Thursday, April 30, 2009

Things I Love Thursday: Tracfone Review

My Tracfone!

Seriously, I'm so glad we discovered it. Tracfones are prepaid phones where you buy minutes (which comes with airtime) as you need them. No contracts, no monthly bills, etc...

We got it while Marc was unemployed. I had a cell phone with a Big Name Carrier. I had the smallest plan possible which still ran about $35 a month. When Marc lost is work phone, he used my phone. Marc's cell phone is like a fifth limb to him. Plus he needed to make many long distance calls while job searching. It just made sense for him to have the phone, since I hardly use it anyway.

However, one weekend, I was going to take the boys out of town to visit family. Marc couldn't give up the phone since that number was out on all his resumes, and I didn't really want to leave the state with the boys and no phone. So we decided to pick up a prepaid phone. I'm so thankful we looked into them.

I got a phone for $20 at Walmart and it included "Double Minutes for Life". This seems to be the way to go. Whenever, I buy minutes, they will automatically be doubled for me. Plus, there are TONS of promotional codes online just waiting to be redeemed when you add your bought minutes.

For example, last Saturday I bought 60 minutes for $20. This doubled to 120 minutes. However, at checkout I had an option of "super-sizing" my order and adding another 60 minutes for only $10 (again, this doubled to 120 minutes). I then added a promo code for an additional free 50 minutes. So, I got 290 minutes for $30. This should last me 3-4 months or more.

This gives me freedom to use my phone when necessary (and not only for emergencies), yet should last me quite a while as I don't use it all that often. I did some math today and figured this phone costs me less than $12 a month. And that's without me feeling deprived of phone use.

Now, for even more good news. I can send or receive texts for only .3 minutes each. Three texts for less than one minute used! This is great when I just need to send a quick note to Marc like "I'm leaving now". This can make my minutes go even further.

Also, the service and coverage have been great. I have seen no difference between my previous Big Name Carrier and Tracfone.

There are a few downsides that I should mention. First of all, the phone I have is a cheap phone. It is very basic in it's options and not real "user friendly". But it does the basics that I need. Obviously, it sends and receives calls, it can text, it has voicemail (that I chose not to set-up since it also has caller ID; this saves me minutes not checking it), it has an alarm and a really rough-to-use calculator and phone book. These are no big deal to me.

You also eat a whole minute whether you use 4 seconds or 58 seconds. This might be normal cell phone practice though. It's also where texting comes in handy if you just need to sends a quick note.

Also, with this set-up... while I can use then phone whenever I need to without feeling guilty, I wouldn't use it to make personal calls just to "chat it up". I would save those calls for when I'm home. It probably would not be a good choice of phone for someone like Marc. But for me and my phone usage... the Tracfone, so far, as been the way to go.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Guess where we went tonight?

The boys got "Chocolate Chip" and I got Mint Chocolate Chip... all for $.99!

He can be sweet, too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What you lookin' at?

Yo Ma. Dat PB sammy was off da hook!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What to do, what to do.

I took the boys to the Gardens on Friday. It was a busy day there and we had to park almost all the way in the back. As we were leaving, we were approached by a man carrying this plant.
He told me he had just finished a show at the Gardens and had this beautiful rosemary plant. He was leaving straight from there to go on vacation and wouldn't be able to take care of it. He then asked if I would like it. Okay, sure.
So, now I have this show quality rosemary plant in my home. The thing is... I have no idea what to do with a rosemary plant. I know rosemary is an herb/spice, but I don't know that I've ever used it. And if I have... I'm sure it was in the dried form... not the fresh form. And how do I care for this plant anyway just to keep it alive, let alone use it as a food product.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

He joins the ranks with Gideon & Gabe!!

Video of Andrew riding his bike without training wheels.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Two words that kinda mean the same thing, but probably shouldn't be interchangable.

We are in the midst of potty training AJ. He is actually doing a great job with it. However, because the toilet sucks the water down, he constantly uses the work, "suck" instead of "flush", even after we have corrected him.

