Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wet, Wild and FREE!!!

I feel like there is a theme to our summer vacation this year. That would be:

"Either Free or Pretty Darn Cheap!!"

People frequently ask me if we are going anywhere this summer. I always say, "No, we went on vacation last year so it will be a few years until our next." I wish this weren't true. But, since it is, we are making the best of it and having a blast at home. We have been quite busy and everything we have done has been free or really close to it. We get zoo and COSI passes every year, so we have been to those places a few times already. We have also seen cheap or free movies, gone to the near by spray ground, played outside, library activities and much more.

Yesterday was a new adventure.

Downtown, a new spray park opened- full of fountains shooting up in the air. We decided to go check it out. It did not disappoint- we had tons of fun! We parked a distance away and walked there. It was a good 20-25 min walk, but the kids all had a great time with almost no complaining! We stopped along the way at one of the swings- here is a picture of some of the kids:
From left to right: Faith, Sheridan, Annie, Meghan, Ashlyn, Hayden, Jacob, Ellen and Rachel. (this wasn't all the kids- just what would fit on the swing- we had 15 kids total in our group!!

Once we finally got there- they cooled off in the water!

On Wednesdays throughout the year, there are activities sponsored by a local radio station- with a different theme each week. This week was a science theme! The girls got to plant seeds to take him with them:

Kenny loved the booth where they experimented with dry ice. The picture didn't turn out, but he is basically holding a "bubble" of dry ice- dry ice within a bubble of water. Then, when he closed his hand the bubble popped and the dry ice evaporated! Kenny spent a TON of time at this booth:
There was also a prize wheel (where we won two tickets to some kids movies coming up) and they did an art project by gluing beans on paper. As you can see from Kenny's picture- they also got free ice cream! They were just handing them out to everyone! And, this character, whoever he is, was walking around and made for a fun photo op:
So it was all this for FREE! All I paid was less than $2 in coins for the parking meter!

And, the bonus is we found a much quicker way back to our cars- it only took about 10 minutes to walk back! It was way crowded though at this park- probably because of all of the activities. It was a little unnerving trying to keep track of everyone. It just seemed really easy to lose kids. But, we all made it back! Though it was fun to go on a Wednesday and do the activities, we will likely go again on a different day when it won't be too busy.

Either way, it was a blast! Another great summer day to add to our memories. I love my kids!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

An Unwelcome House Guest

Anyone who knows me knows I have bug issues. I don't handle them well-especially spiders, centipedes and anything that crunches when you kill it. I know it is dumb but I can't help it. If something is big enough, I am sometimes too freaked out to even kill it. I will sometimes trap it (like with a bucket over it or something) for Aaron to deal with when he gets home. Not all bugs all the time, but sometimes! Pathetic, I know- but, it is what it is.

So, a week ago or so, I was quite unhappy when this spider showed up in our kitchen window- between the window and the screen! Complete with a big web.

Nasty, huh? I am not even sure what he expects to catch in his web- not many bugs get into there, but then I guess he did, so maybe he is getting lucky.

Anyway.... For a few days, I just wasn't sure what to do about it. I couldn't open the window for fear he would scurry away before I could catch him. At the same time, I can hardly sit and eat dinner with this window right in front of me and him right there.... I literally get chills when he moves his legs! I turned to Aaron for help but he was no help- him and the kids thought it was way cool and were enjoying watching him.

Finally, after a few days, Aaron took pity on me and went outside and hosed down the window like crazy- aiming the hose right at our guest, destroying his web and knocking him down. After that, he seemed to be gone.

The next day, he was right back there in the same place with the web the same size. We figured he was hiding in a little hideaway in the corner of the window until he dried off. At this point, we both new it wouldn't work to open the window to try to get him- he would just scurry into this little hole. So, for another day or two (!!!!) the boys again enjoyed observing him. I kept begging Aaron to get rid of it. He sprayed the window longer and harder- right on the spider- destroying his web and everything. He seemed to be gone. Again, he has returned.

He is taunting me.

But, I now know something he doesn't. (in fact, I don't know why it took me this long to think of it...) I know about the bottle of raid underneath the sink. I know that I can go outside and spray it through the screen right at him- just like the hose. I know that his welcome has long ago worn out and that Mister Spider's taunting will end tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, he is going down!

