Tuesday, July 31, 2012

So long, Farewell

We have a couple goodbyes today.

First, today is baby Finn's  last day here! I  will  continue to be a backup person for his other sitters though so I'm sure he'll  come play from time to time :-) The girls will  surely miss him! But  it'll  be nice being able t o schedule various activities without always having to plan around  babysitting days.

As a send off to baby Finn we decided  to do a goodbye photoshoot! (My nice  camera is packed up for  our trip, so I appologize for these poor quality photos from the point and  shoot)

As a going  away present I whipped him up a super quick tshirt today...he told me he'd probably spit up all  over it (he's a pukey baby!) so instead of putting it on him we just did a faux-photoshoot with it laying on him ;-)

"Oh my, I LOVE it!" :-)

The second goodbye to address today is my own! Tomorrow afternoon I  leave on my vacation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll  be taking the girls to my parents  house tomorrow and won't be back  until Sunday night!

I know some parents are very anti leaving their kids overnight....let's just  say I'm not in that group! I think it might be different if I wasn't a stay at home mom, but frankly it's hard to miss the little turds when they are stuck  to me 24/7 at home haha. Absence makes the heart  grow fonder, so they better get absent for a bit! :-) And also, I feel fine leaving them because the  love staying with my parents and I know they'll  be spoiled rotten. Brielle always cries when I come to pick  her up and clings  to Grandma F. haha...little stinker...so it'll  be like her  dream vacation!

But before you  all  start  calling  DHS to report me, let me just say that while I won't miss early morning wake ups, diapers, eating my meals when they're  cold because  I spent the  first 10 minutes cutting things up in little peices, etc. I  WILL miss the cuddles and giggles  from ym sweet little girlies! I have a feeling they're still be this cute when I return though, so no worries :-)

I'll be be back  on Monday  with a recount of our trip!! Be  jealous, be very  very jealous my  friends ;-)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Picking your battles

Every parents knows you have  to pick  your battles when it comes to kids, or you will  drive yourself freaking crazy! And  the battles that  each parent chooses to pick are very different.

For our family, I consider  myself to be very laid back. I  do *not* pick battles over things that  many other people do. I have never really done schedules ....I've  tried  from time to time but it never  really sticks. I  also don't  pick  the TV battle. I watch  a lot of tv, so does  Lee, and I sort of figure it comes with  the territory that the girls do too. I feel  i was pretty successful in life and didn't suffer too much brain rot, so I'm not overly concerned about the girls either ;-) Another  battle  I  choose not to pick  is  picking up toys. Frankly, it's way easier for me to do it anyways.  I  do have them help some, but when I see them distracted and off doing something else in the middle of clean up time I just let it go.

There are probably about 1 million other battles I don't pick....these are the ones I can think of off the top of my head :-P

BUT, over  the last week  I've picked two battles....and every parent also knows that when  you decide to pick  a battle, you better win! The first battle I  picked is manners. Raya had gotten into the bad habit  of demanding things "turn on my show. I want a snack. Get my blanket." .....and then if I'd comment on being rude she'd say "pleeeeeeeeeeeease"....and thought that solved it. But it was really getting on my nerves so I picked a battle....and now she *must* say "may I please have....." or "would you please get...." etc. And then  after I  do she must say "thanks". If she doesn't do this then I ignore her or say "I don't hear you" and that cues her  to remember the magic wording ;-)

The second battle  I've decided to pick  is FOOD. Now first, everyone who knows me knows that I couldn't care less about health food. I don't do organic, I  don't subsitute weird seeds and oats in my food, I  don't make strange smoothie concoctions, etc. Frankly, I  think there are probably about 10,000 other  ways I'm going to die that  have nothing to do with artificial sweetners and corn syrups LOL....so I don't care.

