Saturday, February 28, 2009

They Google What?

I love the site meter feature on my blog. I can log in and see how many people have viewed my blog and approximately where they are from. I say approximate because I come up as Phoenix and I live 100 miles away from Phoenix. Small glitch.

The feature I love the most is the ability to see how people found my blog. Some people find my blog through other blogs or my facebook link. Some people google a phrase and my blog comes up.

Are you curious what google searches bring up my blog the most?

Apparently, people are very interested in neti pots. My blog comes up and people can view my lovely instructional video. In case you missed it, click here. What is frightening for me is that people all over the world are looking for information about a neti pot and there I am, dork of the year, flooding my nose with water. Do I really want a person from Switzerland to see that? It is what it is I suppose. If it helps someone, so be it.

You'll never guess the next most searched topic that brings up my blog. "How to skin a rabbit". Seriously, people want to know this information? I doubt they are expecting to find a story about my cat, but if you missed that post, you can check it out here. You and someone in New Zealand can read it together.

Friday, February 27, 2009

New Favorite Things

I know Oprah does a favorite things show every year. It's full of expensive beautiful things that I could never afford. Who needs a pashmina scarf anyway? I've found a few things lately that I've really gotten excited about.

In our house, I have what I call a fruit philosophy. Basically, I will pay money for good fruit because we will eat it. Ben will pass up Oreo's at the store and ask for a pint of raspberries. When they look yucky or are ridiculously expensive, I give him the Oreo's and he's cool with that too. The point though is that the kids will eat fruits and vegetables all day if it's available to them. I'll spend $12 for an enormous container of cherries at Costco because Emily will eat them for days. So, you can imagine how happy I was when I heard about a new Farmer's Market that opened in our town. I was hoping the produce would be nice and it wouldn't be too expensive. I've been back three times this week!

They have great produce and the prices are awesome. The men who run it are super friendly and they often have a table with some bagged discounted merchandise.
The other day I found a bag of 12 oranges for 99 cents. The kids love juicing oranges, but they are normally way to expensive to buy for juicing. It takes 3-4 oranges just to make one glass. Today, I found a bag of 14 bananas. Yes, they are browning a bit, but I'll peel and wrap them and put them in the freezer for our nightly smoothies. Where else could I get all this produce for $1.98?

My other favorite thing is Blogger's new "My Blog List" on the right side of my blog. Now instead of checking 10 different blogs every morning, I can just go to my blog and see who posted something new in the past day. Some of the blogs I read daily are family, some friends and some are strangers who have interesting lives. The new blog list is fantastic!

Speaking of fantastic, I've had over 5,000 hits on my blog since I started it last June. At least somebody is reading this besides my mother in law. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ultrasound

I had my ultrasound this morning. On the paperwork it said no children under the age of 8. Emily was in preschool. David had to work. That leaves Ben, the mama's boy. I carpool to preschool with a good friend, Dakri and her daughter Alanah. She drops off and I pick up. The plan was that Ben would go with Emily in Dakri's car this morning. She'd drop off the girls and bring him back to her house. Then when I was done with my appointment, I would pick him up. Ben pitched a fit when it came time to leave, a royal fit.

Plan B.

I'll go to the Doctor with Ben and Dakri will meet me there after dropping off the girls. This way, I'll be right in the other room and Dakri won't have to deal with him for long. I don't care if Ben screams. I just don't want my friend to have to deal with it.

Luckily, the Doctor's office was empty. Ben and I are in the waiting room and Dakri arrives. They call me back. I can hear him screaming from inside the room with the door shut. The lady says they can come back. So, Dakri came in for my appointment and held Ben on her lap. She saved the day.

Now, on to the ultrasound...

We were able to see the heartbeat and the technician held the wand still and let us watch the baby move around. It was rather sweet. She took all the necessary measurements. My calculations put me at 8 weeks exactly. She estimated that I was 8 weeks and 5 days. She said I probably ovulated early. Sounds good to me. My due date got moved up to October 3rd. I was thrilled as my birthday is the 11th and I really didn't want to be delivering or at the hospital on my birthday. Emily was born on her due date and Ben 2 days late. I don't deliver early, so October 3rd sounds good to me.

