Friday, January 31, 2014

Artic Atlanta

Well, we wrapped up 3 full days of snow and ice today.  The temps have finally gotten above freezing long enough to make a difference and we have seen the snow melting.  Praise Jesus for melting snow, and no, I'm not kidding or exaggerating or whatever you will.  I'm glad the snow was here.  I am thrilled my little ones got to play in it, but I'm just as elated to see it GONE.  It is pretty for about 12 hours, after that... I want it gone.  And it is not pretty after someone drives in it.  Then it turns into icy slushy mess that is brown.  Yuck.

Snow days for me have been about organizing clothes in the kids' rooms, planning menus for the month of February, and gathering coupons for grocery shopping.  I was supposed to go to a work conference this weekend, but that obviously didn't happen since I just retrieved my vehicle today.  Thankfully it was still parked at the McDonalds where I left it and it hadn't been damaged or towed.  The roads were actually manageable and I did some grocery shopping before I returned home to the manic children.  I also went to Hobby Lobby and got some ribbon for my stash!

Hayes and Elizabeth are troopers and have been great considering we are all tired of being stuck at home, inside the house.  We did go outside Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, but yesterday we stayed inside all day.  It takes so long to put on all the gear and then they only stay outside for maybe 20-30 minutes.  They don't even like the snow.  They have tossed all the cushions in the floor every day, had a trampoline via couch to floor, and ran multiple laps around the middle of the house.  They have watched numerous Disney movies and sang along to most of them.  We also clap when appropriate during movies.  Every dress up outfit has seen action during Artic Atlanta week.

We made Snow Cream yesterday.  The can of sweetened condensed milk I had said it expired in 2012.  Oops.  Nobody is dead yet and we all ate it, so it must be okay?  Snow Cream was delicious and I'd never made it or had it before, that I can remember... It went along well with the brownies Caroline delivered!

I'm busily preparing dinners for next week while the children are napping.

Sunday is Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Tuesday is Vegetable Soup.  

I don't have a link or a source.  I just add a bunch of veggies to the crock pot and some ground meat and add some seasoning.  I also make cornbread, which is my most favorite food ever.  

I've been craving cheese dip like no other with this pregnancy, so I'm hoping this queso bake will be a delicious substitute!  

Thursday we have gymnastics and we go out to dinner after that.  Friday & Saturday Daryk will be coaching at Sectionals, so the kids and I will either have pizza, cereal, leftovers, or sandwiches.  I try to plan my meals around our lives and busy schedules.  I also plan a whole month at a time and adjust depending on grocery store sales, activities, etc.  I go shopping once a week for our meals and try my best to stick within a $100 a week budget for everything.  Maybe I'll post about how I budget that, coupon for savings, and plan meals one day.  I truly enjoy being organized.  Makes my life easier.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Georgia Snow

My fearless child.  She knows no boundaries.  She fears nothing.  She walks briskly into any situation and cares nothing about the consequences.  She will be the reason I have more gray hair than not in the coming years.  Elizabeth loved the snow.  She ate it.  In true Elizabeth fashion, it was a 'nack for her.  She had a hard time keeping those mittens on her hands, but she had a blast.  We were lucky enough to have a hand me down snow suit and several huge coats for her.  All I could think about while she was all layered up, was her having to go potty.  Thankfully she didn't have any accidents in the 20 degree snow!  

She resembled Christmas Story kid just a bit.  When she fell down, she had a hard time getting back up!

Have you ever tried to get a cooperative photo of a 2 & 4 year old?  It is about impossible.  I'm pretty sure I asked nicely for them to both look at me, smile, say cheese... something.  ANYTHING!  I got these.

Best one of the day!  

We trekked in the back yard around our 'trail' to see deer tracks and watch a few squirrels scrounge around for some food.  Our neighbor Caroline made the trip to our house to deliver brownies AND play with the kids for a few minutes.  I made her come inside before she headed back home to warm up and get some hot chocolate.  

We quickly moved the adventure to the swing set we bought from a friend for a STEAL of a price.  It has been so much fun for the kids and I've really enjoyed it.  I know they have.  The slide was a lot more fun in the snow!

Hayes didn't get the 'look at the camera' memo.
It was a fantastic day.  I am so grateful to God that all of my family was home, safe, and warm.  I was blessed to know that.  There were a lot of my friends who were out and about to rescue folks and more friends who were stuck in cars, hotels, and shelters very far from home.  There was even a baby delivered on the side of 285!  It took some people an entire day to get home and there are still cars stranded all over the place.  Today we are hoping to journey out and retrieve our vehicles, or at least ONE of them!  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I don't do snow.

