Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday - Sitting Down



I don't know about you, but I have a maniac very active toddler. At 20 months old, her attention span is pretty short and she is often unruly in public places that involve me "getting something done". Like the library. Or the bank. Both of which are errands we run weekly. I dread these trips.

This week, I discovered the power of sitting down. Not me sitting down (which would of course be awesome), but Jillian sitting down. Instructing her to sit down before has never been very successful. Who would want to sit down when there is tons of space to run around?

We battle at the library, because she wants to run through the aisles of books, meticulously pulling them off the shelves. Which makes it tough for me to pick up and scan a few books to find something I want to check out. Then it hit me! Jillian likes to look through books. Any books. Especially paperback fiction books. I told her that she had to sit down on the floor if she wanted to look at the books. Wow! She listened! I still had books to pick up and replace on the shelf, but at least they were all from the same shelf and I had to do zero toddler chasing!

At the bank, Jillian loves the open space and runs around. Lots. Luckily the branch we go to is often slow and they "know" us there. My favorite banking assistant is out on maternity leave, so there is someone else handling opening/closing accounts. And she is very slow nice. We were there for a whopping 45 minutes Monday. You can imagine how this went; I'll spare you the details. Suffice to say I chased her into the employee kitchen twice and repeatedly pulled her away from destroying the mini-blinds. I tried something new. Sitting down! Again, sitting down with nothing to do: ineffective. Sitting down while eating a lollipop? Perfect. I didn't think Jillian was big enough for lollipops yet, but desperate times.... She sat for at least ten minutes for me so that she could eat a lollipop.

So that's what worked for us this week. I'm going to have to find out ways to use this "sitting down" trick more!!

For more fantastic Works for Me Wednesday posts, head on over to We are THAT Family!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What I Learned This Week, Vol. 17



Cooking dinner is my favorite time of the day. I clean up the kitchen (somewhat) before I start and my menu is basically planned. It's time where I can "create" in the kitchen by myself. And hopefully my toddler isn't getting into too much stuff in the living room while I'm in there doing it!

I've never been a morning person, but I'm finding that I like setting my alarm to get up around 7:00am. Now that Jillian doesn't sleep as late, it's nice to have an hour-ish to get some caffeine in me and do some blog posts (I'd say catch up on reading blog posts, but I'm really behind on that - SORRY!).

9:10am is too early for a toddler's class to start. See above; I'm not a morning person. The class that Jillian attends at My Gym starts at 9:10am Monday. Ouch. We've been late the past two weeks. Her class Friday starts at 11:35am. Too late - totally into naptime by the end of class. The "just right" class for us is around 10 or 10:30am. Too bad the classes offered at that time for her are on days we're babysitting. Bummer.

And while I'm babbling about My Gym, let me just say that my daughter *hearts* it there. We took her for parents night out (where they watch the kids from 5:30-8:30pm and feed them dinner for just $25) on Friday, and before we were even out the door she was off playing. I don't even think she looked our way as we left. Now, I don't want to be the parent whose child throws a screaming fit every time she's left somewhere, but maybe just a little "sad-to-see-you-go" or "I'll-miss-you" face?

I think that wraps it for WILTW. For more, you can check out Jo-Lynne's awesome blog!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Friend Makin' Monday - Favorite Things



This week's Friend Makin' Mondays topic is things you can't live without. Aside from the obvious (God, family, friends), here are some of the things that I couldn't (or certainly wouldn't like to) live without.

Diet Coke


Starbucks

I wish I could say my budge allows for a venti latte everyday, but I'll take it when I can get it!

Food Processor

This is a new one for me, but it's quickly becoming a can't-live-without; mine's yellow ;-)

Changing Seasons












Despite the havoc each season change wreaks on my sinuses, I get so excited when a new season arrives!

Library
Though I have quite a library myself at home, the stay-at-home mom budget is SO grateful for our wonderful local libraries!

