Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Get Organized!!

I randomly had to take a day off from work on Monday (poor Miss Gracie had a UTI and had to go to the vet)...the kids were in school, so I basically had the whole day to myself.  As tempted as I was to stay in my PJ's, plop myself on the couch with some Halloween candy (what?  I have to do quality control to make sure what I'm going to pass out is appropriate!) and watch The Real Housewives of NJ (hot mess!), I instead forced myself to be productive.

For weeks now, I want to scream in horror every time I open up one of the closets in our bedrooms.  I don't even know what happened, or how they got so bad so fast, but it looked like a war zone in all of them.  My closet just had shopping bags exploding out of the bottom, mostly with some Christmas gifts that I've already purchased, sweatshirts spilling out of the shelves on top, and shoes thrown all over the floor.  The boys closets were both filled with clothes that dont' fit them any more, but needed to be sorted by size then placed into bins to go up to the attic; instead, I had started piling them up in bags in their closets, but those bags were overflowing at this point.  The closets needed some serious attention.

Here is Jake's closet, the before & after favorite organization piece for the boys' clothes are these hanging things with slots in them; perfect for pants, sweatshirts, etc..without having to stuff every single piece of clothing into the dresser.

After!  ahhh....

Here is the discarded pile of clothes that no longer fit him....later placed into bins and ready to go to the attic!

And here are some before/after shots of his dresser drawers.  It's amazing what a difference just taking everything out and refolding it can make!

PJ drawer before
after taking out clothes that don't fit, I was able to split the PJ's into 2 drawers
shirt drawer before
folded-ta da!

Unfortunately, I didn't get a before shot of Liam's closet (but trust me, it was bad), but here is the after!

And my closet:

pay particular attention to the bottom....
much better!


This project literally took me about 5 hours...I was exhausted and my back hurt by the end of the day, but it was so worth it!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zoo Boo!

We look forward to Zoo Boo every year; it's just a great excuse to get another use out of the Halloween costume and of course, we always have fun at the zoo.  My mom was able to join us for the fun this year, too!

Jake wasn't too interested in seeing many of the animals this trip, mainly because he was so distracted and intrigued by all of the other kids in costume.  It was like he was meeting a celebrity every time he saw someone dressed up, it was so sweet.  He even introduced himself as Batman to a few kids and asked if they wanted to be his friend :)  And, he found a girlfriend at one was hilarious to watch him interacting with her.  He was giggling, trying to follow her around...totally smitten!

Liam power napped through most of the trip, but he did so in style, sporting his zebra costume.  

Lion Costume: ur doing it wrong

If you don't get the title of this post, please head over to the Lolcats website for a good laugh.

Here is Jake, after stuffing himself into Liam's lion costume (size: 6 months) and enthusiastically declaring, "Mommy! I think it fits me!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review: Commencement (Courtney Sullivan)

Commencement by Courtney Sullivan

Description from amazon:
There is a curious thing that happens to nearly all of us in the haze of our post-college years, and that is this: we anticipate the prospect of becoming honest-to-God adults with both heady excitement and unfathomable dread. Dread because we know, wisely, that once we cross this threshold, we cannot go back; there is no sleeping in past eleven, no immature antics that can still be written off to childhood, no phoning our parents when the checkbook hits zero. Excitement because it is such a relief to evolve into something bigger than we were before, to embrace the world as ready, steady grown-ups. And J. Courtney Sullivan, via her debut novel, Commencement, explores these very complexities and growing pains of leaving behind our adolescences and surrendering to adulthood.

This is one of the better books I've read this year, I flew through it, devouring the pages, particularly the sections that were set when the girls were still in college.  I found myself relating to so many things that were discussed in the book....staying up all night talking to your roommate about nothing and everything, planning your entire class schedule around how late you can sleep in, essentially having your entire day revolve around meal times with friends, doing silly things in the dorms just because you could (In my case I distinctly remember doing things like trick or treating in our apartment in December, having water fights in the dorm with some guys down the hall, and "ice skating" in the community bathroom with a bunch of girls, using papers on our feet to skid across the floors at 2am) and so on.  The story flips back and forth between the time spent in college, and after graduation, following the girls as their friendship evolves over time to adjust to adulthood, which is part of what made the book so could really see why these girls (women) came to be the people they were when you were seeing what they came from in years past.

Up next: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt (Beth Hoffman)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