Here are a few photos of the little mushroom which is what I thought it looked like. It must be a girl and she already has my big hips!

The wavy lines on the bottom (in the middle part) is the heartbeat.




The circle on the right is the yolk sac which is there until the placenta develops.


I will have another ultrasound at 18-20 weeks. It will probably be a more advanced ultrasound due to my ahem, AMA, or Advanced Maternal Age. As if at 35, I have one foot in the grave!

I am still feeling great. I've had a few minor symptoms, otherwise I really wouldn't even know I was pregnant yet which is very different from my first two pregnancies. It was nice to see the baby moving around on the monitor and see the heartbeating just to verify that indeed I am pregnant and all is well.

So far, so good.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Defrost

Today is the first day in four months that my feet have felt sunshine.

It's been beautiful this week. We started the day with 2 hours at a park with friends. The kids cheeks were red and they were a little sweaty from riding bikes and running around.

My toes have been crammed in socks with no pretty color for way too long. I painted my toes and Emilys. I love her little feet.


I think Ben even liked my toes. He said, "Mommy, you have red toes!" as if he hadn't seen them look so pretty in well, 4 months.


Then, Emily and I sat on the lounge chairs and read books while Ben threw rocks at the slide.


Even Roxie was enjoying the sunshine.


My hands and toes have felt chilly for so long that it feels strange to almost feel hot. It's not even 70 here today, but it's enough to give the car that warmth. It's one of my favorite feelings. When you get into your car and everything is still and quiet, nothing is scorching hot or freezing cold, and there is just a lovely warmth that wraps around me. This is when David normally rolls down the windows and my loveliness escapes with the wind. But, I felt it if only for a few seconds.

I know this is not the start of Spring as we will get another wave of cold, but for now, it's just nice to defrost.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hiatus

I haven't felt like writing much lately.

I've been recovering from this dreaded cold, and the baby in my belly makes me tired.

But, those are just excuses.

I started babysitting this week. It's just on Thursdays. It went really well. The kids were great and my kids didn't hit, push, or steal toys from them. A successful day in my book.

I also had to work on my brother and his girlfriends taxes. I've been doing them for as long as I can remember. So, since my brother gives me a little extra cash for taking care of this, I figured I should get it done and not spend my precious computer time blogging. In any case, I deposited some cash into our checking account that I EARNED. Wow, that feels good.

Ben had his 3 year old well visit on Wednesday. He is doing great and impressed the doctor when he told him, "I'm going to be gargantuan!" The doctor thought he was a riot. The only little problem is Ben's had whats called a hydrocele since birth. Very common in baby boys. It's like a little hernia next to their groin. It swells with fluid. This spontaneously disappears in most boys by 18 months. It hasn't in Ben. This means a visit to a urologist in Phoenix to have it looked at. And if needed, a surgery to drain and stitch it up. Not really a big deal and according to web pages, he'll be back running around the house by that night or the next morning. I'm not really too concerned, even if he needs the surgery. It's outpatient and they put him out, so he won't even know what happened. If you are interested in learning more about little boys scrotum's than you ever probably wanted to know, you can go here .

I also had my first prenatal appointment yesterday. It went well. At 7 weeks, she knew she wouldn't hear the heartbeat, so she didn't bother with that. I did get an ultrasound scheduled for Wednesday. She said she just likes to confirm dates early on. I'm sure she's had many women claim they are 8 weeks and they are 12 or vice versa. In any case, I love an early ultrasound. Seeing the little peanuts heart beat is always so much fun.

I've also been drowing in laundry. My daughter wears 15 pairs of socks a day and changes outfits no less than 3 times. Ben wet his bed two nights in a row. I've done 5 loads of laundry this week.

We also found out that David will NOT lose his job. Thank God! We'll have to deal with the paycut and furlough days for now, but at least we still have some income coming in. Should we celebrate? Nah, we can't afford it!

