Monday, June 29, 2009

Lullaby Slings has a logo!

Original art by Katherine Kenfield. Isn't it beautiful?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's been a good day.

I've been meaning to blog about a couple of Things That Work For Us lately, and today seems like a good time, particularly since the whole day has been pretty nice! The kids all napped together, which was a major blessing. :) We got the backyard completely cleaned up, most of the garden watered, and the outdoor shelves cleared off, cleaned, and re-organized. It's beautiful out there now, which makes me much more likely to take the kids outside to play!

Somehow I kept the laundry moving all day without even noticing, so now most of it is clean and put away. Amazing. Must figure out how to repeat this miracle.

The kids' art cabinet is organized so they can once again find stickers, scissors, and various coloring implements. They have been LOVING creating art lately, but a week or two of that leaves the cupboard pretty crazy. Now it will be easier for them to enjoy it.

Kitchen drawers no longer have crumbs in the corners. A little thing, but one that bothers me if it isn't done. Speaking of the kitchen, we are coming to the unfortunate conclusion that the reason our house smells icky is because we have mold in the cabinets/walls. And do you know what it costs to tear them out and replace them? Even at IKEA, just the cabinetry alone costs about $2000. Then you have to add demolition and installation costs. Ouch.

And now to the Things That Work.

1) Grilling dinner on Sunday evening, and using paper plates. Fun for the kids, easy for the Mom, yummy in all of our tummies. Seriously, these hamburgers were the Platonic Form of Hamburger. We grilled some chicken, too, and tomorrow we'll have chicken caesar salad. Isn't that clever of me, to get two meals out of one bbq night? :)

2) Our new evening routine. We'd been struggling through bedtime/evening clean-up for a long time. By the time I got to the end of the day, the LAST thing I wanted to do was more kid stuff. Bedtime requires patience, and I was fresh out. So I'd drag through it without being much real help. By the time Gabe got to the end of the day (including bedtime), the last thing he wanted to do was clean-up. But he doesn't like going to bed with a dirty kitchen, either, so he'd drag through that. Neither of us was very happy.

BUT we are brilliant, and we figured out a way to fix it. Gabe does the bedtime routine while I clean the kitchen! I don't mind cleaning because I am alone in there, with no one bothering me. Gabe has more kid energy at the end of the day, and besides, he knows that when he's done with that he's really DONE because the house will be clean. By 8pm or so we can both reasonably expect to relax.

It definitely works for us!

Passing the buck

I sat down at the computer and stared at my desktop - entirely rearranged. "Who moved all my icons?" I asked. Thomas grinned, pointed, and stated "Yaya did it!"

What a compliment!

Jonathan looked at a model in a Macy’s advertisement and commented “Hey Mommy, you like like her. Only she is more fat.”

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 6: on the road again

Destination: Jiggs, Nevada (otherwise known as: Middle-Of-Nowhere, Steve's Home)

About half an hour into our morning drive, we found ourselves here:

On a winding mountain road with nowhere to pass. Just keep smiling, just keep smiling, just keep smiling...

So it was a slow start. But eventually, after a very long drive across the Nevada desert (I can't stand the Nevada desert!) we arrived in Elko. Bliss!

Not the city, silly.

Coffee! Bathrooms! Whipped cream! Cell service!!!!! Seriously, it was a very happy family that piled out of the car. :)

After that it was only about 60 more miles to our destination, Cowboy's Rest Ranch. However, since 20 of those are on a dirt road, it took awhile. Our kids were such troopers.

You can see here what I mean about the Ranch being in the middle of nowhere:

It was SO worth the drive. I think we would drive across the entire country to see Steve. Steve was Gabe's roommate in college, and a more amazing, cheerful, funny, gifted, hospitable man of God you would be hard-pressed to find. Visiting him is good for Gabe, pleasant for me, and our kids love him...he's an honorary uncle.

We all stayed up WAY too late. "Steve time" is entirely different from normal "we-have-small-children-time"! We had a campfire,

and made "moon pies" (bread and a smorgusbord of fillings, toasted in irons in the fire).

And just before tucking into bed, Gabe took the boys outside to see the stars.

Sometimes I think Gabe would be perfectly happy living in Nevada. Sadly, he married a wife who hates the desert. But I have to say that when I stand in Nevada and stare up into the stars, a tiny part of me wishes I didn't have to leave.

