Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Homemade Drain Cleaner

Hey everybody,

I just wanted to take a quick second to share a homemade recipe that I found online last night.  It is for a natural, homemade drain cleaner and it did the trick when we needed it to! 

You see, we had a clog in our basement drain, which is where our washer drains, and the water was backing out further and further.  We are assuming that we had a lint clog, because water was still draining, but very slowly.  We quickly went to grab some chemical drain cleaner, only to find that we had none!  I hate to use the stuff, but didn't really know that there were a ton of other options.  I ran upstairs to Google 'homemade drain cleaners'.

Voila!  I had all the ingredients for the first 'recipe' (already on the washing machine, no less) and I ran downstairs to give it a try.  Here's how hard the recipe was to do...

Dump some baking soda in the drain.  Follow that up with some vinegar and watch it foam.  We did this to the drain a couple of times and it was flowing freely again.  I can't speak to how tough a clog this would work well on since we don't know what our clog was for sure, but it worked great this time.  Definitely worth a try and WAY cheaper and safer for the environment and family, too! 

Hope you find this helpful!  Good luck!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas gifts for the baby who needs nothing...

With Thanksgiving in the past and Christmas quickly approaching, I've been doing a lot of thinking about Christmas gifts for our friends and family.  I'm not stressed out about it yet, because we have a lot of time still and quite a few good gift ideas for most of the people on our list.  However, there are always a few people that leave me stumped when it comes time to find them the perfect gift.

One of these people, believe it or not, is my own little guy, Brennan.  Now, you would think that buying gifts for a baby would be one of the easiest things to do, but for us, it isn't!  Brennan already has everything that he really needs- plenty of clothes since Mama loves to garage sale, lots of books (thanks to friends, family, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library), and a bunch of toys from a variety of sources.  So what do you get the little boy who has it all?

Well, last year for his very 1st Christmas, we started a tradition.  Every year we will purchase a Christmas village piece for our kids.  That way, they've got some sort of collectible/sentimental item to decorate with when they are all grown up and move out on their own.  I'm sure I'll be sad to see all of the pieces (and them!) go, but then they'll have something sweet to remember their childhood Christmases by.

Also, for Brennan's first Christmas, we gave him a personalized piggy bank (among a few things) and I cross stitched a Christmas stocking for him.  I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that it took me hundreds of hours to complete!  I also purchased stocking kits for Ryan and myself so that we can all have similarly themed cross stitched Santa stockings to hang.  I finished my stocking about a week ago and am thrilled with how it turned out.  Ryan's will have to be postponed another year since the new baby's Christmas stocking will take precedence.  Ryan already has one, after all, and our little girl does not!

This year, I don't feel like we need to be as sentimental, so it makes it a little more difficult.  I have a few good ideas so far and I'm hoping to come up with more.  So far I've gotten Brennan one little thing- a Cozy Hugs animal while Black Friday shopping.  Brennan has been so into giraffes lately, so when I saw that there was a Cozy Hugs giraffe that can be lightly warmed in the microwave to cuddle with, I thought it was perfect for him!  I can't wait until he sees it!

Other than that, his gifts are limited to ideas in my head.  I'm thinking that an easel or some toddler art products would be good, as well as something Mickey Mouse Clubhouse related.  He's quite the little fan of Toodles.  We are planning on getting him a baby doll that comes with a few baby items like a bottle or diaper so that he can practice being a great big brother.  We have a couple of baby dolls in our toy box, but we think having some accessories would be fun for him.

So, what do you think are good gifts for toddlers?  I'm definitely open to suggestions and would love to hear your ideas!  Merry Christmas shopping!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's a.... GIRL!

If you had a chance to read my last post, you have already probably heard the big news.  We are having a little girl in March!  A little boy would have been a lot of fun, too, but we're thrilled to be adding a girl to our family!  Hopefully Brennan is the best big brother ever!

I wanted to share just a few more baby girl related photos that I didn't share in the first post.  In this first one, Ryan is finishing beating open the pinata after the initial attempts.  Apparently, I made the pinata a little too tough!

And here what was inside...  Pink candy!  We also filled the pinata with some little hair bows, pink socks, and a pink blanket.

