Friday, August 22, 2014

Toddler "Calm Down" Glitter Bottle

Isn't it pretty?

The tantrums that our toddler throws are real and very much alive. Cue this sensory "calm down" bottle I've seen popping up on the web and on pintrest. This magical bottle has been credited with helping kiddos calm down mid-tantrum simply by having them watch the pretty swirling glitter settle to the bottom. Cut to the part where this desperate momma thinks "this is the key to ending tantrums." Ha. I'm such a naive first-time mom.

Lucan does really like his glitter bottle and will shake it and play with it when he's happy. He's gladly showed it to several different visitors who have appropriately "ohhhed and ahhhed" over it. But when I tried to give it to him mid-tantrum, he promptly chucked the whole thing at my head. Not really the point of the "calm down" part. #realworldmom

But if you feel inclined to make one for your child to help them calm down mid-tantrum, far be it from me to stop you. Just don't expect miracles like I did. Foolish mommy.

The trickiest thing I encountered was finding the water bottle I wanted, which is a bottle of Artisan Voss Water, checking in at $1.47. The only place I could find it was in the health foods section of the Hy-Vee on Jordan Creek Parkway in DSM (for all you locals). Lance asked me what the bottle of fancy water in the fridge was for. I felt a little foolish telling him that I had bought it for the packaging and less about the contents. I had remembered a past co-worker ordering a bottle of Voss Water at a Christmas party in 2007 at Trostel's Dish, but I wanted to avoid going to a restaurant and ordering a bottle of water and walking out. Hy-Vee seemed like a better option. Turns out, Voss has started packaging their water in plastic bottles instead of the glass bottles I remembered. For my purposes, this probably is a plus rather than a minus. You can use any sort of container or water bottle or jar, but I wanted one that didn't scream "upcycled spaghetti jar."

The rest of the supply list include a bottle of Elmer's blue glitter glue ($2.99 at Target) and two vials of loose chunky glitter ($1 for both of them) found in the dollar section at Target. And hot water.

Step 1. Remove water from bottle and any gummy labels. 
Step 2. Using about 1/3 of your bottle of glitter glue, squirt into your bottle. (I've read to use anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottle of glue. I used more like 2/3 of the bottle, which I probably shouldn't have. The more glue you use, the longer it will take for the glitter to settle to the bottom = antsy toddler)
Step 3. Add hot water (I just used hot tap water and ran it for a couple of minutes) and shake rapidly to incorporate with the glitter glue. Hot water makes it easier for everything to come together.
Step 4. Add in your chunky glitter to your liking.
Step 5. Fill the rest of the bottle with water.
Step 6. Shake vigorously and enjoy your falling glitter! 

I hope you feel calmer after making this. I brought it to work for all of my co-workers to play with and they are all planning on making ones for themselves. So even if it doesn't work for your toddler, it might help the adults in your life :) It's a partial pintrest win.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

True Confessions: a month of budget fails.

I know that I have a tendency to be equally encouraged by people’s budget fails as their good deals. That’s the nice person I am :)
But realistically, sometimes it’s a good reminder to see other people’s humanity and erring ways. Most months we do pretty well when it comes to our budget. There’s usually not a ton left at the end, but I view it like tax returns: as long as I’m not in the red, close is pretty good because it means that we accurately predicted exactly where we should be. 

July, on the other hand, was a majorly red month. I knew that July would be a more expensive month because I needed to buy a couple of wedding and shower gifts, but I didn’t plan for anything else out of the ordinary. Normally we get by just fine on those types of assumptions. What we didn’t plan for was the Grand Am to die in the middle of a busy intersection over the 4th of July. So we certainly didn’t plan for almost $340 in repair work or another $260 in replacing the back tires for the same car. Normally all of those things would come out of some sort of emergency savings account. We do have a small amount set aside for car repairs, but it’s something piddly like $150. In light of the fact that out of the three cars we own, there is a total of 32 years and 467,200 miles between them, we should probably have a more robust savings account for that area. (Lance, math genius he is, calculated that our cars have been around the globe a little less than 19 times at 24,902 miles each trip).

