Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter With Kids

This is the first Easter that I feel like Little Dude has really "gotten" what was going on. We have talked about Jesus, and what is going to be celebrated come Easter morning.

And yes, we even saw the creepy mall Easter Bunny and had a disccuson about what the Easter Bunny has to really do with it all. I didn't know quite how to answer that question, since I have often wondered that myself, so I just told Little Dude that he celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus and the coming of Spring by handing out candy. The Easter Bunny, despite being super creepy, got major cool points from Little Dude for the candy part.

And I got out of having to coax Little Dude away from the candy at the grocery store by proclaiming that the Easter Bunny will be bringing candy, so long as the boys are good....I wonder how long I will be able to milk that one? I am still milking Santa whenever questions about new toys come up. I just say, "Put it on your Christmas list..."

I am going to be sad when they out grow that statement; it has served me well. And now I can add the Easter Bunny...oh man! Sometimes I wonder if these characters are truly for the kids, or just great ways for parents to control their kids.....

Either way, I'm excited about Easter this year,especially, and I can not wait for our Easter egg hunt tomorrow. Now let's see if I can keep up with all three kids as they fight a mob of kids for eggs.....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Little Music Lover

My JR loves music, and I got them gem of him listening to music at Marbles Kid's Museum a few days ago. He danced and pushed the buttons and hogged the space in front of the speakers forever. He LOVED the music around the world exhibit (or whatever it is called, I can't remember-but it had music from all around the world the kids could play, super fun).

Since I'm a huge band geek, you know it makes my heart swell to see a budding love for music in my son:


video


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Heart Cloth Diapers


I used disposable diapers with our first son and really didn't ever think about cloth diapers until it dawned on me that, when we had our second son, we would then have TWO kids in diapers, with no foreseeable end, since Little Dude had not even turned two yet when JR was born. For me, the journey to cloth diapering started as an inquiry to saving money.

And I was really shocked at just how much I could save.

It is 35 dollars for 204 Walmart diapers. That makes it 17 cents per diaper. You can get the BumGenius 3.0 cloth diapers I have (and recommend the most for ease of use) for around 10 dollars a piece when you shop at www.diaperswappers.com or you can look for discounts on them at mom4life.com. Mom4Life.com is where I got most of mine on a deep discount and a coupon, so just keep your eyes out and occasionally she has gently used ones you can buy on super sale as well.

Plus for ever 3 you order, you get 3 more dollars off your total-and if you use the link in my ad space I make 1% of your subtotal and all proceeds from that will be going to the March Of Dimes in memory of my friend Heather's little girl,Maddie.

OK, back to the math. For cloth diapers, you will need about 12-20, depending on how often you do laundry. I suck at laundry doing, so I actually have 21, so that is $210 for used ones, $357 for brand new ones. And you are done. Now you only have to factor in the low cost of an extra load of laundry Which, by the way, you DO have to run the diapers once on hot and once on cold, so two extra washes per load of diapers. I do mine once a week.

On the same token, 4 disposable diapers a day adds up to $4.75 a week. I know, not much, but now, remember your child will be in diapers at least 2 years, if not closer to 3. And most kids that are potty trained during the day aren't dry at night until closer to 3 and a half. SO, in 58 a weeks-a little more than a year-you have spent an equal amount of money as a cloth diapering mom that bought expensive used cloth diapers. If she bought her cloth diapers new, then it will take 75 weeks of use to spend the same amount in disposables-or about a year and a half.

Only now you have 1 more year, plus pull ups (which I think are counter productive to potty training), plus diapers a night.

AND by then, you may be thinking of having another child. With cloth diapers, your second, third, fourth, and so on child is pretty much free, just the cost of the water for washing.

With disposables? Well, you are back to spending at least 300 a year for every year they use them-per each child. We would have been spending around 600 for the first year we had both Little Dude and Jr in disposable diapers, so it was a no brainer to invest in the cloth diapers.


The 21 I have are actually too many, and I really could get by with 12 now that my son is only using 2 a day. I have the pocket diapers, so I have inserts that go in them that I change when he only pees. He only poops once a day now, so I usually only go through one cover a day. Each BumGenius diaper comes with set of inserts, too. And this is one of the more expensive cloth diapering options.

