Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I hate to post and run, but...

this is what I've been dealing with for the last 72 hours.


Remember how I said last Saturday was awesome? Well, apparently karma had enough of my good attitude and decided to stick it to me this last weekend.  Karma thought, "Awesome Saturday, huh? Well, how about this one then?"

Good morning, you randomly overflowing toilet you.  ::bitch::

The pics above are of my kitchen ceiling, right below the upstairs bathroom.  There is also damage to the dining room walls.  Oh and the water made it all the way to the basement.  

Awesome.  ::dripping in sarcasm...hehe, pun intended::

Anyway, I've got a billion fans around the house, massive dehumidifiers, and some random floor mat thing that is supposed to pull moisture from the tile in the bathroom (say it with me, "right...")  Part of my kitchen floor is now torn up, the bathroom floor will probably be the next to go (at least I hope it is), and I'm just trying to get through the night without going crazy from all the cords, heat, and headaches this has caused.

On the plus side, I'll be getting a new floor in the kitchen (and hopefully bathroom), not mention some new walls and ceilings.  That's a plus, right?  ;)

My mom is coming down to help out Wednesday night, but because I'm a closet-blogger, I'll probably be a MIA for a few days.  I'm trying to get some stuff scheduled out, but it's been a little nutso around these parts. I've also got a couple great reviews coming up and another great cloth diaper giveaway headed your way.  Now if only I could find time to pluck these eyebrows...

Have a great week everyone!

p.s. If you're interested in guest posting next week let me know.  Thad and I are flying to Texas to visit the hubs and I'd love to have some new blood in these parts. =)  


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Oh and click here for a little voting love if you're thankful it wasn't your toilet that overflowed all night and left you with an awesome gift in the morning. =)  Because, you know, it'd totally make my day. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

How I Rock My Marriage: Chelsey






Hello ELF Readers!
I am Chelsey from Courteous Curtis & The Parents. I am excited to share how I Rock My Marriage, but first a little backstory might help.


My Husband and I met 10 years ago, at our Church youth group. We were friends first, which gave our future relationship a great foundation. We started Courting in 2007, Engaged in 2008, Married in 2009.

We are coming up on our 3rd anniversary.  A month after our wedding we found out we were expecting our son Curtis (can you say honeymoon baby?) We were suddenly in our first year of marriage, dealing with pregnancy hormones, pre-term labor, bed rest, and a preemie son. The first year was a roller-coaster of emotions.


When our son was 9months old, we got pregnant again (surprise!) We knew we wanted a large family, and were quickly thrilled with the idea of baby #2! However after a few weeks, I miscarried. So far that has been the most heart wrenching day of our lives. It is now just over a year since we lost our sweet 2nd baby. We have been steadily trying to conceive since then, which can also be a huge emotional roller-coaster.

Needless to say the past 3 years have been an emotional journey. So how do we Rock Our Marriage in the midst of all of that? We set boundaries for our arguments, fights, and disagreements.  

The main one that I want to share today is:
Never {ever} go to bed mad, upset, bitter, angry, without forgiving/forgiveness.

At my bridal shower, we had everyone write down a piece of advice. Several {wise} women wrote down “Do not go to bed angry.” We quickly realized how important this is, and how easier said than done this is… So far in our almost 3 years of marriage we have managed to live by this rule.  I will admit that I have fallen asleep mad, only to wake up a couple hours later to resolve the issues.  We have a really hard time sleeping when we are upset with each other. I really believe not letting an argument/fight stew longer then 24hours is important.

This isn’t to say we fight it out to the death, we realize it is important to give each other time to cool off, sometimes I can’t think clearly in the midst of an argument. We need time to regroup, and calm down before we can properly resolve our issues. {Just try not to fall asleep ;) }

When going through pregnancy, newborn stage, postpartum, miscarriage, trying to conceive, and general life speed bumps, we’ve come to realize how important communication, resolving & restoration  is in our marriage.

And that is how I Rock My Marriage.

Thanks, Chelsey! Be sure to check out her blog and if you'd like to be featured on How I Rock My Marriage Mondays, email me! 
elffamilyblog at gmail dot com

Friday, January 27, 2012

Glow Bug WINNER!

Congratulations Alicia, I've already emailed you!

And for those of you that are seriously bummed you didn't win, 
don't worry another cloth diaper review & giveaway will be posting soon! =)

Stay tuned...


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Some days I think I've lost it. -- A poem.

I drag my butt out of bed
and put on a pretty face.
Off to find some clothes,
yeah, that'll make me late.

I wake up my little man
with kisses to his head.
So sweet and so sleepy,
I wish we could stay in bed.

A quick drop at daycare,
I race across town.
Into the building,
into the crowd.

I teach and counsel 
crazy teenage kids,
& meet with parents 
who don't give a shit.

I set up meetings
to accommodate needs,
pray I get out of work 
(& hope to find time to pee).

I race off to daycare --
 only to find,
my child hasn't napped, 
he's a bit on cranky side.

