T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tortilla Traditions - Part II

Tortillas have always been a tradition in our home. I've mentioned it before - it's just been a while. You can read more about that here as well as get the recipe.

Recently, I've been trying to freshen up my tortilla making skills since I have a little girl to pass the maternal secret along to. There is definitely a technique to rolling them. Yes, my mom hand rolls her tortillas - no press here. We've determined that this particular technique is at least five generations old.

On a recent visit, I had my mom help me make some tortillas. No matter how hard I try, hers always turn out so much better than mine. Yes, mine are not perfectly round circles like hers, but there is something else in the texture. We follow the exact recipe but I think it's the way she kneads the dough.

Regardless, they are delicious. Maybe it's just something that will come with age and experience.

Maybe when I'm seventy T Rex Princess will be snapping the photos of me rolling the dough and her babies will be watching and taste testing...

Do you have any traditions that have been passed down to you and you plan on passing along to your children?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Baby Feet...

A love affair and obsession...

Especially these feet...

I just cannot stop kissing these soft, adorable feet...

Or stop counting these perfect little toes.

I guess that's why for two mother's day gifts, T Rex Dad has given me these:

Mother's Day 2008

Mother's Day 2010

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Horrible Children's Stories...

I've been teaching my son Spanish. It's something I struggled to learn in my latter years of high school even though my mom was fluent. I don't want my son to miss out on what I did.

So, we're doing morning Spanish lessons. He's getting quite good. A video of his lesson is posted on his blog. As he's getting older, my lessons with T Rex are getting more complex to where we're starting to read stories in Spanish together.
I did some Amazon.com shopping (we don't leave the house much - too much work with two little ones) and found these books:

Jack and the Beanstalk, The Gingerbread Man, Puss in Boots, The Milkmaid, and The Three Little Pigs.

I'm always a bit nervous when I purchase something sight unseen. But, these are classics and they were only $3.99 each and qualified for buy three get one free. As we were reading them I realized they were not uplifting tales.

Jack and the Beanstalk glorifies thievery and Puss in Boots was equally bad - it celebrates cleverness through deception. The Gingerbread Man is about a couple who desperately want a child but cannot have one so they make one out of gingerbread who runs away teasing along the way until he is eaten by a cleaver fox. The Milkmaid is about a girl whose dreams are shattered because her pail of milk breaks. And the Three Little Pigs ends with the wolf falling down the chimney into a boiling pot of water.

Luckily, we are reading them in Spanish so the message is not totally clear but the photos inside sometimes reveal what's happening - especially the wolf in the pot of boiling water. There is one in the group that is what I would consider "okay".

The Ugly Duckling

Another questionable tale because of the poor patito (duckling) is ridiculed by his siblings because he is different. At least the ending is happy but only because he finds his "own kind". He does love this book, though. He is very concerned that El Patito Feo (the ugly duckling) is muy triste (very sad).

Let's just say, sometimes I change the story to protect the innocent.

(P.S. Jenners, I don't recommend these for your book blog. Let's just say, these won't be getting rave reviews on my Goodreads!)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dressing the Kids - on a Budget...

When it comes to my kids' clothes, I have expensive taste - no question. It doesn't help that a dear friend (she's a bargain shopper too) feeds my addiction with more ideas. However, there are ways to enjoy such expensive tastes on a budget.

Here are some examples...

First I take any hand-me-downs anyone will offer. Sometimes there is a lot to wade through to find things that fit or are suitable but it's totally like treasure hunting. Here T Rex is wearing some hand-me-down PJs - Thomas the Tank Engine - he LOVES them. Cost - free.

Then there's ebay. I LOVE ebay. At times I get a little carried away but it's fun. This Hanna Anderssson dress retails for about $36. It arrived at my house in perfect condition for $9 including shipping.

And if you're looking for some super cute and nicely priced cloth diapers, she is wearing a Kawaii diaper (snap version) that I purchased new for $8.95. It has already paid for itself twice. Kawaii diapers are a nice way to dress up one's diaper stash without breaking the bank and this one will last until she is potty trained.

Aden and Anais sleep sack (retail $29.95) was purchased at a local used kids' clothing store for $4. I could not believe this find.

And, of course, you've seen the various toddler pants I've made for T Rex. Material usually runs anywhere from $1 to $8 a yard - depends on the fabric and if its a licensed print. But I'd say, on average, these cost about $4/pair to make.

And last method, and my personal favorite, is receiving thoughtful gifts from kind friends...

Blankets qualify too!

Seriously, these are both so gorgeous I sometimes hesitate to even use them!

What are some of your best bargain finds?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Just Because...

This photo cracks me up - they both have bewildered expressions probably from the funny noises I am making to get them to both laugh simultaneously.

