Tuesday, September 30, 2008

23 months old

Emily is now 23 months old--almost 2 already! She continues to delight and entertain. Here are a few of her latest adventures:
  • I have had to hide Emily's Dr. Seuss treasury book on a few occasions because we just can't handle it anymore. She runs around asking for "Daka-Zoos". The problem is she can't settle on which story to read, so you end up reading bits and pieces of multiple stories that never end.
  • Another one of Emily's stalling tactics while reading before nap/bed time is out of the blue she announces, "I go check on the cookies." I have only baked cookies twice in the last two months, but she must have remembered me saying that.
  • Emily is practicing dressing/undressing herself--mostly undressing. ;o) However, she is pretty good at getting her Crocs on (with the back strap flipped up) all by herself. The only problem is that 75% of the time she gets them on the wrong feet. Sometimes she complains, "Feels funny!" but most of the time she just walks around that way. :o)
  • Emily can recognize several individual letters and numbers and is showing signs of knowing colors. She kind of tries to sing the ABC song, and when she "counts" it always goes "1...2...3...9...6"
  • As mentioned in an earlier post she is quite funny trying to "sing" various songs and nursery rhymes. We have started singing "Jesus Loves Me" to her as the last part of her bedtime routine. She always asks for "Jesus" and is starting to catch on to the tune/words herself.
  • Right now Emily is obsessed with hot dogs. She has a funny book about a pigeon finding a hot dog and at one point in the book the pigeon says, "Can you believe this guy?!?" so now Emily will randomly walk around saying, "Can you believe dis guy?!?" over and over again. :o)
  • We are definitely in the midst of potty training adventures. I have tried a couple different strategies, but none very consistently. As Austin describes it, she talks a good game but doesn't back it up. ;o) In a couple weeks I am going to try a one-day training method. Here's hoping for some success with that one!

Our September videos are posted below and the pictures are updated on Winkflash. Enjoy!

Lessons from the September Savings Challenge

Well, the final numbers are in. Through September 30 I ended up spending 58% of my normal monthly grocery budget (not counting the Block Party food). However, I will be using part of the block party food for some other things in the future, so I'm going to add some back in and put my final percentage at 62%. Although I didn't quite make my goal of 50%, I certainly learned some things along the way and will be scrutinizing purchases much harder in the future.

I did accomplish the goal of clearing out some of my overwhelming freezer inventory. I added some things back in along the way (leftover hamburger buns, homemade applesauce and loaves of banana bread), but it was very nice not having to worry about how things were going to fit. I also feel like I can be a better planner/shopper when I can physically see all of my freezer inventory without having to spend 10 min. digging around and stuffing things back in.

I did use up a few things from the back of my pantry, but it is still nicely stocked. I didn't feel like this was as much of a problem area to begin with, so I'm satisfied with its state. It's not overcrowded and not terribly depleted.

Here are some of the things I've learned through the September Savings Challenge:
  1. I can spend a lot less on groceries if I have to. It's hard, but the option is there. Although I usually have a pretty good idea where I'm at, it really puts things in perspective when you study the numbers every week--especially if you end up shopping more than once or at multiple stores.
  2. It's very difficult to quell my stockpiling urges if something is on sale or is a really good deal. I think this is okay. For regularly used items it is a better strategy in the long run to buy things you know you'll need when they're on sale rather than paying whatever price they are the week you actually need/use them. There is a balance, though. Things are not a good deal if they get lost in the back of the cupboard/freezer and never get used.
  3. I can't not cook/bake to give away to others. I feel one of my callings in life right now is to give generously to others. My vehicle for doing this is cooking/baking goodies for people. It gives me such joy and puts a serious damper on my spirits to prevent myself from doing it just to save a couple bucks. Not only did I end up giving over half of the leftover Block Party food away, I also brought baked goods/treats three different times for different functions and "paid" someone to babysit on three different occasions by sending them home with food/baked goodies. (For more on your "calling" in life I encourage you to listen to Dave Bartlett's message from Sept. 7 here.)
  4. Buying a bread machine in the middle of the month put a dent in my savings goal. Between the new supplies needed and the endless urge to experiment with new recipes I probably spent an additional 5% of my budget I normally wouldn't have. It has been a lot of fun, though, and I wouldn't change it.
  5. Although it's still a lot cheaper than eating out, cooking a variety of healthy meals from scratch at home can also add up. However, I really do enjoy cooking/baking and am not willing to compromise health and nutrition for convenience and savings on a regular basis. So, I will continue to try new recipes and buy lots of fresh produce and meat, trying to hit seasons/specials as much as possible.