Covered in snacks
from his head to his toe,
it's pretty obvious, 
someone found the Oreos.

We get in the door,
I've got less than hour
before the meltdowns begin
& it becomes struggle for power.

I grab fish from the freezer
and toss it in the oven.
Off to read a few books
with little bit of cuddlin'.

20  minutes later,
the whining has begun.
Off to check the fish,
Crap! What have I done?

I pull open the door,
only to find.
Shit! I didn't start the oven!
Oh man oh man, why do I try?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chicken Casserole: Recipe

So because I've been eating at home for the last week and half (I know! It's a miracle!) I've got some new recipes to share with you.  First up, chicken casserole.  Super duper easy chicken casserole.  Like can't screw it up chicken casserole.  Trust me.  This oooey-gooey mess of dinner is comfort food at it's finest.


You'll need:

casserole
5 cups of egg noodles
4-6 oz. of Velveeta cheese (to your taste)
5 oz. canned Hormel chicken breast (of course, you could use fresh, but come on people, this is quick/easy way)
10 3/4 oz. Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
garlic salt to taste*
onion powder to taste*
salt/pepper to taste*
milk (enough to make your mixture runny - about a cup or so)

*Sorry I don't have measurements, I do all my seasoning to taste.  A few shakes and you should be good. ;)

topping
5 slices of bread, cut into squares (if you have a pair of kitchen shears, use 'em, it'll make it super easy)
2-3 tbsp. melted butter

Mix the casserole ingredients together and place the mixture baking dish.  I know I didn't give you a concrete measurement with the milk, but just make sure you have enough milk in there that it's runny otherwise your casserole will be sticky/dry when it's done.


Bake this at 350* for about 15-20(ish) minutes or until your cheese is melted and everything has blended together.  I usually stir it a couple times while it's baking.

Now, while it's baking you'll need to cut up your bread.  I just use my kitchen scissors and cut the bread into squares (about the size of crouton).  Toss 'em in a bowl and cover them with melted butter (I've used EVOO as well, I like them both).  The bread squares won't be completely covered it butter, but that's ok - I'm not sure how well they'd really bake if they were.  Then I usually toss some garlic salt on top of mine and mix that it (yep, I love garlic - it's my Italian side). 


Now, once your casserole has baked up and mixed together well, 
it out and cover it with those awesome breadcrumbs!


Bake for 10 minutes or until your bread is crunchy and golden brown.  
Let stand for 5 minutes.


Dig in!  


Monday, January 23, 2012

How I Rock My Marriage: Tessa




Hi, everyone!  I'm Tessa, over from Tales Of Two Girls.  I was excited when Libby presented the opportunity for a guest spot on How I Rock My Marriage.

I started dating my husband, Eric, when I was a junior in high school.  Essentially, we have grown up together.  We got married in December of 2007.



That Valentine's Day I found out I was pregnant with our first daughter, Kendall.  When Kendall was 11 months old, I found out we were expecting our second daughter, Sydney.  Having two babies within the first two years of marriage can make things interesting, that's for sure!


I think many parents will agree, that when you have small children, it's very easy to go into 'survival mode' and put your marriage on a back burner.  After a long day of work, you get home and make dinner, clean up the kids, clean up the house, catch up on laundry, unload the dishwasher, and make sure you read each of the books they are begging for, by the time they are in bed you're exhausted.  That is, of course, if they stay in bed.  After following through with the 20 different requests of things that they suddenly can't fall asleep without, you feel like you have little left to give.  After unwinding before you crash into bed, it's easy to have the day pass by without really talking TO each other.  

One thing that we are very blessed with, is that both of our parents live within 20 minutes of us.  Grandparents living close means one very important thing...free baby-sitters! :)  Our schedules can get so busy, that when we have a free day or night, we often just want to hang low at home.  I try to schedule a night out together once a month, or every other month.  It can be as simple as catching a movie, or dinner or even getting our grocery shopping done.  I love to have some quiet, one on one time with him to remember why we originally fell in love with each other.  

One night of alone time carries forward weeks into our relationship.  To relax and regroup together does wonders.  It helps me to remember that no matter what, we are in this together.  When life gets busy and stressful, we can be guilty of taking it out on each other.  Being able to sit and laugh and have some adult time can be amazing.

The biggest thing we try to focus on is setting a great example for our girls.  I know that what they grow up with seeing, is what they will come to expect from their relationships.  I think, as parents, this is the biggest thing we can give to them.  Happy parents = happy kids.


Thanks, Tessa! Be sure to check out her blog and if you'd like to be featured on How I Rock My Marriage Mondays, email me! 
elffamilyblog at gmail dot com

  


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Super Saturday

Today was awesome.  Seriously.  Thad slept until 9:15! (This is HUGE - especially since he went to be at about 5:45 last night.)  That's the way to start the weekend I tell ya.  We had plans to meet my sister in Omaha this morning, so while I was getting ready (and packing up some snacks) I though Thad was playing in the living room.  Well, he was playing all right...

