Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Larry the Home Depot Guy

Today I took two one-year-olds into Home Depot to buy some grass seed and fertilizer. Since they didn't have any double-seater-stroller-race-car available, I put both kiddos in the basket of a normal cart and headed to garden department. Things were fine until we were in the same spot for too long (choosing a type of grass- who knew there were so many!?) and Jackson got bored and Chacey was just super tired. Did I mention it was nap time?

So, Larry the Home Depot guy, comes over to ask if I had need help. Not only does this man have answers to all my questions about grass and fertilizer and the basics of getting grass to grow--if it's called Tall Fescue does it mean that it grows taller faster and needs mowed more often? (answer, no)-- but he was so helpful and patient with me as I had to interrupt the conversation constantly to attend to my child who had already put one leg out of the cart in efforts to climb out. Larry the Home Depot guy even continuously picked up my keys off the floor as Jackson kept throwing out of the cart while I held Chacey who had pretty much fallen asleep in my arms.

Then went to find a big cart, loaded up the grass (a mixed blend if you're curious) and the fertalizer. He walked it to the cash register, scanned the items himself, and then followed me out to load it all in my car. Then, he even waited for me to get the kids buckled in so he could return both carts.

Talk about customer service! Since it is so easy to focus on complaining sometimes, I just wanted to take a quick moment and focus how a great employee made a dreadful task so much easier!

One a completely different note, this is Jackson's black eye. He fell last night and hit the coffee table- he went to bed with a scratch and woke up with a black eye.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

God made dirt, it won't hurt

Spring is here so we can finally start getting some work done on our yard. I cannot wait to have grass instead of a mud pit for a yard! Yesterday afternoon our top soil was delivered and the kids watched in amazement as the "tuck" emptied the dirt in a massive heap in our front yard. Of course Jackson wanted to check it out. My first thought was, "heck, no!" but then decided, "why not?" So I brought the kids inside to change into some play clothes and we headed back out to the pile of dirt.

It is very interesting to me how these two are so different despite being in the same environment a lot of the time. Jackson is 100% boy and Chacey 100% girly. Give them the same activity, and they will each participate in a different way. Example, playing in the dirt- Jackson was into climbing and throwing dirt while Chacey was content to sit still and break apart the clumps into smaller pieces.

Jackson thought he'd see if the dirt was tasty and dove right in. But then he realized he didn't like it, so he tried to wipe it out. Except that he was using his dirty hands, which kept putting more in his mouth. Regardless, he was having too much fun to care. On the other hand, Chacey merely took a quick taste and was pretty uninterested and went back to breaking up clumps of dirt.

Here is a short clip of Jackson's fun in the dirt

Monday, March 29, 2010

Derek's Golden Birthday

This year was Derek's Golden Birthday- he turned 26 on the 26th. (How ironic that our bill was $26.03 when we went to Arthur Bryant's that night!) Of course, Derek didn't really care, but I think it's fun to celebrate. So, I threw a last minute surprise party together for people to get together at his parents house after church on Sunday night. Thanks everyone for coming!!

His birthday loot:
  • 26 dollar bills (x2)
  • 26 Dr. Peppers (x2)
  • 26 bags of Cheez-Its
  • 26 Mini-Snickeres
  • 26 Bite-size Snickers
  • 26 pieces of candy (x2)
  • 26 pistachios
  • 26 facebook wall-posts (haha!!)
And of course, a few pictures!  Instead, his mom made his favorite chocolate chip cookies. So, we opted for candles in the pizza (we had eight of them!). And we didn't have a six either, so we improvised with  4+1+1. 

    Jackson going through Derek's gifts

    And finding a use for the cans that are just lying around. He got them stacked 5 high on top of the coffee table. Pretty impressive.

    So when Derek goes to buy something for $26 in ones- what type of job will the cashier think Derek has?

    Me and the birthday boy!

    Aunt Laura and Jackson!

    Dad has plenty- why can't he share?!? I bet I'd like Dr. Pepper if you'd let me have some.

    Friday, March 26, 2010

    Shower in the Kitchen

    I've been asked, "Doesn't it get boring being a stay-at-home-mom?" It is evident that these people have never met Jackson. My life is never boring. Every day is surprise- never knowing what on earth Jackson has in store for me!

