Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tree Huggin' Tuesday

So, even though you wrapped all your gifts in reusable grocery bags and the like, *wink, wink* I am sure some of the gifts you will be opening are in paper. Cute paper. So now you get to give that cute paper a second life and make winter decorations. Snowflakes, to be exact. Remember making them in school? I love making snowflakes. It's such a quick, easy, gratifying project. And I'm such a dork. We know that. We work with what we've got. :-)


Just cut square-ish pieces of paper from your pile of used wrapping paper. any size. Last year I made a snowflake that was ~2 feet in diameter. (That was virgin wrapping paper, never wrapped a present at all. In my green defense, it was the last bit on the roll, and I knew we were moving - I was not going to move 2 square feet of wrapping paper. Instead it decorated our glass door until Valentine's Day.) I also made really small ones, and all sizes in between (with the used wrapping paper, of course).

Fold up and cut like you do with normal, computer paper-white paper. Then tape in your windows (walls, mirrors, etc.) and enjoy. Last year our windows were adorned with such a mix-match of different papers, it turned out so cute. And Aubrey really enjoyed helping make them. Lauren helped as much as she could. Andy might've even made a few. I don't remember.

This year (we won't be home at Christmas time) I'll be folding up pieces of wrapping paper and stashing them in my suitcase, for a snowflake making extravaganza when we get home!

Okay, and this green tip is kind of a stretch. I know that. But it is really fun to make them, and, seriously, the patterned wrapping paper turns out such cute snowflakes. So much cuter than boring old white paper. I'll never go back.

Happy Flakin'!!!
Rachel

Thursday, December 17, 2009

blessings 5

#30 ~ being able to stay home with my girls. It's been almost painfully obviouis how blessed I am that I can do this the past few months... up and drive to NM to visit a dying Grandmother without a thought... make it to every school performance, no matter how small... coordinate class parties, and not have to miss work to attend said parties... along with getting to spend my days cuddling with Baby Sasha, reading to and playing with Lauren and taxi-ing Aubrey to and fro.

#31 ~ Andy's fish fry. My hubby can fry, really well. Might explain, just a bit, why I need to lose some weight, huh?

#32 ~ Valvoline Instant Oil Change. When they say instant, they mean instant. awesome.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tree Huggin' Tuesday

gift wrapping
some of the gifts we are giving this year are going in reusable grocery bags.

most stores seem to have their own logo on affordable bags, and there are also some cute, cute ones out there.

I got one with the UNM Lobos logo on it, for my mother-in-law's UNM sweatshirt. And I got a cute one from Petsmart for Andy's work gift exchange (no pets in that bag, but a popcorn bowl, bag of kettlecorn and board game).

Michael's has some cute ones. I know because I've walked past them each of the 3,642 times I've been to Michael's the past two weeks. :-)

The presentation is very different, and I won't be wrapping every gift in reusable bags, but if using gift bags is your M.O., then switching a few paper ones for cloth would be an easy switch. And, unless you have a basement full of old gift bags (reusing those is, of course, super green), the cost will be comparable - maybe even more affordable for the cloth bags!

Happy Wrappin',
Rachel

Monday, December 14, 2009

more blessings

So now that I am conciously thinking of my blessings, it's painfully obvious that I am not always as nice as I could be. It's very tempting to be sarcastic, but that's really not what I want to accomplish in acknowledging my blessings, so I'm reminding myself to take deep breaths. Also, sometimes it's hard to think of my blessings... all the more reason to do this, I think!

#23 ~ Great Grandmother Kailey's sugar cookie recipe, as recorded by Grandma Ruthie in our family cookbook. My new favorite sugar cookie recipe, with just a touch of family history.

#24 ~ Aubrey's honesty. Without hesitation that girl will tell me that my belly is kind of fat. Granted, that's not what I want to hear, but it's undeniable all the same. But she also tells me when my jeans make me look skinny. Also, she raved about the above sugar cookies, "What did you put in these, mom, they are GREAT!" (the answer was vanilla, by the way, it's not some secret, obscure ingredient)

#25 ~ Our cat Oscar. As I type this, he is filling in as 'warm body' next to Sasha.... she's still asleep and I get to be up, moving around. Or sitting down, blogging. But you know what I mean. :-)

#26 ~ Andy's co-workers and their families that we are getting to know better and better.

#27 ~ my creativity. I know there are others out there way more creative than I, but I *love* making pretty things, it makes me feel good.

#28 ~ church breakfast potlucks. Yum.

#29 ~ wii boxing

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

crafting and creating

I really wish I could bottle up all my Christmastime craftiness and creativity, to tap into the whole rest of the year! Seems like I'm overflowing with ideas right now.

Last year Emily posted about her 12 Days of Christmas tradition, and I thought it seemed like such a cool idea, so I copied it. Sort of. It's mostly unrecognizable except for the 12 Days part. Because I wasn't feeling creative enough, didn't have enough money or enouh time, to actually represent the 12 Days (a partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, etc.). But, today I am packaging up 12 little boxes and tins, each with some goodies inside, to send to my Grandma's brother, Tio Dick. I decided at Thanksgiving/Marg's funeral that I would send some cheer his way, and then, WHAMOO, his other sister, Mary Jane up and died, within a month of Grandma Marg dying. So, a box full of cheer is most definitely in order!

I bought $1 boxes and tins at Michael's, and I love them. They are so stinkin' cute. Paired with simple tags I made, I really like the way they turned out. If only every thing could be so cute! Each box cost less than $2 to fill... a mini slinky, a ceramic bird ornament, Reece's peanut butter bells, mini candy canes, a few cookies... you get the idea.


AND, I've been making ornaments. I made some very similar to these a few years ago, but this year I added beads. The jury is still out, what do you think?

Tree Huggin' Tuesday

Cleaning Supplies

My favorite cleaning supplies are baking soda and vinegar. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you probably aren't suprised. :-) This started mostly because the chemical smell of commercial cleaning products induces headaches and drives me mad, but, coincidentally, it's the greener option, as well. Fewer chemicals being washed down the drain to mess with water-living creatures and plants = one happy Mama Earth.

A spray bottle with diluted vinegar does great work on windows, counters, bathtubs (any hard surface), baking soda is great for scrubbing grime and gook, as well as eliminating odors.

Happy Huggin'
Rachel

(ps - sorry I didn't post last week, I have no good excuse)

Monday, December 7, 2009

T.R.O.U.B.L.E.

Yup, I am in trouble. I've found a recipe that would've been best left unfound, as far as my hips, tush and belly are concerned.

I have a bad habit of collecting recipes, so when there were *free* recipe cards on the candy aisle at Target, I didn't stand a chance. Each card features a chocolate mint recipe. It doesn't matter that we really don't like mint all that much in our house, the recipe cards were *free*. I took a card for each of the recipes.

Andy saw the card for the mint chocolate delights, and said, with no hesitation, "Let's make these, but with peanut butter chips instead of the dark chocolate and mint chips." I should've said no. I should've run the other way with my hands over my ears. I should not have gone to Sam's Club (of all places, seriously?) to buy a 12 pound bag* of peanut butter chips, along with 4 pounds** of butter.

These cookies are amazing. Whoever it was that first put peanut butter with chocolate, well she (or he) should be named a saint. Or burned at the stake. I don't know.

Here's the recipe:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Delights

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 325'. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl, set aside. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla in mixer until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chips. Using your cookie scoop (if you are crazy like me and need your cookies to be uniform) or just two regular table spoons, place onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes. Cool on sheets for ~2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack or directly to mouth (watch for burning pb chips!). I would love to give you a suggestion as to how best to store these, but eat them all at once, as fast as you can, with milk! really isn't a proper storage method. :-)

*that may be an exaggeration, but the bag is way too big for normal purposes. again, Sam's Club? seriously, Rachel?
** not an exaggeration

No Knead Bread

Seems like there are recipes for this all over the place these days. Here's my version, which originated from MEN's recent article.

7 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
4 cups lukewarm water (approx. 100 degrees)

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix with water until everything is uniformly moist. The dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container. Let rise for at least 2 hours, so that it begins to collapse. Refrigerate overnight (or at least 3 hours). DO NOT PUNCH THE DOUGH. As much as you may want to punch it, you need the gas that punching it will release. Resist the temptation!