Internet


What are some of your favorite things? Tell us all about it and link up with others over on Amber's blog for this fun carnival!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - September 28th

This week is shaping up to be a pretty easy week. Monday evening is our monthly Pub'n'Talk church meeting at a local pub. Thursday is our anniversary and we have a restaurants.com gift certificate and an Olive Garden gift card from which to choose!



Sunday - leftovers and sandwiches
Monday - Pub'N'Talk (dinner out)
Tuesday - Sausage Potato Soup (I missed this one last week)
Wednesday - Steak and Candied Carrots
Thursday - It's our anniversary! (dinner out with gift card)
Friday - Pizza at MIL's
Saturday - Pork Chops and leftover carrots

Other kitchen stuff to make this week:
Crockpot Apple Butter
Bread

Need some great menu ideas for your week? Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie to read some awesome menu ideas!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tot School!

I've been totally inspired by some of these Tot School and homeschooling blogs I follow, and decided to finally try a little Tot School for Jillian. I feel like it will help me focus on some specific learning activities on the days that we're home and lend us a little bit more structure. I'm aiming for a letter of the alphabet theme each week. Thus we started with "A" this week.

We went apple picking. Jillian has decided that she loves apples and asks for them daily now! So naturally our snacks this week were apples. I made guacamole to go with enchiladas one night, and Jillian got to try another "a" food - avocados!

We spent some craft time coloring the letter "A" (template from DLTK).

We hung out with our moms group at a farm and learned about all kinds of animals.

We watched "An American Tale" that we checked out of the library.

We inherited from a friend of the family an awesome set of Sesame Street ABC board books, each focusing on a letter of the alphabet. We read the letter "A" book. We read about Noah and his ark. And we read a story about an alligator from our ABC book!

Want to check out what others are doing with their tots? Head on over to 1+1+1=1 to read some awesome tot school posts!

Puddle Jumping!

Today was a very special day. Both my husband and I celebrated birthdays (yes, we share a birthday)! The weather today was less than optimal (59 degrees and rainy) and really warranted us staying home in our underwear all day and watching X-Files episodes on the couch (we're real party animals around here...). But today was also the day that my father-in-law and his wife had scheduled their annual crab feast/friend & family cookout.

It was all a bit much for Jillian, who much prefers to run around outside at events like this. When it was just lightly raining, I let her explore the puddles for a bit. And then I had a brilliant (it seemed so at the time) idea! I had her rain boots in the car from the last time she wore them and kicked them off! I raced over to the car and switched out her frocs (fake Crocs) for her boots and let her puddle jump! She's never really experienced this before, as our sidewalks don't really accumulate puddles and our parking lot isn't exactly safe (traffic) to have a toddler out running about.

She had an absolute blast!!




Yes, that is a Ritz cracker in her hand...

Puddle jumping is the BEST! She was soaked afterward and I threw her clothes in the washer and dryer before we left. Leaving her to run around for most of the party in nothing but her diaper. One day, I will remember to pack extra clothes for her....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What a Difference a Year (well, 11 months) Makes!

I've been looking forward to taking Jillian back to Clark's Elioak Farm since we visited last October to pick pumpkins. We met up with our moms group there this morning and explored the Enchanted Forest sights, played, met some animals at the petting zoo, and had a couple pony rides. We may have to make this a fall tradition, because looking at pictures from last year's trip (just before Jillian started walking) and this year's is really neat!

October 2008

September 2009










October 2008

September 2009










October 2008










September 2009









October 2008











September 2009










October 2008













September 2009










Now that I've taken you along with me on my stroll down memory lane, some more fun pictures from today!















This was the closest we could get to having a picture of Jack & Jillian together with "Jack & Jill".
















Then we went to the petting zoo.

We saw ducks.
















And goats.
















Jillian thought that the goats needed their straw ON them.































We saw sheep, too.
















Jillian got to ride on the pony!























And before we left, the tractor got hugs.























Although I hate paying admission to places for Jillian to run and play, this place has so much for her to do and so much free space for her to run, it's well worth it and we will definitely be making a trip back before they close for the winter!