Here is our family after the party with the pinata results.

And this last picture isn't from the party, but I think it is also worth sharing.  This is from our ultrasound.  Ryan snapped this picture right after we found out that we are having a little girl!  I love this picture, just because of the look on my face...

We can't wait for March.  I'll keep updating you all as we continue through the pregnancy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brennan's 1st Trip to the Dentist!

Today Brennan had his first visit to the dentist office.  He is awfully young for it, so I was worried about how it would go.  We noticed that Brennan was getting these weird stains on his teeth so we figured a trip to the dentist was in order.

When we first got to the office, Brennan didn't want to go in.  This didn't have even one thing to do with the dentist, though.  The office is near the train tracks, so Brennan REALLY didn't want to part with the passing choo-choo train.  Soon enough I had him talked into coming in to look at the cool toys in the waiting room.  They called us back really quickly and I set Brennan into the big chair.

He isn't typically a shy kid, so I wasn't worried about that part of the experience.  He sure looks tiny in that big chair!

The hygienist was really nice to Brennan and showed him how she puts on her pink gloves.  She even let him touch her gloves before she touched them on his mouth.  She told him to open his mouth up wide like an alligator and show her his teeth.  He would open, but not really wide.  He just kept saying, "ahh" and them smiling at her...  He's such a tease.

Pretty soon, it was time to see the dentist.  She wore pink gloves, too!  First, she just looked in Brennan's mouth and talked to him a bit.  Then she told him that she wanted to count his teeth with her tooth counter.  She showed him how she would count his teeth by first counting his fingers with her tooth counter, then she 'counted' his teeth.  In other words, "I'd like to put this in your mouth to get you used to it without you freaking out and biting me!  Can we do that?"

After she saw that he was fine with a dental instrument in his mouth, she showed him his reflection in her little mirror.  He immediately put that into his mouth, too.  Yeah... my boy is a quick learner! :)  After she let him hold it, he had it in his head that it was HIS mirror.  She thought it would just be easiest to let him hold one and she would hold another.  He let her take a good look around.

At first, she gave me a big scare!  She thought that the discoloration on the back of his teeth looked like cavities!  I about fell over!  We've done everything right!  We brush his teeth everyday, we don't let him drink almost any juice since he doesn't care for it much, anyway, and we never let him bring a bottle or sippy cup to bed with him.  Cavities!?!?  After a second, she realized that it really was just staining, which is much better than cavities.  

She tried to use their spinny toothbrush and some pumice toothpaste to get the staining off, but it wasn't improving it too much.  Brennan was being pretty cooperative still, and I was so proud of him!  She scraped a little of it off with one of their tools, but didn't want to be too aggressive and scare him or hurt him, which was fine by me.

We don't know how or why he is getting this staining, and it hasn't been brushing off with regular brushing, but it did flake off pretty easily when she scraped on it.  She showed me a way that we can hold Brennan to encourage cooperation and really get at the staining.  Hopefully it starts to slowly breakdown.  Either way, she says it is only cosmetic and it generally resolves itself by the time they get to be 4 or 5.

Brennan did such a great job at the dentist and I was extremely proud of him!  He was a charmer with the ladies, as always, and he left the office with his hands full...  He was given a toy truck, another rubber duck, which brings his rubber duck collection up to four members, and a cool new toothbrush.  You'll never guess which of these things was his favorite.  That's right... my mini-dentist LOVES his new toothbrush.  Brushing his teeth has become a favorite pastime of his lately, so he was quite thrilled to have a new brush.  

I sure am glad this 'first' went so well.  I had some doubts, but he proved me wrong!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Our Big Gender Reveal Party!

On November 2nd, we found out the sex of our new baby!  This was a really cool experience and one that I've never had until now.  We couldn't wait to tell our friends and family, but since we had been planning a gender reveal party, we would need to wait 3 days, until Saturday, to spread the news.  It was our little (special) secret.  Neither of us cracked, either!  The only people who knew before the party were Ryan, Brennan, Me, the ultrasound tech, and the doctor!

