us

us

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Our awesome mini vacation

On March 31 we loaded up the car and our sweet little family and drove down to LA. We stopped in Burbank & checked into our hotel, Lee went and grabbed us a healthy lunch from Denny's because it was pretty much attached to the hotel and we were tired of being in the car, then Lee & Lydia took a nap while I played monopoly on the iPad. We got ready and then we hit the road to the Dodger Game!

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Lydia could not have looked more darling and we could not have had better seats. It was 95 degrees in LA so we were thankful for seats in the shade. We had such a good time together and I loved the view we had. I actually really enjoy watching baseball so that is a plus. And of course I got to watch it with my wonderful husband and beautiful daughter so it was a great time. The Dodgers won! Another plus. Then we went back to the hotel, dad went and grabbed another healthy (late) dinner because mom was being frugile and didn't want to buy dinner at the stadium for herself. We dined on pepsi and a little ceaser's pizza and then rested up for the next big adventure of our mini vacation....
Photobucket
 Oh yes, the wonderful WORLD of Ikea. . . and I do mean World. Lee had never been so I was very excited to show him around. It was actually my first time eating at IKEA, because when I went to APU I was just down the road from one so I never had to spend a whole day there.
Photobucket
 Lydia Jane did so well on our vacation and very well in IKEA. She had her moments, but once she fell asleep in her stroller and got a little rest she was back on track. Isn't she so cute holding her sippy cup? She is just such a doll. I am going to do a whole different post on all of our great purchases!! But after getting everything we did, and a few items for some friends we almost didn't fit everything in the car. It took lots of sweat and patience to load, unload, change it up, reload, and I even had to move the carseat over to the side instead of the middle, before we had everything in. Sweet Lydia Jane almost didn't fit and Lee & I had to ride with some cardboard boxes (holding some cabinet doors) between our heads.
Photobucket
 But we did make it home and I cannot wait to show you what we got!! Soon I promise! We got back to Reedley on a Friday evening. We caught up on a couple of our favorite shows and then Saturday morning Lee had to be at Camacho Park to pray for the Little League games and then jump over to the softball fields by the high school to pray for those games. (he's so holy) :) When he got home we finished getting things together yet again so we could hit the road and head up the mountain. I had the awesome opportunity to speak two times at the high school girls' retreat. These are the girls:
Photobucket
 Such a great group and awesome leaders. It really was an honor to be invited to be a part of their trip & it was such a blessing to me. I really enjoyed being able to share and be used. It was very refreshing to do something I used to get to do all of the time and LOVED doing when I was in college. I know a lot of people hate it, but I love public speaking. I realize sharing this runs the risk of sounding vain, because why would someone love public speaking unless they just loved the spotlight? Well, I am not sure how to explain it without running the risk of sounding full of myself. Nonetheless. . . attempt I shall. I am not good at a ton of awesome things and that is okay with me, but one thing I feel blessed to be able to do is to compose my thoughts into written and spoken word. So when I get the opportunity for God to prove His awesomeness to me once again by empowering me and using me to speak eloquently and powerfully, I just think it is incredible. It isn't me. It is totally Him. And every time He does it I feel alive, changed, renewed, valued. God is so good. I am so unworthy. Yet, I get to be a tool in His hands. There isn't anything better in or out of this world.
Photobucket
 It was also just SO good for Lee & I to step away from things a little bit & for Lee to get to spend some really good time with Lydia. I loved how much quality time they got together & I think they got to know each other a little bit better through it all. Not that they do not know each other of course, but I am the fortunate one who gets to spend every day with her while he earns money to support us. So it was just good time for them to spend one-on-one without mom around while I was with the girls. Also, for a little history, Lee was at Hartland Summer Camp when I went into Labor 5 weeks early. For details on that you can read our birth story. So, being back at Hartland was special to Lee, and we made it a priority to see Bob. Bob is the director at Hartland and He is the amazing man who went and found Lee to tell him he was having a baby. To which Lee responded, "yeah I know." (as in, yes in a month we are having a baby). And Bob said "No, you're having a baby right now! She is at a 9!" Bob then proceeded to drive Lee down the mountain himself at a record breaking pace. Lee even asked to stop once to throw up. :) Lee made it just in time. I mean JUST in time... like 15 minutes before she was in our arms! Bob then went and let our dogs out of the house and fed them, and got our carseat in the car for us and brought the car to the hospital. What a good man! So this called for a formal meeting and a photo!
Photobucket
 This was our last stop before hitting the road home to complete our mini vacation(S) weekend. You know, normally I would hate the thought of all that driving, but the whole trip was actuallly REALLY awesome. It was also really neat to go on my first family vacation where I am the mom. So surreal and so amazing. I love my little family. Thank you God for blessing me so much!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

the satisfaction of DIY

The last 6 or 7 months of my life have been a lot about learning to do things myself. I have really wanted to save money and make cuts in order to pay off Lee's student loans faster and save for the future.

