Monday, August 2, 2010

So Glad It's Not Just us....

I know it has been FOREVER since I have updated last. Alton has started preschool and is doing tremendously well there. We started him two days a week so he could get used to school and he adjusted VERY quickly. He was that kid that enters the class room, drops off his back pack and takes off without saying good bye to his mama.

In most ways I am proud that he is so secure that he is comfortable enough to just enjoy school and not have any separation anxiety... a tiny part of me wishes he would miss me a little.

 Alton has started swimming lessons as well. He has mostly gotten over his fear of water... but it's still there a little bit and he does not float on his back well. I know it will come in time, but he's just not there yet.

Layouts made with mama's collab with Jenn Barrette, Making Waves

 With the arrival of Alton's third birthday, we have taken delivery of a truck-load of attitude. I have talked to other girlfriends with little people Alton's age, and they all assure me that their children have developed the same personality quirk. So while it does not make it any easier to deal with, it does make me feel LOADS better that it's not just us that are dealing with a three year old diva. Is there a male version of that word? There's gotta be!

One thing the truck load of attitude has done is causing me to spend a LOT more time in prayer. I have never raised a three year old before. I pray DAILY for wisdom and patience. I want to raise an independent, creative thinker who loves God and is obedient to His word. If I could just get him to listen to me the first time I ask him to do something, I would be so happy.

Alton's behavior outside them home is getting a LOT better. After reading a library book or two on sharing and just 3+ weeks of pre-school, Alton has improved his social skills and sharing ability remarkably.

He sings along to songs in the car now, and requests his favorites on the iPod regularly. He is a BIG fan of God is Bigger Than the Boogie Man and Don't Give Me That Broccoli! The latter being repeated at dinner... Le Sigh. I can't say I really blame him about the broccoli.

There is more I am sure, but it is late. If you could pray for a couple of things for me, that would be awesome. One, for more patience and wisdom. I want to be a good mother and I want to raise an obedient child. Pray that God would help me do that. Secondly, for Alton pray that he would have an obedient heart and that he would want to be an obedient boy. Finally, Travis has a second interview tomorrow and another one later in the week. Help him to do well and to have a clear path about which job to choose if that situation arises. :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Adventures in Couponing

So I have been reading Kelleigh Ratzlaff's blog and she has inspired me in a few ways. One of which is to try my hand at couponing again. I did it when Travis and I were first married, and usually saved 35-50% off of my bill. That was without buying a member ship to any of the pay coupon sites too. The best I ever did was 75% off of my total once. That receipt stayed tacked up on the fridge for a LONG time. :)

Anyway on my last trip to Costco, I was appalled at how much my bill was. I thought I shopped at Costco to save money? I did the math and figured out that I was spending WAY too much money on meat there. With exception of ground  turkey, I buy only frozen meat products at Costco.  The Kirkland brand ground beef has always been decent to eat. I forget right now what the meat to fat ratio is, but something is telling me it is 91/9. The price went up recently and it is now $3.25 a pound for FROZEN GOODNESS ONLY KNOWS WHAT THEY MIXED IN THE CHUB ground beef.

The Kirkland brand boneless skinless chicken breasts have previously always been good. But the last two bags have been VERY chewy no matter which way I prepare them. So the quality has gone down due I am sure to whatever non-organic processing method they are using on it. The price of that has steadily gone up too and this last time it contributed to my over large bill.

DON"T EVER BUY THE KIRKLAND FROZEN GROUND TURKEY!!! Ground turkey is not supposed to be spongy and dripping out moisture when you defrost it. I still have a bag with 4 chubs of it in my garage if someone would like to do an experiment to find out what the heck is in the frozen ground turkey there. I am not sure what the price per pound for the fresh ground turkey breast is there, but I do know that when the similar product is on sale at Vons, it is priced competitively.

Now of course on the last trip I stocked up on all three, so I did not buy any this week at Vons.

So back to Kelleigh. She posts these crazy blog posts with pictures where she gets $50.00 worth of groceries for $15.00. So I decided to try coupons again. I called Ralphs and Vons and got my actual club card numbers. Then I went to their web sites and registered my club cards. Both stores have an area on their web site where you can pick manufacturer e-coupons that you can load on your club card and use with newspaper coupons. Vons also has a couple of other E-Coupon sites on their site where you can register your club card number and to get more E-Coupons.

I have twice now gone shopping at Vons. The first time I saved 48% off of my bill and tonight I saved 49% off of my bill. Both times I only had the e-coupons and consulted the Vons weekly ad to see what was on sale. I also grabbed a few in store coupons. I am kicking myself that I did not get a Sunday paper yesterday, because I missed those coupons. (Anyone local have their coupons to spare?)