I came up with a pink and blue baby themed party which all of the food and decorations revolved around.  This was the focal point of the party... the food!  We hung both a pink and blue baby outfit above our ultrasound garland.  The garland showed pictures from both our first ultrasound and the one we just had which determined the gender.  Of course, we made sure to hide any pictures that actually revealed the gender, for now.  We hung the party invitation underneath the garland and a Team Pink/Team Blue Scorecard to the right.

We don't have all of the food set out in this picture, but you get the idea...

Here is a little better look at the ultrasound garland.  We twisted strands of white, pink, and blue curling ribbon around each other to form the actual garland and hung the pictures up with blue and pink bow-adorned clothespins.  I have a enough clothespins just  laying around with all of the cloth diapers I wash...

I briefly mentioned the food before.  It was also very baby boy/girl themed.  Here is what we did for the boys...

Since boys are "made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails" we decided on a slimy, bug inspired menu.  We served 'slimy snails' (courtesy of Mom), which were pickle rolls with tooth pick antennae,  ants on a log, dirt cups, and deviled bugs, which were just deviled eggs decorated with olives to look like bugs.

And as you know, little girls are "made of sugar and spice and everything nice", so we followed right along with a menu filled with sweet treats.  

We served an assortment of pink and blue candy, molasses cookies, which are full of spice, question mark cupcakes that Ryan's sister made,  and the big food surprise of the party, pink and blue cotton candy!  I spent the week leading up to the party mastering how to use my new little cotton candy maker.  Needless to say, Brennan and I enjoyed our fair share.

Brennan was a big fan of the pink and blue question mark cupcakes...

Here are some more decorations.  They are pink and blue tissue paper balls hung with fish line.  The one hanging from the light is actually a pinata, covered in about 350 tissue paper roses... that how we did the reveal!  If you want to know how to make a pinata like this, here is a link: Tissue Paper Rose Pinata.

Our guests started rolling in around 3:00 and the fun began!  We had all of our guests wear pink if they thought we were having a girl and blue for a boy.  The initial Team Pink and Team Blue were very uneven- 11 on Team Boy and only 5 on Team Girl!  We ended up moving 3 of the 'on the fence' Team Boy members onto Team Girl to even things out before our games.  Of course I forgot to take pictures of everyone on each team! :(  We played Baby Jeopardy and Pictionary.  Baby Jeopardy featured 5 fun baby related categories all filled with really fun questions.  During pictionary, our guests had to draw baby related items in order to score points.  Throughout the whole game time, the teams had no idea when or how the reveal would happen!  We hadn't told them that the pinata was ACTUALLY a pinata since it looked very much like a fancy decoration...

Here are some of our guests playing Baby Jeopardy.

We also had each guest suggest a boy and girl name on these suggestion cards.  After Jeopardy and Pictionary, Ryan and I chose our favorites and awarded points to the proper teams.

Here was the final score.  Team Blue- 52.  Team Pink- 50.  What a close score!  Now we just had to see which team was the official winner by busting open the pinata and seeing what came out!

Out to the yard we went for the final party activity!  We let each team elect an MVP that would take the first whack at the pinata.  They were blindfolded, so it was trickier than it sounds.  Brennan got to take a turn, too!

Here's a video of what happened.  I'm going to end the post with this and check back in a day or two with a few more 'revealing' pictures of the party!  Have fun watching!  I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lack of Posts!


I'd like to write a very quick blog post to apologize for my recent lack of posts!  I love to blog and share our lives with you, but the problem over the last couple of weeks, especially, is that our lives have been EXTREMELY hectic and busy with about a million things on our to-do list. 

I do have a few great post ideas in the making and will get some new content up just as soon as possible.  The BIG news, is that we now know the gender of the little baby we're having and I'm going to put up a post about how we told all of our friends and family and tell you at the same time! 

So, in the meantime, please bear with me and excuse my lack of posts!  I hope you all have a wonderful Veteran's Day (don't forget to tell a Veteran 'thanks'!) and 11/11/11!  And a very happy birthday to one of my best friends in the whole world and loyal blog reader, Heather!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Our Halloween Celebrations

I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween!  We sure did.  This year was exciting for us because it brought along another 'first' for Brennan- 1st year trick-or-treating!  I didn't know what he'd think of it or whether he'd be too tired to cooperate, but it went awesome!  We could have gone to a lot more houses.  Here are some pictures of our Halloween and our pumpkin carvings!

