Friday, February 21, 2014

Why am I here?

The "here" in the title is referring to this blog.  Why am I here, blogging a few times a week?  Putting my thoughts out there into cyberspace?  I thought about this shortly after Christmas; I hadn't blogged for awhile (hellooooooo, holiday hiatus) and I briefly considered just not doing it anymore.  Not opening it back up, not writing another post, not sharing any more pictures. Nothing.  The end.  Would anyone really care?   At the time, I felt like I had too many pictures to share, too many holiday events to recap...just too much.

But I couldn't do it.  I had to come back.  Obviously that's what happened, since I'm here now! But I came back with a fresh perspective.  The nice thing about having a blog that is not related to my job, and a blog that does nothing to contribute financially to our family is that I'm not on a deadline.  No one is breathing down my neck or caring that my Christmas pictures get posted a month after the holiday.   So what's my motivation?  Why did I come back?

I started this blog shortly after Jake was born; I was on maternity leave in the winter with a lot of time on my hands, and a lot of friends and family out there who don't live close by. (here is the very first blog post on this site, 2/19/2008:   I thought the blog would be a nice place to share the pictures and videos I was constantly taking, and even more importantly, share the moments.  The moments that I didn't want to forget, and the moments that my sleep-deprived brain would often neglect to remember to share when I would talk to loved ones.

It didn't take too long before I realized that I'm a much better blogger than I am a scrapbooker, or even a basic baby book keeper.  I failed miserably in those areas.  But here, on this blog?  For some reason, it was easier for me to come here and record Jake's most recent weight at his pediatrician appointment, or his new word that he learned, or a cute thing he did during the day.  It was a two birds/one stone kind of thing: I was documenting his childhood and everything I wanted to remember, AND I was sharing that info with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and anyone else who cared to follow along.

Since then, this blog has become my catch all....a place to keep track of the books I've read, recipes I've enjoyed, house projects, and more. Not only has the material expanded, but we as a family have expanded since the beginning of the blog.....this was a place for me to share news and feelings on a second baby, a second home, and everything else that has shaped us into the family we are.  I've written posts about our house buying and moving process, documenting my pregnancy with Liam, and stories and challenges about raising the kids.  This blog has become the story of our family.

I have also found that it's a good place to share my vents and thoughts on things, especially parenting things. It's not only therapeutic to know get it all off my chest, but also to know that there is an ever so slight chance that maybe someone else will stumble across my blog and come across a post that is helpful to them when they're feeling the same way.  Or are scared about something.  Or just want to see if any other kids are doing what their kids are doing.  I can't tell you how much time I spent scouring random blogs when I was pregnant with Liam and experiencing all of the issues with my blood pressure....I wanted to find hope, I wanted to read that other people had also been through pre-e once before and didn't get it again.  I wanted to know that a baby could be born before 37 weeks if need be and be fine.  I wanted to know that I wasn't alone. Or even less drastic day to day searches that I've found myself doing....what does a 9 month old baby usually eat? How can I help my kid prepare for kindergarten?  Those are all things that I've searched for and found advice and support on blogs, so who knows?  Maybe someone will find that same sense of "ok. it's ok, someone else has done this, too" on my blog.   And maybe this blog is what I need to be able to work through some things, and just get out there into the cyber world what frustrations I'm having, as well as what things I'm most proud of.  And at the rate I'm going, this blog will be the only record of any milestones or small memories I may have of the kids! 

Regardless of the exact reason, I've realized that I've come this far and I'll hold onto the blog for now.  I love looking back at old posts and reading stories about the kids, or seeing how much they've grown.  I've seen sites that turn your blog into a memory book of goal is to one day do that.  One day, down the road...for now, I'll keep filling it up with things to include in that book.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"I'm your little!"

I've mentioned on here before that Liam's nickname has become "Little" of the nickname can be found here.  The other day, Liam was smothering me in kisses and hugs, and I said "aww, you're my lovey Liam, aren't you?" and he replied with, "No, I'm not.  I'm your little!"  :) 

Who can argue with that?  Let's just keep it that way, shall we, Liam?  You're just going to stay little forever, that's what we agreed on....right?? 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Broadway Baby

Liam loves to sing, and once he decides that he likes a song, watch out!  That's all he will want to listen to.  Right now, his top song selections are 2 songs from Frozen (Do You Want to Build a Snowman? and Let it Go) and One Republic's "Counting Stars".  This video is a compilation of those three faves:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Telling the truth.

Every night at dinner, Brian asks the kids what their favorite part of the day was (since he gets home so late, dinner is really the first chance he gets to talk to them in the evening)  Jake's usual response to this question is gym, recess, or lunch.  However, when Brian asked him one day last week, we were met with a brief moment of silence, followed by some shifting around in his chair, followed by this:

Jake: um....not getting on a warning space.

Me:  Oh.  Were you on a warning space yesterday?

Jake: Yes, it was my first time on a warning space.  Only one time!

Me:  Ok. Well, let's talk about it...what happened that you found yourself on the warning space?

Jake: I was talking in class.  I told on myself.

Me:  What do you mean?