Disclaimer.... my one reason I was hesitant to post this... I have one friend who has been dealing with Lice on her children and another who has been dealing with bed bugs. I fear they will read this and think "really?! She is complaining about a spider with what I am dealing with?" I realize this in no way compares to what they have dealt with when it comes to bugs, and I am not trying to compare. What they have dealt with has been a nightmare and my heart goes out to them and they have been in my prayers- this spider is just annoying- I just wanted to share! :)

The Tooth Fairy is Set to Return!!

Today was a big day at our house!! Ellie lost her first tooth!! Surprising, since she is only 4 1/2. A little younger than average, but not abnormal. My kids all seem to be "early losers"- both boys were just barely 5 when they lost their first (and Kenny is DONE losing teeth- all of his baby teeth are gone and he is barely 10!); but obviously, this is even earlier. In fact, Meghan had a baby tooth that formed wrong in her gums and had to be pulled as an infant. The dentist said she may start losing her teeth a little early. She may have one loose, but yet it was Ellie who lost one first!
(It is surprisingly hard to catch a picture of a 4 year-olds toothless gap! She had goofy expressions in all of them! But of course, still adorable!)
About 1 1/2 weeks ago, I took the girls into the dentist for their regular cleaning and the hygienist is the one who noticed her two bottom front teeth were loose. She has been wiggling them a lot since then, anxious to get to know the tooth fairy. In fact, the last couple of days when the one has been looser, she has even been asking Aaron to try to pull it. He kept trying, but it wasn't quite ready. Today, it did come out when he tried to pull it and she didn't even realize it until he told her to look at the mirror. She went and looked and saw a little blood- and at THAT point freaked out crying and upset! Ha! But then, all day she asked when it would be dark time so that the tooth fairy would come! All I gotta say is that tooth fairy better deliver!! We have had a lot of problems here with the tooth fairy- click here to hear more about why!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reality Couponing

Unless you have been living on a rock, you have also noticed that "couponing" has suddenly become an everyday term in this country. I have a few friends that have been couponing for years and have tried to get me to join them. Several months ago, I finally did jump on the bandwagon, but it seems I jumped on just before that bandwagon started to get really packed!

So many people were interested in it that a "certain" TV channel felt the need to do a show about it- and ruin it for all of us!! The show made people think they could get $1000 worth of groceries for $50 in one transaction- all at once. Truth is, that is impossible. Stores only allow so many like coupons in one transaction. Turns out, those stores agreed to "bend the rules" for the show. That and at least one of the "expert couponers" was caught using coupons fraudulently- ON THE SHOW! And, she was completely non-apologetic about it. Not to mention blatant clearing of shelves, leaving none left for others wanting a deal too. That is NOT "Extreme Couponing" but total false-hood and unrealistic.

Many looked at this show and thought "I want to do that too!" So, they started clipping coupons like crazy, sometimes copying them (HUGE no-no!!) and going to the store thinking they were ready and were angry when it didn't work. Store's got irritated at misunderstanding and at people trying to clear their shelves, using coupons wrong and costing the stores a lot of money. Now, stores are changing coupon policies, limiting more, and not having as good of deals. This is frustrating to an honest couponer. Despite this, I look for deals when I can and sometimes it works out well. Tonight was one of those nights! I had to take a picture:
This is what I consider "Practical" or "Realistic" couponing. Here is the run down (12 cartons 1/2 gallon Smart Balance milk (yes I have a large freezer), 9 bottles of 64 oz Old Orchard Juice, 4 Pantene Pro-V, 2 M&M's): The retail value of the items on this table totals a crazy $94.72!! Here are the regular prices of these items:

SB milk: $3.99 half gallon (seriously, who would PAY that?!)
Old Orch Juice: $2.89
M&Ms: 74 cents
P-Prov: $4.99 bottle (bought at CVS, everything else was Meijer)

Here is how it broke down after sale price and coupons:

SB milk: $2.59 half gallon- minus coupons= 59 cents/ half gallon
Old Orch Juice: $1.67 bottle- minus coupons= 67 cents/ bottle
M&Ms: 74 cents- coupons= FREE!
P-Prov: sale price 2/6.97- coupons and store extra care bucks= approx. 73 cents/ bottle!!