Day 5: more family

Tuesday morning I left Gabe and the kids and went to spend an hour with my maternal grandparents.

It was such a treat to have time to just sit down and talk to them without needing to split my attention between them and childcare! And it's fun to be old enough to really converse with them as an adult.

Then at lunchtime, we all went to a park and met Uncle Jonathan and Aunt Jenny. We had races across the grass (that's my brother carrying Thomas in the picture) and climbed on big rocks and played pooh sticks in the creek.

The boys skipped naptime because it was our last day with grandparents and really, who needs naps when you can play in the sprinkler?

Josiah got a bath instead of a sprinkle. Bathing babies is a Grandmommy tradition.

Everyone had a bedtime story with Grandmommy.

Josiah listened and played with his toes.

And then Gabe and I watched Mama Mia with Mom and Dad. Seriously strange movie, that one. But great music. :) Apparently the kids hadn't fallen asleep when we started watching, because ever since Thomas and Jonathan have been running around singing "mama mia, here I go again..."

Some days, you just need to throw away the list.

I woke up this morning feeling out of sorts, not grumpy, just wishing for something different than what was planned. Chores and laundry just sounded - blah.

So I didn't do any. We spent the day learning about penguins (coloring pages, connect the dots, anatomical diagrams, puzzles, and the penguin scene in Mary Poppins!) and playing in sprinklers and puddles (and then the bathtub - I wish I'd thought to snap a picture of my very muddy boys) and then we turned the dinner table into a kitchen and made banana bread. It is much more fun on the table - the extra room makes it easier for me to help the boys participate. Jonathan can crack an egg all by himself now, and both boys are learning how to measure dry ingredients.

I still have to do the laundry and the house isn't very clean. But I think that today, this was a good decision.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

There's no such thing as momentum.

Not in my life, anyway. And I think that this is (at least part of) the reason I have such a hard time feel like I'm getting anything accomplished around here.

I don't like cleaning the bathroom. I particularly don't like cleaning the bathroom when the floor needs to be mopped because a child left a four foot arc of pee across it. Doing chores that I dislike requires a certain amount of "gearing up" for me to actually get started. And when I get started in the bathroom, what I'd like to do is use the "already started" momentum to clean the counters, the sink, the tub, the toilet, and the floor. All of it, all at once, beautiful and shining and DONE at the end.

But I can't do it like that, because when I'm wiping the counters Josiah needs to be held. (That's ok, I can wipe counters with one hand.) When I'm cleaning the sink, Jonathan and Thomas have a fight and I have to break that up, discipline both boys, and then hold Siah again because he's been upset by all the chaos. Back to the not-at-all-clean bathroom, it has been at least 30 minutes since I started and now I'm feeling like I'll never be done. And I can't clean the toilet because a child is sitting on it. Momentum, gone.

I keep telling myself to just "do the next thing" but it can be so discouraging when the "next thing" never actually seems to get finished. Right now I'm looking at my (conservative, reasonable!) list for the day, and there are three fairly minor chores that can't be crossed off because they aren't entirely finished, but I've been trying to get them done since 8am this morning.

If I could just clean, without the myriad of interruptions that are the daily fabric of my life, I could get the entire house reasonably clean in under 90 minutes. Sometimes I miss the days when I could do that. Sometimes I dream of a house cleaner. Sometimes I long for a babysitter.

But sometimes, often in the quiet of naptime when I have a chance to breath and pray and think, I remember that I have three beautiful children, whom I love so very much, and they beat out momentum every time.

So in the midst of this life that God has given me, with interruptions and giggles and shrieking and train tracks strewn across my wish-it-was-vacuumed floor, I guess I'll just work on learning to use momentum in smaller pieces.

Aunts and Uncles

I've mentioned before how blessed our kids are in their aunts and uncles. Even the ones who are far away make a real effort to be part of their lives. Look what came in the mail!!

Aren't those amazing? Aunt Sarah and Uncle Nathan know a man who makes them, and they had these created for Jonathan and Thomas.

They're just the right size. Thank you, Aunt Sarah! Thank you, Uncle Nathan!

P.S. The box is as much fun as the chairs. It now has windows and a door and they play in it almost every day. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Clever, isn't he?

Jonathan has learned how to use my vices to his own benefit.

"Mom, can we go look at that red thing?"

"No, sorry, we're not going that way."

*thoughtful pause*

"Well, there's a Starbucks over there and I was thinking maybe you'd like to get something special."

