Monday, August 22, 2011

Couponing Loot

For lack of things to blog about at the moment, I thought I'd share with you my loot from my latest couponing adventure.
3 boxes of Special K cereal
2 boxes of Apple Jacks cereal
6 boxes of Pop Tarts
4 boxes of Keebler Sandwich Crackers
2 boxes of fruit snacks
1 box of Scooby Doo snacks
2 packages of cookies (pic shows 1)
6 packages of Bic pens

With the help of couponing assistant, Andrew, we got all this for under $20. Not too shabby. Side note: We got the pens for -$.02 plus tax each. Gotta love free pens, but this wasn't as cool as last week's nail polish that I got for -$2. :D (<--I'm practically emoticon-illiterate since I don't use them that much, but this one seemed appropriate.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mommy Accomplishments

It's amazing to me what I've learned since becoming a mom. Ranging from minor things to things that have taken awhile to figure out, here's a quick list of things I've accomplished:

1) Learned how to change a diaper. I had never changed a diaper before and my first attempt was in the NICU with Jadon. Talk about nervousness with the nurse standing close by and a preemie to change. Now, I'd like to say I'm pretty darn good with diapers.

2) Became incredibly informed on childhood development. Not only did I read a baby book with Jadon, but I also took not one but two "Infancy and Childhood Development" courses in college. Why two? I took the first one as a non-major class before I changed majors and needed the major class. Also, basically every psychology class has some sort of childhood development involved.

3) Learned American Sign Language basics. From previous posts, you can tell how much I love using ASL with babies. I started some with Jadon but really kicked it up with Isabelle. I'd like to attribute Isabelle's language boom to ASL and it's amazing to be able to communicate with your child at such a young age. They both have something they learn together now and it's amazing to watch how quickly they pick it up and how much they enjoy it.

4) Learned how to make my own baby food. Yes. That is an odd one. I'll even admit to that. I completely forgot that I had done this. Sure, I have a bad memory, but I did this for like 6+ months. Come on... I think I actually literally forgot that I was doing this and so I stopped and then she didn't need it anymore. I started doing this to partly save money, but mostly because it was healthier.

5) Became a babywearer. I never had a baby carrier with Jadon which I sorely regret since he needed to be held so much, but I got an Ergo baby carrier as a gift from Isabelle's baby shower and my interest in babywearing grew from there. I purchased a Moby wrap for the newborn stages, which I highly recommend, and carried (or "wore" as you say in the babywearing world) Isabelle for several hours a day. She was bad at sleeping so this was a lifesaver. When the Ergo didn't work for me when Isabelle got old enough for it, I turned to the babywearing world to find a solution. To make a long story short, I have tried just about every type of carrier out there and have accumulated a ton of carriers along the way.

6) Learned how to cloth diaper. To go along with all the other hippie things, I also turned into a cloth diaperer with Isabelle. To mostly reduce waste and to save money too, I researched cloth diapering for a long time before having Isabelle. I settled on BumGenius and haven't had a need to stray away from that brand. I didn't cloth diaper her much at night or use cloth wipes, but the cloth diapers alone have saved me a lot of trips to the store to get more diapers.

7) Became a baby product addict. I am so well versed in the baby product world that I feel as though I owe it to myself and others that I share my knowledge by working in a baby store some day. Partly joking there, but I am an over-researcher so I can talk to you about strollers, baby carriers, diaper bags, and other fun baby related items, as well as where you might be able to find them on sale.

I think that about sums everything up. I can't really think of much else to add. It's amazing what you can learn when you want to.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Attempts at Domestication

I think the title of this post is appropriate for this next segment... I have hardly any skills in the good housewife department. I don't know how to cook and I don't like to clean, but of course, I cook sometimes and I have to clean. Since we want to save money for the future (and because I want to learn useful skills), I've taken up some activities to help with saving money. These activities are obviously leading me onto the domestication path. Whether I can follow this path and actually succeed is another question. Here are a list of my attempts. Look out for updates in the future.

