Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Christmas-y Week

It's been a great week because NOTHING IS BROKEN! I couldn't be more excited about that. This week has also included...

baking goodies for visiting teaching/home teaching families/birthdays/teacher parties

wrapping the last few presents

enjoying our advent calendar from Sam & Jesse

cleaning out the fridge before our trip

packing and other trip preparation

an ugly sweater Christmas party

getting Christmas cards ready to send...a much slower process than I originally thought! We both have pretty big families. :)

I love Christmas, but I hate traveling. We'll see how it goes with 3 children!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Well...

It hasn't been my week. Just to review what's happened in the last 7 days...

1. Giant snowstorm that dropped 18 inches in a day. We couldn't get the car all the way home that night.

2. Heater stopped working, so we had a very cold night until James got on the roof and cleared the vent.

3. Car battery died. Replaced it, but the car probably still needs another part. It doesn't start easily.

4. Broken pipe. I called 10 plumbers (all the ones in Vernal), but NO ONE was available until at least Monday. A few said they'd call me back with a guy who could come after hours, but they didn't. I called up my dad, and he gave me the reassurance that we could fix this ourselves as long as it was a PVC pipe (and not copper) that broke. James enlisted the help of our neighbor to pump water from the crawl space (lest it freeze and crack the foundation) till 11 last night. We bought the stuff we needed from Lowe's for about 20 bucks and fixed it pretty easily. The main lame thing is that our water is still off because the glue has to set for 24 hours.

I'm grateful for food storage! I had just bought a supply of water (3 days' worth) a few months ago, and now I am using it. I have enough to cook, clean (though not dishes), and flush toilets when needed. I feel gross for not taking a shower today and smell like sour milk, but I'm not dragging all 3 kids somewhere just to shower. Haha.

God is looking out for us, though it's easier to be positive about things once they're fixed. A plumber would've cost us a lot of money, and since things are a little tight right now due to my medical bills, it's a blessing that we had to fix it ourselves. We learned a few valuable things along the way, too.

On the bright side, if I'm ever asked if I'd rather go without heat, a car, or water for a day, I'd definitely say the car. I can stand being home all day since I do it all the time anyway, but living without heat for a day was miserable, and living without water for almost 2 days is annoying, even though I am as prepared as I could be. I can't wait to get the water back on tonight so I can wash my hands for real and not just use hand sanitizer and baby wipes!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Turkey, Gravy, and Distress-ing

The past two weeks have been a little hard and not quite as I'd pictured. We've spent all our Thanksgivings in Rexburg with James's parents and grandparents, but this year I convinced him not to travel so I could invite my 3 siblings who are at BYU-I.

They arrived Tuesday night, so I didn't get a lot of sleep. I did all (or most) of the cooking that day, and Katie took a nice, long nap in morning, which was convenient. The kitchen was a total wreck, but Mara helped me clean it up.

Things got a little more stressful Thanksgiving Day. The turkey was done early by 2 hours, so I had to rush like mad to get the rolls done and make sure everything was ready. Our menu:

turkey
sausage cornbread dressing
gravy
mashed potatoes
rolls
cranberry sauce (ew, from a can. Only Myles likes it.)
green bean casserole
candied yams (which everyone likes but me)
apple pie
pecan pie
French silk pie
pumpkin pie

I made everything from scratch (minus the cranberry sauce and one pie crust, which was graham cracker instead of a regular crust.) I think I spent 8 hours in the kitchen altogether. It was intense.

The meal was great, but the rest of the week was a little depressing for me. Moms just don't get vacations. Everyone else wanted to stay up really late (though James not as late, but still later than me.) I had very little sleep, and everyone got to play computer games, go paintballing, and go shooting. Now, I don't like computer games or paintballing, but I have a great time shooting. However, I was at home with all the kids. I felt a little taken advantage of. However, James and I had a great date on Friday to see Catching Fire, which is an amazing movie! I had spent the day crying about one thing or another due to lack of sleep, so my eyes were really puffy. :(

I took everyone to see the dinosaur bones on Saturday. They thought it was pretty cool. Sunday we blessed Katie and somehow survived all of church with the kids! Kenny cried a bit in nursery, but due to sickness (not always his), he has only been twice now. They are great with him, though, and I think he will do even better next week. We blessed Katie, and I failed to take a picture, but she didn't wear a dress. She wore a white boy's outfit with tights under it, and she was asleep for her blessing, so no one saw anyway since she was swaddled. Her blessing mentioned that she'd be a strength and comfort to her brothers. I thought that was really sweet.

I thought this would calm down a bit this week. James has been staying late every day. We got a MEGA snowstorm yesterday that dumped 18 inches of snow. James couldn't get the car all the way home since they hadn't plowed yet and it was too deep. Then, our heater stopped working. We were pretty cold since our house got down to 50 degrees. I had a terrible night of sleep, even with an extra blanket. James fixed the heater this morning by getting on the roof and clearing the vent. The sun came out, they plowed the road, and the house is warm again. James had a snow day until 3:30 when he had to go to parent/teacher conferences. I think it's totally ridiculous, because who the heck is going to show up?

Well, this has been quite the stressful week. It's funny how any of my terrible sleep hasn't been Katie's fault at all. She still does very well. She is also smiling! Of course I don't have a picture yet...but soon!

So in case anyone reads to the very end, this is what I take from the past week:
1. Hosting your own Thanksgiving is a lot of work. I'm not sure I'll take it on again for a very long time.
2. The schedules of college students and moms with young kids are not very compatible.
3. I still hate snow. A winter like this about 6 years ago is what ruined it for me. It makes me feel really claustrophobic.
4. I'm more grateful than ever for having a warm house!
5. There is always an end to the storm, no matter how dark, cold, and long it is.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Life

This week has had its ups and downs. Last weekend, Sam and Jesse (and Charlotte!) came to visit us. We had a whole lot of fun hanging out, eating yummy meals, and going to see the wall of dinosaur bones. I could tell they really liked it. I've been there enough times that it's not quite as cool, but it's still very impressive. James and Sam went shooting, we all went to church on Sunday (minus James, Kenny, and Katie), and overall had a great time. I felt a lot less stressed than having my in-laws. I guess my brother/sister-in-law are more "at my level" and I don't feel like I have to impress them so much. Jesse did lots of cleaning for me, which was awesome, because Katie is starting to be awake a lot more and wants to be held - or else!

Katie is still doing very well at sleeping. She's only sleeping 5 hours-ish split into 3-4 naps during the day. I'm getting used to that, because she used to sleep more like 8 or 9 hours! She has a fussy/awake period from 5 or 6 till 9-9:30, when she finally goes to bed. The last 4 days, she has slept 6-7 hours for the first stretch at night, which means I've only had to get up once! She takes the record for my best sleeper so far. Still, Joseph and Kenny did 5 hours by a month. She seems to be gaining well, and she doesn't have to go to her one month appointment since the doctor said she was doing so well at 2 weeks. Therefore, I won't have any real stats to share.

The boys have been fighting a lot, but it's mainly because Joseph really wants to be the boss of Kenny, but Kenny isn't going to have any of that. I can't wait to see what goes down once Kenny can say more than 2 words at a time. I think the boys are going to have many world-class arguments. I remember having a lot of those with my siblings.

Speaking of which, Christian, Myles, and Mara will be coming next week for Thanksgiving! I'm so excited to host my very first one - and to have lots of leftovers to enjoy! We are going to go all out and make 4 different kinds of pie. I can't wait! Since I haven't stepped on a scale since Katie was born, I'm not going to feel the least bit guilty about eating lots of pie, namely, the French silk pie that I know will be delicious beyond all reason. (Heavy cream and chocolate are always a winning combination, in my mind.)

The biggest challenge this week is getting used to always having a kid awake, especially with Katie's shorter naps. If she wakes up early one day (say, 6:45) and goes down later (like 9:30), it doesn't give me a lot of time left with James. I know that's temporary, but it's a little tough not to have much (or any) time completely alone. Joseph is great at doing "quiet time" though, even though it means he gets a little cranky at dinner.

I love my kiddos. I know that family outings, once they can happen, will be tough again with a nursing baby, but I'm still so glad to be able to nurse at long as I want to. Kenny has has a gross, runny nose, and James has also been sick, but Katie has only had the mildest stuffy nose - not enough to interrupt her sleep or breathing. That is definitely a blessing. I have remained well too, aside from headaches for a couple of days.