For 24 dollars you can get 24 pre-folds, and then for about 4-10 dollars a piece you can get a variety of covers to use with them-the most expensive being water proof or adjustable in size, the cheaper options not. And you can find crazy cute covers on etsy. Love!

So going that route, (which I have done and found to be pretty easy but definitely bulky and a skill you must practice to get the folding right), you could end up spending less than 100 dollars and be done with all your diapering needs. I do have some prefolds-and I suggest trying those out before you invest in the more expensive kinds, just to make sure you feel committed to cloth diapering. I chose to go the BumGenius route because they were the most like regular diapers, and there is no folding involved, with makes my hubby and in laws happy.



Also, when all is said and done, potty training has been a breeze, because the kids HATE the feel of wet cloth next to them. JR is currently asking to pee on the potty rather than his diaper, and I haven't been pushing too hard on really training yet because:

*he isn't even two yet
*I'm going to have three kids touching stuff in the public restrooms now, and I'm not excited about those emergency trips in the first 6 months of training.

Any questions on cloth diapering? Let me know, I'm happy to share everything I have discovered so you can see if it works for you.

OH and one thing I can't live without? My diaper sprayer. You MUST have one. You can get it for 30 dollars from mom4life.com and I think the price was the same everywhere. It is super easy to install (I did it without my hubby around and didn't cause a flood. I KNOW I am proud, too!) and gets all the mess off the cloth diapers super quick and easy so you don't have to actually touch anything. Nice.




Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Little Dude Plays Hockey

He was borderline too small; but he was so adamant that I went ahead and let him try out the Hockey floor at Marbles Kid's Museum.

Boy, it is hard letting your kids grow up. I was so scared he would get hurt, but I think instead I should have been scared of him hurting others-he was quite the scrapper, diving for the puck, swinging his stick, and actually following the rule that the stick couldn't go in the air.

video

Quite proud, he was, and quite proud, I am.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Health Care Plan

I know, I'm going there. And I sincerely hope I don't anger anyone, or cause a fight-because I certainly don't want to. I would actually love if I could get more conversation going on this, because I keep getting confused.

I lamented on Facebook about how I was not happy with the Bill passing-because I don't like the government dictating what we have to buy. I don't like the precedent of allowing the government to decide even more of how I MUST spend my earnings. And yes, I understand taxes, social security, and medicaid are just like that, and those examples are all the more reason I don't want the government managing my health care and dictating what my cost is going to be. I believe they have done a horrible job at money management. My husband and I aren't even counting social security or medicaid to be able to fund anything by the time we come of age for retirement-we are instead taking responsibility for ourselves and stashing away as much in our Roths and other retirements as we possibly can.

I feel this Bill is different than home owners insurance or car insurance, because owning a car or a home is a privileged and you aren't fined for not owning one. I myself walked and rode a bike for many years because I couldn't afford car insurance. I had a car, but it just sat without tags and insurance until I could afford it. I wasn't fined for not having the car operational.

With health care though, I do think there are huge issues that must be fixed-that are actually due to current laws the government set for insurance companies-like dropping people from coverage when they get too expensive. That, obviously, shouldn't be allowed. There is a risk taken by people that don't have insurance,and insurance companies take a similar risk by covering people, so they shouldn't be able to back out.

As for pre-existing conditions-so long as you don't let your coverage slip, you should be covered. If you let coverage slip, well, sorry, but that is the risk you took. That you were able to choose to take. It is all about choices and personal responsibility. I ate cans of peas and walked during college so I could afford to pay my own health insurance-because my parents didn't, and never had, health insurance. Us kids were covered by Medicare until age 18,and then after that I paid my own. It was a bill I chose to make more important than other bills I could have had-like my car insurance.

As for women costing more? Why should be cost the same as men? Women have far greater issues that get checked every year. We have babies. We have different organs. How can you tell an insurance company they have to charge the same? AND for everyone that says it isn't fair they have to pay extra as a woman-do you really think this bill will make your coverage go down to what your husband pays? My bet is that, instead, your husband's coverage will now increase to what yours is.

