Sunday, January 30, 2011


Since we haven't gotten the nerve to try Liam still hasn't gotten the hang of night time potty training yet, he still wears a diaper to bed.*  After his evening bath, Ryan puts him in his underwear and then he puts a diaper on him right before bedtime.

Well, one evening last week our routine was thrown off after Evan's tear duct surgery (a post coming on that soon) and the next morning Liam staggered into our room at 5:30 am (!) and told me that he was wet.  His diapers have exploded before, so I muttered something along the lines of, "Well, take off your pants and diaper, find some underwear and go back to bed.  It's still night time."

He dutifully did as he was told and when I went to help him with his clothes after breakfast, I discovered a pair of soaking wet pajama pants and underwear on his floor.  His bed was soaking wet as well.  There was not a diaper, wet or dry, in sight.  What a fun start to the day!  I wasn't happy about spending the day washing sheets, blankets and a mattress pad, but there was no point complaining about it (out loud, at least).

When Ryan got home from work that evening, Liam confronted him.  "You forgot to put a diaper on me, Daddy!" he exclaimed.  "I had an accident."  And then he put on his best pouty face.

A few days later, Ryan took the two older kids camping for the weekend.  I packed enough food, clothes and supplies to last them several days even though they were only going for three.

Ryan called me at 8:30 pm the first night and asked where I packed Liam's diapers.


I didn't do it on purpose, I promise.  My forgetting to pack diapers may have been subliminal payback for the soaking wet clothes and bedding, but it certainly wasn't a conscious effort to torture him while out in the wilds of a nearby state park.

Lacking any other solution, Ryan stuffed Liam's underwear with the washcloths I'd packed and put him to bed.  That worked about as well as you can imagine.

I'm still giggling about it all.

* We'd already planned to dive into night time potty training with him after this camping trip.  We're also going to start Evan on his regular potty training this next week.  I'm going to be up to my elbows in wet underwear for the foreseeable future; I consider that my penance for laughing about the camping washcloth/diaper situation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dave Ramsey for Kids

We decided last year that the entire family would go on a Dave Ramsey type plan.  We really want to instill good money habits in our kids early on so that they (hopefully) will never run into major financial difficulties.  I mentioned last year that we're trying to instill the quality of generosity in them, too, and the Dave Ramsey plan for kids addresses that quite well.

The boys are little young for it, but at age seven, Sydney is the perfect age.  She earns three dollars a week as her allowance by doing her chores.  She has to make her bed every day, put her clothes away after laundry day and clean her room once a week.  She also has to set the table for dinner.  We like that she has to earn the money and there were a few weeks in which she didn't want to clean her room, so she didn't get her allowance.

Her three dollars are divided into three locations:  the charity jar in the kitchen (where our loose change goes, too), her piggy bank for her savings and her coin purse for her spending money.

She's allowed to spend her spending money any way she chooses.  This past year, she used it to buy some doll accessories, a book and a little wooden shelf with pegs that we will eventually paint so that she has somewhere to hang her many purses (yes, she is a girly girl).  She still has quite a bit left from last year and is currently thinking about how she wants to spend it.  We love that she doesn't just go out and spend money because she has it, but that she carefully considers her options.

At the end of the year, we let her choose how to spend the charity jar money.  We gave her several options including local animal shelters, homeless shelters, the March of Dimes and Heifer International.  She chose to donate it to Heifer International and specified that she be able to "buy" a share of a llama and three sets of rabbits for families in need.  Of course, she thought the rabbits were going to be pets and was a little sad when we said that they would probably be used for their fur and meat, but she's at an age where she can understand where meat comes from and how important livestock can be for a poor family.

Her piggy bank savings not only included what she earned through her allowance money this year, but what she's been saving since she was very little in birthday and holiday money.  Ryan took her to the bank where she opened up her very first bank account.  She was a little apprehensive about handing over all of her money (quite a bit for a seven year old, I might add) to the clerk, but was happier when Ryan and I matched it.  We will do this every year and we've told her that this is the money that will be used to buy her a car when she's older.  With three kids, there's no way we can afford to buy them each a car, but we have no issues helping them buy cars if they've saved quite a bit of the money themselves.