Jake: Well, my teacher was trying to tell us something and I was talking, but she couldn't see me.  Giovanni gets on a warning space a lot for talking, and she thought it was him.  She was going to move him to a warning, but he wasn't was me! So I raised my hand, and I told her that it was me and not him. 

Brian looked at me at that point and just shrugged his shoulders, probably thinking the same thing as me....what do you say to that?  Do I even need to discuss the fact that he was talking, when really, I was just proud that he confessed to something that he did, rather than letting his friend take the fall?

The subject quickly changed at the table as the natives grew restless, wanting more food, more milk, or whatever the case was that night.  Brian and I talked about it while we were cleaning up the kitchen, and as we were tucking him in that night, we talked about both things to him.

It's funny the things that you find you're most proud of as a parent.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday mornings are hard for everyone.

In keeping with the spirit of the "uncensored" part of the name of this blog, I will share a video with you that Brian sent to me at 8:35am this morning that is solid proof that things are not always cheery and fun in our house....especially when there are 2 kids who don't want to go back to school on a Monday, got too distracted with playing to eat a proper breakfast, and choose to cry that they're hungry right when they're supposed to be walking out the door to catch the bus. Oh, and one of them has a teeny tiny obsession with mommy and gets very weepy if I'm not there.

Happy Monday, everyone!! :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Grocery Store Showdown: Round 2!

 If you're just joining us, check out my introductory post here that explains why I'm shopping around for the best prices in town!

After swearing I'd never do it, I found myself pushing my cart around Giant Eagle, examining prices and trying to remember what the same items cost in other stores.  Some things I buy so much I have the price memorized (take Nutrigrain bars for example...I know that at Walmart and Target, they run about $2.69, target sometimes has sales for $2.49)  Giant Eagle had them for $3.09, so I skipped buying those and knew I could grab them at Target next time instead.

Ok, let's get to the comparing!  These are the prices taken from the receipts of both Walmart and Giant Eagle.  I will also factor in coupons and try to indicate if the item was regular price vs. sale price at Giant Eagle.

Honey Nut Cheerios (Family size box)
Walmart: $4.48
Giant Eagle: $4.39
Winner: Giant Eagle

Whole Wheat Penne (store brand)
Walmart: $1.00
Giant Eagle: $1.00 (on sale from $1.09)
Winner: Tie due to the sale

Campbells Kids Soup
Walmart: $1.58
Giant Eagle: $1.00 (on sale from $1.60)
*I had a coupon for these soups, .40 off of 3 cans; since GE doubles coupons, that went to .80.  So the price per can when taking the coupon into account came down to just .73 per can!)
Winner: Giant Eagle due to sale, normal price is a tie....unless of course, I have a coupon, then Giant Eagle is the winner :-)

Yoplait Kids Yogurt (4 pack)
Walmart: $1.78
Giant Eagle: $2.00
*I had a coupon both times I went to these stores, so taking that .35/2 coupon into account, here is the math for that:
Walmart with coupon: $1.78 x 2 = $3.56 - .35/2 (coupon) = $3.21 for 2 packs / 2 = $1.60 per pack
Giant Eagle with doubled coupon: $2 x 2 = $4 -.70/2 ( doubled coupon) = $3.30 for 2 packs /2 = $1.65 per pack
Winner: Walmart, by just a bit

Ritz Peanut Butter Crackers
Walmart: $2.48
Giant Eagle: $2.39 on sale ($2.58 regular price)
Winner: Giant Eagle for sale price, Walmart for regular price

Frozen Veggies (same size bags)
Walmart: .98
Giant Eagle: $1.00 on sale (regular price $1.50)
Winner: Walmart in either case; though to be fair, the walmart veggies were the great value brand; I purchased Birds Eye at Giant Eagle since that's what was on sale for $1.  I will need to check next time to go to see if the Giant Eagle brand is closer to $1 regular price.

Looking over that list, I'd say taking those items into account, it's pretty much a tie.

I'll continue to do a bit more research (hopefully comparing some of these items to Target and Aldi), but as it stands now, I'd say that if I choose to switch to Giant Eagle, I'm not going to be paying an enormous amount more, though I do think GE still has drawbacks (why is it so insanely crowded all.the.time??  Why are the aisles not arranged in a logical manner?)  So the question will be: are those drawbacks enough to send me back to my 30 minute drive to Walmart?  We shall see....

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Grocery Store Pricing Showdown: Round 1

Where do you do your shopping?  For years, I've done the majority of my grocery and household items shopping at Walmart.   It's cheap, you can avoid crowds if you hit it at the right time, and I can get everything there (food, household items, paper products, etc) 

My usual routine was to go to Walmart about once a month.  I would stock up on items as much as I could, then supplement in the in between weeks at other places.  We have an Aldi about 2 minutes from our house, which is amazingly convenient and cheap.  Aldi is great for produce and some other common staples, so we hit that store once a week since my kids are fruit monsters. 

I have (no lie) 3 Targets within a 10 minute radius of my house.  Being able to hit a Target from any nearly directly made it easy to run in there while I was out doing other stuff to grab shampoo, paper towels, milk, whatever else I needed.  I would also go about once a month to Sam's Club, mostly to get meat.  I would use some that week, then freeze the rest, which would last us through that month or so.