And I keep hearing that just by forcing everyone to pay into the system will provide the money needed to cover everything-however, I just see how it will be enough. I think our taxes are going to skyrocket to cover costs the government is underestimating (and they are already going to have to skyrocket to just try to pay off our government's incredible deficit) and I think our premiums for everyone will also sky rocket. And for those saying taxes won't go up, well, from what I have read, there is a 10 year plan for taxes going up. And what do you bet after 10 years they will go back down?

What I have been able to read of the Bill, doesn't clearly state where the money to cover all of this is coming from. So I don't know much, except that they are cutting medicaid-the coverage of our elderly.

Aren't the elderly, who are on fixed incomes, the ones we should be helping the most? They are the ones needing the most expensive health care, in general it doesn't settle well with me that the government has the power to dictate the quality of care and coverage groups of people get. Have we just set up a health care where the government can decide how much to spend on saving someone? And what happens when the government runs out of money for all this? Care gets cut? Who is going to stop them? How is that better than what we have? And I'm not saying how everything is should be left alone-I agree changes need to take place in how health care operates-I just don't buy that this bill will actually make health care "affordable" and better for all.

I will gladly pay more in premiums and taxes, if it truly does give wonderful, high quality care to everyone, and everyone is able to pay the high premiums and taxes without compromising the grocery bill. But is that really feasible? Can the 32 million uninsured actually afford to have taxes go up and lose more of their paycheck to this additional bill? And is making them pay the bill-or the fine, as most probably will-actually going to cut down on people using the emergency room? Is a sudden flood of that many more patients not going to cause unbelievable long lines and wait periods of months to see doctors? You don't think if someone has to get on a wait list, they won't just use the emergency room, and we will be back at square one again? I don't know, but I am concerned.

The Bill is impossibly long and it was passed only through a backdoor deal to not fund abortion. Which, since it is an executive order, can be thrown out by the next president, retracted by this president, or even deemed invalid by the Supreme Court when the Bill goes up for review. So what did we just vote for? Which on a side note, any of you saying you have read all 6,800 pages of the Bill and Reconciliation, I'm calling you out as liars. There is no way. If you really did, then I want you in the Senate and Congress because I'm sure as hell none of them could read the whole thing in the 72 hours between when it was finished being written and voted on. And the Reconciliation was still being written when the Bill was passed.

What was the huge hurry to get it through before it could be read? Why? Why shouldn't something of this importance be carefully read completely? In theory the Bill sounds wonderful-but what exactly is in all those pages? How many stupid back door deals, tea cup museums and bridges to no where are included in the cost? What what power are we really allowing the government to take from us-and what might be the future cost of opening that door?

That is the biggest issue on the bill for me.

I don't know. Like I said, I go back and forth so much. I have so many wise and politically active friends that are strongly and passionatly on each side-and they do easily sway me in each direction.

*If you have thoughts or opinions to share, please remember to keep it a friendly discussion, or I will remove your comment. I welcome all discussion, as I really do want to understand what is going to happen, and so far, I feel like my head is just spinning in circles as I talk to friends on both sides :) *


Friday, March 19, 2010

Boys Can Play Dress Up, Too

A few of my friends-that don't have boys-have lamented about how I am missing out on dress up time because I don't have a girl.

And sometimes, when I see the sparkling princess dresses on other little girls, I do really wish I could buy one. And sometimes I do, for my little neighbor or the above mentioned friend's little girls.

But let me tell you, boys can play dress up every bit as much as girls. Just in a different way. We don't have princess tea parties-instead we have fires to put out and tree houses to build. And dragons to fight and treasure to bury.

Actually, I am quite surprised with how much the boys love playing dress up. Coming from a house of girls, myself, I just never expected boys to play dress up.

But they do. Or mine do. And it is super fun to spend time getting rescued by my personal fire fighters and home improvement men:





Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm French at Heart

I'm a band geek, which most of my current friends and blog friends don't realize.