Now, for pictures.
"Heyo, KK! Hold?"

happy boys with glow sticks

exploring Dino Natnl. Monument

my grown up baby (19 1/2 months)

Joseph touching the dinosaur bone

James's favorite hobby

Katie, 4 weeks old

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I Love Technology

There are many things that I remember from my other kids that help me immensely with my baby girl. Newborns, at least for the first month or so, are pretty similar in their habits. They sleep, eat, and make dirty diapers. Sometimes I forget about the little things that drive me crazy. Take cluster feeding, for example, or the witching hours. I forget every time how challenging those are, but the internet has reassured (and reminded me) that I've been through this twice before, it's okay, and it won't last forever.

Katie is still a great baby. Just like her brothers, she only wakes up twice a night. Her nursing style is like Joseph - very slow and leisurely, unless it's the middle of the night. (Kenny was a gulper and still is. I never had to burp him either, because I'd sit up up and he'd burp the loudest burps I've ever heard from a baby!)

I can't count how often I've Googled things over the last month, whether about taking care of a baby, my recovery, recipes for dinner, or other stuff I want to know. I don't know what I'd do without internet in the house! Not only do I learn because of it; I also am able to express myself through my blogs, watch things on Netflix, buy stuff, and communicate through social media. I'm so grateful to live in this day and age where such a thing is available.

Now, back to my show on Netflix...

But first, I must relate the rest of this past week. It was pretty low-key. We had friends come over on Sunday. Scott and Chelsea are still remodeling their kitchen, so they cooked over at our house. We made apple pies, 3 of them, for dessert. They left us with a bunch of apples, so I dried them. 3 batches later, and I finished the whole box. Katie was unfortunately very fussy and awake from 4-7:30 on Sunday, so that put a damper on things. I had a huge headache by the end of the day. Luckily, that hasn't happened again.

I can't wait to take Katie out and about. Less than 3 weeks now!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Staying Inside

The past week was far less crazy than the week before, and for that, I am very grateful. I have been able to return to some sort of a routine, at least as much as possible when a newborn is involved, and minus working out. For a 2-week-old, Katie still sleeps very well. She wakes me up twice at night, which is exactly what the boys both did. (There are exceptions with growth spurts, but 2 is the norm.) I think she sleeps 16-18 hours for every 24. What a life, huh? :)

Joseph is now taking "quiet time" instead of naps. I don't need naps myself, so I'm okay with that. He gets to do puzzles or play with Play Doh, the stuff that Kenny would usually wreck in 2 seconds. He seems to handle less sleep all right, though sometimes he has a meltdown around 7 p.m. Kenny had a rough few days with naps, but he has since returned to normal and sleeps 3 hours every day.

The only time I ventured out this week (aside from Church) was to take Kenny and Katie to the doctor. Katie weighed in at 8 lbs. 3 oz., so a half a pound up from her birth weight - at 12 days old! Kenny weighed a whopping 25 lbs. A year ago, he was only in the 2nd percentile for weight. Now, he's in the 60th! That child knows how to eat, and he packs more food away than Joseph. Still, that's some crazy growth. I think he's going to end up kind of stocky like my family.

It feels like such a long wait until December when we can take Katie "out". Her pediatrician was pretty clear that RSV is a big problem right now, and it sends babies to the hospital. The boys went to Church after a month, but they were both spring babies. Still, we've made it through 2 weeks so far of being fairly homebound without goings nuts. I feel totally lazy since I've been watching a lot of TV to keep myself occupied. James and I both discovered that Duck Dynasty is a pretty hilarious show. Too many shows about "the South" make Southern girls out to be total witches who will never accept any outsiders. The women in Duck Dynasty are really pretty, kind, religious, and good moms. It's funny that their husbands all have such long beards. Anyway, James says I like it because it reminds me of home. I remind him that I'm not from Louisiana, and my hometown in Apex, NC is A LOT more "civilized" than Vernal. Haha.

I really need to get on the ball and take more pictures of my sweet little girl. I can't believe how nervous I was about having her. She's been an angel, and I've fallen in love all over again with a new little person who will be part of my family forever. I can't wait to see what the future brings, especially when I really get to know her personality.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Using Food Co-ops

In my area, Bountiful Baskets is the food co-op. I know that others exist, but I don't know any by name. Still, I want to reassure anyone afraid of trying them out that they pretty awesome! I've been getting Bountiful Baskets now for a year and half, and I don't think I'll ever stop. Some things I've learned along the way:

1. You don't have to get one every week. You choose how often. I do one every other week since that's what works for me, and the location I use only does them every other week anyway. (Many locations are every week, but Vernal is a small enough town to have only 1 going every other week.)

2. It saves money. How much depends on what you normally buy at the grocery store and what you buy. In Idaho, I only ever bought cheap veggies and fruits, averaging less than $1.00 a lb. I was spending about $30 per two weeks on produce. When I started doing BB, I spent about the same but got a much better variety of things to eat. In small-town Utah, it saves me money no matter what I buy at the grocery store. Produce here costs up to 50% more than what I paid in Idaho. I can still get by with spending $30 per 2 weeks, but if I bought only cheap produce at Walmart, I'd pay at least $40 to get the same amount of stuff, and it wouldn't be anything special.

3. The basket is standard, but BB also offers other awesome things. I've gotten the bread in the past, and it's really good. They also offer tortillas, coconut oil, granola, or boxes of fruit/veggies that are in season for a really good deal. Think big boxes of peaches, apples, or strawberries.

4. I can still buy my "essential" produce at the grocery store. I wait until after I've gotten my basket and then cross off anything I already got. I always have potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery, as well as frozen peas and stir fry blend. In cans, I get diced tomatoes and corn. Since I get a basket every other week, this ends up being the perfect amount of veggies for the 4 of us for two weeks.

5. When I get my basket, I make a list of the all the fruits and veggies I received. I refer to the list when I'm making meals and use up the most perishable items first.

6. I don't plan my meals around my basket, but I do include the things I've gotten. (Some people can plan meals based entirely on veggies with no grains or meat, but that doesn't work here. We are hungry people.) If the veggie doesn't naturally mix in with the meal (like a casserole, soup, or stir fry), then I include it as a side. We often include more than one veggie and have some fresh fruit with dinner. I rarely do any complicated veggie sides. If I have to cook a veggie by itself, it's usually steamed or roasted with some seasoning, that's it. I don't have to make a whole separate recipe and get stressed out.

7. You won't get too many weird things. I have yet to eat something that I've never heard of. Most "weird" items you get will simply be a different variety of something you're already familiar with. Examples: savoy cabbage or Asian pears.

8. Nothing needs to go to waste. I can honestly say that I've found a way to like every fruit and veggie to cross my path. The internet is an amazing resource for learning to cook new things. Many things, as I've said before, don't need complicated recipes to taste good. If in doubt, roast it! When we can't use up things in time, I freeze them. That's pretty rare, unless we get extra celery or bananas. Bananas go into smoothies and the celery works great in soups. I don't think I've ever had to freeze anything else. We ate it all!

9. My favorite things about BB: saving money, eating a greater variety of fruits and veggies, being surprised, trying new things, saving room in my shopping cart (since Walmart's are so small!), and much better quality produce than what I can get at the grocery store.

10. A few cons: having to pick up the basket on Saturday morning (not always convenient), getting a few things I'm not in the mood for (but I've learned to like, so only sort of a con), volunteering - I never have, but I feel guilty about it. They say you get extra things to take home, but it's been impossible for me to go with either a nursing baby, pregnancy, or both. One day...

There you have it. We love Bountiful Baskets! They didn't pay me to say anything on here, because hey, they're run by volunteers. :)

If you want to see if they have them in your area, check out http://www.bountifulbaskets.org/.

Have you ever tried Bountiful Baskets or any other food co-op? How do you like it?


Thursday, October 31, 2013

The First Week

I'd be lying if I said this past week was easy. Giving birth is never easy on anyone, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally. The normal healing from childbirth has gone well for me. That feeling of terror when I brought home my first child has thankfully not returned since then. Though the newborn stage is unpredictable, I find it enjoyable for the most part. After a week, I feel well enough to not need naps or any medication for pain.

I had something new to deal with this time around that made the first week almost unbearable for a few days. I feel I must write it all down to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else! I felt pretty good when I got home from the hospital, but things changed by the next day. I started feeling pain in my stomach, as if I'd been punched in the gut, and I completely lost my appetite for food and drink. I couldn't sleep because of the pain, so I was exhausted during the day, hardly able to get off the couch. I was baffled and completely devastated that something like that could happen to me when recovery had otherwise been going so well.