Attempt #1 - I went to a couponing class. There, I said it. I have decided to start couponing. If Extreme Couponing on TLC pops into mind, I don't blame you. That show has given a bad reputation to couponers all over. Personally, I would like to call myself an informed couponer. Yes, I get the Sunday paper now. Yes, I have a couponing binder. I subscribe to the Savvy Shopper Deals newsletter to stay up to date on deals and I also use their "Shopping Wizard" to help me in finding where the best deals are. If you're interested in couponing, let me know. I'd be happy to help or at least refer you to someone who knows what they're talking about. It's been an interested adventure so far. I do enjoy it, although it can be a pain at times, but I can't really complain when I can get things I'd use for free rather effortlessly.

Attempt #2 - We've started doing Bountiful Baskets. If you aren't familiar with BB, check out their site. It's basically a co-op where you can participate to get locally grown produce and fruit. It's cheaper and fresher because they eliminate the middle man (grocery stores) in the process. You sign up each week. Conventional boxes are $15. Organic boxes are $25. You can also add-on the other things available, like breads and fruits. The boxes are 50% vegetables and 50% fruit, but they're different each week and you aren't guaranteed anything, which means you're up for a surprise of produce each week. That can be a fun thing or that can be a pain trying to figure out what to do with something foreign. We've done it for 3 weeks already and it's been pretty good for us. I've been able to expand my very limited cooking skills with the motivation to use all the food before it goes bad. I've been able to make fresh strawberry lemonade, salsa, kale chips, beet salad, cilantro lime butter on corn, and I've even practiced my knife skills by slicing all that fruit each week.

Hopefully, my efforts will pay off in the future. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Seattle 2011


Not long after our trip to Disney World, we packed up our things again to head to Seattle for my sister's graduation. This time, instead of packing for the heat and humidity of Florida, we packed for the rain and mild weather of Washington. Andrew had driven through Washington before. He went to Seattle for a day with his friends back in high school, but I had never been there before. We knew to expect rain and temperatures in the high 60s/ low 70s, however, we lucked out and the weather was absolutely perfect for the majority of our stay. It was sunny and warm for most of the time, except the last full day we were there which happened to be the day of graduation and of course it poured throughout the ceremony.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Disney World 2011: Day 7 and our goodbyes...

Our time in Disney World was amazing. We stayed there a whole week which in most places would be overkill, but it actually was just perfect for us to take in everything Disney World had to offer. We actually could have stayed a bit longer too since there really was more stuff we were never able to do.

On our last day there, we decided to take it easy so we packed up our stuff and checked them with the hotel while we went out to the park one last time. We went to Epcot yet again. It was so conveniently close and we wanted to go through it one last time. We got some more food from the food cart in China and went through the Japanese store to get more goodies before we had to leave to catch our bus to the airport.

One good thing about staying at a Disney hotel is that we get to use the Magical Express to/from the airport and they check in our bags at the hotel. All we had to do was make sure we caught our bus and that was it. We said goodbye to Disney World and made our way home in a much quicker manner than when we first arrived. (i.e. we weren't stuck in security for an hour and then get delayed even more while we waited for others stuck in security to make it to the plane.) Isabelle didn't fare as well on the flight home though and she cried for the last 20 minutes or so. She kept signing and saying "All Done!" and Andrew had to finally pretend that he was going to get up to change her diaper in order for her to stop crying.

Getting home was kind of a bummer. I remember how sad it was to leave Disney World the first time I was there in high school. It was like returning to reality then and it was kind of like that now. Jadon kept telling me weeks afterward that he missed Disney World and how he wished we could go back there. All I could think was, "Me too." Disney World was an amazing trip for all of us and we're definitely going to go back there many more times in the future, but first, we want to visit several other places before we head back there.

This ends our Disney World trip series finally. Thanks for reading if you were able to get through all the details. Now, we'll be moving on to more recent events and I'll update more often.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Disney World 2011: Day 6

(Yes, I'm still writing about Disney World. Yes, I do realize that I'm VERY far behind...)