Unless you live under a rock, you probably already know that it snowed a lot in Georgia.  Well, considering that it IS Georgia, it was a lot.  In our state we are not prepared to handle mass quantities of snow or ice.  We deal with winter storms this severe about once every 2-3 years, so it isn't a huge concern for most of us.  The government doesn't invest much money into winter storm prep or winter storm precautionary measures.  Most of the time you mention that 4 letter 's' word in Georgia and the whole state begins to panic, rush to the stores to buy groceries, head home immediately after that, and then we wait for the cancellations to roll in.  

I happened to be in a lunch meeting south of Atlanta when the snow really started coming down.  We finished up our meeting and headed home around 1 p.m. Tuesday.  The drive normally takes a solid hour.  I was planning to take the interstate all the way home because I figured it would be less congested.  I changed my mind and headed home my normal route.  The normal route included some back roads and those less traveled, but I was confident that I made the best decision.  Around 2 p.m. I realized I was stuck.  We had traveled most of the way home and only had minimal miles left to go.  Actually, I think my GPS (who I lovingly call Bonnie) said I had 19 miles to home from that spot where I was stuck.

I wasn't stuck because I couldn't move, but I was stuck because the people in front of me couldn't move and didn't know that momentum UP the hill covered in ice was critical.  So, nobody moving means stuck.  I am 7 months pregnant.  Thankfully I had a huge lunch and wasn't even hungry during the course of the whole adventure, but my baby was bladder dancing and that was NOT fun.  I spoke to my parents multiple times and assured them I was doing the best I could.  My children were safe.  My husband was safe.  My parents and siblings were safe, and I was stuck.  

Finally, my dad called one of his best friends who was about 10 minutes away from my location.  He quickly ran to my rescue in his 4 wheel drive truck.  I spent about 90 minutes sitting on the side of the road before their arrival.  Jim (dad's friend) and James (Jim's son) jumped out of the truck and quickly began helping.  Jim decided to move my car and I asked that James do all the driving.  At this point I was so grateful to see them that I was trying not to cry!  Just knowing that I was going to make it home before midnight and wouldn't be stranded was such a blessing to me.  

We waited behind a salt/sand truck for almost an hour and I snacked on sour gummy worms.  Jim follwoed behind as James drove my car to a nearby grocery store parking lot and I was finally able to use the restroom after almost 5 hours in the car.  We decided that my car wasn't safe to drive all the way home because it was spinning so badly on the ice.  We left my car there and I'm praying that it is still there, unharmed, tomorrow when I attempt to retrieve it.  I was a nervous wreck just riding home, so I was beyond grateful that I wasn't driving.  

We encountered multiple issues on the way home.  There were cars stranded on the side of the road and cars who still had people in them trying to drive forward or backward or any way just to get home.  At one point we saw a car that looked as though it was vertical and barely hanging onto the side of the road.  Not once did I feel unsafe.  Not once was I worried that I wasn't going to make it home.  We drove down and then back up two giant hills with cars lining both sides of the road just stuck.  The roads were in terrible shape and many vehicles were abandoned on the side of the road.  I suppose those people got picked up or managed to walk home.

Jim stopped to gas up about 3 miles from my house.  We had to drop off the student I was traveling with and then Jim made his final delivery of the night.  The stressed, crazed, hungry, and exhausted pregnant lady was finally home.  I managed not to cry throughout the entire day.  I will tell you that my two little ones running into my arms once I was finally home almost did me in.  I was able to swallow my lump and hold back the tears though!  I offered beverages and snacks to my rescue team and they politely declined.  I offered the restroom.... again declined.

I sent them home with directions back to a familiar road so they could make it home.  I will never EVER be able to explain how grateful I am for that drive home.  The men who came to get me and my student.  The time they took away from their family and the generosity they showed to me... it is something I will never forget.  The biggest 'favor' of my life during the most critical storm I can remember.  I can buy every restaurant gift card and say thank you 9000 times and it will never EVER be enough.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pizza Painting

I'm typically a 'one thing at a time' kinda mom.  Last weekend the kids were really into their artwork right about the time I was ready to serve the dinner that Papa Johns just delivered. I mean, isn't pizza better when its hot!?  My children do not share that same thought and would prefer that everything be lukewarm or cold.  Ewwww.  I felt bad interrupting their painting session for pizza, so I just let them eat while being little artists.
Hayes was a little more concerned with keeping his artwork and pizza separated so that his pizza didn't mess up his artwork.  Elizabeth could not get enough pizza while painting and could not have cared any less about the two messing each other up.  She dives right into both with little regard to what might happen.  