But what  *does* drive me crazy is that the girls had slowly gotten to the point  that they were eating NO VARIETY! I mean, the same 4 food items over and over again. And a couple of those (yogurt and applesauce) are healthy in my book....but  still, the lack  of variety and opposition to trying new things was killing me! So I put my foot down. We now have *at least* 4 different items for every meal. One can be a "love it" item (like Raya's  beloved grilled cheese or granola bar, etc.) and then one can be a healthy item that  they  like (such as yogurt)....but then the other two+ things  must be items they normally refuse to eat. And they must eat at a least a few bites! Today for instance we did mandarin oranges and green beans for there new items (which I've offered many times before, but haven't forced them to eat haha).

Raya stuck  with  the  go-to mac n cheese lol

Brielle  stuck  with her favorite--peach yogurt!
But the new rule is, you must  eat at least 2 bites  of everything before having seconds of another item. I figure this at least gets them trying new things! And if they  want dessert they must clean their plate.

We had tantrums for about 2 days, and then  since  then Miss  Raya has been  doing great! The girl loves her dessert haha (today it was a pudding cup :-)

Cleaned her  plate!
I  don't like to encourage overeating by  making them clean their plates, so I'm fine if they are done after just  trying everything---but  I figure that if they are still hungry enough for dessert then they better clean their plate.

This system has been  harder for Brielle to learn because she can't understand the idea of bribery (getting seconds/dessert) so I'm walking a fine line with her because I have to give the illusion of enforcing the rules with Brielle or Raya will cry foul haha. So Brielle didn't  get dessert today because she turned her nose up at green beans and oranges!

Hopefully Brielle catches  on soon :-)

So, which battles do you guys  choose to pick, and which do you let slide?!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Recreational Activities

Today Raya had  her  first  ever movie theater experience!! I took her to see Ice Age 4, and we had a great time :-) She had a little trouble sitting still the last 30 minutes, but really did pretty good. She ate lots of popcorn! haha. The people around us got a lot of great narration too, as she yelled "oh no, the  bad guy!" and "where's the littler girl? She misses her daddy?"  ....Daddy stayed at home with Brielle because there is absolutely no way she would have lasted more than 30 minutes.

I didn't take any pictures though, because I was embarassed to be the crazy camera lady at the movie theater, and my camera phone sucks. Trust me, she had fun though!

In other news, last night I spent a great deal of time planning the girls' extracurriculars for this upcoming year :-) I really want each girl to have one extracurricular that is just for them. (and frankly, this crap costs a lot of money! So I am limiting us to one thing each. Times like this I'm really glad once again we have stopped with two kids....I have  no idea how people with more kids can afford all this stuff!)

**Warning, the following  longwinded rambling largely for me to talk it out to myself haha...so feel  free to skim if I bore you ;-)

So anyways, Raya will be in preschool 2 mornings a week (Tues/Thurs). I believe I'll be babysitting Sawyer and Harper on Tuesdays, so that leaves Thursday mornings with just Brielle and I! Ideally I'd love to find something for us to do during that time, but preschool only lasts 2.5 hours, so we're *very* limited on what I can realistically drive to, complete, and be  back in time from to pick  Raya  up. But the lead contender right now is gymnastics! Seriously, a class for 15month-3year olds haha. It's a parent/child class (no, I won't be doing any tumbling haha)....but the parents takes the child to different stations I guess and helps them through everything the teacher leads. Brielle has always been my active and fearless child, so while I don't think Raya would take very well to gymnastics I think it might be right up Brielle's alley! I will  keep you posted on what I decide. The place I'm considering offers one free class to come see if you like it, so I might call after we get back from vacation and take Raya and Brielle in to just check it out and see if it's something Brielle might enjoy and get some social interaction out of, etc.

Here's a picture from their website of one of the toddler/preschool gym areas---looks  fun! But  even though she's in the age range, I wonder if she's still a little  young for it. I  mean, she'd  love to  climb around, but not  sure she'll actually want to complete the different stations and stuff. I kind of think  maybe this  would be a better option for her *next* fall when she's 2.5 years, but I"m not sure!