    Yesterday, I was cooking in the kitchen. I had already baked some banana bread and was starting on dinner. Jackson was playing so contently with the tupperware containers, cookie cutters, and climbing in drawers. (Notice my shoes in the cabinet.)

     So, as I am cooking I can hear Jackson in the kitchen and assume that he is still playing responsibly. What was I thinking!?!? I glance in his direction to find him taking a shower with water from the refrigerator door. He wasn't just damp- he was SOAKED, literally dripping on the floor. A kitchen towel wouldn't suffice, I had to go get a bath towel to clean up the lake that was in the middle of my floor.

    Look at that face. What'd I do? Fortunately, we purchased a refrigerator model with a lock feature for the ice and water dispenser. We will undoubtedly be using it from now on.

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Thrifty Thursday

    I got a lot of positive comments on my Money Saving Website post from last week. So, I've decided to make continue to share a few of the tips and tricks that I use to help save money here and there! Having the privilege to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom is important to me, so I try to make it part of my job to make sure our dollar stretches as far as possible.

    In honor of the Easter pictures that I posted yesterday, This Thrifty Thursday will focus on my system to getting Jackson's professional pictures taken. I have gotten Jackson's picture taken seven times now (every other month in his first year and this year's Easter pic), and have spent less than several people spend on one portrait setting alone- less than $85.

    My first step of getting Jackson's pictures taken is deciding whether I want several prints to give to friends and family, or do I want to order only a few prints but with a couple different poses. For lots of prints, Portrait Innovations is the place to go; for a few poses, it's Target Portraits.

    At Portrait Innovations you can get their special package and get over 40 prints with six greeting cards for $9.95. Additional prints are $15 a sheet. It takes will power to walk out with only one pose, but it is possible! Be prepared for chaos when you walk into Portrait Innovations (avoid Saturdays!) and expect to be there for at least an hour even if you have an appointment. It is super cool that they print your portraits immediately and can take them home with you.

    Target always has printable coupons from their website for a free 8x10 with additional sheets being $3.99. Also, once you get your pictures taken there once, upon picking up the picture you will be given a code to take a survey to print a $3 off coupon for your next purchase. You can do this each time and it is stackable with the first coupon I mentioned. Target has a much calmer atmosphere with no distractions. They will be done with taking pictures in 15-20 minutes and then it just takes a few minutes to pick the ones you want. The pictures do take about 10-14 days to come in, so you do have to make a trip back to pick them up.

    Neither places have a sitting fee and both have great props, though you can bring your own if you want. I love the pictures I've gotten and they line our hallway wall so you can see how grew in the first year. And for just over $10 (with tax) for each time, it's even better!

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    My Handsome Fella

    I have never been so in love with how a picture turned out than this. Seriously, I am not sure this kid could be any cuter. How amazing is it that he put the hat on by himself and covered up his boo boo? And look at his personality shine through. I realize that perhaps I am a bit biased, but there is no denying that this kid is a handsome fella!

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    First Impressions

    I don't want Derek to feel left out of my blog since most of my posts are about Jackson and other random topics. This is Derek's birthday week, so I feel now is an appropriate time to share about the man I married. Today's focus will be on what I call his primitive years- ya know, the unrefined years before he settled down.

    Derek was rhythm guitar in his high school band, Part Time Heroes. He was really excited to come across some of the old recordings not too long ago and he uploaded a few to YouTube.

    Derek also starred and co-starred in many videos put together by he and his roommate, Jeffrey. I'm not sure there are actually words to describe these videos better than the title of their first DVD, The Effects of Boredom on the Mind. (Yes, they did finally publish a second DVD after the infamous hard drive crash of 2004.)

    I would have to say that the best one, is the music video remake of the Evanescence song, Bring me to Life. 

    And if you ever need something new and stupid (or stupid and new) do to, look no further than Fake Skateboarding. I mean, isn't this what all college boys do at 12:30am, on May 1st?