So to recap, that was going to Aldi once a week, Target about every other week, Sam's Club once a month, and Walmart once a month.  It really isn't too bad, except there's one drawback: the closest walmart to our house is about 25-30 minutes away.

I don't know when it started to bother me, but at some point, it did.  So going once a month slowly turned into going every 6 weeks or so.  I would dread going there, and spending nearly an hour in the car there and back really started to bother me.  And since I was going so infrequently, my cart there was getting fuller and fuller to the point where it was almost, pushing this giant cart overflowing with groceries, probably looking like I live with 20 people.  Unloading the car and putting the groceries away was a marathon.  The last time I was there, loading up my car (in the rain, to add insult to injury!) I thought to myself that it was time to simplify. 

I've never made it a secret that I despise shopping at Giant Eagle.  The store closest to my house has a terrible layout, is crowded no matter when you go, and historically, has very high priced items. 


That store that I despise so much is about 3 minutes from my house. And, I had noticed that despite the fact that in previous years I know that store had ridiculous prices, recently when I would run in there for something or glance at their ad, it seemed as though maybe they were becoming a bit more reasonable.  They also double coupons up to .99 and you earn Fuel Perks.  Maybe it was time to reconsider? 

Stay tuned for round 2, where I compare some Walmart prices to Giant Eagle.....

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It's SNOW time!

While I can't say that *I* have particularly enjoyed the massive amounts of snow we've had recently, there are some people in my house who have.  Those people definitely include Jake and Brian, and sometimes Liam. He went out this past weekend and had a blast, but it was close to 50 degrees.  The weekend before that, I opened the door to ask him if he wanted to go out, he shivered and said "No way!  It's too cold.  Let's color."  Jake then tried to persuade him to go out with him, saying that he "needed a sled riding sidekick", but Liam was having none of it.  He looked up from his latest masterpiece that he was coloring and yelled "Jakey!  I said NO!"

But, as I said, he did make it out this past weekend and had a blast.  He even tested out some skis while he was out there :)  Some teaser pics:

Here is a video him giving it a go (unfortunately, it's sideways and I can't seem to fix it.  Sorry!):

Brian built a little jump, which Jake loved of course:

And then it was time for some good ol' fashion sled riding:


So how about your family...loving the snow or ready for spring?? 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bye bye, binky!!

I can't believe I never posted about this...and I thought the day would never come that I would be posting about it...but we have officially said GOODBYE to the binky! (or, the "meep meep", as Liam so affectionately called it) 

You guys, this was seriously huge.  I thought I would be tearing that thing out of his mouth the night before he went to kindergarten.  He didn't use them during the day, but at night and nap?  He LOVED them.  He had named them all.  There was Greenie, Other Greenie, Circlely, etc...and they were all his beloved meep meeps.  He would lay in bed and talk to them.  He took inventory every night at bedtime to make sure they were all still there.  Did I mention the fact that he actually TALKED TO THEM AT NIGHT?? 

I didn't know what to do.  He was 2.5 and becoming more emotionally attached by the day.  We would talk to him about how he was becoming such a big boy, he should give the meep meeps to babies who didnt' have any, the meep meep fair was going to name it, we tried it.  The funny thing was, he hadn't used them to nap in school for months.  One day, the teacher there just said to him, " are getting to be a big boy, you don't need those.  Let's try nap today without, ok?" and he just handed them over.  Like it was nothing!  I asked him to hand them to me one day, just to see what he'd say since it went so well for her, and he proceeded to start shoving them in his clothing to hide them. 

Since I knew based on school that he didn't need them, I was aiming to have him drop them by the new year (this was back in the beginning of November)  One night as I was putting him to bed, I started to plant the seeds, talking a bit more about what a big boy he is.  To my surprise, he popped the meep meep out of his mouth, handed me the rest of the collection and said, "I no need these.  I a big boy"  I told him I was proud of him, and took them out of the room with me, seriously expecting him to start yelling within minutes. 

It didn't happen. 

It didn't happen that night.

Or the next night...or the one after that. 

Just....nothing.  2.5 years of meep meep attachment, and he just handed them to me. I was floored.  And proud.  And a little sad for him.  I know he needed to get rid of them, but I also know how much he loved them. 

While the need for the meep meep never came back, the need for "friends" in the bed came on full force.  Since he was about a year, he's slept with "Sir Barksalot", one of those little blanket lovey things with a dog head.  After the gave up the meep meeps, he started asking for more friends, one at a time. 

The collection of stuffed animals has continued to increase, and while I don't have a super recent pic to share, here is one from shortly after giving up on the meep meeps....surrounded by his new source of comfort.

There are at least 2 animals hidden under the blankets that you can't see.  So, to summarize the positives and negatives:

Positive: he gave up his beloved meep meeps on his own accord, no tears required
Negative: his stuffed animals now require their own separate bag when we travel

If anyone has seen my baby Liam around, please let me know.  That kid is obviously a big boy.

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