The other option for Brielle is Kindermusik. Now I did Kindermusik with Raya, but it was at our old house and it was cheaper, because they didn't make you buy the at home materials if you didn't  want to (and I didn't, because  I have enough musical instruments etc. already from my brother who works there!) ....but now  in our new area they force you to buy the materials, so 12 classes is almost 200 bucks (ouch). That's a lot in our low cost of living area anyways haha. The gymnastics is a little less expensive. But  I think that Brielle would love Kindermusik and it might be a little more age appropriate for her. The other negative is that Kindermusik doesn't match up with our free time while Raya's at preschool....so I'd have to do Kindermusik on a weeknight while Lee stayed home with Raya.

Opinions? Which do you think *you'd* do?  I  also found a mommy and  me dance  class for Brielle's  age...and it's priced lower than Kindermusik  too. But I don't know m uch about it and the times also didn't line up during Raya's preschool which means I'd have to do a weeknight or something. ....and I'd have to do goofy dances lol.

For Raya a dance studio in our small town finally put up registration info (Grandma F., it's not the one  *I* went too in middle school...it's the newer dance place  in the old middle school on main street)....anyways, I had found a couple dance  places in the larger town nearby (where gymnastics and all  that is) but it's not our school district and I think Raya would like to dance with kids  she'll actually see in school and stuff (assuming she continues this into elementary school). The class she is old enough to take there  is  called "Creative movement" for 3-5 year olds. I'm surprised it costs as much as the fancier places in the bigger town, but in the end I don't  predict Raya  will become a prima ballerina or anything, and the larger studios are  probably  going to be a lot more competitive, which I'm not  interested in. The place in town here  also offers tumbling, but like  I said, Raya isn't my daredevil so I  don't think she'd like that. And they don't offer anything here  in our town for Brielle's age.

How do  you all  decide extracurriculars and which  you do etc?

Oh, the other  thing is that  Thursdays while Raya is in preschool Brielle and I *could* do story hour right by her preschool (it's not the library we normally go to, but the one we normally do offers story hour right when I need to be picking Raya up). So anyways, if we did kindermusik or something on a weeknight we could do story hour for free on Thursday mornings. (I don't really count story hour as an extracurricular since ours is usually just sitting and listening to a story---not social interaction with other kids and stuff.)

My head hurts ;-)  And then I think  about how I wanted the girls to play tball and continue with swimming lessons and do piano lessons and summer camps, etc....and I'm starting to think I'm going to become very poor, very fast!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Get the most $$$$ for your baby/kid's stuff! Tips :-)

First off, today at bath Raya showed me all  the tricks she  learned  at swimming lessons. And let me just  say, I  made  fun of her wasting time int he bathroom on Friday, but she apparently did learn a lot that last  day (I couldn't w atch much because I had Finn with me). Tonight in the bath that girl had her whole head underwater swimming away! I couldn't believe it! She was like a mermaid and barely came out of the water  for breaths of air the whole time  haha.  I think we have a swimming  machine ;-)

After bath I got to thinking  I never took a picture of Raya with her swimming certificate after her last class Friday. Since  it's  her  first completion certificate of any kind I thought we better  document it!

In other  news, I  am done watching baby  Finn after Tuesday (we will  miss  him! But I'm excited for the  freedom again haha) ....so  I finally  got around to listing my baby swing for sale....and had it  sold in less than a day! So today Raya came into  town with me to meet for that pickup (I got $60 for it--wahoo!) and afterwards we had a girls' a fternoon without Brielle.  Raya was  so excited.

I had  to share what I chose to spend a little of my swing money  on hehe...how  could  I pass up these coordinating outfits...Too  cute!