How about you? How did you do? Do you have plans/goals for the future? I am definitely planning to continue trying to reduce my grocery budget. With the much-needed new double garage door & opener arriving soon there is certainly a need to do it! ;o)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Week 4 September Savings Challenge

I had to shop early this week (last Saturday) because we were running low on some pantry staples. I guess you have to restock at some point. Because of the drama of the morning (see post here) I think I justified myself in splurging a bit more than I should have. I got sick of just apples and watermelon the week before and spent a lot more on a variety of fresh fruit. I made a new (good!) chowder from scratch and needed a variety of fresh vegetables to do it. I bought two 12-packs of pop, not because we were out or even running low, but because they were a somewhat decent price and I wanted more variety. Not a very good excuse. After 4 full weeks I am right at 50% of my monthly budget if you don't count the Block Party food. There was quite a bit left over, though, and even after giving a lot away I probably have $20 worth of food stocked up in the freezer now. The good news is that after working on my freezer stockpiles all month I had plenty of room for 5 dozen hamburger buns! ;o)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fun with Addy

On Thursday Emily & I had Addy Schut for the day. Addy is 8 weeks older than Emily and they are two peas in a pod. We had fun at the park and in the sandbox. All three of us even got good naps in the afternoon!


We had a bit of a scary moment today. I got a phone call this afternoon from our credit card company notifying us of unusual activity. It looks like our credit card number was stolen and used about a dozen times for online purchases today. Luckily, their monitoring service caught it right away and we were able to cancel the cards. They will reverse all the charges and new cards will arrive by Friday. Whew! I'm very thankful for the on-the-ball, extremely helpful customer service. However, with such great service it makes me question why they call once a month to try and sell us additional monitoring services!?!

P.S. In case you're wondering, this incident does not deter me in the least from using a credit card for real online purchases. :o)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This morning Emily & I had the fun opportunity to meet the Bullerman puppies. There were seven 4-week-old purebred German Short-Hairs and they were adorable!

P.S. Check out Emily's rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in the September video player!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Neighborhood Block Party

It was absolutely perfect weather for our Neighborhood Block Party at the park last night. I was a little disappointed in the turnout (anyone need any BBQ pork?!?), but it was a fun time with those who came, including two of the families we're friends with.

Just like Daddy...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

One of *those* mornings...

Today was one of those mornings. I didn't start off waking up on the grumpy side of the bed, but I quickly got there. It all began when I just couldn't make myself get out of my nice hot shower. I paid for it though, b/c when I finally emerged I discovered Emily had yanked open the drawer containing her very limited video/DVD selection and had cracked one of the VeggieTales DVDs in three pieces. Luckily, it was just a garage sale purchase and not a favorite we can't live without. I don't think she understood the consequences, though.

My next challenge was grocery shopping. I had to go today b/c we were running low on some staples. Wal-mart went fine thanks to a large container of "snacks". However, by the time I got Emily settled in the car cart at Fareway I discovered that I had somehow managed to lose my grocery list between Wal-mart and Fareway. This would be devastating on any occasion but was especially maddening today b/c I had spent an hour the night before meticulously making out a menu plan and list, not to mention the random staples needing to be restocked. Furthermore, while Emily was distracted at Wal-mart I had recorded a detailed price-comparison on flour and toilet paper on the back to be continued at Fareway. Grr!

So after tearing apart my purse and the van I settled for roaming the aisles, trying desperately to visually recall what had been on the list. I think I did pretty well, but I'm sure I'll discover the forgotten items at the most inopportune time. To top this all off I had to deal with a less than cooperative toddler who wanted only to perform acrobatic tricks on the outside of the car cart. She ran away once, flipped backwards into the groceries when the buckle on the front seat wasn't tight enough and banged her head twice while throwing a fit during checkout. Sigh. I think Emily realized I was near the end of my rope b/c when she started fussing on the way home I only had to tell her to stop once.