Lol, yep.  He'd somehow managed to grab the box of cereal off that back side table there (don't ask me how, it was pushed to the back) and decided to feed himself.  ;)  I couldn't be mad, it was pretty funny (and there was hardly any cereal left).  So, we vacuumed that up and were on our way.

We hit the mall, and since my sister bailed on us, we shopped, ate some Auntie Anne's Pretzels (yum, I love Auntie Anne's pretzels), grabbed some super cheap movies at Target (anyone else catch the coupon deal for Planet 51 - yeah, grabbed about five of those to give as gifts throughout the year), stopped to pick up a book I had on order at Barnes & Noble, and then came.  He went down for a nap at about 4 (ooops, a little late) and we tried to eat dinner about 5:30.  Apparently, Thad has quite the aversion to chicken (wouldn't eat it last night or tonight, must be a texture thing) and he didn't want his peas.  Yep, all of ended up on the floor.  So, off he went.  (I'm not a make my kid 15 meals kind of mom, sorry.)  BUT I also knew it was still early since he napped late that if I waited an hour or so and made him something different, he'd just think it was a different meal time...lol, sneaky mom, sneaky mom.  So yeah, the kid had PB & J with grapes for dinner - at least he ate.  

side note: I know I'm off on my menu (in case you're following along), should be back on track soon. The awesome soup I was going to make today, I'll make tomorrow. =)

Then tonight, he decided to showcase his newest skill.  Table climbing.  Have a great weekend folks!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Glow Bug Cloth Diaper Review & Giveaway!

I was so excited to find some fluffy mail occupying my mailbox when we got back from Georgia...and it wasn't just any fluffy mail, it was some Glow Bug fluffy mail! (All the way from Canada, eh? Lol, sorry, couldn't resist.)

How stinkin' cute are those robots?!?
Diaper: Glow Bug One Size Pocket Diaper

Fit: Trim fitting (similar to a Tiny Tush in size/fit).  I put this diaper on Thad using the largest setting (as I do with all his others) and I honestly felt like I could have made it one size smaller.  It was very roomy and should my toddler decide that he never wants to use a toilet, I'll be good to go until he's at least 4.  (Ok, I hope not, but this diaper will fit longer than his others - I'm not complaining!  It also snaps down to super small size so it'll be great if we're lucky enough to have another kiddo someday.)  Crazy amount of snaps = lots of fitting options!

Feel: Super soft lining (SlimDry) on the inside and the outside isn't stiff or plastic feeling (and again, how cute is that print!?).  If I was a baby, my butt would be happy in this. ;)

Leak Factor: Zero leaks!  This diaper was a trooper.  I put Thad down for a nap and not only did it work for the whole two hours (amen) he slept, but it also captured all that super stinky "blowout" goodness that comes along with cutting new teeth.  I'm telling ya, a trooper.  


Openings in the front and back make for easy insert access and the insert also snaps to the diaper which allows it to be washed while still attached (no guessing what insert matches what diaper = happy mama).  



Cost:  This is where Glow Bug is unique.  Instead of selling cloth diapers individually, they bundle them for bigger savings!  You can get a lot of 12 diapers (boy, girl, or gender neutral) for C150 (about $148.05) or about C12.50/diaper ( or about $12.34/diaper).  Every order comes with a FREE wet bag (hello, awsome)!  

Overall, we really liked the Glow Bug cloth diaper for it's overall feel, fit, and (lack of) leaks!  We're also fans of their amazingly fun prints and sheet protecting gussets.  If you're looking for a great cloth diaper starter bundle, I'd highly recommend a set of Glow Bug cloth diapers!

One lucky reader will win a 
Glow Bug Cloth Diaper of their very own!
(boy, girl, or gender neutral)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Menu Planning: The Shopping Trip

So this last weekend, I talked about planning a trip to the store to finish my meal planning for the month.  Well, I did it! One long grocery list, one happy (and very talkative) toddler, less than two hours later, and I came in under $150 dollars ($121 and some change -- that include paper towels, toilet paper, etc.)!  Some of you asked what the menu looked like.  Honestly, it's easy, probably not all that good for you (I kind of have this aversion to veggies and large love for cream of chicken soup) but I figured it was my first attempt at planning a monthly menu so eh, if it wasn't great and included a few lot of quick meals, it'd be ok.



So, here you go, my menu (for the rest of this month).

Friday, 13th - pizza (Friday is always pizza night, makes things easy.) =)

Saturday, 14th - fish, homemade mac & cheese, mixed veggies

Sunday, 15th - leftovers (another easy thing - growing up it was always a "fend for yourself" night)

Monday, 16th - chicken casserole (I'll post the recipe in the next week.) =)

Tuesday, 17th - ravioli & garlic bread

Wednesday, 18th - brats & fries

Thursday, 19th - baked chicken, rice, and broccoli

Friday, 20th - pizza (Any type, frozen, homemade, or yes, once in awhile delivery.  Nine times out of ten it's Red Baron frozen.)