Well, maybe some of my friends realize. I have a nice collection of instruments around my house, and a huge basket of music next to the piano. But I don't know that anyone other than my husband has heard me play.

Anyways, there it is. I'll admit it. I am and was and will always be a band geek. I played in High School, I did marching band, concert band, honors band, competitive local bands, community bands, and at any school play you would find me in a faithful spot under the stage. For summer break I would have DIED to join Carolina Crown, but usually ended up working away the summers (not a bad way to spend it though, my college fund thanked me later).

When I got to college, I fell off a bit. After two years of Marching Band, I'd had enough of the 3 hour class block for one credit. So I quit. Then I quit the Concert Band because, well-they didn't have French Horns. For two years I'd been playing an E Horn and wasn't a huge fan.

Then I didn't play again until we moved to Tennessee, and I stumbled upon a volunteer concert band.

But we moved some more, and finally ended up back here, and I don't know of any local bands that I can join(Please tell me if you happen to know of anything). I wish I could find something like the band I was in at Mars Hill College-we would just get together and site read pieces. It was awesome.

And so, without further ado, a fellow band friend shared this gem with me:



Oh yes, it is JUST French Horns. Oh, I might have died and gone to heaven.

Watching this got me to pick up my French Horn yesterday, and while it sounded atrocious, I am really excited to pick it up again today and see if my chops will last a little longer.

Oh French Horn, how I have missed thee.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Marbles


Alexis, Little Dude, Emily, and JR enjoying lunch together. Alexis is my wonderful friend Melissa's little girl.
I love the Raleigh kid's museum, Marbles; however, I DON'T like school groups that don't watch their kids.

Their rather old, massively large and sometimes hairy, 12 year old kids.

That throw all the food that is in the UNDER 5 YEARS play area. And then start throwing the toys from the BABY area out into the main area.

I might have yelled at some of them.

OK, I did yell. And then they stopped. And then I raised a fuss at the front desk about the behavior of a particular school group and the lack of supervision and WHY ARE THEY IN THE BABY AREA THEY ARE 12!!!!!!

But once the school group left, it was a BLAST. So, in my opinion, the best time to take your kids to Marbles? Right at noon.

Take a lunch, set the kids up to eat, then after they are done, let them play for a few hours. School groups are generally gone by 12:30-and so is everyone else. So by then, your little kids get to play with EVERYTHING they want, without waiting or the risk of losing a head to flying fruit or jumping 12 year olds.

After playing hard, we head home at 2. The kids fall asleep in the car, I take them one by one to their beds for nap, and then everyone gets up again by 3. Super nice, it is easy to keep up with them because Marbles is EMPTY, and I don't have to worry they will get hurt.

We all enjoy it better, even if naps get started a little later. For me, it is tons more fun to make naps late, rather than deal with big kids in the little kid area-or trying to follow three pre-schoolers through the crowds of schools.

Anyways, my thoughts on it. Does anyone else have thoughts on good ways/times to enjoy Marbles? We are planning on going again tomorrow.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Surrounded by Boys

From their Daddy, they get their cuteness and their sweetness:
From me they get their contagious laughs and gentle hugs:
Their ability to rough house with "The People's Elbow"? I'm blaming Uncle John, but Daddy likes to bring on wrestling matches against himself, too:

Ahhh, boys; I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, March 12, 2010

To Much For One Head

I have had a lot going through my head lately, and it has gotten to be a bit much for me to internalize, so I will go ahead and write here, even though this is more personal than I usually get here.

You see, my parents haven't spoken to me since Christmas of 2008. Yea, that's a long time. And before that, I think we talked when JR was born. But I can't even remember if they have met him or not. I don't think they have-or if they have, it was during his first week of life, because after that we moved to Alabama. At any case, I don't have an photos of them together.

We live near Raleigh-and my parents drive THROUGH Raleigh TWICE a week for my dad's job. Do they ever take 5 minutes to jump off the highway and stop by? Not in the past 3 years. And before that, they stopped by, but had not called to tell us, so we weren't home. So I got a note, informing me they were going to eat the birthday cake they had brought for me, since we weren't there. We had been at church, right around the corner, and then gone to lunch, for my birthday, right up the street from our house. That was the last birthday of mine they acknowledged.