I love it when I get her hair up in this little bun thingy.  It is so cute and makes her look so grown up!  She typically spends most of her meal time wiping her face with a napkin and pushing her hair out of her eyes.  I try to keep it off her face, but sometimes that fight isn't worth the fight.  I remember on this particular night I traded the painting for the hair fixing. It was one for the other and I got the better end of the deal!  

Notice, he's completely moved the paper AWAY from his pizza, as in... you cannot see it... while he's eating.  After he was finished with that bite and put the pizza back down, wiped his hands, and mouth... he would pick up the artwork from the chair located on the left.  Smart kid.  Sometimes too smart... for his own good.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Homemade Laundry Detergent

One day while browsing Pinterest and looking at things that are helpful, useless, and sometimes hilarious... I found this post about making homemade laundry detergent.  I thought that it looked easy enough to try and if it happened to be cheaper than buying my Gain once a month I would try it!  It ended up being super easy, much cheaper than store bought detergent, and it has saved our family $120 a year!

I modified the original recipe a little bit.  I have two little ones and they make quite a mess with clothing.  And let's face it, sometimes I have dirty clothes that sit for a week before they make it to the washing machine.  I also have a little one who has terrible excema, and this has been wonderful for her sensitive skin!  I use the ingredients pictured below:

  • Borax 
  • Washing Soda (not to be confused with baking soda)
  • Oxi Clean (again with the stains and the little ones)
  • Dawn or any other good dish soap
Most of these are available at Target, Walmart, Publix, and most other stores where laundry products are sold.  They all retail for about $3-5 each, except Oxiclean.  It is a little more expensive, but y'all know I use a coupon and I can usually get $6!

I'm so cheap frugal that I don't even have a special container for it.  I just recycled my old detergent bottles and use those!  The spout on those containers made it really tricky to mix all the ingredients without making a mess, so I also use a funnel.  

The original recipe called for  weaker detergent that I prefer, so I use 1/3 of a cup of EACH of the dry ingredients (washing soda, Borax, and Oxiclean) and I use about 2 TBSP of the Dawn.  Sometimes I buy scented dish detergent for an extra kick, but most of the time I just use the blue stuff.  The notes on the original website make you aware that the detergent is thinner than the traditional store bought stuff, and it is much thinner.  I usually add an entire detergent lid full to each load I wash.  I also pre-treat nasty stains with Oxi-Clean spray because my children are gross.  If I could figure out how to make that and save money, I would!  

I fill each bottle about halfway full with hot water and mix it gently until blended.  Since you are mixing with HOT water it works best to leave it vented by opening the lid after mixing.  I place each bottle on a towel in the kitchen and wait about 20-30 minutes before I fill it up to the top with cold water.  I follow the directions on the website except for adding my own smelly stuff after I mix the other ingredients.  I add a cap full of this to every bottle of homemade detergent.  I rotate smells just so I don't get bored.  

Each of the containers I have last my family of 4 about a month.  This means I make detergent about 3-4 times a year, depending on the season and how busy we are.  I'm sure to some people my process seems crazy and compulsive, but it works for us and it saves us money.  The ingredients usually last us about 18 months, so I usually spend about $20 every 18 months to clean our clothes!  Plus, it smells wonderful and I actually like making the detergent!  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Laundry for the masses...

Sometimes the best part of my day is coming home while these two are still sleeping.  I can do laundry and load the dishwasher before I get to hug and kiss all my littles.  I hate waking them up, but sometimes it is necessary.  Like this one below, I have to wake her before gymnastics every week.  Never fails.  She loves to sleep.  She goes to bed willingly.  She is a strange breed, but I love her.  

The above child was pouting because I was still doing I said laundry and wasn't going to stop until I finished sorting it.  He says, 'I don't like you doing laundry Mommy.'  Me either bug.  Hayes is so helpful with the laundry though. He's only 4, so I don't let him do much as far as the chemicals are concerned, but he helps in other ways. He sorta the dirty stuff into baskets.  He helps to swap the clothes over from washer to dryer. He also helps to fold things, match socks, and put his clothes away. I don't plan on doing his laundry forever, so I love that he's interested in helping. 