And while I knew that we were going to have to shell out money to replace my dead Nikon D200, I hadn’t settled on a model or a final amount. I bit the bullet and bought a new Nikon D3200 for $475 off of Amazon because I knew that I’d want to take lots of pictures at the State Fair in August (which incidentally Lance left my camera at home thus negating one of the main reasons for the camera purchase). 

In regards to the gifts that I really didn’t think to factor into the budget, I talked with another friend who was attending the same wedding and split some of the wedding gift costs. I tried to make smart decisions about the shower gift basket I put together (wedding night themed: utilizing a basket and champagne flutes I already had; going to Trader Joes for the gourmet foodstuffs; not getting food items that would have to be refrigerated, etc.) As a result those gifts didn’t really cost me as much as I had originally thought they might. 

On the flip side, July is actually an example of God’s provision. Lance’s employee referral bonus was finally added onto his paycheck (just two months late) and we received an FSA reimbursement check for dependent care. Not to mention that Lance has been receiving his sales bonus checks which we’ve been using to make additional loan payments but this month used to help with unplanned expenses. 

So there's our budget fails for July. Feel encouraged :) 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Gender Reveal: Girl

Congratulations it’s a girl. Wow. Shocker to say the least.

I think in every mom’s heart there is the desire for a daughter. At least if I’m being truthful with myself, I really hoped for a girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lucan wholeheartedly but there is something to be said about the bond of a mother and a daughter. Lucan is more than I can ever ask for but I’m quite certain he won’t be wearing gold glitter polka dot leggings. Lance and I will probably keep our family numbered at four, so I knew this was it. Ever since the start of this pregnancy, I had repeatedly told myself that I would not allow myself to be heartbroken if I ended up being the mom of all boys. God knows what he's doing and would know if I would be better suited to being a boy mom. So I left it at that.

I know that I’ve mentioned that Lance has his conviction that second children don't get as much special attention as first children, so he wasn’t content to find out the baby’s gender at the doctor’s office like normal people. When we had Lucan we had a big brunch with our families and found out with everyone at the same time. It was fun, but more work then I really wanted to put myself (or my mom) through. And after four and a half months, I just plain wanted to know. But that type of thinking was not amenable to dear husband.

When we went to the OB/GYN’s office, I was a little confused that we had our OB appointment before the ultrasound. But I figured they had a better idea of these things than I did, so I went along with it. Lo and behold, I had my OB appointment scheduled but not my ultrasound. DISAPPOINTING. So five days later, I had my OB appointment and my ultrasound. In the ultrasound technician’s office she briefly told us to close our eyes and then fifteen seconds later, she told us we could open them again. Based on that alone, Lance and I were fairly certain that this baby was a boy.

Cut to six days later. July 30, National Cheesecake Day at the Cheesecake Factory. Both of our sets of coworkers were beside themselves waiting to find out boy baby or girl baby. A couple of Lance’s coworkers convinced Lance to give them the card with the gender written on it and they would call into the Cheesecake Factory and have them bring out our cheesecake revealing the baby’s gender. Pretty cute, huh?! So as we got settled in with appetizers and such, Lance talked to our server and made sure everything was arranged. And then this happened:

Needless to say we were both left speechless. Lucan was busy stuffing himself full of chocolate flavored whipped cream while we both hugged and sat in stunned silence. There's nothing like finding out the gender to make everything being really real, really fast. Our friends and family have been so excited about the news and keep saying things like "Lucan is one of the most adorable children ever, but this baby, wow, she's going to be so cute!!" I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed by "how cute" this child is supposedly going to be.

We will be going to see this kiddo monthly until the end. After my ultrasound, the doctor said there is
a spot on my placenta they're concerned about and will be monitoring the growth of the baby to make sure this spot isn't interfering with her development. It's my prayer this pregnancy will continue smoothly and that the most exciting time will have been finding out that we're blessed with a daughter! (PS: should we start saving for a wedding, like now? Just kidding. Sort of.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

31 Things to Be Thankful for in July

Better five days late than never?!

