates for ya today.

The budget is going well. Six weeks now of tracking every penny and making sure the budget matches the checkbook ledger, has been surprisingly freeing. At times (this past week especially) I was super tempted to revert back to my old ways and just go spend money (whether it was in the budget or not). Sometimes I just get the urge to shop! But, I've been pretty good about riding out that wave, I'll get back to my frugile self soon enough. What's fun is that whenever I do a budget I budget in for things we need to buy then I get to go shopping right away and not feel bad about it. That's the biggest difference, I don't feel bad about what I buy because it was planned or allowed for in the budget. Definitely a nice change for the better. I've been using a spiral bound notebook for our budget and can do it on the go, and I like being in charge of the numbers (not a computer). I still use YNAB software for tracking our spending, but not for budgeting. I'd really like to write up a summary of the two books I mentioned before that got us started in this new stage of money management, but summer seems to be too busy for book reports. Maybe later.

We got our tax returns and put a bunch toward the school loan in the side bar, some in savings and some will go to a project that you'll all be part of really soon. I'm in need of new steps to the main door we use to our home. Ben's brother, Andy, will be coming out to help make that happen and we'll be sure to post lots of before and after pics.

Another fun thing I've been doing is collecting all my junk mail each day and going through it. I actually separate all of it into about three piles: usable, recyclable, trash. The "usable" I put into a file for spare drawing paper (backs of ads or junk letters) or we use the envelopes for notes to each other. In fact, one great use for old envelopes is for lists and budgeting. I've been writing on an envelope our grocery budget and the dates it's for, then putting receipts from grocery shopping inside, and tracking how much is left for grocery money on the outside. It's like a cash envelope for debit card users like me. I also have used separate envelopes for different grocery stores with lists for what we need from them and respective coupons inside. Lately, I've just written one list on one envelope though. Once, I even wrote a full letter on the back of a Vonage ad and used a new envelope that came inside some junk mail and just put a label over their address and wrote my friend's on it! I think that's fun recycling! I recycle non-glossy paper from junk mail that I can't use and throw away the glossy. It's amazing how little I have to throw away nowadays! I've been doing this for several weeks now and it's getting to be a quicker process.

I've also been washing my zip-lock bags for about six months now. I initially washed EVERY zip lock bag unless it had raw meat in it. Lately, though, I've been slacking on the little sandwich size bags. I've only been bothering to wash the big ones or nice freezer ones. I still toss nasty ones with cooties in them.

My goal in the recycling area is to eventually talk my sweetie into a small composting box that I've heard, if you do it right, does NOT smell.

We have been sans cable for several weeks now. Honestly, it's hard to remember at times how little was on and how stinky the programming was when you're going through media withdrawal. I absolutely devour the radio whenever I can (shower, car). Z still, honestly, watches lots of videos still (trips to the library give us reprieve from Veggie Tales). It does take a conscious effort to turn a video on and I'm very mindful if he's watched the half hour "Pingu" we rented from the library three times in one day. Before, with cable, I could turn on the TV for Z and sit and blog or clean or whatever for 2-3 hours without a second thought. Not that I did that a lot, and I did feel very guilty when I did, but boy was it a nice break! So, last week we walked every day in the morning to get out while it wasn't too hot yet. We walked to a different park each day. Some were further than others, so I got a workout too most days. We'll probably get back to that once Z is feeling better...

...We were those paranoid parents that didn't want our child to get the MMR vaccine. BUT, we didn't want to freak out about it and not vaccinate our children. So, after reading some literature about the whole deal, I learned that vaccinations are truly our friends, but we need to follow some guidelines when we get them. They should be given as individually as possible (not four combination shots at once), they should be on a safer timeline (4-6 months between shots) and most definitely, your child should be in stellar health when they receive the shots. Well, we took our time between visits to the Health Dept. but we allowed them to combine everything but the MMR. That one we worried about. So, here it's been about a year since his last vaccine, he's been in great health for this entire calendar year, we decided to take the plunge a week ago. They did combine MMR and Chickenpox, but you don't get much choice when you go to the Health Dept. Sure enough, as they warned, a week later, he comes down with a fever. We're on day #2 of the fever. When it first came on, he also was in pain from his muscles aching. It's been pretty awful and we've had to medicate him constantly so he doesn't spike too high of a fever or scream in pain. Not fun at all. I'm super glad we didn't combine this vaccination with lots of others, or else we'd never know which one it was from (could be chicken pox I guess, but I doubt it!). So, that's our MMR story. We're sure he'll get better, very sure he won't develop Autism from it, but are very glad we did things as safely as we could.

On totally different note about Z, he can identify about half his alphabet now, and he can repeat the other half when we say it first. Also, (this is big!!!) we think he read his first word!!! It might have been a fluke as he didn't do it again yesterday, but two days ago, he read "Go" on one of his websites before anyone else said it. He's done that with apples and alligators too, but there were pictures of them, so I kind of doubt those were really read.

