Friday, January 30, 2009

Stomach Bug 3, Fieryboots Family 0

Remember how I thought R was maybe coming down with something the other night? Well, I was right! Apparently, R had a very mild touch of a stomach bug that was then passed onto A on Wednesday night with a vengeance. And, 13 hours later, it got me.

Now, more than a day later, I have to laugh about the whole thing. First of all, whenever I'm really sick, my recuperation and care includes a 4-year-old jumping on me and poking me every few minutes. That was last night. So, I was never more thankful than today that R had school. It gave me time to actually sleep and rest.

Then, last night, while A was putting R to bed, I forced myself to get up and set up the VCR to tape The Office (because A was going to miss it). Two minutes before the show was going to start, the TV flashed bright red and then the picture disappeared. Forever. So no TV for the sickees. Instead, I went to bed by 10, which of course is what I should have done anyway. And, even though I was entertaining thoughts of never getting another one, A is planning to go TV shopping tonight. :-)

At 3am, I woke up because R was crying and coughing terribly. I went into his room to comfort him and told him that I'd get him some cough medicine and be right back. I headed downstairs and pulled the medicine out of the cabinet. Then, it hit me. Nausea, dizziness, ears ringing. I've fainted a few times in my life, and I know the feeling all too well. I poured R's cough syrup into the little cup, but then had to slump down at the kitchen table. I was too weak to call out for A, but I knew I had to do something because R was going to start crying again any minute. After a few minutes, I got myself over to the bottom of the stairs and called for A. No response. I called two more times and got no answer. So I started up the stairs. And, then I fainted. The sound of my body hitting the stairs woke A up. He asked if I was okay, but I couldn't speak. All I could think about was the fact that I had spilled grape cough syrup all over the place. Then, R started crying again and, when A tried to help him, he flipped out. Eventually, I made my way to the futon downstairs, told A to let R come sleep with me so he would calm down (which he did), and A cleaned up the cough syrup. Fun for the whole family! The ridiculousness of it all is cracking me up now.

On the bright side: I had a whole day to myself today to sleep, read, call my mom, and watch episodes of The Office online. And, I've probably lost a few pounds from not eating for a day and a half.

I hope this bug doesn't visit any of you. It's a doozy! I'm sending you all healthy vibes.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow day activities

Our snow day went by quickly, but I felt badly for R because A and I both had to work from home so we couldn't pay as much attention to him. I had two conference calls, and A and I are both working on launching a new website for our company. We still had fun, though.

During our snack break, R and I discovered the most wonderful treat: dipping madeleine cookies in hot cocoa. Oh my goodness, it's delicious.

So we had three cookies each and then convinced A to try it, too.

R expounds upon the exquisite buttery, chocolaty-ness.

Then, R put together (again) his Lego cargo jet. (Thank you, Dad!) He did most of it by himself when I wasn't even in the room. He ran into the kitchen to show me. The thing is huge.


I don't think I've mentioned these kits before. R spent part of the day on this, too. These kits are the best! R first tried one at our friends' house on Thanksgiving, and he's been hooked ever since. We get them at Michael's crafts store for $1 each. They have all different vehicles: trucks, boats, race cars, trains, helicopters, planes, etc. And, I think they have other non-vehicle kits, too. The kit includes all the wooden pieces to put together, a set of paints and glue, a paint brush, a little piece of sandpaper, and the instructions. For $1! Isn't that crazy? They make for a great indoor activity.

No playing in the snow today because the snow changed over to ice, then rain. It's been raining for hours now, so hopefully some of the 7 inches that fell will wash away. Tomorrow the sun returns. Yay!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Surprised by random acts of kindness

At 6 p.m. tonight, I got a text message that our town's schools are closed tomorrow due to the impending storm. Minutes later, R's preschool followed suit. So, A and I decided to go out to dinner at my beloved Friendly's as sort of a last-chance-to-get-out-of-the-house-for-a-few-days effort. Plus, we had coupons. :-)

R was absolutely exhausted. He didn't want to go, even with the promise of ice cream for dessert. Huh?!? The only way we could convince him to go out was by me promising to ride in the back seat of the car with him. Awwww. R loves me more than ice cream! Hee hee.

The restaurant was short-staffed, and it took a long time to get our order in, get our food, etc. R was so tired that he didn't want to eat. (He may also be coming down with something.) Instead, he curled up on my lap and nestled into my neck. While we waited for our ice cream (we ordered it to go), he asked me to write down words on his placemat for him to practice reading.

