Crickets

Sorry for the crickets that you’ve been hearing around here lately!  I can’t believe my last post was on September 25th! Sorry for the long absence, it has been a busy 4 (eek!) months.

So, what have I been up to? 

Tutoring…lots of tutoring! I tutor “homebound” students in my home school district.  When students are out long term due to illness I work with their teachers and school counselors to keep them caught up.  I tutor Social Studies, English, French and Spanish for middle and high schoolers.  There were a ton of students this fall, so I was very busy going to schools and houses for the students.

Babysitting.  Bitsy and I help a family from our church with after school care for their 2 younger children.  Mom and Dad both have busy careers so Bitsy and I pick the kids up from school and hang out with them until their parents get home from work.  She adores the kids and they love reading to her and playing with her!

Housewifery Now that I’m home full time, I have taken over many of the household responsibilities.  Chris still does a ton and is super helpful.  Since I’m home most of the day though, I do the bulk of the cleaning and organizing.  Chris and I sat down and created a weekly cleaning schedule to help us keep up and keep the house clean.  It seems juvenile to some, but has been incredibly helpful to us! Bitsy even has some responsibilities and “helps” with some of the chores.

Job Hunting I am still hoping to go back to work in a school full time.  Each day I search on various job sites or school district websites.  I apply to each and every job for which I’m qualified.  Most of the past few months were pretty dry.  In the past week though I’ve had 3 scheduled interviews with another one to come next week!  Hopefully something will come of one of them!

Growing …a baby that is! That’s right, Baby #2 is on the way.  Bitsy will be a big sister on or around the 4th of July!  We are absolutely thrilled! (well, Chris and I are.  Bitsy doesn’t really “get” it)  The first trimester was ROUGH.  Between all day sickness, extreme exhaustion, and chasing a toddler the first 12 weeks were a major blur. I’m at week 18 now and feeling much better.  In another 2 weeks we will find out if we’re adding a boy or a girl to the mix.

So…there is a very abbreviated version of the past few months.  I have lots of other ideas for posts.  I promise it won’t be another 4 months until I post again!

Guest Post-Will you let me be your servant?

I am so humbled to be featured on my friend Meg’s blog today.  As she says, we met when I was singing in the Liturgy Arts Group at Boston College and she was one of the directors.  Her writing and her voice are stunning.  I am truly grateful that she gave me the opportunity to do a guest post on her blog!

Click here to check it out: Will you let me be your servant?

Playroom Reveal!

I meant to post this earlier in the week, but I’m working in a high school right now and it’s the last week of school so that didn’t happen.  Sleepy Bitsy went  to bed super early tonight though, so I have some time.  Here is the final (for now) reveal of her playroom paradise!  Warning: tons of pics ahead!


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Solid grey walls, ready for me to start muraling!

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I did the trees in dark grey with all different colored leaves. I used pints of latex wall paint (the sample size) in various colors.

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Finished trees on one wall

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On the far wall, I did a sign post pointing towards various story locales and another tree. (Sorry for the blurry picture, I need a better camera!)

 

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Pointing towards the Emerald City, Narnia, Hogwarts, 100 Acre Wood, Plum Creek and Wonderland. (Bonus points if you know what book Plum Creek is from!)

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I love this bookshelf I designed and my dad built. It’s plain old pickets from the garden center at Lowe’s with 2x1s built into “L” shapes for the horizontals to hold books. I primed and painted it and then we screwed it to the wall. She can reach her books and pull up on it safely.

 

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The finished far wall. Also, some of her toys. She has more toys than she will ever need!

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The other finished wall and bookshelf. Loaded with picture books for Bitsy!

 

That’s what we have so far.  She loves her playroom!  Eventually I am going to add more detail/creatures to the mural.  I’m also hoping to build a storage window seat under the windows in the corner.  Those are winter projects though, so it will have to wait.  Since these pictures were taken, I’ve added more storage/organization and her aunties gave her an awesome Step2 Dream Kitchen.     

Hope you like it!

Cleaning Hacks TU/TD

My alma mater’s newspaper, The Heights, has a regular column called Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down.  The column serves as a commentary on campus and Boston life.  It has been far too long since I spent time in Boston, and I had to miss my 5 year reunion last weekend.  BUT, I have been quite domestic lately.  So, here’s my TU/TD on cleaning hacks that I’ve tried recently.