And it's just so funny hearing him talk about how he needs to "suck it" then wash his hands after he goes potty so he can get his M&M's.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Book Report: The Hunger Games

I stayed up way past my bedtime last night finishing The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, recommended to me by Amie .
Once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. Seriously. It was really good. Sort of "Lord of the Flies-esque", but don't let that scare you away. It was horrifying at times and yet gripping... that is... until I got to the end and it just stopped. Practically mid-thought.
How dare she?
I went to bed very angry at Ms. Suzanne. There is so much more of the story that needs to be told!! So I jump online today and realized that it is the first of a series. Phew. That's good news. The bad news is that the second book won't be released until September. I hate reading series like this. I would much rather wait until they are all out and read them back to back.
So, I may wait until the entire series is released in who-knows-how-many years and then re-read The Hunger Games all over before starting the rest. Then again... I might just be impatient and read it in September because.... I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!
Thanks a lot, Amie. (No, I mean it... seriously... thanks for the recommendation. I really did enjoy it.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Twilight, Twilight, Twilight.

Want to know how to increase the activity to your blog substantially?

Use the words, "Book Report: Twilight". They're like magic traffic words.

You would not believe the hits I've gotten since reading those books and commenting on them. I'm am sure I am disappointing visitors when they merely reach this little ol' site dedicate to our little ol' family.

Sorry guys.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Book Report: The Da Vinci Code

I just finished The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. While I can see how it could be considered controversial if taken as fact; as a fictional piece of work... I really enjoyed it. However, I'll officially state a disclaimer: I do not believe what the Da Vinci Code is suggesting as truth.
As I mentioned before, I started the book by listening to it on CD during my trip to and from Iowa. Book on CD wouldn't be my first choice as a way to "read" a book, but in this case, not only did it make the trip much more bearable, but it gave me real accents & pronunciations to names and places that I know I would have merely 'skimmed' over in my head.

Once I got back home, I had to head out immediately to the library to pick it up to continue the mystery. Unknowingly, I picked up the Special Illustrated Edition of the book. Great move!
The illustrated edition had photos and diagrams of all the artwork, architecture, buildings, symbols, etc... that the story was referring to. While the book was well written and would have been very understandable and enjoyable without the photos, the images really helped to appreciate the complexity of the storyline that much more.
Great mystery, great ending, intelligent novel.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How to celebrate three-year-old style

This is coming a little late, but we celebrated AJ turning three last week. Monday was his actual birthday, but we kept that day more low key.
He got DinoOatmeal, his current favorite, for breakfast and we went to a McDonald's playland for lunch. However, we tried a new playland and found out that AJ was too small to climb up into it. So, instead of playing, we used some coupons for free cones and ate ice cream. We had enchiladas for dinner while he got to open his birthday cards, and he got to take cookies with him to Bible Study that night.
It was also his last night to use his paci.
Tuesday had it's ups and downs. It was up in that he had his actual birthday party. It was down because it was his first paci-free nap. Naptime did not go well. In fact, we finally gave up on the nap that day and at one point didn't think he was going to be in any shape for his party that evening.

But he pulled his little self together and come dinnertime, we had our family, the boys I watch and their mom, and the Sischo's over for homemade pizza, cake & gifts. (that was a busy day for me... watching 4 boys including 1 crabby paci-free boy, making 4 pizzas & a cake, and keeping the house in decent shape).
AJ received some cool gifts including a tackle box and a Lightning McQueen fishing pole from his father, of course. I mean, it's never too young to get 'em started, right?
As soon as gifts were opened we packed up quick and headed out to Chuck E Cheese for about an hour. We had lots of tokens that were gifted to us, so everyone was able to play for free. We didn't take into account that it would be spring break, so it was much more busy than we expected. But I think everyone had fun and Daddy earned the boys enough tickets with ski-ball so they each could pick out a junkie car to bring home. They were thrilled!

The night when better than naptime. He at least fell asleep pretty quickly (he should, he didn't nap and played hard all day.) He woke up several times, but it wasn't terrible or nearly as bad as it could have been.

Then this weekend, my parents were up for Easter and to celebrate his birthday. So, again, there were presents and cake. Enjoy this slideshow of my AJ thoroughly enjoying his cake.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Three Year Old Phrases...