I received several blessings that gave me comfort and promised healing. It was still a hard wait. On Monday afternoon, I visited my doctor and he was able to prescribe medication for reflux. It still makes no sense to me why I wasn't feeling heartburn at all. I sure did throughout my pregnancies, but I managed it with Zantac. The reflux always went away right after delivery, but I guess it was different this time. I should be able to stop the medicine once my hormones settle (haha) and my insides get a little more normal. I still can't believe how much pain that it caused and yet how effective the medicine has been. I was worried that I was never going to want to eat again, which caused me a ton of grief. I love food! I'm so glad to feel hungry again.

Katie is as mellow as a newborn can be. She's almost always sleeping, unless she's eating or looking around contentedly. With all my eating issues, I was afraid she wouldn't gain weight as quickly. However, she was back at her birth weight by 6 days. The boys got back to theirs at 4 days, so not too bad!

The boys seem to love their sister and are usually gentle with her. Kenny loves to say, "Hey, KK!"It's adorable. They've both been fighting with each other a little more this week, but it's nothing I can't handle. Boys will be boys!

Joseph has decided to give up naps, even though I know he could use a little sleep. I can tell he really wants to be a big boy, so I let him do quiet time while Kenny naps. Kenny naps better without Joseph goofing off and keeping him awake, so the days are much more peaceful now. Thankfully, I don't need naps anymore since the quality of my sleep has greatly improved! :)

I'm so grateful for my new daughter. Though she isn't the first child, she is still such a miracle. I'm so glad she came to our family. I'm already seeing miracles happen that will let us pay for all the medical bills.

And speaking of miracles, our ward has been incredible. We received meals starting the day Mom left (Saturday) and up through this week. My RS president, who isn't young, came and did all the housework for me on Monday when I wasn't feeling too great. Katie has received many gifts and well wishes. I've run out of thank you cards twice already!

I couldn't be more grateful to be well and past the first week. Transitioning from 2 to 3 isn't so bad. I think each addition gets a little easier and harder at the same time. God is certainly watching out for us, and I am grateful. Now that I am feeling normal (and in regular clothes - boo yeah!), I hope to take a lot more pictures of this sweet girl, starting with Halloween today. And that is all for now. Next week will definitely be a lot more calm; I'm sure of it!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Katie Anne Head

Having done 3 births now, I totally give up with trying to predict anything that's going to happen or make plans! Here's why.

I was a couple of days late again. My doctor and ultrasound had both predicted that I'd be early - for once - but I didn't really believe it since it has yet to happen. It turns out that I was right to assume I'd make it to my due date again. We went to Church as always and just kept waiting. I felt some contractions that almost felt real that day, but they stopped.

Monday was a pretty normal day. I got lots of cleaning done, went on a walk with my mom and the boys, and even mowed the lawn since I felt TOO good for having a baby due. Haha. Nothing worked, at least, it didn't seem to do anything but make me tired and grouchy.

The next morning, I definitely woke up feeling labor pains. This was Tuesday, so I was 2 days overdue, technically. The pains started at 3 a.m., just like with both the boys. The contractions were hitting every 6-7 minutes and went on until 1 p.m. when they stopped.

I was pretty annoyed at this point. I know it was the real thing. I've even read that longer labors can pause and start up again. I went to my doctor's appointment and I'd dilated some since the previous week, so I wasn't imagining things! He stripped my membranes (this was 4 p.m.) and I went home feeling pretty hopeful.

Everything started where it left off at 6 p.m. I took a nice, long bath in my jetted tub and hung out with James and my mom until 11 p.m. We went to the hospital and checked in. I was pretty annoyed at that point because the nurse acted like she might send me home since I hadn't changed from 3 cm. We walked around the hospital for an hour, and then I was at a 4. I hurt pretty badly by then and was grouchy as can be since I hadn't managed more than an hour of sleep since 3 the previous morning. (I'd tried, but I just couldn't sleep through the pain even though they were mild contractions.)

I got an epidural around 3 a.m. and spent the next few hours in warm, tingly bliss. By 7 I felt I needed more medication, so they dosed me up twice more to make it stronger. I'm sure glad I asked! Katie was born at 7:51 sunny-side up. Unlike Kenny, she didn't turn around, so her head was a really funny shape. I could still feel plenty - enough to get the job done. She weighed 7 lbs. 11 oz., so a little bigger than the boys, and was 20 inches long. Since her birth, she's been as calm as can be and asleep for probably 20 of the 24 hours. I know that will change, but it's been great for me to get some rest, even in a hospital bed that makes me sweat like crazy. I feel pretty good after some sleep and a hot shower, plus real clothes that aren't maternity.

Joseph definitely loves her and keeps asking to hold his sister. Kenny just points and says, "Baby! Baby!" I don't know if it will sink in until after we get home, but I predict some jealousy on his part since he can still be a Momma's boy.

I can't wait to go home and enjoy this little lady. She's really cute with lots of dark hair, something I didn't expect at all! The boys were both blond. I wonder if her hair will get lighter or stay brown.

And now that we've been home...

She still sleeps a ton! Last night she slept for 8 hours straight. It's hard to catch her awake so far, but when she is, she's very calm and likes to look around. I feel a little bit less like I got run over by a truck, but recovery is always like that. (I wish I got to take advantage of the 8 hour stretch, but I was in too much pain to sleep well!) So far, she reminds me a lot of Joseph as a newborn - pretty much the most mellow personality you could give a baby. We're so happy to have her around.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Easiest Quiet Book You'll Ever Make (For Church!)

Most quiet books I've seen look pretty hard to make. This is a no-sew version that also makes good use of some things you probably have lying around your house.

Materials:

binder
page protectors
old copies of the Ensign, New Era, and/or Friend
scissors or paper cutter
tape or glue
scratch paper (full sheets)

1. Carefully tear out pages that have desirable pictures on them. I use only full-page pictures, but there are plenty of those to be found.

2. Trim rough edges.

3. If it's a smaller picture, tape/glue it to a blank piece of scratch paper. A full size picture doesn't need paper behind it unless you want slightly thicker pages.

4. Insert pages into page protectors.

5. Place pages in binder.

Voila! You now have a beautifully illustrated book for Church that your child can look at and enjoy. Since none of the pictures have many (if any) words, you get to tell the stories.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Week 39

My fatigue grows and so does my grouchiness. I never remember being this tired until I reach this point, but it overwhelms me every time. Each day I do a little less to try to conserve my energy, but I still come up short. Lots of things put me on edge more than usual: phone calls, whining, cleaning, sleeping.

I know you have all been there, and if you haven't, you don't want to be hearing about it from me. :)

I'm officially due Saturday or Sunday (depending on if you go by LMP or U/S). I've had the most typical of signs that labor is near, but knowing that doesn't mean much. I've never yet had an early baby, so I'm not expecting to wake up in labor tomorrow. All I know is to expect that it will all take a long time again, around 24 hours of labor, and that some part of it is going to hurt a lot even if I get drugs. Everyone's story is different. My body just likes to hold on to these babies for as long as possible, I guess. It doesn't give them up easily.

I'm not writing again until my dear daughter is born. I promise I won't be away from technology for very long. I'm not one to keep secrets and wait to announce the birth of my child. Until then, I will be sleeping through as much of these grouchy days as possible. James doesn't have school for the rest of the week and Mom arrives tomorrow night - hurrah!


Friday, October 11, 2013

A Review of Homemade Beauty Products

I used to think that making your own beauty products was something for hippies. If that's true, then you can call me a hippie now. :)

A friend of mine gave me some ingredients for making homemade deodorant, and I was intrigued. They were all things I'd heard of before and actually all edible. Making beauty products out of ingredients safe enough to eat has to be better than what was in the stuff I'd been buying before.

I've provided links to the recipes I used. I also priced things out so you can see the savings! My normal purchases were very cheap before - the off brand, not-so-amazing stuff from Walmart. Ingredients like coconut oil are pricey up front, but since you use so little, the cost is actually minimal.

1. For washing my face (which actually isn't very often), I use the oil-cleansing method. I can't say enough about it. When I break out, I do it for two days and see vast improvement. I've used harsh chemicals in the past, but they smelled bad and made me break out even worse. I highly recommend trying the OCM! My friend Cindy writes about it here. Cost of prescription I used as a teen: $1.05 per oz. Cost of the OCM: $.33 per ounce, and it actually works! I have yet to use up the original mix of oils that I made.

2. For lotion, I gave up on store-bought stuff. I didn't like how it smelled. Applying it almost every day still left me with flaky skin. Now, I use a little bit of coconut oil 1-2X a week. It smells really nice and works a lot better. Since I use so little, it's cheaper! Cost of lotion: $5 for 2 months. That's having to apply every day. Coconut oil: $2 a month (or less). That's for a tablespoon per application used 2X a week, and it works a whole lot better!