We also adopted a deployed soldier this year and donated to the March of Dimes through her school's reading program (at a $1 book, she about broke us!).  She's had lots of fun helping me shop for the soldier and drawing pictures for him and it's also led her to be more interested in world events.  She watches the nightly news with interest and gets excited and curious when Afghanistan is mentioned (where our soldier is stationed).

This year, we're hoping to get her more involved in some local charities.  Through her Girl Scout troop, she's been involved in several community volunteer events.  There's a local foster care facility that is renovating a building with the aid of some churches (including ours) and we're hoping Ryan can take her on one of the workdays to help out.  I'm also looking into joining the local epilepsy foundation since that is now a cause that is near and dear to our hearts and I think it would be good for her to join one of us in their annual charity walk.

Raising a generous and money-wise child is really tough!  In the end, we know it will pay off when she (hopefully) turns out to be a giving and responsible adult, but it's definitely a lot of work!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Hard Way

After an entire morning of being a royal pain in the rear end, Ryan just told Liam he can't go to a birthday party this afternoon.

The boy got up at 6:45 which is offensive enough considering this one day of the week when we don't have to set any kind of alarm.  It is now 11:30.  In less than five hours, he's managed to destroy the toy room by dumping toys all over the floor.  He's upturned not one, but three puzzles on the foyer floor.  He's dumped another puzzle on the living room coffee table.  He's antagonized and hit his sister.  He's antagonized his little brother.  He's got into the wrapping paper and unwound an entire spool of ribbon.  He's used a stool to grab a pair of scissors (forbidden to him since he cut up a book a few months ago) and then proceeded to run with them when I tried to get them back.

After being sent to his room, he came back out without permission saying he'd be nice.  We told him to go back to his room and he screamed, "I SAID I'M BEING NICE!"

So he's going to miss the birthday party.  He tried to change our minds by making his bed and cleaning the toy room.

No dice.

Sometimes they have to learn the hard way.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I've always felt horrible when I take one of the kids to the doctor for a check-up and then I'm told that they have an ear infection.  If they don't have a fever and don't complain, then how am I supposed to know, right?

Well, poor Evan started running a fever on Saturday evening.  And then he had it again Sunday evening.  And Monday evening.  And Tuesday evening.

I asked him if he had a sore throat.  He said no.  I asked him if his ears hurt.  He said, "Yes.  This one." and he pointed to his right ear and did again this morning when I asked him after breakfast.

So I packed the boys up and headed to the pediatrician's office just certain that he had an ear infection.

His ears looked fine.

The poor boy is cutting his top, right molar and that was causing his ear to hurt.

You'd think by child #3 I'd be on top of this kind of thing.

Nope.  I feel as clueless as a first time mom.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dave Ramsey Update

Our great financial makeover took place about this time last year when we signed up to take Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace course.  While we don't follow absolutely everything he has to say on the subject, we have taken to heart quite a bit of his advice and combined it with the things that were already working for us.

We kept to our allotted monthly budgets for entertainment and eating out and even then, we only ate out if we had a coupon.  We only went over our grocery budget one month and that was just by a few dollars.  The category that was the most challenging to keep in line was the gifts category.  Birthday presents add up, that's for sure!

Total nerd that I am, I started keeping track of every single penny that we saved.  I tallied up our monthly savings at the grocery store using coupons and sales ads.  I kept track of how many times we did things ourselves that we used to pay others to do.  And, we gave up our satellite dish, which for us is huge.  (Yes, we watch much more television than we should.)

Grocery coupons:  $131.75
Grocery store sales:  $277.72
Haircuts for the boys:  $120 (nine haircuts at $15 each)
Car washes:  $135 (nine carwashes at $12 each)
Oil changes:  $120 (four oil changes at $30 each)
Installing a water heater:  $400
Fixing the stove:  $200
Dropping satellite:  $225

Total Saved:  $1609.47

I know that if I played the official Grocery Game we could save a heck of a lot more using coupons, but we try to avoid processed foods and name brands and let's face it, coupons are for processed foods and name brands.  Plus, I don't have time to go to more than one grocery store a week to use coupons at various stores to take advantage of the sales.

