Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Just a Little Out of it at 1:39 AM!

You sure would think that having a digital clock in your bedroom would eliminate any confusion about the time... not so!  Last night, Ryan was on call until midnight and had set his pager on the dresser, where it was partially blocking my view of the clock. 

When Bryleigh woke up in the middle of the night and started crying, I very drowsily glanced at the clock while getting out of bed to retrieve her.  Much to my surprise she had stayed in her crib a lot longer than I expected- it was 3:90 something!  It took me a minute to realize that there is no 3:90.  I looked again, realized that part of the number was blocked- 1:39... that's more like it.  Bryleigh was right on schedule and I was just 'sleep drunk'.  


Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Hilarious Little Guy!

Everyday, Brennan is getting funnier and funnier.  I know that all little kids say cute and funny things, but this kid just knows how to get me laughing. 

Just yesterday, I got a text from Ryan that said, "What's for dinner?"  That's what started the funniest conversation with Brennan.  (This story needs a little bit of background information.  Brennan has a book called 'Roly Poly Pangolin'.  There is a line in the book that says, "What's for dinner?  Ants and slugs?  Roly Poly won't touch bugs!"  We haven't read this book in a week or two.)

Me: Daddy wants to know- What's for dinner?
Brennan: What's for dinner? Ants and slugs?  Mama won't touch bugs!

I couldn't believe that he quoted his book!  So funny.  He's been quoting movies lately, too.

A few days ago Brennan pointed out that we forgot to say our prayers before lunch.

Brennan: Say our prayers!
Me: You're right.  We forgot!  Do you remember how they start? Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest- can you say that?
Brennan: C'mon, Jesus!  Be our guest!
Me: (Trying not to laugh)  Well, that works, too.

And speaking of Jesus- the other day Brennan told me that he could hear Jesus outside!  I made sure to warn all of my Facebook friends to make sure they were on their best behavior.

He's also been trying to 'convince' us that we aren't upset with him when we really are by telling me, "Mommy, you're happy..." in the cutesiest voice he can muster.  Tricky little bugger!

This is such a short list, because I'm trying to think of all of his funniest moments off the top of my head.  It is hard to do!  I need to start blogging more things like this so I can share them with Brennan as he gets older.  I'm sure he'll only be funnier by then!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bryleigh's Recent Photo Shoot!

So I realized today that I never shared these pictures of my beautiful daughter's most recent photo shoot!  She was such a good little girl and cooperated so well for these!  It sure is fun to take pictures when you have a happy little subject!  These are her 'almost 5  month' shots...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Review of Sodastream!

Not too long ago I was generously sent a Sodastream to review.  I was so excited!  I've heard a lot about Sodastreams, but have never had the chance to use one or taste the soda it makes.  Now I have had the chance to do both! :)  I'd love to say that I thought everything about it is wonderful and fantastic, but I honestly can't say that.

Before we get into all of those details, let me show you what I got to try out.  This is the Sodastream Jet Starter Kit and quite a sampling of Soda Mix flavors that we got to try including Root Beer, Cola Free (Coke Zero), Cranberry-Raspberry, Diet Lemon-Lime, Naturally Flavored Cola, Naturally Flavored Ginger Ale, and Naturally Flavored Black Currant and Pear.  They also included a 3-pack of My Water Flavor Essence, which had Raspberry, Orange, and Lemon-Lime flavors.

First, let me focus on the good things about the Sodastream system.  We like the actual carbonator unit.  It is easy to use, and it worked very well.  We were able to quickly and easily carbonate a liter of water with no problems.  The carbonating process is a little loud, and in my experience, can scare babies, so keep that in mind :).  You may want to wait to use the carbonator until after nap time.

We like the look and design of the carbonator unit, too.  It has a clean, compact design and I really appreciate that it doesn't use electricity or any batteries to run. The liter bottle even looks fancy with its cool design.

