Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Am I Too Cheap or Just Thrifty?

I'm still getting into couponing and I love sites like freecycle.org.

Do you remember last year when I received lots and lots of Little People toys for free from a generous person off of freecycle? I had so many things that I ended up sharing some with family and friends. Then I gave the rest to Bee around Christmas time. She enjoyed them but was too young to appreciate them. Soon thereafter we packed up the majority of our belongings and put them into storage while our house was for sale. These were all packed up and forgotten about.



I decided to not unpack them and to give them to Bee for Christmas again this year. It was genius. I had lots and lots of toys and presents for her to unwrap and I hadn't spent a dime. Not only that, I got two Christmases out of them. She's only two and I know that I can't do something like this ever again, but it worked for us this year.


We celebrated our family's Christmas early this year before we left town to visit extended family. Santa managed to find us early and fill our stockings. Bee was spoiled with lots of toys. She loved the Little People barn and called it "old McDonald." These toys are wonderful and I love to watch her imagining as she plays with them. They are spread all over our living room and she spends lots of time playing with them.

We also did a full Christmas dinner with a turkey and everything. We wanted to keep things small and only invited over one family to share the meal with us. We had so much fun and ate so much that none of us even thought about pulling out a camera. I was proud of myself for managing to get the whole meal together without losing my temper. I made a lot of the food the night before. I remember having Thanksgiving at our home in Iowa and that it was a very stressful day for me. This time I planned ahead and had more realistic expectations. It has a been a very merry Christmas thus far and I'm excited to celebrate it again soon.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Made This

One of our goals has been to try and downsize our possessions. Ben and I are both hoarders and we have a hard time getting rid of things. One of the biggest jokes in his family is that he had a pair of shoes once that he refused to replace once they had finally fallen apart. His solution: duct tape. He continued to use and wear those shoes. Ben is also too cheap to buy things when he needs them, but that's another story.

As we were preparing for our move we painstakingly went through our clothes and got rid of some of the things that we no longer wear or were no longer able to wear (sigh). Benjamin was having a hard time throwing away his high school and college t-shirts. Some of these were in horrible condition and most were two sizes too big for him. However, his sentimental attachment was strong. I finally suggested that we could save them and that I would SOME DAY in the far distant future make a quilt out of them. He loved that idea and dutifully packed them away in a well labeled box.

When we arrived in Kentucky I found that box. We had chosen not to really get each other gifts this year and instead take a Christmas trip to Utah to visit friends and family. Somehow I decided to make him the quilt anyway. It was a last minute decision, which required a lot of time and effort on my part to get it done in time. I finished hand sewing the binding the day before we celebrated Christmas.

I used all of the t-shirts in the box and then used the leftover fabric to make the flashing. I interfaced all of the t-shirt fabric. Imagine standing at the ironing board for hours and hours. This was the worst part. I found lots of ideas and tutorials online and was easily able to decide how I wanted to proceed.

All of my in process pictures are not with me, so I will only show the final product here.

I am so grateful for my good friend Jenny and her willingness to help with Bee and for her moral support. She also graciously donated the flannel sheet that serves as the backing. Hopefully her new little arrival will come soon and I can return the many favors.



I also have to thank Pam for letting me use her quilting machine and for patiently standing by my side for a combined fifteen hours as we quilted that stubborn blanket. I thought that it turned out better than I could have imagined. I really have little experience sewing and was so proud that this actually looked presentable. Ben was floored and surprised. He described it as a scrapbook in a quilt and spent several minutes telling me why each t-shirt was meaningful and memorable for him.

I also have to thank Benjamin for not once criticizing me during November and December for my lack of homemaking skills. He didn't know that I was working on the blanket and he really must have wondered what I was doing all day every day.

Success.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa pictures

This is the first year that Abby get's excited about "Santa Claus". She knows that he brings "regalos" (presents), and that's about it as far as I know (Katie may correct me if that's inaccurate.)

Centre College hosted a Christmas party for all their employees last night. It was very impressive. They provided a catered meal and had lots of activities for the kids. President Roush sang "jingle bells" on his guitar and Mrs. Roush read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to all the kiddies.

Abigail was excited to see Santa. Well, she was excited up until the moment it came to sit on Santa's lap. Then she got a little scared. We had to stand there with her and she regarded Santa very cautiously... but ultimately she sat still long enough for the photographer to snap these pictures:



















Monday, December 13, 2010

The Internet


I absolutely love using the Internet. I definitely use it for several hours a day. I check my email accounts often. I search blogs, read blogs, etc. I look at coupons. I find information. I do projects. I learn how to do projects.

For example, I recently decided to throw a baby shower for a good friend.

I started off looking for shower ideas and I ended up copying the them from my sister's shower. I found out the information that I needed by looking at her blog. I copied some of her pictures and even her invitation. Just a little work in Adobe Photo Shop and voila, a personalized and themed baby shower invitation. Then I had my sister check with her friend about the whole me copying her idea. Got permission.

I went with the owl theme. Then I started doing Internet searches and I found so many good and fun ideas. It was so easy to put everything together because I had lots of full color photos and step-by-step tutorials.