  1. AJ has had a drippy nose the last couple days. One of those days, he brought me a tissue and asked me to wipe his "Booger Water". (blech)
  2. The other day, to celebrate a good paci-free night, AJ got to pick out a toy to buy with his birthday money. We were in Target looking at all the toys. He kept saying, "Let's go down this Iowa. No, let's go down this Iowa." (Iowa - Aisle)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Christ the Lord is risen today. Alleluia!!

We had a nice Easter. We attended out Easter Service last night, so today we were able to relax and have a nice day at home. My parents came up this weekend with Easter baskets, so I'm pretty sure the day-long sugar buzz started sometime around 7am.

We colored eggs today, cleaned up spilled egg dye off the walls, table, & floor, had an egg hunt, ate ham dinner, took Sunday afternoon naps, celebrated AJ's birthday again, and even squeezed in an evening boat ride.

It was a very nice Easter Day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Our trip to Iowa

We made it safe and sound all the way to Iowa and home again. And it was a really great trip. Andrew had a preschool field trip a week ago Friday morning to the Garden's to see the butterflies. AJ and myself packed up and met him there, so we could hit the road immediately.

The drive down went SO smooth. I am so thankful. The boys did amazing. And while they didn't nap nearly as long as I hoped, they didn't whine or complain and no one got sick. They even played nicely with their cereal box racetracks and homemade sock puppets when I couldn't get the movie player working. Praise God, though, it did finally work the last couple hours of the trip.

Grandma and Grandpa were so pleased to see us and the boys were thrilled to see them. Saturday was a busy day. We got up and went the the Art Museum to see the original "American Gothic" by Grant Wood. It was interesting to see and the boys did alright considering the line and the fact that we were in an art museum and not a playground. We eventually found a few blocks & books for them to play with along with a few painting with trains in them. That helped.

After a lunch at a McDonald's playland, they were taken to the store so each boy could pick out a birthday toy. Andrew chose a plastic bow & suction cup arrow set and AJ a tractor-trailer toy. Once home, it was time for quick naps before G&G took us to their gym. There was a whole section for kids including kid-size workout machines, ping pong tables, video games hooked to stationary bikes, dance-dance-revolution, etc... We played for quite a while before we went swimming. We ended the evening roasting marshmallows in the fireplace and reading stories.
Every night we were there the boys got to pick two Bible stories that Grandma or Grandpa would read to them... but they would have to finish reading time with "The Little Red Caboose". (Or "Caboost" according to AJ.)

On Sunday we went to church in the morning before heading up north to visit Great Grandma & Grandpa. We ate pizza, celebrated birthdays with cake and visited for a while before heading home for some down time the rest of the evening.

Monday, both G&G had to work, so we took our time in the morning. We played outside and even hit a playground before heading to visit Grandma at work to eat lunch with her. On the way home, I took to boy to the Des Moines Botanical Center. We were able to get in free with our Garden's Reciprocal Membership. It was small, but a nice place to visit and walk around.

Again it was quick naps and then we were taken to Spaghetti works for dinner (where I left my coat.) Grandpa had Tom & Jerry DVD's, so the boys got to laugh at those before storytime when we got home.
Grandma took Tuesday off work. She spoiled us by buying the boys some undershirts, summer sandals & diapers (due to my poor planning). We then, again (due to some heavy begging from Andrew) hit the gym. We played for a quite a while before swimming again. I've got little fish for boys.
It was home for super quick naps and we were off to pick up the coat I left at dinner the night before and visit the Science Center of Iowa. It was really cool!! I loved it. We shot homemade rockets, and tried to drop eggs without breaking them, raced Lego cars, watched stars, and even made an arch. Unfortunately, little did I know that my cell phone fell out of my pocket while I was there.

We hit Perkins for dinner then the mall. They were having a kid day... with train rides, bounce houses, face painting, etc... The boys loved the train ride since they got to sit in the caboose (although it was green instead of red). During their storytime that night, I packed up all our gear.

Wednesday morning, we finished packing up and hit the road. We had to swing by downtown to pick up my cell phone from the Science Center and then stop at WalMart to replace broken headphones for the DVD player, but we finally hit the road to come home.