Not so sure Libby will feel the same way!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Typical Libby

At this house we try to offer the little ones dessert every now and again.  If there is ice cream in the house, they are eating it.  We don't buy it terribly often for that very reason.  That, and I like to eat it with Butterfingers or Oreos.  Trying not to eat ice cream while pregnant has proven to be VERY difficult for me this go round.  

This girl right here doesn't miss a drop.  She's not going to let one sprinkle hit the floor.  She will not miss one bit, one drop, one tiny little bitty piece... She plans to get them all somehow.  She does this with every single bowl we fix her.  

After dinner and dessert she props herself up on the couch using a dinner napkin as her blanket.  It was her 'covers' for the relaxing 'digestion nap' she needed.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sometimes Sheldon, sometimes Percy

I get the AJC only to clip the coupons.  Hayes recently discovered that the Sunday paper has cartoons in it!  He spent a good hour reading through them last week.  He sat and flipped through them all.  He pointed out the cartoons that he knew and laughed when he thought it was appropriate.  

He tried to share with Elizabeth, but she had little interest in his new found love.  He read them over and over again.  I tried several times that afternoon to trash them in the recycle container, but he refused to let me until he was 'done' with them.  

He was totally engrossed in the colors, the pictures, the layout of the comics, and the different people.  I answered 90,000 questions in about 3 hours because of his comic discovery.  He was thrilled with them!  I cannot WAIT for Percy to see this blog because I know he will get a kick out of it.  

Just look at that face?  Can't you see how excited he was to share his new love?  I do believe he's a little bit like Percy because he has such a love for the comics.  He could possibly be a little bit like his Daddy too, since he's all into the graphic artsy side of it.  

And clearly I'm being schooled about the comics.  I dread the day he realizes that the comics come in every paper that lands at our house.  I may never be able to get rid of them!  I have the Sunday comics saved and plan to save them so he can read them whenever he wants to!  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Back to School

My littles started back to school the same day my students did.  We had an extended Christmas break due to some extreme cold here in Georgia and they enjoyed an extra day home with Lori Beth over break!  LB is our new sitter/nanny and we LOVE her!  She picks the kids up from school 4 days a week and takes them to lunch or home or to play and then home for a nap.  They pretend as though they don't like her, but they ask about her every day when they wake up from their nap.

This is the photo that I got from a random number on their first day back.  I have no idea who sent it, but I'm so glad they did.  Don't you love how Elizabeth is posing with her legs AND her cheeeeeeese face?!  Hayes looks a little unsure of this whole ordeal, but he's sporting an awesome hat AND his mittens.  Love these kids and their sweet little quirks of personality that God gave them.  They are such a joy!  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cousin Playdate

Last week I got to play with my littles and Kendall.  She came to our house while her Daddy was coaching wrestling with our Daddy.  I go to experience the '3 baby' deal with her for a few hours.  She was the most well behaved of the 3 while they played together.  My two, on the other hand, were making me crazy.  I try to make sure that I spend time with them as soon as I get home, so they will be able to play independently without needing to crawl in my butt.

On this particular day I was NOT successful with the 'play independently part' of the plan.  They pretty much acted like they wanted to play in the middle of the kitchen floor while I tried to cook dinner.  Cooking dinner while trying to hurdle two preschoolers is like cleaning the house while they are playing.  Either way, we had  great visit with Kendall and everyone eventually ate dinner.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Sooooooooooooooo, these girls happen to be our favorites.  They rescue me when I'm having a bad day.  They pick up my kids when I can't or don't want to.  They come over and help me fix dinner or fold laundry or play with the kids so I can take a nap.  Jordan and Hope are two girls that I'm going to call my friends for a long time.  I see them at family parties and vacations and eventually at the weddings of my 3 little people.  They will be welcome at my house anytime and I'll always love them as my own.  

Jordan (on the right) happens to be one of the first baby sitters that Hayes ever had.  She came to my rescue several times in that first year and she's always the first one we call when she's home.  She left us to go to college (lame) and we miss her terribly.  I am proud of her and what she's doing with her life, but I'm also selfish enough to say that I MISS her and want her home all the time.  

Hope (on the left) is still technically our student at school.  She is a cheerleader and wrestling manager and she keeps me in line.  She's my lunch buddy and a one of a kind girl who could never be replaced.  Her honesty and level headed thinking is just something you don't find in a child, who's almost a grown up.  Sorta.  She has a fantastic sense of humor and I cannot wait to see what happens with her once she leaves us in the fall.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Carseat Lessons

Okay y'all.  I'm a car seat nazi.  I follow all the rules and I'm neurotic about installing them appropriately.  I blame my mother.  I was in middle school when she began working with SafeKids in Douglas County and I volunteered with her several times.  It was around that age that I learned just how important those giant chunks of plastic and metal were for tiny children.  I have been a stickler for the rules ever since 1994.  I can't help it.

