Monday, August 31, 2009

Money Saving Madness! Finding Coupons

Welcome to our very first Money Saving Madness! Every Monday a guest blogger will post about how SHE saves money.

One of my biggest household expenses is my food bill. As you can imagine, feeding a house full of 9 people gets pretty expensive. So in my quest to save at the grocery store I turned to my Bloggy BFF Brandy from I'm Not Your Average Soccer Mom for help. Brandy also has another blog Craving Savings where she posts about her impressive deals using coupons. The whole world of coupons seems pretty overwhelming to me so I asked Brandy to explain to me where she finds coupons.


Where to find coupons?

Most people think that the Sunday paper is the best place to get coupons when in fact there are many sources.

These are some of my favorites:

Online Internet Coupons - aka Printables have quickly become one of the most popular ways to get coupons. By only printing & clipping coupons that you choose it saves money AND time.

And companies often gift us with high value printable coupons. For example, I've found $3 off Smithfield bacon, $2.50 off Healthy Choice meals & $1 off Motts applesauce all in the last week.

A few reputable sources that I use:
-Betty Crocker
-Red Plum
-Mambo Sprouts (Yes you can find coupons for organic food!)

**Tip: You can usually print two printables by using your back browser.

E-coupons - These coupons require no clipping & no sorting. You just add the offers to your grocery card & the savings are automatically deducted at the register when you buy the specified items. It doesn't get much easier that that!
-P&G esaver

Upromise also offers e-coupons, but it works a little bit differently. Instead of receiving discounts at the register your "savings" will be added to your college savings account through Upromise. It's an easy way to save your pennies for college.

Blinkies, Peelies & Tearpads - These coupons are found right in your grocery aisles.

Blinkies are little distributing boxes containing coupons that stick out from the shelves, typically in front of the product featured on the coupon. As you pull one another one is released.

Peelies are located on the actual product themselves.

Tearpads are normally found on a display but can be hung on shelves.

**Tip: I always pick up a couple blinkies & tearpads, even if I won't immediately use it. I file them away & wait for a sale to maximize my savings.

Ebay - Yes I said Ebay. Whenever I need a large quantity of coupons I check Ebay where I can get them for pennies apiece & they are already clipped.

**Tip: By checking advance ads I can determine if I need to order additional quantities early enough for the upcoming sale.

I use to view advance ads, sales/coupon match ups & to see what my fellow couponers are buying. It's free to join & everyone is very helpful. I'm known as "uwoodz" there so stop by & say hi!

As you can see coupons are everywhere!

Denise: What do you say to the people who say you that you spend MORE money and buy things you wouldn't get if you didn't use the coupons?

Brandy: Sometimes I do buy things that I don't need, but I NEVER spend more money on them. Typically those items are free after coupon or I make money on them! And just because I don't need them doesn't mean it goes to waste. I'm always sharing with friends & family and I donate items 3-4 a year.

For example, yesterday I got 10 boxes of fruit snacks, 5 boxes of granola bars & several other items for $10.95 and then got back $11.50 in catalinas good on my next order. We don't eat fruit snacks, but my nephew sure does! Plus they are a great item to send to school for parties or to hand out for Halloween since they are individually packaged.

Denise: How much money have you saved this year using coupons?

Brandy: My total savings is $7828.32! I'm averaging a 76% savings on ALL my grocery purchases and 98% on my drugstore purchases. Using the reward programs from CVS (Extra Care Bucks) or Walgreens (Register Rewards) is a great way to save on toiletries, baby supplies, medicine, etc.

You can check out what I'm buying every week at Craving Savings.

Denise: How do you keep your coupons organized? It seems like so much work!

Brandy: I started out with a small coupon organizer, but I have since upgraded to a case file that has a handle. It has 19 divided sections that I use to separate my coupons into groups (frozen, meats, canned goods, etc.) so that I find them quickly. I carry it right into the store with me & place it in the front part of the buggy. You can see a picture of it HERE. This is what works for me but there are many ways to stay organized including the coupon binder method. Do a little research and find out what appeals to you.

Denise: How many newspapers do you buy each Sunday?

Brandy: Only 1. I check out the inserts and if there is a really good one then I decide to purchase more papers (expensive in my area @ 1.75/each!), buy just the coupons I need from Ebay, look for a trade on or ask family & friends for their coupons.