So what did I get? I got two cartons of strawberries for .99 cents each. Alton will be thrilled tomorrow morning when he finds them. Avacados were .99 cents each, so we will be using those tomorrow night when we have skirt steak fajitas. Speaking of the skirt steak, I had a $2 off any $10 meat purchase, so that e-coupon went to the meat. (I don't think Kelleigh would approve of how much I paid for the meat, but Alton loves steak and I wanted fajitas. LOL)

I had a $1 off e-coupon for Cascadian Farms organic cereal. They were on sale for $3.29 and one of the boxes had a $2.00 off coupon. Plus I had a $2 Catalina I earned last week for buying the same cereal with the same coupons. So I got two boxes of organic cereal for $1.58. I am sure there was a coupon in the paper too, so I might have been able to get them for free. I did earn another $2 Catalina for next week. (Does ANYONE know why they call them Catalinas?)

We don't generally buy taquitos. But the box of 60 was on sale for 9.99 and I had a $3 e-coupon and a $3 off coupon  that was in the weekly ad. So the $11 box of taquitos became $3.99. The make a fun lunch every once in a while for my rice and bean loving child. It's something he can dip. ;)
Classico spaghetti sauce was $1.45 if you bought 3. I bought 3. Starbucks has new ice creams... so there was a $2 off any two Starbucks ice creams. They were on sale and I had some sort of coupon. So two pints of yummy ice cream for under $3? Yes please.

They had GREAT prices on several produce items we eat a lot of. Cara Cara oranges (THE BEST!) were 99 cents a pound, so were broccoli crowns and bagged fresh spinach. Those prices are even cheaper than the farmer's market around here. They were out of the spinach, so I remembered to get a rain check.

This will be an interesting experiment. We don't eat a lot of processed food and there are certain things my DH just won't eat. Alton is FORBIDDEN to eat kids sugar cereal, so I won't be utilizing those sort of coupons. And I don't know if Travis will allow me to build a hoarding pantry like so many crazy coupon ladies seem to do. But I am going to try. I will let you know how it goes.

I am not yet convinced. For certain things, Trader Joe's is just better and or cheaper. For instance, Vons does not carry yogurt that is sweetened with cane juice instead of something artificial or high fructose corn syrup. Staple items like frozen peas, corn, and spinach are still cheaper at Trader Joes. Even the national brands with a coupon are more expensive than TJs. Also, with at least the Green Giant veggies, there were no plain veggies for the brand I had a coupon and e-coupon for. They all had some butter or cheese sauce slopped on them, which while tasty, kind of defeat the purpose of eating vegetables in the first place, you know what I mean?

Monday, March 29, 2010

More Library Book Fun

The Reader

Wheels on the Go!
by La Coccinella

Alton LOVES this book. He learned some new transportation items, and it is a book has very happy to sit and read to himself.


Big Words For Little People
by Jaimie Lee Curtis and Illustrated by Laura Cornell
I was VERY pleasantly surpised by this book. I didn't think that Alton would be that into it, but since I myself have a pretty large volcabulary, I hope that Alton will too. He LOVED this book and asked for it over and over again. He can't say all of the words, but he still loves it anyway.

Home Run
by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Mike Wimmer

I got this book for Alton to read with his Daddy. They both loved this book. It's kinda like a two part book. They have beautiful illustrations and a short little story on each page (whoot for easy bed time reading). Then they have another blurb on the page (in a smaller font) that contains all of the sports nut trivia that Daddy liked to read on his own.

Alton has a new favorite Character.

Tip the Mouse Can't Sleep by Carol Ottolenghi and illustrated by MArco Campenella

I love love love the illustrations in this book. Did you know that in a mouse house a sink is made from spool of thread, a bottle cap, and a straw suspended by tooth floss? I didn't either. I love the colors and drawings in this book.

Tip and Alton are apparently on the same development path. Alton thought this book was hilarious and asked for it multiple times daily.

If we were going to buy another book right now, this would be it.

Jon Scieszka's Trucktown Truckery Rhymes
written by David Shannon, Illustrated by Loren Long and David Gordon

This book borrows on old Mother Goose nursery rhymes and relates them to transportation items. Easily Alton's favorite library book of all time. It is over 50 pages long and he repeatedly sat through the whole book. Love this one.

Grandma, if you are reading this, Alton wants this book. ;)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Trip to the Fire Station!

Alton and I joined MOMS club last week. Our first trip with them was to Fire Station 6 in Torrance.

Look how tiny my big boy looks next to the hook and ladder truck!

He had the best time climbing all over this thing!

Alton driving the front of the hook and ladder truck.

