Thursday, December 27, 2012

'Tis the Season

Now that Christmas is over, it's time to take down the tree and get the house back to normal.  Every year I try to hold out until New Years to take down the stuff, but this year we did it a little early.  

Does anybody else dread this part of the holiday season?



I love seeing the Christmas tree every day and all of the sparkling lights all around. I told my husband the other day that I want to leave white Christmas lights up in the house. He thought I was crazy! I think when I get around to decorating the house I'm going to try to incorporate white string lights somewhere because they make me happy.


With all of the Christmas presents, I have some organizing to do. Anybody planning on going through their kids' toys and getting rid of some or putting some away for a later date? I has all intentions of having my son gather toys to donate before Christmas and ran out of time.


How do you choose which toys stay and which go? Zackary still plays with most of his toys so its hard for me to choose.  Pete (my husband) thinks we should just go through his toys and he won't even know they are missing, but what do you say when he asks where his favorite (all of a sudden) toy went?




It's time to get to work and prepare for my 12 Months of Getting it Done plan.  Who's with me?



Check out the plan at http://www.leahinspired.com/2012/12/12-months-of-getting-it-done.html

Friday, December 21, 2012

January- Getting it Done


I know it isn't quite January yet, but I am excited to get started on my plans.  This is the first month of my 12 months of getting it done plan.  I have decided that January is going to be establishing meal planning in my home.

One thing that I have tried to do multiple times without success is meal planning.  I have a hard time finding the right way to make it work for me and my family.  The first time that I tried it I was pregnant with my first son and cravings got in the way, the next time I tried I ran a daycare out of my home and had to gear my meals towards what 1 year olds would eat, and the next time that I tried I was pregnant again.  I'm not sure why I keep trying to meal plan when I have aspects of my life that will control the meals, but this time I am determined to make it different.

My reasons for wanting to meal plan are organization, less stress meals, lower grocery bills, and less food waste.

One problem that I run into is that my husband is a Chef.  It isn't that he is picky or doesn't like what I cook, it is that when he cooks at home he uses the ingredients that I had planned to use in a separate recipe.  Then when I go to use this ingredient, it is gone and I didn't even know it.  I need to make sure that in my plan I incorporate having extra ingredients available when needed and separated from the meal planned items.






I have researched different ways to meal plan and am going to try out different things until I find the one that works.

A few things that I plan on looking for are organization, ease of use, labeling of meal items (to keep my husband out of the planned ingredients).

Any suggestions or advice is welcomed.

I plan to officially start on January 1st but since I start my break from school on Monday, I might start working on it over my Christmas break.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12 Months of Getting it Done

Every year I try to think of a New Year's Resolution that I would be happy with.  

Every year I end up with a long list of things that I want to accomplish in that year.  

After much contemplation I narrow it down to only one goal.  By the end of the year, my one resolution is still not done and my original list is still just as long as it was before.  I am a procrastinator and start multiple projects and never finish them, especially when they are things that I want to get done, but don't interest me.  I think I finally have a plan on how to accomplish the many things that I want to without getting overwhelmed.



I have decided that this year I will do a different thing each month.  Each month I will write about what I plan on accomplishing that month and document my progress and plans throughout the month.  

I am hoping my readers will share their plans as well.  

Do you think you can get one thing done a month for a year?  Who's in with me? 

Monday, December 17, 2012

DIY Snowman Gift

My 3 year old son keeps encouraging me to reduce, reuse, and recycle (seen on Bob the Builder), so I have been trying to reuse as many things as possible. My 8 month old eats Gerber Puffs a lot and we ended up with a lot of empty plastic containers.

Once we took the plastic label off, we ended up with a white container with a yellow lid. This is when the snowman idea was born. After the containers were cleaned, my son painted all of the lids with black acrylic paint. We glued Christmas ribbon around the 'neck' for a scarf.