I found ideas for games on my sister's blog. One game was called Whoo's who. I had Jenny provide pictures of her family members when they were babies. Then I threw in a baby picture of Ben & of Bee. The guests had to try and guess which picture belonged to which person. Two people got them all right. Wow. Mine didn't look near as good as Tami's, but my guest's didn't know the difference.


Here's little Bee. Most people guessed her right.


For decorating, I found these cute owls (with detailed instructions).

I decided to make some and ended up making three. I already had the soft pink fabric and I chose the other  fabric at Hobby Lobby with Jenny. I picked a pattern and slyly asked Jenny what she thought. She seemed to like it so i bought some. I made the owls, used them for decoration, and then gave them to her. She laughed because she had previously returned to the store and bought the IDENTICAL fabric to use to make a baby quilt. Now she'll have matching owls. I forgot to take a picture of the finished owls. Here's what I have.




I also found several cupcake designs and I decided to make the nutty owls and chocolaty ones.




I forgot to take picture of my cupcakes until a day later. By this time the Werther's Originals had started melting, but you can see what they looked like.


The Internet made everything so much easier.

Change of vacation plans

This morning Katie was trying to get Abigail excited about our holiday plans to go to Utah and visit family. She said: "En dos días vamos a Utah!" ("In two days we're going to Utah!")

Abigail looked back and said: "No... vamos a México!" ("No... we're going/let's go to Mexico!")

Sounds like a plan to me!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dos (Two)

For several months now if you asked little Bee how old she was, she would always answer that she's two despite the fact that she wasn't yet two.

Well, now she is.

I've loved the last two years and am so happy that I have her in my life. She brings so much joy to our home and we are grateful for the privilege to raise her, to teach her, and to learn from her.

I decided to throw her a small friend birthday party in honor of her special day. We talked about it ahead of time and she began practicing singing the happy birthday song. She loves to sing it and many other songs. She knows that birthdays mean cake and she was excited for the cake. She didn't learn about presents until the day of and quickly learned to enjoy those as well.

We had a house full of two-year-olds and it was so much fun. The party was Dora themed. We colored, ate snacks, decorated home-made musical instruments including tambourines, kazoos, & maracas. Then we danced in a circle and played a cake walk type game. The kids were supposed to dance with their instruments but that ended up not working out. They also play pin the monkey on the monkey. A non competitive game where the only objective is to stick a small monkey onto a big one anywhere you wanted to. Then we had several impromptu rounds of ring-around-the-rosies. It felt like chaos, but it was fun to see the kids play.

We finished off the party with cake, ice cream, and present opening. Then the kids just played. There was lots of jumping (both on ground and on couches), playing with the play shopping cart and the play kitchen, fighting over the little tykes car, fighting over Bee's new umbrella, fighting over Bee's new toy bus, and laughing, and smiling. Oh, and whistling. I handed out loud, shrilly whistles as prizes.

Bee enjoyed the party and loved the gifts that kind friends brought for her. I loved that she's too young to have any expectations and that I could make it as simple or as complicated as I wanted to.







I LOVE this skirt. Jenny made it and Bee looks so cute in it. She never wanted to take it off.


Here we go again. This time they're fighting in the car instead of sharing.
This is what the playroom looked like after the party. Little E loved the toy kitchen.


People always say that kids grow up fast, but I never really understood until I started experiencing it. Just two years ago she was a teeny tiny little person. Now she's jumping, talking, reasoning, thinking, expressing opinions, having strong opinions, remembering things, making connections between things, cuddling, and giving impromptu hugs and kisses. She still pats me on the back to show her love to me. She lets me rock to sleep in the chair. She sometimes sleeps in her Ariel bed instead of in the crib. She likes to 'drive' the car. I let her play in it sometimes. I always am with her and I make sure to have the parking brake on. She likes to draw and even pretends things. The other day she tucked her 'mantita' (blankie) into the top of her shirt and then she told me that she was wearing a 'corbata' (tie) just like daddy. Then she moved it down to cover her lower half and said 'falda' (skirt). I love that she can pretend something is something else. Sometimes I let her 'help' me cook and she loves it. She is an obedient child and remembers if we have told her something was wrong or dangerous.

Ben does a good job of reading from the Book of Mormon with her every day at breakfast. Bee seems to love it and actually retains quite a bit. Ben will usually ask her what we talked about yesterday and often she can tell him. Sometimes I don't even remember and she will know right away. She has a plastic recipe book attached to her play kitchen. She likes to pretend that it's her Book of Mormon and she reads it by turning it's one little page.

She can climb up on things and get into things now. She's been known to make a mess with markers and sharpies.

She is fascinated by the toilet still but doesn't want to use it. She does make her dolls use it though. Recently several poor stuffed animals have been accidentally dropped in. Yuck. Last week she somehow managed to flush an entire bar of Irish Spring soap down the toilet. We finally had to call a plumber to figure out why our toilet was clogged.

Today she correctly used a pronoun and her father and I were thrilled. We were talking about Santa (she met him last night at a church dinner) and she talked about how we were going to see him again on Monday at the work party. The she said 'sentarse con él' (sit with him). She correctly identified that he was male and then used the correct pronoun.