We did get our federal tax refund today. If you want to start your day off right, look at your checking account the day your federal return is posted. Made me smile. Although we can't spend it on fun things like a Wii, it's nice to have the cushion that we need right now. Maybe just maybe, we will celebrate with a very modest dinner out. I even have coupons.

That's been my week in a nutshell. After writing all this I realize that I didn't blog because I was busy not tired or lazy.

That's good news. It's been a good week.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

III

Today my sweet little boy turned 3. We had a nice party at our house with family and friends. We ate lots of food and he got lots of presents.

Here are just a few photos from the party...










Despite all of our recent financial woes, I had to take a moment and just be grateful for all that we have. We are blessed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Worries

David has been sleeping on the sofa the past 3 nights because I'm coughing so much. He didn't sleep last night. Not a wink the entire night.

He was worried about Emily who was up until 2:30 complaining that her knee hurt. She does this a few times a year. I'm thinking it's growing pains because physically nothing happened to her knee and it looks fine to me.

He finally got her to sleep, but then he couldn't go to sleep. He got on the computer and did work until 8:00 this morning at which time he called in sick. I think he'll only need to claim 3 hours of sick time because he worked from 3 AM to 8 AM. He said he just couldn't sleep. I think the worries about his work and pay decreases is weighing on him.

We have savings and I know we'll be fine. But, it doesn't make the worry any less.

He finally fell asleep on the sofa with another redhead...
Should I be worried? :o)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Melted

I woke up feeling a little better today. Then, David called from work.

News about the mandatory furlough was in. He has to take one unpaid day off per pay period. The good news is he still has a job. The bad news is that if this keeps up we will qualify for food stamps soon.

I'm also happy that at least they went the route of furlough and not another pay cut. At least we get to be broke and have David home for two extra days a month. This is another hit for us. First no overtime, then a 5% pay cut, now 2 furlough days a month, we are looking at $600-$800 a month.

We'll manage of course. We'll dip into savings when we need to, at least we have that.

I told Emily the other day that we couldn't afford to buy something. Although I wish it weren't true, I think every kid needs to hear and understand that. If nothing else, we will all learn some valuable lessons from this experience.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Melting

This is how I feel today, like our melting snowman.

Every time, I get pregnant, I get wicked sick. Not throwing up sick, that never happens thankfully. But, I catch some cold that the kids have and I'm miserable. I can't take 2 doses of Nyquil and call it a night. I tough it out. I was up almost the entire night stuffed up and coughing. David slept on the sofa. The baby is already telling me that he/she takes what it wants and I get whatever is leftover.

My kids don't seem to understand that Mom needs some rest. I tried to take a nap on the sofa and the next thing I know they are riding their bikes through the house.

David will be home in 1 hour and 25 minutes. Thank God.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sledding

We woke up to a winter wonderland. David snapped a few pictures before the calm wore off, meaning the garbage truck hadn't driven down the street and the dogs hadn't made the snow yellow.



This is our house with Rocko standing in the street. See the satellite dish on the right side? David went outside last night with a 6 foot ladder and broom to clear the snow off so that we could get a signal. I needed to watch The Bachelor. Now, that's love!


After their daily morning walk, Roxie was inside warming her bones while Rocko posed for pictures. He was eating snow.


It was officially declared a snow day and school was canceled. David had a meeting and couldn't miss it, so he headed into work. I realized what a bummer it is to have to work, I mean seriously work. Sure, staying home with the kids is hard work, but we have fun too. Today's activity included going sledding for the first time. I was sad that David was going to miss it.

My only recollection of sledding involves going down a tube in Flagstaff when I was about 8. The snow kicked up and went down the back of my pants. I was freezing and done after that.

I got the kids dressed warmly and I put on my snow pants. They still fit. We went to a park in our neighborhood that has a decent hill.


The kids didn't understand that you have to carry your sled back up the hill!


We met up with a few of our friends and all the kids shared sleds.


This is Ben in the center going down.