On the second to last day in Disney World, we planned to head back to the Magic Kingdom as early as we could so that we could beat the heat and the crowds. Since the first day in Disney World was a massive disaster at the Magic Kingdom, Andrew was not very happy to head back there but I pretty much demanded that we wake up early enough to at least do half a day there. We have kids after all. They have to ride something in the Magic Kingdom.

We arrived pretty soon after the park opened and it was a completely opposite experience than the one we had the first time around. It was practically blissful there. The weather was amazing and we walked onto pretty much everything we wanted to ride and were able to enjoy a nice lunch without too much of a wait or crowd.

We started out at the it's a small world ride which was Jadon and Isabelle's favorite in Disneyland. Jadon was surprised that things outside were completely different, but that everything inside was pretty much the exact same as Disneyland. After that we went to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. This was my first time ever riding on this ride and it just seemed like a pirates themed small world ride, since we rode them back to back. Jadon was terrified for the first part and closed his eyes, but he opened them for the end of it. He enjoyed looking through all the stuff in the gift shop and ended up picking out a telescope. When we got off the ride, we saw the last part of the Captain Jack Sparrow impersonator. It was hilarious and such an amazing impersonation. It would've been fun to see the whole show. Jadon even joined in when they were looking through their telescopes to spot something.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Disney World 2011: Day 5

We're almost done with the Disney World posts! Yay!

In this immensely drawn out Disney World saga, I last left you with a post about our relaxing day lounging around our hotel and a short evening trip to Epcot. Day 5 finds us arriving to Disney's Animal Kingdom right before the park opened to all guests at 9 AM. We were originally trying to get here earlier since the park opened to Disney hotel guests at 8 AM, but instead, we arrived to a big crowd lining up to get in. Not a huge deal though. We just had to wait for a little while and then we were able to get in with the rest of the crowd. Lucky for us, we happened to meet up with Heather and Jason right outside the gate without prior knowledge of the other one being there yet.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Disney Detour

Since I'm sure you're all enjoying the uber detailed day-by-day posts of Disney World so much, I hope you don't mind taking a bit of a detour and checking out the recent posts on the Sabins' blog here and here.

The first one is of our awesome pedicure trip. I've taken Andrew to get a pedicure once before this trip and he really enjoyed it. He's not afraid to admit that he likes massages and being pampered. The first time he went, I had a gift certificate that had to be spent before it expired and so that was what ultimately got him to go. He liked it all except that it was at a cosmetology school and he happened to be the only one in the group of the three of us that had a girl who wore gloves the whole time. That didn't make him so happy, but he did enjoy the pampering. This time around, Rachel and I had Groupons to this awesome place called The Clique that I had been to once before. I also convinced Andrew to get a Groupon as well. When I first went, I had mentioned to the ladies there that he was a bit embarrassed about the fact that his girl was the only one who wore gloves the whole time. They said that I should bring him there and that they wouldn't wear gloves. It was all very humorous to talk about, but bringing Andrew to get another pedicure wasn't exactly exciting for him. That is until he got there and got to sit in a massaging chair while his feet were being nicely pampered. This is such an awesome place to go to and Andrew really enjoyed it. He got to relax and came out of there with super nice feet.

The second post there is about RowleyCon. If you know who Rowley is, I'm pretty sure that I don't really need to say much else, but if you don't, this was an event of all things Rowley. I wasn't able to attend as much as I wanted to, but Andrew was able to get in lots of gaming time. It was really fun for what I was able to go to and I can't wait until next year when I can actually dress up and compete in more games.

Disney World posts will resume shortly. April is a stressful month for me right now and I can't wait to get back to documenting our trip and moving onto more current events.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Disney World 2011: Day 4

Andrew still wasn't feeling too good from the day before in Hollywood Studios so we decided to stay in this morning and hang out around our hotel. Andrew thinks he might have just had some minor heat exhaustion from when he walked around with Isabelle napping in the carrier out in the afternoon sun the day before. He wasn't feeling too good at dinner the night before so we thought it would be better to stay in and let him and Isabelle take good naps in our room before he got any worse.