The drive home wasn't quite as smooth as we had minor hiccups in Davenport and heavier traffic in Chicago. But truly, I can not complain. We were safe and the boys did a.m.a.z.i.n.g. Seriously, I am so proud of their behavior during the drive.

I know the kids were up late and then up again early with little naps (and it showed on occasion), but they loved being there (and often snuck in G&G's bed at night). It was a really nice visit and great to see them and great Grandma & Grandpa. Thanks for the great time!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

AJ is Three.

AJ, Adam Jay, you are three today. My little man... my baby. It's hard to believe it's here and I know you are excited about it. You have been talking about how you will be three for a while now. It's very cute how you hold up three fingers... by pinching you pointer & thumb together and keeping your other three up.

You are getting so big, and yet, maybe as a gift to me, you are very happy in the role of 'baby of the family'. You are all about snuggling and rocking still and I love that. Yet, at the same time, you are a very busy active boy who does everything in his power to keep up with his five-year-old brother.
  • You could live on peanut butter & apples... not necessarily together. Peanut butter sandwiches are your mainstay. I seriously think you could eat them every meal without tiring off them. And you love almost any fruit, but apples are your favorite. Just recently, at Grandma's, you were given a whole apple and sat there pretty much eating the entire thing. (by that, I mean, there were really not too many seeds left even.)
  • On that same note – you are a sneaky snitch as well with that sweet tooth of yours. If there is anything sweet in sight, I must now monitor it closely, or you will find a way to get your little paws on it.
  • Your favorite toys are still mostly cars & trucks. The current favorite is a toy “Mack” (from CARS the movie) that you recently got. Although, during our trip to Iowa, you spent a very large portion of your time putting a couple puzzles together over and over and over. Really, anything your brother is playing with is what you want to be playing with.
  • Lately you have this obsession with vacation. I'm not sure where it's coming from since it's not been a topic of discussion among the rest of us at all. But somehow you are able to turn everything, from the food we are eating, to the clothes we are wearing, into a conversation about vacation. “Can we eat these cookies on vacation?”
  • You are so very affectionate. You will rub our backs out of the blue, or come give kisses. You will tell us you love us and randomly ask for a hug. I love it!
  • Your favorite movie is still CARS. (I can totally see myself writing these updates for the boys 5 years from now and still writing this same bullet point). You know the words and the songs and rather than really watch the movie at this point, it's like you narrate it to everyone else... just in case there is possibly someone new in the room who has never seen it before and might be having trouble following the storyline. You also love Word World, Little Einsteins, & Funniest Home Videos.
  • You love tubs & showers. In fact, the current favorite is what you call a “ShowerTub”. You and your brother take a shower, but plug the drain during it. It's really the best of both world and you don't get in trouble for standing up in the tub.
  • It's fun watching you around music... watching you sing along or start dancing. Favorite's are still “Life is Highway” & “Can't get away”. You also really like “Rock-a-by Baby” for some reason. And of course, I hear you singing “Jesus Loves Me” often.
  • You are starting to grasp humor a bit. You know when you do something funny because afterward you tell us that you are funny. Or sometimes you do something silly on purpose and tell us it's funny.... all the while fake laughing in order to get us laughing for real. It usually works.
  • You love your paci and B's (tag blankets). You have been told for the last year that your third birthday is your last paci night. And while you know this and you tell us that your paci will be no more, I'm not sure you really get it. You are SO attached to that thing. In fact, when you are upset and stick it in... I can feel your whole body relax. I'm really not sure how it's going to go. At least you get to keep your B's. And the current count is 4 of them. Your original and back-up (that is no longer back-up, just another one you use) and Andrew's two B's. Andrew decided on his own that when he turned five he was too big for B's and gave them to you. It was very sweet of him, but now you feel like you need your little army of B's when you sleep.
  • You are really not interested in potty training. This is a bummer for me as I always think the pack of diapers I am buying is my last. But you seem content in them... even the cloth ones. You do obey and sit on the potty when we make you, but you have no desire of your own. And while, I wish you did... I know that forcing you when you are not ready only causes frustration for the both of us. But I am hoping soon.
  • You are also not too interested in riding in a stroller anymore. And I can't blame you. The hard part is that you want to just walk or run, which is fine, except that often your brother is way ahead of us riding his bike and if we want to keep up what-so-ever, I need you to ride. So we try to compromise... which means a lot of in and out of the stroller. I know it's short term. Once you learn to ride, you will be off chasing after him as fast as you can.
AJ, you are just a sweet boy with such a soft heart. I'm so thankful for you and your energy, your deep dark eyes, your contagious giggle, and the way your pronounce your words in such a three year old endearing way. You are such a fun, snuggly part of our family. I love you. Happy birthday, kiddo.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Twilight: The Movie