When I found out I was pregnant I threw myself into car seat research.  I did more research about car seats and which ones were the safest than I did about birthing methods.  Regret that, yes... but only because I should have learned more about birthing options.  Lesson noted... moving on.  I found the highest ranked car seat according to Consumer Reports and several other reputable parenting magazines and journals.  I was determined to get the best for my babies.

About the time Hayes was born most seats had a weight limit of 22-25 lbs.  Well, I don't have tiny babies.  We hit that weight limit well before the first birthday.  I had to buy an additional 'bucket seat' as I call them about halfway through Hayes' first year.  His birth weight was 7 lbs 12 oz, and he weighed close to 17 lbs at 6 months.  No way we were going to get to that first birthday in the 22 lbs car seat.  I bought a seat with a higher weight limit, but it was just like the bucket we already had.  Same colors and all.  Thankfully I was smart enough to save ALL of my gift cards to buy that once we had received every shower gift under the sun.

Now, we have all these new recommendations for rear facing vs. forward facing until they are 2.  Both of my children began facing forward shortly after their first birthdays.  They both had reached the weight limit for the seat they were in and I was comfortable with them riding forward in a car seat.  I will never forget the first time Hayes rode facing forward and I got to watch his face while we drove through town.  He was amazed and his blue eyes lit up as we passed each new set of street lights.  However, with Spencer Brynne I do believe we will keep SB facing backwards until she turns 2.  Technically this should be easier because she should be seated close to her siblings and they will be facing forward, thus able to entertain her.

I see that some people have their reasons for facing them forward earlier, but I am concerned about safety and that's pretty much it.  So SB will be riding backwards until she's 2 and I'll be buying ANOTHER car seat to add to the collection I already have.  Between parents, nannies, and grandparents we have 9 car seats.  NINE.  I only have 2 children (currently).... We will have to buy one more for SB and then a new booster or two for Hayes once SB is old enough to face the front.  Should have bought stock in Graco and Chicco 5 years ago....

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Party Anxiety

The majority of Hayes' birthday parties have been spent with him running away from the actual party.  Well, at least 2 out of the 4 he has had....  He's not a fan of crowds or people singing to him.  He woke up from his nap this year and promptly began telling me he wasn't interested in going downstairs to see anyone.  He could already hear the visitors downstairs and was beginning to get cold sweats.  Hayes knows all of these people.  He loves them and they love him.  

Most of them are his grandparents AND aunt/uncles.  Granted, our 'immediate' family is about 40 people.  I mean, I have 4 parents and 6 siblings.  Daryk has 2 parents and 2 siblings.  Factor in spouses, girlfriends/boyfriends, and cousins and we are slowly approaching 40 folks.  Hayes doesn't need to invite his friends, we don't have enough room!  Plus, parties and the food needed for said parties are already expensive!  

Hayes was thrilled with his gift presentation this year.  He was most pleased with the dinosaurs AND tattoos that came from The Dollar Tree.  Big money people.  Big money.  I was most thrilled with the additional Mickey Mouse dollars we got!  Thanks family for supporting my Disney addiction!  

Libby James was just excited that she got to stick her fingers in the icing to sample the goodness.  I dare say that she is my child.... I love doing the same thing.  My mother used to tell me I was her blonde haired rat because I so enjoyed the sugar rush from stealing icing.  I splurged this year and got a cake from Publix.  Woot woot!  Bakery cake for the win.  I don't feel guilty, everyone loves it, and I don't have to stress about the perfect cake being made.  I also bought Blue Bell birthday cake ice cream cups and those were a HUGE hit as well.  I will never buy ice cream for a birthday party in a carton again.  Cups of ice cream and cake that someone else made... FOREVER!  

No pictures Mom.  I don't want to remember that I hate parties.  I also want no documentation of this event where people gathered to celebrate my birth and bring me presents.

Look y'all!  Dinosaurs that are plastic and potentially fatal if you step on them without shoes on.  This kid loves dinosaurs.  He loves them so much that he often compares his giant poops to the size of a stegosaurus.  And no, I'm not kidding.    He had them all lined up for a FaceTime call with Buddy.  

I swear, this is the one time a year I can manage to get a decent family photo with my children and husband.  I need to make that a priority at every function.  Rarely am I in front of the camera!  And I need to wear lipstick.