On baking day, dust the dough with just enough flour that you can grab a grapefruit-sized ball (or really, whatever size you want). Plop said dough on a floured mat (I use my cutting board) and let it rest for about 90 minutes.
30 minutes before you want to bake your loaf, turn your oven to 450’. Make sure your cookie sheet (or pizza stone) is in the oven during the preheat – you want it nice and toasty warm. When your 30 minutes is up, slide your loaf from mat to cookie sheet. I have yet to figure out how to do this gracefully, my loaf usually rolls off the mat, reshaping itself as it goes. Place an oven-safe container with water in the oven – this moisture will help your crust to crust itself. Don’t you love my technical terms and explanations?

Bake for 30 minutes (adjust the time for smaller or bigger loaves).

This dough can stay in the fridge for 2 weeks, and you can bake it, one grapefruit-sized handful at a time. As the dough sits in the fridge, it will become sourdough. Yummy!

blessings 3

#15 ~ my kitchenaid mixer (and the oh-so-delicious chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips that said mixer mixed yesterday!)

#16 ~ friends at church who are always ready with a smile and hug, and who worry about me when they don't see me every Sunday

#17 ~ Santa, Mrs. Claus and their many helpers who spent their Friday evening here in our little town, entertaining so many little ones

#18 ~ Mother Earth News magazine. Their website is pretty cool, too.

#19 ~ my body, and all the amazing things it is capable of

#20 ~ Ragu. For years we made our own spaghetti sauce, but right now we are really enjoying the sweet flavor, not to mention the extreme simplicity of just popping open the jar!

#21 ~ Christmas carols

#22 ~ homemade bread

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Movies

THAT is why I miss having cable. More than anything else, I miss having the Hallmark channel and the Lifetime Movie Network channel during December. I could put my tv on LMN and leave it there all day, every day. I love love LOVE cheesy, made-for-tv Christmas movies.

I don't miss nick jr or noggin, though I know the girls do. I don't miss the history channel, discovery or anything educational and informative like that. MTV and VH1, not a chance. Nope. I just miss 24/7 access to cheesy, made-for-tv Christmas movies.

Really, I know we don't need cable. Life is too full and busy to justify having cable. But dude, I miss my Christmas movies.

Cute dogs!

Daisy Mae's cousins have entered a contest, and you know how these online voting contests go, right? So, here's Lily's page, and here's Grace's page. If you are so inclined, Daisy Mae, currently snoring on my kitchen rug, would appreciate your voting for either of Grace or Lily, or both! (Grace, Lily and their human parents would appreciate it, too!)

Oh, and Daisy Mae is not entering this contest. Either she knows she's too cute, and wants to give other doggies a chance, or she knows she's just too dang ugly to have a shot, and doesn't want to be embarassed. You can decide, because I'm not sure myself, and I live with her! :-)

Monday, November 30, 2009

blessings 2

#10 ~ my in-laws, who drove 3 hours and spent a night in a hotel to attend my Grandma Marg's funeral

#11 ~ dental insurance

#12 ~ pie. buttermilk, or pumpkin, or cherry, or apple. mmmmm

#13 ~ St. Luke's. My grandparents married there in 1944. 4 of 5 of their children were baptized there (the oldest was baptized in Pennsylvania, where they lived for a short time), all 5 confirmed there. Two of their children were married there. One of their granddaughters was baptized there. And now their ashes rest there, as their souls rejoice in heaven.

#14 ~ my washing machine and dryer

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tree Huggin' Tuesday

Did you know that lots of things that can decompose don't always get the chance, when tossed in the landfill? They end up just taking up space for way too long.

And, did you know that deer love apple cores and banana peels? Whenever I'm eating one of those in the car, I throw the core or peel out the window (umm, in areas where I know there's wildlife - not in downtown Albuquerque!) for some lucky critter to find. I always hope the lucky critter is on the correct side of the road to enjoy the treat, or that they attended Safety Town and know to look both ways. :-) I also always hope that no one sees me and thinks I'm littering.

I like to see how little we throw away, so I try to put as few food scraps into the trash as possible. Right now I don't have a compost pile, but I have a dog and loads of deer. Combined, they like most of our food scraps. Egg shells, onion skins and bell peppers don't fare well, but almost everything else disappears if given the opportunity.

What I really want is a 'wormery' - a bin of worms to eat my scraps. They are even cooler than the deer - much less picky! (I've heard they like junk mail) Plus, worm poop is like gold in the gardening world. I'm trying to talk myself up to trying it. And trying to talk Andy into letting me try it. In the meantime, we've got lots of happy deer. Really happy.

Happy Chuckin' (your apple core out the window, that is!)
Rachel

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blessings

holy experience

I stumbled upon this cool idea, thought I'd give it a go. :-) My goal is to list 1000 blessings. Not today, or next week or next month, but bit by bit. On Mondays, if all goes according to plan.

#1 ~ wiggly, sleepy baby cuddled in my arms

#2 ~ acorn tops aka fairy hats in assorted sizes, adorning my windowsill, hidden in the doll house, fallen behind the loveseat, forgotten in pants pockets

#3 ~ my Grandma Marg, and all the beautiful lessons she quietly taught by her example

#4 ~ the smell of cold in the morning

#5 ~ pink sunsets in New Mexico

#6 ~ my sister, arguably the coolest sister anyone, anywhere, could hope for

#7 ~ finger nails (and sometimes toe nails) painted 6 different colors

#8 ~ snores down the hall

#9 ~ toasted lentil soup, and a husband who does the dishes

Saturday, November 21, 2009

and another thing

I've been to Forks. It's the closest town to the Hoh Rainforest. After seeing New Moon, I have to say, locationally speaking, they were right on. My understanding is that they shot on location, same mountain range, just north a bit, in Canada.
The forest was beautiful. We also went to the Sol Duc Hot Springs - very hot and relaxing! All I really remember about Forks is that it is really stinkin' tiny, and one of the funniest bumper stickers I've ever seen was on a truck in that town:

Hug a Logger
You'll Never Go Back to Trees

Obviously I don't share that sentiment, but still, I laughed out loud. And I'm not opposed to hugging loggers, I just like hugging trees. :-)

Woohoo

Last night I went to see New Moon. By myself. It was great. Mostly. I could've done without the texting and tweeting going on all over the place (the GROWN ladies next to me were doing it - not the 12 year olds in front of me!), and the screams and giggles when Jacob took off his shirt were ridiculous, but it was a theater full of New Moon fans... not surprising!

I liked the movie, but not nearly as much as the book. Mostly I liked having a few hours to myself. Next time I have a few hours to myself, I doubt it'll be at a crowded movie theater, though!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

timing

Periodically, one of us will be inspired to be healthier, and the other, not so much. So, while there's never actual, outloud discouragement, it can still be really tough to get going with eating better and exercising.

Knock on wood, though, I think Andy and I are on the same page right now. It's so much easier when we're working together on this! We're both paying much closer attention to what we eat (had an amazing dinner tonight!), and trying to work out more. He joined a gym this weekend. I'm still deciding between gym or curves, but in the meantime, I'm jog/walking the dog around our block at least 1x daily - it's just over a mile around our loop here.

I'm really hoping this sticks. We both need to shed some pounds and be healthier.

Tree Huggin' Tuesday

Mellow Yellow

Have you heard, "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." ? :-) We try to practice this. Lauren does really well if she's the first, but if some one is already letting it mellow she freaks out, "Mice pee! Mice pee! Flush the toilet, I have to peeeeeeee!!!" I have no explanation for the whole mice pee thing, except to say that Lauren is crazy.

I also brush my teeth while showering. I know folks who pee in the shower, and others who save bath water and dish water to water their plants. Wait to do a load of laundry until it's a big load. Bathe only on the 5th Sunday of every month. Just kidding about that part. I think.

What other ways can we conserve water?

Happy Huggin',
Rachel

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Grandma Marg

My Grandma Marg passed away November 9th, she was 88 years old.

I am so thankful that I was able to spend some time with her during her last days. In and out of reality, some of her delusions were beautiful. At one point Sasha was nestled in her arms, sleeping. It was getting late, and Marg protectively put her hand on Sasha, saying to Ali and I, "You can go now, I've got the baby." That delusion really stuck with her, and when we walked in the next morning, she commented about how the baby didn't cry at all in the night.

The next night, looking at Ali and I, she was talking to her daughters (my mom and my Aunt Marjie), "I feel like I might not see you tomorrow. If that's true, I'll see you across the border." She ended up stablizing and being moved to a nursing home, where she was very comfortable for about 5 days, before peacefully 'crossing the border.'

