Sunday, November 29, 2009


We had a very busy and fun week of Thanksgiving. D.R.'s family arrived Tuesday evening and of course brought many gifts along! One of our favorites are the hats and scarves that Nonna made by hand for the girls.
Here's Tia modeling hers (no pictures of Gia!).

The next day we went to the mall and the girls played to their hearts content. Uncle Anthony brought a roll of quarters so they could ride the rides as many times as they wanted.

We even got to meet Santa. This is as close as Gia would get. Just close enough to tell him she would like Dora for Christmas!

They girls especially liked looking at all the Christmas decorations. There's a lot to take in for little folks.
Since Nonna won't be here to see the girls' dance recital in a couple weeks, they tried on their costumes for her. Everyone got a kick out of them.

The girls enjoyed dancing around and putting on a show for their adoring fans!

Our Thanksgiving dinner was amazing, thanks to all the help I got from Nonna. She took care of the turkey, and I took care of all the rest. Teamwork!
We had a wonderful visit with our family, and we have a lot to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Northwest Herald | Stay-at-home parenting a phenomenon?

Northwest Herald | Stay-at-home parenting a phenomenon?

Recently, a local reporter interviewed me for an article she was working on about stay at home Mom's. She didn't ask me many questions, just let me talk about why I stay home, and how we came about the decision. At the end of our talk, she asked if there was anything else I would like to add. At the time I couldn't thin of anything, but of course after we hung up, I thought of so many more things I wanted to say. I didn't bother calling her back, so I'll share those thoughts with you here.

I know firsthand that having one parent stay home is not an easy decision to make, and it's quite an adjustment. So many people say they need 2 incomes to survive. I believe in many cases that's probably true. However, I also believe that more couples could do it if they were willing to make some major lifestyle changes.
When we decided that I would quit my full time job and stay home with our children, we also agreed to make many changes to our every day lives. Here are a few examples of what I mean by that.
First, I became a serious bargain hunter. I don't pay full price for anything. I cut coupons and buy on sale whenever possible. D.R. and I don't go out to dinner or shows. That's not easy since we live near Chicago and it seems every week a great musical act or show is coming to town. We tell each other "no, it's not our time, we'll do that stuff when the kid are older". Once in a while we go out to eat as a family, but it's almost always for lunch (cheaper than dinner), and we usually have a half price coupon. I know that makes us sound like a couple of cheapskates, but these are the things we have to do to make it work. We also have agreed to not make un-necessary purchases. We talk first about major purchases, and do our research before buying. We also don't go for designer label clothes. We're just as happy shopping at Target and JC Penney (with coupons of course!). We don't buy books, we use the local library. I take the kids to all the free activities in town.
I could go on and on. There are so many little things that we do every day, that all add up to a huge savings. All these things allow us to live on one income. I know I said it was a 'sacrifice', but honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. I'd be willing to give up lots more to be able to stay home with our girls.
These are the things I would have said to the reporter if I had time to think about it. That's our story.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Our New Favorite Recipe

Recently, my family has sworn off High Fructose Corn Syrup. A friend of mine was telling me all the bad things it does to our bodies, so I went home and did my own research. Sure enough, she was right. HFCS is seriously bad stuff. Among other things, it actually makes you crave sweets (big problem for me). So, in our continuing quest to be a healthy family, we've begun reading labels a little more closely. Just like a few years ago when we banned Trans fat from our diets, we are now getting rid of the HFCS. I can tell you it's in a lot of foods you wouldn't imagine, like ketchup and mustard! For some things we've had to go to Trader Joe's, and for other things, it's just a matter of changing brands at the local grocery store. Out with the old, in with the new!

Another friend who knew about my latest endeavor recommended "Better than Peanut Butter and Jelly", a kid friendly cook book. She doesn't even have kids, but recently became vegan and needed some simple recipes. That's where I found our latest favorite recipe, and I want to share it with all my friends. I must tell you that I changed a couple things from the original recipe to suit our needs. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Cookies:

4 TBSP light margarine or "Lighter Bake"
1/4 Cup pure maple syrup
1 TBSP water
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 Cup canned pumpkin
1/2 Cup unbleached white flour
1/2 Cup wheat flour
1/2 Cup wheat germ or toasted wheat bran
1/2 Cup Rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
In large mixing bowl, combine margarine, maple syrup, water, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on low until well blended. Add pumpkin and beat until thoroughly combined.
In separate bowl, combine flours, wheat germ, rolled oats, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Mix thoroughly. Add to pumpkin mixture and stir until well blended.
Drop batter by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes.
Makes about 4 dozen.

Because these cookies don't contain any refined sugar, they're not super sweet. That's just the way we like them. Tia and D.R. are not big on sweets. And since they're made with real pumpkin, we're getting another vegetable in, which can only be a good thing!

You'll see from the picture that I let the girls put a few white chocolate chips in a couple of the cookies. I didn't mix the chips in the batter, but had them each make their own special cookie by pushing the chips in. When the cookies were done baking, they knew which one was their own.

Live healthy. Live well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

She did it, she did it, oh yeah, she did it!