It worked out great because the sleds seemed to collect at the bottom. So, I'd grab a sled, go flying down and cart them all up the hill. I don't know how many calories sledding burns, but we were all famished by the time we got home. We all had Eggo waffles and a cup of coffee!

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On the way home, I asked the kids what they thought about sledding.

Ben said, "It's great."
Emily said, "It was so much fun!"

I thought so too. The only thing missing was Daddy.

It Stuck!!!

It's early, early in the morning. The sun isn't up.

The kids are finally getting over their colds and sleeping through the night. Just in time for me to catch the cold and be awake at night.

But, I don't mind. Not this morning.

I woke up to find a beautiful blanket of snow on everything.

We got lots of snow yesterday. The kids and I played outside for a few hours. We all came in to warm up and I made chili for dinner. David got home from work. We ate and all went back outside for some more winter fun. When you don't get snow often, you really appreciate it when it comes.







A cup of hot chocolate was a must when we came back in.




This is our front yard at dusk yesterday.


This is our front yard this morning. Now, I know it's dark. I told you it was early. But if you click and enlarge it, you'll get an idea. See the little cat paw prints on the right side of the driveway? That's another reason why I'm awake. Max was meowing to go out. Little did he know...




For us, this is a lot of snow. Last winter we had 7 or 8 nice snowfalls. Enough to have a snow ball fight, but it disappears in a few hours or day. That's the perfect amount for me. This is the first real snowfall this winter and this is the most snow we've ever gotten at one time.

We have a great park about a mile away that has a big hill that leads into a soccer field. We're going sledding in a few hours!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Impatience

This is how Ben looks when he's waiting for his morning waffle.


It can't toast quick enough for him. He does look pretty cute.


We are all getting sick and tired of waiting for some snow to stick.
We do enjoy watching the flakes, but we are ready to make some serious snow angels. Rocko enjoys playing in the flakes.




They are forecasting 4-8 inches tonight for us. Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Saving Money and Making Money

In an effort to cut back, we bought Ben a nice soccer ball from Walmart. We set up the cones that we already had from when we play hockey in the hallway. Sometimes, I seriously can't believe this is my house.

David and Ben went out and played some soccer in the backyard. I think this will have to be a new weekly activity as $40 for soccer camp is going to be out. It's only an hour a day for a week anyway. Plus, Emily wanted to play too. So, this is David's new title...soccer coach. Except Emily was inside sleeping off a 102 degree fever and Ben was outside with Dad freezing. So, soccer will have to wait a month or two.

But just like that, we saved $80, well $76 because the ball cost $4.



In an attempt to be frugal and still have fun, we headed to Home Depot for the bi-monthly kid craft. Lowes also does this once a month. It's a free wood project for kids. Parents need to help or do all of it in our case. But, the kids seem to have fun and the best part is they have something to paint later.

This weeks project was a wooden trinket box. It's usually manly, like football helmet bookends. I liked this one and managed to steal an additional one on the way out. Grammie...this may end up in your mailbox one day when we get it done.





In other good news, my friend who lives around the corner needs a babysitter once a week. She has 4 kids, but 2 are in school. So, starting next Thursday, I'm watching her adorable little girl (who is 2) and her son (he's 4) will arrive via preschool carpool at noon. It's a little gig that will give us a little extra cash.

I was so excited. It seems strange that I will actually make money for the first time in 4 years.

And it couldn't have come at a better time.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Arrogance

There will be no Wii for me with what was left of our tax return money.

Everybody has been feeling the economic pinch lately. David works for the State and we really hadn't noticed much. Sure when gas was $4.00 a gallon, I cut back on driving, but that was really it. I think I was arrogant in assuming that these economic times wouldn't hurt us that much. That it happens to everybody else but not us.

I stay home with the kids and we do fine with David's salary. By fine I mean, enough to pay the bills. We live paycheck to paycheck and don't save any money. I also run a pretty tight ship. I buy what is on sale at the grocery store. Neither David or I buy much of anything for ourselves. I broke down and bought 2 new shirts on sale for $8 each at Target when Emily mentioned that my current shirts had holes in them. Sure the kids have every toy under creation, but I didn't buy them. We don't have credit card debt because we don't live beyond our means.