Raccoon for Brielle and owl for Raya of course! This is  currently the  lead contender for  Raya's first  day of preschool outfit  I think ;-)

And now I  thought I'd share some tips and tricks I've learned over the last couple months of selling off our  baby stuff for those who are wanting to do the same or might be doing so in the future! I have been soooo pleased with how much money  I've gotten for my stuff, but I feel like there is definitely a science to getting the most money, so here are some of my tips in no particular order! :-)

1) Do not garage sale your  items. This is not a good way to get the most money  for your stuff! Not  only do you spend time pricing and organizing your sale, but then you have to sit there for a day or two. Your time is worth something. Besides that, for the most part people who are at garage sales are  looking for BARGAINS. Like 50cent outfits  and $10 baby swing bargains. Unless your stuff is  very old/worn/etc. you can get way more than this in other  venues.

2) Facebook and Craigslist are your friends :-) My first choice for selling items is Facebook. First,  simply posting on your own page is often a huge success. I sold a ton of my stuff to a fb friend having a baby soon. It's great because you know the person is legit and it's  often easy to arrange a meeting. I  have also  had g reat success on FB buy/sell/trade  groups.  You can search and there is pretty much a group for every city. There is a group specifically for  baby and kid items in the town where  Lee works, so I've had a lot  of luck posting there and then people are  able to meet lee  after work to pick up. It's  nice because on fb you can avoid the spam you often get on Craigslist, plus you often have the same people buying and selling in the groups and they become established as legit people. My last go to option is Craigslist. I always put in my  ad "put 'baby swing' in the subject line so I know it isn't spam" (or whatever item you are selling)...makes it easier  to weed out the spammers. So far I haven't been burned at all on Craigslist either...always meet in a public  place ;-) I never have anyone come to my home.

3) Gender neutral sells best.  If you have gender neutral baby gear items (swing, bouncey,  excersaucer, etc. etc.) you will  get more money, and faster! Many people do not find out what they are having ahead of time, so they are buying neutral. Many others know w hat they are having, but want it neutral  for future kids. So I  often see pink swings sit on Craigslist  week after  week, whereas mine sold in less than a day. Certainly not always the case if you find the perfect buyer, but I've found it to be a key thing if you're thinking about resale value.

4) Pictures speak  1000 words. Oh my, I  do not understand all  the people who post a picture of their hot mess of junk and then say "giant tub of baby clothes ---$40 takes all" ....I  don't care  if $5 takes all, I'm not buying a mystery bin of crap!

Would you rather buy this:

Honestly, I see pictures  like this constantly.
Or buy this?

And r eally, it doesn't take *that* long to lay your stuff out and snap a quick  picture. The people who do mystery piles of crappy looking s tuff ask .25cents-$1 for items....I've been selling my stuff for $3-$5 a piece just for basic shirts and such. That extra money adds up when you're  talking a quick picture!

5) Descriptions are important. I  always make sure  to  put things like "only  worn a couple times" and "super  clean" and "lots of compliments!" etc. in my descriptions. This is all  true and I  feel like it reassures people who are nervous to buy "used" clothes. If it's something that does have some wear I  say "mild washwear" ...people have actually message me to say they appreciate the honesty and feel  better buying from me because of it. Also if you have good brands, be sure to list it! People like to see Children's Place, Gymboree, Gap, etc. If it's Garanimals or Walmart etc. I just conviently leave off the brand, unless people ask :-)

6) List at appropriate times.  List your fall/winter  stuff in late summer, and your spring/summer stuff in late winter. That's when people are in the mood to buy for the next season. I'm not even bothering listing my summer clothes right now b/c people aren't really buying that right now.

7) List smaller items in "lots". On Craigslist I  list  like  items in lots so that nothing is less than $15 usually. It's worth our time to swing by a parking lot and meet someone for $15. I personally don't feel it's worth my time over $3 for one baby outfit, etc. On facebook groups I started listing all my items and people can pick and choose the different outfits they want, but I have a minimum purchase total  they must meet before I  will meet them for pickup. Otherwise my time is worth more than the item and I'd rather consign it.