Denise: Will YOU do my grocery shopping for me???

Brandy: If only we lived!

Denise thank you for allowing me to share this information with your readers today. Couponing has become my obsession passion and I love to share the ways to save with everyone I know.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


My blog has always been about the life of my family, and heavens knows that these kids have provided plenty of content. Gotta love that busy, cute little Emma. But lately, my thoughts are also filled with worries over money. I try not to include that stuff because honestly, it's a downer. But recently, I pulled my head out of my own little world and realized that I'm not the only one going through this. Duh. Sure, I've realized that people are suffering, how could I not? But something else struck me.

I'm not the only one.

If you follow me on Facebook, you've probably noticed that I've been working on ways to have money. This seems to consume a good part of my time. I've been blessed to have befriended many women who are much smarter than I in money saving areas. As I've pestered these women with my questions something else occurred to me:

I bet I'm not the only one interested in this information.

And being the giver that I am, I've decided to share. Starting tomorrow I'll be hosting Money Saving Madness which will feature guest blog posts from other woman who save money on their household expenses and are willing to offer us useful, practical tips. This will be a weekly series posted on Mondays, because let's start the week off right! Saving money. My plan is to implement the tips they offer and report back with my results. I want to hear your results too. What works for me might not work for you. But I also need something else from you. Ideas. What are YOU interested in saving money on? What would YOU like to see addressed? Maybe you'd like to do a post of your own! I have posts planned for the next four weeks, but after that anything and everything is fair game. Just email me at with ideas or suggestions.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Harmonic Hilarity

Emma spent most the day in a very cranky state. She's got a yucky cold and she just doesn't feel well. If I had only known that she needed wanted two simple things. French fries and a harmonica. With the french fries eaten, it was time to move onto to Act Two: the harmonica.

BTW, this post was intended to go up last night, but after several hours and 4 unsuccessful attempts to upload the video to blogger, I decided to call it a night. It's now on YouTube.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Family Togetherness

Trace and Ross are attending the same community college for a number of reasons, some of which include money, degree offered, and previous grades. So it was logical to go buy their books together, especially since Mom was paying and really didn't want to make 2 trips. Coordinating work schedules was difficult but we finally found a day that we could all go together.

When you think of going off to college your freshman year, buying books is on the To Do list. But what isn't in the book buying plan is your younger brothers and sisters accompanying you. Unfortunately, there wasn't any other option.

But Ross was a good sport, he just preferred that the small children keep their distance.

Trace is old enough that he just doesn't care. Notice Ryan's legs in front of Trace.

The children were good, but they were bribed. They are seen here reaping their rewards.

What family outing/college text book buying trip isn't complete without a family picture? Ross is done by this point. Emma just wants her Skittles. Ryan just wants Emma's Skittles.

Ross is so done, he's practically running to the car. We're outta here!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Momma Gets Her Groove Back

Bright and early this morning 2 girls were bright eyed and bushy tailed. And with their rising, Momma got back her routine.

Eager for their first day of school. So eager that Jenna was ready an hour and half before she needed to leave. (Be sure to notice Jenna's pink flip flops.)

Showing off their new, monogrammed backpacks.

It's a neighborhood tradition for our cul-de-sac kids to gather round and have their picture taken on the first day of school. They walk to school together too, but we didn't walk with them this year.

Because I noticed that Jenna didn't have her pink flip flops on. She had her old flip flops with a missing giant jewel. So I sent her back in to find her flip flops

Which she couldn't find, so she came out with these. And then promptly decided that these weren't going to work.

So ended up wearing these anyway.

Okay, we're finally ready. Notice that she has her hair done now.

Ryan, looking out the window upset that he wasn't going to school too. Next week Ry-man, next week. I don't sound too excited, do I???

But the girls weren't the only ones starting their first day of school today.

The boys started their first day of college! Of course, Trace has had many first days but this was Ross' very first day of college. They are both attending the same community college and even car pooled together. Ahhh... BTW, notice how thrilled Ross is to be having his picture taken.

All those kids didn't leave a moment too soon.

I was left with a total disaster! Did I spend the whole morning cleaning up?

Ryan and Emma in the back, my nephew Trevor (in a round about way) and niece Caitlin.