He's crawling!

Sunday we saw a few tentative attempts, and Monday Josiah made real progress across the room. Today he's crawling pretty much wherever he wants to go. It is a funny cross between a regular crawl and an army crawl, but he sure can move when he has a mind to do so!

Nothing is safe! :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 4: Great Grandma Palmer

Monday was a lovely relaxed day. Jonathan and Thomas started the day helping Grandmommy make pancakes. She even let them help crack the eggs!

Gabe took them outside later to play in the glorious dirt box that will become the garden. Since it wasn't planted yet, it was a great place to play! Grandmommy and Granddad saved some really wonderful toys from their own boy-raising excursions, and J and T really enjoyed them.

Look at Jonathan's concentration.

In the evening we had another big family dinner, this time at my parents' house with Jonathan and Jenn, and the boys' Great Grandma Palmer.

Grandma had considered not coming, but I think she was glad that Mom and Dad picked her up anyway! She loves her grandchildren and her great grandchildren very much. The last time she saw Josiah was when he was just about three weeks old. It was a very different experience this time! I'm glad she got the chance to interact with him as his own little person.

Target trip 6/18/09 *UPDATE*

Update: I called Target corporate guest relations and they were great! They were happy to hear that I liked the store, and they also said that the coupons should have been accepted. They are sending both the compliment and the complaint to the store manager. In the meantime, they are sending me a $3 corporate issued coupon which I can use on my next trip there.

I almost never shop at Target, but this week's grocery deals were uncommonly good. I wonder if Target is trying to branch out and reach more people with their grocery section? If that is their goal, I think it might be working. Shopping in their grocery section was simply a pleasure. Everything was clearly marked, the arrangement of the aisles made sense, and the store was clean and bright. Not only that, even though I was shopping at 9pm, I had no trouble finding an employee to answer a question, and checking out was quick even though there were a lot of other shoppers in line.

The clerk was friendly and didn't mind that I had a pile of coupons for her to scan. I did run into a problem using Target coupons (printed from the Target website) - they didn't scan, and the clerk and manager both said they were sorry, but there was nothing they could do about that. They gave me the number for Target corporate, and I think I'll call them today. I have lots of nice things to say about their store, and I think they'd like to hear those as well as about the coupon problem I encountered.

All in all, I'll probably pay more attention to Target fliers in the future, and may end up shopping there more frequently.

What I bought:
3 Huggies (buy 3, get a $5 GC promotion)
6 ice creams (buy 5, get a $5 GC promotion)
4 pkgs Oscar Mayer lunch meat
2 pkgs Kraft cheese slices (buy meat and cheese, get meat free promotion)
2 pkgs organic tortilla chips
1 jar salsa (buy 2 chips, get free salsa promotion)
1 Skippy pb
1 Welch's jelly
1 Oroweat bread (buy pb and jelly, get bread free promotion)
1 jar Pace salsa
1 jar A-1 sauce
1 pkg napkins

Coupons used:
$1.50/1 huggies (3)
$1/2 breyers (2)
$1/2 oscar mayer (2)
$1/2 kraft (1)
$.55/1 welch's (1)
$1/1 pace (1)
$2/1 A-1 (1)

Tried to use target coupons:
$1/1 chips (2)
$.50/1 pace (1)

Total paid:

Friday, June 12, 2009

El Pollo Loco - free grilled chicken!

El Pollo Loco and KFC are duking it out over grilled chicken. Why KFC is even in the running, I'm not sure - we took advantage of their free grilled chicken meal awhile back and frankly found it to be not very good at all. But El Pollo Loco, now that is another story! We really enjoy their food, as well as their friendly manager.

There is a funny video from EPL regarding KFC's "beefy chicken", and after you check that out, print this coupon for a free 2 piece meal when you purchase a 2, 3, or 4 piece meal.

One coupon per customer per visit. Expires 6/30/09.


Day 3: Family

One of the best things about visiting my family is that it is very comfortable. We never feel rushed, or pressured, or stressed in any way. When we were in the planning stages, one of Gabe's comments about staying with my parents was something to the effect of "we'll have a good chance to relax there." The kids have lots of space to play and relatives who want to play with them, and it isn't unheard of for the lucky parents to get a chance to sit and just read a book! It is a great place to vacation. :)

Throughout my childhood, we ate dinner together around the table. So this picture just says "ok, I'm home now" to me. That's family, folks.