We carved our pumpkins on Corn Night (Halloween Eve) so they were nice and fresh looking for Halloween, itself.  Brennan is into Mickey Mouse lately, so that's what he 'carved'... or gutted, at least.

He was pretty happy with how Mickey turned out, but mad when he realized that Mickey was not on tv at the time!

Here's a closeup of Mr. Mickey Mouse (too bad his eyes were already beginning to fall in).


I also carved a couple more pumpkins- a teeny tiny jack-o-lantern for our new baby, and an unborn baby sucking its thumb.  I had intentions to carve one of the monsters from "Where the Wild Things Are", but the pumpkin I had was SO HARD that I couldn't shove my carving knives into it!!!

Here's Ryan's awesome pumpkin!  It is a tiki guy and it sure looks awesome lit up.

Now... On to the trick-or-treating!  Our first stop was to Brennan's Great Grandma and Grandpa's farm.  Unfortunately, he fell asleep on the way there and didn't even know we stopped until we were buckling him back into his car seat!  He needed that cat nap badly!  Here's our tuckered out cowboy.

Next we headed into town to knock on some doors.  Grammy Sue met up with us after she finished work and Brennan was excited to see her (as always).

The man tried to hand Brennan the candy instead of putting it in his bag.  Brennan thought that he was trying to give him "knucks" (fist bump) and knocked the candy right out of his hand!  Oops!

Brennan started getting more confident and wanted to do it by himself!  And of course, he HAD to walk in the leaves.

We stopped at my Aunt and Uncle's house and Brennan had a lot of fun petting the dog, Bear, and the cat, Harold.  He REALLY likes cats since we don't have one...

We stopped at Grammy and Grandpa's house to see Grandpa and check out our candy haul.  This cowboy done good!  He would say "trick-or-treat" (or his version of it) at every house and then say "thank you" when they gave him the candy.  I was so proud of my little guy.  Can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Deadwood Saloon Halloween Murder Mystery Party!

This year, our friends Shannon and Eric decided to host their first Halloween party, which was a great success.  It was a murder mystery dinner party with a western/saloon theme.

I've been planning/looking for costumes since the day we found out about the party, so I was so excited when the day finally came!  We all arrived at the Deadwood Saloon (previously Shannon  and Eric's house) and were really impressed by everyone's costumes, the decorations, and the food.  The ribs were definitely the highlight of the meal, but everything was good.  I brought a pan of my cream cheese bars along, to the delight of my family and friends.

I'm not going to tell you about the actual plot line of the the party, because I don't want to wreck any surprises for anyone else having the same party, but I am going to show you pictures (like always)!

Before the party, a group of us got together to take some 'old time' style photos at my parents' garden shed/chicken coop.  It is too bad that Ryan was at work still, but I'm going to make an attempt to Photoshop him in somehow!  In this first picture (from left to right) we have my sister Haley's boyfriend, Joe, Haley, me, my Dad, my Mom, and one of my best friends, Heather.

Here's another one where we were having more fun...

My Dad really got into his role as Sheriff Sam and even grew this big handlebar mustache and mutton chops.  My mom assisted him with some mascara to darken his new facial hair, which resulted in the best line of the night- "Is my mascara running?"

I love this picture of Heather doing her saloon gal thing...

We've been friends since high school... now our babies are even friends!

After we finished up our 'old time' photos, we headed off to the party.  Here are our lovely hosts, Shannon, my other best friend from high school, and her husband, who also graduated with us, Eric.  They are currently expecting their first baby and we are so excited to have our new babies be so close in age.

Sally Starr, our saloon girl, is pouring Sheriff Sam a cold one... and then she charged him $50 for it!  That was actually the only denomination our money came in.


And here we have our unlucky murder victim...  RIP, Joe.

Mom and Dad looked authentic with their spurs!

Here's the whole group.  I think everyone looked great!  I'm especially proud of Ryan's vest (the one in the black top hat) because I sewed it!

We had such a fun time!  Thanks Shannon and Eric!