So what is a very grumpy mommy to do?
1) Eat an early lunch--being hungry just perpetuates the problem.
2) Take a nap--it's amazing what just 20 min. of lying in bed can do for your spirits.
3) Spend a little time in God's Word (which I should have done in the first place this morning). I have been praying through the Psalms off and on lately and was reading Psalm 16 when I got up from my cat nap. Verse 8 says "I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me." (NLT) Oops! I failed the "shaken" test miserably this morning. It's not the first and it certainly won't be the last time, but what a comfort to know that even in low "mommy moments" God is right there to comfort and guide me and give me peace.

So here's to a looong nap time for Emily today and a better afternoon/evening! ;o)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Week 3 September Savings Challenge

Another week has come and gone. This one doesn't look quite as pretty as previous weeks (see here and here). The main reason is because I spent $60 on food supplies to provide BBQ pork sandwiches for the neighborhood block party this weekend. I have no idea how many people will show up, but I'm sure I'll have leftovers! I had been planning on using my "savings" to do this, so I'm going to cheat and not use it in my numbers. The other reason for a slightly higher grocery bill this week was the addition of my new bread machine. I just had to stock up on bread-making supplies that I don't normally have in my house (e.g. yeast, whole wheat flour, powdered milk (expensive!), etc.) I have enjoyed experimenting with my new "toy" and have a whole list of things to try in the coming week. I think I'm using it as an excuse to justify things, though. In spite of everything, I'm still on track for the month. Through today I have spent 51% of what I normally would have spent by this time if you don't count the block party food.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Injury report

Tonight I'm filing the Lorenzen Family Injury Report. All three of us have suffered minor injuries the last couple days. None of them required medical attention, but all were painful and/or annoying.
  • Austin took a chunk out of a knuckle on his writing hand when a bungee cord snapped that he had been using to tie down yard signs in the back of his truck. He says his handwriting was probably a bit illegible (more than normal) for a few days. ;o) Campaigning is dangerous work!
  • I cut open the middle finger on my left hand while slicing bread from the bread machine on Saturday. Then yesterday I sliced open the middle finger on my right hand trying to dislodge apples from the slicer blade of my food processor. I am now sporting matching band-aid wraps. It sure puts a damper on things like washing dishes and typing on a keyboard!
  • Tonight Emily slipped in the bathtub while picking up toys and conked her chin on the edge, which caused her to bite a little chunk out of the side of her tongue. :op Luckily, Austin had just gotten home and thought to give her a freeze pop since she wasn't letting me use a cold washcloth or ice cube. That helped calm her down a lot and the bleeding stopped pretty quickly. However, I think she is finding it quite uncomfortable to suck on a pacifier!
  • To top it all off I'm also feeling a bit nauseous after cooking & shredding (and smelling) 20 lbs. of BBQ pork meat for the neighborhood block party I'm co-hosting this weekend. I currently have a tangerine scented Beanpod candle burning to try and offset some of the pork odor. What makes it worse is that I discovered it would have been just as economical (and no smelly work at all) to buy the meat all pre-made from Sam's Club. Live and learn!

Sing a song of sixpence...

Emily has quite a few books that are songs/nursery rhymes. Whenever I read them I can't help but sing them. She has especially enjoyed the set of 10 mini books I found at a garage sale this weekend, most of which she's heard before. I laugh several times a day when I catch her "singing" parts of them. Some of her current favorites are:
  • "Down by duh Hay" (Down by the Bay)
  • "Tinkle, Tinkle Star" (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)
  • "Hickey Dock" (Hickory Dickory Dock)
  • "Teapot Sho[r]t" (I'm a Little Teapot)
  • "Wheels duh Bus" (Wheels on the Bus)
  • "Humpy Dumpy" (Humpty Dumpty)

I've also started singing "Jesus Loves Me" when putting her to bed at night. She asks for "Sing Jesus" and sometimes tries to sing it herself during the day. :o)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Week 2 September Savings Challenge