I go back and forth between feeling such sadness to feeling such joy. Sad, because, of course, I miss her. Terribly. And also sad because now everything changes. Family traditions are up for grabs. I think it was God's timing that she die in November, after everyone had made their Thanksgiving plans, because Thanksgiving is THE holiday for my family. We still have this Thanksgiving, but now that the grandparents are gone (my Grandpa John died in April, 2006), who knows how we'll be spending Thanksgiving from here on out. Hopefully together.

I feel overwhelming joy, too, though. Because she missed Grandpa John terribly since he died 3 years ago. They were married for over 60 years. And now they are together again, smiling down on their sillies. Oh, so much joy!

Here's a picture of her. I'm not positive how old it is, but I'm guessing it was taken in the 1980's.
Oh, we miss you, Grandma Marg! Thanksgiving will not be the same without you, but we all promise to be 'good guys' ~ though there's no guaranty that we won't misbehave and leave you rolling your eyes at us!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tree Huggin' Tuesday

Yup, I'm late. I'm not surprised, you shouldn't be either. :-)

Andy jokes with me that I think plastic is the devil. Think The Waterboy with Adam Sandler, his mama calling everything the devil. That's the tone he uses and everything. Sometimes he even calls me Bobby Bousher. "Plastic is the devil, Bobby Bousher!"

Anyway, one of the things I try to do is avoid plastic. (beyond produce bags) When given the choice of the mayonaise in the plastic tub, or the mayonaise in the glass jar, I choose the glass jar. I try not to look at the price when doing this (doesn't mean glass is more expensive - just that I don't let the monetary cost weigh in to my decision ~ usually).

This applies across the store. I buy the frozen concentrate juices that are in the cardboard packages instead of plastic. The brick of cream cheese in a block, instead of a tub. Sticks of butter wrapped in paper and packaged in cardboard, instead of a tub of margarine. Maxi-pads that are not individually wrapped. Big glass jar of apple sauce instead of 6 little plastic containers (we have specimen cups that seal tightly that we use for apple sauce in lunches - still plastic, but kid-friendly and reusable!). 24 cans of Coca Cola instead of 2 liter bottles. I've even taken my own container to the butcher (at the local meat market, haven't done it at Wal-Mart yet), and he's happily put my steaks in for me (after weigh-in).

Just being a bit more mindful about how everything is packaged has been really eye-opening for me. Buying used toys saves TONS of plastic (tried getting Barbie out of her package recently?) ~ this takes serious garage-saling skill, which I severely lack. But my friend Kim, back in Wisconsin, she's a freakin' garage saling pro. Crazy how many treasures she finds. This is an area of my 'greenitude' that I am trying to work on.

So, just notice how the things you buy are packaged, I bet you could make a handful of changes that you really wouldn't notice. And a handful of changes that would take some adjusting, if you're so inclined. ;-)

Happy huggin'!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tree Huggin' Tuesday

Power Sources

Your ability to choose your power company depends on where you live, and is, therefore, much easier for some than for others.

In Wisconsin, as far as I ever knew, there was THE power company. It was kind of a monopoly. I wasn't aware of having an option as to where my power camew from.

In Texas, though, there's lots of power companies, competing for my business. So, I was able to search for renewable energy sources, along with comparing rates, contract terms, etc. Our home is completely powered by wind. Not just any wind, either, but real, authentic Texas Wind (I like to keep it local, you know). The companies told me how much of their energy was 'green' - it varied from 0% to 100%. And the rates were definitely comparable to the less green options.

I don't know what it's like where you live. But if you are able to choose, once you've made the decision (and the switch, if it involves switching power companies), there's really no follow-up. Except paying your power bill, but you'd probably be doing that anyway. ;-)

Happy Huggin'
R

Friday, October 30, 2009

could you send a little prayer may way?

My Grandma Marg is in the hospital. It's not too serious, but enough things have happened recently, that Sasha and I are headed out in the morning. My sister will be there, too. To hopefully ease the burden on my Aunt and Uncle that have been shouldering this load, and to push for some changes that would make life easier for my Grandma and her siblings that live next door. It's going to be an intense week.

Unless things turn out to be really bad, I'm staying for less than a week. We've done this before, Andy stays home, I drop everything to go to a sick relative. I'm so glad I am able to do it, but I feel like there is a hole in my chest right now. Last time we did this was before I got pregnant with Lauren. Aubrey and I got one-way tickets to Albuquerque because we didn't know how long we'd need to be there. 6 weeks was the magic number. And it was awful for me, being away from Andy for so long. Worse for him, being away from me and his daughter. Coming home everyday to an empty house. At least this time Aubrey and Lauren are staying with him. And, too, at least this time I know we'll be returning soon. But still, there's an aching hole in my chest, where my heart is.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

high school football

So cool... the two high schools closest to us are playing tonight. On ESPN! Turns out, the Temple RB is the top in the nation, while the Belton QB is #3 in the state. The Big Guy (I think that's what I'm going to call Andy's boss from now on) is hosting a party at his house tonight to watch the game. Fun!

In other news, Lauren's preschool had their Fall Festival today. She came home with way way way too much junk food, a handful of little party favor toys, and a lei. A lei that smells like it was doused in perfume. It's not a bad perfume, but sheesh, it smells!

check out this bed head!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tree Huggin' Tuesday

April gave me the idea to talk more about what I do to be 'green,' so here you go...
Produce Bags

I have cloth produce bags. These, along with some random little cotton bags that I've ended up with. (but did you see these? or these? or this? aw crap, I need more bags!) I love my produce bags, but I could definitely be green without them... the plastic produce bags from the store can be used again and again (if you use twist-ties or don't tie the bag at all). Also, if I'm buying 3 or fewer of something, I rarely use a bag.

I also try to avoid buying produce already packaged in plastic. This is very hard to do with strawberries and grapes, but very easy to do with potatoes, tomatoes, onoins, apples, oranges... you get the idea.

Baby steps... if you only have one produce bag, that's okay. Use it, along with whatever else. You'll acquire more, bit by bit. Don't wait to start. And, don't worry about what others might think. You just might inspire someone else to give it a try!

My littlest tree hugger appreciates your efforts!

Monday, October 26, 2009

bawk-bawk-bagawk

I'm a chicken.

Yesterday was our church picnic. As we were packing our sandwiches and the side we were taking to share, I almost grabbed plates. Real, wash-and-use-again plates. But I decided not to. I didn't want to stand out. So we used the disposble plates that were there. And I was ignoring my guilt (I am way too good at ignoring my guilt, btw) until I saw my cool new friend Charlotte pull 3 real plates out of her bag - one for each of her family members. Argh. No more ignoring the guilt.

But, talking with her about her efforts that day led to talking about what the church could be doing for the environment, and I hope that she and I will be able to help our church grow greener.

~~~

In other green news, Sasha fusses like crazy when I put her in cloth diapers. WTH??? Cloth is notoriously much bulkier than disposable, so I'm hoping that as she grows more, and the bulk is comparably less, she'll be cool with cloth. In the meantime, the disposables that claim to be better for the environment wrap her bum, and the cloth diapers adorn her shelf.

Friday, October 23, 2009

a little of this, a little of that

In an attempt to make up for my lack of blogging....

Andy's encountered some odd sexism lately. Nearly every time he leaves Wal-Mart with our cloth bags, he's asked to show his receipt. Only one time have I been asked, and I had a 'big ticket item' in the cart. Now that he's been shopping there a few months, it doesn't happen every time, but there is still one greeter (an older gentleman) that doesn't seem to be sure of a man using cloth bags without his hippie wife by his side.

~~~

Organic king size sheet sets on clearance for $19.99. woohoo. That made my day yesterday. They are dreamy-soft. And, because it is the little things that make me so happy, the sheets came packaged in a fabric bag that can be added to my collection of cloth produce bags. :-)

~~~

Spinach is my favorite food. Wilted down with onions and bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Or covered in the best dressing in the world*, and tossed with a handful of pecans for lunch. Mmm. I'm eating it every day these days.

~~~

Aubrey's home sick today. The severity of her sickness is questionable, seeing as she's wanting to be all over the place, very chatty and non-sick-like. But, she began sobbing in the middle of the night with stomach pains. She doesn't remember, but I do, so even if she's feeling better now, to have been in that much pain not that long ago, she'll stay home today. thankyouverymuch. At the moment she is reading Garfield to Oscar. Very appropriate.

~~~

I love, love, LOVE the Twilight books. Read them all about a month ago, then re-read Breaking Dawn, and am now starting over again at Twilight. Took me long enough to get to them, because I thought they sounded ridiculous. Really? A book about high schoolers AND vampires??? I'm almost 30. I'm too mature for that. Ha. Turns out I'm not too mature. Not too surprising, actually, seeing as I've been known to leave inappropriate comments on my friends' blogs (completely unrelated to vampires, but incredibly high school-ish!). ;-) And, anyway, they aren't nearly as immature as I imagined them to be.