So, my grand total for everything (remember retail price of $94.72!!!) was only $18.25!!! Pretty sweet, huh?

I just wish that those who decide to start couponing would NOT watch the shows about it and follow these simple tips to keep it honest- (I am not an expert, but this is what I have learned and is common sense...)

1) If you print coupons, you can print two per computer, ONLY- this means if you have more than one computer, you can print more. Don't ever copy them- there is a PIN number on each coupon- you can/will get caught- making it worse on all the rest of us.

2) Beware of store rules and follow them (they are constantly changing right now so they are sometimes hard to keep up with.) But, most stores limit the number of coupons they will double or how many same coupons they will let you use in a day or transaction.

3) Be super courteous to the cashiers. You don't want to tick them off or you can forget it! Sometimes they are wrong, but don't berate them or be rude- you can kindly and gently explain it- but listen to them too, because you just might be wrong!

4) Use the coupon for the item described on the coupon. It is coupon fraud to use it on another item, even if it works. I have been guilty of this before- just in small amounts because I didn't know better, but I try to avoid doing it now.

5) DO NOT CLEAR SHELVES!! (Believe it or not, with all I bought tonight, I really did not come close to clearing the shelves- I left plenty for others). It is rude to take everything on the shelf (unless there is only a few left, of course....) Not to mention, a huge stock pile is crazy-you just don't need 30 years worth of mustard! It is good to have extra stored- but you should never stockpile more than what you can use in a year, or more that what you can use before it expires.

I just feel like if people would follow these common sense guidelines, the stores wouldn't have to be so strict- they would be happy to get the business and we would be happy getting great deals.


Monday, July 18, 2011

A Twin Sister's Love

I have said it before- I never would have asked for twins. I have learned that a better way to say it is that I never knew I wanted twins. The last 4 1/2 years have been such an adventure. Despite the sleep deprivation and near constant chaos, it has been proven to me that God knew what he was doing- I love these two little girls like crazy! They are so different from each other- each with their own ideas and interests.

I truly believe they were meant to come together! Despite their differences, they really are best friends-they play together and are usually ornery together too. Sure, they have their moments of fighting or doing their own thing, but they genuinely love each other. There have been many examples of them being worried or concerned for the other. They love to take care of each other.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to a 4th of July party at my aunt's house. I didn't take any pictures this time around, but my cousin captured this great shot of her daughter and my girls:
Ellie, Meagan and Meghan
(wearing necklaces they made there!)
Soon after we arrived, the kids started working on a project my other aunt had brought for them. Ellie suddenly started screaming and I quickly realized she had been stung by a bee! This was actually the first time any of my kids had ever been stung! I whisked her into the house to help her and I didn't even notice at first that Meghan had followed. I took Ellie into the bathroom to look at the sting and treat it and I looked over at Meghan and she was looking at me with big eyes and her lower lip sticking straight out, trying not to cry. I told her Ellie would be okay and I gave her a hug and she started crying. So now Ellie was still crying because she was hurt and Meghan crying because she was scared and...well.... let's just say I had to dry my eyes too. The concern for her sister was so sweet and touching.

A week or so later, Meghan was running through the house (despite constant warnings not to...) and slipped on something that was left on the floor. She hit her chin pretty hard on the floor. Thankfully, she was okay- not bumps or bruises even, but of course she cried hard. Ellie was right there asking if Meghan was okay and just very worried for her sister.

These are just recent examples of many observations I have had. They both will often get something for their sister too if they are getting one for themselves. Such as, if Meghan gets a banana, she will often automatically take one to her sister. Or if I am pouring juice for them both, they will wait for both cups to be ready and take one to her sister. I know all of my kids, including my boys, have shown genuine concern and care for their siblings, but I speak of it as a twin thing just because it is definitely stronger and more obvious with Ellen and Meghan.

I am sure as they get older they will have many moments similar to this and many moments when they won't want anything to do with each other. For that reason, I had to record this memory.

I'll bet you are all wishing for twins now, right?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Meet Lion and Tiger AND a Great Summer Day!