Alton was very excited about trying on the Firemen's gear. Here he is suiting up.

As you can see, Alton is not at all shy. He stood right next to Fireman Kubota the entire time and even held his helmet for him later.

Trying on the helmet while holding it for the fireman. He figured out how to turn on the head light after about 5 seconds of wearing the helmet.

It was all I could do to keep Alton from climbing up to the back of the hook and ladder fire truck. Finally they let the kids climb in. Alton was very eager and as soon as he sat down, he starting asking for a hat to wear. Fireman Kubota helped Alton find one for this picture. :)

Right after Alton climbed out of the back of the hook and ladder truck, they got a call, which effectively ended our trip to Fire Station 6. Thank you Torrance Fire Fighters, we had a great time!

Dan and Sarah's Wedding

This is an Alton picture free post, so if that's what you are here for, you can ignore this post. ;)

Travis and I traveled to Ramona for Dan Krans and Sarah Krans's (nee Label) wedding. Props to Sprint and Google maps app for Blackberry because we had a signal and map all the way there, even in the sticks were there were unpaved roads. Unpaved roads are not a friend to the tatas by the way. LOL

Traffic was awful though. We stopped on the freeway in about every city between San Onofre and Ramona because traffic was so bad. We got there just as Dan and Sarah were kissing as husband and wife for the first time.

It must have been a fancy occasion, Mama wore make-up! ;)

One of the best parts of any wedding is seeing old friends. Not that we don't see Brian, John, and Maggie, but we definitely see Maggie and John less since they moved back to Sacramento. Le Sigh. I just love candid photos, don't you?

John paid to dance with Dan during the money dance... of all the times to not have my camera on me! I got this shot just at the end. I think Maggie got a better one of them in more of a dancing position....

Look! Mama and Daddy all dressed up with somewhere to go! Darned flash though, we are all washed out looking. :(

This one is one of my favorites:
Jen Graham, Travis Graham, Dan Krans, Sarah Krans, Brian Anderson, Maggie Gedeon, and John Gedeon. Also known as The Cal Polys and their associates. The associates of course being the non-Cal Poly alum spouses.
I love weddings. Someone else needs to get married so we can go to one. It is the only time I can get Travis to dance with me. LOL Which is funny because he CAN ballroom dance and I am utterly hopeless. I am worse than someone with two left feet.
Thank you Dan and Sarah for a wonderful afternoon and evening!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Napping is very hard work

Library Book Finds

We have been enjoying story time at the local library for a couple of months now. There have been some wonderful books that we have read that we most likely would have never found if we were just buying them at the book store.

Holly Hobbie (author)

This book is gorgeously illustrated. I think that is my favorite part of the book in fact. Alton really liked this one because he recognized some of the art and other things that are in the book from Little Einsteins. It's very sweet and I would read it again.

A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems (Hardcover)~ Deborah Ruddell (Author)
Joan Rankin (Illustrator)

This book is genuinely funny. Both Travis and I laughed out loud when reading it to Alton. He sat through the reading of the entire book, and he also enjoyed looking at all of the different pictures of animals. It also taught him about different animals not covered in your basic Boynton, like salamanders. My favorite poem was the one about the turkey.

The Squeaky, Creaky Bed (Hardcover)

Pat Thomson (Author)
Niki Daly (Illustrator)

This book was very funny too. It has a lot of repetition which is apparently good for pre-school aged kids. (It's been a while since my child development classes...) Anyway, my favorite part of this book is the grandfather. He is totally a hippy. He wears birkenstocks, drives a VW bus, and his hair is longer than Grandmas. Alton loved all of the animal noises in the book. :)

The Tickle Monster Is Coming! (Hardcover)~ James Otis Thach (Author)
David Barneda (Illustrator)

This is our favorite one I think. Needless to say there was lots of bedtime laughter and tickling going on when we had this book. I highly recommened this one, and we will most likely re-check this one out again.

Alton also loved The Secret Shortcut by Mark Teague and Matilda the Moocher by Diana Cain Bluthenthal

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Lap Puppy

Thursday, January 14, 2010

P365/P52 Days 12-14

Well I have officially gone twice as far as I did last year on this challenge. :)
Day 12
Alton riding his bike at the park. He WOULD not wear his bike "hat" because none of the other kids had one.

Day 13
Alton's first trip to Lowes with Pop Pop. He took his tools to the hardware store.

Look how little he looks!
Day 14
Early morning hot wheel races are good for the soul, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More Layouts!

Well I haven't posted any new layouts in six months.... Let's watch Alton get older this time shall we?

(By the way the credits for these layouts can be found in my gallery here.)