When you add it all up, we paid for our trip to Disney this summer (we're driving, not flying and my parents gave us a week of a timeshare so we don't have to pay for lodging).

This year's goal is to save even more, although Ryan has declared that he is done giving the boys their haircuts.

I guess I'll just have to find some more places to pinch some pennies.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Hits

Sorry for not posting for nearly two weeks.  I've taken a bit of break to spend time with the family (Ryan's been off work) and we've had a blast: trips to the zoo and aquarium, a date night for me and Ryan, sleeping in (yay!) and just general laziness.  Sometimes everyone needs to be lazy for a while, y'know?

But I thought I'd start off this year reporting the Christmas toy hits we had.  We've had plenty of time to play with all of our new toys and if you're ever in need of an idea or two for an upcoming birthday, you just might want to consider these things.

For Evan, the two year old, the biggest hit for him was his bucket of dinosaurs.  He is a dinosaur nut and carries these little guys everywhere.  I like them because the names of the dinosaurs are written on their bellies (along with "Made in China", but really, what isn't made in China these days?) and they don't make noise.  He has to use his imagination to "make them work" which is a major thumbs up for me.

Liam, the four year old, received a set of stomp rockets and a package of refill rockets to go with it.  This is the toy of the year.  All three kids love playing with it and every time they're outside playing with it, the neighbors come over to watch.  Not the neighbor's kids, the neighbors themselves.  They look like they want to play, too. I also bought a set of these for Ryan's great-nephews (ages 3 and 5) and I haven't heard if they like them or not, but how could they not?

When the kids sat down to write their letters to Santa, the only things the boys asked for were Buzz Lightyear and Woody the Cowboy dolls (I got the smaller version of this one).  I knew I was going to have a hard time finding them since Toy Story is the movie of the year and after a frantic Cyber Monday of searching, I found them at the online Disney Store (for $5 each, I might add!).  Again, they don't make noise and they're not huge, just large enough to play with and love on.  Both boys carry them everywhere and sleep with them.  In fact, Evan loves his Woody doll so much that it is clutched in his arms every night when we check on him.

When my sister asked for ideas for the boys, I mentioned that they might like house shoes since that's what Sydney asked for.  Evan got Toy Story house shoes with lights and Liam got house shoes that look like cowboy boots.  They love them!  And of top of that, she bought them toddler-sized snuggies to go with them.  I cannot get Liam out of his snuggie!  He wants to wear it to bed and insists on taking it and his house shoes when he sleeps over at my mom's house.  Definite hit!

For a joint gift, my parents bought the boys a wagon.  It's not just any wagon, it's a fancy wagon.  The wheels are actual rubber tires and the wagon can lift up and dump out the contents so Ryan and I can use it for yard work.  We took it to the zoo one day last week and it was so much easier to pull the boys around than to listen to them whine about the walking.  And I got quite a kick out of seeing the other dads there look at it with wagon envy.  Yes, wagon envy.

Sydney, age 7, asked Santa for books and movies this year.  Santa gave her a Baby Mouse book and the two Narnia movies that are out on DVD.  I'd never heard of Baby Mouse books and it turns out that the series is actually a comic book series starring, you guessed it, a baby mouse, but hey, if it gets her to read then so be it.  Ryan and I gave her the Diary of a Wimpy Kid box set plus the newest one (she read all five of them in five days!) and the Chronicles of Narnia book set (no picture of these - I just picked up all of the books individually at Half Price Books).  She didn't ask for the Narnia books, but was quite excited to see them.  Move over, stupid Disney princesses, my daughter has found a new set of heroes in those Narnia books.  Ha!

Something else that she didn't ask for but we gave her was a watch.  I had a hard time finding an analog watch her size that didn't have a princess on it, but I eventually found this one at Kohl's that was blue (the new favorite color) and with Tinkerbell on it.  She feels grown up wearing a real (not digital) watch and she gets real-time practice with telling time.  Fun and educational - double score!

The kids got many other gifts, but these seem to be the favorites this year and I'm so glad because they're all gifts that don't need batteries (minus the watch) or make obnoxious noises or sounds (unless you count Evan's dinosaur roar).

What was the hot toy at your house this year?  (I'm always on the lookout for a good birthday gift!)