Saturday, 21st - double corn and potato chowder (Thanks, Ashley!)

Sunday, 22nd - leftovers

Monday, 23rd - grilled cheese, veggies, and fruit

Tuesday, 24th - fish, mac & cheese, and veggies

Wednesday, 25th - hamburger casserole (And yep, I'll post this one too.)

Thursday, 26th - chicken gravy over mashed potatoes and corn (Another super easy recipe coming your way.)

Friday, 27th - pizza

Saturday, 28th - baked ham, mashed potatoes, and broccoli

Sunday, 29th - leftovers

Monday, 30th - hashbrown casserole

Tuesday, 31st - breakfast for dinner (either pancakes/waffles/french toast and bacon/sausage plus eggs - yum!)

So there you have it! This will get me through the end of January.  And most of those casseroles/chowders will be baked in full size, but half of it will get frozen for another meal sometime later on.  After all, Thad and I can only eat so much of one meal in a week.  If you have any quick and easy recipes I'd to love to see them.  And as you can, my menu is pretty boring and is almost all comfort food.  Great for time, not so great for the waistline. ;)  Eh, at least I'll be full and happy (until I can't button my pants the next day).

Monday, January 16, 2012

How I Rock My Marriage: Ashley


I'd love to give a BIG welcome to my first guest on
How I Rock My Marriage Mondays, Ashley, from The Stauffer Shenanigans!





Hi ELF readers! I'm Ashley, momma to 2 little girls & wife to Dustin, a man knee deep in estrogen.



We've been together for 8 years and married for 4. Let me tell you, it's been a busy 4 years. 4 months after we said "I Do", we said "BFP!" and our first daughter was born 2 days shy of our 1 year wedding anniversary. 13 months later we said "Surprise" & baby girl number two was born 9 months later. Mix in there work, buying our first house, and adjusting to parenthood aaaaand you got the perfect concoction for stress. And last time I checked, stress was no bueno for romance.

But? We're making it work. Because we've always taken this quote seriously.
"Keep your courtship alive. Make time to do things together -- just the two of you. As important as it is to be with the children as a family, you need regular weekly time together. Scheduling it will let your children know that you feel that your marriage is so important that you need to nurture it. That takes commitment, planning, and scheduling."
-Joe J. Christensen

I cannot stress how important time alone is for a married couple. I know for alot of you, date nights aren't feasible. You & your hubs are on different work schedules. You have no family/babysitters nearby. So why consider a "date night" as a night out? Stay in! After the kiddos are tucked in bed, throw a blanket on the floor with some pillows, make some popcorn, drink some wine, and watch a classic flick ("Mrs. Doubtfire" and "A League of their Own" are favorites here.) Dustin & I are lucky enough to be able to get out of the house alone at least twice a month, but we also plan nights in after the girls go to bed. And? It's just as fun....sometimes more fun because, well, I don't have to wear a bra here.

Or go to bed 15-20 minutes early, lay in bed, and just talk. Honestly, sometimes the favorite part of my entire day is when Dustin & I are just laying in bed, in the dark talking. Laughing. Making fun of each other, which we tend to do often. It keeps us in check ;)

So in short, MAKE time for each other. The dishes? Will still be there in the morning. The laundry? Isn't going anywhere anyways. Even if it's just for 20 minutes, turn off the TV, turn your ringer off, close the laptop, & just BE with your husband. After all, there's something about that face that made you vow to see it everyday for the rest of your life.





So true.
Thanks, Ashley!

Are you interested in sharing how you rock your 
marriage/relationship/partnership, email me!

elffamilyblog at gmail dot com

Friday, January 13, 2012

Monthly Meal Planning


This weekend's plan.

Grocery shopping.

For almost three weeks worth of meals.

How do I plan to do it?

1. Menu plan.  I've written out the rest of the months meals on my calendar.  This way I can't cop out and I always have a plan.  (p.s. Friday is always pizza night.)  In the past, I've only shopped one week at a time, but with the hubs gone, I wanna try to knock a few weeks out at once.  I might miss out on some deals, but I'm going to take the chance.

2. Make the grocery list.  This includes listing all ingredients and scanning through all my ads to price match.  After doing this, I match the sales to my coupons.  (I have mine organized by flier date.)

3. Pray that Thad will be able to handle a long trip to the store and stay under $150 total.  We budget $75/week for groceries.  Now that E is off in Texas, I figure Thad and I can get by on (at most) $50/week.

Wish me luck!  I have Monday off due to the holiday, 
so I'll either be going Sunday or Monday.  =)  
I'll follow up and let you know how I did.

Mimijumi Baby Bottle Review!

image002.gif

When Thad was only hours old (and I was still very uneducated about breastfeeding), I was told my child was just a really hungry, big boy and that the reason he was so upset at the hospital (and my breast) was because my milk hadn't come in (I had a c-section) and that we should really consider supplementing just a little bit that first night.  Well, as a new mom, drugged out of my mind on pain meds, who couldn't get her baby to latch for the life of her, I caved.  I had gone in saying that, "No, my baby will breastfeed. No binkys, no bottles, it'll only cause nipple confusion." to caving that first night in the hospital because I thought my baby was starving.