My DIY (oh as in Do It Yourself) adventures so far have included learning how to (or just doing):

Cloth diaper
Sew
Make baby food
Make baby bows
Make laundry detergent
Setting up our clothes line to hang dry clothes outside

Cloth diapering has been a crazy great success! I am not always loving the whole 'solids' element of diapers now, but it is totally survivable.

Sewing definitely still needs some work. I am having issues with the bottom thread getting really bunched up. I have changed the tension and the length, put in a new needle, and I have cleaned the machine. But maybe I need to get some oil? I changed out all of the thread and put a new bobbin in, too. It worked for about 6 inches and then it bunched up again. Any advice?? I am so frustrated, because I am right in the middle of a cute project and really want to finish it. I keep googling for tips, but not have been helpful so far. I was going to pick up machine oil at walmart and they didn't have any. bah. I guess I'll have to grab some sometime when I'm in Fresno or Visalia. grr.

Making baby food has been something super self-satisfying. I know exactly what is in her food and I feel good making a big, affordable batch and freezing it accordingly. I have the best book and I totally recommend it:
Photobucket
This book is jam packed with helpful tid-bits. It guides you through what is appropriate for your baby to eat at each month and it gives great instructions on how to make it. It also includes a great section on produce: when they are in season, how to pick out a good piece of produce, how to prepare it, how old a baby has to be to eat it cooked or raw, how long it can be stored in the freezer or refrigerator, and recipes.
There is also a section on Super Baby Pooridge. This is kind of like rice cereal, but you are using whole grains such as organic brown rice, millet, pearl barley, et cetera. These things (especially millet) are super super good for you.
I am going to try to give her enough super pooridge that she will still be eating it as she gets older. I mix it with fruit and sometimes her veggies to give it a little bit more flavor. I think she likes it.
The whole process is pretty simple. I won't explain it all on here unless anyone is interested (but really I would still recommend the book). I grind the grains until they are a powder. I boil water. I add the powder to the water and stir continuously. TA DA! Super baby pooridge. I can store the powder in the fridge for a month, and cooked pooridge only lasts 3 or 4 days in the fridge, but I can freeze the pooridge, too. For veggies, I cook as instructed and puree it using my handy dandy Magic Bullet, which I also use to grind the grains. Then I put the purreed veggies into ice cube trays and freeze them. Once they are frozen I pop the cubes out into zip lock bags, label them, and toss them back in the freezer. This takes up less space then the trays and frees up my trays to make other things.
Photobucket

Making baby bows is not difficult and yet it is. Maybe because I am a perfectionist it seems it can take a little extra time to get that bow looking just right! But I have some good how-tos and in my free time (haha-free time?) I take a wack at some bows. I wish I had more time to work on this, but until the masters is done, there just isn't a lot of that time flowing around. It would be simpler if you didn't have to get all 'set-up' to craft. If making bows were kind of like blogging, and I could just take a seat during nap time and churn a couple out, then I would! Instead, I'll blog about it. :)

Making laundry detergent is incredibly easy. I just did it for the first time a couple weeks ago. Really I will be saving tons of money AND the detergent I make is safe on my diapers, too. So that is a huge PLUS! I literally make 10 gallons worth of detergent for approximately $2 or $3. No, I am not kidding you. Here is a link to the recipe, just scroll down until you find the instructions for liquid or powder detergent (whichever you prefer):

http://www.duggarfamily.com/recipes.html

Yes it is from the Duggar Family website as in the 19 and counting show. The family with 19 children. Hey, that lady can save some money!

The clothes line is something I am particularly excited about. I bought 50 feet of the coated wire I needed for $5.25. But before I could string it up on the posts that were already in my back yard, I had to hack away the bush and part of the orange tree that had grown over the posts. I didn't have the best tools at my disposal, so I had to use a hand saw. Boy was that some work!!
This is some of the debris I had to saw off
Photobucket
And this was the finished product!
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Trimming the orange tree was totally okay, because it gets trimmed back every summer anyways, and is huge! So no worries friends, I did not hurt the tree or cut it back too much. Just had to trim back enough to expose the post again.
I am excited about this for a few reasons. 1) It is good for the environment. Because I cloth diaper, I use more water than I would if I used disposable. This is unfortunate. Too make up for it, I am going to use less energy by line drying instead of using the dryer. Thus, cloth diapering allows me to decrease waste and energy used. 2) I can save some money each month by lowering our utility bill when I don't use the dryer. yahoo; and 3) I love being outside. Lydia enjoys sitting on a blanket and watching me while I have a few moments of what feels sort of therapeutic to me as I hang clothes or diapers on the line.

So. There you have it. Those have been my DIY projects. I have not perfected them, but I am enjoying them.

Uh oh. I hear the little one telling me she is done with nap time. Until next time!