3. For shampoo and conditioner, I tried out the "No-Poo" method. I gave it my best shot for three whole weeks, but I just couldn't get it to work for me. I stopped shampooing every day about a year ago, and my hair has gotten considerably less greasy since then. It took a little bit of adjusting, but now I only wash my hair every third day.

4. Homemade hair gel sounds crazy, but I promise that it works really well. I recycled a spray gel container I had from before. Cost of gel from store (7 oz.): $4. Cost of homemade: $.25 (for 8 oz.) The only downfall is having to keep it in the fridge, and it only lasts for 2 weeks or so, so I recommend making small batches at a time.

5. I can't rave enough about homemade deodorant, the recipe that started it all. I love it. It has a very mild smell, not a horrible flowery smell or chemicals. It takes 5 minutes to make, stays just as solid as regular deodorant (unless it's incredibly hot, but it won't leak from the container), and I use less of it. Make some today! If there is only one beauty product you make yourself, let this be it. Store deodorant: $5 for 2 sticks. Homemade: $3.25 for 2 sticks. It does stain shirts a little bit, but it's minimal compared to what my other deodorant did: no more crusted on stuff, just a little yellowing. I've not tried this recipe with essential oils yet.

I haven't gotten around to making mascara again. I got the wrong aloe vera gel, so it didn't turn out well. When I try it and have success, I will write about it! For now, I've been too lazy to wear mascara more than once a week.

Have you ever tried making your own beauty products? Tell me; I want to hear about it!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

This Week

I can't help but be grateful for good health. I mentioned a few weeks ago that my boys had both gotten bad diaper rashes - the worst I've ever seen! After those were better, they both got colds. Joseph has since recovered, but James and Kenny sound like they're coughing out their lungs. Kenny thew up in his crib some time last night. Poor little guy! James has thrown up a few times this week, but only in the evenings. I'm pretty sure it's all related to the cold/intense coughing. (He's gone through almost a whole bag of cough drops!)

So yeah...I can't complain much, because I'm the only one who hasn't gotten sick. (Knock on wood.) I don't know how that's possible, because I know I've been more than exposed to the germs. James is pretty wiped out by the time he gets home from work, so we both have spent a lot of time lying on the couch while entertaining the kids. My energy level keeps going down, but I know it happened when I was pregnant with Kenny. I didn't do a whole lot that last month except lounge around, so I'm definitely at that point. I feel terrible for my boys. Kenny has been really whiny, and both he and James wake up coughing pretty hard during the night. :( I hope everyone is well by the time the baby's born, because I definitely don't want her to get sick! I wish someone would just cure the common cold.

My dad is coming to visit today and tomorrow since he had meetings in Salt Lake this week. I'm glad he gets to come. We're just going to hang out, and he's going to fix the ice maker on the fridge and tune up my washing machine. Hopefully I will have some energy tomorrow because I also have a baby shower. A lady in my ward is doing it for me. I wasn't expecting one at all, so I'm definitely going to end up with a ton of stuff for the baby. (Remember how I went yard saling at the beginning of summer? Yep.) I'm looking forward to meeting and hanging out with the ladies in the ward. I've been way too tired to attempt going to play group. I feel a little bad, but I also haven't remembered to ask James to arrange a ride to work so I can have the car. Buckling two kids into car seats and in warm clothes and shoes takes forever! And that is why I go grocery shopping alone on Saturday mornings. :)

I'm going to make it. My doctor was funny when he said that he thought I'd be early. I'll believe it when I see it. I told him my doubts, since I've never had an early baby, and he said, "Well, it's the look on your face." My reply was, "What: the look of being tired of being pregnant?" and he just laughed. The nurse said she thinks that baby has dropped, but I don't think that means much either. I carry a little lower each time, which just means that my belly pokes out further and I get less heartburn - a huge blessing after Joseph, because he was brutal to my ribs as well. I never have any signs of labor coming until it actually starts, and then I have a whole day to wait before the baby is born. Never fear, I will keep everyone updated when it happens. I suspect I will be at home for the greater part of labor, just like last time, and that it will still be close to 24 hours. I'm okay with that. I think this body just likes being pregnant and doesn't want it to end. I, on the other hand, am ready! I want to meet this girl!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cheap Dates

Yup, that's us. We go out sometimes, but that's gotten a lot harder with two little kids. At-home dates are pretty fun. Since there are already a whole bunch of ideas out there, I'm just going to share the ones we've come up with ourselves.

(Disclaimer: You may not appreciate these as much if you're not a nerd!)

Our dates almost always have a theme. I think it makes them really fun and easier to plan. I love being creative even though it's hard to come up with ideas sometimes.

We always try to include the following:

1. Food. What kind of date doesn't have food? It's not usually dinner, but a snack or dessert.

2. Dressing up. If the theme permits, we try to dress up, even if it's really goofy.

3. Decorations...sometimes. They're usually pretty simply and made of supplies we already have on hand.

4. Activity. This usually means a game, movie, or creating something like a song or poem, or a combination of any of these.

Fun Date Ideas

Harry Potter: eat eye of newt (olives), Bertie Bott's (Skittles), dragon dung (no bake cookies), Polyjuice Potion (green smoothie), dress up in bathrobes, play HP Scene It

Red Hot Date: wear something red, watch a movie with a red cover, eat jalapeno hummus and buffalo popcorn

1/2 Date: make and eat 1/2 of a dessert, watch 1/2 of a movie, write 1/2 of a poem and finish each other's, discuss why he/she is your better 1/2

Percy Jackson: online translate a note from English to Greek and back to English to see the funny translating, javelin throwing contest (dart board), eat no bake cookies (ashes of killed monsters), write your own myth in ode form to sing around a campfire

High Class: dress up fancy, choose strange (but classy) baby names for a future child, play cards, have a "ball", travel somewhere exotic using Google Earth flight simulator

I know there have been more, but we haven't kept a record of them all. (I didn't remember all of these, but I looked through our scrapbook so I could!)

What do you like to do for dates at home? Any great ideas to share?


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Growing Up

baby Kenny at 9 months old
When I got pregnant with my little girl, I already had a baby in the house. Kenny was 9 months old at the time, still nursing, and only knew a few words other than "mama" and "dada". He didn't even crawl yet! I can't believe how much that little guy has grown up since then or that he'll be a big brother in a matter of weeks.

Kenny weaned to a bottle at a year and now takes a cup after a few grumpy days this week. I'm so proud of him! Bottles were almost like pacifiers to him, because he'd walk around the house with one hanging out of his mouth.

He's had his 2nd haircut - no more curls! :(

He plays and interacts with Joseph and knows more than 50 words. I lost count a while ago. He can use a few short sentences.

He walks! Finally! I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen, but finally did at 16 1/2 months.

He sits facing forward in the car. I was recommended to rear face for 2 years (though the law still says 1 year), but since we have a Corolla, I made the switch this week to be able to accommodate 3 car seats in the back. Yes, they will fit safely! I'll have to take of picture once all 3 kids are riding in the back. It's going to look ridiculous when we go on any trips.
big boy Kenny, almost 18 months old
Kenny loves books, just like his big brother Joseph. They both fight over which ones I'm going to read. Kenny's favorite is King Bidgood's in the Bathtub since it has a song to it.

He's also getting pretty good at fine motor skills, important things like putting Duplos together and eating with a fork and spoon. (For him, it doesn't mean any less of a mess during meals, just a more organized one!)

He's old enough for Nursery as of this Sunday! Since it's Conference, he will have to wait a week.

It's a great relief to me that I'm not completely robbing my baby of being a baby. He's definitely a big boy now. I have to wonder where all the time went, because it seems that his baby days (even before I was pregnant) flew by twice as fast as Joseph's. If that's the case, I don't know how often I'll get to stop and think about baby girl. Perhaps I'll manage to get a few pictures before she turns 21.

Until then, I wait for the glorious day when this pregnancy is over!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Insurance Philosophy

Don't worry; this won't be a long, boring article about how to pick every kind of insurance ever made. I never really understood insurance until I got married and had to get my own. Now, I completely understand the headache my mom went through when she had to call up the insurance what seemed like once a week to iron something out. I know my insurance is like anyone else's. They're great until they need to pay for something big, and then they mess it up. That's life, though.

In the Tightwad Gazette, I read a few tips that I thought were very helpful when it comes to choosing any kind of insurance.