Anyways,  those are the big tips I  can think of off the top of my head! Enlightening wasn't  it? haha. Now if I *wasn't* a stay-at-home mom I would still sell my bigger baby items....because honestly when you can take a $99 swing that you've used for 3 years and sell it for $60 I  consider that pretty damn good! If I was  working though I might be less likely to piddle with some of the smaller ticket items, but I  sort of consider  it a part  time job right  now in a way!

And I even *made* money on some items believe it or not...for example, I buy the girls' pjs on super clearance a year or two ahead....usually pay less than $3 for Carter's pjs. I just sold a lot of those  pjs for $3 each, so two girls wore them over 3 years and it basically  paid nothing for them. Smart shopping ladies ;-)

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Ava mystery--solved!

So no pictures today again! The ones from yesterday  will  have  to hold you all  over :-) It's 1:30 and I *just* got the girls and Finn down for naps and finally have  time to eat something--whew! So I've  decided I don't care about a real  blog  update today haha.

BUT I wanted to say that  we solved the  Ava mystery! Remember  the  "ava" friend Raya had the first day of swimming lessons? Well  today a mom came up to me and was talking like she knew me and said "now that  I know you live by me we shoudl have a playdate" etc. ....and I"m thinking who the heck is this?! Well low  and behold it's a girl I took  dance classes with in middle  school---and my mom had told me awhile back  that she lived near me and had a little girl about Raya's age---I had kind  of forgotten about it! And guess who her little  girl is? Yep, the mysterious pigtail "Ava" that  Raya declared  her friend LOL. Only  her name isn't  Ava, it's Cora. Miss Raya was still  confused :-P

So anyways, I got a good chuckle out of that  and I can d ie happy now that I've figured out that mystery! Raya had a good last day of class---although me and another mom had to laugh that they spent the first  5ish minutes of lessons on the grass talking, and then our girls spent the last 10 minutes in the potty LOL...so lessons weren't very long today needless to say. She got a little certificate for passing though---so I guess it was a good intro to the water.

Today while at lessons I  got to thinking about how stinkin' hard it is, even as a stay-at-home-mom, to find good matches with other moms for playdates! I mean, first you have to have kids at least  somewhat close in age, and then there are all the different "types" of moms to weed through. For instance, there was a really chatty (and very nice!) mom who talked to me every day of swimming lessons...and had  a little boy Raya's age, a girl Brielle's age, and was preggo and due in a month with #3. BUT she was a cosleeping, baby wearing, husband works at the  church and they're having as many  kids as God wants, etc. type of mom. Which is totally fine for sure! But  could not be more opposite than me haha. (And yes, she  told me all  of this herself--she was a talker!---so I didn't just  stereotype :-P) So I feel like I'm always crossing off moms as possible  good matches  as fast as I  can find them LOL. Anyone else feel like that?!

Maybe I'm just too picky ;-)

Well, Happy Friday  everyone! We  don't have anything too excited  planned this w eekend...probably  packing and getting the house in order because we leave on Wednesday for our anniversary trip--waaaaaaaahooooooooooooooo! ...and  yes, I'll miss the girls (we are gone 4 nights)....but I'll  miss  them in a "awww, they're so sweet" sort of way...but  not in a "awww, I  wish I could wake up at 6:30am and change diapers and  make snacks and break  up fights" sort of way!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A day in the life

Since I've been slacking on blog posts the last couple days, I thought  I'd entertain you all with a day in the life post---my life is so exciting and thrilling that you will thank me for this :-P

Here's what  we've  been up to today!

7:00am---everyone awake. The girls wake up between 6:30-7:30 am....most days before 7 though unfortunately.

Raya usually wakes  up saying "i'm hungry"....go figure....so breakfast is always first on the to-do list!

Looks like a peaceful place  for  a relaxing breakfast doesn't it? Yeah,  imagine two girls pounding on the table demanding waffles and "dip dip" and milk.....I  usually eat standing  up :-P
7:30am --tv and play time. Every morning after breakfast the girls get shows on and are free  to watch tv and/or play with toys upstairs. This  is when I try to wake  up! I check all my internet stuff and think  about the day's plans.