We like the eco-friendliness of a Sodastream system- saving metal and plastic, as well as gasoline to transport it.  Along with being known for being eco-friendly, it is also known for saving money.  At first, I thought it would save a lot, but now I'm not so sure.  The Sodastream Jet Starter kit retails for $79.95.  Each Soda Mix flavor bottle is either $4.99 or $6.99 and makes 12 liters- the equivalent of 33 cans of soda.  The Naturally Flavored Mixes are much more expensive at $9.99 and make only 6 liters- about 16.6 cans of soda!  If you want extra carbonating bottles to have more than one soda mixed up at a time, you'll be paying $19.99 for a 2-pack of liter bottles.  If you are using your Sodastream regularly, you will want an extra carbonator so you never run out.  If you buy an extra 60 liter carbonator and one exchange (an empty for a full one), it will cost you $44.99.  If you buy 2 refills at a time from there on out, each liter will cost you 25-50 cents to carbonate.  This just gives you an idea of ongoing costs involved.

We have one main complaint about the Sodastream system- the Soda Mix flavors.  We didn't like the Splenda aftertaste that accompanies and seems to amplify with each sip.  Honestly, the very first taste of some of the flavors were decent- we especially liked the first sip of Root Beer, that is, until we were hit by the Splenda taste.  If you are someone who likes Splenda, then the Sodastream might be for you.  One nice thing about the Splenda is that it cuts the calorie content by about 50% when compared to regular soda.

Since we didn't like the Splenda flavors, we thought we might like the Naturally Flavored ones.  We tried the Cola one first.  We didn't think that it was too bad, but it definitely didn't taste exactly like Coke. I had a lighter flavor and didn't seem as thick or heavy tasting as Coke does.  It tasted more like fountain pop.  If you like a lighter flavor, or don't drink Coke very regularly and don't have such a stringent idea of what it should taste like, you may like this one.

We purchased a bottle of Fountain Mist to try since we are both big Mountain Dew fans.  The Splenda flavor really came through on this one.  To us, it wasn't as sweet as Mountain Dew and definitely had a lighter flavor.

Ryan and I disagreed a little on the Naturally Flavored Black Currant and Pear.  He really didn't like it.  He thought that the pear flavor was good, but that the black currant flavor was much too strong.  I didn't mind this one much, but it was a bit light tasting and not overly sweet.  If I'm drinking pop, I want it to be sweet!  If you like Sprite, you might like this one.

I was excited to try the My Water Flavor Essence.  I chose the Raspberry, mixing it up according to instructions.  I could barely taste any flavor at all, so I added more... and more.  After half of the bottle was poured in to  my glass, I could taste the flavor, but I really did not like it.  It had zero sweetness and was not good at all to me.  I expected it to taste  more like a store bought flavored water and was very disappointed with this product.

Overall, we think the Sodastream is a great idea, but needs further development.  The flavors need work and the prices should be brought down to offer more savings.

*I was given this product for review purposes.  All of my opinions about this product are solely my own.  Your opinions may differ.  I was not compensated to write this post in any way.*

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sweet Kellie Pickler!

I've always liked Kellie Pickler, ever since we first came to know her on American Idol.  She has a fun, upbeat personality, and I find her silly and unbelievably sweet. 

But, when I saw this picture and read the touching story behind it, I immediately loved her even more than before.  As a show of support for her cancer-battling best friend, they shaved their heads together prior to the beginning of her chemotherapy treatments.  Her friend is currently doing quite well, by the way.

I just love this photo.  To me, it illustrates perfectly the epitome of friendship.  They would do anything for each other.  What a blessing to have such an amazing friend.  Kellie- Thanks for your compassion.  If everyone had even a tenth of the compassion you possess, the world would be a much better place!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Some More Favorite Books!

I did a post a long while back about some of our favorite books.  Now, thanks to Dolly Parton's
Imagination Library, our wonderful friends and family, and many of my old kids books, I have a few more to tell you about!

Brennan's Favorite Books-
Brennan loves to read, both alone and with us.  He has several books memorized so well that you would think he really can read!  I might just start working on that... :)

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?-

Brennan loves this book because of its predictable pattern and bright pictures.  He has a very easy time 'reading' this book to himself or to me.  Like most Eric Carle books(Also authored 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'), I think most little kids would like this one. 

Llama Llama Red Pajama & Llama Llama Goes to School-

All of the llama llama books tell endearing stories with some kind of moral.  These books instill the ideas of patience and trust, important lessons for every child to learn.  The rhymes in these books are great and the pictures are just as sweet as little llama, himself.  Brennan even has his own stuffed llama to cuddle with at night!

Where's my T.R.U.C.K.-

This book is so cute and clever.  When Tommy loses his favorite truck, he will leave no stone unturned in an effort to find it!  The situation looks grim, but as luck would have it, his persistence pays off!  I love the fact that it is easy to be really enthusiastic with this book, which kids just L.O.V.E., too! 

Bryleigh's Favorite Books- 

Look at the Animals-
This book is absolutely perfect one of baby's first books.  Featuring animals doing what they are best at, the simple, highly contrasting pictures will grab baby's attention and keep it!  We have another book by the same author, Peter Linenthal, called Look, Look! It has the exact same features as the first and Bryleigh loves this black, white, and red book a lot, too.

Baby Faces-
Like most other babies, Bryleigh really likes looking at other babies, or even herself in the mirror.  This book plays into their love for checking out faces by showing clear baby faces conveying different feelings or emotions.

Mama's Favorite Books-

Sleep, Baby, SleepSleep Baby, Sleep-

I love this book for how it encourages children to live up to their full potential.  It highlights personality traits such as strength, happiness, curiosity, and more.  The rhythmic verse and calming pictures make this perfect for bedtime.  As an example, "Soar, baby, soar.  The whole world you'll explore.  Fly like the goose who climbs and roams yet always knows his way back home.  Soar, baby, soar."  Each verse is sweet and inspirational- a great story to end story time with!

The Mine-O-SaurThe Mine-o-saur-
Teach your little ones why it is a good idea to share with this adorable book!  The Mine-O-Saur learns to share the hard way, but it all turns out well in the end.  I love the flow and rhyme of this book and Brennan does, too.

Check out any of these books for your little ones and you'll be glad you did!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Great, Inspirational Story and a Lesson in Compassion!

I got this email forward from my Mom this morning.  And it brought out classic "me"- bawling on the couch like a baby!

"The Folded Napkin - A Truck Stop Story"

If this doesn't light your fire, your wood is wet!

I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie.

He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome. I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade.

The ones who concerned me were the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded 'truck stop germ'; the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks...

I shouldn't have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot.

After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a breadcrumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table.

Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and glasses onto his cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag.

If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home. That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work.

He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome often have heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine.

Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news.

Bell Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of this 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table.

Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Bell Ringer a withering look.

He grinned. 'OK, Frannie , what was that all about?' he asked..

'We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay.'

'I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?'

Frannie quickly told Bell Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery then sighed: 'Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be OK,' she said. 'But I don't know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is.' Bell Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables. Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do.

After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.

'What's up?' I asked.

'I didn't get that table where Bell Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off,' she said. 'This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup.'

She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed 'Something For Stevie'.

'Pony Pete asked me what that was all about,' she said, 'so I told him about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this.' She handed me another paper napkin that had 'Something For Stevie' scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds. Frannie lookedat me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply: 'Truckers!!'

That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work.

His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called ten times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy.

I arranged to have his mother bring him to work. I then met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back.

Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting

'Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast,' I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. 'Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate you coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me!' I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room.

I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins 'First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess,' I said. I tried to sound stern.

Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had 'Something for Stevie' printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table.

Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother. 'There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems.. 'Happy Thanksgiving.'

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well.

But you know what's funny?

While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table.....

Best worker I ever hired.

Plant a seed and watch it grow..

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oh Boy... A Kitchen Mistake!

I am so glad that this is just a picture I saw on Facebook!  Boy, if my hubby did this and left it for me to clean, we'd have some issues!  Have you ever burned through anything?  I will admit that I let one of our plastic bowls have a run-in with a burner once.  I think the toxic smoke was the worst part!

If this happened in  my house,, I think I would drill a little hole in the back and hang it up in the kitchen!