1. Insurance won't shield you from all costs, but it will prevent you from financial disaster. I remind myself of this all the time.  No one can predict how much you will need the insurance, and there's always the question of getting a "better" plan, but it's most important just to have insurance in the first place!

2. Set the deductible as high as you can afford, but not so high that it's unbearable. Because we have done this, we don't pay anything for our premium each month.

3. Cancel what you don't need. We just have liability insurance on our car since it's old and not worth having full coverage.

4. Shop around for the best price. This is tedious to do for anything, but it can save a lot. Employers generally have much better insurance coverage than private insurance. Our health and dental insurance come through James's work and we have car and life insurance from USAA. We called a couple of places before getting homeowner's insurance, so it saved us over $100 a year and got us better coverage.

5. For life insurance, use term unless you are wealthy. (The other option has to do with investing. USAA gave us term.)

6. Change your insurance when your life changes. We were able to drop full coverage on our car when it wasn't being used as collateral in a loan. Our other changes have been because of employment and adding new people to the family.

How do you feel about insurance? Is is more of a headache or a blessing?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Challenge

I feel that my life's greatest challenge is simply not knowing everything about the future. No one does, but it bugs me at times because I want to look forward 6 months and know with a surety that everything is going to be my definition of perfect.

Before I married James, I had a hard time visualizing being married to anyone. Who in their right mind would want to spend eternity with me? I get on my own nerves at times. Yet, it still happened, and I'm happier than ever with a man who got the worse end of the deal. With my being 8 months pregnant right now, he puts up with a whole lot! It's still weird to look back and see how perfectly the timing worked out with our wedding. My family had only week where they could make the 3-day drive to Idaho from NC, and James happened to propose 6 weeks before that. It was truly a miracle.

Our children so far have been perfectly timed, or so it would seem. I could say that it's been exactly as I wanted. I wanted to be a mother as soon as I could, and Joseph showed up a month before our first anniversary. He was even kind enough to be born on his due date, something that still pleases my OCD very much. :)

Kenny was born 22 months later during spring break, just by chance. Still, it was pretty convenient, even though he was 3 days late. I wouldn't have said that was perfect, but it was. Mom was still around when I came home from the hospital.

Although our boys were both born while we were poor college students, miracles and sacrifices have always helped us pay for them. Looking back, our financial situation has always defied logic in a way. I thought that a steady job would help my faith a bit, but I still waver when I try to think about all the things we'll need to pay for (or would like to) in the upcoming year. I have no idea how it will all happen.

Our little girl is due in less than 4 weeks. I do not doubt that she belongs in our family. I do wonder why the Lord wanted her here so soon at a seemingly inconvenient time. Our insurance resets in September, which means she will cost more that we originally thought. I didn't know that until recently, but it threw me for a loop since it means we probably won't be able to take advantage of the hospitals "pay up front, get 40% off" deal.

I've spent too much time complaining this time around. The heat and fatigue nearly killed me some days (or so I thought). I have a lot to be grateful for. I found out that she was a girl right during yard sale season, so I was easily able to buy everything I needed for her in a short amount of time and for not much money. My boys have been pretty understanding when I needed rest. Joseph would bring me a blanket while I lay on the couch and rested. Kenny has learned to get along better with Joseph. He walks, talks, and never cries at bedtime anymore. I thought that stage would never end, but now my little guys talk and laugh with each other before they go to sleep. They usually get along, though they do fight like brothers. I couldn't be more grateful for that.

I've always had exactly what I've needed in my life - rarely more. I don't need to have a surplus of money, energy, or time. It doesn't matter that I can't look forward and see exactly how everything will work out. That's why faith is so important. I know that I am where I'm supposed to be - home. I love my job as mom even though it drives me crazy almost daily. I can't think of a job with better rewards. It's not going to get easier with 3 instead of 2 kids, but somehow I feel less nervous than I have over the last 8 months. It's going to work out, even if I can't see it perfectly.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Homemade Gifts

To me, homemade gifts are special. There have been times that I feel guilty in knowing that I've given someone something that didn't cost me any money, but then I think again.

Time.

Time is the gift you give when you give something homemade. No one will ever know how long it took to make a loaf of bread or knit a blanket, but it's understood that a sacrifice in time made such a special present.

I give some homemade gifts, which usually means food or crafts (the ones that don't fail). I don't remember them all, but I remember the faces of the people I gave them to if I was there.

Other times, I have given my actual time as a gift. For two Christmases (not in a row), I gave my family service instead of tangible presents. During that service, we were able to spend time working together, and it felt good.

I love receiving homemade gifts as well. I have lots of empty Mason jars and home-sewn things to prove it.

Giving homemade gifts is not a cop-out for a real gift. I think they're almost more real than a gift from the store. Gifts you make yourself are a way to share your talents with others, even if your talents don't include going shopping or making a lot of money.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing Joseph snuggle with Bummy, a sock monkey I made for him when he was a baby. That thing is ratty and a little lopsided since it was a really old sock, but that doesn't matter to him.

I won't do every gift homemade, but I think I will remember them better.

This is the very essence of a frugal lifestyle: keeping the balance between time and money. When I have money, but no time, I buy. When I have time and no money, I make. I have never run out of either.

How do you feel about giving and receiving homemade gifts?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Yucky

The past two weeks haven't been fun. It started when Kenny got a pretty bad diaper rash that wasn't getting better after a couple of days. He was irritable, which made me snap a lot. He screamed bloody murder every time I changed his diaper, which was very often! Joseph randomly picked up a cough. He had no other symptoms of illness, no runny nose, nothing. That cough is still lingering, and it disrupts his sleep enough to make him grumpy as well. I decided to treat Kenny's rash as yeast, so it's 90% better now. The last 10% is annoying as heck to clear up. He's got a cold now, and Joseph picked up the same rash. They're on a roll this week. Before noon today, I'd changed 5 poopy diapers. What I'll do with 3 kids in diapers, I have no idea! I know it won't last forever. Neither boy is terribly ill. Their rashes are healing well, just taking a lot of time to clear up the last little bit. I can't make them get better any faster, not really, but I sure wish I could.

I'm still tired, but I know I'm just normal. Dealing with the sickness these past weeks has made me a little grouchy. It's not the diapers, really, or the coughing. It's the whining that accompanies it. James has a little bit of a cold too, but I'm hoping I stay well since I'm already pretty worn out from taking care of everyone else, not too patiently, I might add.

Some ladies in the ward have offered to throw me a baby shower in a couple of weeks. I'm pretty excited, because I know hardly anyone yet. If I'm not wrestling with Kenny, I'm trying to just stay awake during Church.

James's family is coming to visit this weekend. I'm pretty excited, because we probably won't see them again until Christmas. I feel a little bad about not wanting to travel during Thanksgiving, but I will have a one-month-old. I know that recovery gets a little more rough each time, so I need my full 6 weeks to be non-stressful. My two brothers and one sister at BYU-I will come to visit Vernal during Thanksgiving. Hosting people is much easier for me than travelling! A little extra cooking never bothers me, and I get free (and very willing) babysitters.

James and I have had a really busy week so far, and it's not over yet (even before the family visit). His trainings for school have kept him late, and I've been trying to get visiting teaching done since I'm not very good at that. One thing I always end up wondering: how many phone calls in a month is annoying to a person? I always seem to have one person who never EVER calls back. How many times is it appropriate to call and leave a voicemail? I don't want to be a pest. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Reuse It!

Though I don't reuse every single thing that comes into my house, I do try to make the best of free materials that come my way. It saves me money because I don't have to buy containers for anything! Some of my favorites:

1. Grocery bags. We use these as liners in trash cans or for carrying lunches to school. Between shopping trips, I often use up all of my bags!

2. 5 gallon buckets. I have some wheat stored in these. Since I've used up a couple of buckets of wheat, I use the extra buckets for my rice and flour. No canister is quite big enough for how much of I use of those staples. I didn't have to spend $5 for each bucket either!

I've also started a container garden using 5 gallon buckets. Before Joseph got a toy box, his toys were stored in one.

I have a few extra buckets outside that I use as mini trash cans when I do the weeding. Fun, right?

3. Mason jars. I've often been given canned goodies as gifts, so I save the jars and rings. For temporary lids, I use old Parmesan lids. They work great for salad dressings, syrup, etc. Once I get into canning, I should have quite a stash built up...

I turned a couple of jars into soap dispensers, which I love!

4. Baby food jars. Though I never bought any baby food, I was given some. I used the jars for my own baby food, and once my baby was done with it, I used them for storing spices. They're the perfect size!

