Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Milestones - 15 months old

Forgive the phone photos, my nice camera cord is still packed in a box.

This kid will be 15 months old in a few days.

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He's at that age where he's enjoying a bit more independence like a toddler but still requiring all the same baby stuff too like the bedtime bottle of milk and lots of mommy snuggles in the middle of the night.

He's still drooling like crazy. But he did bust out two molars last month and there are two more that look like they are ready to come in on the bottom.

He's developing quite the vocabulary. He says book, ball, butterfly, bowl, bottle and banana (of course, to your ear they would all sound like "ba!" but to my discerning ear, I can tell the difference between each one, ha!).

Really though, he's talking well and most everyone understands when he says, hot, lamp, Dad, up and Grampa. He impresses me daily with the words that he attempts to say. "Pthoeey?" Yeah, that would be cookie!

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His favorite things of the moment:

Butterflies. If he sees anything that looks remotely like a butterfly or even just a flower, he weaves his fingers together and sways his arms over his head, a'la a butterfly.

Elmo. Sing him "Elmo's World" and he's a happy guy. I have Sesame Street wrapping paper lining the drawers in his dresser (way back from when The Boy was a baby) and he wants the song sung every time I open the drawer!

Books. Wants to sit on our laps and flip the pages. Usually he'll flip through quickly the first time and then want to go slowly back through the pictures one at a time. Actually having you read the words is optional. His favorite board books are "Goodnight Moon", "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", "Dear Zoo", "Jamberry" and "Hug". He's discovered large grown-up books lately too (like my Bible study book "Soul Revolution" and "What to Expect in the Toddler Years") and has figured out how to quickly thumb the pages so they fan and make that great zippy noise. He sat for about ten minutes this weekend just thumbing the pages over and over (the corner of my book is a bit dogearred now, no biggie!).

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Electronics. Any chance he gets he's running away with the TV remotes, cell phones and calculators. I have an old calculator that I allow him to play with and he pretends it's his phone, running around the house, yelling, "Dad!! Dad!!".

Cookies (or pthoeey!). I recently made oatmeal chocolate cookies and he always knew exactly where the container was in the kitchen and would request cookies all day!

Helping with laundry. He knows how to push the wet clothes into the dryer and pull out the dry clothes and put them in the basket for me. Yeah, he still throws everything out of the basket and tosses them around the room instead of helping me put away into the dresser but we're working on that!

Animals in particular dogs and cats. We sat together and watched an entire episode of "Too Cute" together with baby puppies, he loved it!

Running free. Of course!

Bath time, but really he just loves the splashing. What a wet mess!

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He pulled out the tub and climbed in, hint hint!

Not a fan of...

Changing his diaper. He's flipping over, grabbing the diaper away, grabbing his crotch and generally just trying to get away at this point.

Getting in the car seat. He's not the greatest traveler. Looking forward to when I can turn the seat around and he can see where we are going instead of facing backwards with his feet scrunched up.

Food. He must not be going through a growth spurt at the moment because he's not much into eating lately. Most of what is served ends up on the floor.

He does however enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

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Having things taken away from him (like those electronics he steals). He's learned the art of the meltdown already with the thrashing, head-tossing tantrum. Fortunately they are short-lived and he's easily distracted. But man, the boy can shriek!

Last but not least, I just have to share this beautiful handmade Valentine from The Boy. I adore every inch of this. His detail and creativity have me in awe.

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In the midst of all the craziness of the last two months, these two lovebugs have been the glue holding me together!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Maybe You Never Knew...I enter contests

I have updated this post and have it featured on my new blog SAVING UP FOR DISNEY.

Back when I was a girl (long before the internet, of course) my dad would occasionally receive a newsprint mailer that had national contests. I was intringued by the thought of possibly winning a vacation, cash, even a car. I recall a few times, filling out postcards with the contest addresses as per the instructions and sending them off in the mail, fingers crossed. I never won anything, of course.

When I was in high school my dad won a contest in the newspaper to name a casino in Las Vegas. He was one of many who chose the name ("Excalibur") and was awarded a weekend stay at the new hotel and my mom and he got all their meals for free. That was fun!

I've been pretty lucky through the years, winning a savings bond at my school's grad night party, had my name pulled from the barrel of thousands at the mall when Wheel of Fortune did a casting call (I made it on the show!) and most recently won a $50 Macy's gift card, San Diego Safari Park tickets and an overnight weekend at the Disneyland Resort complete with 2-day park tickets for all four of us.

Us, on the recent Disney trip that I won!

My motto: Someone has to win, why not me?

You know, you can't win if you don't play. I am by no means a professional at this and there are many websites that will go into more detail but this is how I do it:

At least once a week, I do an internet search for contests that sound interesting to me and load the links into an email that I send to myself. There are websites that list tons of contests in a directory like Sweepstakes Advantage and These are the two I use most. I like to look for specific contests too, like travel to Walt Disney World, and I find Disney-themed contest on Mousesavers.

I don't really enter contests with prizes I don't want or need.

I do "like" certain companies on Facebook that run frequent promotions and then check their sites to see when they start new contests.

I also follow blogs that I enjoy reading and enter their contests as well. I won a gift certificate last year to Party Box Design on a blog and was able to get the baby's birthday invitations designed for free. Some blogs have more complicated entry processes like tweeting, following their Pinterest boards, liking them on Facebook and others only require a simple comment.

I like Pinterest contests and essays best because they take a certain creativity. The Ellen Show frequently has essay contests with fantastic prizes. I made it to the top 20 of a recent Pinterest contest to win a Whirlpool fridge!