~~~

The deer thought that my soon-to-be-a-jack-o-lantern pumpkin would be better as a mid-October dinner. I have pictures of the before and after. But my camera cord has gone missing. Again. So picture this: A big, pretty, bright orange pumpkin standing tall and proud by my front step. Now picture a sad orange pumpkin laying on it's side, half eaten. Note to self: keep the pumpkins in the house until October 31st, unless your plan is to feed the deer all month long.

~~~

Speaking of pumpkins, I think the stem is almost as important as the pumpkin. A crooked stem adds so much character.


And, Andy has a recipe for the tastiest pumpkin pie. The secret is that the pumpkin is not pre-baked at all. Just ground up raw (which is quite a job - pumpkins are tough, and not every blender or food processor is up for the job) and then mixed with the appropriate ingredients and THEN baked in the crust. Mmmm. I want pie.

~~~

Lately we've been cooking bone-in chicken in the pressure cooker. It's ugly as can be, but fall-off-the-bone tender. And EASY.

~~~

I'm trying to figure out what to do for my nieces (13 and 15) and nephew (13) for Christmas. I have no clue. Besided money. It'll probably just be money. Not creative enough for me, but oh well.

~~~

I'm so enjoying the church we've found here. It's significantly smaller then our WI congregation, and is 'in transition' - we've got an interim pastor and there are lots of changes afoot. Changes that aren't apparent to me, as a newbie. But apparently big changes. Oh, and as far as big changes and the 'big' church go - the ELCA assembly opens ministry to partnered gay and lesbian lutherans. This makes me happy. Very happy. I think God's church should be welcoming to all. After all, we are all sinners and we all need saving. Rev. Lee M. Miller, II: "I am not saved because I'm a heterosexual. I am saved because of what God has done." Indeed.

~~~

Since I can't seem to stop talking about food-related things, I'll add that Andy thinks our pantry smells liked chocolate cake. (Aubrey and I think it sometimes smells like dog food, but that's not the point of this story.) Andy gets mad every time he opens the door. Then I laugh at him. Then he cusses at me and demands I make a chocolate cake. "Make me a chocolate cake, Woman!" Then he closes the door and walks away. Then he gets me a snack while Sasha is nursing, and the entire cycle starts over again. I bought him a lava cake yesterday to satisfy his chocolate cake craving, because I am not going to make one (if I do, then he will enjoy a piece and go to work, leaving me with a pan full of cake just screaming at me to enjoy. I'm too much of a softie to ignore things that need me, and when a chocolate cake is begging to be eaten, how can I disregard it's wishes???).

~~~

Sweet Garlic Vinegarette (aka the best dressing in the world)

3/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C maple syrup
1/3 C balsamic vinegar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t dried, crushed oregano

Put all ingredients together in cruet (old salsa jar, tupperware... anything with a lid that you will then store the dressing in). Shake well to mix. Store in fridge.

Variations: I've swapped honey for the maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar for the balsamic, while omitting the garlic. It makes it much milder, and is Andy's favorite version.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

just a bit

At times the language in our house is kinda colorful. Some of the adults let loose with the profanity more than others (though none of us are completely innocent). As a result, the girls have heard things that they know not to repeat.

Anyway, apparently Lauren has heard Daddy mutter the 'F' word a few too many times, and she doesn't like it. So, whenever she hears him say if, she turns to him and says, "You F-er."

Suffice it to say, the language is improving around here. And I nearly bust a gut when he slips and she catches him.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

define it

I've been following the Nester with her October Challenge this month - "31 Days to a Better Dressed Nest" - and one of the challenges is to define our space with words. What we want our home to be. Instead of grabbing a pen and paper, I'll share it here:

~peaceful
~welcoming to all
~comfortable
~safe
~the place my girls' friends want to hang out
~open
~uncluttered
~enchanting
~authentic

And, for the record, I am not doing every challenge, and obviously, I am not doing them each on the day they are 'assigned.' I'm doing what fits with our family, as it fits. Because, really, I am not going to paint anything today (or next week or next month). Though I could paint the dog's nails, because she does like that, but I don't think that's quite in the spirit of the challenge, anyway. :-)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October, so far

Phew, October's been busy. Okay, okay, 2009 has been busy, but really, lots has happened in 10 short days.
In the past 10 days:

~our cat L.B. went outside and didn't come back. She's 14. We're pretty sure she wandered off to die. I'm really sad, I miss her an awful lot. Especially at night, when she would normally cuddle up on my pillow. She managed to fit her entire body on the pillow next to my head without touching me at all. Oscar, her brother (from the same litter) misses her, too. They've never been apart. L.B. (short for Little Bit) is the calico one - Oscar doesn't share my pillow the way I share my pillow, as you can see.

~Sasha embraced that she is a Texan. Also, she started smiling and giggling.

~Sasha's went on her first picnic, and she slept right through it.

~my mom came to town. Her first visit to our home in Texas. She's the first grandparent to meet Sasha. We were all thoroughly spoiled. :-)

~we went to the pumpkin patch. Really, though, there's not a patch where you pick your pumpkins, but lots of fall activities, and loads of pumpkins in the barn to buy. Our favorite activity: painting pumpkins. The girls painted and painted and painted (and the paint took days to dry!).
~I made several trips to several animal shelters, and scoured craigslist. Still no L.B. (we're hopeful that she will come back, but realistic in that her nine lives are most likely up.) Visits to the shelter will resume again on Monday, though.

~after months of talking about it, and weeks of periodic searches, we found Daisy Mae and promptly fell in love. She is the best tempered dog I've ever met. Her family could no longer afford her, and after just over 24 hours with her, I know they must be in a really desperate situation, to give up an animal as awesome as Daisy Mae.
~I found the farmer's market. It's pretty small, but the variety was good considering there were only 4 vendors. As is my luck, next week is the last week of the market until spring, but one of the farmers lives maybe 15 minutes from me and grows all year long... I got his card and plan on making his farm part of my weekly shopping!
~Aubrey went to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's. Not such a big deal, except this is the first b-day party since we've been in Texas, and I know none of her classmates and their parents. So, my mom, Sasha and I hung out at CEC's while Aubrey partied. I really liked the b-day girl's parents, and also the other mom from Aubrey's class that was there. And I hope that I don't need to go to too many parties at CEC's. Great for the kids, but sheesh, it's so loud in there. I could never work there.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

note to self

Preach the gospel always. And when necessary use words.
~ Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

nothing

yup. nothing. I'm adjusting to being a mommy to three, and while it's going well, I just don't have much to say. So, some recent quotes:

After accidently calling the non-emergency police number, Lauren said, "I don't want them to throw me in the dungeon!" (btw - being thrown in the dungeon is not a threat we use - no idea where that came from!)

After sneezing a few times last night, Lauren announced that she had the "bless-you's."

And here's Aubrey's gem of the day, "Samantha said Russell likes me because I'm cute and I wear glasses. I know I'm cute, but I HATE my glasses!"

So that's all. Hopefully I'll feel like I have more to 'talk' about soon. :-)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sasha's Story

WARNING: long, DETAILED (pregnancy and) BIRTH STORY BELOW. I tried to keep the gross details to a minimum, but was unable to keep the word count to a minimum. ;-) Don't feel like you need to read the whole thing - I wrote all this detail for my sake. Condensed version: I had a baby girl, born at home - woo hoo!

Just over a year ago I knew that Andy and I were done having kids. I had a dream that someone congratulated me on trying for a 3rd and I laughed at them. And I laughed when I woke up. But just a few months later, in the fall of 2008, in the middle of the night, I suddenly decided that we might possibly regret not having more kids, but we would never regret having more. Make sense? May be kind of weird logic, but honestly, that's what it came down to. Andy did not need any convincing. I think he'd been waiting for awhile for me to realize that we weren't done. So we began trying to get pregnant. By Christmas I was pregnant.

