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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

First Piano Lesson

Charissa got a piano for her birthday and she absolutely loves it! She also discovered that she can sit down on things, so she's always trying to sit on her toys. I got a new recipe box that came in the perfect sized box for a piano bench. She had her first piano lesson the other day, and as you can see she was very excited about it.

This is when she's coming for her after-piano-lesson-hug, but it looks like she's trying to attack me.

Charissa is so much fun! I feel like we have more fun every day. What a joy to be a parent!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday Tip - 5 Dollar Store Deals

I was reading an article by Consumer Report that said there are 5 things you should always buy at the dollar store. Generally I view dollar stores as nothing but junk stores. But this article suggests that I'm missing out. I've copied it here for your reading pleasure. Enjoy! And save!

1. Cleaning Supplies
Don't expect to see many brand names that you recognize. Dollar-store cleaning products tend to be private labels developed just for that market. Most have the same ingredients as the brand names, just slightly more diluted. "They have to find some way to make it 99 cents," says Carolyn Forte, homecare director for the Good Housekeeping Institute. Unless you've got a job that requires more than a little elbow grease -- say, removing some seriously built-up grime from the tub or cleaning a red wine stain off the carpet -- these off-brand products should suit you just fine, she says.

2. Gift Wrap
Putting together a pretty package doesn't mean you need to spend a small fortune on wrapping paper, tissue and ribbon, says Constance Richards, author of 'Creative Giftwraps.' You can be just as creative with dollar-store materials for a fraction of the cost. In addition to conventional wrapping paper, dollar stores offer other items that can be used as wrapping materials, from placemats and bandanas to glittery hairclips (a creative and functional replacement for bows and ribbons).

3. Snacks
Hershey's With Almonds chocolate bar -- check. Planter's peanuts and Wise potato chips -- check, check. "Buying at the dollar store is certainly a lot cheaper than if you just walked into a grocery store without a coupon," says Teri Gault, founder of The Grocery Game, a program that helps consumers match manufacturer's coupons with store sales. And you'll spot the same brand names that you'll find at supermarkets and other convenience stores. Look for kids' snacks with long shelf lives, like chips, cookies and fruit rolls, she suggests.

4. Shampoo
Whether you're spending $1 for dollar-store shampoo or $20 on a pricey salon brand, that money is going one place -- down your shower drain, says Paula Begoun, author of 'Don't Go Shopping for Hair-Care Products Without Me.' "The notion that expensive means better is a joke," she says. No matter which kind of shampoo you buy, there are only minor differences in ingredients and concentration -- not enough to affect how clean your hair gets. Save your cash instead for your favorite conditioner, suggests Begoun. That's one product where you'll see more of a difference brand to brand.

5. Kitchen Accessories
When you're trying to coax the last bit of batter out of your mixing bowl and into the cake pan, it doesn't much matter where the silicone spatula you're using came from. You'll find plenty of kitchen accessories at dollar stores, from standbys like measuring cups and can openers to esoteric gadgets like melon ballers and egg slicers. One caveat: You might not want to buy anything with a blade, unless you don't plan on cutting food tougher than butter.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

If you're going to a nursing home ...

... don't put your little girl in a blue outfit. All day she's going to be called "he" no matter how many times you correct them.

Live and learn. And then wear pink!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Little Girl, Big Love

For St. Valentine's Day Charissa painted her Daddy a picture. It's beautiful. And now it's hanging on our refrigerator which makes me so happy. I hope that I have artwork, papers, reports, etc. hanging on my refrigerator for the next 50 years. Every time I look at it I smile and feel so blessed by my little girl.

Here's some pictures of Charissa making her Daddy's card.

As you can see, playing with the paintbrush was more fun than painting on the paper. it still turned out well though. Her Daddy was very excited when he got it. It was a fun experiment with art, but I'm really glad she didn't have any clothes on. Somehow she did get paint all over her diaper ...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Professional Homemaker

When I was in college I took this education course that talked about the differences between a lay position and a professional position. We had to discuss what made someone a professional. Several things we discussed was that a professional had to study about their subject first, they were often licensed by an outside source, it was a career and not just a job, and that they were affirmed by other professionals.

I got to thinking about this the other day because I feel like I'm on the road to becoming a professional homemaker. It all started because I bought a vacuum cleaner. But it wasn't just that I went to the store and got the coolest looking one - I did research. I read Consumer Report and looked at dozens of models. I compared their strengths and weaknesses, their features, and I read a ton of reviews by professionals and by the people who had bought them. It was a pretty lengthy process for a vacuum.