Today is the end of Week 2 of my grocery goal. I wasn't home for most of the week, but I did have to restock on milk and cheese. I actually got enough groceries through the middle of next week and spent less than 6% of my normal monthly budget. I shocked myself again at how little I can actually spend if I have to (when I have stuff already in my cupboards/freezer). I also struggled mightily not to stockpile anything again. I did allow myself one splurge item at Walgreens that was almost free after an in-store special and coupon. Although I'll probably still buy some sliced bread for sandwiches, I'm going to be experimenting to see if making more of my own in my new bread machine is more economical. I might just end up making/eating more bread products than normal, but we'll see. It's something fun to try and a great way to warm up and make my kitchen smell good all winter! :o) If you've got any great recipes you'd like to pass along I sure would appreciate it!

Garage Sale Treasures

It's the fall city-wide garage sale weekend in Denver and I got some great stuff! Most of it is pictured above. My best find was a Little Tikes collapsible square picnic table. It was from a home daycare that was going out of business. Luckily I got there just as they were opening up the garage door! I also got some cute clothes and fun toys & books for Emily. I may regret getting the push popper! ;o) I also splurged and bought myself a bread machine for $5. Pictured next to it is the first loaf of homemade bread! I haven't tried it yet, but the kitchen smells delicious. :o)

I had fun going to the garage sales, but it's definitely something I wouldn't do all the time. I also decided I won't be taking Emily along again until she's like 4 or 5 years old. I lost track of how many times I had to drag her away from a toy/stuffed animal table and attempt to strap her back into the car seat kicking and screaming on Friday afternoon. So on Saturday morning I left her home with Austin and went out for an hour on my own. Much more productive! Apparently the drizzle/rain on Saturday morning didn't deter all the other fanatical shoppers either. It was crazy trying to drive around town!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

NW Iowa Review

Here's a run down of our trip to NW Iowa with pictures:

Emily often wielded dual flyswatters at G&G Boote's house. She didn't understand the real purpose of them. She decided they should be used to wash windows and rubbed them on the glass like a scrub brush. :o)

Emily had fun in the nursery at church and going on a horse-drawn wagon ride during the Sunday school hour. ARC had their education kick-off Sunday this week with a horse theme.

I don't think Emily is going to catch the cat anytime soon in this position!

In the morning Grandma B chased after Emily while we all went shopping at the kids consignment shops in Rock Valley. They had some great stuff and I got a bunch--including a cow Halloween costume. :o) In the afternoon we visited GGma Boote. Emily loved the plastic horses in the toy box and playing with the "Kissing Dutch Boy & Girl" figurines. We had pizza at Uncle "Wave" (Wade) and Auntie Abbie's house and watched the football game. Aunt Courtney was teaching Emily how to do a somersault (see video). It will take a little more practice. ;o)

It was a big day of visiting friends and family. We spent the morning with Brandi & Asher. Then we all went for lunch at GGpa & GGma Lorenzen's house and were joined by GGma Freking.
Emily decided her snack would taste better eaten out of GGma Lorenzen's candy dish!

After visiting my high school friend, Amanda Haverhals, Emily & I joined Grandma B and Uncle Wade in Boyden to watch Auntie Abbie coach her 8th grade volleyball team. Emily loved clapping along with the crowd!

On Wednesday morning we visited Grandpa Boote at the farm. Emily sat on Great-Aunt Janet's horse long enough to say, "Look at me!" and then wanted to get off and look at the cows. Maybe by next spring she'll actually want to ride. ;o)

We all helped feed the calves.

Grandpa even took Emily inside a hog pen! She thought it was funny watching the pigs run around. I didn't think it was funny b/c it was dusty and windy and I ended up losing a contact. I had to drive back with one eye. Thankfully, I had another contact in my bag!

Back at G&G Boote's house Emily had fun with dandelions.

She also had fun "jumpin" on G&G's bed.
Of course, there was lots of quality reading time. Even Milo joined in!