$$$ Money, money, money, money!! $$$

Once you live on your own, is there ever a time in your life when you don't find yourself talking or thinking about money?  It's obviously a conversation that takes place frequently in our house because...well, we're the ones paying the bills! (how much should we put aside for college for each of the boys?  how much are we each contributing to our retirement funds? the list goes on and on), but it's also a conversation that I find myself having with friends, coworkers, etc....everyone wants to save money!  I am, by no means, an expert, but I do consider us to be a pretty frugal family, and I absolutely love getting a bargain.  So, here are a few things we do to try and save a few dollars each month (mostly food related):
  • Non-food related: we asked for a programmable thermostat last year for Christmas.  After quite an effort to get it installed ("Easy 15 minute installation" advertising on the package was a bunch of BS!), I will say that it was definitely worth it!  I was running the AC pretty much constantly in the month July since it was so hot and I was still home on maternity leave, so I didn't bother with programming it.  But, I went back to work at the beginning of August and programmed it to not really run for the 9+ hours that we're not there; doing that made a difference of almost $50 in our monthly electric bill!! 
  • Coupons: I stopped getting the sunday paper (our subscription ran out and I'm holding out on renewing until they offer me a better deal!), but I get at least one packet of coupons in the mail with all of the ads every week.  I also get my mom's leftover coupons once she's gone through them, and we do a coupon exchange at work where we all bring in our stash and clip the leftovers (dorky?  maybe...but it saves!)
  • Stock pile: If I have a coupon, I stock up, even if we don't need it right at that minute.  Fortunately, we have the storage space to do this (for both food and other products, like cleaning supplies, shampoo, soap, etc...)  For example, had you opened up my pantry a few months ago, you would have found about 10 boxes of Kashi cereal bars; they're one of Jake's favorite snacks, and they were .75 off per box at Target that week, and I had coupons for $1 off of 3 boxes.  So, I stocked up!   I do the same thing with meat; I buy the huge packs of chicken breasts and ground beef, then divide it up and freeze it.  Oh!  And diapers!  I have a few boxes of diapers in my laundry room right now because Babies R Us had some great sales a few weeks back (if you bought 2 boxes of diapers, you got a $25 gift card, AND they let you use manufacturers coupons along with that)  I'm not on a hoarding level or Extreme Couponing or anything like that, but I will buy some extra products, within reason.
  • Aldi: I LOVE Aldi.  I especially love the fact that Aldi is about a 2 minute drive from my house, just across the street from our development.  The prices are just so unbelievably low, especially on produce. We normally made a weekly trip here to get mostly fresh items, like fruits and veggies, cheese, eggs, milk, bread (they sell whole wheat that doesn't contain high-fructose corn syrup, that's hard to find!)  It's also a great place to get canned goods, salad dressing, etc....
  • Walmart: *GASP* I know, I shop at Walmart.  I'm sure many people think I should hang my head in shame, but I don't really care all that much.  It's about a 20-25 minute drive from my house, so a bit out of the way, but I would rather drive that distance than go to the Giant Eagle by my house any day.  The prices at Giant Eagle are so out of control, it drives me crazy.  And I know, some people "shop the sales" and GE (or other local stores) and it ends up being as cheap as Walmart in those cases or maybe even a bit cheaper...but when I want to shop, I want to get everything in one big trip.  I don't feel like having to wait until the next week to pick up some cereal when the price drops to a reasonable amount at another store, when it's always that price at walmart.  So, there's my plug for the evil empire...they should pay me for this promotion! I usually do one big monthly trip to Walmart, then pick up what we need for in between at Aldi and occasionally Target if I'm there getting something else anyway.
  • Check the date: stores mark down the price of meat as it nears the expiration date, so I always check that section first.  If I can't use it that day or the next, I just freeze it.  I've been able to get some great bargains on steaks, roasts and stew meat from doing this.  And if I notice the date is within 2 or 3 days but the meat hasn't been marked down, I take it to an employee to have it marked down. 
  • Flexibility: With the exception of a few items, I'm not really brand loyal to anything.  If the generic is cheaper, I buy that.  If I have a coupon for something and that brand ends up being cheaper at that time, I get that. 
That's all I have for you.  Now go forth and save, my friend!!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Road Trip!

We took a road trip this past weekend that served 2 purposes: 1, to visit Brian's family and 2, to meet our friend's new baby girl!  (our friends live in Texas, but their parents happen to live near Brian's family, so they were having a "meet the baby" party while in town...worked out well for us!)

We drove out on Friday morning and unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate for a trip to the pumpkin patch as we had hoped, but it was good for baking cookies and building forts with Aunt Amy!

The weather was much better on Saturday, so Brian & PopPop decided to take Jake to a nearby state park to walk the trails and throw some walnuts into the stream...he had a blast!

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of baby Nicole at the party, but trust me, she was a cutie!  later that afternoon, Joy & her family stopped by to visit.  Joy was completely initiated into Liam's circle of friends when she picked him up above her head and he promptly spit up, within a centimeter or so of her mouth.  close call!  

Brian's aunt & uncle also stopped by later that evening, so we were able to have lots of visits in such a short period of time.   

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guessing game!

Our boys, at almost the exact same age...can you tell who is who?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recent Jake quotes

*He came into the room while I was pumping one day, stopped dead in his tracks and said, "Mommy!  You are making so much milk!  Baby Liam is going to be so happy!"

*The song "Black and Yellow" came on the radio in the car one day and Jake immediately asked me to turn it off.  When I asked him why he didn't want to hear it he said (with that "duh" tone to his voice), "The Steelers do not play today, mommy so we can't listen to a Steelers song."

*After going to a Scooby Doo themed birthday party, Jake requested to start watching the show; it's become his new favorite, but he refers to it as "Scooby Dooby" :)

*He always gives me a full report when I pick him up from school as to whether or not he had any Liam sightings that day.  If he didn't actually see Liam himself, he will tell me, "I couldn't see baby Liam in the baby room today, but I did see his car seat in the window.  I checked on it for you.  It was ok."

*He was having a hard time settling down to go to sleep one night recently, so I told him that if he wanted to, he could leave his nightstand lamp on until he was ready to go to sleep as long as he was quiet.  I guess he hadn't heard lights being referred to as "lamps" before, because his eyes grew huge and he said "Lamp?  Is there a genie in there??".  The look of disappointment on his face when I had to break the news that there was no genie was heartbreaking... 

Super Jake!!

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