We woke up relatively late this morning. I think it was around 10 AM and then we went to Port Royale for some breakfast. We decided today would be the day to take advantage of all the things we had around our hotel since we had been too busy before to do any of it and would likely be too busy for the rest of the trip to do ever do them. When we finished breakfast, we were finally able to rent out a surrey bike to ride around the lake. We had seen several families taking them around the lake and Andrew and Jadon had been wanting to rent one since our first time seeing them. There weren't very many rented out so we had our pick and we got a 2 seater bike with a bench in the front for the kids. It was a golf cart sized thing with a canopy and the kids were buckled in the front so they could see everything. Jadon was luckily seated on the side with the bell. The guy said that Jadon was the designated "people mover" and that he was to ring the bell to tell people in front of us to move out of the our way. Of course, Jadon loved that and he rode the majority of the ride hanging onto the string waiting for us to tell him it was okay to ring the bell. Andrew was seated with the handbrake and I could barely reach the petals at the very edge of my seat so I wasn't of much help. I did help go up the steepest hill there but that was about it. I got pretty sore from that one hill and the seat seemed to bruise my bum the next day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Disney World 2011: Day 3

We were able to actually get into Hollywood Studios pretty much when they opened the next day. We scheduled only 1 day to get to everything here and we were able to hit just about everything this park had to offer. When we first got into the park, we booked it over to Toy Story Mania to get fast passes. I've been wanting to ride this ride since its debut and we never were able to make it to the one in California Adventure, so this was pretty much the biggest thing for me to do that day since I've been reading that the Fast Passes for this go pretty quickly. We went to get them an hour or so after the park opened and our time to come back wasn't until 4:30 PM which means they were going quickly. After that, we were able to wander around the park and explore a little bit while we decided what we wanted to do first.

Hollywood Studios is primarily full of shows. There are a couple of extreme rides, but other than that, it's mostly pretty relaxed and easy going here. Of course there were crowds, but a lot of the shows were indoors and the waits were all very minimal. I think this was the perfect escape for us in the middle of our vacation.

The Studio Backlot Tour was the first attraction we went to. We didn't really know much about this ride, but it was pretty cool to see the behind-the-scenes stuff. We got to see special effects sets and props from movies. The kids didn't enjoy the loud effects that much, but they were pretty good throughout the ride. Jadon was curious about the water works and what was happening. Isabelle did get a little bored though and Andrew had to pull out his phone for her to play with. Andrew and I thought it was pretty interesting and it was something Andrew said was a favorite of the day. I thought it was pretty cool to see all the props and especially the plane that Walt Disney used to fly back and forth between California and Florida.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Disney World 2011: Day 2

After another night of very minimal sleep, I woke up early to get ready and tried to wake up Andrew to get ready before we had to wake the kids up to go. This is how every morning went for the rest of our trip. I would set my alarm, wake up, and get ready while going over to Andrew and hitting him every once in awhile trying to wake him up. He would eventually wake up and get ready and then we'd get the kids up. Our goal was to let them get as much sleep as possible since they were obviously very sleep deprived there. They usually get 12 hours of sleep a night, so adjusting to our time schedule was very tiring for them. We pretty much decided that our plan of attack would be to hit the parks as early as we could to beat the heat and the crowds. They actually did very well though with waking up. Isabelle would pop up pretty easily while Jadon acted just like Andrew and would complain for forever before finally getting up.

Our plan for the day was to go to Epcot and to go to the Princess Storybook Dining for lunch. I forgot my itinerary (Yes, I typed up an itinerary which Andrew mocked at me for doing but he ended up eating his words yet again.) at home so I wasn't totally sure of what our plans were for any of the days, but thank goodness Heather had hers. We originally thought our character dining was at 10:20 AM but after a little mix-up we figured out that it was actually at noon. Isabelle dressed the part, sort of, wearing the pink Minnie Mouse dress and the ears I made for her.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Disney World 2011: Day 1

So our first night in Disney World didn't go as smoothly as we thought it was going to go. I also forgot to mention that we had the lovely privilege of sharing a van to our room with a super cranky and mean guy just wanting to pick a fight over stupid things. Not pleasant at all since it was just us and him. Our resort is so huge that the Disney Magical Express shuttle from the airport took us to check-in and then a smaller van took us to our room. We had a really nice bellhop who drove us and took our bags to our room, but it was probably not so fun for him to have to deal with this guy.