I should have listened to my gut.

The hospital provided us with some formula and a latex nipple to go on the bottle.  Well, the nipple sure didn't look like my nipple, but Thad sucked down that formula and I had to let it go.  For the next five and half weeks, I struggled with breastfeeding.  Because he never learned to latch properly (and his new love for a nipple that was nothing like my actual nipple), I was glued to my pump and he was fed from a bottle.

Easy, right?  Um, not so much.  Because the hospital provided us with latex nipples, he refused to take anything else.  My expensive bottles I'd researched and received as gifts?  Nope, hated them.  The fourteen other types I went and found at the store?  Nope, he hate them.  I was forced to call the hospital and beg for more nipples because I couldn't find any for sale.  It sucked.  My fear of nipple confusion had been confirmed and I felt like a failure as a mother.  Months later we were able to switch to a normal bottle with a silicone nipple that I could find at any store I went to.

Thad doesn't take a bottle anymore, but the next time around, I'll put my foot down.  I'll bug every lactation consultant I can to master that latch and I will not give my baby a bottle with a nipple that looks nothing like mine.  Instead, I plan to use something like this.  The Mimijumi.

image003.jpg

The Mimijumi is designed to mimic a natural breast in color and feel.  And let me tell you, in person, this thing is closer to feeling like a breast than any other bottle we tried in our quest to get Thad to eat.  It was actually pretty cool to see.  I only wish I would have know about this baby when Thad was born.  Oh and the nipple has an integrated ventilation system to aid in baby's digestion - we all like happy tummys!


The bottle comes with a cover to protect it from leaks and dust when not in use.  It's also made from high quality plastic that is as clear as glass (it really does look like glass!) but safer for baby (no BPA and latex free) - oh and the material was designed in Switzerland - look at how worldly your baby can be! ;)  The other really neat feature of this bottle is the bottom.  The bottom is also covered in silicon so that you can easily fill and close the bottle with one hand (no slipping and sliding)!  (Because you know, you have so many hands free when you have a newborn...lol.)  

And I'm serious, this has to be the most breastfeeding friendly bottle I've ever seen/handled in my life.  And it should be, Mimijumi was "Created with input from Designers, Mothers, Nurses, Physicians, and Lactation Experts, mimijumi's first product -- the Very Hungry bottle -- was conceived as a natural, modern and stylish complement to breastfeeding. The Very Hungry is the first of an upcoming line of products that are mindful of the ways infants bond with mother. Notably through sight and touch, mimijumi products allow an enhanced experience to be created for the infant and parent alike. For more information on our products, please visit us at www.mimijumi.com!"

Disclaimer: I was given a Mimijumi baby bottle at no cost to me for review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any way.  While Thad didn't actually review this bottle as he is no longer bottle-fed, I based this review on my experience searching for a bottle to mimic the breast shortly after giving birth to Thad.  I wish I would have found this one.



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Do you let your toddler watch tv?

It's kind of funny.  For Thad's birthday, he got an educational DVD, for Christmas he was given an episode of a religious cartoon show, and I won a copy of a baby-signing DVD almost a year ago.

Two out of the three are still sitting unopened.

You see, Thad doesn't really watch tv.  Let me clarify.

When he's at daycare, there is a TV on the wall that is on pretty-much all day long.  It's tuned into public television, Disney, or Nick (something...like Jr. maybe?), but it's not in direct sight and he doesn't pay that much attention to it.  I've been told that at naptime he'll lay and "watch" it a little, but not for long.

At home, once in a great while I'll turn on some cartoons in the morning (hubs does this more than I do), but he doesn't really watch them.  He may glance up a couple times, but there is no sitting and watching involved.  And maybe 30 minutes later I turn on the news or Food Network or something else for background noise.  Do either one of us really "watch" it the rest of the day?  Mmm, not so much.  I may glance up from time to time or be half-assed watching something, but really, it's on for noise.

So my question is: do you let your toddler watch tv?  If so, does he/she actually watch it?  How much tv is he/she watching?  And do you leave your tv on in the background for noise like I do or is this something that will grow to bite me in the arse some day?

Fill me in people.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Cross-Country Marriage

So I know I've mentioned it recently, but the hubs got a new job in Texas.  We live in Iowa.

Mmmm...you're wondering how this is going to work.  (Yeah...lol, well, so am I...)  Nah, we've got a plan.  Let me start by giving you a little background, my husband is a former construction worker turned chef in training.  The first few years we were together he traveled the country working on natural gas pipelines.  He'd be in another state, hours away, and I'd be home with the dogs.  So the cross-country thing, we've done it.

Without a kid.