Thumbs Up:

  • Shower Cleaner: I got this idea from a Mommy facebook group I’m in and I LOVE it. .  I fill a dish washing wand with 1/2 blue dawn dishsoap and 1/2 white vinegar.  It stays in the shower and every couple of days during my shower I swish it over all of the walls of the shower and the rinse it off.  It is super easy and very effective.  Plus, as an added bonus, it’s an excuse to take a little bit longer in the shower!
  • Carpet/Upholstery Cleaner: 1 part Borax + 1 part Baking Soda + a few drops Lavender essential oil + a few drops Peppermint essential oil…mix and store in a tupperware.  Sprinkle on carpet/rug/cushions, let sit for a few minutes and then vacuum it up.  Smells great, removes any yucky odors, and the combination of scents wards off pests. Win!
  • Homemade “Febreeze”: Empty Febreeze bottle + a few spoonfuls of above carpet cleaner + a few tsps of liquid fabric softener + water to fill the bottle. Shake it up and BAM, homemade and super cheap febreeze! 
  • Dollar store: the dollar store has become my go to for cheap cleaning supplies. Not everything is cheaper than the “big box” stores, but some essentials are.  In general I have found things like glass cleaner and dishsoap are a better buy.  Sponges and handsoap are generally not cheaper.  Most dollar stores carry some name brands and take coupons too!  
  • Cleaning schedule: It sounds ridiculous and a little OCD. Making a cleaning schedule has saved our sanity though.  WIth both of us working and with a 1 year old, keeping the house clean is tough.  Scheduling certain things for certain days has helped us immensely.  So important to take into account your family’s schedule, needs and strengths…but so helpful! 

Thumbs Down:

  • Homemade dryer sheets: I found (and tried) a few variations of this, but I wasn’t happy with any of them.  The basic premise is 1 part vinegar + 1 part hair conditioner + 2 parts water in a plastic container.  Add 3 sponges that are cut in half (so 6 pieces) to the liquid mixture. Squeeze some of the excess liquid out of the sponge and toss it into the dryer like you would a dryer sheet.  The sponges can be put back in the liquid afterwards and reused over and over.  Sounds great, but it wasn’t.  No matter what combination of scents and measurements I used I was not happy with the results.  The clothes came out super static-y and smelling like vinegar.  So disappointing! 
  • Dishwasher detergent: Again, tried a bunch of variations but wasn’t happy with any! Basic premise is Borax + Washing Soda + something acidic (ie lemishine or even lemonade kool-aid).  No matter the combination the dishes came out so cloudy. Always coated with a nasty film.  Again, major bummer.  
  • Laundry detergent: The detergent worked great, but it was a little too much work to be worth it for me.  There are recipes all over Pinterest. That are effective, just a little too labor intensive for this working Mama.  

With the dryer sheets, dishwasher detergent, and laundry detergent I think it is probably is better to scout out sale and coupon combinations to stock up when prices are super cheap.  

So there are some cleaning hacks I’ve tried recently.  What have you tried and liked?

 

Bitsy’s First Birthday–Safari Themed Birthday Party

 

 

 

Bitsy’s first birthday party was last weekend.  We had a ton of fun.  We decided to have the party at 3 o’clock–safely after both of her naps so she would be well rested.  We just served light snacks and cupcakes to a small crowd (about 15 people) of our family.    Her favorite toys are a variety of giraffes, monkeys and other safari animals so we did a safari theme for the party.

Over the past couple of months I have been checking sales at Target, Walmart, the Dollar Store and Price Chopper to pick up food and decorations.  Those bargains combined with things we already had helped to make the party budget friendly.  The biggest expense was the food, but even that wasn’t terrible.  We stuck with snacks that would keep and we would eat if there were leftovers.  I also decided to go with cupcakes rather than a big sheet cake.  Since I am gluten free I didn’t want to have a giant cake leftover in the house.  About half of the two dozen cupcakes were eaten at the party and most of the rest were sent home with our guests.

Here are some pictures from the day:

 

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I found these adorable 1st Birthday animal plates and napkins on clearance at Walmart. I displayed plastic cutlery and some of the plates in a picnic basket we already had. I thought it looked like something one might take on safari.

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Trail Mix in a safari animal bucket that was on Easter clearance at Target.

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These cheetah buckets were on clearance too. I took index cards and wrote safari themed names for the snacks.

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Who doesn’t love ants on a log?

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I framed up this super cute scrapbook paper to make a sign to show people where all the drinks were.

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We had iced tea with lemon ice cubes, lemonade with frozen strawberries, water and soda. Easy peasy!

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Bitsy’s Auntie Em is a phenomenal baker. We kept the flavors simple since it was Bitsy’s first time eating cake. Just vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. She had giraffe spots and zebra or tiger stripes to the frosting. I found small plastic safari animals that she used as toppers as well.

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We moved her booster seat from a regular chair to one of our breakfast bar stools and decorated it to make a throne fit for a first bite of cake.

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The three of us ready to party!

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She had a blast hamming it up for all of our guests!