My first trimester was horrible. I was sick all the time. ALL the time. Medication helped for about a week, then it stopped helping and just left me with awful side effects. Completely wore me out. Once the sickness passed, I was still so physically drained that I didn't recover much throughout the pregnancy. Well, no, I think I recovered okay just in time to move to Texas during a record-breaking heatwave, which then zapped my energy even more. (Summer 2009 was the #2 hottest summer on record here.)

I knew immediately that I wanted a homebirth. After some e-mail correspondence (we were still in Wisconsin into my 6th month of pregnancy), we interviewed one midwife in person, and thought she was just perfect.

The rest of my pregnancy went along just fine. My back hurt so bad I couldn't sleep in our bed, so I would sleep with Aubrey one night, Lauren the next, for most of my pregnancy. The long, hot days of the summer meant that the girls and I spent lots of time homebound, really not going outside at all from 11am-6pm.

Since Aubrey was born on her Godmother, Shana's birthday, and Lauren was born on Grandma Marg's birthday, we had high expectations for this little one. Lucky for her, August is littered with birthdays of loved-ones. Her chances were pretty good.

August 22nd, 2009. We got up and out relatively early, because we wanted to go to Sam's Club and Target before it got too late in the day. At Sam's (our first stop) I was feeling fine, moving slowly, of course, and being teased by Andy at how slow I was moving. Then at Target we found some good deals (it was tax-free school supply shopping weekend, we had to buy some school clothes). By about 11 we were seated at Olive Garden for lunch, where I noticed that my braxton-hicks contractions were a bit different, but still braxton-hicks.

Before we ordered I got a phone call - my friend Linda from Wisconsin - I knew that birth was close at this point, since Linda had called, but I kept that knowledge to myself. Contractions throughout lunch, but still too mild and too far apart to even mention to Andy.

Came home, still the same, nothing exciting. Then, some bloody show. At 2 I e-mailed Lisa (midwife) to let her know that things were happening. At 6:30 I called her, because the contractions were then much closer together. There was no real pattern, and the contractions weren't long enough. Contractions need to be at least a minute long to be productive. So we just kept doing what we're doing, with plans to check in with Lisa in about an hour, unless things changed. I made sure to keep snacking, because I needed to keep my energy up. And, since the contractions weren't productive at this point, I was not calling (or letting Andy call!) our parents, friends, etc.

No significant change, so after Lisa confered with her mentor, Melanie, I was prescribed a beer and a bath, to relax my uterus. If it's real labor, things will pick up. If it's pre-labor, I'd most likely get a break from the contractions (which still had not been painful, but had become very uncomfortable). Well, the contractions continued through the bath, and when I got out I timed them for about 30 minutes before calling Lisa to tell her this was really it, come on over. Once the midwife was headed over, I told Andy he could call people, post on facebook, whatever.

I spent some time reading to the girls on my bed, but I needed to stop reading throughout every contraction - they were getting tough at this point, and Aubrey became very emotional due to my behavior. We got them situated in the living room with a movie, and called Kim to come over and be here if the girls needed comfort/help/a glass of water.

Before Kim got here, both girls had fallen asleep. But we asked her to stay, anyway, just in case.

My contractions got to where I would just double over in pain. I would lean on the bed and Andy would rub my lower back through each contraction. His hands saved me, by the way. I don't know how I would've gotten through without his touch.

About 11:10, the midwives (Lisa as primary, her mentor Melanie as back-up) still weren't here and I had the urge to push. I crawled onto our bed, right next to our birth kit, and *push* my water breaks. I never thought to pull anything out of our birth kit - it's for the midwives and I didn't want to mis-use something - yes, I am crazy. I tossed my cell phone and home phone to Kim - telling her to find Lisa's number on the cell and call from the house.

Kim found the number, Andy talked to Lisa. They were 13 miles away. Ha. Well, maybe I can hold off on delivering the baby for about 15 minutes. Maybe. Oh, but when I check myself, I can feel her head. Nevermind, probably won't be waiting. I don't tell Andy, though, and keep working through the contractions, almost trying to NOT push (which, by the way, is impossible - if you are ever told by a nurse/doctor/midwife to NOT push when you have the urge, tell them to go F* themselves). Then Andy says, "Her head's right there!" I say, "I know." and whoosh, she kinda flies out. 11:22pm. (I think my body was kind of holding her in until Andy knew she wasn't going to wait - for just a bit more mental preparation.) She screams immediately, and keeps screaming for awhile.

I wasn't comfortable delivering the placenta without Lisa there, so baby and I stayed attached, with her wrapped and laying on my chest. Andy brought a sleeping Aubrey in (Aubrey wanted to help catch the baby - she came too fast, though) and plopped her on the bed. Aubrey s l o w l y woke to the sound of baby screaming. Andy and Aubrey decided on her name - Sasha Lorraine - since I was still all wishy-washy (Sasha was one of our top choices, I just couldn't make up my mind). Then, about 25 minutes after Sasha's arrival, Lisa and Melanie arrived.

Deliver placenta, weigh and measure baby (6 pounds, 19.25 inches), foot prints, get fed a snack, the mess on the bed got all cleaned up (we were prepared in that regard - clean sheets on the bottom, shower curtain next, leak-proof mattress pad, then, finally, old sheets we don't care about - so once it's all said and done, take off the old sheets, pad, shower curtain and I can crawl right into bed). Had I thought a bit, we could've used the chucks pads in the birth kit to labor on and our bed would not have gotten quite so messy. I still feel silly for that.

We did not wake up Lauren (because then she would've been awake for HOURS and still up with the sun), so when she got up with the sun, before anyone else, she came in, and I said "Your baby sister is here." "She's here? She came out?" And she continued to coo over the little baby feet and hands and tiny ears. "And can she pick her nose with her fingers like I pick my nose with my fingers?"

Oh, and Sasha was born on Andy's dad's birthday.

Monday, August 31, 2009

one week - just pictures

These are from Saturday - 7 days old my girlies

little toes

Shh

this is my current favorite. :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sasha Lorraine

Sasha Lorraine came into the world at 11:22pm on Saturday, August 22nd. She was born at home, and everything went perfectly, even though she beat the midwives! I delivered her on my bed, Andy was right there to rub my back through some really tough contractions, the girls were asleep in the living room, and my new friend Kim was in the other room nursing her 6 month old.

Sasha came out screaming, and has continued to show us that her lungs are in perfect working order. :-) She's nursing well, the girls are in love with their new baby sister, Andy handled everything really well considering he doesn't like birth at all, and I am so happy. Upon waking this morning to find that her sister had been born, Lauren used her most quiet voice - quite a challenge for her - to ask, "She came out?" "Does she have little baby feet? Can I see them?" "Does she have little baby hands?" Does she have ears? Oh, they are tiny." "Does she have a butt?" "Can she pick her nose with her fingers like I can pick my nose with my fingers?" "Oh. she's so tiny and cute!" Then she curled up on the corner of my pillow and watched Sasha and I sleep for a while.
It's official, we are in love.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

on the hunt

When we were preparing to move, we budgeted, planned and worked at making things the way we want them to be - specifically, we wanted to be done with credit cards. We have mostly succeeded (hey, it takes time). Part of our plan was to, once we were credit card-free, upgrade our furnishings. We're mostly surrounded by remants from college, hand-me-downs from friends, and a handful of nice family pieces. The nice family pieces stay. The cupboard my grandma so lovingly painted, but that really is junk, held together with cigarette butts (I kid you not), well that's not going anywhere, either. We just use it very carefully. ;-)

So, our plan was to, bit by bit, bring in pieces that we love, that will last, that will suit us. So we currently sleep in dreamland, the girls' rooms are done (I need to take pictures!) and we were hoping to get our room done next. We got the mattress immediately, but we'd love to have dressers, a bedframe, you know, and feel all grown up.

Anyway, that plan to get a bedroom set in a month or two has taken a detour. Our cats (well, it was probably just one of them, but we don't know who, and they are safer with us not knowing!) decided that our living room furniture must go. Immediately. So, they peed on Andy's recliner. Now, this recliner is over 20 years old, and ugly as sin, but really, there was nothing wrong with it. We were all set to live with it for awhile longer. And then pass it on to someone else. Change that plan, because cat piss went deep into the ancient layers of this old recliner, making a thorough cleaning impossible. And, if you know cats, you know that once they pee somewhere, if they can still smell it - and their noses work better then ours - they will pee there again. So, the recliner went out to the curb.

That leaves us with a loveseat and a glider. Fortunately, the loveseat is leather, and the glider is some cheap micro fiber. Their attempts to have the glider extricated have failed (oh yes, they've tried - I've been able to clean that one well enough). And, they know not to mess with the loveseat.