Our first day in Disney World was to be spent in the Magic Kingdom. Obviously, since we got in so late the night before, we weren't going to be able to make it there as early as we had hoped. We ended up waking up at 10 AM or so and got ready to go. Since we got in so late the night before, we weren't able to see much of what was around our hotel room. This is what we discovered upon waking up and looking out the door. Immediately across from us was a little beach along the lake that the whole resort is built around and to the left one was one of the many little pools they have around the resort. The main building called "Port Royale" with the food and the main pool was a little walk away. We opted to stay in a "preferred room" so that we would be closer to the main building. All of the buildings around the lake are named after an island and have a slightly different color scheme. We were in "Trinidad North" and were lucky enough to stay in a Nemo-themed room. It wasn't majorly themed but it was nice and having the beach and pool right by us were definitely nice even though we didn't have a lot of time to spend at them.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Disney World 2011: Planning and Getting There

This year, Andrew and I decided to take a family trip to Disney World. We wanted to go some place warm and we were debating between San Diego (to make up for the Sea World trip that never happened due to plane problems), Hawaii, and Disney World. We were torn between Hawaii and Disney World because either trip was going to be a great deal. We even asked Jadon if he wanted to go to the beach (Hawaii) or to something like Disneyland (Disney World). Surprisingly, he chose the beach even though he's been wanting to go back to Disneyland ever since we came back home. We eventually decided on Disney World after exploring our options and my cousin, Heather, her husband, Jason, and their daughter, Kaitlyn, were also going to go the same time as us so it was perfect.

So the planning began. We decided to stay at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort because we loved the theme. We especially liked the pirate ship themed pool complete with water cannons and the beaches. Our biggest concern with this trip was that we would have a difficult time getting Jadon to ride any rides. In Disneyland, it was a constant struggle full of crying and whining to get him to ride anything other than the "it's a small world" ride (which we rode over and over again). We started about a month or so early with Jadon and told him he was going to Disney World and that he had to ride the rides we took him on without crying.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Library Love

Andrew and I have started taking the kids to the library on a weekly basis. It's amazing that it took us this long to finally start taking them there considering how much they both like to read. Isabelle used to read one book at bedtime which was usually Goodnight Moon but then she got bored of it so we switched to Goodnight Gorilla. We initially tried to establish these as bedtime books only while we were trying to set up a bedtime routine for her. When she was finally a good sleeper, Andrew started to stray away from the typical bedtime books and introduced other books to her at bedtime. Well, soon after she wanted to read every book possible before bedtime so now there are always a bunch of books that are in our little reading nook.

We used to take them to Barnes & Noble a lot on the weekends to get new books so I think that's why we never thought seriously about taking them to the library. The library ceased to exist in our minds since Andrew hasn't been to a library for recreation since his early college years and I haven't been since my little incident with unnecessarily due fines in high school. (For the record, I have a little problem with the fines on my card and so I stopped using my library card to avoid having to pay the fines. It all resulted from my already paying the overdue fines when I went back once to return the books and then being charged another overdue fine even though I had returned the books on time. It's all really silly now, but I was a poor high school student before and it's really the principal of the matter for me.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sundance 2011: Reagan

We had the awesome privilege to attend a Sundance film this year with the Sabins. They purchase the locals only passes every year and are kind enough to offer up a chance for us to join them. In previous years, we never get back to them in time to actually get a ticket so we miss out. Last year, we were able to go see Skateland with them which I think is the first time Andrew and I have ever been to a Sundance film together. Andrew's not too interested in seeing indie films so I usually have to beg him to take a look at the film options with me which makes it difficult to decide on a film.