Once the glue was dry I used a Sharpie marker to draw 2 eyes, a nose, and 3 buttons down the front. We cut out carrot shapes out of orange construction paper and glued them on for the nose. Our snowmen were complete!


I thought long and hard about what to fill the container with. I had planned on doing a chocolate chip cookie recipe, but the ingredients wouldn't fit. I decided on a shortbread cookie recipe which fit perfectly inside and the only ingredient that will need to be added is butter.  The recipe is 1.5 cups of all purpose flour, .75 cup of powdered sugar, and .25 tsp salt.  Mix ingredients together and add to the snowmen containers.

Add a tag (I used twine and construction paper) with the following instructions:  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Add 1/2 cup of softened butter to the mixture and mix well.  Press firmly into a 8 inch pie pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.  Cut into 16 wedges while warm.  Enjoy.

The recipe was retrieved from About.com

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pictures with Santa

After only two years of my son's pictures with Santa I was frustrated with where to keep them and make sure that I could have them available for the Christmas season to put on display. 

A friend of mine told me about a book that they received as a gift that had a spot for each year's Santa picture to go in.  She packs it up with her Christmas decorations each year and then unpacks it when Christmas comes around again.  I thought this was a great idea, but didn't want to hunt down this book to find out that it was $30.  

I decided to make my own.  When living in Minnesota, I found that I really like scrapbooking.  I have found that a lot of people are perfectionists when it comes to scrapbooking.  I am not!  Either way, this is a simple book with minimal details.  



I bought a small red scrapbook at Michael's with their 40% off coupon, so I ended up getting it for about $5.  I used red and green scrapbooking paper, which was also on sale, and alternated colors for each page.  I had some scrapbooking stickers that I used to add a little bit of wording and the year that the picture was taken, and Ta Da, I have a Santa book that I can bring out each year and keep on my coffee table every Christmas season.  

Inside Page:  Added stickers with the year.  If you have multiple children, you can use stickers to add their names.  I used scrapbooking picture corners to add my pictures but you can use glue also.  



Monday, December 10, 2012

Open on Christmas Eve

I saw an idea on Pinterest to make a box to open on Christmas Eve each year.  Unfortunately the link went to a site that had been reported, so I just went with the idea.

The idea is to have a box that you open on Christmas Eve every year.  The box will include hot chocolate, marshmallows, hot chocolate mugs for each person, a Christmas movie, and candy canes.  You can add or remove whatever you need in order to fit your family.  I need to get a Christmas movie to add to mine, but Zackary picked out the hot chocolate mugs from the dollar store and I filled them with the hot chocolate mix and a candy cane.



I went to Michael's with their 40% off coupon that is in the paper every week.  I found the perfect box.  I got a wooden box because I wanted to make sure that it lasts.  They have cardboard boxes there also that would work, but I liked the wooden one better.  I also got some silver paint and clear glitter paint.  I found green metallic paint also.

Monkey and I painted the box silver and then added a coat of glitter paint to make sure it sparkled.  I had the idea to add our handprints in the metallic green paint to the outside of the box.  Monkey and my handprints turned out pretty good but getting a 7 month old's handprints to turn out good is close to impossible.  Since my hands are bigger, I put my handprints on the back of the box and my husband will put one hand on either side of the box.


The inside of the box looked bare so I had planned on using a red felt type of material, but getting to a craft store with the kids for one item isn't logical so I found a red tree skirt at the dollar store and fit that inside and used a staple gun to attach it.  This will keep the mugs from banging around and I will use the extra material to wrap the mugs when they are stored until next year.



To nurse or not to nurse

Has anybody else had a hard time deciding whether or not to breastfeed or for how long?  I finally reached a happy medium and am happy with what I decided.  When I had my first son I had great plans to nurse him for the first year.  Little did I know, I would have a C-Section and have a very rough recovery.  I was also told by multiple nurses and people that nursing doesn't hurt.  Obviously they never did it or they would know that it hurts like crazy for about the first month.  Had I known that it was normal to hurt and that I could do more than one nursing position, I would have tried harder, but even the nursing specialist at the hospital told me the football hold was the only way to start.  I couldn't do that position because my C-Section prevented me from moving certain ways.  