How are we gonna do it?  Well, here's the plan.  The hubs is leaving Thursday and driving down to Texas.  Depending on the take-off time, he may stop overnight or he may drive through.  He'll decide.  He's taking clothes, blankets, pillows, shoes, toiletries, his PS3 (a must-have...lol), possibly an old "box" tv from the basement, a carseat (so he has it when we visit, I'm not flying with a carseat...nope, not gonna happen), a pack and play (for when we visit), and a dog kennel.  Oh yeah, he's taking Dante (our husky-malamute).  Do you think we can get all this in his car and still have room for the monster to roam?  Yeah, we'll see.  I may be shipping him clothes.

Why are we sending one dog and not the other?  Dogs are kinda like kids, well, at least in our house.  And me - alone - with three "kids" isn't my idea of fun.  So to help me keep my sanity (and keep him company), he's taking the big dog with him.  This means Lily (our shih tzu) and Thad will be here with me.

Why aren't we all moving?  Well, his start date is the 16th for one - that's a bit of a short notice; our house is still in a state of repairs from the hail storm and we still need to sell it - it'll go back on the market the day those are done.  I'm also under contract until the end of the school year - while I'm sure I could get out of it, I'm not interested in flying blinding into Texas without some type of employment lined up.  So, I need to update my resume (any awesome job snagging tips you have would be appreciated - I haven't updated my resume in 6 years) and get it out there ASAP.  So while I'd love to drop everything and move to Texas (seriously, I LOVE Iowa, but I'm not a fan of the area we live in - it's not the area I'm from and it's just not my style), I can't.  It wouldn't be responsible or even feasible at this point, but I'm hoping that by May/June (at the latest September) we'll all be together again.

So, what about another baby?  Haven't you been wanting to try again soon?  Um, well, yeah.  So the day we found he got the job we talked about this.  We've decided to throw caution to the wind and get rid of all birth control.  With the diagnosis of PCOS, my odds of getting pregnant are probably pretty low anyway so figured it'd be worth a shot.  We'll try when we can and at this point.  I'm hoping that even if the house isn't sold by May that we can get some family to watch over it so Thad and I can go to Texas for a few weeks.  I figure our odds will be better then.  Wish me luck on that one.

Of course there will be lots of phone calls, texts, photos, and hopefully video chatting (we need to get him a laptop), but we'll make it work.  We need to remember it's not forever and it's for the best at this point.  We needed this and we're ever so grateful to Lord for providing us with what we need.

So there you have it.  Our plan for making it work in a cross country relationship.

Any other questions?  Anyone else every done the cross country thing?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Remember when I said I was worried about Thad's language develoment?

So a whopping (maybe?) three weeks ago, I posted about Thad's language development at 16 months old.  I was that worried mom, overreacting because my son wasn't saying at least 10% of sight words (yeah, I know he's not reading, bare with me...I'm a teacher...lol).

Well, Christmas morning he decided that he was going to show off some new words he'd learned.  We popped some muffins in the oven shortly after opening gifts and when we sat down to eat Thad started saying "cupcake."  Lol, yep.  Cupcake.  I'm not sure where he learned that, but it was too cute.  While it sounded kinda choppy and more like "cup-cake" it cracked us up.  Then a little while later, he was walking around started saying "cookie" (which actually sounded more like "coo-kie").

Since then he's been quite the talker - clearly saying mama, mommy, daddy, puppy, cupcake, cookie, get out (which sounds like geh - owh; he learned that from hubs and I, we say that to the dogs at dinner when they won't leave the dining room), and go.  There is probably a couple more I can't think of right now, but it's so amazing to see him try and actually learn new words.

The best part of the last couple months has been watching him grow and learn.  While he can't quite say everything he wants to, he understands a lot.  I can tell him to get specific toys, tell him we're going to take a bath or brush his teeth and he goes to the bathroom, I can ask him if he wants to go night-night and if he's ready he walks to the stairs.

It's awesome, just awesome.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

WANTED: Guest bloggers for new spotlight segment on ELF: A Family Blog!

So I know I've talked about my marriage - we have our ups and downs, we don't always see eye to eye, and we'll soon be living 700 miles apart, but no matter what, we make it work.  We schedule date nights (just had one Friday!), we make time to cuddle, we have better sex than ever before (sorry, should I have warned you?), and more than anything: we communicate.

These days we're all busier than ever as couples, throw kids into the mix and it sometimes becomes impossible to connect with your spouse.  So how do you do it?  What makes your marriage special?  Is there anything you do to stay connected?  Is there something that makes your marriage unique or unusual?  Tell me about it!  

I'd love to feature you and your marriage in a new spotlight segment called "How I Rock My Marriage Mondays."  So if you'd love to tell me how you rock your marriage, email me!  Bloggers will be featured on a first come, first served basis.  Oh and if you're not quite married, but in a relationship/partnership, don't fret, I'll include you too!  Just tell me how you rock your relationship!

Grab the button and email me now!
elffamilyblog at gmail dot com







Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year's Resolutions 2012

First off, thank you so much to all of you that asked and prayed about E's new job.  We are ever grateful as he just found out Tuesday that he got the job!  (Don't worry, there is a whole different post planned to explain how I'm about to become a "single, but married" parent.)