Shoot no! If I'm getting back into my routine then it was time for a Field Trip Tuesday with my SIL Janne'! We went all summer with only a couple of FFTs. Field Trip Tuesdays are exciting outings for Janne' and I. We always go to Starbucks and then run errands. Exciting stuff. But it's not about what we do, it's who we do it with. And the Starbucks.

Just call him The Winkmiester

Just one more piece of evidence proving what a perfect mother I am. Not only is my son's face still dirty from breakfast, but it's still dirty from powdered sugars donuts.

But hey, Emma doesn't seem to mind!

Here's to an awesome school year and to me getting my groove back!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kansas City Ink

Next on Kansas City Ink: The team welcomes a new tattoo artist to the shop-- Emma.

Emma is the youngest tattoo artist to ever be hired by the team at KC Ink but her tattooing skills can not be denied. Not only are her designs extraordinary, she can even tattoo herself!

Emma leans towards more abstract designs without a lot of emphasis on color.

She also isn't afraid to go with more primitive types of design, such as on feet. Emma is now taking appoints for new clients.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Soul Singing

This summer's been a bitch. (Sorry, but I ain't gonna lie.) I haven't felt this rough emotionally since I came home from my Vietnam ordeal with Emma and then went through her RSV ordeal. (Emma=ordeal, is anyone else noticing a trend here?) I can't pinpoint one thing that has led to my melancholy, it's more a accumulation of things. Financial strain, a house full of nine people, trying to wrap up some loose legal ends from Darrell's death (yes, still.) They've all kind of worn me down into a uninspired, unmotivated mess.

I felt better a few weeks ago. I realized that I had to pull myself out of my pit and I was climbing at a pretty good rate. I started blogging more. I started working a on fiction writing project. I felt the fog begin to lift. And then the loose legal ends came to a screeching halt and I felt that all the pain and grief I have gone through for that process alone was for the benefit and profit of a whole bunch of other people who never felt any pain at all. Over and over I was told that I needed to proceed for my welfare and the welfare of my children, when the reality (after the chips have fallen into place) is that a group of lawyers and a health insurance company are skipping all the way to the bank while I'm sitting in an emotional maelstrom wondering what the hell just happened. I wish I could say more, and I promise I will when it is all completely settled, but let's just say I feel very used. All to the detriment of my melancholy.

Part of this legal mess was that I was supposed to be in Nashville on Tuesday, which ultimately got canceled, but me in my idiocy forgot to cancel the hotel and plane reservations. At 1:00 am Monday morning I realized I was scheduled to board a plane 15 hours later. I called the hotel and they said it was too late to cancel. The question was do I just stay home and pay the hotel anyway or do I fly there for a day and a half and get away. Alone. My boys and my mother all jumped right in and took over the small children and on Monday afternoon I was flying to Nashville. Alone.

I wish I could tell you I reveled in my aloneness. At first it felt strange, and then it felt wasteful and then I decided I was there so I might as well enjoy it. I was staying downtown so I walked around, took a trolley tour of downtown and even visited the Country Music Hall of Fame. (I'm not a country music fan but I can appreciate the history of it all.) On Wednesday morning, I got on a plane and flew home again. And I was emotionally back where I started when I left.


On Friday Julia and Jenna left to spend the weekend with Darrell's oldest daughter and her husband. Ross left to spend the weekend with his father. On Saturday morning Trace, Cody and Gauge were doing their own thing, so I found myself alone with Ryan and Emma . We went to the Farmer's Market and walked around and then we stopped at Starbucks and sat inside. The babies (I guess their not babies anymore) sat eating their cookies and drinking their apple juice boxes. I drank my mocha. Ryan, who interacts more and more verbally since his ear tube placement in May, was talking about everything. We talked about what color his juice box was (green), and what color the apple on the juice box was (red). He looked around finding red and green things. He called my chair a "sit down" and I told him it was a chair and he pointed to other chairs and tables and called them their appropriate nouns. All the while, Emma was sitting in her sit-down chair, smiling and munching on her cookie and squeezing her juice box all over her dress. I would try to include her with the naming of things but mostly she just wanted to be there and not have to work her brain too much. (No judgment here, I can relate.)