It was then that an older woman who had been sitting clear on the other side of the restaurant came up to our table to thank us for having such a wonderfully behaved child! She told R that he was a very good boy and commented to us how it must be so enjoyable to go out to dinner with him. I was floored. What a kind thing to say! I almost told her that it was because R wasn't feeling well and was really tired, but I shut my mouth so that R could feel good about the praise without me cutting it down. And, as I thought about it more, he really is quite well behaved these days when we go out to eat. I was very proud of him.

Then, as we were about to leave, the mom at the table next to ours stopped us and asked if we had paid our bill yet. She had the same coupon book as us and wanted to share her coupons!

I was really touched by both of these small acts of kindness. I hope I can find ways to pass the love on to someone else this week.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Where it's snowing all winter through..."

I saw this when I went to Intellicast tonight to check the forecast for this week:

Here are the details that made me want to cry:

Six more inches!?!! We already have two feet of snow (at least) on the ground, and the places where the plows have piled the snow are 4+ feet high. Where are we going to put this new snow? After the last storm, I had to use my shovel like a catapult to throw the snow on top of the snowbanks. The ice dams on the front of our house still haven't melted completely. And, our neighbor's huge deathsicle has grown to about five feet long and four inches wide, with a forked end. When that thing falls, no squirrel better be beneath it or else we'll have a squirrelsicle.

Normally, I would be excited because snow = sledding and snowman-making and snowballs. But it's been too darn cold most days to play outside. I don't know how my friends in the Midwest deal with this every year!

However, I am thankful that I have a job where I can work from home on snow days if I want to or if R's school closes. I'm also thankful that R has recently become obsessed with Legos and can sit for hours assembling them. That makes being stuck inside all winter a whole lot easier. And, who knows? Maybe all this cold, cold weather is keeping some evil virus dormant and preventing it from wiping out the population of New England.

No matter what comes, though, we'll be prepared. We've got the two snowstorm essentials: lots of milk and Ghirardelli cocoa.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A milestone

Last night, we registered R for kindergarten. I've had mixed feelings about this milestone in R's life, but after meeting the teachers and the principal and the school nurse and secretary at R's future school, I'm actually excited for him to enter kindergarten in the fall. I LOVED the teachers. They were kind and smart and very down-to-earth. And, we found out that our school has the smallest class sizes in our town. The kindergarten classes right now have only 17 and 18 students, versus the 22 average across the rest of town.

The school building is more than 50 years old and is slated eventually to be completely rebuilt (budget cuts have delayed it the last few years), but the teachers said that they had no complaints about the building. And, the classrooms in our school are actually much bigger than the classrooms at the newer-built schools in town. The kindergarten has its own wing with a common space for all the K classes to gather together for special events, and its own entrance.

The teachers gave us lots of information about preparing the kids for school (activities to help with reading, math, fine and gross motor skills, etc.), which was helpful and affirming for what we've already been doing with R. And, the student body is extremely diverse, which is something that's important to A and me. So, we were really pleased with everything. The school atmosphere feels very nurturing and cozy, and I think it will be a good place for R. Yay!

Now we have to investigate the after-school care options. Apparently, the after-school programs fill up fast, so we've got to be ready with our applications as soon as registration opens.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

He knows the way to my heart - and how to maniuplate it

When R woke up this morning, he smiled and whispered to me, "Barack Obama becomes President today! Yay!"

Later (but before breakfast), he ran up to me and said, "Mommy, can I have a piece of candy? I'm very calm!"

He's been listening to me when I tell him that he can't have any candy/ice cream/cookies at certain times of day because the sugar makes him crazy. (And, boy, does it! It's almost instantaneous and frightening. He literally bounces off the walls and furniture.)

Will add more quotes as they come up. :-)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cold, snow, and Legos

We had ANOTHER snowy Sunday. It really was beautiful, and we don't mind a big storm on a Sunday when there's a Monday holiday the next day. But we are getting a teensy bit tired of the snow and cold and being housebound. Our street and neighborhood seems to be one of the last in our town to be plowed, so we're often stuck because our car is terrible in the snow. A actually asked me not to go to church this morning because he was really worried about me driving. A is not a worrier by nature, so when he expresses concern, I listen. I stayed home with my boys.