Jonathan had a blast with Granddad, and I think that Granddad got a kick out of J, too.

My parents have a dog, a good sized black lab mix, named Maggie. Thomas was terrified of her:

But Josiah, we have discovered, loves big animals. The bigger the better, actually. He thought Maggie was great!

We spent Sunday evening with my Susan and Gary, Grandmommy and Granddaddy, Matt and Amber and their three kids. I forgot my camera, which is unfortunate because you should have seen the DIRT the children accumulated! All four of the older children disappeared the minute we arrived, showed up for food, and then took off again. It was really neat to see the cousins having so much fun together, and we thoroughly enjoyed the time and space to catch up with the other grown-ups. Even when we don't see them very often, extended family is a great blessing.

Have you EVER seen anything so cute?

Cloth diapered bottoms are just adorable. :) I got tired of paying for disposable diapers for 2.5 children - even buying at rock bottom sale/coupon prices it was really adding up. So back to cloth we went (for the littlest one). I really do like it better. Must remember that!

Josiah has entered a "no, let me feed MYSELF" stage. He's handling much bigger pieces of table food and loving all the fresh fruits and veggies we've been having. Today I was feeding him sweet potato and left it a little too close to him while in the kitchen getting milk for the other boys. What a result! He was enjoying himself so much, and the damage was well and truly done, so I let him play...and he fed himself the whole bowl!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Gee, I really thought that a coupon giveaway would generate more interest. Only two entries! I forgot to set a deadline for entering, but it has been up for nearly a week and I don't want to get too close to the coupon expiration dates. So I have now used the trusty random number generator at and...

the winner is...

Ax Lady! (I have to ask, why the name??)

Please send your snail mail address to puznee[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll get the coupons in the mail for you!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Farmer's Market

We discovered a Farmer's Market in Brea (Tuesdays, 4-8pm) and boy are we going to enjoy it this summer! Last Tuesday was our first excursion. There was a good variety of produce as well as other items like cage free eggs, handmade tamales, and homemade Italian pasta (sold by a real Italian who spoke his own language to the boys - how fun is that???) We bought pasta from him (expensive, but too much fun to pass up), and also baby red potatoes, yams, lettuce, beets, radishes, corn, nectarines, apricots, a whole bag of grapefruits, yellow peppers, avocados, green beans, and tomatoes. A feast!! We've had really healthy meals this week and as an added benefit, I've been so excited about cooking again!

Wednesday: chicken (one breast among all of us), creamed peas and new potatoes, a lovely salad, and nectarines
Thursday: Crock pot "roasted" chicken, beets, grean beans, and yams (colorful!!)
Friday: Caesar salad (with leftover chicken), corn on the cob, homemade bread
Saturday: Chicken cheesebake (again, with leftover chicken!), green beans, nectarines
Sunday: Leftover cheesebake, carrots
Monday: Burritos (whole wheat tortillas, crock pot beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes)

As you can see, I started running out of veggies toward the end of the week. I'll have a better idea of what we'll actually eat when I go again tomorrow. It was so nice to have really good, appealing, healthy snacks available all week! I find it MUCH easier to eat properly if the "good for you" food is more appealing than other things!

I highly recommend trying a farmer's market this summer if there is one available near you. Fun for the whole family, supportive of real farmers, and organic, healthy food at prices that are remarkably affordable. If you're near Brea, maybe we'll see you there tomorrow!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Day 2: the town nobody visits

I'd like to say that we headed out bright and early on day two of our trip, but I would be lying. We actually made it away from the hotel sometime close to 10am, and then spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find that Starbucks we knew we'd seen on the way to hotel last night...

Sometimes an idea just sounds like too much fun to give up on. And we did find it!

By the time we were really on the road, Thomas was tired again. :)

Remember how on day 1, we didn't have any cash in the car? Well, we still didn't. And look what is in front of us:

Tolls. Cash only. We exited, planning to find a gas station and use a debit card. Only, there weren't any gas stations. We drove a long way through nowhere without seeing much of anything. Well, we did see one big Shell sign which got our hopes up, but it was a refinery.

So we just kept driving, because what else could we do? Can't get back on the freeway without cash! Eventually we got to the little town of Martinez.

It is actually quite pretty.

Though perhaps not the safest place to be in the event of an earthquake.

We parked in front of a McDonalds. Hurray! Cash! Food! Bathrooms!