After a year of emotional ups and downs (thank you very much Miss PPD), an awesome weight loss (a total of 77 lbs. overall...hell to the yeah), and falling more and more in love with my little man every day I am very excited to see what 2012 has in store for me.  

And as for some resolutions, here are a few that I've come up with so far.
  1. Cut out/limit the dining out.  This should actually be pretty easy with the hubs leaving.  I'm too lazy to bundle Thad up to go through drive-thru or sit in a restaurant by myself with a squirming, food throwing, possible tantrum having child.  
  2. Learn more about using my camera and editing photos.  I have this awesome camera, but honestly, your pictures are only as good as you make them and folks, I need edumacated (yes, ed-u-ma-cated). ;)
  3. Break off my affair with my snooze button.  Little bit of info - until I was well into my freshmen year of college I didn't know what a snooze button was.  And I wish I still didn't.  Getting up and out of bed at 10 minutes to 7:00 when I need to really be at work by 7:15 (contract doesn't start until 7:30, but by then I have kiddos hanging out in my room and I can't get anything done) isn't working for me.  My goal is to be out of by 6:15 every morning.  (And probably earlier when E leaves because then I'll have to drop Thad off at daycare too.)
  4. Limit nightly computer time.  This is a big one for me.  Many nights I put Thad to bed, come downstairs, grab whatever I find to eat (these are the nights the hubs is gone), and lose myself in the world wide web only to discover 11:00 (ok, maybe 12) has rolled around and I still need to start laundry, take a bath, and get stuff ready for work tomorrow.  Oh and don't even mention those nights I should have spent planning lessons...  My goal is to be logged off the computer by 9:00 during the week.  
  5. Make more time to read.  If you read my recent post about my obsession for obtaining a Nook, you know that I love to read.  In 2010, my students challenged me to keep track of how many books I read.  So I set a goal of 100 books.  And honestly, I was well on my way.  Thad wasn't born until August and by then I'd read 76 books, but after Thad was born, I struggled a lot in just getting through the day, let alone reading.  I ended the year at 83 books.  So close people, so close.  This year, I'm not really setting a goal, but I'm going to try to make a point to carve out time to read.
  6. Pay down debt.  Um, pretty self explanatory.  With the hub's new job, this should help.
  7. Work out at least 3 times/week.  I'm horrible at this.  I love the way I feel after working out, I love the way I look after doing it, I just really don't like to do it.  Let's face it.  I'm lazy.  I love to come home, throw on sweats and t-shirt, hang out and make dinner, lounge, surf the web, and relax.  BUT I hate my spare tire and maybe someday, I'll show you why so you can motivate my ass to move instead of sitting here enjoying Bunny Tracks.
  8. Clean house.  I want to go through stuff.  I know I got rid of a lot of stuff while I was nesting with Thad, but things accumulate and I can't stand it.  I want stuff out.  And honestly, the thought of having to move a lot of this stuff makes me want get an old burn barrel like the one my grandparent's had on the farm and have a hay day.
  9. Get the house sold.  This one isn't really a resolution, but it kind of is.  We had our house on the market this summer, but took it off after that crazy storm in August.  As soon as the repairs are finished (don't get me started on this one), we're going to list again and hopefully sell ASAP.  We love our house, we really do.  It's so beautiful on the inside with all the original hardwood floors, etc., but you often look at a house differently after you have kids.  That's what this is about.  Oh, that and I want to move to TX to be with my husband.  You know, that might be nice...lol.
  10. Focus on growing spiritually.  We've been horrible as a family about getting to church.  It was difficult with the hubs in school and working all sorts of weird hours through the week and weekend to make it work, but I'm hoping to put all that behind me (and us) and get to church again.  If not to church, at least more time reading the Bible.  I need me some God time and I've been slacking.
So there you have it.  My resolutions for 2012.  Now wish me luck, I'll probably need it. ;)

What are your resolutions?  Did you make any or are you one of those lucky people that just eff that shiznit?  Link 'em up!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to get a Nook Tablet for FREE! (And no, I'm not kidding.)

Ok, so I have a slight obsession with books.  I LOVE books.  I love reading, picking out books, walking through bookstores - if it has to do with books, I'm sold.  In fact, I often think that if I could work for a young adult lit publishing company as a reviewer (or whatever they're called - you know, one of those people that reads that paper copy from the author and decides if it's worth publishing or not), I'd be in heaven.

Anywho, to support this slight obsession and my desire to own a Nook (I'm a Barnes and Noble fan), I decided that I was going to gift card my way to the store.  How am I doing it you ask?  Easy.