I knew the State of Arizona, as with every state, would be doing a lot of budget cuts. David has been there for 10 years. I thought we'd be safe. My hope was that they would lay a few people off instead of cutting salaries for everyone.

A few weeks ago, they stopped overtime. David always got several hours of overtime in both his paychecks every month. This was a hit for us financially, but I thought we could manage. Yesterday, they cut their pay by 5%. Basically, he got a 5% geographic stipend which is now gone.

All together, this will be a $400-$500 loss per month for us.

It's enough to have kept me up last night. Well, that and the fact that the dog raided our pantry while we were at ballet. She ate an entire loaf of wheat bread, a box of wheat thins, Parmesan goldfish crackers and cheetos. Dog gas can wake up anybody.

So, how do you tighten an already tight ship? I've been going over things in my head. I made some calls to Direct TV, Qwest and Verizon to reduce our current plan. I'm telling myself it all adds up, but I think I've saved $20 so far.

The other issue is while we are losing money everything else is going up. We got our gas and electric bill for last month and they totalled over $350. When I looked at the accounts online, we used less energy and gas compared to the same time last year but due to their rate hikes, we paid more. I feel like we are in a battle that we can't win.

We will find ways to cut back I'm sure. I think I will become Emily's ballet teacher and David can coach Ben in soccer in the backyard. Ben doesn't HAVE to go to preschool in the fall. He can wait a year and I'll teach him his letters, numbers, colors and shapes. We'll head to the park or go on hikes and bike rides. There will be no vacation this year.

We'll dip into our little savings every month and be grateful that at least we have that to fall back on.

And we'll wait and pray...as they say more cuts are coming.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tax Time

I always look forward to tax time especially now that I'm married with two kids. It's like a little savings account that I can't touch all year and then BAM! I get it all at once.

I know the idea of taxes is to break even and not owe or get anything. At least that's what any accountant will tell you. But for me, an extra $300 a month would just get piddled away. I make do with what we have each month and then I always look forward to the big return.

We don't go on some grand vacation or splurge on a Wii. Instead, we will use it to pay our real estate taxes for the year. Boring. Then, we will probably just save it and use it for a little vacation this summer. It'll be nice to have a tiny cushion back in savings as it was depleted after our last trip.

I do our taxes on turbo tax and always have. I just e-filed my federal taxes today and I'm sending off the state tomorrow in the mail.

Hey, when somebody owes me money, I want it! Maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to talk my husband into that Wii!

What are you doing with your return? If you are getting one...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Nap for Three

Emily got a little cold last week. Ben got it a few days ago. The cold passes quickly. The lingering cough, especially at night, does not.

Two nights ago, Ben wasn't feeling great. We knew he would wake up in the middle of the night needing more medicine. We decided that Ben would sleep with me so that I could take care of him and David would sleep in Ben's bed. Stuff like this happens all the time. No wonder it took a year to get pregnant.

Ben was up a lot throughout the night. Then, Emily came in the room looking for her Dad of course. I told her not to wake him and climb in bed with Ben and I. She tossed and turned and coughed. Nobody was getting much sleep at that point. The kids were awake at 5:30.

It was going to be a long day.

1:00 came and I decided we all needed to get a few hours of shut eye. We piled in my bed and turned on Toy Story. Emily was out in about 3 minutes. I was dozing for an hour until Ben finally fell asleep. Then, everyone crashed out for a good hour. It was lovely. There's just something so sweet about the warmth and silence of an afternoon nap with your babies.

I woke up and looked over. They were spooned together and looked adorable. I snuck out and grabbed the camera. They had moved.

I snapped Emily sucking her finger. It used to be her thumb until a month ago when it got a sore on it from being so chapped. I was hoping she'd break the habit. Nope, just moved on to her finger.