    I titled this post, First Impressions, because truth be told, this was my first impression of my (unknowingly at the time) future husband. We had several mutual friends, but were merely acquaintances at the time and I remember being so surprised to see those him acting so silly because he was always so introverted the times I'd hung out with him. Well, at least I knew what i was getting myself into when I started dating him and I am one to appreciate being able to have a good time with friends. Though personally, I would never chose to do so in front of the camera.

    For more of Derek's videos, check out his YouTube page:

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    He's glued and good to go

    What were you doing exactly five weeks ago tonight? We were at Children's Mercy Urgent Care getting Jackson taken care of-- which is precisely what we did this evening as well. For my sanity and checking account's sake- I hope this doesn't become routine.

    It started out as a nice evening watching the alumni game at the school. Jackson is chillin' with Daddy and enjoying a chicken nugget.

    This was about the only five seconds that Jackson sat still. We lapped the gym several times in the 45 minutes we were there. Jackson was his normal, super busy self. Next thing I know, HanNah says, "Jackson just hit his head," and I see Derek walk off with Jackson. Too myself, I think, "Eh, it's no big deal, he hits his head all of the time." But then I see Derek and Jackson across the gym and even from that far away I could see all the blood. 

     I remember a story that Mom used to tell about how I got a cut on my head when I was just a little older than Jackson. She would tell me how worried she was because the would bled so much, but then it turned out to be a little scrape. So, I kept that in mind as we began to clean him up in the boys bathroom. The cut was small in size, but pretty deep. Fortunately, we got the bleeding to slow way down. Brooke found us some juice and a cookie and Jackson was back to his normal self. But still, we thought it'd be better to get it checked out for sure.

    The temporary band-aid to hold us over.

    My mom had called earlier to say she decided to come visit for the evening. She wanted to check out our finished master bedroom and to come play with Jackson. She got in town right as we were getting ready to leave, so Jackson and I left with her to head to Children's Mercy. Derek stayed behind just because we didn't think it'd be necessary to have three adults and he could at least enjoy the rest of the game. While Mom did get to spend the evening playing with Jackson, she has still not seen our bedroom.

    Thank goodness she was there! He was super busy and I was super pooped. Mom reads Jackson a book.

    She also teaches him Ring Around the Rosie- he loved it.

    Seriously, who needs a fish tank when you can just have a huge tv and a fish DVD (think of the perks-no fish food or cleaning the tank!). Jackson LOVES fish, so he was very entertained by the ever changing fish tank.

    After a reasonable amount of waiting, we go back into a room and wait another 20 minutes to see the nurse. I wish we could have just stayed in the waiting room because there was lots to keep him occupied. Instead, he has fun crinkling up the paper on the exam table, opening and slamming the cabinet doors, and even took time to play Patty-cake. 

    And he broke a clipboard. That's okay, just put it on the tab.

    The nurse comes in around 9:00 to put some numbing cream on the wound so that it can sit for thirty minutes before the doctor would come repair it. While the picture looks like the cut is pretty lame, it really was deep and wide cut.

    Forty more minutes later in the tiny, nothing-to-do room, way past Jackson's bedtime, the doctor comes in to take a look. Jackson cried as soon as she put on the gloves. She decided that glue would be sufficient. If we had gotten stitches, it only would have been one and then we'd have to come back to get it removed. Since it was a straight cut, the glue prevent the cut from opening back up and wouldn't contribute to more scarring.

    What happened next was miserable to watch- horrible. They swaddle Jackson tight and it takes two nurses to hold him down and still while the other nurse flushes out the wound. This takes about 10 minutes. Then, the doctor glued the cut together and put a different glue on to hold down the bandages that would cover the opening. It probably took around 10 minutes as well. But seriously, it might as well have been an hour. It is pure torture to hear your baby scream SO loudly and so desperately. 

    He calmed down after several minutes of consoling- and after we turned on the television. The swelling has gone way down, but a definite bruise is already forming (to match the one he got yesterday).

    As expected, Jackson fell asleep on the way home around 10:30ish. The plan was to get Jackson's Easter pictures taken in the morning- but that's not going to happen. I suppose it can wait- assuming that he can stay away from any major bumps and bruises in the meantime. Doubtful.