Well with my 2nd son, I was a little more prepared.  I realized that breastfeeding might come naturally, but it is also a lot of work and is easy to give up on.  I was determined to do it if the baby was willing to work with me on it.  It was definitely painful to start out but got more comfortable the longer I did it.  It was very tempting to quit many times, especially in the first month since we were moving from MN to VA.  




I had planned to nurse until he got teeth because I dreaded the possibility of him biting me, but then the time came and he was only 4 months old.  He was doing so well with the breast milk and my first did terrible on formula and spit up constantly, so I was too nervous to switch him.  

At 6 months I got to a point where I really questioned whether or not I wanted to continue.  It is a constant thing and very demanding.  At this point he was still eating every 2 hours for about a half hour each time, so I was getting a total of 1.5 hours in between feedings.  I felt like all I did was feed him, rock him, and pump.  I researched everything and thought long and hard about why I wanted to stop and they all seemed selfish to me.  I wanted my freedom and wasn't really thinking about what was best for him, so I decided to keep on breastfeeding. 

It was frustrating and as soon as I started thinking again that I would stop, it was time to increase his solids to 3 times a day.  This was the magic number because he immediately started feeding every 4 hours instead of every 2.  This made such a huge difference for me, especially since I watch another baby all day who also needs to eat and sleep.  It finally felt like I didn't spend my entire day either rocking or feeding a baby.  It was great!  

Then my mother in law came into town and I had to watch and try to maintain my supply from pumping so that I could actually leave the house, without the baby.  This was very stressful because I was only able to pump a half of a bottle every night so I had to pump for 2 nights just to get a 6 oz bottle.  

When Bubba turned about 7.5 months old I decided to try out formula to see if he spit up a lot on it or if it was ok.  He did great on it.  Now I don't pump, ever.  I can leave the house and not worry about if I have enough milk for a bottle or if I need to find somewhere to feed him.  

I don't give him more than 1 bottle of formula a day because I don't want my supply to decrease, but I am a lot less stressed out about leaving the house or having my husband feed him every once in awhile.  

This is a personal decision and will vary depending on what you want to do.  Having one kid who was on formula from the start and having one who has breastfed from the start, I see both sides.  I know for sure that I will stop breastfeeding when he turns 1, as soon as he can drink regular milk.  I don't think I would have changed having my first on formula from the start.  It was so helpful that other people could feed him while I recovered from my C-Section and with my 2nd I was able to do a VBAC, so I didn't have a hard recovery.  

Has anybody else gone through this decision?  What did you decide?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Decorating


I have been trying to decorate for Christmas since the day after Thanksgiving.  The weekend after Thanksgiving I dragged my husband, his mom, and our 2 kids out to cut down our own tree.  We did this last year in MN and it was such a great time and good memories.

Virginia Beach just doesn't have the same quality of tree farms!  I was excited when I looked online and found a list of about 5 within a 45 minute drive.  I called in advance and was told they have some trees but have a limited selection.  We arrive and it was definitely a limited selection!  They had 2 types of trees, one of which was a white pine, the kind we were interested in.  I had never had a long needle tree before last year, and I really liked it.  I thought it would shed needles too much, but found that the smaller needles are more frustrating to clean up and hurt more when stepped on!



So after weeding through the 15 trees that they had there we picked a nice tree with a crooked trunk and a few bare spots.  Pete cut down the tree with the help from Monkey.  We had a few cute photo ops and then we were on our way home.  In MN the tree farms had a machine to shake the tree to get any extra needles or critters out and then they bagged it up for the ride home.  Nope, not in VA!  Pete carried it to the truck and we brought it home.  It sat outside for about 2 days until we finally had a chance to cut the trunk and carry it in.  After some banging into walls and squeezing it through doorways because the base of this thing is huge, we finally made it into the room it is currently residing in.