This year, I went through all of our prospects and picked out the ones I was most interested in seeing. Andrew ranked them and we gave our list to the Sabins. We ended up getting our first pick which was Reagan. Our overall view of the film was a good one. It was a very well done documentary that portrayed Reagan as a man and as a politician. It was very unbiased and I liked how it presented everything without trying to sway you to one way of thinking. The best part of the film for both of us, I think, was the parts that included Reagan's son speaking about his dad. It definitely added a very personal feeling to the whole film and an inside look into his son's feelings on his father's life. I didn't know much about Reagan before watching this and I definitely think this is a good watch for those interested in learning more about this president. Even Andrew, who is a bit of a history nut, learned some new things about Reagan and his presidency.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Farewell January

January was not kind to me this year. I had two colds that kept me reaching for a box of Kleenex for most of the month. I've gotten used to sleeping with my mouth open when I sleep to breath and having Simone hit me at night to try and get me to stop snoring. My snoring was even bad enough to drive our clingy little boy from our bed to sleep in his own room. Okay, not really -- but he is sleeping in his own bed. This was really no small feat. We've been trying to move Jadon to his own room for years. Whenever he would make some progress, he always seemed to regress immediately and come crying downstairs to tell us that his room was "spooky" and he needed to sleep in our room. But now, as I write this I believe he is sleeping in his own room and I must admit that something good did come from January.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sewing: Bubble Dress

I finally got a sewing machine this last Christmas from Andrew. I've been asking for one for ages and he finally gave in. I wanted one for a long time so that I could make clothes and try out other cool things. It's been hiding in the corner of the office since Christmas, but I finally got around to picking what I wanted my first project to be: A bubble dress for Isabelle!

Originally, I had been casually looking around online for some cool Disney themed outfits for Isabelle to wear for our Disney trip, but I kept coming across things that I didn't like or things that were way too expensive for my taste. It took awhile before it occurred to me that I could just make one for her. Duh! It sounded ridiculously perfect that I can't believe it took me awhile to figure this out. Well, I went online to search for some free tutorials. Gotta love the internet. I came across a bunch that I loved, but I stuck to the bubble dress as my first project since it seemed simple enough for me to do. I learned to use a sewing machine back in junior high school and haven't really used one since, except once in high school and another time recently for a doll I made Isabelle for Christmas. It surprisingly comes back fairly quickly. I did have to learn a few things I never learned before, like threading the machine, etc., but it wasn't too bad after I figured that out.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Signing Love

So whenever anyone asks us what signs Isabelle knows, we always draw a complete blank. Usually the conversation goes like this:

Us: "Yeah, Isabelle signs and talks a ton now."
Them: "That's cool. What does she sign and/or say?"
Us: "Uh...."

I have no idea why it's so hard for us to remember, but we always seem to forget all that she knows whenever someone prompts the question so I figured I should keep track of her vocabulary at some point. That way, I can look back to remember how far she's progressed. Even with Jadon, whenever we tried to count the signs he knew we'd get to maybe 20 and then a long while later we'd realize that we completely left out large categories of signs.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas 2010

And another Christmas has come and gone. We didn't have much snow this year for Christmas, but I had a feeling the weather would make it up to us in no time. Of course it did right after Christmas. It snowed a ton and the weather dropped to the negatives. Thank goodness we don't have to shovel our driveway. Thanks to HOA fees, we only have to shovel our sidewalk (which is itty bitty) and the walk to our door. And some days, when we're lucky, the guys who shovel our driveway are nice enough to shovel our sidewalk too! Gotta love it here.

It occurred to me several days ago that this was Jadon's 4th Christmas and Isabelle's 2nd Christmas. This year was definitely lots of fun because Jadon knew very well what was going on this year and Isabelle also had a better appreciation for all the wonderful gifts given to her. Both the kids were spoiled like crazy of course from both sides of the family as well as from Andrew and me. They'll definitely have some great stuff to last them awhile. I'm thinking of doing a handmade holiday next year where all the gifts will be handmade, but we'll see how that goes. Andrew loves being able to spoil the kids this time of year. According to him, this is the only time other than their birthdays that it's acceptable to buy them mounds of gifts. Thanks to Andrew, the kids got plenty of toys all around from Santa and from us.