Ben was starting to wake up because the camera made a clicking noise. I love his disheveled hair.


There's a price to pay for indulging in an afternoon nap. The kids weren't tired until after 10:00. We all piled in our bed and watched The Bachelor! Meanwhile, David and I were trying to figure out how we are going to fit another baby in our California King bed.

We'll make room. There's always room for a new baby.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Year of Trying

When David and I met, we knew instantly that we were meant for each other. Within days, we had the talk of how many kid we'd like to have. We agreed two, maybe three, with both of us leaning more towards three.

We got married on Nov. 12. By Christmas, we were pregnant with Emily. I knew right away too. I was brought to tears because somebody stole my gnome from the front yard. We were training for a half marathon and I had run 8 miles the weekend before. I couldn't even make it to the end of the street. There were all sorts of signs. I took a test days before my period was even due and it was positive.

We decided to try for our second child in May of 2005. I told David we were pregnant on his birthday, June 12. Again, it took less than 2 months and I knew way before I was even late.

Emily and Ben were both difficult babies. We tried to go out to eat with my Dad and Suzy and David's Mom and sister who were visiting and Emily screamed the entire time. She was about 3 weeks old. She liked to cry. A lot. Ben wasn't any better. David would jump through hoops trying to get him to fall asleep every night. He was a screamer and didn't sleep 8 hours for a year. Thank God they were healthy. But, they drove us to the edge.

Emily was only 17 months when we brought home Ben. It was like having 2 babies. Emily wasn't cranky at that point, but she had developed a love for not sleeping. She's still that way. I remember one particular day, Ben was maybe 4 months old and he was screaming his lungs out. I had to call David at work. I told him to get home before I did something horrible. I hid in the dark closet until David arrived 5 minutes later.

After thoroughly being traumatized by both our kids, we thought two would be it for us. However, we always thought maybe, just maybe. We hadn't taken any permanent action, so anything was still possible.

Last January, David came home from work and said he wanted to try for another baby.

What? What? What?

I had gotten comfortable where we were at. I needed several days to think it over and finally, my birth control pills went in the garbage.

Of course, we both assumed I'd be pregnant in 2 months. I almost backed out from being in my Aunt Rosie's wedding because I truly believed I would be 8 months pregnant by then.

2 months turned to 3, 4, 5, 6...12

There was just a point where we thought it was going to be too late. Yet, I always knew if we stopped I'd wonder what if we'd tried for just one more month.

I had just told David a few weeks ago that I was making my annual appointment at the gynecologist. The plan would be to resume birth control at that point.

Obviously, that isn't going to happen.

We were at the grocery store yesterday and I decided to get a pregnancy test. Not because I thought I was pregnant, but because I just didn't want to think "what if" anymore. I was several days late. As I was taking the test, I truly believed we had just wasted $10. I had a little cramping, but I assumed that was my period and nothing else. There has been no other signs or symptoms.

Needless to say, I was shocked. David was shocked. After a year, we just didn't think it was going to happen for us. We were okay with that, but we are ecstatic that our life is going to head down the opposite path.

We told Emily who was excited and asked if we could call it "heart". Um, no. Then, she said she could feed it and play with it. Now, she's on the right track.

Ben was a little more confused and actually lifted my shirt to try to see the "baby in mommy's belly". The morning before we found out Ben had said he wanted a baby brother or sister. He had never said that before. I'm happy that Ben will now be able to call himself a big brother. A title I truly didn't think he'd ever have.

Now comes the hard part. The waiting and planning and waiting some more.

We are due October 7th.
We are truly blessed.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Day of Miracles

The day started like any other Sunday. Sleeping in, reading the paper, making something with bacon for breakfast, walking the dogs...

Today is Superbowl Sunday.

Our Arizona Cardinals are in the Superbowl.
This has never happened.
Yes, they lost, but just barely. It was a fantastic game.

Just being in the Superbowl was a miracle for the Cardinals.

But, that wasn't the only miracle today.

After a year of "trying" for another baby, we found out we are pregnant.

A day of miracles indeed...