All that to say that we are now in the market for some new furniture. Pretty much right now. Leather. (the cats cannot claw it and shred it the way they can with fabric, and, it is so kid friendly - wipe it off and it's clean) I imagine that a room full of leather is not very green of me, but weigh it against furniture covered in other materials that needs to be replaced much more often - because pets are, and will continue to be, a part of my life - and I'm thinking leather is the greenest choice for us.

And, those couches that recline, they are heavenly! Do you know how hard it is to find real leather couches that recline, that are otherwise super-duper comfy, especially when you live kinda in BFE, and are hoping to not spend more than you spent on your last car? This search is tough. We're trying to be patient. Really we are. In the meantime, if you come over for "movie night," we'll either pull out the dining room chairs or all cuddle up in our king size bed. :-)

In other news, there were 5 calls I needed to make this morning. I can only remember 3 of them. But all 5 were a priority. Crap. Oh, I just remembered 1 more. Woohoo.

Monday, August 10, 2009

37 weeks and counting

We are getting so excited over here. I think we've settled on a name (though I'm not ready to share yet), and her carseat should be delivered today. My birth kit arrived last week (the birth kit contains everything that the midwives need and want for delivering this baby here at home, plus an herbal bath that I couldn't resist!), and her moses basket is set up in front of my bedroom window, next to the shelf holding all her diapers and clothes. Oh, one package of disposable diapers are on their way - I use cloth, but the first few days after delivery, when we are all getting to know eachother, and all so exhausted, we'll use disposable so that I'm not over-working myself by doing too much laundry.

We're also getting kind of ansy (antsy?) over here. My body is nearing the end of it's rope, and causing me to act out of character... I'm showing the girls and Andy so much less patience then they deserve, and the girls might as well be under quarantine for my energy level is so low we spend most all day every day here, inside the house. (BTW - a mild cool front is headed our way later this week. We'll be 99' instead of 101'. I rolled my eyes when they actually called that a mild cool front - a 2 degree change can hardly be called a front.)

We've made a sign, and hung it above the moses basket, "We can't wait to meet you, Baby Name-yet-to-be-revealed!" The girls are constantly playing with their dolls and stuffed animals as their newly born babies (also, that they are new neighbors - inspiration is easy to come by!).

In all our baby preparation preoccupaton, one of our cats Oscar, has been losing weight. He and his sister, Little Bit, turned 14 on July 5th. We kind of figured, well, it's getting close to his time, we'll make sure he still always has access to food and water, but we began talking with the girls about him not being with us much longer. Well I feel like an idiot. True, his days are limited, but it took me quite awhile to figure out that he was losing weight because he couldn't eat, not because he wouldn't. Rather suddenly, the crunchy food he's been gobbling up happily for years is just too crunchy. So, once this realization hit me like a ton of bricks, he's been a much happier cat. Still skinner, but he was a 20lb cat - some wight loss is okay. We still have quite a bit of crunchy food, so I'm alternating serving canned food with the crunchy food soaked in chicken broth, and all 3 cats (Haley is the baby at 10 years old) seem happier.

Oh, and I have to say, previously I blogged about the steam mops, noting that the steamers were difficult to push along the floor. Well it turns out that using the mop on the tile is amazing - it glides really well, cleaning the floor so much faster then if I were on my hands and knees scrubbing it (something about the linoleum in the bathroom causes it to show so much resistance, I guess). So, while I still love my Eureka Envior Steamer so much more than the Shark, my criticism that the Shark commercial was incredibly misleading may have been too harsh - it's entirely possible that the Shark glides on tile the way the Eureka does. :-) And, I'm glad the linoleum is only in the bathrooms! I've yet to try the hardwood floor of my bedroom, maybe later today.

I stumbled upon this poem today, and while I plan on keeping it in mind those first few weeks postpartum, I think it's important to remind myself that 3 1/2 year olds don't keep, and nor do 7 year olds. Maybe cleaning my bedroom floor can wait, after all!

"Song for a Fifth Child."
Mother, oh Mother,
come shake out your cloth,
empty the dustpan,
poison the moth,
hang out the washing
and butter the bread,
sew on a button
and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house
is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery,
blissfully rocking.
Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little
Boy Blue (lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping's not done
and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing
will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up,
as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.
~Ruth Hulburt Hamilton~

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cat food too.

Aubrey has always been an observant child, and she just gets more and more observant. Which I am glad about, but it leads to difficult conversations.


Our grocery store prints coupons and ads on the back of their receipts. They also print missing person notices. One specific notice, actually. We've seen it a few times. Anyway, she reads all the fine print, and knows that the lady and little girl pictured are the same person. That she disappeared when she was almost 3. In 1983. So she plans on cutting my receipt apart and putting up this little missing person notice on the fridge, so that if we see her, we'll know it and be able to help her.

"Why did she disappear, mom?"

"Where were her parents when she disappeared?"

"Is she a burglar now?"

"The man who took her, is he going to hurt her?"

"If we find her, can she stay with us for a few days?"

"Who put the ad on the receipt?"

"Who is looking for her?"

"Can we help look for her?"

"What if she's forgotten where she lived?"

Fortunately we were able to completely avoid the possibility that this woman died (or was killed) long ago.

Also, earlier in the day, she asked what happens if a woman is pregnant but doesn't want to be pregnant. I just replied with, "That's a conversation for when you are older, honey."

And, we talked an awful lot about people who need to use food pantries. She recognized that we have a lot of money, so we should help people who don't. So we're trying to remember to buy a few items for the pantry every time we go to the store. She wants to deliver them to the pantry herself, so we'll seek out the pantry soon (we usually drop stuff off in the basket at church).

As difficult as it is to have these conversations with my 7 year old, it's incredibly rewarding, too.

And then she'll just bust out with the most random goofiness. The Simpson's episode tonight was talking about being an American, freedom, all that stuff, so she wrote me a note:

"I wish we had freedum. Cat food too."

That's a note that will be up on my fridge for years to come, I suspect.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Making house

For the past 6 months or so, my back has been so sensitive due to this pregnancy, that I have not been able to sleep in my own bed. Our mattress had been really worn out for quite awhlie, but a new king size mattress is a bit of an investment, so we'd been putting off replacing it for way too long. Well, we couldn't put it off any more, and I am happy to report that I feel like royalty sleeping in our new bed. It's firm, but oh-so-cushiony. Just a dream, I tell you. Plus, it's kind of nice to be sleeping next to my husband again!

~~~

This new home of ours doesn't have one square foot of carpeting - something I am happily adjusting to (the cats, on the other hand, seek out my one braided rug when they need to puke - I guess they can't stomach puking on tile). So, since we have a house full of tile and hardwood, we thought we should have a steam mop. Get the floors super clean (sanitized) with only water. I read about the Eureka Enviro-Steamer (EES) and was in love, but the EES is hard to find, so after seeing commercials (or infomercials or QVC - I forget), we thought we'd give the Shark a try. They brag about how lightweight it is, and when you watch the commercial, it pushes along the floor so easily, just working miracles. Umm, no. The Shark sucked. It's almost too lightweight to push along the floor, there's no actual on/off button, you need to manually push the handle down to release hot water onto the pad, the cap needed to be turned a certain way in order to allow the water to steam properly - neither Andy nor I could get it to turn appropriately and, well, it just plain sucked. Sure, it cleaned the girls' bathroom floor, but I could've done a better job on my hands and knees in less than a quarter of the time - all the back and forth over the same spot, pushing the dang thing into the floor.

So, I immediately returned the Shark and sought to order the EES. It arrived yesterday, and I might be in love. It's much heavier than the Shark, but not heavy (make sense?). It actually has an on/off switch. A tray to set it on while it warms and cools, to protect your floors (no tray in sight with the Shark). Sturdy clips that hold the pad in place (the Shark uses velcro, and while I didn't have a problem with it, these clips seem a bit sturdier than velcro AND should something happen to my EES pads, I could easily grab an old hand towel or rag and make due with the clips). A light that comes on to alert you to add more water. Awesome swivel action on a squared unit - great for corners. Still takes longer to cleam the floors then if I just got on my hands and knees, but let's face facts - I will not be cleaning floors on my hands and knees, and if some strange Martha Stewart-like being chose to dwell inside my body for long enough to intice me to in fact get on my hands and knees, I wouldn't be sanitizing the floor while cleaning it. Andy would like me to add that if I were to get on my knees, it wouldn't be to clean the floor. ;-)

It still doesn't push like a regular mop, which makes complete sense - it's not a regular mop, I just figured it would based on the Shark commercials I'd seen. Silly me, I know. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the Shark and the EES are comparable in price - the Shark $10 more, but then we paid shipping to get the EES here.