GGma Vander Kooi won 1st place in the "Hat Day" contest at Pleasant Acres nursing home. This is Emily modeling the winning hat GGma wore to Great-Uncle Bruce & Great-Aunt Helen Vander Kooi's wedding. Emily was a hit with all the residents when we visited there.
Auntie Abbie remembers when we used to get pulled around in laundry baskets, so she & Uncle Wade gave Emily a ride.

Emily & I headed back home on Thursday morning. One of our pit stops on the way was at a pumpkin farm to pick out our fall display. We got a lot of great stuff! What the picture doesn't show is that Emily stood by the door of the van and bawled until I let her take her entourage with her (to drag around in the wet, muddy grass). She picked up one little pumpkin and then ran back to the van b/c she just wanted to watch "T.B." (the cartoon DVD she had been watching when we stopped). At least I enjoyed the fresh air!

All in all it was a wonderful trip! There are quite a few video clips in the new September video player at the bottom of the blog. Also, just as a follow up note: Emily still crawled out of the PNP 4 times after I posted on Sunday afternoon, but hardly did after that. She was so tired she practically asked to go to bed!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

How to get a monkey to sleep...

Emily & I arrived safely in Hull at my parents' house yesterday right before lunch. We successfully made the 4 1/2 hour trip thanks to DVD's, sing-a-long CD's and lots of snacks. :o)

By 2:30pm Emily was definitely ready to go down for her nap. Up until this point using a Pack 'N Play has worked out fine, but we weren't so optimistic this time. Grandma B put her to bed and left to run errands while I laid down on the couch. After about 10 minutes I could hear the rattling of the doorknob. I got up to peek around the corner in the hallway and could see the door cracked open with a little hand slowly emerging, testing the waters. I had to try very hard not to burst out laughing. After another 5 minutes she stuck her head out and saw me. Busted! Next I tried to get her to lay down on the "big bed" like Mommy. I demonstrated by pulling back the sheets and everything, but she just wanted to "jumpin the bed". Go figure! On the third attempt I put her back in the Pack 'N Play again. I laid down on the couch again and heard the door rattle after 5 min., but she didn't come out. In fact, she didn't come out for almost an hour. She was not sleeping, however, because I could hear occasional clunks and squeaks and words. I'm pretty sure she spent most of the time sitting in the closet looking at Grandma's extensive book collection stored there.

So how do you get a monkey to sleep? You wear her out. After playing hard all day, including chasing a cat around the farm and being chased by a little dog, and staying up an hour past her normal bedtime Grandpa Boote put Emily to bed. After 5 minutes we heard a loud CLUNK. That was Emily falling on the floor as she crawled out once again. (She tends to get clumsier when she's tired.) After soothing her I put her back in and sternly told her it was time to sleep and she needed to stay in her bed. We didn't hear a peep after that. Except for a massive dirty/wet diaper at 5:30am, I had to wake her up at 8:30am to get ready for church.

Now we're up to another nap time. Grandma B put her down and it took almost 15 min. before I heard the door rattling. I even caught it on video (to be posted later). She had another dirty diaper (why must she torture me?!?). We read one more book and it was back in the PNP. This time I loaded it up with books for her to look at so she wouldn't have as much of a reason to crawl out. It has only been 10 minutes and I hear the door rattling again, but so far she hasn't emerged. Maybe we'll have another "quiet hour" this afternoon. ;o)

Friday, September 5, 2008

New blog gadgets

You may have noticed that I've added a few new "gadgets" to our blog.
  • Along the left column is a poll question. My goal is to put up a new one every week. Please vote! (I welcome suggestions for poll questions)
  • Further down is a "Followers" section. This is a newly available gadget that I'm experimenting with. It basically allows you to join our blog fan club. Feel free to register publicly and share your profile picture or anonymously and keep everything private. You can read more information about this gadget here.
  • Under the Followers gadget is a "Blogroll". It lists some of my favorite blogs and includes update notices. If you would like me to add your blog to the list please let me know! I'd be more than happy to promote your blog if I normally read it, but I don't want to add anyone's name without permission.
  • Finally, there is a more prominently displayed button for subscribing to the RSS feed for our blog posts or comments. If you're a frequent and multiple blog reader and haven't set up RSS feeds I highly encourage you to do so. It's a huge time saver! Let me know if you have any questions about it. I'd be happy to answer them to the best of my abilities. :o)

Also, if you have any suggestions/comments on the general layout and other features of our blog please feel free to let me know. I'm always looking for ways to improve without overwhelming readers. You may have noticed that I ditched the large family photo at the top. That was done after some reader comments that confirmed my own thoughts. You can email me directly at megilee@hotmail.com or click on "Comments" at the end of any blog post to let me know your thoughts. Thank you so much for your continued interest in our crazy family life!