Monday, September 21, 2009

What I Learned This Week, Vol. 16

Do you know what time it is? It's time again to share what we learned this week! I didn't learn that many things, but hey, it's quality, not quantity, right?



This week I learned that I may have to just give in, break down and pack up the crib, and put Jillian's mattress on the floor. A toddler's already small bedroom gets much smaller when there's a makeshift blanket-bed on the floor next to the converted toddler bed. And when your child likes to make a "nest". Seriously, I've never seen anything like what this child does to her bedroom floor when she's sleeping there.

My laptop totally just crapped out on my last night. Which prompted my husband to do some research about the cost of a new battery, etc. Dell apparently has a program that they'll buy back used laptops. Want to know what we found out? They will give me a whopping $27 for my laptop. Good grief! I think I still owe them more than that from when we bought the darn thing!

And here's the big one. I learned that my food processor is awesome. Most of you reading this probably already have discovered the joys of a nice food processor. When Jillian started eating solid food, I wanted nothing more than to make her baby food, rather than buy it. So my mom bought me a KitchenAid food processor with all the bells and whistles. Shortly thereafter our house went on the market and my teeny-weeny-no-counter-space-having-kitchen got cleaned up and packed up. And so the food processor went back in its box and placed in a closet. Until my mom reminded me after I made au gratin potatoes last week that it had a slicing attachment. Really? That seemed too good to be true. So out came the food processor and lo and behold, yep, it sure does. I've already used it to slice up apples for baked apples. I can't wait to use the shredding attachment to shred cheese. Maybe I'll make a pie. Oh the possibilities!

So there you have it! Did you learn anything this week? Link up your post at Musings of a Housewife and take a minute to read about what some other great folks learned, too!

Fall = Apple Picking!

We went apple picking for the first time this fall today. We first headed to Larriland Farm, only to realize that they are closed on Mondays. Oops! Good thing we knew about another pick-your-own farm not too much farther away. We drove out to Rock Hill Orchard and picked apples; Jonathan, Empire, Jonagold, and a handful of Golden Delicious for Jillian.

The apple dishes began tonight. I made a casserole of baked apples with cinnamon and raisins as a side for dinner. And we have enough left to go with pork chops later this week! Tomorrow evening I'm going to start some crock pot apple butter. Score! I may even bake a pie this year!

Jillian enjoyed our apple picking experience too!!




She calls them "bapples"! Of course, she was saying this non-stop while we were picking apples. At home, though, she wouldn't say it for me quite as much. I got a couple "bapples" out of her for the video camera to share!

You Capture: Up Close



This week I've decided to join in the You Capture carnival over at I Should Be Folding Laundry. Since my camera is one of my closest companions, it seemed like a neat and fun way to challenge myself to try capturing things that I may not have looked for on a regular basis. This week's challenge is getting up close.

Today we went apple picking and I tried a couple up close shots NOT of my toddler for a change.

I liked this one of the apple hanging in the tree.


And I especially liked the detail on this little bee that was snacking on a fallen apple.


Want to join in the fun? Head on over to this week's carnival and link up with your "Up Close" photos!!

Not Me! Monday - Renn Fest Edition

We took Jillian for the Maryland Renaissance Festival this weekend for the first time. You can read more about our visit and see pictures here. It was the first time I've been there since B.C. (before child). Here are some of the things that for sure did NOT happen while we were there.



It was definitely NOT my child who, once let out of her stroller, grabbed its handle to push it around and sloshed my beer out (that was resting peacefully in the cup holder) all over herself.

It was also not my child that exuberantly climbed the pirate ship play structure, sat down at the top of the spiral tube slide, and promptly slid down. While Mommy was left standing at the top wondering where on earth the bottom of the slide was and if it would be appropriate to run over other children while racing to get back on the ground to hunt down my small, fast toddler.

And it wasn't me at all that practically squealed with delight when seeing the changing table right in the middle of all those port-a-potties! I also did NOT hear myself ask Jillian something to the effect of, "Why are there rocks in your diaper?!?".

Want to share some of your "Not Me!" moments from the week? Link up your post over at My Charming Kids and read some other hilarious "Not Me!" moments!!