5. Ice cream buckets. These are especially great for food storage items like beans and pasta.

6. Milk jugs. Since they're not super sturdy, we rinse them out, fill them with water, and SHOOT them! They're actually really great targets because it's easy to tell when you've got a hit. :) I'm not a bad shot, either.

For the most part, I keep sturdy containers and almost all glass ones with lids. I don't keep a lot of flimsy plastic (like sour cream containers) because they don't hold up as well and aren't see-through. I think I've had too many experiences opening one and finding someone's gross leftovers, not sour cream! :)

What are your favorite things to reuse?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Answers

I've had a few things on my mind besides the baby. (That in itself could be another whole post, because I've had the strangest dreams about her!)

My family's health is really important to me, as I'm sure it is for any mom. Moms are usually in charge of the cooking, so they make most of the health decisions for the family. I never thought that it would be such a big responsibility. I can cook, yes, but who's to say that what I cook is really worth the time and effort? I hadn't studied a whole lot about the quality (nutrition) of the food I make until a few years ago when Joseph was starting to eat solid foods. Something prompted me, in a way, to search for answers to this question,

"How can I feed my family foods they like while effectively balancing cost, nutrition, and time?"

I've read lots of books, some pretty nontraditional when it comes to nutrition. I've tried to make everything that I can from scratch that I don't consider to be a huge pain. For the most part, I'd say we eat "real food", which, along with the Word of Wisdom, best describes how we eat on a normal basis. I spend a lot less than the government says I should be...about 55% of their definition of "frugal". Yet still, something nags me that I could be doing better.

My husband is not normal. (Really!) Due to a chronic health issue, he deals with malabsorption. I've struggled with the thought that it may shorten his life, but also that what I feed him may have a whole lot to do with how long that life is. Since spending more money isn't really an option, I've been thinking a lot about what I can do to make the quality of food we already eat even better.

The answer was clear and simple and came to me while I was studying about food storage (for the long term, which I will be writing about on my other blog).

Sprouts.

I've been at work sprouting everything in my kitchen that has the ability. And guess what? No matter what I sprout, it increases the nutrition by a TON. I've been doing a lot of research on it, and I can't believe that it's not a more commonly explored topic. I realized that even if we can only store basic grains and beans in our long-term storage, that's okay, because sprouting them provides a wealth of vitamins and minerals that otherwise would be locked up. It also increases digestibility, a huge advantage for a person who doesn't digest well, and decreases cooking time, which is always a plus. I can't believe that the answer was staring me in the face this whole time.

My goal now is to sprout all the beans and most of the grains we eat from now on. Ever since eating some sprouts today, I've been craving more. I love healthy cravings, because it feels doubly good to give in to them. That's definitely something I can live with. ;)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Saving on Electricity

Our last two apartments and our house have been all electric (minus the stove here). Since electricity is more expensive for heating than gas, I've tried to make sure that our bill isn't completely outrageous each month by doing a few simple things. It's impossible to calculate exactly how much each of these tips saves, but there is no doubt that they do help.

Know which things in the home use the most electricity and use them only as much as you have to. From what I can gather online, here are the top energy users.

1. air conditioning - We have a swamp cooler instead. I use it when it starts getting uncomfortable inside. At night, we blow in the cool air using box fans. This makes a huge difference in how much we have to use the swamp cooler. (Living in a desert does have its advantages. Swamp coolers cost a lot less than AC to run.)

2. dryer - If I've washed a large load of clothes, I spin them twice to make sure all the extra water gets out. This cuts down on drying time and saves energy. I dry things for the minimum amount of time that they need and hang up a few pairs of jeans to let them finish drying if they're the only thing still damp.

3. water heater - I'm not good at this one, but taking shorter showers obviously helps. I only wash my dirty rags in hot; everything else gets washed in cold because I don't think warm water makes a difference in how clean they get. We turned the temperature of the water heater down. It saves money and prevents burned fingers, and it's never hot enough anyway to sanitize dishes washed by hand.

4. water pump - Use less water in general. I asked a couple of people's opinions on how often we needed to water the lawn before jumping in and trying to water it every day (since it doesn't need it that often). Keeping the grass longer helps it need less water. I do only full loads of laundry and adjust the water level if I need to. The little boys take a bath together 1-2 times a week and only get the minimum amount of water needed to get them clean. I need to do better on shorter showers. :) In general, I never leave the water running, and we make sure that none of the faucets drip.

5. stove -  I do all my baking for the day all at once. I try to use the coolest part of the day and have the oven on only as long as I need it. I actually have a gas stove/oven here, but the principle still applies.

6. fridge - The biggest thing here is making sure kids keep the door shut. We are blessed to have a fridge with the water in the door, so Joseph can help himself and doesn't need to open the fridge to get a drink.

7. lights - We switched all of our bulbs for energy-efficient ones. They cost about 1/4 as much as incandescent to use, and they last a lot longer. We've been using them for 3-4 years now and haven't replaced any. (We took them with us when we moved.) My kids are already getting lectures on keeping lights turned off when we aren't using them.

If you want to figure out the energy usage of something, use this formula

(watts X hours used) / 1,000. This will give you kWh, which you multiply by your state's charge per kWh to find the cost of operating the appliance. (In Utah, we get charged 8.6 cents per kWh. You can find this info online.) Another thing to consider: during the summer, the less energy you use, the less you pay per kWh.

How do you save on energy in your home?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hanging On

I thought my life would get a lot easier once we were settled into our house. Well, physically, I do feel a lot better. While I was working on lots of home projects, I ached...A LOT. Now that I'm back to my normal schedule, which isn't too hardcore, I don't ache except when I wake up in the morning (we have a horrible mattress!). I'm done being pregnant (not really, just frustrated). I've spent over 2 years of my life pregnant now, and the strain just doesn't get any easier! I worry about the same old things...if I'm eating well enough, my weight, balancing naps and nighttime sleep so I get enough. I had terrible insomnia with Joseph for the last two months. With Kenny and this time around, I don't, but I wake up feeling tired. Every. Single. Day. It gets old. Why sleep when it's not restful? I don't know, but I guess I'll keep trying! Newborns are always a welcome relief to me. I feel like I finally have energy, ironically, even though I'm going through healing from birth and have crazy hormones. I am not a nice person when I don't get enough sleep.

I usually am at the end of my rope by the time naptime (1:00) rolls around. I know that a lot of it is perception, but it seems like the amount of toys on the floor is overwhelming. I feel like screaming when I have to sweep (once again) to avoid stepping in gooey rice or who-knows-what since Kenny is not the meticulous eater that Joseph was (and is). It also feels like no one is listening to me when I ask them to help out. Really, I just have a heck of a lot less patience. I sat down to take a rest right before naps. Joseph, who is very perceptive, came up and asked me if I was sad. He then said, "It's okay, my mommy, I'll give you two hugs and two kisses." And then, after doing that (which made me cry), he said, "My daddy will make you happy." That, of course, made me cry more. When I put him and Kenny to bed, Joseph kept saying, "Good night, my sad mommy. It will be all right." I couldn't help but marvel at what an awesome kid he is. I'm glad he's mine.

Kenny is walking all over the place now. I'm not used to seeing it, so it still weirds me out even though he's been old enough to walk since who knows when. He simply didn't want to until last week. He is starting to challenge me even more than before. Bedtime is no longer an issue, but he's decided to use biting as a way to get what he wants. He bit Joseph pretty hard on the arm today, so he got a little swat on the behind which made me feel terrible, because then both boys were crying! Biting is a new/old thing for him, and he's young enough that I could almost overlook it, but I can't if he's going to hurt people. I worry a little about nursery in a month. He is starting to communicate more and knows a few short "sentences", such as, "Take it!" and "Baby down". It's cute to hear him sing and do motions for "Book of Mormon Stories" and "The Wheels on the Bus". He absolutely loves music and dances to everything. I can tell that he's already going to be one heck of a stubborn toddler, but not unlike me at that age. I think that's what scares me the most...a kid who is just like me!

I took a trip to Provo last Friday/Saturday. It was really great. I've been bad about staying in touch with my old roommate, Tanisha, but I finally called her up and arranged to take a trip by myself (James's idea) to see her. I left after James got home from school and got to Provo around 7:00. Nisha and I stayed up too late talking and catching up. I slept all right, just not long enough. We ate a leisurely breakfast and took a tour of BYU campus, which I've never done before. I loved the art and science buildings! We then got Thai for lunch. Nisha introduced me to Thai food, and I am ever grateful for that...and the recipes! There is no Thai food in Vernal, but I can make some darn good curry and pretty darn good pad Thai. :) We hung out in the afternoon and then found a Hispanic festival going on in downtown Provo, so we stopped by and got some food there. My drive home was pretty good.