Reading the fine print:

Read those Official Rules. Really. At least the parts that tell you how many times you can enter, how long the contest lasts, how the winners will be contacted and what it is exactly that you're entering to win.

Pay attention to how many times you can enter. I steer away from contests that tell me I can enter "up to 100 times a day". 'Ain't nobody got time for that! I prefer contests that only allow one entry per person/email address. This really evens the playing field.

Look at the starting and ending dates of the contest. Try and get in on the beginning of the contest if you are able to enter once a day to give you the best odds. I've entered every single day for the HGTV Dream Home contest; technically twice, because they let you enter at both and They also offer a flooring contest from Lumber Liquidators & another for a GMC vehicle. I entered them all, every day of the contest so my odds are as great as they can possibly be! Of course, I'm in the mix with millions of others, but remember, someone has to win! Why not me? (or you!)

Some contests will ask for a code or something from a proof of purchase but there are often alternate ways of obtaining the entry (some as easy as just clicking a link that will supply you with a code without a purchase).

Watch those clickable boxes at the end of the entry form! If you don't want to receive a bunch of unwanted spam or junk mail or accidentally sign up for something you don't want (like a magazine subscription). Make sure you know what you've clicked (sometimes the boxes are already clicked and you need to unclick them each time).

Find your favorite stores and internet shops on Facebook and Pinterest and see if they are running any online contests.

Magazines often have contests or sweepstakes so a quick online search of your favorites should let you know what is available to enter.

Your local radio station probably has call-in contests (that's how I won the $50 Macy's card) but they often have online sweepstakes as well (that's how I won the Disney trip!).

Blogs are great place to enter and depending on the number of readers/entrants, the odds can be pretty good! Just over the weekend, I won a bottle of cleaner for stainless steel appliances and a microfiber cloth from Tidy Mom. We don't have stainless steel appliances in our apartment but our new house does *wink!*.

Last of all, good luck! Be consistent with your entering, have fun and have hope. Don't get discouraged if you don't win anything. I enter hundreds of contests and have only won a handful but I have my fingers crossed for a big one someday!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hanging in there

It's been such a bummer around here, I've not felt much like posting for fear of being a big ol' downer.

But here is the last two weeks in a nutshell:

Kids all sick with colds and missed some school. My PTO hours are dwindling fast!

The house with the two fireplaces didn't work for us after the home inspection so we've moved on to something else (we do have something else lined up but since I keep spilling the beans, things keep falling through so I'm staying mum for now!).

We were all well enough to attend a birthday party. Hurray, finally something fun! But as we were leaving the party the baby slipped and fell on some gravel in the driveway and cut open his lip. Boo...he still has a yucky little scab on his upper lip that is slowly healing. It doesn't bother him one bit of course.

Our cable box and remotes haven't been working for about three weeks. After nightly calls to customer service, we were finally given a temporary solution but this means we have to stand within a foot of the box to change the channel (why even need a remote at that point?!). Still no real permanent solution and this is getting annoying. Fortunately tonight I'm able to watch Project Runway, I've not been able to see it for the last two weeks with the cable issues.

Had to take Baby D back to urgent care tonight because he's had this stupid cold consistently since Christmas. He started getting feverish again and a bit of a wheeze with the cough. They said he still has an ear infection and prescribed a second round of antibiotics along with an inhaler. And $90 later...sheesh!

The Boy received back his progress report and this trimester was improved over the first. I'm glad to see that he's finally settling in at the new school though he's yet to find a good friend. He needs to click with someone soon and develop a nice friendship, I'm praying for that because he says he's still a bit of an outsider right now.

And the heartbreaker of the week, my dad got very ill and had to be admitted to the hospital. With all his chemo side effects, it was hard to pinpoint the issue but I think they have decided it is the flu. He's still there in the ICU... resting, getting poked and prodded, receiving intravenous fluid, watching TV, getting his blood pressure normal, taking in oxygen and getting better. No more chemo for now, they have to get him healthy first. He should be released in the next few days. We miss him around the house! And the baby has taken to saying, "Grampa?" and putting out his hands like, "Where is he?!".

So there is the update! Told you it was a bummer.

Source: via Julie on Pinterest

So what fun things have we been doing?

Went out with my sister-in-law for dinner last weekend. She's 9 months pregnant with the baby due Feb 15th and she was excited for an evening out before her third little boy arrives. With an (almost) 4 year old and an 18-month old, "girl's nights" are few and far in between so getting to meet up with her was so great.

The following day after church I see on Facebook that my brother-in-law has posted that they were at the hospital delivering the baby! She'd started having contractions and delivered her sweet guy that morning! Hope it wasn't the onion rings, Samantha! Looking forward to holding my new nephew soon.

Went to dinner & a movie with girlfriends (wow, two girl's nights in one week! Really, though... I deserve it!). Got to see Les Miserables and of course, wept through it. Side effect of seeing a movie with catchy songs is that I couldn't sleep that night because those beautiful songs kept running through my head. And for the following two days afterwards!

Source: via Julie on Pinterest

Looking forward to being able to go out with my husband this weekend for Valentine's Day. No idea what we are doing but we are doing something! I bought my husband exactly what he wanted for a gift. This set of three levels, he'll be so happy!

Practical guy, after my own heart... I want one of those robot things that sweeps and mops the floors!

We also joined a small group through church that will be studying this book, Soul Revolution. We need to eek out time to read it now. Having a crappy TV cable box will probably help with that.

And Pinterest. Lots and lots of dream home pins! Hoping to have more fun stuff to share (and no more yucky stuck, okay?!).