  1. Swagbucks - If you haven't jumped on this bandwagon, do it.  The easiest frickin' way to earn gift cards ever.  Oh and if you have and have no idea how to earn points, install the toolbar.  This will take place of google, yahoo, bing, etc. that you would normally search with and it scores you points.  Easy peasy.
  2. MyPoints - This one is super easy too and in fact, I've been using this one since I was in college.  Lots of gift cards have come my way because of it.  MyPoints sends you emails daily.  Open the email and click the link and BAM! you've got yourself some points.  This was a great way for me to buy maternity clothes while I was pregnant and gift cards for Christmas.  You can also earn points on online purchases by buying through them (just go to MyPoints and then to the vendor).  If you'd like to start earning points, please leave your email address or email me at elffamilyblog at gmail dot com and I'll get an invite out to you!
I'm am so.close to getting my Nook and I am seriously pumped.  Not only am I getting my very first eReader (and tablet), but I'm getting it for FREE!  Now, I'm not trying to brag, I'm just trying share the glory.  Sign up and earn some free stuff too!!!  

*I'd kinda feel like a bitch if I didn't flat out tell you that if you do sign up via my links, that yes, I will get points.  Nothing crazy outrageous or anything, but I thought you should know.  There, now I feel better.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Planning a road trip with a toddler. V 2.0 (Experience included.)

Ok, so in my previous post about planning a road trip with a toddler, I talked about my plan and how I thought it would be so great to travel through the night so said toddler could sleep.

Yeah, well, that kinda worked.  And that's a kinda as in kinda didn't really work out the way I thought it would.

On our trip there, we were lucky enough to hit an open gas station for snacks and Thad actually passed out less than five miles outside town (thanks to his refusal to nap that day).  Fast forward to 2:30am and we've got an awake toddler on our hands (damn gas stations and their absurd amount of lights to ensure my safety while pumping gas).  So we change diapers, let him stretch his legs, grab a milk, and fill up on snacks and we're back on the road.  Well, for the next three hours he sat in back, awake.  He was talking, listening (thank the Lord for audiobooks - more on this later), and sometimes whining.  By the time 5:30 rolled around, he was zonked and I was trying for the bazillonth time to get comfortable (at this point, it was well noted that the car seat would be moving to the middle of the back seat for the ride home as it was impossible to get comfortable in an upright position due to the car seat that was locked in place behind me).  He slept for another three(ish) hours and then was up.  Needless to say, it didn't really work out like we had planned, but it wasn't horrible.

Finally sleeping after my three hour, middle of the night, playdate.


Flash forward to our return trip...

Thad didn't fall asleep right away, our fast food from some random restaurant was crapola, and our debit card wasn't accepted at the first gas station (needed to be run by hand inside the store...whatever).  Four hours later, the little man is awake, we're stopping for gas, pee breaks, and snacks.  Our debit card has officially been declined, we can't print a balance inquiry from the ATM for whatever frickin' reason, and I find out via cell phone we've been locked out of our account (apparently our bank assumed fraud and froze us out...without telling us).  Our credit card has less than $300 left before we're maxed and we're still at least 10 hours from home.  ::insert panic attack::

Gas goes on the credit card, snacks go in our tummies, and Thad goes in the backseat (still in the middle).  We're off.

And five hours later, Thad is still awake, distracted by all the lights, sights, and sounds of sitting in the middle of the back seat (brilliant idea, Libby, brilliant).  We've changed his diaper again, given him milk, Nutrigrain bars, cereal, toys, etc., but nothing is working.  We're now on meltdown number three and the ship is sinking people.  Send out the SOS, we're in trouble.  We contemplated stopping and getting a room (you know, on that super available credit card), but with only 5(ish) hours to go, we trekked on.

Thad finally falls asleep, I get maybe two and half hours, hubs drives through the night, and we finally make it home (only to find that his dad has left towels all over the bathroom, taken blankets off our bed and let the dogs sleep on them, and that Thad won't take a nap for the life of him - or me).

I'm still in a zombie-like state, but my brain in slowly thawing.  I've got another day before I'm back at work and I tell you what, I'm so not ready for that.

Hello, 2012.

p.s. If you've got a road trip coming up, I highly suggest this audiobook and the follow-up  as well.  I read the entire series a couple years ago, but knew the hubs would love it.  He's not much of a reader, so I grabbed my audio copy from work and he was hooked.  We listened to the first book on our way there and the second on the way back.  He's dying for me to bring home the third book Thursday. ;)  Oh and the movie comes out in March (March 23 to be exact, yes, I'm that nerd) so get on it now.  It's been blowing up all over facebook lately and is the next big book to movie franchise.  Read it before you see it, the books are amazing.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Have I mentioned I live next door to the Griswold's?

So after an amazing trip to GA, where the temperatures were warm and the family visits were too short, I'm back!  Thank you so much to Shannon and Kristin for guest posting while I was away and if you're interested in finding out how our 16 hour road trip with a toddler went, stick around...details to come!

But for now, I leave you with this.  I swear, my neighbors are the Griswold's.  (Ok, so not really, but it seriously seems that way.)  I love it and when we move someday, I'll probably really miss the crazy light show and holiday bit they go through every year.  Enjoy!


p.s. If you're a prayer, please send up a prayer for my family.  The hubs finds out tomorrow if he got this new job in Texas - this would be amazing and a blessing for our family and our future.  Thanks!
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