Gia has always been a very strong willed child, who has to do things on her own terms. For months now we've been talking to her about using the potty. We've bribed her with treats to no avail. Then she discovered a Princess website that she liked. We told her she could play it if she went on the potty. She decided to use the potty once a day just to get to do the Princess game, and that was the end of it. We've known all along that she knows what to do, and can do it when she feels like it, but that she just wasn't ready.
Well, today, she took her diaper off, handed it to D.R., and went into the bathroom. When he tried to follow her in there she said "Daddy, you go away". She was in there quite a while and then burst out with a great smile on her face. Lo and behold, she pooped on the potty all by herself! That's it, she just decided to do it on her own. No prompting from us and no bribes. She's been diaper free all day. We even went to the park with no diaper and she did just fine.
This kid is amazing. There was no talking her into it until she was good and ready. She decided on her own how and when that would happen. I guess in her mind, today was the day.
Way to go Ju Ju!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Absent Due to Illness

I remember back in my High School days, if ever I missed a day of school, my Mom would write a note "Ronda was absent due to illness". That's it, short and simple. Well, that's my excuse for not blogging in the past week. I've been absent due to illness!
First, Tia got sick with a hacking cough. Then, because I'm the Mom, she coughed directly in my face on several occasions. Of course I was next in line for the cough. Gia and D.R. didn't get sick. D.R. has never been sick, even once, since I've known him. I think that's just ridiculous, but that's a different story.

So, we've been laying low, staying home, and doing a lot of cuddling. Yesterday I mustered up the energy to paint the girls' nails. Today we baked cupcakes. That's about it. No special projects or trips. I haven't even taken one picture of these girls in a week!

It seems we're all on the mend now. Every day is a little better than the day before. I'm sure our adventures will resume in a day or two!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Time flies!

Today marks the 3 year anniversary of us moving to Illinois and into this house together. D.R. had come a couple weeks earlier, but we all made this our home 3 years ago today. WOW, it truly seems like just yesterday. A lot has changed in those 3 years.
Tia was just a baby and I was pregnant with Gia. I didn't know a single soul. It was a hard transition for sure. We now have more friends than we can count, and are busier than ever. The kids have settled into a nice routine with preschool, dance and play dates. We really love it here, except for one thing. The winters. I've never felt anything like the bitter, bone chilling temperatures that go along with a Chicago winter. Man, it's brutal!

D.R. and I had a big decision to make. Did we want to stay here for the next 15 years, and see the kids through to high school graduation? Could we bare 15 more winters here? We both quickly answered no to that question. So, we decided that a big, and more permanent move is likely in our future. We want to move to a place with a warmer climate, and stay put in that place for a long, long time. We would like to do this before our kids are in the school system here, to make it a less dramatic move (if there is such a thing). I think it would be easier that way.

Will D.R. be able to find a job? When will this happen? Will we be able to sell our house? Where will we end up? These questions remain unanswered. We just know that we want it to happen, and we're ready for the adventure.

Until then, we continue to enjoy life here in the mid-west, taking it one day at a time. Life is good.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Thomas

Today is my nephew Thomas' birthday. He's 29 years old today! I still can't believe I'm old enough to have a nephew who is 29, or that my sister is old enough to be his Mom!

Thomas is a pretty amazing guy. He makes friends where ever he goes, loves to crack a joke or two, is always ready and willing to help others, has a radiant smile, and loves his family. He is wonderful with my kids and they love him for it. When ever his name comes up Tia will smile wide and say "Mom, Thomas always plays silly with me!". We are lucky to have this gem in our family.

I could go on and on but I'll stop here and just say Happy Birthday Thomas! We love you.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The inevitable has happened

Months ago, my friend Nilu told me about a website that her son, who is about the same age as Tia, really enjoyed and was using often. It's geared toward teaching preschoolers to read.
I hesitated to introduce Tia to the computer for two reasons. First, she is not exactly a very patient kid. I didn't want to deal with her fits of frustration if she couldn't figure out how to work the mouse. The other reason being, I figured once I let her use the computer, I'd never get to use it myself!
Well, I finally relented, and showed Tia the site. My predictions were sort of right. She did need me to be there with her, helping her with every move. She couldn't get the hang of clicking the mouse, and got very frustrated. After she got a little more comfortable, I told her I had a couple things to do and that she could continue playing for a few minutes. Sure enough, when I came back she was playing the game all by herself, using the mouse perfectly! I can't believe how quickly she caught on.
Today, she asked to play it again. I was able to prepare our entire dinner while she played independently. Even though I know she'll be on the computer more and more as she learns to use it, I have learned to accept this as a good thing. Most of Tia's peers are familiar with computers by now. And I know they use computers in Kindergarten, so Tia was sort of behind in that respect. I held off as long as possible, wanting her to remain little and untouched by all the technology we encounter every day.
The time has come to let her have a taste of technology, and learn to read in the process. My little girl is growing up!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Planning Ahead

It's been quite a while since I've posted any good clearance rack finds. We all know I LOVE a good sale. Well, last night while in Walgreen's picking up my pictures, I was pulled by magnetic force over to the "75% off" section. I found the girls' costumes for next year. There weren't a lot left to choose from, but we were able to find 2 girl costumes, in a size a bit too big.

Tia's was $2.75

Gia's was an astronomical $3.00!

As soon as they woke up this morning, they wanted to try them on (hence the crazy hair). They love them, and hopefully I can actually convince them that they're for next year!