And last summer, the kids didn't get birthday cards. And this year we got no Christmas call or card. Even though we sent tiny gifts. And the gifts don't matter, but the call does. The fact that my oldest doesn't even know them does.

JR's second birthday is 3 months away, and even though Little Dude's birthday is 6 months away, I am already panicking that there won't be birthday calls or cards from my parents. Their grandparents. I can hide it for a bit longer, but eventually I know they will ask about their other grandparents. Why MY parents never come around. And I don't know what I'll tell them. Worse, maybe, will be if my parents suddenly change their minds in 10 years and decide to start being a part of the family then. What do I say to my kids? Here are you grandparents? They didn't want to talk to mommy for your whole life so far, but now they are here? They love you? They love me?

Honestly, since I am now a parent, there is so much my parents have done and said to me, that I am glad I no longer have to deal with it. I block it all out and ignore it, relishing in the fact that all my in-laws adore me and the kids. And I can't imagine EVER going a week without talking to my children, let alone years. I can't fathom it.

But recently, my awesome mother in law has gotten sick. REALLY sick. She's at Duke Hospital, and so far no one can figure out what is wrong with her and why she is having such problems with her colon/digestive track. Since she has been there, she is doing a bit better. But still, with as sick as she has been for the last 2 months, it is super scary to us all that no one knows what is causing her to be sick to the point of losing way too much weight, having constant diarrhea, cramps that put birthing cramps to shame, and pain that doubles her over.

And thinking about losing her causes a panic in me. Because I don't know that I could handle knowing the kids won't have a Grandma anymore. A Grandma as awesome has her, a Grandma that cares they are alive. That I'm alive.

Perhaps that is what is wrong with me. Thinking about how losing her will mean I lose the relationship I always wanted, but never had-and don't know that I ever can have at this point-with my mom and dad.

That is all I can handle writing today, but it did help. Thank you, blog.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Boys, Monster Trucks, and a Lack of Butterflies

We went to see a Monster truck. The boys (and Bill) were super excited to meet Bigfoot. I was more excited about the food tent that indicated I might be able to get coffee, since it was really chilly and I'm addicted to coffee.
Anyways, the food tent didn't pan out, as they only had soda; however, Little Dude had SO MUCH fun talking to Bigfoot's driver that it was well worth standing around listening to boys of all ages talk car/truck/monster truck gears/parts/stuff.

The boys even got autographed photos of Bigfoot from the driver and Little Dude carried his around everywhere with him for a solid two days. Now it sits on his dresser where he can see it from his bed. So adorable, even though I still don't know anything about cars. Er, I mean Monster Trucks. My three year old keeps reminding me its not just a car, it's a MONSTER TRUCK!

Is it wrong to claim girl-y status or should I really try to learn all this car/truck talk? I'm a little nervous now about my future with three car/truck loving men. I was getting a strong urge to chase butterflies when gear shifts and transmission talk started.....

Little Dude loved that the wheel is bigger than he is!
JR did NOT like the Bigfoot driver getting down to talk to him; JR is coming for me here. While I probably should have been scooping him up in a hug, since he was upset, I couldn't resist getting a photo first. JR did accept an autographed photo, too, so I think the driver got a few cool points as long as he didn't try to talk to JR down low. In any case, the driver got huge cool points from Bill and me; he was great talking to all the kids and answering three year old questions.

Now Bill is talking about taking the boys to a Monster Truck Rally. Oh my, help me now. Where did those butterflies go?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Life And Science Museum of Durham, NC

We went to yet another museum this week-this time we made the trip to Durham to visit the Life and Science Museum-IT IS AWESOME. Well worth the drive and everyone with kids of ANY age should take them.

There was a super cool train ride-much better than the one at Pullen Park, if you have ever been there, and an amazing dinosaur walk that had all the little boys going crazy. Little Dude, Linus, and JR were SO excited about the dinosaurs. The best part was the fossil digging at the end of the trail-I could see spending many hours there.