T Rex is just the best big brother (and he really loves his big brother shirt, too). You can see in this photo how he is playing "Bebe Sister's Game". She likes to roll on her blanket and grab her feet. He joined in the fun and she was so happy. Look how he even allows her to hold his hand, too. I just love this kiddos...

P.S. T Rex Princess had her 6 month well check. Click here if you'd like to read about it. Happy Half Birthday, Bebe Sister!

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Reusable Baby Wipes...

Shortly after we started cloth diapering, we also started using reusable baby wipes. Not only is it another way to add to our baby cost savings efforts while I am in graduate school but it's also quite environmentally friendly. We estimate we will save close to $500 just by using reusable wipes. The start up cost is minimal. Here's how we do it...

I actually make my own wipes solution. I found my recipe from
here. There are several but my favorite is the Lavender/Tea Tree Oil solution.

My ingredients:

3 cups distilled water, 1/8 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp baby wash (we use Burt's Bees), 1/8 tsp lavender oil, 4 drops tea tree oil (lavender and tea tree oils are essential oils)

Mix all ingredients together and pour into desired containers. Shake well before using since oil tends to separate. Because there are no preservatives, I actually put any remaining solution that won't be used within a week into the refrigerator. I'm a bit paranoid that way but I tend to be more conservative when it comes to my kids. If you'd prefer to not make your own, there are some commercially available.

I have two types of bottles - spray and squirt. My "squirt" bottles are actually my "peri-bottles" from my postpartum days with the kids. They were so useful I had to keep them around (especially after T Rex was born - he left me with a nice third degree and many, many stitches - but I digress).

Some of the wipes I put into a travel wipes container - one I've recycled from my disposable wipes days. The dry wipes are put into the container and solution is poured over them until they reach the desired dampness.

For my diaper bag I use a spray bottle and carry dry wipes. This is because I sometimes go many days or even over a week without taking the baby out and I don't want the wipes staying wet for too long without being used. With this system, when I need a wipe I spray either the wipe itself or my daughter 's bottom or sometimes both until the mess is clean.
I'll usually just put the wipes right into my diaper pail. Occasionally, if they are particularly soiled I will rinse before doing so. I've also tossed the wipes into my regular laundry as well.

For wipes I have a few different types. Initially, I made some from flannel scraps (orange wipes in photo). I also made some fancier ones also from scraps of flannel on one side and some other blue fuzzy material. These work pretty good and are super-economical.

I purchased two other kinds from my two favorite cloth diaper suppliers -
Cotton Babies and Kelly's Closet. The colored wipes are Thirsties Fab Cloth Wipes and come in a pack of 6 for $10.75. These are awesome, super soft, and have held up nicely in the wash. We especially like them for wiping toddler faces after messy meals like mac n cheese. The other natural colored wipe is a Kissaluvs Baby Wipe priced at $1.25 each. These are not my favorite for cleaning baby bottoms as they are kind of rough but they are wonderful for hands and faces.

I would say I've invested about $25 in wipes and supplies to get started. That's a box of Costco sized disposable wipes which last us only about a month. I say, if you have young children, give it a try and see what happens. Even if you don't cloth diaper your child, you're bound to enjoy the savings from not having to purchase wipes or the dreaded terror of finding you've run out and your little one has a blowout or as T Rex says of baby sister - "A BIG Giant Number 2!" And if you are tired of blow outs, then give cloth diapers a try - we've only had 2 since we made the switch 5 months ago.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Star Crayons...Another Toddler Project

It's been a busy week here. I've been working on my policy change paper for my summer graduate nursing class. I promise I'll post more about the paper but for the time being I am about 95% done which means I can justify some non-school computer time. Plus, I've been having too much fun with the kiddos that it's hard to pull myself away. Here's one project T Rex and I did this week.

Sometimes we get crayons when we are out for dinner. For the past couple of years I've been collecting these crayons. I also picked up a large pack at the thrift store for $0.99 just in case the project was a failure. And actually, the first time, it was. But once we found proper instructions, it was a breeze.

Baking molds (mini muffin pans work too)

Remove paper from crayons (run under water - it helps), break into pieces, and place in molds.

T Rex using the crayons to make a rocket to strap onto Buzz Lightyear's back.

Bake at 250 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove when the crayon fragments are entirely melted.

Cool and remove from mold.

Then color!

Bebe Sister LOVED watching her brother color - no one makes her laugh like he does.

Clean up was not too bad but I recommend placing water in the empty used mold and putting it back in the oven for a few minutes. Then pour into sink and scrub with a textured rag or sponge.