But I finally bought my vacuum! And it's amazing! I purchased a Kenmore Progressive. It's so cool! Which I know sounds really weird because I'm talking about a vacuum cleaner - but this is no ordinary vacuum cleaner. It has a "dirt sensor" on it that detects how dirty your floors are and it changes it's suction based on that so you don't over-stress your carpet fibers, and it also tells you when your carpet is clean. Imagine that! True, that could be annoying at times when you think your carpet is clean and the vacuum still has the red light on, but when the green light comes on I know my carpets are clean.

Anyway - all that to say that I feel like I'm starting to become a professional homemaker. I mean, it's definitely my career and not just a temporary job. And as most of you know, I've put a LOT of study into how to run a home (mostly because I had no clue how to do anything when I got married). Just don't rat me out to the authorities that I'm homemaking without a license.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Breakfast Comes in a Bowl!

The other morning Charissa displayed her first real sign of preference and picky-ness. I decided to give her a treat for breakfast and served her pancakes, eggs and bacon. She didn't eat a whole lot of it, but I just thought she wasn't very hungry. So then I sat down with her to eat my breakfast and she starts crying and reaching for me. So I gave her a few bites of my cereal and she was pretty happy, but she still wasn't eating her breakfast. And then it hit me: she's always had breakfast in a bowl. With whatever I've served her, it's always been in a bowl. So now in her mind she thinks that breakfast can only come in a bowl.

Isn't she weird? :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Getting Wax Off Tablecloths or Other Fabrics

I used to cringe when I saw wax on my tablecloths. It seemed like there was no way to get it off and there would always be this mark where a candle had once been. But I found a method that removes wax easily and completely! (And yes, I do know this sounds a lot like a infomercial. Just bear with me - you're going to want to hear this.)

Three Steps to Wax-Free Tablecloths
1. First pick away whatever pieces you can from the tablecloth.
2. Put a thin towel, a sheet of tin foil, and a grocery sack or paper lunch bag on your ironing board.
3. Then heat up the iron to its highest heat, and place the tablecloth wax side down on the top of these towels. The heat will melt the wax, and the pressure of the iron will draw it into the grocery sack/lunch bag. Keep doing this until it is removed.

I told you it was easy. And it works. In seconds. And there's no residue left over either. If the was was colored, then there might be a stain, but then you can just treat it like any other stain.

Now entertain with candles with no fear!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

"Best Dressed at the Pool" Two Years Running

Some of you may remember the ridiculous swimsuit Charissa had last year. You know - the pink one with all the lace roses? Well - it's been outdone. The same kind family gave Charissa a new swimsuit for this upcoming summer. And here it is:

When I saw it I actually didn't think it was a swimsuit. I thought it was a dance outfit (which we might still use it for). It's so pretty! And what was really funny, was that Charissa did a first position dance move when she was in it (left leg back, right foot pointed, arms outstretched like she's holding a beach ball). I wish I had gotten a picture of it.

So this is just a preview of what summer trips to the pool are going to look like. Let's just hope all that fluff doesn't weigh her down so she can't swim.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Out Little Girl is One!

Our little girl turned one on February 1st! It was so fun to look back through the year and see how much she's grown and changed and how she's been such a blessing in our life. So here's a few "CJ Stats":

  • Height: 28.5 inches (40th percentile)
  • Weight: 17 lbs, 10 oz (5th percentile - the last time we went for a check-up CJ was in the 27th percentile for height and the 9th percentile for weight - so she's getting taller and skinnier)
  • Abilities:
    • walking(!!)
    • can now say "mama", "dada", "nigh-nigh"(which means "night night), "nana" (which can mean "banana" or "Nana"), "woof", "yesh", "yah-yah", and she can make the sign for "milk" and uses it appropriately too
    • she feeds herself the majority of the time and is completely weaned from the bottle
    • she can color - it's kind of like interpretive art though
    • she dances!
    • she can point to something that she wants
    • and new this week: she sings! But only if you are singing too.
Here's a few pictures from her birthday and her birthday party. We didn't take a lot because we were more interested in playing with her.

Here Charissa is opening the presents Britt and I gave her. She seems really thrilled about her new bath-time alphabet letters.

I got Charissa this mouse costume kit that included some ears, a tail and a necklace (I know she's too young for dress-up, but it won't be long!). As you can see from the picture, she's not amused. It's as if she's saying, "I can't believe you thought this was funny."

Charissa was getting cake at her party, so on her birthday we made Banana Pudding. She thoroughly enjoyed it even though it doesn't look like it.

And her she is at her party! We spruced up the high chair for her.

This is a dress that one of our friends gave her which came with a hat. I can't wait to put her in it this summer! Especially the hat!

It was a really fun birthday. Having kids really brings the fun back into birthdays. :)