Folks, this is a little tiny town. Apparently no one gets out on the weekends.

Thankfully, we found an ATM and got our cash.

And we also found a cute little art gallery that wasn't technically open but did have some people working in it. They were very kind and let us use their bathrooms.

According to one of the ladies there, "Martinez isn't the sort of town people visit - they only come here for a reason."

Like needing cash for the toll road. Its only a little out of the way.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Older every day

Thomas on a "big boy swing" for the first time:

Jonathan's drawings are becoming ever more accurate. This is his latest rendition of a train. See the tracks, the wheels, the cab?

And Siah doesn't stay where I put him anymore. As evidenced by the vast distance between himself and his toys. He's so pleased with himself!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Coupon giveaway! ($146 value)

I'm cleaning out my coupon folder and thought I'd host my first coupon giveaway instead of throwing them away. These are already clipped coupons, no inserts.

Included categories and value:

Baby $29.25

Grocery $16.90

Organics $16.30 + one free item

Ralphs store $4.70

Misc. $78.90

To enter, just leave a comment. Easy!

The fine print: if you win, I ask that you sort through the coupons, and then host a giveaway of your own with the ones you don't want and any additional coupons you want to add from your own stash. It's all about helping each other out. :)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bugaboo stroller recall

Just in case one of my readers has a Bugaboo stroller! And if you know someone who does, let them know about this recall.

Bugaboo Recalls Strollers Due to Risk of Brake Failure

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Bugaboo Bee Strollers

Units: About 22,500

Distributor: Bugaboo North America Inc., of Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Manufacturer: Bugaboo Design & Sales, B.V., of the Netherlands

Hazard: One or both sides of the brakes can fail, causing a stroller to unexpectedly roll away on an incline. This can pose a risk of injury to the child occupant.

Incidents/Injuries: Bugaboo has received 121 reports of the stroller's brakes failing. No injuries have been reported.

Description: Bugaboo Bee strollers have item code 580210 on a label on the back of the seat and item code 50100 on a label on the plastic support under the seat. The strollers were sold in blue, dark khaki, pink, red, yellow, and black. "bugaboo(r) bee" is printed on the left side of the seat.

Sold at: Juvenile product retailers nationwide and on various Web sites from August 2007 through April 2009 for about $530.

Manufactured in: Taiwan

Remedy: Consumers should stop using the strollers immediately and contact Bugaboo to receive a free repair kit. To order the bracket kit, go to and fill in the special order form or contact Bugaboo customer service.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Bugaboo at (800) 460-2922 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, visit the firm's Web site at, or email the firm at

Not crawling yet...

but might as well be. This morning I left Josiah asleep in the center of our queen size bed, a pillow on either side of him. Fed the older boys breakfast and was washing dishes when I heard Josiah screaming. I'm not sure how he did it, but he most decidedly threw himself off the bed.

Time for the crib, I think. :)

Day 1: In which we visit the super-cool Marshalls

We left just before 9am on Friday morning. Here are the kids all settled in the car. They had brand new work machines and sticker books to play with, so they were much too engrossed to smile for the camera.

My handsome husband was more cooperative. :)

We spent the day driving. You wouldn't think it would take all day to drive from So Cal to San Jose, but it did. Every potty break took about 45 minutes, and there were so many potty breaks! Thomas is just starting to train, too, so although he was wearing diapers we were trying to be sensitive to his requests for the "pobby" as well. And almost invariably, as soon as we got back on the road after pottying, Josiah would decide to wake up and want to nurse.

Good times. :)

We were driving the final stretch in the late afternoon. There were fresh fruit and nut stands everywhere and we had not one dollar in our car. So disappointing, because we knew we weren't going to come back that way!

Disappointment disappeared, however, when we got to the Marshall's house. They have a DOG!!! Poor Tonks was terrified of our noisy kidlings.

We picked up unbelievably delicious food at a mexican/fusion/super-organic/green-friendly restaurant. Did you know that you can get "plastic" forks made out of potatoes? You can! Then we took it to a local park and let the kids run around and play while we ate and talked.

Linds and Nate are the awesome sort of people who, while not currently having children themselves, are fantastic with ours. And we've been friends long enough that even though we see them very infrequently, we can just sort of pick back up where we left off when we do get together.

Thomas really enjoyed Nate:

And both boys thought Lindsay was a stellar playmate.

The evening was too short. Linds and Nate, we love you guys and hope to see you again SOON!