These crayons were a good size for T Rex's small toddler hands. Plus, it's just more fun to color with fun shaped crayons than regular ones. I'm thinking this will be an excellent Christmas gift for some special kids.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Big Brother, Little Sister...

T Rex Dad and I marvel on a daily basis that we are parents of "kids". That just feels like such a mantle to carry. But with it also comes more joy than we could have ever imagined...

Little Sister - 5 1/2 months/Big Brother 2 1/2 years

Swimming in the back yard together - no one can make "Bebe Sister" laugh quite like T Rex - especially in the pool. Thanks Auntie J and Cousin Dede for helping with pool time.

Big Brother at the park on-site of T Rex Dad's office.

Little Sister lounging while Big Brother played at the park.

And one more photo - our first born child Anya who celebrated her 9th birthday this past week. She's been with us since she was 8 weeks old.

Yes, we have kids - human and canine. But kids still the same. How grateful we are...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Madre...

This week we get to celebrate my mom's birthday. Since her actual birthday differs from her recorded birthday, we'll just say it's her birthday week.

She's been staying with us for a few days helping out with the kids so I can get school work done. (I'll share some of my paper finding in a future posting - I chose breastfeeding as my topic.) I think she's a little tired - it's been a long, busy week. She even went to playgroup and enjoyed holding some of those babies there, too!

She is a truly special woman and I am just so glad she is my mom. I could not have chosen a more appropriate person to be my steward, guardian, and mentor. I just hope I can be as wonderful to my children as my mother has been to me.

When I was younger, folks used to say to my mom spoiled me. I would have to agree that I was definitely spoiled with love - if that is even possible. She never had a short supply of hugs for me. And she did everything in her power to provide for me. Her resourcefulness was quite impressive and her cooking even better! She used to sell tortillas and tamales to earn money for my cheer camp and other extracurricular activity expenses.

I love seeing her interact with my little ones. They absolutely adore her and she adores them. It reminds me of my youth and the way she used to look at me when we played.

So here's to another very happy year for my mother. (She doesn't get online, read this blog, or even have a computer but I wanted her to have a special posting for her special day.) I am so grateful to get to celebrate it with you, Mom (aka Madre).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Moscow Musings...Or Lots of Vacation Photos

We recently took a trip to Moscow...

No, not Russia - Moscow, Idaho. Not many folks know just how vast our state is. Some estimates put us at 5th largest state in the union but for population density we're around 48th. What that translates to is lots of land and few people. Fine by us. We love it! What it also means is that we spent a lot of time in the car driving up north. Two small children on a long road trip...Adventure???

So how did we survive?

Well, we tried to time most of our driving around T Rex Princess' nap schedule. She actually ended up sleeping most of the time. And when she was not sleeping, she was serenading us with her supersoprano vocalizations to Sarah McLaughlin. We will spare you the video but it was charming. At least it was not crying. We packed a lot of snacks, books, and stickers. And for the really long stretches of driving T Rex was allowed a movie.

T Rex thought we were taking a tour of jungle gyms. We tried to make every stop some place he could get down, run, and play. And since most of the trip is rural countryside, there are not too many options so we hopped from park to park.

T Rex and T Rex Dad at the jungle gym stop in Moscow.

With T Rex Princess also at the Moscow jungle gym.

What did we do on this vacation? The purpose of the trip was to celebrate T Rex Dad's aunt and uncle's 90th birthdays and their 65th wedding anniversary. And we did this. It was a wonderful time. Although, we were the youngest group there by about 40-60 years. We got a lot of comments about how "energetic" our son was or "gosh, you must be busy". They all had kids, but it's just been a while since they've been around such young children. Hence, we did spend most of the time chasing kids and very little conversing, but it was still wonderful.

We did visit the University of Idaho, T Rex Dad's Alma Mater as well as G&G's.

T Rex LOVED running down "Hello Walk"

Isn't the architecture amazing? We don't have a lot of this kind of architecture out West because we are still relatively new.

T Rex at Grandpa's former Greek house back in the late 1940's.

T Rex Princess at Grandma N's sorority house back in the late 1940's/early 1950's.

We stopped in Troy, Idaho, to see T Rex's grandma's former residence. She passed away a month before T Rex was born. We also stopped at her grave site and the old farm after which we were graciously given a tour of the home by the current owner. That was very special for T Rex.

Photo of the farm - perfect cloudy day.

We took our first family of four swimming outting at the hotel pool. T Rex Princess is a little topedo - she just kicks and kicks, goes and goes. And T Rex loved splashing around with his daddy.

Ready for the pool.

It was a fast trip but well worth the efforts - even carting our laundry basket full of cloth diapers and doing laundry at the hotel. Exhausting but the family time both for the four of us as well as with the entire extended family was wonderful - really, that's what life is all about, right?