Alright, his Veggie Tale is over, I need to go. Take a moment and give me your opinion on the survey in the side bar when you get a chance! Thanks! Also, anyone notice that the owner's wife from the Heating and Cooling Place left a comment on my last post?!!! How cool is that!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thistle Dew

Just wanted to share with those interested that I started yet another blog. This one should be much less maintenance though. It's called, "Thistle Dew" and is a family website for the WV cabin (of the same name), but anyone is welcome to stop over! I had so many pictures and videos of a propeller being put up on a windmill, I didn't feel this was the right venue for them. So, it got it's own! Check out the groovy template I found for it!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bellies and buffalo

Another pregnancy comparison pic, just for fun! Here's me in March 2006 seven months pregnant with Z. Check out the hoochie mama boots!

Here's me today at the airport when I visited Ben for lunch (7.5 mos along).
I must like to wear green and brown together!

Modern Day Mayberry
Let me introduce you to a new column I've been wanting to add for a while. "Modern Day Mayberry" is a glimpse into the unique and endearing experiences we have in our small town in Ohio. I hope to be honoring to our adopted home which has put up with us for ten years now. They didn't want to let us in at first, but then they realized we were here to stay and have been more accepting as the years go by.

Well, here's my first fun cyber-glimpse into Modern Day Mayberry. One of the local heating and cooling places (Simpson's) bought a giant buffalo statue. They found it at an auction and were so excited, they said in the paper, that it was just what they were looking for. They put it out in their front yard and told the paper that prior to getting the buffalo, delivery trucks got lost trying to find them every day.

Today, I finally got the guts to call and ask them why they didn't just buy a sign to put out front to help people find them. Turns out, they had a fairly reasonable reason (not as funny as I'd hoped). Their building is in back, although they own the one out front, they haven't occupied it yet. So, to help delivery people they tell them to turn at the buffalo to find them (their real building down the alley does have big sign on it). The poor buffalo was naked for almost a year, then someone bought it a rain coat complete with a hat. Now, as you can see, it's ready for summer. I wish I'd asked what the buffalo's name was.*
I did tell the nice lady at Simpson's that I'd be blogging about their buffalo. A big thank you to them for letting me share with my friends and family online one of the things in our town that regularly makes me giggle. Let me just say it's a good thing you fenced him in!

*Read the comments to find out it's name and gender!!!!

Our Common Imperfection

Yesterday afternoon, I cut Z's hair. Z didn't want me to cut his hair. I gave him zucchini bread, a banana, and finally a popsicle, but nothing helped the fact that he didn't want his hair cut. Ben was high above us on a ladder painting the outside of our house. Though I hated to bother him, I asked for his help. He helped me hold Z's head while I finished with the clippers, then got the scissors back out to trim around his ears. As Z fought us it was clear I was at risk of cutting his ear if I wasn't careful. I was being as careful as I thought a person could, and when Ben said, "Watch out for his ears," I insisted, "I won't cut his ear." You know what happened? I cut his ear. Clipped the top with the scissors. Ben was upset, Z was screaming, I was beside myself. What an awful moment. We rushed him upstairs for his bath and within a couple minutes Z calmed down and played in the water. It bled just a little bit. It was going to be okay, I let myself cry.

In my tears I continued my conversation I'd been having with God since our walk in the morning. "Usually You feel my pain, You know what I'm going through, but I don't think You do right now. You never screwed up. How can you know what that feels like? You're our perfect Father, and I know you hurt when we're hurting and that's part of it, that our little boy got hurt, but it's more than that. You would never hurt your children, certainly not by accident." Jesus never screwed up on Earth, God doesn't screw up. It never dawned on me until yesterday that there really was ONE feeling out there that God didn't experience first hand. I hope these thoughts aren't sacrilegious!

So, as I gathered myself and even mustered the courage to finish the haircut in the tub, I continued my prayerful thoughts, "That's why we're all so frustrated with our parents at some point in our lives, isn't it? That's where they don't measure up to our heavenly Father's example. We want them to be just like you, but they can't be, not while we're still here on Earth."

So, my final thought I found myself thinking was, "So, what? We all are in the same boat here on Earth we're flawed parents with flawed parents. That's what draws us to You, isn't it? We all need your forgiveness and to show Your forgiveness. We all need You."

Perhaps not a life shattering epiphany, but a conversation of note, at least, in my prayers.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Becoming WV Natives

And we're back! How's everybody doing? We just got back from a week in West Virginia. We had a lovely time. Even though there was some rain, we got out on the lake everyday at least for a bit. Lots of pictures to share, so scroll down to see them.

I just checked our Baby Name List (button on the left side bar) and hold on to your seats! Elsa and Magdalene just over took Beatrice (who is now in 12th), Charlotte just overtook Naomi for 3rd and the big news, Nadia just overtook Meredith for first! Wow! There's some action for ya! Not that we're using this as much of a guide for name choosing, but it's fun to know what you guys think of our name list! Fifty five votes and counting! Thanks for your feedback!