Well, finally, last night, I was able to watch the movie, Twilight. I'm not a big movie person... especially one geared more toward teens... however, I think I liked this one. They did a really good job of sticking to the book (well, as much as possible... there are always much left out with books to movies).

I'm not sure, though, that I would have liked it had I NOT read the series first. Even if I had just read the first book that the movie was based on, I'm not sure I would have really enjoyed it. But because I read the whole series and have all those experiences to place with the characters, I found myself very involved with the movie.

I'm sure I drove my friend (who had not read the book) crazy with my comparisons. Overall, I'm looking forward to the next movie.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

From the Boys:

Mom: AJ, how did you get that big scratch on your face? It wasn't there 5 minutes ago?
AJ: When I was on vacation... Gideon scratched me.

Seriously, this kid is going on week 3 or 4 of his "vacation with Gideon" obsession. It is ALL he talks about and no matter what the topic of conversation, that kid can bring it around to the "vacation with Gideon."

Sorry, Gideon.... most the time it's all good conversation, this is the only time he threw you under the bus. And I still have no idea how he scratched his face since he's sticking to his story.

Mom: Andrew, why are your basketball shorts and shirt laying out? (they were folded nicely at the top of the stairs)
Andrew: I want them out for when my basketball class starts.

We had just signed Andrew up for pee-wee basketball (same class as last year through our local parks & rec.) the day before. The classes don't actually start for another 6 weeks. I think he's excited about it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Book Report: My Sister's Keeper

After many recommendations, I read and finished My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult. It was an emotional book that gave you a lot to chew on. It was a good book and I love the way it was written... several character view points. And as a mother, I found myself stepping into pages... thus the tears early on as I mentioned previously. I will probably, though not right away, pick up something again from Jodi in the future. Thanks ladies, for the suggestion.

On my recent trip to Iowa, since I was driving the 8-10 hour trip solo, I borrowed an unabridged "The DaVinci Code" by Dan Brown on CD. I only got a third of the way through it (4 of the 13 discs) and now I am itching to get my hands on a copy of the book. Hopefully today I can hit the library and pick it up.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thought it might help someone else...

We compiled this Puke Kit from too much experience (Andrew gets carsick). It's basically all kept tucked nicely in 1 Gallon zip bag filled with the following:

  • T-shirt bib for each child: this is an old t-shirt with a slit cup up the back almost all the way, but not through the neck band. It then can go over their head, on thier arms and over their car seat buckles after they've been buckled in. Trust me... vomit in all the intricate car seat buckle grooves is the WORST and chances are, when the incident occurs, you won't be home and will have to continue to use the gross car seat to get where ever you need to go. Plus a t-shirt bib is also nice if you need to eat in the car.

  • Little zip bag with 4 disposable gloves (is case there happens to be two 'cleaners' you can relieve each other from the smell.)

  • Little zip bag with Febreeze covered cotton balls (nothing like trying to finish a trip with the entire car smelling like puke)

  • Little zip bag with q-tips (necessary if puke gets in buckles)

  • Little zip bag with stack of baby wipes

  • Towel (we use one that we "acquired" from a hotel pool).

  • Plastic grocery bags (a couple for throwaway things and a couple for messy clothes, towels, etc..)

  • Extra clothes (these aren't usually packed in the Puke Kit, but we usually have them anyway when we travel.)
And of course, we travel with generic Dramamine, as well. Hmm... maybe I should market a preassempled Puke Kit. Think Babies R Us would pick it up?
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