All this snow and cold has given me the chance to see R develop some new skills. For Christmas, he got several different fairly complicated Lego sets, and we have been building them, taking them apart, and then rebuilding them together. Although I really shouldn't say "we" because R has been doing it almost entirely himself. He has really amazed me with his patience and his ability to follow many, many steps in the directions to finish a Lego project. He will spend hours at a time doing it. One of the kits has something like 56 steps to it! All I do is hand him the pieces he needs; he figures out where they go and fits everything together. I am so proud of him. And, even better, he's really proud of himself.

So today was: Legos, pancakes and sausage for breakfast, hot cocoa, Legos, laundry, Legos, laundry, Legos, lunch, Legos, tea and scones, laundry, Legos, a wee bit of PBS Kids, cleaning up for dinner guests, hanging out with friends and their beautiful twins, board games with R and my friend, an amazing dinner by A, brownies and ice cream for dessert to celebrate friend's birthday, entertaining babies, crackling fire in the fireplace, watching the inauguration concert (it was so touching to see Pete Seeger up there with his son and Bruce Springsteen leading everyone in "This Land Is Your Land"), calming down a hyper happy R, saying goodbye to friends and babies, devotions with R, washing a ginormous pile of dishes, and relaxing on the couch with my blanket, a warm cat, and my laptop. What a wonderful day!

I realized tonight that our house is really small. I mean, I knew it was small but it has enough space for the three of us. The problem arises whenever we want to have any more than three people in the house. I'd love to invite a bunch of people over for dinner, but we can only do that in the summertime because then we're outside and it doesn't matter. Adding two adults and two babies to the head count in our house makes things pretty darn cramped. We're climbing over each other and shuffling behind one another to get by. There's nothing we can do about it (unless we win the lottery), but I guess it just makes me a little sad because we can't really entertain. Almost everyone on our street has the same house, and many of the families have lived here for 30+ years and raised 2 and 3 boys in those houses. How did they do that? Did everyone just have less stuff? I'm really curious how they did it.

Another snowy day tomorrow, but hopefully we can get outside and go sledding now that our temps are closer to the freezing mark. Yay! (I really don't need another day that starts out at 1 degree.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

What's happening (updated!)

Updated to add: I almost forgot! I have spent six nights in a row in my own bed all night. Tra-la-la, woohoo, yippee!!! R has woken up once in awhile, but I've been able to just tuck him back in and go back to my own room. Yay!

Our stove/oven is fine. Greg was right - it takes a REALLY long time to cool down completely from the self-cleaning cycle. And, we had mistakenly turned the selector knob to OFF too soon. The next morning, A turned the knob back to Self-Clean and the lock popped open right away. Apparently, we had interrupted the cycle. Whoops!

Speaking of A, it looks like he'll be okay at work for at least another two months. The plan is to keep him indefinitely, but of course we have no idea what will happen. At least it looks like we have some more time. Thank you, God!

We got a babysitter for this Thursday night because we have to go to the "Getting Ready for Kindergarten" meeting for parents. And, the meeting for R's specific elementary school is in two weeks, where we'll officially register him. ACK! I'm researching after-school options now because we have to cover the time between when R will get out of school (2:15) and when we get home from work (6 - and that's with leaving early!). Luckily, the options are fairly inexpensive and R won't have to go every day because A and I both work from home a day each week. I'm in denial about what we're going to do during the summers, though. We've been so lucky with his daycare/preschool/pre-K school because they're open year-round. The public school year is really designed with the assumption that there's a stay-at-home parent at home.

I haven't been to church in weeks. It's partly been because of repeated weekend snowstorms, but I'm also a having a bit of a dilemma about it. I like my church but I really, really, really hate going alone. On Sunday mornings, I want to be with my family. And, the children's church/Sunday School doesn't work for R there - he was intimidated by the environment, I think. I've actually been toying with going back to the Lutheran church I used to attend because I think there's a slight chance that A would go with me regularly AND they have a much more appealing children's church option for R (in that he actually participated and it's much shorter). Also, we have friends that are seeking a church for their family and I think it would work for all of us to go together there (they were raised Catholic, so the Lutheran church would be a little more familiar to them). But I really don't know what to do. So I'm praying about it. A lot.

My new year's ideas are working well so far. I've been eating better, exercising, getting more sleep, and I've been in a MUCH better mood. (Except for today - silly hormones are making me cry at everything. I sobbed at an episode of Frasier this morning! But I was laughing at the same time at how ridiculous I was being. Hee hee.)

That's all for now. Gotta get back to work and start dinner in the crockpot. Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cleaning can be expensive

A and I decided to use the self-clean feature of our oven today because it really was getting pretty gross. The oven came with our house when we bought it, and it's from the 70s. It's even that icky avocado green color! We've never used the self-clean before, but we can still read the self-clean instructions on the oven door, so we gave it a shot.