Week 1 of September Savings Challenge

Here's an update on my September Savings Challenge goal:

First of all, instead of the normal one week, I sat down and made a menu plan for almost the entire month. After looking at the calendar I was surprised how few meals I'll actually have to make. We've got several evening things scheduled--many of which include free food. :o) The hard part for me is determining what to plan for lunch. We utilize any and all leftovers, but often there aren't enough to go around, so I end up making something quick for Emily & me at home. After really thinking things through, I've discovered quite a few options already on hand. I'd be open to any suggestions, though!

As far as my stated goal, I was extremely surprised at the size of my grocery bill this week (I spent only 11% of my normal monthly grocery budget.)--especially since it even included meal choices for Austin for next week (he is not going to NW Iowa with us). Even though I always go grocery shopping with a list, I usually allow myself one "impulse" item and tend to grab things I think I'll need in the future if they're on sale (i.e. stockpiling). I didn't realize how hard it would be to resist the temptation to strictly adhere to my list and not stockpile. I did grab a few extra things, but I know for sure I'll be using them within the next month, and they were really good prices. (Really!) I think this week was a bit of an anomaly because I didn't have to purchase any milk or cheese and very little meat. Those are the grocery bill killers!

I saved $.39 this week (hey--every little bit helps) by buying 2 loaves of bread at Kwik Star instead of just the one I needed for now. I much prefer getting a fresh loaf of bread when needed rather than freezing loaves and pulling them out later, but they were running a special. I now probably have my bread supply for the month. For anyone who has the option I've found that Kwik Star has the cheapest milk, bread and bananas--all staples in our house. A loaf of Honey Wheat is normally $1.19 with the special of 2/$1.99 this month. They have all sorts of other varieties also at extremely cheap prices compared to the name brands at the grocery store. (We don't eat plain white bread, although it's only $.79 every day at Kwik Star.)

How are you doing on any savings goals?

News from the trenches...

Curling iron
Emily had her first encounter with a curling iron yesterday. Unfortunately, the curling iron won. She brushed her arm against it while I was putting on mascara. She was pretty tough, though and cried for less than 20 seconds. She's got a nice little mark to show for it. :o(

Bathtub battles
After a 5-day strike I finally got Emily to sit down in her bathwater last night. I filled the tub extra full and kind of tricked her. She then had fun playing in the water for 20 minutes. She especially enjoyed "swimming" on her tummy and experimenting with sticking her tongue and/or face in the water. :o)

I've lost hope of harvesting any actual pumpkins from my experimental patch this year. A couple weeks ago the one vine with a pumpkin growing on it succumbed to powdery mildew disease and completely dried up along with at least one other vine. After my revelation about gendered pumpkin flowers I have not notice any blooming "females" and therefore, do not have any new pumpkins pollinated and started. By now it is too late to hope for anything this season. However, I do not count it a total loss. Through the hands-on experience and ongoing web research I have learned a lot about the art/science of growing pumpkins. I'm excited to try again next year with my new found knowledge and strategies. :o)

Emily's Entourage

Did you or your kids have a "lovey" you/they couldn't live without? I thought I would take the opportunity to introduce Emily's entourage since they are just as much a part of the Lorenzen family as anything. :o)

Yellow Ty Bear (a.k.a. "Mr. Bear"): This bear was a gift to Emily from her Great-Grandma Boote on her first Christmas. He is now her most devoted playmate. Emily's imagination and pretending skills are starting to blossom, and Mr. Bear takes part in most of it. Mr. Bear "eats", "drinks", "coughs", tries on shoes, holds things, balances on crib rails and is always there for a "Big Hug". :o)

Blankie Bear (a.k.a. "Blankie"): This blanket/bear combo was giving as a baby gift by one of Austin's co-workers. It has been the longest companion and the first thing Emily latched on to. She started out by sleeping with it draped over her face. She still prefers cuddling with it to sleep. Lately she uses it as a stall tactic at bedtime. As soon as we put her in her crib she throws it on the floor. If we pick it up she immediately throws it back out. But she fusses incessantly without it, so if you just go back after 2-3 minutes and chuck it in one last time she's usually fine and goes to sleep. For some reason Blankie Bear has remained gender-neutral.