The museum was so huge we didn't even get to see everything-they have a mini zoo there with native animals and a barn yard-that was a HUGE hit. The butterfly house was 100 times bigger than the one at the Science Museum in Raleigh-and we didn't even get to see all of it because the outdoor air one was closed for the cold weather. Emily LOVED that; the boys loved chasing each other.

They even had a butterfly gift shop-ohhhh, I could see spending too much money there!

So, needless to say, it was AWESOME. They have a whole indoor part too, with weather, space, BUGS-ewww!-and a music room. I can't even tell you everything that was there.

We will be back for sure-and the great thing is that kids under 3 are free and parking is free, SO the 12.50 for me and 9.50 for Little Dude to get in and wander around for a few hours was well WELL worth it. Also, the museum is DEAD in the afternoons, so it was just us and my wonderful bloggy friend Abby, her son, and a handful of other people.

My suggestion though, if you don't live in Durham, make sure you head home by 4, because traffic SUCKS getting back to Raleigh from there. We left around 4:30, and I ended up SITTING for a good 20 minutes around Miami/Page Road, which made our almost hour drive home even longer-ugh. So, lesson learned here; I will have to be more diligent about leaving early.

Overall, I liked this one better than Marbles; however, it is a long drive from my part of town, so I would probably go to Marbles more often. Marbles is awesome for little kids, but for preschool and school age ones, I would choose the Durham museum as the best. Everyone should go check it out at least once.

*This is my opinion, I was not compensated to give this review or share my thoughts, I just wanted to let everyone know how cool it was *

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Being Noble

What is being noble? It is something I want to teach my children, but honestly, it is hard to convey what it is.

It's doing what is right. It is standing up for the weak, protecting the hurt, seeing and reaching for the good in others. It is finding the best in everything and sharing that wisdom with others.

How do you teach that?

I was talking to a dear friend of mine earlier this week, and she mentioned she hoped her adopted daughter would never feel abandoned by her birth mom. And that statement struck me pretty hard, because more than likely, at some point, that dear, beautiful child probably will feel that pain and hurt-especially since her birth mom has seemingly decided to cut off contact.

But at the same time, I realized, though it stinks that their child may not ever see or meet the birth mom, I know that my friends will be teaching about what a noble, strong, selfless act the birth mom chose by giving life, and how very much their child is loved by all of them.

It would have been easier for the birth mom to "un do" her mistake with an abortion. It would have been easier for her to not have to tell her parents, or boyfriend. And from what I understand, the birth mom had no support, the parents threatened to kick her out of their home, the boy friend left, and she was all alone.

But somehow, she was strong enough to do what was right. To take responsibility for unprotected sex, and give life to the lovely person that was created. To me, that is the most noble act a person can do.

Even though I am not sure how to do it, I hope I can teach my children to be noble like that birth mom.

This is the season of Lent, which, for me, is very important since we are Catholic. During Lent, we celebrate the 40 Days For Life by increasing efforts to help young women who are considering abortion.

One service I will be volunteering with is Birth Choice in Raleigh-they help young people find a way to avoid abortion, either through help to keep the child or help to find adoptive parents, as well as counseling and help through Project Rachel for those who have had an abortion. If you have baby items you no longer need, consider donating them to The Gabriel Project, which offers support to help mom throughout raising her child.

****This is completely my opinion. If you happen to be a pro-abortion person, I welcome the commentary; however, please remember to keep it all friendly or I will remove your comments. :) ****


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dr. Seuss and Reading is Fundamental

Today is Dr. Seuss' birthday! I adore Dr. Seuss books, and LOVE reading them with all the children I ever cared for, and now my own!

Did you know that Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, couldn't find a publisher for his first story, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street because people thought they were too silly, even for children? He went through 20 or 30 publishers before finally finding one that would print his story. Good thing he never gave up, eh?

And what better day to celebrate Read Across America than on Dr. Seuss' birthday! So, today guys, get the books out, snuggle with your kids, and share with them a world where there are no limits, no boundaries, and anything can happen.

Share a book.