We set the timer, turned the dials to Self-Clean, moved the lever to lock it, and we were off.

The self-clean cycle finished up successfully, turned off, and then we waited for the oven to cool down so we could unlock the door. An hour later, we couldn't unlock it - but it still felt a little warm, so we figured it hadn't cooled down enough to trigger the unlocking mechanism.

Five hours later the oven was cool to the touch. A tried to unlock the door. I tried to unlock the door.

The door won't unlock. It's been nine hours. So we have a (presumably) nice and clean oven that we can't use.

My quest for cleanliness may end up costing me a new oven. Now, to be honest, A and I have been sort of waiting for the thing to kick the bucket so we could justify buying a new one. But that doesn't really fit into our whole saving money thing right now. And, having to throw out an oven just because the door won't unlock seems like a really stupid reason to get a new oven.

(Actually, I did a search online, and I think I found some instructions for how to get the mechanism unstuck. It involves taking off the back panel of the oven and doing some tinkering. So I think we'll be okay. I hope!)

Beware the cost of cleaning! :-) I blame the BBC show "How Clean Is Your House?" which scares the twinkies out of me.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Off to a good start

Not much has been going on with me lately; I've just been busy with R on his vacation from school. It's been lovely. We went sledding on Friday! We played with Play-doh. We built and played with gazillions of Legos. We read his new Tintin comics. We've had a great time, but even R is ready to go back to school and see all his friends. It will be nice to get back into a routine again tomorrow.

2009 has started off well. I haven't made any official resolutions, but it dawned on me over Christmas that I suddenly can't see parts of my body that I used to be able to see (except when I was pregnant) because of the fat that is in the way, so I should really do something about that. The last month has been pretty tumultous for me emotionally and I know I haven't been taking care of myself as a result, so it finally caught up with me. I need to eat better, go to bed at a reasonable time, and try to get some regular exercise. Me and every other person on the planet!

But the other resolution-type goal that A and I have is to trim our spending to prepare for the possibility of his contract not being renewed at the end of the month. Plus, it's good just to be more responsible with our money anyway. I'm really proud of how we're doing. We used to eat out or get take-out at least twice a week (and not always the cheap places), and we've cut that down A LOT. We've been a lot more creative about cooking at home. We found our favorite Indian sauce (tikka masala) in jars at the grocery store. We spent $3.99 for the sauce (we already have tons of chicken and rice at home - thank you, Costco!). It wasn't quite as good as the restaurant version of chicken tikka masala, but it was still good and so much cheaper than the $12.95 we usually spend per entree.

And, after two weeks of no eating out at all, we treated ourselves for brunch at our favorite cheap buffet place. All three of us ate for less than $20! (Normally, breakfast/brunch out for us runs us closer to $40 at our neighborhood diner.) And, despite the temptation of various meats and pancakes and waffles and desserts, I was able to eat healthy there - salad, scrambled eggs, and fruit.

We stopped shopping every week at the more expensive grocery store, even though it's a lot more convenient for us because they have everything we need in one place. Now, we only go there for specific items. That has saved us $20 to $30 each week.

And, yesterday, we cancelled my cell phone and dropped A's plan way down to the absolute cheapest one. I have a cell phone through work, so I'll still have a phone on me, but having two phones was silly. We've been using our home land line a lot more. We're also going to switch our cable, Internet, and phone to the big V company's new service, which will save us $50 a month over the big C company we have now.

There will be many more changes to come for us financially, but I've been pleased at how easy these first changes have been so far for us. We definitely weren't living beyond our means before - we've always been good with our money - but it makes me feel better to live more frugally.

That reminds me! I watched the Suze Orman show last night (if you don't watch her, you should!), and she had some really scary information about what the credit card companies are up to. I thought I would share it in case it might affect you or someone you love. Basically, because of the mess of the mortgage crisis last year, the credit card companies are freaking out and looking at everyone's accounts and statements. If they see that you only pay the minimum due each month, they may either completely revoke your cards or decrease your credit limit. And, they may increase your interest rate on what you still owe to 29% or 32%! It doesn't matter if you have a good credit rating/FICO score. Suze predicted that this is going to cause the next part of the financial crisis because it's going to force many people into bankruptcy, especially as more and more people lose their jobs and have to live off their credit cards. Anyway, I wanted to share that information. I hope it helps someone!

What ways have you found to cut your spending and live more simply?