Whenever I  go back to working outside the home I will  definitely miss  having an hour every morning to relax on the couch and play on the internet haha...I like a nicce leisurely morning ;-)

During this time the girls typically play really nicely together.

They do tend to destroy the house during this time, but I  don't care! No blood, no sirens, no worries from me ;-)
8:30am---after  my relaxation time I usually try to be productive for a little bit....*try* hehe. Today I decided to go down to my Etsy closet and check  the status of my shirt inventory to prepare for reopening next  month. My Etsy closet is pretty messy right now!

The girls were upstairs during this time---they were quiet so I didn't care what they were doing lol. But when I came upstairs I  realized Brielle was having  fun throwing toys over the banister....naughty naughty

Then the little s tinker threw  a fit because she couldn't reach the toys that *she* threw down the stairs!
Around 9:15 we got dressed for the day--here is Raya saying "ta-da!" in her closet haha

While  Raya was  getting dressed Brielle made it  her mission to destroy as much of the bedroom as she could :-P

She started by messing  up the dollhouse

Then she tried  to pick  out  her  own clothes....unfortunately she was pulling out Raya's stuff :-P

We're all  dressed! And Raya's room is  officially destroyed haha. I'm not sure if it'll be better or worse when Brielle moves in....less floor space to make a mess with another bed  in there, but  I'm thinking I will  have  to watch my step still!
9:30am --Brielle took  a quick  morning nap (usually  she doesn't  take a morning nap, but I knew we were going to be gone most of the afternoon today). While Brielle napped I got ready and Raya ate her beloved snack

Then after snack  we  got  ready for  swimming lessons! (Raya wanted to pose on the deck ;-)

Trying to give swimming lessons a big  thumbs  up!
11am-- Raya had fun at swimming lessons again. I didn't get any pictures though because I met  a couple fb friends there to sell stuff haha. Sold my breast pump (which in case you didn't know  is apparently a hot ticket item. I was selling  it for $100 and within a couple hours had 4 interested people just from my own fb friends alone haha)....so anyways, so that and  also a couple pairs  of Brielle's outgrown shoes. Yay money :-)

12pm--after  swimming lessons we headed  into  town to pick  up my  bins f rom the consignment  store. Out of two full bins I took  in they  only returned  about 10 items to me, so I  was happy! Can't  wait to find out how much money it all sells f or!

Then we ate lunch at McDonalds....forgot to take a pic....sorry!

1:30--Grocery shopping at Walmart. After about 3 minutes I called  Lee  and told him I just couldn't do it. Brielle was AWFUL! She refuses  to sit in the cart (the buckle doesn't even work...she knows how to get out)....today I tried a more  "fun" looking cart but that didn't  work either. She runs wild when not in the cart too. So  all in all it is simply impossible to go grocery shopping with her. I believe the  0-3 year range is when you are pretty much screwed when it comes  to grocery shopping.  Raya only does slightly better  because  I can bribe her. Oy.

I'd turn my  back  to grab something, then turn around to see this.  The whole trip was 1 step forward, 2 steps back!

Raya would have been ok  I  think by herself....but  she saw Brielle being naughty and didn't know why she shoudl stay in the cart when Brielle wasn't. And Raya was better  at Brielle's age because  she didn't have an older sibling walking outside  the cart and  living the good life, while she w as stuck  in the cart seat. It's so hard with two of them.

On the  drive home. We moved Raya to the back of the van this  week so that Finn's  carseat would fit....um Daddy? Something tells me you didn't  do the carseat right when Raya screams "wheeeeeeeeeeeee!" every time we go around a curve. (And yes, I took this  while driving, but  in my defense I was on the road to our house in the middle  of nowhere :-)

Tantrums in the kitchen mean it's  time for a late nap!
3pm-- Nap time!!!

And  Mama only has  one word to  say about nap time: