Friday, December 31, 2010

20 Weeks

I cannot believe I am already halfway through this pregnancy.  Time has gone so quickly!  We have been busy with holiday planning and preparation lately, so things have seemed to move even faster the past month or so.  I have been doing some prepartion for this little one though, and I wanted to share.  First, I bought Baby's first outfits about a month or two ago.  I found a good clearance deal at ToysRUs and just couldn't resist.  Of course, not knowing the sex of the baby, I had to splurge and get two outfits for each.  (Did I mention what a great deal I found?!)









My belly is enlarging.  This picture was taken the day after Christmas, and I believe my husband worked some magic camera angles to make me look better than I do in real life!

I saved the most exciting part for last.  We had our ultrasound yesterday.  We had decided to go ahead and find out the sex of the baby this time around.  We waited and were surprised with the princess, and we loved that decision.  This time, I wanted the experience of knowing beforehand and being able to plan.  Here are some pictures:
 
Face profile - face on left, pointing up

Very clear shot of the spine

Both forearms - belly on right

Foot - lower left

Head on left, belly on right, hand by head

Both lower legs

It's a.....BABY!!!

Notice what's missing?  That's right, no gender-shot.  This is a very active baby (which I have realized since about 16.5 weeks), and he or she did not slow down enough for us to get a good look!  We do have an idea of what sex this baby is, but since we are not sure, I am choosing to keep that information off the internet at this time.  The ultrasound tech also was not able to get good film of the morphology of the baby's face, so I am holding out hope for a second ultrasound in a few weeks.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Oliver's Labels (Product Review)


I have a two year-old daughter. She does not go to daycare or preschool yet, but she is in the church nursery every Sunday.   Many Sundays when I go to pick her up, I find her holding another child's sippy cup.  This is nobody's fault; this is simply the life of a two year-old.  As flu season approached, I decided it was important to label her sippy cups.  I cut out pieces of paper, wrote her name on them, and fastened them to her cups with clear packaging tape.  This worked well until the day the tape became dirty and I tried to remove it.  Much scrubbing was needed to remove all of the adhesive residue.

That is why I was excited to learn about personalized kids' labels from Oliver's Labels.  I browsed their website and was impressed with the selection of label designs.  I chose the polka dots design, thinking that would be cute on my daughter's belongings.  Oliver's Labels provides a "preview" function, so you can see exactly what your labels will look like before you order them.  Since my daughter has a common first name, I decided to have her last name included on the labels as well.  I also requested the optional "Found-it" code.  I love this idea:  The Oliver's Labels website is printed on my daughter's labels, along with a numerical code.  Oliver's Labels then acts as an intermediary between myself and anyone who may report a missing item they have found.  This provides a sense of security, in that none of my contact information is actually provided on my daughter's labels, yet missing items can still be returned to my possession.

A few days after I placed my order, my labels arrived.  I received the rococo design rather than what I requested.  However, since this design was too cute to resist, I did not contact the manufacturer.  I was immediately pleased with the design of the labels, and I was anxious to put them to use.

I read the enclosed, easy-to-follow instructions, and fastened the original and mini labels to my daughter's sippy cups.  After almost two weeks of daily washings, wear and tear by a two-year old, storage in a refrigerator and diaper bag, my labels still look brand-new.  I tried to peel them off (out of curiosity), and they do peel...without sticky residue!  They also reapply nicely and stay in place after reapplication.  I took my nail and tried to cause scuffs, to no avail.

 
I applied a stick-eez clothing label to my favorite pair of my daughter's jeans.  This no-iron, no-sew tag is perfect for a two-year old's clothing.  The label has stayed in place throughout 3 wash and dry cycles, yet peels cleanly so these jeans can be passed to another child later.  These labels are perfect for one who is in daycare or even going away to summer camp for a week!
Finally, my favorite:  The shoe labels.  I love that these are shaped like footprints.  How adorable.  But also, they do not bunch or slide around!  Even after playing for hours, my daughter's sweaty feet did not cause any damage to these labels.  They are durable, just as claimed! 
Overall, I am very pleased with the personalized kids' labels from Oliver's Labels.  The shipping time was excellent, and the product exceeded my expectations.  Head on over to Oliver's Labels and take a look at their great products and designs!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com and sponsored by Favorite Wigs Shop Name Brand Wigs at Low Prices! Large Wig Selection of Estetica Wigs, Quality Wigs. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merged Blogs

I finally did something I have been thinking about for awhile now:  I merged my two blogs.  Now all the content from my "Frugal Farleys" blog is available on this one.  This news really isn't all that exciting, considering I have not updated the Frugal Farley blog in a few months.  However, I do plan to restart my Walgreens Challenge in January, and I plan to post my deals on here every week.

What is the Walgreens Challenge?  It is a challenge to see how much stuff you can purchase at Walgreens in one year's time for 100 dollars or less.  I participated for a few weeks last year, but I gave up after awhile because I did not seem to be getting the deals I wanted.  (My cupboard was stocked full of free contact solution and toothpaste.)  I am ready to start again in the new year.  Is anyone else up for the challenge?  Let me know, and I will get you the details!

More details to come!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap

A few months ago, a friend of mine shared that she made her own laundry soap at home rather than buying manufactured detergent.  I thought she was crazy.  Detergent is not all that expensive.  Why would she go through the hassle of making soap herself?  Even when she said that the cost was about a penny a load, I was not convinced.  If I tried it, our clothes would perpetually smell like armpit.  Oh, and my colors would all fade away.

After doing my grocery challenge and participating in a Walgreens challenge for awhile, I decided I wanted to be a little more frugal...and a little more "Suzy Homemaker".  So...I bought the ingredients to make my own laundry soap.  They sat on the shelf for about 4 weeks.  Then I ran out of detergent (and excuses) and finally went through the crazy process of making my soap.  Much to my surprise, it only took about 15 minutes!  Why had I put it off so long?!

I got my recipe from Tipnut.com.  I use recipe #3 on that list, and all my presuppositions have been proven incorrect.  My family's clothes do not stink.  They smell fresh - though unscented.  Our colors are not fading any faster than with manufactured detergent.  And stains are still coming out of our laundry.  To sum it up:  The soap does its job!

Today I made batch #2 of my soap.  And I took pictures!  I want to walk you through the process so that you can see how easy it is!

Here are my ingedients, all purchased at Meijer in the laundry aisles for full price.
Washing Soda - $2.96 with tax
Borax - $3.63 with tax
Fels Naptha soap - $1.47 with tax

Step 1)  In a large pot, heat 6 cups of water.  Add 1/3 of the bar soap, grated, and stir until melted.  (I grate my soap with a cheese grater.  Works...grate!)  Then add 1/2  cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax.  Stir until powder is dissolved, then remove from heat.  (Below is my boiling bar soap.)
   *Note:  Be careful to stir, stir, stir - and watch your pot.  This can boil over quickly.

Step 2) In a 2-gallon clean pail, pour 4 cups of hot water and add the heated soap mixture.  Top pail with cold water and stir well.  (Below is my cooling soap, all water already added.)
*If you are not using a 2-gallon pail (like I was not...) this works out to adding 22 cups of cold water...or 1 gallon plus 6 cups... 

Step 3) Use 1/2 cup per load, stirring soap before each use (will gel).  Below is a picture of my soap, finished and ready to be used.  This picture is an attempt to show how it gels.  Yes, it is supposed ot look this way.
I put my soap in empty laundry detergent bottles and simply shake it up before each use.  My friend prefers to put hers in empty ice cream pails and stir it before each use.  Both systems work.

So what is the benefit of making your own soap?  As I mentioned before, a friend of mine makes hers for a penny a load.  I did not shop around for good deals on any of my ingredients, and today I figured out that each batch I make costs $1.19.  Each batch washes 64 loads, for a final cost of 1.86 cents per load.  That is pretty impressive when compared to Meijer's best deal this week:  Arm & Hammer liquid laundry detergent - 96 load bottle for $6.99.  This equals out to 7.28 cents per load.  Quite a savings - especially over a lifetime of use!

Have you ever made your own laundry soap?  What recipe do you use?  If you never have, do you think you might attempt it?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A 2 Year-old's Prayer

I mentioned in a previous post that the princess loves to pray.  A few nights ago as I was putting her to bed, I prayed with her.  She said "More, Suh" which was her way of asking to pray.  Her prayer went something like this.

"De De Bay Bay.  De De Dada.  Buh-bye Mama.  May May."

We have been talking about Baby Jesus, and I often say "Thank you for Baby Jesus, etc" in my prayers.  Therefore, this is my interpretation:

"Thank you for Baby (Jesus).  Thank you for Daddy.  You can go now Mama.  Amen!"

:)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Babies!

My poor neglected second child...here I am, 17 weeks pregnant, and there has only been 1 post or so about the pregnancy and the baby. 

I have been feeling great lately.  I no longer need a nap everytime the Princess does, and I can eat foods without feeling sick.  My last appointment was December 3, and the baby had a strong heartbeat and everything looked good!  We are looking forward to an ultrasound on the 30th - the only ultrasound of this pregnancy, if all goes well.  We were offered a 3D, but I told my midwife I think those are kinda creepy (and she laughed and said she agreed!)...so we'll be posting old-school pictures for you sometime after the 30th.

I need to pose for a belly shot sometime soon, since I am starting to look like there is actually a baby growing inside of me!  One of these days when my hair looks nice...  :)

So why did I title this post "Babies"?  No, I am not carrying twins (though that would be a welcome surprise)!  A lady at the church has been bringing our princess baby dolls that she has made.  Rather, she has made their outfits.  She buys the dolls used, cleans them up, and knits beautiful outfits for them.  Here are a few of the things she has made.  I love that each outfit has a matching hat and booties.  So adorable.  They each also have a change of clothes and blanket to go along with them.  She is so skilled at what she does.  I also love the little tiny baby bed you see in the picture.  The knitted part can be pulled up to make a little purse.  I am told that my grandma made me one of these when I was younger.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tot School

Tot School

Our princess is currently 23 months old.

We had a bit of a winter wonderland here this week.  This was our first real snow of the year, and of course Princess doesn't remember snow from last year.  She kept looking at it and saying "uh-oh".  Finally we took her outside so she could experience it "hands-on".  Daddy taught her to shovel.  :)  Here also is a picture of our back deck, covered with snow!
The princess enjoyed her sensory bin a bit more this week.  I am still amazed by how long she can entertain herself with these.  This week, she decided she was going to get IN the sensory bin - which was quite a feat, considering our bin is the size of a shoe box and she is a 23 month-old!
We do not get our picture taken together very often, so I had to share this one from this week:
Now on to our Christmas-themed Tot School week:  We spent some time playing with Nativities.  Our church has a Princess-sized nativity, and Princess likes to walk over there to check on Baby Jesus every now and then.  She has a VeggieTales nativity at our house, and somehow the veggies made their way into her doll house and onto her playground this week.  I think Daddy is partly to blame for that one. 




I decided it would be a good idea for the two of us to make salt-flour Christmas ornaments this week.  Here are some photos of the process.  I rolled out the dough while Princess chose some cookie cutters.

Then the two of us cut out the ornaments.  It was difficult to obtain pictures of this part of the process, considering the princess was on my lap.  :)
Here are our ornaments, ready to be baked in the oven!  Notice the circular one with her handprint inside.  Awwww!!!
After baking the ornaments came the fun part:  Painting!  Princess had a blast with this.  Of course, I only let her use washable finger paints.  This was a good idea in theory, until I realized that the fingerpaint does not sufficiently cover the flaws of the ornaments!  We stopped after about 5 ornaments, and I plan to put a base-coat of acrylic on the rest before letting her decorate with her finger paints.  That will be a project for next week.

 
















Friday, December 10, 2010

The Gift of Church

I was excited when I found out that I had the opportunity to do my first official book review.  Then I faced a difficult decision:  What book would I choose that would be pertinent to my own life, as well as to the life of you, my blog reader?

I chose Jim Samra's The Gift of Church.  I do believe the local church is a gift to Christians, and I am saddened when I hear loved ones express the frustrations and difficulties they have experienced within their own local church.  I read in anticipation, eager to find some truths that I could share with these loved ones to encourage them to persevere in their trials.

In his introduction, Samra acknowledges that the church has been hypocritical, among other things, "and worst of all has been these things while claiming to represent God".  With all the failures of the church, why is it so important for Christians to be involved?  Simply put, "God designed and created the church for our benefit and for his glory".  The church is God's idea!

Samra walks the reader through the different parts of Scripture, showing what God designed the church to be and how He designed it to function.  Samra clearly points out the difference between churches and parachurch organizations and shows the benefits that can only truly be found in churches.  He also candidly discusses possible hindrances to the community that should be found in the church.  His conclusion brings the reader back to the fact that the church is the place where "God's infinite grace is highlighted".  What a great reminder that the church is God's design, and it is intended for His glory.

I would encourage any of you who are questioning the importance of being involved in a local church to read this book.  Although the writing is somewhat difficult to follow at times, the content is excellent.  Samra does not attempt to ignore or sugar-coat the problems that are all too often found in our churches, but addresses them with candor.  Perhaps the problems in our churches actually stem from the heart attitudes of you and me.  Or perhaps the answer to the problems in our churches is actually the involvement and dedication of you and me.

* This book was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the book to the publisher. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

23 Months

Our little princess is 23 months old today.  It amazes me how quickly time has passed and how much she has grown and changed in this time period!

In honor of Princess turning 23 months today, here are 23 things you may or may not know about my girl:

1)  She loves being chased.  Especially by Daddy.  Especially when Daddy is holding her big stuffed monkey, yelling "Monkey's gonna get you".
2)  She loves to pray.  She can be in the middle of a screaming fit, and if you ask if she wants to pray, she will generally get quiet and listen...then go right back to screaming after you say "Amen".
3)  She loves to run around when she is naked.  This makes diaper changes a long process.
4)  She loves her daddy.  Anytime she hears a noise in the house during the workday, she turns to me and asks, "Dada?".  She loves to give him hugs and loves to have him tickle her.
5)  She loves to play "Night night baby" and tuck in her dolls or stuffed animals.
6)  She knows and loves her grandparents and asks about them nearly every day.
7)  She loves the Christmas tree lights and insists they are on anytime she is awake.
8)  She loves dogs and horses.
9)  She takes off her shoes and socks whenever we go anywhere in the car.
10)  She is addicted to VeggieTales and requests to watch it by asking, "Bob?"
11)  She loves when people count her toes and play "This Little Piggy".
12)  She loves books - especially her collection of "Biscuit" stories.
13)  She loves Goldfish crackers and thinks she should have some anytime she is in a moving vehicle.
14)  She loves to brush her teeth and requests to frequently.
15)  She is in a banana phase and wants 1-2 daily.
16)  She loves her Bluebeary...and her Bluebeary double!
17)  She has a current obsession with bowls.  Any food item requires a bowl - including bananas.
18)  She loves to go to church.
19)  She loves to sit at our front window and look at whatever cars are out there.
20)  She loves to color...or at least to flip through the coloring book while holding a crayon in her hand.
21)  She loves to climb stairs and requests to frequently!
22)  She has a fascination with shoes and boots.  She loves her own and likes to try on other people's as well.
23)  She loves when you sing to her.  At the end of a song, she will usually smile and say "More".

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tot School/Family Update

I have to explain my lack of posts for the past week or so.  We were out of town, visiting family in Ohio over Thanksgiving week.  We had a wonderful trip and enjoyed seeing everyone.  I just have a few photos to highlight.

First, our princess received a surprise from her Aunt J - a Bluebeary double (or doppleganger, as Aunt J refers to him).  Princess' reaction was priceless.  Daddy just handed her the new Bluebeary as she was walking past him, and she took him without thinking about it.  Then she stopped, turned him over, inspected him, looked at his tag, and repeated "uh-oh" several times before Daddy showed her that it was a double.  I wish we had thought to videotape that!
My husband taught me how to shoot a shotgun on this trip.  I had never even held a gun before, so I was excited to learn.  Unfortunately, my aim with a gun is worse than my aim with a softball.  I was told that you don't really have to aim a shotgun, you point it.  The bullets spread out as they leave the barrel, so it's easier to hit your target.  Well after five shots, my target was still intact.  Maybe next time?
 













Now on to Tot School:
  Tot School
Our Princess is currently 22 months old.

As I mentioned above, we were out of town for a little over a week, and Tot School went on hold while we were gone...and for a brief recovery period once we got home.  For the month of December, we are focusing on Christmas.  I purchased an advent calendar book the year before Princess was born, and we are using this calendar to begin a family tradition this year.  I love this calendar, because it has a tiny storybook to read each day.  Each story is short, but they lay the background and set the stage for the story of Christ's birth.  We have learned a little bit about the holy land, prophecy, and Mary so far.  Princess loves these books - probably because they are just her size.  I love that we are able to spend a few minutes as a family to focus on the meaning of the season each evening in December.
 


I also put together a Christmas/winter sensory bin to explore this month.  Most of the items in this bin were purchased from Walmart's holiday section.  We used the bin for the first time tonight, and it was a big hit.  This month's sensory bin includes red and green pipe cleaners and pom poms, snowmen erasers, "gift" table toppers, "snowflake" table toppers, a slinky, and some other type of ball thing that I do not know the name of. It is not a wide variety of objects, but she keeps herself entertained!  The princess especially loved the slinky.  :) 





Finally, the Christmas tree.  We set it up last night, and my husband suggested I make sure it was lit when the Princess got up this morning.  What a hit!  She even made sure her baby doll got a chance to enjoy it.  Oh...and we were not allowed to turn the tree lights off all day.  Princess would not allow it.  :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Flashback

Friday Flashback:

I was browsing through my pictures, and I found some from when I was dating my husband.  These are two of my favorites, taken on a trip to the lake with some friends about a month before we got engaged.  I love the expressions on our faces in this first one.  Tim is ruining yet another picture, and I am showing my obvious disapproval:
I think this one is just sweet.  I cannot remember if this was posed or candid, but I like it.  :)
I like my husband, too.  He is pretty great.  I am so thankful that I am able to be married to my best friend - a dedicated husband, an adoring father, and a giving pastor.  He is a man of integrity, and he challenges me to live for the Lord every day.  He is so much more than I ever imagined a husband could be, and I really do love him more each day.