~~~

Tomorrow we're off to IKEA to get some stuff for the girls' rooms. To make them, you know, girly. And put-together. They have never had 'put-together' rooms, it's always been a mish-mash of hand-me-down shelves, ancient dressers, plastic toy buckets and mattresses on the floor. I cannot wait. Though IKEA on a Saturday will be crazy, but we'll remember that going in, and eat a big breakfast, carry water bottles with us, and overdose on our Patient Pills. This nesting phase is coinciding nicely with this move, and I'm nesting in the whole house.

~~~

Oh, and we just had our first tile floor-meets-glass casualty. Wow, shattered glass can fly across a tile floor lilke nothing else! Mental note: start using the Pyrex bowls instead of the Williams-Sonoma ones - Pyrex practically bounces on tile (ask me how I know).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

For April. :-)

Since you asked..... at 35 weeksAnd, the baby's corner - I LOVE her moses basket. :-)
And, last week we went to Austin - here's the Capitol - definitely built to impress (or intimidate!) visitors. We did not go inside, but we picnicked on the huge lawn, and fed the friendly birds and squirrels. Oh, ands some of us did a great deal of running and a little screeching, too.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm finally beginning to feel normal. Well, as normal as I can feel at 35 weeks pregnant, but still, we are getting settled.

All that's left to unpack are the pictures to hang on the wall, and other things like that. And, I'm kind of ready to look at new pictures, so we'll probably just gradually put pictures up as we take new ones. A few favorites will go up, but I'm not in a hurry.

I've been nesting, and also been uncomfortable enough that I'm not nearly as patient or as kind as I normally am. I feel bad that my patience is so low with the girls, but it seems beyond my control. My midwife is really nice, we're getting all ready for baby's birth. The girls each picked some flannel and we made a blanket. We've yet to decide on a name, which is really odd for us. Both Andy and I like to have things sorted out ahead of time, but I have a feeling this little one wants to help pick her own name - or at least make her appearance before we figure it out! The girls and I spent some quality time on youtube today watching birth videos - I'm feeling much better now that Lauren kind of knows what to expect. Though now I'm worried about how much she will share her new knowledge with others. :-)

We're making new friends, getting to know some neighbors, and admiring the local wildlife (along with all the deer we see, there are some ostriches that live just a ways away - they often are at their fence line when we drive by). And, we stay inside from about 11am to about 4pm most days - it's just too hot to be outside for long during the middle of the day. Lots of reading and a good combination of redbox and netflix in the afternoons!

Now I'll try to resume some blogging normalcy - we'll see how I do!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

the past month - in pictures - and in reverse order

Aubrey's 7th birthday today - she's getting so big!
My sister is back in the states after living in Prague for 4 years - here's the Welcome Wagon at the airport.


At the botanical gardens in ABQ.


The hole Andy's foo tmade in our n ew ceiling as he was trying to diagnose a/c problems (because central Texas during a June heatwave STINKS!).



The neighborhood deer - they love to be petted, but we don't do it often - deer ticks and all that fun stuff! We do feed them each evening, though. They'll eat right out of your hands.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Our buns

I firmly believe things happen for a reason. So, when, shortly after the bunny population grew dramatically at our house, my father-in-law said he wanted them and I thought that'd be great. We couldn't keep 6 bunnies, but they were all so happy together, the thought of seperating them was very sad. His plan seemed perfect, so I only rehomed the baby boy bunny (and I hear he loves his family and they love him!), and kept the 3 baby girls, mom and dad so they could go live with him in New Mexico.

About 2 weeks ago I discovered that maybe my father-in-law's offer had been made too quickly, and that he was still going to take the bunnies, but he didn't really want to. I had asked that he still take them and keep them until we'd been to visit at least once, and that was fine. Until we went to Green Meadows Petting Farm. Our guide was Farmer Mavis, the owner. You can tell how much she loves all the animals there, just listening to her talk about them. As we entered her Small Animal House, I suddenly had a thought. So, I talked with Mavis, and we decided that our bunny family might really enjoy living at Green Meadows. We took them yesterday, and they seem to love it there! We miss them, but they get to live together as a family, and will get loads of attention and love.

So, all that to say, I am so glad my father-in-law said he'd home the buns - they got to stay together until we happened upon the perfect home for them! :-) And, for any Wisconsinites - when you make a trip to Green Meadows, give Honey, Binky, Lilly, Lucy and Opal some love from us!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Checking in

In the midst of packing everything up, I'm sneaking some net time at my friend's house. I'll try to post some pictures of our last days in Wisconsin soon.

I'm shedding tears at the most random of times, and then I'm fine when I see my dear friend's tear-stained cheeks, and I know my moving is the reason. I think it's a form of self-preservation. I cannot break down with my friends at this point. By myself I can do it a dozen times a day.

We're living off convenience foods right now, so Lauren decided yesterday that her poop was going to be a pop-tart poop. Immediately after Lauren's decision, I decided that as soon as we can get back into a routine of actually cooking, pop-tarts are banished.

Aubrey doesn't seem very sad at all. Maybe this afternoon when I pick her up from her last day of school. She does hope that her friend K isn't lonely at recess next year, with no one to play with. When she said that, I lost it. She didn't notice.

Sunday is the laying on of hands and service of godspeed for our family. Our church does this when people leave. I'm looking forward to it, it's such a powerful, God-filled time. Oh, but it's gonna be sad. This is the only church home I've ever really had. Andy, Aubrey and Lauren were all baptized there. Met one of my bestest friends there, and countless other friends who will be sorely missed. So many wonderful opportunities for our family have sprung from our church.

We'll actually get on the road Father's Day. My mother-in-law will be in the car with the girls and me. She's a saint. I don't think I can drive out of Wisconsin by myself. (Andy will be driving the moving truck, his dad and brother caravaning along, too.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's all coming together....

We found a home in Texas, the girls don't seem to miss us too terribly much (though every 3rd sentence out of Lauren's mouth is about me, but mostly to the tune of: "My Mommy let's me eat candy." "My Mommy gives me chocolate milk." "My Mommy has watermelon." - each time hoping to elicit from Kim, "Oh, would you like some candy/chocolate milk/watermelon?") and I am completely exhausted.

We found our new home on craigslist (along with a million and a half others), and fell in love online a week ago. It was the first one we looked at, and by 9am yeterday we knew, but we wanted to be adult-like, so we looked at 2 more. We also drove past 4 more, and subsequently cancelled previously scheduled appointments.

This house is 3 bed, 2 bath, 2 car garage, open floor plan, privacy fency around the backyard. There's a covered patio out back, along with lots of shade. My girls will totally be running around in their PJs (or just undies - who cares, no one can see!). Every window has a tinted shade on it - unbelievable how much heat those keep out, it's truly amazing. Oh, and reverse osmosis water filter in the kitchen. I love ro water. Sounds kooky, I know, but mmm, it's so good! Tile, wood or linoleum flooring - no carpet. And, the window above the kitchen sink (that looks out into the backyard) is deep enough to hold my african violet - the only plant I seem to be able to keep alive! It's the little things that make my day. :-)

Oh, and the coolest part, there are deer everywhere. This neighborhood is just a regular neighborhood - lot sizes ~1/4 acre or less, so you maybe can picture it - and the deer are all over the place. Like in your front yard. Or sleeping under the neighbor's shady oak tree. Or standing in the middle of the road. Apparently they will let you get really close - maybe close enough to pet? Anyway, my poor new neighbors if they think of the deer as pests, because I plan on feeding them. :-)

And, so far as Texas goes, well, Texans are a very prideful people. The "Texas Star" or "Lone Star," is everywhere. Everywhere. Every other garage has a "Lone Star" hung above it. There are stars tiled into the floor at the regional airport we flew into, a metal star in the concrete at Andy's new office, and one of the homes we looked at, every single knob in the kitchen was that Texas Star, along with the flour canisters, paper towel holder and tv stand being adorned with them. Oh, and our hotel's complimentary breakfast has a belgian waffle maker - in the shape of Texas. It's fun, but wow, kinda crazy.

Oh, and I've found my new midwife, we'll be having this baby at home, hopefully in water. :-) Texas, I think I love you.

I've taken a few pictures, I'll try to upload them when I get back.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Off to Find a Home We Go....

Andy and I fly to TX this afternoon. The girls are staying here. I've never left them for this long. I'm kinda freakin' out. But they're really pretty self-sufficient - cereal for breakfast, pb&j for lunch and cold hotdogs for dinner - they'll be fine, don't you think?