But as we sat there just talking and eating and drinking, I realized that my heart had a lightness it hadn't felt in such a very long time. I realized how much I missed my babies. The one on one interaction, the just being together-- uninterrupted and undistracted. I didn't need to fly away somewhere alone to find my peace, it was right there in front of me all summer. I was reliving what I had all last winter and I realized I craved it. I don't want the busyness and distraction. I want to just be.

The financial strain is still there. The house full of people is still here, although school starts on Tuesday. And the legal disaster is still there being sorted out, but there is still joy to be found in the simplest things.

And of course, it happened at Starbucks. ;)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Interview with Melissa d'Arabian Part 2

This is part two of a two part series on Melissa d'Arabian. You can read Part One here.

After having opportunity to participate in a telephone conference call with Melissa d'Arabian, the new winner of The Next Food Network Star and host of Ten Dollar Dinners, I realized I had so much wonderful information I needed to do a two part post. The first post focused on Melissa's path to the NFNS. This post will focus on cooking tips, particularly aimed towards moms with children.

1) Respect your child's palate

A lot of families, including mine, have the "one bite" rule. But Melissa takes it one step farther and gave it a name, No Thank You Bites. Her four daughters, Valentine, 4, Charlotte, 3 and Margaux and Oceane her almost 2 year old twins, know that they are expected to take one bite but after that they are allowed to say "No Thank You." That doesn't mean that her children take one bite of everything and they're done. Melissa always makes sure that there's something on their plate they like to eat.

2) Take your kids grocery shopping.

Melissa say what???? Has she seen my 2 year old Emma in a grocery store? But Melissa says she takes her girls and lets them help shop for their food. Favorite stop? The produce department. She lets each girl pick a fruit or vegetable of her choice and then Melissa picks a recipe using the child's chosen veggie. Her daughter Valentine's current favorite vegetable? Bok Choy. My 12 year old Julia's favorite vegetable? Corn. Um, yeah I think we need to hit the produce aisle.

3) Let your kids help you cook

Another way to get your kids to buy into what they're eating is to let them help you cook. Melissa sits her girls around her kitchen island and gives them their own bowls and spoons, cutting boards and plastic knives and lets them make a smaller version of what she's making. She also gives her children muffin tins to fill. One great example of this is her 5-Minute Individual Potato Gratins (recipe below) which she prepared in her mini pilot. By having her children participating she knows where they are while she's cooking and she's teaching them the love of preparing a meal.

I have always let my children help me cook but they didn't have their own cooking utensils. (I'm not sure why, it seems like a no brainer.) With 4 little ones there often isn't enough spoons or rolling pins, or whatever is needed for everyone. So being inspired, within an hour after getting off our conference call I loaded the 3 smaller kids up in the van and we headed out to Bed Bath and Beyond. Each small child is now the proud owner of a mini cutting board, wooden spoon, mini whisk, mini measuring cup and a bowl. After nap time we hit the kitchen island and they made mini white cakes with chocolate powdered sugar frosting which they made themselves. They were beyond excited. (A blog post to follow with pictures. And is anyone else sensing a mini theme?)

4) A gallon size ziplock bag can be your best friend

Well, when it comes to cooking away. If a zip lock bag is your real BFF, we need to talk because that's beyond sad, it's down right creepy.

When cooking with kids a mess free way to let them help you mix something is to throw it into a ziplock bag, seal it up and let them mix. Ziplock bags can also be used to store and hold a wide variety of things from pie crust dough to marinades.

5) Inexpensive doesn't mean cheap

The judges favorite dish in the Miami $1000 dinner party challenge was the meal on Melissa's first show of Ten Dollar Dinners, Potato Bacon Tort. It's dish that "feels luxurious and is extremely satisfying" but it's also budget friendly. Melissa believes that an inexpensive dish doesn't have to taste like one.

One trick to use when looking for inexpensive meals is to shop the produce department for the best prices. The more plentiful the produce (meaning it's in season) the more inexpensive the produce will be meaning your buying the best flavored produce for less. One great example of this is tomatoes. Tomatoes are my absolute favorite vegetable (fruit) but I only buy them in the summer. Those winter tomatoes are like eating plastic. Bleh. Hey no worries, Melissa's got us covered. But what am I going to do with all those chicken nuggets?

5-Minute Individual Potato Gratins

Recipe courtesy Melissa d'Arabian

Show: The Next Food Network StarEpisode: FN Star - Finale

Cook time: 40 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 4-6 servings


  • Vegetable spray
  • 2 large russet potatoes, roughly peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray 8 muffin tins with vegetable spray. Layer potato slices, cheese, and onions into each muffin cup. Season with salt and pepper and top each gratin with 1 or 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, removing the foil halfway through cooking time. Invert gratins onto plate and serve.

** Recipe and photo courtesy of Food Network

Interview with Melissa d'Arabian Part 1

This is part one of a two part series on Melissa d'Arabian.

Melissa d'Arabian is like a lot of stay at home moms except for the one thing that now sets her apart: She just won season 5 of The Next Food Network Star. Her new show Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian premieres today at 12:30 ET/ 11:30 CT.

On Friday I participated in a phone conference call with Melissa and several other "Mommy Bloggers" giving us the opportunity get to know her a little better. She was very eager talk to us and said she feels a connection to other mothers. She hopes to take her vast and varied experiences and use them to make not only delicious and luxurious meals, but budget friendly ones as well.

I admit that I am very eager to see her new show. I watched the entire season of NFNS and loved her immediately. I'm not the only one. Everyone I have talked to loves her. Her lack of culinary training makes us feel less intimidated and her enthusiasm and bubbly personality makes us feel like she's our girl friend. (I would totally meet her for a chat at Starbucks!) But as Melissa answered our questions with such honesty and enthusiasm, I realized that I was getting more out of our chat than just an "interview." I was learning some lessons in life according to Melissa d'Arabian.

1) Everything Happens For A Reason

Melissa's mother died when Melissa was a 20 year old college student. Melissa threw herself into her education and career but always wanted a family. When she hit 30 all her friends were surprised she wasn't married and having kids. She was even more surprised but she hadn't met "the one" yet. A few years later, she met her husband and had children, planning to be a working mother. Her third pregnancy resulted in twins, forcing her to bed rest. She decided at that point to become a stay at home mom and planned to go back to work when her twins turned two.

In the meantime, Melissa was speaking to women's groups giving tips and techniques to cut their grocery bills up 60-70%. It was at these groups that Melissa shared her tips for making homemade yogurt and created a video to send out showing how to make yogurt in your garage. Around that time, The Next Food Network Star was taking applications. After a lot of thought and discussion, Melissa and her husband decided that she should send her yogurt video in for her audition video.

2) Follow Your Dreams

Melissa knew by the numbers alone that it was a long shot that she would get accepted to the show, let alone win. She saw having her own show as an opportunity to share all her shopping tips and cooking tips with other women. More importantly, she saw that being a mommy didn't have to be her sole identity. She could be a mommy and live her dream too.

3) Be True to Who You Are

In the first two episodes Melissa admits to being intimidated by the culinary trained contestants around her. It clearly affected her performance. Then she realized that she needed to be true to who she was. She had to bring what she had to the table and not worry about everyone else. Once she started to do that the real Melissa began to shine. I loved it when she told the chefs at her dinner party presentation "I might fail, but I'm failing at the right thing." How many of us can say that?

Melissa's passion for what she does is so tangible, success should easily follow.

Tomorrow Part two will feature Melissa's tips for cooking for and with kids.

** Photo courtesy of Food Network

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Next Big Thing

Once again, Julia and Jenna dazzle us with the music video to Taylor Swift's song You Belong With Me. It's kind of fun to compare this video to last September's video.

*** Kendall-- this video is for you! Sorry Tim!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lazy Days of Summer My Arse

My lazy days of summer have yet to arrive which is really a downer. I'm one of those moms who totally looks forward to summer vacation and I'm usually not ready for school to start back up. And while part of that is because I like to sleep in in the morning, the biggest part is I like spending time with my kids.

But this summer has kicked me in the booty.

Here's a typical day in my summer life: (maybe you'll have new empathy for me at the end.)

Get up around 8:30 (yeah it's a rough life, but it gets better-- you'll see) to the sounds of Ryan moaning in his bed. Every morning he moans when he wakes up. He refuses to get out of bed so I end up yelling "Ryan you can get up" about 5 times before he finally comes to see me. It's really fun when it happens at 6:00 and I make him get in bed with me while I try to get more sleep. The fun part is when he's attempting to pry my eyes open repeating "sponge bob" over and over. (I think it's his mantra) I freely admit to being more than a little cranky in this situation. Bad mommy.

Breakfast: I try to decide whether to feed the children cereal, make breakfast of just give them Paula Deen's Three Chocolate Cookies. Today I made cinnamon raisin biscuits (from scratch) and feed the children a pound of strawberries (literally) while they were baking. With 4 kids lined up at the counter, they ate them as quickly as I could wash them and cut the tops off. In the process, there was a lot of elbowing and spilling of juice and dry cereal that was tiding them over until the biscuits where. Oh and crying, we can't forget the crying. Biscuits come out of the oven and no one eats them but me. (But I only had one. Really)

Clean up: I clean up the kitchen while the children destroy the living room, entry way and hearth room. I think I'm going to get a giant play pen. Or dog kennel.

Dressing: Drag small children one by one upstairs to change clothes. Try to get dressed myself but get distracted by Facebook.

It's now 11:00

Errands: Load 4 children with 2 car seats and one to booster seat. Drive to Office Max to finish school supply shopping. Emma rides in front of cart and Ryan in the back. Jenna "touches" the side of the cart sending Ryan into hysterical crying. Later Emma wants out to stand on the edge of the cart, I put her back in, more hysterical crying. Mommy sees total and breaks out into hysterical crying (okay not really, but I wanted to.)

Starbucks because my day just isn't complete without it (which means most of my days aren't complete) This Starbucks doesn't have a drive thru but it's right next to Office Max so I drag 4 children in with me. Emma doesn't want to leave and wanders around the store evading my grasp. She is eventually "herded" out with her siblings. Off to home

Lunch: It's now 1:00 so lunch time. Heat up chicken nuggets and serve with fresh broccoli and ranch dressing. And of course, more strawberries.

Nap time: Take Ryan and Emma upstairs for nap. Change Emma. Have Ryan pee in the toilet and optimistically put him down for a nap in panties underwear.

Nap time Part Two: Clean up kitchen, laundry, mop floor, help tackle Julia's sewing project (an apron) Check Facebook and email.

Wake up time: Ryan wakes up and has peed the bed. Emma wakes up. Change Ryan. Change Emma. Put them in front of tv to watch recorded Yo Gabba Gabba. Someone comes to front door. Ryan pees on sofa.

Clean up time: Pull out my mother's carpet shampooer (which has lived at my house for 3 months) that has a hand held attachment. Shampoo all the cushions on sofa. Shampoo mattress (Brilliant mommy forgot the water proof mattress pad) Throw sheets, pillow (yes, he peed on his pillow!) and several changes of clothes into washing machine. It's now 3:30.

Snack time: Feed children goldfish and realize that I haven't planned dinner. Pull chicken out of freezer. Watch children play outside. Check Facebook and email on my phone.

Dinner: At 5:00 I decide to make chicken quesadillas for dinner. Chop chicken and onions. Cook dinner. Eat dinner. Clean up dinner.

After dinner: Children play in backyard under my watchful eye.

Snack time: Feed children cereal, fruit, cheese or ice cream. Not all at the same time.

Bath time:
8:30 Children take a bath. Four children in one tub.

Bed time: Attempt to clothe small children. Attempt to brush teeth. Attempt to brush hair. Attempt to find Toudee and Foofa for Emma. Attempt to find one of the many blankets that Ryan has decided he needs to have at bed time yet never seem to be around. Rock in rocking chair and sing songs. Current favorite: song Mommy made up--

Who loves Ryan? Momma does. Momma does. Who loves Emma? Momma does. Momma does. Who loves her babies in the morning? Who loves her babies in the afternoon? Who loves her babies in the evening? Hmm? Momma does. Momma does! Who loves Ryan? Momma does. Momma does. Who loves Emma? Momma does. Momma does? (repeat. repeat. repeat.)

Put children in bed: Listen to Emma and Ryan talk. Try to convince Julia and Jenna that it's not child abuse to go to bed before 10:00. Girls end up in bed about 10:30 which means DFS doesn't need to be involved.

Mommy time: About 10:30. Mommy pulls out laptop and turns on HGTV. Checks email. Makes witty lame comments on Facebook. Blog (Okay, I just saw you spit out your beverage of choice all over the computer) Reads a book. Can't stop reading book. Turns off light and go to bed around 2:00 -2:30 am.

Tired yet?

Emma wakes up: 3:30 and won't go back to sleep. Drag her into my bed. She keeps asking for Ross who she knows will let her watch Yo Gabba Gabba in the middle of the night. She goes to sleep around 4:30

Wake up: 8:30 -- not looking so good now, huh?

Lately I've been trying to get some gym time in there too. I've lost 6 pounds in the last 2 weeks!!! I think I need a clone.

But there's another busy mom out there-- Melissa d'Arabian, the newest The Next Food Network Star! Her new show airs this Sunday at 12:30 eastern time. I got a press release about it a few days ago and when I got it I thought "Wow! I would so love to be part of a press conference for her!" So for once, I decided to be proactive and emailed the FN publicist that sent the email and begged offered to be part of a conference call if one was available. This morning I got an email asking me to participate! The call is set for Friday morning and I am so excited. I've got a million questions I would love to ask her but I only get to ask 2-4. Let me know if there's anything you're dieing to know.

Wow, this post turned into one big whine fest -- I think I need some cheese.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Potty Power

Have I really sunk this low? Has it gotten so bad that I go over a week without writing a blog post and then when I finally write one I resort to bathroom humor?

Apparently I have.

My sweet little mischievous Ryan is 3 1/2. When we received Ryan a mere 12 months ago, he pottied and poopied in the toilet. We came home and he didn't. No surprise, this happens to most toddlers just adopted. But a year later and we were no closer to that Potty Trained Goal and I was becoming frustrated.

(Lucky for you, Ryan just had his 12 month post placement visit last week so I'll be including a bunch of photos we took to send to China.)

Sure the boy can read but he couldn't pee in a toilet. Of course I was frustrated. (No, he really can't read. But doesn't he look smart-- and cute-- holding that book?) You have to understand, I'm pretty laid back when it comes to potty training. I've learned the hard way that they ain't gonna pee in a toilet until they're darn good and ready. But Preschool was looming in the not so distant future and being potty trained was a must. I decided that potty training need to be jump started.

(You would think Gauge would be a positive role model, or at the very least exhibit some positive peer pressure. No such luck.)

So about a week ago, I decided that "today was the day" and I put Ryan in a pull up and began to set the timer on the microwave for 20 minutes. Every 20 minutes he peed on cue and his pull up remained dry. After about an hour and half, we moved to 30 minutes. When the timer went off and I took Ryan to the bathroom, his pull up was wet. I was beginning to wonder if he had some bladder issue, maybe his bladder was mini sized. Or maybe it was just too easy to pee in a pull up. Time to pull out the underwear.

(We needed a photo of just Ryan and I but he has started winking whenever the camera comes out. So I started making silly faces with him in hopes of getting something that didn't make him look like he'd just had a stroke.)

Yeah, that thought made us cringe, but I learned with both Julia and Jenna that sometimes pull-ups enable them to not go in the toilet. So that very afternoon, he started wearing panties, uhm, I mean underwear. (Sorry Ry, but Momma is so used to saying "panties" that I hope I don't scar you for life, or at least in the school locker room.)

He had one accident soon after putting his underwear on but it was only a very small one and he was dry after that. In fact, the next day I took Ryan and Emma to Lowe's with me and as I was almost there, I realized that Ryan as still in panties underwear. But the trip was uneventful, in that he didn't leave a Hansel and Gretel pee trial throughout the store anyway. Since then, he's done pretty well. He's had a few accidents. Once last week when I took him to the gym's Kid Club (child care)-- he didn't know where to go. The other time was at my brother's house. He was outside playing and perhaps too busy to stop and go inside to pee.

(My absolute most favorite picture of Ryan and I together. I love it so much I had a 5x7 made.)

I would consider his potty training mission to be pretty successful. He still needs a pull up at night and has had a few accidents at nap time, but that's to be expected. Five down and one to go. (Oh, I made a pun!) Now if Emma would just realize that the potty chair is for peeing or pooping and not her royal throne.