Speaking of our little girl, whose name has yet to be chosen...I had my second ultrasound yesterday, which was so neato. Turns out she has super chubby cheeks! She made a few faces while we were watching her that looked just like faces Z makes! I hadn't told many people but my placenta had been low (almost previa they said), and I'd been praying for it to move up so I could have another natural birth, and the ultrasound showed that it did move up, so we should be good for that. Her heartbeat was like 137 during the ultrasound which is lower than Z's ever was measured in utero. Maybe she'll be calmer...:-). My little widget on the left isn't too far off estimating her weight at almost 3 pounds, as of yesterday she was 2 pounds 13 ounces.

My mother-in-law/midwife gave us a tour of the hospital we'll use this time. It has TWO rooms with birthing tubs in them, so that doubles my chances of getting one of those rooms when the time comes. There's several other perks about it too, not to mention it's slightly closer. Just being there seeing it all again made me so ready to have this baby! It was humbling though to see all the women at the office that were further along than I am. I'd been feeling as though I were as big as a house, but when I saw them, due in less than a month, I realized I wasn't all that huge yet. It'll come.

While at mom's office, we measured Z and he hasn't gained much weight, measuring in at 32.5 pounds and about 3 feet even. He has finally cut two of his two year molars that we can see. The two on top are mysteries as he'll bite if we try to feel for them and goodness knows he'd never willingly open his mouth for us at just the right angle to see. We won't talk about what I weighed in at, but my teeth are just fine. My SI joint/hip is giving me some trouble, but as long as I never lay on my left side, I'm fine. Oh, and this baby should be super duper hairy as much heartburn as I've had!

Z on the beach at our family cabin in WV. Within a couple minutes he was laying on his belly in the water like he does in the bathtub. Oh, the water is super warm as it's used to cool down a power plant nearby.

Z and two of his three cousins (Ally & Jenna)

Z and Jenna being fishies

Right before they left, Ben's cousin, Megan (who played in our wedding when she was like 12) gave Z a quick violin lesson and let him pluck the strings and have fun with it. She was great with him. She attends FL State as a Music Performance major, and is definitely the best violinist I've ever met!
I have lots of pictures of a propeller being put on a windmill, but I'm gonna post those another time. So, my camera ran out of batteries before our week was up or else there would be more pictures. Ben flew out and gave airplane rides to his family. It was lovely and we can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Well, we've had a busy weekend with Z's birthday, then our anniversary (11 years!), then the big birthday party for Z, his cousin Jenna, Aunt Biz and Uncle Andy in Mansfield. The biggest news is that Z spent his first night away from home on Saturday night. [insert **gasp!**] We had planned to have Ben's sister, Bekah, come over to babysit so we could go on a picnic for our anniversary. Then, when she and his mom suggested we bring him up to Akron to sleep over, we ended up ordering Indian takeaway and renting a movie ("The Producers"). The food was great, the movie "so-so". The experience of having your firstborn spent his first night away from you, not exactly priceless as you're constantly wondering how they are. He did great, no problems were reported. Below he's eating his current favorite treat (especially as he's working on those two year molars). "Want some?"

Yes, there's an owey on his nose. He got a really bad rug burn playing at his cousin's last week.

"One apple up on top..."

I was busy cooking and baking last week and made eight Stromboli and froze seven of them for after baby #2 arrives. Below is my first attempt at pretzel buns made with this pretzel recipe (the wheat version mentioned in one of the comments), which I rolled into bun sized balls, boiled for 3-4 min, rolled in the alkaline solution they mention, coated in egg white, sprinkled with Kosher salt then baked for about a half hour. Oh, and then I dipped them in melted butter. Ben can back me up, these were dreamy!

My best bag yet! I'm almost out of this fabric, and I'm kinda glad, I'd like to work with something different soon, but I made this for my sis-in-law, Biz for her birthday. It has four pockets (two in and two out) and is double stitched inside to reduce fraying. Oh to have a fancy serger that would eliminate fraying!
Z has been lots of fun lately, when he's not teething. He loves to play on this website (thanks Dana!), and says outloud the letters and their sounds along with the program. He's grown by leaps and bounds in his speech in the last month. He can identify many letters all on his own and sounds out many too. Our first shock was two weeks ago when he saw the "Scott" bath tissue in the bathroom (a giant multi-pack) and said, "Ssssss, Sssss, O, U" the two t's crossed together looked like a U kind of! Oh, and he sounds out C's like S's.

A couple of funnies, yesterday at the post office, he got antsy and so I set him up on the high counter next to me to get him out of his stroller. He was very good and played for a bit, then decided to lay down...on the counter. He just laid back. Cracked me up! Then just now (like five minutes ago) he discovered that if he punches in the air when he's facing the dogs (albeit 10 feet away) they'll run. So funny. It's like his super power. The dogs used to barely tolerate him, but now that he's not poking their eyes out, they instigate chasing games with him sometimes and let him pet them. This new super power shouldn't ruin the new relationship especially since he's not actually touching them and he still drops so much food when he eats, which is their main perk since we've had a kid. I almost forgot, he likes my growing belly, and lifts my shirt and his so we can rub bellies, so cute!