She likes to put clothes and diapers on her stuffed animals. She likes to have them sleep on a pillow next to her. She gives them their own blanket too. She isn't particular and picks a different stuffed animal most nights.

She hates to have her diaper changed and really fights it. Erg. This is not one of my favorite phases.

She still loves milk but is also a good eater. She is picky about some things but will eat lots of others. She loved the turkey at Thanksgiving. Right now she is especially fond of grapes, pretzels, Goldfish, pancakes, 'pupcakes' (cupcakes), chicken nuggets, raisins, and cereal with milk. She'll usually choose plain Cheerios of Fruit Loops.

She's two and we're still head over heels. We love this little girl.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fun

Fun with stockings. Notice how her stocking says Baby's 1st Christmas on it. Now we're almost to her third and we're still using it. Maybe I will make stockings next year.
 Notice how I managed to catch her dropping and breaking the stocking holder. I took the picture right as the tree was pulled off by Bee and was falling to the floor. The star broke off the tree but nothing shattered. Now I just need to glue it back together.

 Fun with the car. Can you believe that they both fit? Barely. Lots of laughter and giggling this day.


Fun with homemade play- dough. She wanted a dragon.
She played with this bird and it's nest and eggs for a long long time.
Fun with forks.Why buy toys? Because moments like this only last for about ten minutes and then she needs to find something else to entertain herself with.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas is Almost Here

No really, it’s almost here. Especially since we are celebrating it here as a small family before we head off to UT to visit extended family. Santa’s coming to our house on December 10th.


I put the tree up in the middle of November so that I could enjoy it … and I have. It’s beautiful. Bee likes it too. I’ve wrapped the few presents that Bee will get from us and I’m still working on something small for Benjamin.

We went to the city Christmas parade recently and braved the bitter cold to see the different floats. It was so hometowny that we felt we were in a movie and Ben started singing the song from “How the Grinch stole Christmas,” the one they sing while holding hands and standing around the big tree.





 We love how Bee loves to read and how we can find her sitting in front of her books just reading. Her hair is a little out of control in this picture because I was taking care of the baby shower stuff while daddy dressed and watched Bee.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's been a while

It's been a while since I have blogged, and this is why:
1. I'm preparing for Christmas.
2. I have an almost two year old (that should be enough reason)
3. I threw a baby shower for a good friend yesterday and got carried away making things. I'm sad that I didn't take very many pictures. I never remember to take enough pictures.

4. I've tried to clean my house a few times recently
5. I'm in charge of the cooking now that Ben is working full time. Poor Ben (not for working, for having to eat my cooking).
6. I am planning a small birthday party for Abigail next week.
7. I have to have Christmas done by December 10th
8. Then I have to pack and be ready to leave by mid December.
9. I'm still adjusting to the freezing weather and move much slower now. It's only 30 degrees and yet I still complain. Ben keeps reminding me that it's better than Iowa.
10. I got to watch a fabulous presentation today of Handel's Messiah.

However, we've had some fun times these past few weeks that I want to record here:

We almost stayed home for Thanksgiving because of the holiday traffic and the yucky weather. However, we persevered and made it safely to my cousin's house in IL. We had a great time there and were well taken care of. Bee enjoyed all the toys and was fairly nice to her cousins. She's not good at sharing and was very possessive of all the toys.
We had a yummy Thanksgiving dinner and lots of food before and after. I tried to help with the food more than usual. I learned last year when I hosted Thanksgiving at my house that it is A LOT of work. I enjoyed spending time with my cousins and my aunt and uncle. I have great family.
 Ben sleeping on the couch.
 The fairy wings were a hit, I wish I had not bypassed them in the post Halloween sales.
 It was a little disconcerting to see my little girl on a horse with a BOY. She's growing up too fast.
 This was his car, but he graciously shared it with Bee one time and we quickly snapped a picture.

Yum!



We made a fun turkey craft with apples that was a hit while making and then served as an easy snack for the following day. I loved how Nicole was so proud of her turkey and would show it to everyone. The little ones were more interested in eating than decorating.
We also had a fun music class with all the kids that Shelly did.

We then headed to a few stores to try out the Black Friday shopping but were soon deterred by the loooooong lines. Then it was off it Indianapolis to spend a couple of days with my favorite friend and college roommate Elda. I love that they are so close and want to see as awesome as possible before he finishes his dental residency and moves away. Their little girl is beautiful and is so fun to be around. She is smiley and happy. She loves to dance and was very gracious to share with our little selfish two-year-old. Abby’s favorite toy was this computer that taught the letters. She was fascinated by it.



I didn’t get any good pictures of anyone there. The camera must have been hiding. Elda and I shopped some great sales and had lots of fun. I loved it. They also treated us with tickets to the TransSiberian Orchestra in the Conseco stadium. This was AMAZING! The lights were fun and the music active and exciting. Bee lasted for about forty minutes before she had to be taken out. Then she spent the rest of the concert dancing in the hallway. She was so happy. I tried to get a video of her dancing but her dancing doesn't start until 2 minutes in.