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Money Saving Webites

    Just few months after we got married, Derek and I went to lunch with some friends. I walked into Quizno's with a coupon in hand and my friend said to her husband, "See, I knew she'd have one with her!" Obviously, it was no secret that I, am in fact, am cheap. We had previously decided where to eat lunch, so I thought I'd check online to see if I could find a coupon. By taking just a few minutes before we left the house, we were able to enjoy a free sandwich that afternoon.

    There are people out there that are amazing with the coupons and spend $45 for an entire week of groceries, like my friend Callie. That is not me. I don't get the Sunday paper to clip coupons and I am doing good if I get to the grocery store one or two times a month. Instead, I do a lot of shopping at Aldi's and stock up on really good deals when they come up.

    However, I thought I'd share some of the sites that have saved me tons of money and that I check pretty regularly. Normally, this takes about 30 seconds just to check unless something tweaks my interest and I'll spend a couple of minutes reading how to get the amazing deal.
    This is a forum site. Everyday people like you and me post deals that they have found. Other people rate the deals and moderators determine the 'slickness' of the deals posting the hottest deals on the front page. I check this site daily, though I only find something that is a deal for me maybe once a month-ish. If, you are looking for something specific, you can use the search bar or browse through the specific forums (hot deals, freebies, coupons, etc...). I've ended up with several freebies (samples, coupons for toys, hotdogs, Chipotle, etc.), magazine subscriptions for $3 (ESPN, Seventeen), photo prints for pennies. We got a package of 80 batteries for $8 once. I even got in a research study for AOL that paid $200 a few years ago. It's nice because other people do the work and I just check and get the deal myself! Beware of buying things you don't need just because you can get it for a few dollars- not that it has ever happened in this house.

    I use the Penny Pinching Parent website for three things. Mainly these days, I just check out the Savings Sunday post that gets put up each week that lists the deals on all things baby (diaper, wipes, food, clothes) for the week. When something like Huggies goes on sale, they'll also include what coupons are available to maximize your savings. Unless you are a professional diaper shopper it's hard to know the best deal when comparing the price to and the number of diapers in a Mega, Ultra, Jumbo-packs of diapers in each brand! The posts How Many Diapers in a Pack and How Much to Pay Per Diaper are easy references in navigating the world of diaper shopping.
    I am new to this site, but I LOVE it. For those of you who aren't from KC, no worries- this is part of a network that has a site for most major cities. With a few posts a day, this site keeps you up to date with freebies, deals, and activities in the KC area. There are pages for the cheapest gas in the area, where kids eat free, and items that are always free. It's super easy to find your way around.
    Craigslist is amazing. It is simple, easy to navigate, and so handy. Not only did I find my house through a listing on Craigslist, but a majority of the items in it- front door, laminate flooring, cabinet doors, bathroom mirror, light fixtures, living room tables, dishes... and I could go on. I have gotten books, DVDs, toys, Derek's car... just about everything. It is as simple as emailing someone. Most everyone can be talked down on price and it's super easy to do since haggling can be done on email and not face to face. And for those of you with a "green" conscious- it's a great way to pass along items that you don't use. I actually got all of the supplies for Jackson's birthday party from a lady who had extras and didn't want to throw them away- and I got them for free!!! At one point I had a kazillion baby food jars lying around and I found someone who was looking for some for crafts for VBS- such a better way to get rid of stuff. A few tips- I always make sure to see a picture of the item, keep in mind that "vintage" normally means "crap", and always meet somewhere public and out in the open (Gas stations, store parking lots, etc...).

    Of course, there is always Google. If you know you are heading to a certain restaurant, do a simple search to see if coupons are other there. Same with department store coupons. Most restaurants will send you a free something if you register and give them your birthday.

    All these sites are hit and miss. Sometimes there's a deal, sometimes there's not. And sometimes it's just easier to go out and buy what you need without hassle. However, for those of you trying to cut back on spending these are some great resources! Happy Shopping!

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    St. Patty's Day at Chick-fil-A

    Derek has the day off so to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, we decided to take the kiddos to Chick-fil-A for lunch. Apparently, everyone else had the same idea. We buckled the three kids in our two cars (my car won't hold three seats), drove to Overland Park, walked in and got the last available table!! Two high chairs, three bags, five coats... If any place is worth that hassle, it's Chick-fil-A, no doubt.