Friend Makin' Monday - Craigslist

It's time for another round of Friend Makin' Mondays! Head on over to Amber's blog, join in, and make some friends!!



Today's question is about Craigslist: do you love it or do you hate it?

Do you use Craigslist?
What have your experiences been? Good or bad?
What was the best thing you've ever bought?
What was the best deal you ever sold?

Personally, I haven't used Craigslist that much, but the few times I have used it, I've loved it!

When I was pregnant with Jillian, I had a decision to make about our cat situation. At that time we had two cats. One of the cats, Frankie, was very overweight, hard to keep clean (he couldn't reach his back to clean himself), fought us when we tried to clip his nails, and shredded up our carpet with said claws. We loved Frankie, but he also wasn't as tolerant as our other cat, Gus. We decided it was time to find Frankie a new home before the baby arrived. Adult cats are typically harder to find homes for. I turned to Craigslist and found a couple that was a perfect match for him. I spoke with them on the phone, and the gentleman came by to meet Frankie. He took him home that day. I got our vet to fax their vet his records. They emailed me pictures of him in his new home. A year after they got him, they sent me another picture of him!! I haven't heard from them since, but I assume that Frankie is quite happy being doted on as an "only cat".

After Jillian was born, I was looking for an exersaucer. I couldn't decide what to buy, since her tastes are rather fickle and the last thing I wanted to do was spend a decent chunk of change on something big. I found this Baby Einstein Activity Jumper on Craigslist up near where my mom lives, so I sent her on over. She picked it up for us (for around $20 I think) and we used it ALL.THE.TIME.

Beyond those two things, what I use Craigslist for mostly is for finding yard sales. People more and more are advertising their yard sales on Craigslist, so rather than aimlessly driving around, I can sort of plan my yard sale outings this way!


Since there are a bunch of crazies out there, I'm going to go ahead and copy Amber's PSA:

***I have to do a public service announcement: Craigslist can also be very dangerous. There's been lots of stories on the news lately. Always make sure that you are not home alone when you have someone come to pick something up. Always bring someone with you when picking up an item at someone's home, or make sure to meet in a very public place. Always check the money, even if you feel badly about it. Never give out your address until you are ready for them to come & someone is home.***

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - September 21st

Last week got a little jumbled up, but we stuck to the plan for the most part. I still am really loving having a plan for the week food-wise. Here's how I think this week is going to shape up!



Sunday - Moms Group Picnic
Monday - Steak, Rice, Baked Apples (we're going apple picking!)
Tuesday - Enchiladas with Guacamole
Wednesday - Pork Chops, leftover Baked Apples
Thursday - Sausage Potato Soup
Friday - Homemade Pizza (or we may go out; Jillian will be at Parents' Night Out at My Gym!)
Saturday - Annual Crab Feast at FIL's

Looking for some ideas for your menu this week? Check out the posts at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more great menu plans and link up your menu too!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ye Olde Renaissance Festival

This morning Jillian tried on her new duds. "Fake" Aunt Jen sent her an adorable Dallas Cowboys onesie from Texas, since Walmarts here in Maryland don't carry Cowboys goodies. I just picked up a sweet hat with pom-poms on at our Walmart. Think this will make for a confused child? We'll just add it to her list of things to discuss with a therapist later in life....


Today the weather was so nice we decided to head out to the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Jillian had a ball playing on the big pirate ship with it's curved slide. Her fearlessness never ceases to amaze me.


She spent some time playing on the smaller play structure, too. She especially loved going down the slides.


Pony rides all around!



Yummy food and beverages abounded.


Jillian got a wreath of flowers for her hair and a "starter" sword.


And Josh tried his hand at the crossbow game.


A good time was had by all and we (John & I) were exhausted by the end of the day! Jillian, who usually takes a big nap mid-day, only slept for about 20-30 minutes on the way down this morning. I couldn't believe she didn't fall asleep on the way home! Hopefully that bodes well for a solid night of sleep for her!!!