I spent the next two days recovering since I was completely wiped out. We didn't do anything special for Labor Day, though James did help our neighbor finish his French drain and put a little gravel in our yard on the side. It looks a lot better, because it was just dirt and weeds before. James got a new calling, 2nd counselor in the elders' quorum. I laugh because it's the exact calling he had in our old ward. Apparently, there is a lot of work for him to do.

Our ward is really awesome. I feel like I haven't been as good at reaching out since I'm tired and have Kenny half of the time during Relief Society. On a good day, he is still challenging. I can't blame him too much, because Relief Society starts at his naptime. 11-2 church is definitely not my favorite, because it takes away my chance to nap too, so I can barely stay awake during all three meetings. Oh well. We have one more month until Kenny goes to nursery, and a few weeks after that, our baby girl is due. I sure hope I'm up to the challenge of 3 kids, because that day will be here soon.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cheaper Food

Everything I've written about the subject so far can be found at my food storage blog: http://realfoodstorageforrealbudgets.blogspot.com/search/label/Saving%20Money

I haven't changed anything since then!


Friday, August 23, 2013

Homemade Bread: a Testimonial

When people hear that I make all my bread, I get a couple of responses that suggest I'm performing rocket science. I promise you that I'm not! I'm here to encourage anyone that has failed in bread-making attempts in the past. It seems to be one of the most-feared foods to make at home, but really, it's very easy!

I could never do that...Yes, you can! There's a first time for everything. I made my first batch of bread without anyone by my side helping me. I relied on the memory of watching my mom. If you want to learn directly from someone, make sure you do the work and have them tell you what to do. Otherwise, it will be just as scary when you go to do it yourself.

I don't have the time... It takes me 1 1/2 hours from start to finish to make 4 loaves of bread. They last 1 1/2 - 2 weeks. Only 15 minutes of that is hands-on time. I spend more time making dinner on an average day. If you have time to make dinner, you have time to make bread.

We would eat it all right away... Homemade bread always tastes amazing fresh from the oven, but you won't eat the whole loaf after you've been making it for a while. The novelty wears off even though the bread doesn't taste any "less good". I promise.

My bread never rises...A couple of tips for that. Keep yeast in the freezer to make sure it's fresh. Don't use hot water, only warm. Make sure you knead the bread enough so it's elastic. There are a billion things you can find on Google to make sure you do it right, but the best way is to just take the plunge and make a successful batch one time. That's all it takes!

I love homemade bread. I missed it this past month when I was in the process of moving/getting settled and bought bread from the store. Even the good stuff just doesn't compare, and you don't get the amazing smell or the experience of eating it straight from the oven. If you're not sure if you should make homemade bread, go for it! You won't regret it.

Additional Tips (For When You Take the Plunge!)

Do you like to make bread? If not, what's scaring you away?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pregnancy Stuff

Since I like statistics and things, I've kept track a little bit to see how the three pregnancies compare. So far, it would seem that my 2nd and 3rd are much more similar to each other than to my first. I guess that dispels those old wives' tales about boy/girl pregnancies being different since #2 was a boy and #3 is a girl. (I've had a couple of dreams about her turning out to be a boy, which is a little funny and unsettling!)

Nausea has been better each time, so I had almost none this time around.

Weight gain is about the same each time. I got a few new stretch marks with #2 and a few new ones with #3. I look bigger sooner each time, but that's pretty typical from what I hear.

The quality of sleep was horrible with #1 but okay with #2 and #3. I can't say that I ever feel really rested because I toss and turn a lot, but I don't have insomnia, thank goodness. I don't take naps because they make me feel worse, but I put my feet up a lot. Fatigue overall has gotten a little worse each time, but it probably has to do with not being able to sleep in and having more to do around the house...like taking care of 2 other kids!

Aches and pains were least annoying with #2 because I worked out faithfully but didn't overwork myself like I have this time. Now that I'm taking the time to put my feet up, I actually don't hurt at all anymore. (Crossing my fingers that it stays this way.) When I do, I've had the same two achy spots as #1 and #2. I'm really grateful for yoga and warm baths.

As for cravings, there hasn't been anything in common with all 3. For #2 and #3, I have craved raw veggies like salad,  as well as beans and eggs. Yes, I give in to those cravings. :)

As for delivery and the baby, we will have to wait and see! The strange thing is that labor started at 3 a.m. both times for the boys, so I wonder how it will all turn out. I'm trying not to anticipate anything about it since it has been unpredictable and harder than I thought it would be both times past. I'd love to not be overdue, but we'll see. Less than 2 months left, I hope.

On a completely unrelated note, James started school yesterday. He is having a good time so far. Teaching (and not concrete!) is definitely the job for him.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Who Wants a Clean House?

I sure do, but I don't want to spend a fortune on cleaners...ever!

The most expensive way to clean a house is to buy fancy cleaners that claim to clean one specific thing...think countertops, or toilets, or wood floors. Cleaning like that will give you a huge cabinet full of cleaning supplies and a headache trying to remember them all.

There are two routes to go for saving money on cleaners. I'm actually doing both.

1. Get professional cleaners. They come in concentrates, last forever, and only cost 65 cents a bottle. They are extremely effective, but not "green". I've got 2:

disinfectant: for cleaning the bathroom and spraying down trashcans

tub and tile cleaner: self explanatory

I'm extremely pleased with how well both of them work. The disinfectant doesn't leave behind a strong smell, and it completely gets rid of the smell of diapers in the boys' room. The tub and tile cleaner is very effective and getting soap scum off, so I never have to scrub my shower! It doesn't have the greatest smell, but I only need it every other week.

2. Make your own. I haven't compared cost, but I know these are even cheaper than the pro cleaners. There are a million recipes, but I definitely recommend looking at onegoodthingbyjillee.com to get started.

Many of the DIY cleaners really only use one or two ingredients. If you have these things in your house, you're probably set:

ammonia
dish soap
baking soda
vinegar
hydrogen peroxide
rubbing alcohol

My favorites:

Baking soda + vinegar make an excellent stove/oven cleaner. (Thanks, Cindy!)

Homemade Windex

Not counting the laundry, I've just got those two professional cleaners and the basic list above. My cleaners all fit on top of my dryer in a milk crate. Once my heavy duty cleaners are gone, I think I'm going to switch to all homemade. I won't have to buy anything that I don't already have, and I will save even more money. That's always a good thing.

Do you have any favorite homemade cleaners? Please share!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Recent Happenings

I love living in a house. It's a huge contrast to the really trashy apartment we lived in until almost a month ago. This first month has really flown by since I've kept myself so busy with home projects. Don't worry, I haven't purposely tried to overexert myself, but yet I still have. Oops. I suppose that's in my nature. Despite this being my third time pregnant, it still seems to drag on forever. I don't try to be especially pessimistic about it, but some familiar achy muscles have returned to remind me that even after all I do, there is still going to be some discomfort over these last 10 weeks.

10 weeks! I'm 3/4 of the way done. It almost seems like a brand-new experience since I'm having a little girl this time. I almost feel like I have no idea what to expect. I guess we'll see how little girls are different from little boys. I can't imagine this little girl being any different (personality-wise) than the boys already are from each other. They are like night and day.

But I was talking about projects. Most of the things I've done have been small things: some deep cleaning on the few areas that the former owners missed, unpacking the last few boxes, a little bit of OCD organizing to make sure I've put everything where I want, etc. I've also had some fun. The pictures will speak for themselves.

New church schedule = tired and cranky children all day. Sundays are not my favorite right now.

This jackrabbit is HUGE and hangs out in our yard a lot.

James's end-of-summer gift to himself. I enjoyed shooting it while Joseph pulled the trap.

Kenny loves to draw with sidewalk chalk! Our patio is covered in art.

James built this little house from pallets. Joseph likes it, but not as much as riding his trike.

We had FHE on the patio with "fire marshmallows" as the treat. I still burn all of mine.

I made this! It's one of those OCD projects that makes me feel crafty.

Same here, but it means no more moldy bath toys. Thanks, Pinterest and D.I.!

Little girl's room. I made these curtains from a sheet I got at D.I., so they cost me $2. Our house came with curtain rods already installed in most of the rooms. :)

The other side of little girl's room. The pillow matches the curtains! I was trying to fix the 3rd drawer in the dresser, but I broke it. That's what happens when you're still using a $5 dresser 4 years later...

Some bows I made for little girl, and a shot of her. 10 weeks left!