    Grandpa stopped by to see Jackson as we were heading out the door, so we invited him to come with-- I'm not sure he knew what he was getting himself into!

    Waffle fries- delicious!

    Chacey- cute as ever!!!

    David enjoyed his nuggets. He kept calling my chicken sandwich a 'chicken burger'.

    One of the greatest things about Chick-fil-A is that it is caters so well to smaller kids. The McDonalds here in town does have a playplace and we go sometimes, but it is so big and there are often lots of older children running around. Chick-fil-A, however, has a smaller playplace and it is wonderful. Jackson started playing at their place before he was even one. And it is in its own separate room so the kids can't run outside either!

    Chacey having a fabulous time.

    David and Jackson spent most of their time in the tunnels so I couldn't get a good picture. Come to find out, someone had spilled a glass of water, so they were enjoying stomping and splashing water more than anything else. They both came down pretty wet.

    As soon as we got home, Derek said "Whew. I don't think the kids got as worn out as the parents did!" I think he was right. The little ones weren't quite ready for their afternoon nap, so they continued to play... and dance. Be sure to watch their performance:

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Book Club

    This was book club in 2007. We'd each take turns picking a book, meet at Panera, and talk (at least a little bit) about the book. We'd stay at Panera until we were the last ones there and every once in awhile we'd make a trip to Barnes and Noble or to watch a movie that was made about a book we'd already read.

    Kristin, me, Audrey, and Jessica
    (reading Twilight before it was the cool thing to do)

    Kristin got married and moved out to Washington State where she does cool things like go to the Olympics and travels all sorts of cool places. Audrey graduated with her Master's and has begun working on her Doctorate, all while teaching and coaching volleyball. Jessica already had Tobin at this point, but then had another baby boy- raised them both while her husband served in Iraq, then had another baby boy and will be on her own again while hubby goes through FBI training. Meanwhile, I've started graduate school, became a mommy, and went from working full time outside of the home to full time inside the home. (Am I the boring one or what?!?) Needless to say, we can hardly find a time that works for everyone to get together. 

    My 2010 book club is vastly different.

    We eat macaroni and cheese instead of Panera. We don't read books like The Devil Wears Prada, My Sister's Keeper, or A Total Waste of Makeup. Instead, we read books more along the lines of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, and Hop on Pop. And we don't read them just once, but over and over and over and over and over.... you get the point. All I can say is thank goodness for the library so I can switch up the books I have on hand. But we have fun. I love reading them books and I think it is so great that they are so interested being read to. I can't wait for the Summer Reading Program! So this what I call Book Club: The Next Generation.

    David, Chacey, and Jackson diving into
    some new books I picked up at the library yesterday.

    I am open to any recommendations of  must-read books for me or the kiddos? The kids books must be board books, and if you have to ask why- you clearly haven't met my son. I do have to say that I love, love, love the Sparkle and Shine Noah's Ark book, enough that I am tempted to just buy a copy! Let me know of any suggestions!

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    My Danish Daughter

    I am nesting- I am working on getting her room all put together (got the bedding set, curtains, etc. this weekend!). I find a way to bring her up in most conversations. I am counting down the days until August 1st.

    For more widgets please visit

    Turns out, being "foreign exchange pregnant" isn't much different than being normal pregnant! Only that when she gets here, she'll already be sleeping through the night and eating solid foods! Certainly, I won't find her sitting on the kitchen table, emptying my billfold contents into a glass of water. 

    Her name is Julie, she's from Denmark, she's 15, and we've emailed back and forth a few times. She is so sweet and super cute! Since Derek will be away most of the time she's here, we'll get to hang out and do 'girl stuff.' I think we'll be a good match together. I'm already trying to plan fun things to do while she's here. Of course there's the trip to GA for when Derek graduates from basic training, but I am hoping to take a (long-overdue) trip to visit a cousin in Chicago and maybe a short vacation to Colorado before school starts. Then maybe I can get around to doing all of those things in Kansas City that I always tell people they should do when they visit, but haven't done yet myself.

    I hope she likes it here and that she'll make good friends! I am praying for her daily and that I'll make a good mom to a teenager, despite my lack of expertise in the area. I am hoping that I can be the "cool" mom (doesn't attempting to be "cool" ruin all chances?) and that we will both learn a great deal through this experience.