Pink Blanket (a.k.a. "Blank"): This wonderful, double-sided, soft/silky blanket was a gift from Aunt Courtney. Emily likes to cuddle and/or wrap herself in it while sleeping. When she drags it around the house it reminds me of Linus from Peanuts. I, too, had a precious blanket that I slept with well into elementary school. Could this be her version?!?

Most of the time Emily requires all three members of her primary entourage. (Any given day another random stuffed animal might join them.) However, because of the multiple members it is possible to sneak one away to wash if necessary (Thank goodness!). The entourage also generally stays at home and in the house with a few small exceptions. It will be very interesting to see how long this stage lasts and if it continues to evolve. :o)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fall has arrived

Fall weather arrived rather abruptly yesterday afternoon. Emily played in her pool briefly after lunch because it was hot and humid. By the time she woke up for her nap I had put everything away and opened up the house. This morning Emily & I wore coats to walk uptown and go to the park. By afternoon I had to close all the windows again because it was getting too chilly. I even dug out some fuzzy socks and ran the little space heater in the office while I worked on the computer during nap time! Without any direct ties to the school calendar it's harder to conceptualize the passage of time, and I wasn't quite ready for the end of summer. I'm sure we'll still enjoy a few more hot days, but I guess it's time to think about putting away the tank tops and sleeveless shirts and begin seriously evaluating the status of Emily's fall wardrobe. I've been collecting things here & there, but the Denver city-wide garage sales are coming up soon, so I better get my act (and list!) together. ;o)

Emily enjoying a neighbor boy's "wheels" this morning. :o)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Just an FYI: I have updated the "Emily Growing" slide show at the bottom of the blog and the "Favorite Pictures" slide show on the left. I also added more pictures to the August Winkflash folder after this weekend. :o)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

We were blessed with beautiful weather and a fun visit from Grandma B and Aunt Courtney this weekend. Emily got to spend lots of extra time reading and playing outside while I was able to do some shopping, rest and get some stuff done around the house--including baking with or freezing 15+ cups of chopped apples from a neighbor's tree. I love summer! Below is a slide show with some picture highlights. :o)

September Savings Challenge

Today is the first day of September, and I have been inspired to participate in a September Savings Challenge. The inspiration came from a blog by owlhaven and my sister's new blog Small Town Saver, which both drew ideas from 30 Days of Nothing. In my personally modified version my goal is to cut my grocery bill in half this month. Like my sister, I tend to "lose" things in the back of the cupboards/freezer only to discover them way past their useful life or original purpose. My mini-stockpiles tend to come and go in waves. Last week I discovered I had an over-abundance of meat stashed away, which is a large chunk of the grocery bill. This, along with a pre-planned 6-day trip to visit family this month (a little bit of cheating), should help me in my quest to not only be extremely frugal with my grocery budget, but also "clean out" my freezer/stockpiles. I also intend to severely limit or completely eliminate any impulse/treat purchases and other non-essentials. I had to check myself and resist the urge to stock-up on things in August, thus defeating the purpose, but I think I'm ready.

I don't have a specific cause in mind, but I'm trying to organize a neighborhood block party at the end of the month and will probably use my personal grocery savings to justify hosting a big event. In addition, I am looking forward to seeing just how much I can cut my already tight grocery budget and learning more about true "needs" vs."wants". If this sounds like something you're interested in, please join me! I'd love to hear your comments. Please check out the links mentioned above--especially my sister's new blog. I think you'll really enjoy it, and there are lots of great everyday tips and links to more information.