The tree has been the only thing decorated until yesterday.  Yesterday I was able to hang the stockings and put some lights on the banister.  It's nothing fancy, but at least it is something and it thrilled Monkey when he woke up from his nap to see all of the lights.


My goal this weekend was to do some cleaning and put up the outside lights.  The things that I accomplished today included making salt dough ornaments and grocery shopping.  Where does the day go?  I feel like I run around in circles all day and still don't get anything done.

I have a list of ideas I want to do for decorations in the house and I think they might have to wait until next year.  Maybe by then I will be a little more situated and hopefully unpacked.  I am a big fan of Pinterest and get tons of ideas off of there and have about 1000 pins on my holidays board just waiting to be done.

How are your decorations going and what is your opinion on how late is too late to decorate?

Friday, December 7, 2012

New to this

Hi everybody, I am starting this blog in hopes of many things.  I will get into that later, but I want to introduce myself.  My name is Leah and I am married with 2 wonderful boys.  My boys are ages 3.5 and 8 months.  They are my everything.  

I am currently staying at home with them and watching a friend's baby as well.  My oldest son was in daycare until he was about a year and a half old and we finally decided that the cost of daycare ($980 p/month) just wasn't worth it when I can stay home and watch a few kids.  I did that for about a year and a half and then my husband got a job in Minneapolis, MN, so we picked up and moved from VA in the middle of winter 2010.  

It was January and there was about 5 feet of snow on the ground in MN.  My husband, Pete, went in November to get settled a little bit and I stayed behind to pack and get our house ready to be rented.  

When Monkey (my oldest son) and I took the trek to MN with a car load of stuff and a friend, it was interesting to say the least!  Luckily I have family in PA and that is on the way to MN, so we stopped there and stayed with family for about 10 days to give our luggage and household items a chance to make it to MN.  

I would have to say that moving is one of the most stressful things ever!  We finally made it, only stayed a year and a half.  I wish we would've stayed a little longer.  I made a lot of great friends there and had a great network of people who enjoyed the same things as me and all of our kids got along, which if you are a parent, you know how hard and important that is!  

We moved back to VA in April 2012, 2 weeks after our 2nd son, Bubba, was born.  If I thought the first move was rough, I was way off base.  It was hard enough packing and preparing to move while 9 months pregnant, but add a new baby and a grumpy 3 year old into the mix, and it was crazy.  

We moved to VA and moved into a rental property because our home is currently occupied by a tenant.  We decided that we really hate renting and started looking for a house to buy.  We found a home and purchased it and moved in.  This was all done between the middle of April and August.  

It was a rough few months.  

Now we are in our new home, and I am still unpacking.  I have so many goals and ideas of what I want to do in our home, and I just can't get enough hours out of the day.  

Did I also mention I am a full time student at the University of Phoenix?  I am completing my Bachelors in Business Management.  I still have about a year or so to go.  If you don't know how the University of Phoenix works, you take one class over 5 weeks.  This class is so crammed with work, that it is like taking 4 classes.  On a normal week you are required to do an individual assignment, a team assignment, post 2 discussion items on 4 days of the week, read an average of 6 chapters, and answer at least 2 discussion questions.  It is a lot when the only time you actually get to work on it is if you somehow get 3 kids to nap at the same time (yeah right!), or after bedtime sometime after 8pm.  

I am on a week break from class right now and I plan to get some stuff done around this house!  I probably should be doing that instead of this, but I just had to get this started.  Some things I plan to write about are kids, daily life, personal goals, and just anything that I think is worth writing about.  I am writing because I want a network of people who like what I like and have feedback on the things I write about.  I enjoy telling my story and hope you will enjoy reading it.  

Any suggestions or ideas are welcomed!