 

Spring has sprung!

Spring is finally here!  With spring, we have uncovered a plethora of new projects around the house and yard.  This is going to be a super busy weekend. Chris and I have a ton of plans to get stuff done around the house and yard. Here are some projects we are hoping to tackle:

1. Paint Bitsy’s playroom. It is currently a nasty orange color (pictured here: http://wp.me/p3S4Rp-r) We are just going to paint it a neutral grey for now, and freshen up the white trim.  I have big plans for the room, but we just need to start with getting rid of the orange.

2. Start veggie seeds for the garden.  I’m a little late here, but I am starting some seeds for a vegetable garden.  It’s so much cheaper to start from seeds than buying plants.  I picked up seeds and containers today at Lowes, fingers crossed that I can do it.  I look forward to fresh, local fruits and veggies all year.  My hope is that I will be able to get some from my own yard this year.

3. Plans for Bitsy’s birthday.  I can’t believe it, but Bitsy is going to be 1 in a few weeks.  I’m planning a small party for her, so I’ve got stuff to take care of for it.

4. Yard Clean-up. The previous homeowner was not big on landscaping.  Our yard is a MESS.  We have to continue basic clean up from the winter and from years of neglect.

5. Mole elimination.  While we were out working this week, we found evidence of lots of moles in our yard.  I’ve been researching ways to eliminate them.  This weekend, that operation continues.  It won’t be pretty.

6. Spring cleaning.  The usual spring cleaning tasks…window washing, switching out spring/winter clothes, etc.

7. Plan for major projects.  We have a few ideas for major landscaping projects.  We are going to make some action plans for the coming months!

This is just a few things that we have on tap.  There is a lot to be done.  I really enjoy doing this type of work, as does Chris.  I love crashing on the couch at the end of a very productive day.  There’s just something about feeling the sore muscles and looking out at a completed project–a real sense of pride in our home and our accomplishment!

Typhoid Bitsy

I’ve been pretty MIA for the past week.  So sorry!

Last Saturday, we were out to dinner with my in-laws at Wheatfields (my go to for great Gluten Free food!).  Right when our entrees were placed on the table, Bitsy looked up at me started to projectile vomit…EVERYWHERE.  A few hours later, we ended up in the ER with her because she couldn’t keep anything down and was extremely lethargic.  They gave her some anti-nausea medicine and she was finally able to keep some fluids down.  We have been in recovery mode since then.  She still isn’t quite over the bug–it has moved south, but she is doing much better.

Bitsy the morning after her trip to the ER. She felt so much better already!

This was the first time that Bitsy has been sick.  Thankfully, with the help of tips from family, mommy friends and Pinterest, we made it through.  Here are some tips that helped us survive:

1. If you are local, go to the Ellis Emergency Room in Clifton Park, not Schenectady.  When the pediatrician said we had to bring her into the ER, I was terrified of what the wait would be like in an urban ER, right near a college, on a Saturday night.  Chris remembered about the ER in Clifton Park and I am so glad he did.  We walked right and Bitsy was seen within 20 minutes.  The staff was wonderful and the facility is beautiful.

2. Keep old towels on hand. We have a bunch of old bath towels that I keep on hand just for situations like this.  All Bitsy wanted to do was snuggle me, but she was vomiting uncontrollably.  We covered the rocking chair in towels and then I draped one over myself so I didn’t get too covered.  We also stripped her bed and used a towel as a sheet with just the mattress protector underneath it.  In the car on the way to the ER, we put her blanket on and then used a towel over it.  We created a lot of laundry, but nothing got wrecked.

3. Clean, Clean, Clean This one is pretty obvious.  I think that we have done a dozen loads of laundry this week.  Spring finally arrived this week, so we were able to air out the house quite a bit too.  Also, genius tip from pinterest: Did you know that toys can go through the dishwasher?  We cleaned off all of Bitsy’s toys because everything goes in her mouth.  All of the toys that are plastic or rubber can go through the dishwasher.  As you can see from the picture below, we put tons of toys on the top rack, smaller items in the silverware container and the bins and bag that they are stored in on the bottom.  We ran it with detergent to get the dishes clean and vinegar to kill any potential mildew from bath toys.  We ran the dishwasher on a normal cycle, and did not run any of the higher heat options (they can melt some of the toys).  It was the quickest and most thorough way to get them all clean.

 

 

 

 

The most colorful load I’ve ever done in the dishwasher.

 

Chris and I got the bug a little bit.  Chris had to call in sick yesterday because he was sick and today so he could stay home with Bitsy.  Tomorrow I will be home with her and Friday hopefully she will be ready to go back to daycare!  We are all exhausted and in need of some serious relaxation after this week!