Last view of the room. She gets to host my keyboard and vacuum...for now.
Other than that, the summer is winding down and James start school on Monday. We finally had some friends from dinner on Sunday, the first time in about 6 months. I also called an old roommate that I haven't talked to since Christmas. I'm such a slacker at communicating with people, but friends are everything to me! (So if I never talk to you, I am very sorry! I still love you.)



Friday, August 9, 2013

It's Laundry Time!

I guess it's been long enough that I don't mind the laundry so much anymore. Folding still isn't my favorite, but oh well. A few things I like to do:

1. Have a set laundry day. I actually have two, Wednesday and Friday. On Wednesday I get all the colors done, and on Friday, I completely wash everything. That usually means two loads on Wednesday and two to three on Friday. It makes a lot more sense to do at least two loads from start to finish, because you save an hour with the overlap in time where one is washing and one is drying.

2. Fold it as soon as it's dry. Doing two loads first thing in the morning usually means it's all done by naptime (1:00). I fold it immediately so nothing gets too wrinkled, and I shut my bedroom door so no one decides to jump on my bed while laundry folding is in progress. It's been known to happen.

*Tip for folding: If you put items in thirds and then put them vertically into the dresser, it saves a TON of space! We have two people per dresser, no problem. Since the boys' dresser has extra space, I fill it with diapers.

3. Try homemade solutions. The laundry detergent recipe floating around Pinterest works well, but it does make whites go gray. It saves me only $1.20 in a year, so I won't usually use it.

Shout is the only other thing I use for laundry. The recipe found here works better in a squeeze bottle because it clogs up spray bottles. It works as well or better than store bought Shout. I haven't figured out cost, but I know it's a LOT cheaper based on what it's made of.

4. Use less. The reason I don't save a lot on detergent is because I use only 1/3 of a scoop of the Sun brand detergent (the bucket). It gets everything out and smells better (in my opinion) than the homemade, so I'll probably stick to using it when my homemade stuff runs out.

Dryer sheets can be avoided somewhat if you don't leave clothes in the dryer for too long (before they feel really hot when you take them out). A half of a sheet works well for a whole load, though I haven't used any for a while. I've gotten lax, and it isn't winter, so there's a lot less static anyway.

5. Spin the washer twice. An extra spin cycle takes less energy (and money) than 30 more minutes in a dryer.

6. Keep the lint trap clean. Everyone knows about the little thingy you pull out of the dryer after each load. I mean the silver, flexible pipe that vents outside. Take your vacuum outside and suck out all that lint from the trap once in a while. Do it from both ends of the pipe (disconnect it) if you can. I just did it at my new house (actually, I just pulled out the wad of lint since the screen outside is removable) and my dryer runs a lot more efficiently.

7. Wash cold unless you need something sanitized. I haven't found warm water to make a difference in getting things clean, so I wash everything on cold except for rags. They get a small load to themselves on hot with bleach. Cold water = cheaper.

How do you save money or time on doing laundry?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

For Her

A quick update of our doings over the last few weeks: James is still working concrete, and I've been doing small repair/cleaning/organizing projects around the house. You can call it nesting, but I call it OCD. We're adjusting well to the new responsibilities we have, like a lawn that needs to come back to life. Other than that, life goes on as normal. Kenny is 16 mos. now and shows no sign of wanting to walk. One day...

I've noticed that society likes numbers and statistics for just about everything. Think about it: there's IQ, GPA, phone numbers, addresses...and of course, BMI.

Numbers identify us. My phone number is mine alone. If you call it, you will get me (unless I don't answer, but you get the picture.) My address tells where I live. A simple zip code puts me in a 10-mile radius of exactly where I live on earth. My house number will take you right to my front door.

Since studying to be a teacher, my view of numbers for grouping people has changed. IQ? Not so great. Test scores? Same thing. A person is not a phone or a house. A phone or house stays put (relatively speaking), but a person is dynamic, always changing, and unique, even if that person fits into certain groups based on numbers.

I don't mean to say that grouping people is always a bad thing. Grouping people based on statistics sometimes is, especially when it comes to health.

I am 29 weeks pregnant as I write this. Ever since I've been able to understand the concept of BMI, it has been a plague to my mind. When I am at my healthiest, that chart would have me believe that I'm borderline to overweight. When I'm pregnant and gain 30 pounds, I feel huge. It wasn't so bad with my first child. I fully expected everything to be a lot harder than it was. I didn't pay attention to my weight during the whole 40 weeks. At my last checkup, I peeked and saw that I'd only gained 30, so I felt good, because I'd expected a lot more than that.

After my first child was born, I quickly lost all the weight but 5 lbs. That came off as soon as I stopped nursing, so not until a year later. Despite that 5 pounds, I fit (relatively) comfortably into my regular clothes at one week postpartum.

The same story was true for my second pregnancy, but I started worrying about the numbers. I don't know why I did, because it made no difference except to stress me out. I still gained 30 lbs. despite my best efforts to maybe gain a little less. The addition of healthier eating and exercise almost seemed like it had been in vain. I forgot that it wasn't about the numbers. I felt a ton better during my second pregnancy. I just wasn't any lighter.

This pregnancy has been the biggest challenge of all. I never lost that nursing weight because I was still nursing when I got pregnant. That meant I started off with an extra 7 pounds on top of what I knew I'd already gain. In my mind, it was like a death sentence. "I am going to weigh more than I ever have before once I'm about to give birth." Ouch.

I don't know why I own a scale. Perhaps it's because I feel like I need those numbers. I need to reach a certain number to feel like I fit into the "BMI" standard of health. I know that it isn't true. I'm always going to weigh "a lot" for my height. That's been true for me since I was a baby. Why does any of it really matter? If I base my health simply on how I feel, I don't need numbers for anything. Whether I'm pregnant or not, I am generally without aches and pains, have enough energy to do what I need to, and don't get sick for more than a day or two. I even manage to sleep well, even this late in pregnancy, and my doctor has proclaimed that I am "boring". He isn't the first doctor to say so.

I don't want to be defined by numbers that are totally subjective and based on something the government made up. Since when are they the authority on everything? For health issues, they are usually pretty far off anyway. I can worry my whole life about fitting into a BMI chart. Or, I can actually make sure that my health is the best that I know it can be. Perhaps my exact weight will return to what it was as long as I continue doing the best I can with what I have. Perhaps it won't. I wish I could say that I absolutely won't worry about it, but that isn't true. Every time I look in the mirror to see new stretch marks, I cringe a little. I admit it. I like to stay the same. Pregnancy really throws me for a loop, and I don't know that I will ever get used to it, no matter how many times I go through it.

I want to think better of myself, though. I'm having my very first daughter in a few months. I don't want her to grow up hearing me say that I'm fat or ugly. I don't want her to worry obsessively about her weight - ever! I want to be an example of good health, not good statistics. I don't ever want her view of herself to suffer from my example, my poor example of appreciating the body I have, even though it's flawed.

No measure of a person's true worth can be represented by a number. I need to remember this and live it. It's not too late to start.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Moving Cheaply

We've just made our 5th move in 4 years, so I thought I'd share a few things we've learned along the way about moving as cheaply as possible.

1. Get rid of as much stuff as possible! I love to get rid of things. It may be the only thing I truly like about moving aside from being in a new, hopefully better, place. We don't usually get rid of a lot, but a few things here and there can save a lot of space.

2. Get free boxes. Everybody has them. They aren't as stackable as Uhaul boxes, but the money saved from buying new boxes more than makes up for the little extra space you'll need. Produce boxes are awesome for books.

3. Use stuff to pack stuff. Anything and everything soft (blankets, towels, clothes) gets used to pack breakables like dishes and pictures. We hardly use any newspaper, so we also don't have as much to throw away when we get there and we save a lot of space. We use all of our suitcases and backpacks to pack things as well. That also means fewer boxes to worry about!

4. Get help. Friends offered to help us as soon as they found out we'd be moving. The wonderful thing about the Church is that the help is free. James also had friends from school that he'd already helped move, so it was like payment for him helping them. We paid them for their hard work with pizza and popsicles. It was really nice.

5. Shop around on truck prices. When we moved to Vernal, Uhaul was the only option that we could return in Vernal, and it would've cost us $600. We looked at Budget trucks and found that renting one would cost $117 if we'd be willing to drive 2 hours to return it in Wyoming. Needless to say, we did, and it saved us well over $400. A local move isn't as big of a deal. We used a Uhaul since we were moving in town and driving to Wyoming wouldn't be worth it this time. :)

Moving is a lot of hard work. I sure hope I'm done for a few years! What are your favorite moving tips?