1. Living in a free country and getting a 3 ½ day weekend without having to take a single vacation day.
2. Seeing our baby via ultrasound. Always memorable.
3. Celebrating nine years of marriage and all the good and bad that comes with those nine years. We went to Kansas City at the end of June and called that our anniversary celebration.
4. Celebrating the marriage of two special people and seeing a whole bunch of college friends to boot!
5. Having a helpful, handy husband. The Pontiac left me stranded in a very busy intersection over the 4th of July holiday and Lance managed to replace the fuel pump and the EGR valve (don’t ask me what it does, that’s not my forte) by the end of the week. AND he got his old crappy car working in the meantime. Three car family!!
6. Lance also made progress on painting the exterior of our house. See what I mean, helpful and handy!
7. Nothing in our garden has died yet – with the caveat that the lettuce and spinach don’t count because they never really had a fighting chance to begin with.
8. Swimming at my parents’ house and seeing Lucan delight in the act.
9. Local sweet corn! Yum, delish!
10. Having my mother-in-law come to our house and babysit Lucan while we went to my friend’s wedding.
11. Fun date night with just the small group adults at one of our most favorite restaurants, Flying Mango.
12. Sweet, succulent nectarines, juicy as can be.
13. Tractor rides for my boys.
14. Trips to the chiropractor.
15. Mild summer weather. Being pregnant calls for mild weather.
16. Long car trips filled with adult conversation.
17. Lucan’s funny chocolate covered face after I let him lick the bowl to the chocolate cake I made. 18. Attending the craziest parade in DM – Urbandale 4th of July parade. We’ll not be reliving that one again in the immediate future.
19. Fantastic yoga classes at Studio B Yoga.
20. Sleeping. I’ve not had problems to date with pregnancy interrupting my sleep patterns.
21. Clean bill of health from my dentist.
22. Comfy skirts and dresses that stretch. Just say yes to elastic.
23. My new Nikon D3200.
24. Quiet, home-based weekends.
25. Watching my friends live out their trials of life in a faith-based way.
26. Friend conversations.
27. Gender reveal parties at the Cheesecake Factory.
28. Homemade pesto from garden basil
29. Finally figuring out how to utilize Wilbor to borrow e-books from the library. My kindle is grossly underused and I need to change that.
30. Simply Raspberry Lemonade. It always tastes good.
31. Quality friend time with Molly watching trash television (Bachelorette finale). Because nothing says friendship like trash television.
Hospers RAs minus Nicole. We missed her greatly at Rae Rae's wedding! (baby Brock is standing in for Nicole)

Pregnant me, the beautiful bride, Rachael, and lovely bridesmaid Molly

Adorbs picture at the DM Farmer's Market with Cubby Bear. Lucan wanted to give Cubby Bear a high-5!

Gender reveal dinner at Cheesecake Factory/ 1/2 off cheesecake day! Can you see Lucan's binoculars?

Silly boy with short hair.

This kiddo is fearless. "I just love Gramp-er's big pool. We should get a big pool."

Morningside College's production of "Honk." Sadly, it did not go the best and ended up with me bodily hauling Lucan away and tears.

But it was a good time for most everyone else: namely my nephew, Wyatt, and my niece, Andrea.

Lucan, on the other hand, was more concerned with the sewer.

Wyatt and Lucan are six months apart in age. Wyatt very much enjoyed sitting in Lucan's "Cars" chair.

Tractor rides at papa's house are always exciting!

Silly boy in the corn.

Bucket calf named ... er ... Light something. I think Half-light. My in-laws have named all of the calves this spring/summer after some sort of "light" and I've sort of lost track by now.

Monster basil plant. You can't even tell I made a big batch of pesto.

Enjoying a cider doughnut at the Farmer's Market. One of the more reasonably priced items that isn't too terribly messy.

I made a chocolate zucchini cake. Lucan enjoyed himself. And the cake batter. (Yes, raw eggs. I know, I know.)

A clean bowl and spatula. And a very happy boy.

My coleus plants and geranium pot looks great. Go figure, my mom repotted it and it looks a million times better now. All of my pots: dead/dying.