No, just kidding, they are staying with friends. Lauren seems to not care (I hope she understands what's going on!) and Aubrey was up at 5:45 this morning, upset about us leaving for a few days. Even though she gets to have sleepovers on school days. But we'll call every night, and she can call us whenever, and I told her we'd try really hard to e-mail a picture to her teacher fo rhim to show her.

And, in unrelated news, in my dad's family, there was an 89 year streak where no girls were born into the family (yours truly broke that streak and was subsequently spoiled rotten by Grandma Ruthie who had 6 boys and 2 grandsons before I came along), and now that my generation (of which there are girls and boys) are having children, we're up to 5 girls, one girl on the way and, yesterday, a BOY! I told my cousin it might not be his. ;-) Ruthie's Revenge has come to an end, it appears. If only she were here to hold all these babies, oh she'd be in heaven.

I hope everyone has a great, relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

~Rachel

Monday, May 11, 2009

And we're okay....

Well, Andy's current employer took the news really, really well. His CFO jokingly told him he was an a-hole, and then Andy said "Mama ain't happy." CFO's response: "And if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

So, as far as work is concerned, this is all my doing. Which is fine. Because it kinda is. Every once in awhile Andy gets big ideas about moving, and I always go along with it - look at apartments and homes online, research where the farmer's markets and museums are, etc. - but this time, I didn't just go along with it until the phase passed. I encouraged, pushed, pestered and, well, pretty much, I made the decision for us.

So now we get ready to pack our entire lives, pull up some roots that have gone pretty deep, shed lots of tears, and begin a new adventure. This is all very bittersweet, but there it is.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

!!!

If Andy thought he was outnumbered before, how on earth will he feel when our 3rd daughter is born?

:-)

Aubrey initially wanted a brother, but Lauren was so sure it was a girl, she slept right through the entire ultrasound. We're very excited, and kinda can't wait to meet her!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Things, they are a-changin'!

Well, tomorrow is the ultrasound, so hopefully baby will cooperate and I can tell you boy or girl or lobster or whatever. ;-)

But, also, this week Andy will be giving his notice to his current employer (CE). The Texas job is ready, so we will be moving for sure, it's just a matter of time. If his CE takes the news well, he'll work approximately 4 more weeks for them, and we'll have ~2 weeks to finish packing and move. If, however, CE takes the news poorly, he may be escorted out of the building immediately, with me right behind him. And we'd be moving much sooner, if that happens.

I am so excited, but so stressed. After a year of hoping that this would happen, I told myself to stop thinking aboit it and to really just focus on where I'm at and enjoy my time here. That was Easter Sunday when I told myself this. And now, we're ready to go. I should've told myself to stop thinking about it 8 months ago, huh? :-) No, I firmly believe that it's happening now because it's supposed to happen now.

Anyway, big news, and my time online may be limited for a while, but I'll try to update here with any exciting news, and I'll be peeking at your blogs when I can, too! :-)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All's well

In case you noticed, I removed the pregnancy ticker. Only because I was tired of it, and haven't found one I like better. I'm still pregnant, everything is fine, and I'm being kicked as I type this. :-) That's all. TTFN

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The passing lane rule

Have you ever noticed that as soon as you are in a NO PASSING zone, the car in front of you is going 10-15 mph below the posted limit? And as soon as you get to a passing zone, there's just enough traffic spaced just right coming in the opposite direction that you cannot pass.

I experience this often. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my heavy right foot combined with my car accelerating much like a cheetah. Tonight it definitely had nothing to do with my *ahem* cheetah* pulling out behind a van that accelerated much like a snail might.

Anyway, that's all. I'm off to dream about cheetahs. Or cheetos.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

One of the cool things about living where we do, is we are nestled between two major cities that each have their own PBS affiliates, so we have lots of opportunities to see all the neat shows they do. One of the sucky things about living where we live is sometimes we have to choose which PBS show we’d rather watch. Tonight I face that dilemma. All the channels are featuring Earth Day relevant shows. Anyway, I've been thinking...

I love Earth Day - I love that we have a day to focus on the Earth and what we can be doing to make it a better place. I always try to think of something cute for my girls to do for their classmates - we're giving them each a packet of seeds. Plus, lots of my favorite eco shops have Earth Day discounts - love when you can combine greenin' it up with saving some dough! ;-)

Anyway, while I love Earth Day, I'm also saddened at realizing that we need to have Earth Day at all. Shouldn't it be a priority of everyone everywhere to take care of this place we call home. This only place we can call home? Why do we have to mark it on the calender to take care of our home?

I know in my life there are so many things I could do to be greener. At the same time, I know we do an awful lot - more than most people I know personally. I don't say that with judgment or a feeling of superiority. But, in knowing that we do so much, I'm able to talk myself out of feeling guilty when I use the occasional ziploc bag or throw out a package from a food product I know I could've made myself but didn't take the time to do. That's a bad habit, talking myself out of feeling guilty - I'm still being wasteful, and in the end, I'm still contributing to the problem instead of the solution.

I guess Earth Day is relevant because we still need it to be relevant. Until every single one of us is committed to solving the problem and focused on no longer contributing to the problem, we need Earth Day to remind us to take care of our home. And, unfortunately, there are lots of us that still need to figure out that taking care of our Earth is not some hippie-dippie trend for those just trying to be cool - it's a responsibility we each have.

No matter what's going on in your life, chances are you can do more. Please think long and hard about what more you can be doing, and let's work together to make Earth Day irrelevant.

Some things I will be trying:
- switch completely to cloth wipes - no toilet paper at all at home (except a roll tucked away for guests)
- hang my clothes out to dry every load (when the weather doesn't allow for hanging outside, use my indoor drying rack)
- bake 1 loaf of bread a week (with a goal of soon baking all our bread - with the help of my bread machine)
- unplug more unused appliances - this will involve some rearranging and investing in power strips to make it possible - I will not move the 6' buffet every time I need to plug in or unplug the tv!
- be organized enough to go to rummage sales
- eliminate ziploc baggies

Some things I will be continuing:
- cloth menstrual pads
- stainless steel water bottles for the family
- bringing our own bags shopping (and work harder at remembering the cloth produce bags we have!)
- recycling (though reducing our use of recyclable materials is the greenest option)
- baking soda and vinegar to wash hair
- combining errands so trips to town are minimal
- buying local eggs and produce, as well as growing my own veggie garden (this is seasonal at this time in my life)
- check Goodwill for what we need before going to Kohl's or Target
- no paper towels - use kitchen towels instead
- composting kitchen scraps and yard waste

What are you doing or willing to try?

(image courtesy Sacramento365)

recycling books

This lady here, featured in this npr article, turns old, unwanted books into purses and wallets. How cute is that? And how green, too! Anything green I'm bound to love!

I'm at work, trying to finish my day, so that's all for now, I'll post again soon. :-)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pictures... it's about time!

First – the girls’ dresses – I love sundresses! No frilly, poufy stuff for my girls (well, not when mom goes shopping without them, at least!). Aubrey’s is dark brown with bright pink flowers, so her. Also, she’s got on her first pair of heels. She loves them, she feels so grown up.

Then, some random pictures that have been hanging out on my camera for entirely too long…

Lauren is phasing out of needing naps, which means sometimes she falls asleep at dinnertime. At the table. While sitting in her chair. It’s hilarious.

And, all the toys two siblings spend hours fighting over, but put them both in a box, and oh the magic that happens. They flew, drove, sailed and maybe also were on a train for a bit. With one playing mama, the other playing baby. Always. It’s the game that gets played throughout every other game day in and day out – mama and baby. This box has become priceless, it brings so much peace to our home.

Now, back to Easter. This picture is of only a portion of the cantata singers. What I love about it, and about church, is that, in no order, you see: a shop owner, a house painter, a teacher, a Wal-Mart stocker, a city attorney, a dairy farmer, a retired shop owner, a great-grandmother, a business man, a housewife and an unemployed salesperson, among others. We may have nothing in common with the people next to us, except that we are all seeking Jesus. And really, isn’t that all the matters?

And, just because I like this picture, here’s one of my sweeties, looking especially sweet….