    It's a bittersweet countdown, knowing that every day she is closer to being here that it's one day closer that Derek will be leaving. But, honestly, I think it will be so good for me to be able to have a new role to take my focus off being a single-mom for several months. In fact, it gives us something in common and will help me be more understanding to what it must be like to her to be without her family. Only 142 more days to go!!

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    My Little Einstein

    While I know that every mother thinks that their child is the cutest, smartest thing to ever come into this world- I really, truly know that mine IS the cutest and the smartest little 16 month old out there today. :) No bias. Here's a video of him reading a book. I wish it wasn't so dark, but it's still a cute video.

    Seriously though, Jackson is at such a fun age. He is learning new things every day- picking up new talents and saying new words. He's finally letting us know that he understands our world! So when Daddy says things like, "Ugh. Why don't you go mess on Mom's computer instead of mine," Jackson promptly comes over to my computer and bangs on my keyboard.

    And he picks up on things that we haven't even specifically taught him either. Like how he knows that keys go in the door (even though he's using the car keys). I suppose it's time to really pay attention our every little action before he picks up on something we don't want him too. And how not fair is it that Derek will  be gone for close to eight months- so that when Jackson does says or does something to incriminate a bad habit, I can't just say, "Oh, he picked that up from his father..."

    Here are some pictures from this weekend when Jackson helped us with some much needed yard work on Monday.

    He was actually putting leaves 
    on the sidewalk so he could sweep them up.

    Seriously, could he be cuter?

    Good thing he was there to push the wagon!

    Big helper!!

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    She's a fighter!

    There was a time at Grandma's house when Katelyn was a little girl (maybe four-ish) and she had to sit in a chair until she apologized for some silly thing and she sat there for three hours until she finally decided to say sorry. Katelyn has proven to be just as stubborn to win this fight against her veno-occlusive disease.
    Katelyn's Senior Picture 

    A week ago at this time, our family waited in suspense as we wondered if she would make it through the weekend. What a relief it was to hear the doctor come in today to report that her liver and kidneys are rapidly returning to normal function. They have taken her of her CPAP and she's expected to be moved out of the ICU tomorrow. Praise the Lord!

     It's so good to see her smile!! 
    Katelyn with boyfriend Mat, who has been up to visit her 
    several times and is such a support for her!

    This is my second trip up to the Mayo Clinic to visit Katelyn. The clinic is actually a group of several hospitals here in the city. Last time, Katelyn was undergoing radiation and was receiving a blood transfusion. She was mobile and we even left downtown to go visit family in the area. This time, she's in Pediatric ICU. It's amazing to see the technology of modern medicine, yet heartbreaking at the same time to walk these halls and see babies and young kids in such severe conditions. There is a toddler down the hall waiting for a heart transplant. It takes a certain strength of person to be able to work in this sort of environment.
     There are just many machines, cords, and tubes behind this column
    that Katelyn is hooked up to in her room.

    The staff here is amazing. Everyone that I have met has been friendly, kind, and positive. They have lovingly challenged her to get out of bed and pushed her gently to gain her strength and lung capacity.

    Katelyn, Dr. Miller & Dr.Reynolds.
    These are the 2 residents that made a cake for her.

    Thank you SO much for all of your prayers for Katelyn over the course of her entire treatment, but specifically for the prayers you've offered this past week. I know that I have filled my status updates and everyday conversations with prayer requests and I want to thank all of you who have been so supportive. I am confident that her tremendous progress is a result of the prayers that have been said on her behalf. Last Wednesday night there were prayer groups from across the country and even the world that lifted Katelyn up in prayer. Our family cannot thank you enough!

    What's next: Katelyn will not be undergoing her third and final chemotherapy treatment. With her liver and kidney's almost functioning as they should, her main obstacle will be to undergo physical and occupational therapy to regain her strength and motor skills. Ultimately, once she recovers she will be able to go home! Of course, there are several weeks ahead of work to get to that point, but how exciting to see the end in sight. Please continue to pray for Katelyn's health that it will continue to improve. Her most immediate need is to be able to eat so that she can have her feeding tube removed.


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