(So, after two depressing posts before this, enjoy a very happy one!)

A few weeks ago, we found more caterpillars in my parsley. They are attracted to it and this year has not been disappointing!! We were successful before in raising a butterfly and I posted about it, but I am posting about it this time too! Meet the two newest family members: Lion and Tiger!
As you can see, Lion is about to start his cocoon! I almost waited to long to take a picture! Within a day of taking this, Lion was in his cocoon and about a day or two later, Tiger had made his! Then, I DID forget to take a picture in the cocoon stage, but that is the most boring part anyway (at least on the outside where we can see it... I am sure the inside is fascinating!!) A couple weeks later, Lion emerged:
He was flapping all around like crazy- we didn't even get a picture after opening his cage outside before he was long gone! The next day, Tiger emerged!
He was pretty anxious to be out of there too, but I did get one quick shot when he landed briefly next to Ellie's foot (who thankfully did not accidentally squish him!)
I just think it is fascinating how this smooth green caterpillar can transform it self in this tiny cocoon to a beautiful black and colorful butterfly! It never gets old to me to witness this! Nature is truly amazing!

Today was a good day!

I was worried it would be a bad day- For some completely unknown reason, I could NOT sleep last night. I tossed and turned, finished a book and played on the internet until finally passing out at 4:45am (!) and then having to get back up at 7:45 am because Kenny had an orthodontist appointment. So, I was ready for a bad day, but it has really been great! After his appointment (which went fine), we went to my friend Autumn's house to pick fresh raspberries. She is out of town but said we could get some because they would be gone a while and did not want them to go to waste. So, I jumped at the idea of free fresh berries. The kids had a great time too!

Kenny wasn't actually too excited to pick the berries, but he humored me by picking a few for the sake of a picture! Meghan and Jacob loved picking them and they were the biggest help!

Ellie was most interested in playing on her friend's toys even though her friend wasn't there- but she did pick a few- mostly to eat them!! (there is definitely something to be said for freshly picked fruit!)

Here are the fruits of our labors!
(this is actually a pretty large container- the picture just doesn't show it)

When we got home, I was inspired to find something to do with all of the raspberries and wondered if I could make raspberry jam. I figured, why not look it up on line? The first site I looked at was educational, but also very involved using equipment I did not have nor will I have anytime soon. I was discouraged and almost said, forget that! But, I looked at one more site that had a much more simplified recipe- using only raspberries and sugar-and I could use equipment I already had at home! I decided to only make a small amount- reusing old jars- so I wouldn't have to worry about canning- I just wanted to put them in the refrigerator and use them now and if I was successful, I could venture into canning later. Well, it was so much easier (and yummier) then expected. In less than an hour, I had this:
YUM!!! (Jacob helped a lot- he was really into it!) And, we still have a few raspberries left just for eating, or smoothies or whatever!! This was so easy, I may just venture into canning jams soon- it really didn't look that hard! (and, even though I didn't use the "canning" method, the jars sealed themselves from the heat creating a vacuum! But, I still plan on using them sooner rather than later!) I was very proud of myself for trying something completely new!

We then went to an activity at the library as part of the summer reading program. The theme is "be a hero, read." The activity today was done at the library by the Columbus Museum of Art and it was geared towards ages 7-12, so I was going to drop off the boys and take the girls into the main part of the library to wait, but they said the girls could join too. I am glad they did because they all had so much fun! They made their own "super hero masks." I thought they were all really creative and fun!
Kenny even used pipe cleaners and other materials to make his own special cape:(The pics aren't the clearest because I used my cell camera which isn't the greatest...)

One the way home, we couldn't resist this:(These 59cent cones at McDonald's are going to be the death of me this summer!! And, the lady put way more ice cream on it then this picture shows!)

When Aaron got home, I got to go and get paid $35 to eat this:
I got to do a paid taste test for Wendy's! I have done them before- I usually get to do one every few months. Today, I got paid $35 cash to eat a Spicy Chicken sandwich and answer a few questions!!

Of course, add to this the normal stuff of the day- chores, feeding everyone, bathing everyone- and all this on 3 hours sleep! Just call me super mom....ha! (Gonna go crash now!!!)