Tuesday, December 28, 2010

nothing new

I like a challenge. I just completed a 9 week wellness challenge modeled after this blog and I loved the habits I broke and formed. I also have a thing for recycling and reusing although I've had a hard time making thrifting a part of my life...mostly due to laziness. But considering a good thrift find rivals a spiritual experience for me it is time to commit.


I am taking on a challenge beginning January 1 for 6 months. I will be doing it along with my friend Cami, but she will be doing the challenge for an entire year! My challenge is to buy nothing new for 6 months with a few exceptions:

Okay to buy:
-Groceries (try to buy local first)
-Toiletries such as toothpaste, deodorant, laundry detergent etc.
-Eating out when it is part of a social gathering
-Health expenses as needed (i.e.: glasses, prescriptions, doctor visits)
-Live performances (not that I go to many but I want to keep myself open to possibility or experience)
-Fabric and craft supplies. I must try to find recycled first and limit my budget to $35 per month.
-Anything with a gift card.

NOT Okay to buy:
-Gifts that are bought. It is okay for me to give money though.
-New clothing, jewelry or accessories
-New shoes
-New books, magazines, movies, music etc.
-New electronics (The exception being if my cell phone stops working since we don't have a land line, it would get replaced)

Exception: I am giving myself $25 per month in mad money, which can be used for anything. It also can be rolled into the next month. If I sell something then this money can go into this mad money account.

For accountability I plan to blog once a week about the challenge.

Cami posted a few articles which inspired her: here, here, and here. I was also inspired by this blog and hope to put it to good use. Cami inspired me. I am a natural follower I guess, but at least I pick good friends! And for those of you that think this is a poor man's challenge...consider the fact that Cami's husband is currently clerking on the U.S. Supreme Court. As for me...I just want to make saving money fun.

If, by chance, you are inspired...join us!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Toy Room List

A friend asked me for gift ideas for her 2 year-old boy and I told her cars and trucks...and that I also have a good list of toys that every child should have. I have done a lot of training in play therapy. If you don't know what play therapy is you can read about it here. But if you want the nutshell version...basically I bring children into a play room and we play together for an hour...and talk...in certain sort of way and work to develop a special kind of relationship. Since a child's vocabulary is more limited they use objects to express themselves and sort out their problems like adults use words. If you were to watch a play therapist you would think they were doing nothing but play with your child for an hour...which once you are trained to do this isn't far from the truth. I am amazed at the behavior changes that parents tell me happen at home when I haven't even really done anything specific other than this kind of play.) It's a very cool job and I wish I could do it full-time...or even part-time. Anyhow...there are specific toys that are we have in a play room...most of them every day toys...but they are toys that are most fit to help children express themselves. Every birthday and Christmas I try to give my children something from this list so we can have a well-equipped play room at home. If children have these toys at home it will increase their emotional intelligence*. With Christmas coming up I thought I'd post a modified list for ones I recommend for the home (list modified from Play Therapy-The Art of the Relationship by Garry L. Landreth). They basically all fall under 3 categories 1) real-life toys, 2) acting-out aggressive-release toys and 3) toys for creative expression and emotional release. You may find that you already have a well-equipped play room. I don't think you need to have all of the toys on this list, but I think you need toys from each category. These are non-gender specific so if you have boys don't be afraid to get them toys that are stereotypically for girls. Some of these are household items...which we all know often become the favorite toys...these things don't all have to be right in the play room...after all the whole house is basically a play room for us. Art supplies are also included in this list. (Small font is my comments.)

doll furniture (I really want a wood doll house even though I have 2 boys...Simon often plays with these when they are in other toy rooms)
bendable doll family (bendable is best...even if they can just bend at the waist, but non-bendable is better than nothing)
doll bed, clothes, etc.
plastic baby bottle
purse and jewelry
chalkboard, chalk, eraser
pans, silverware
play food (I highly recommend Melissa & Doug because they allow them to really create a dish)
fruit and vegetable cans
egg cartons
sponge towel
broom, dust pan
soap, brush, comb
crayons, pencils, paper
transparent tape, paste
toy watch
building blocks (different shapes and sizes)
paints, easel, newsprint, brushes
playdough or clay
Lone Ranger-type mask (I am hoping to make 2 of these for Christmas out of felt)
pipe cleaners
tongue depressors, popsicle sticks
riding toy
truck, car, airplane, tractor, boat
school bus
pounding bench and hammer
drum (we just got this one for Simon's birthday and it has a great sound)
toy soldiers and army equipment
firefighter's hat, other hats
sandbox, large spoon, funnel, sieve, pail
zoo animals, farm animals (realistic looking ones...these were Simon's obsession until Buzz Lightyear joined our family)
rubber snake, alligator
Bobo (bop bag)
rubber knife
hand cuffs
dart gun
toy noise-making gun (I still have a hard time having toy guns...I don't have any but I'm not opposed to them)
balls (large and small)
telephone (two...old cell phones would be great for this generation)
blunt scissors
construction paper
medical kit
play money and cash register
rags or old towels
hand puppets (doctor, nurse, police officer, mother, father, sister, brother, baby, alligator, wolf...that is their specific list, but any puppets provide a great way for children to express things they are afraid to say directly)
Tinker toys
tissues (on the list, but I can't figure out how they would stay in the box in a play room for more than 10 minutes)

A few things I would add:
occupational dress up clothes (fireman, police officer, chef, construction worker...I love the Melissa & Doug ones
occupational people figures (I have this set of occupational people and a set of people with disabilities and I got these out of storage and the boys play with them all the time...Simon's favorite is the fireman and Jack's is the "baker man.")
child's aprons (so they can help in the kitchen...of course, if you have a chef outfit this can be used)

Happy Christmas shopping!

*Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman is a must read for every parent. Gottman also well known for his research/books on marriage...this one is the most popular and I recommend it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

latest family pics

I think my kids are really cute...not to mention my husband.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wow, this blog is kind of lame. But these dinner rolls are anything but! Jeff discovered this great recipe for us. He started making bread a while back in an effort to "contribute." It is a great contribution indeed!

Dinner Rolls...from Betty Crocker's Cookbook - Bridal Edition

3 1/2 to 3 3/4 C all-purpose flour or bread flour
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp salt
1 pkg yeast
1/2 C very warm water (120-130 degrees)
1/2 C very warm milk (120-130 degrees)
1 large egg
Butter or stick margarine, melted, if desired

1. Mix 2 C of the flour, the sugar, 1/4 C butter, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add warm water, warm milk and egg. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle.
2. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Place dough in large bowl greased with shortening, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until double. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
3. Grease regular pan, 13x9x2 inches, with shortening.
4. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough into 15 equal pieces. Shape each piece into ball; place in pan. Brush with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until double in size.
5. Heat oven to 375.
6. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jeff graduated!  It doesn't seem real.  It's hard to believe he'll have a real job in a few months.  Good job, Jeff, and thanks for all you do for this little family!

Jeff will be working for the Federal Trade Commission come September 13.  D.C. - here we come!