Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April Vacation

Many parents still have to work during April vacation, but my husband and I are lucky to be home when our children are. With my husband working as a teacher this year we were able to enjoy more time together this school year then we ever have. Though we don't really have it in our budget to vacation, we don't lay around the house. We spent time with family and friends but also time with just the four of us. 

I was very excited to go to the Museum of Science over this break. Morrigan is so interested in every exhibit. We spent our time in only one wing of the museum missing the other 3 because Morrigan loves to really learn from each exhibit. Her love of learning makes the Museum of Science so much fun. I was a bit disappointed in myself for not taking my camera but we got a few pictures with our cell phones. 

Chris is a teacher so he received a card that allows him to get into the museum and many of the exhibits for free. It also gives him a discount at the gift shop as well. We got the library pass which gives us a discount for 4 tickets. Freya is free since she is under 2 so it would only be me and Morrigan that would need to pay for tickets. Chris however got us a membership for the year. He paid $85 which is a membership for two. It offers Free Exhibit Halls admission all year, Omni and Planetarium passes, plus Exhibit Halls guest passes, Free admission or discounted entry to 400+ select science centers and zoos worldwide, Subscriptions to Sparks! member newsletter and Member E-News, Waived service charges on advance reservations, 10% savings on your annual renewal when you sign up for the One-Step auto-renewal program. It also gives your discounts for Tickets to the Butterfly Garden and 4-D Theater Museum parking garage, 10% off purchases made in the Museum Store, and10% off dining selections at the Riverview Café. It also gives you special access to Member events and exhibit previews, Advance registration for summer courses and select lectures, and Priority service at the Membership Booth and at the box office. The regular tickets are $23 for me and $20 for Morrigan. Even if I didn't get anything but the tickets, after 2 trips it will pay for itself.

If you are looking for information on memberships at the Museum of Science Boston here is a link to the Museum Membership page.

Also, if you are a part of the Old Colony Library Network, simple go to the website and reserve your museum passes with your library card number. Library museum passes include Boston Children’s Museum, Massachusetts ParksPass, Museum of Fine Arts, Mystic Aquarium, New England Aquarium, South Shore Children's Museum, and Zoo New England. Starting in May, the Plimoth Plantation is also offered. Note that the New England Aquarium is only offered in day in which school is in session so no summer discounts are available for the New England Aquarium.

Our favorites ("our" meaning my family. I, on the other hand, am petrified of it.) exhibit is the butterfly garden. It was great watching Morrigan get excited when she saw a different type of butterfly. Freya also enjoyed herself but I think mostly she wanted to put every butterfly in her mouth. In fact she tried to eat a tree while we were there. Chris had to pull it out of her hands. 

I have a fear, okay, maybe not a fear but rather a general dislike of things with wings, more so insects with wings. I can handle large birds of prey, they are rather intelligent but fluttery things make me want to run. I am most afraid of moths. I think this stems from growing up in a house that the front porch used to be completely covered by moths at certain times of the year. After leaving the house after dark I would have moths up my pant legs and in my hair. Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl...YUCK! So you can imagine how difficult it is for me to walk through a butterfly garden. I did it the first time and the woman working in the exhibit assured me butterflies are not like moths, they fly around you rather than at you. Which seemed to be true and it brought me great comfort the next 4 times that I went.

This last time, I called her a liar!

Yes, the biggest butterfly in the room landed on my hand. I nearly peed my pants. I held him there while I was sweating bullets so a gentlemen could take a picture of his wings open. I did it in the name of good photography which never happened by the way. While his little fuzzy body tickled my hand every hair on my body stood on end.The guy with the camera waiting for the butterfly with the brilliant blue inside wings to open up said the worst possible thing to me. He said that it was a moth not a butterfly. I nearly passed out right there but Morrigan whispered to me that it was in fact a butterfly. I love having an intelligent kid. Even if she was wrong (which she wasn't) she always knows what to say to make her very anxious mommy feel better.

We also took in the lightening show right when Freya feel asleep. The noise would of been way too loud for her anyhow so only Morrigan and I went. It would of been Chris and Morrigan if she was awake as I am nervous leaving Freya since I'm her only source of food. It was shorter than usual but still just as fun. The Lightening Show at the Museum of Science Boston has the world's largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator. The show talks about conductors, insulators, electricity, magnetism, and storm safety. They even place a volunteer in a cage and hit the cage with bolts of electricity. The indoor lightning storm is so loud and sudden it usually causes at least one person in the audience to scream.

We left after spending 3 hours in the museum. Morrigan clutched a snow owl she got at the gift shop the whole car ride home and Freya ate the wing of her stuffed butterfly she got at the gift shop the whole car ride home. Chris and Morrigan both ate their space ice cream in the car. Chris also got a gyroscope as well. He opened it up as soon as we got home. Morrigan and Chris sat down at the table and played with it like two little kids. I got a straw cup with the logo on it. I needed a new one after my Bruins one fell out of the cupboard and broke, I'm practical like that.

We are already planning our next visit in 8 weeks. There is so much of the museum we haven't seen yet. Morrigan and Chris plan on doing these virtual reality machines that strap you in and you are enclosed in a capsule that turns and twists. It shows you a roller coaster and mimics the turns and loops like you are really on it. We also want to take in one of the Planetarium shows but we want to buy a sound reducing head set for Freya since babies at her age have such sensitive hearing. There is just so much you can do at the Museum of Science in Boston, I can't wait to go back!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ways To Make Money While Being At Home 2

I decided to revist this topic since trying more apps. If you want to look at the apps I have already reviewed here is a link to the past post Ways To Make Money While Being At Home.

Slidejoy is an app that puts an advertisment on your phone before you get to your lock screen. Its easy, just swipe left or right depending if you want to interact with the ad or unlock the phone. Problem is it takes forever to earn money. I've had it on my phone for over a month and all I earned was $1.70. I'm not impressed.

AppTrailers is an app that will show you advertisments for apps and you have the option of installing what you like. Its a slow process but I love that it can be paid to paypal. However, it takes 500 points to get use it and its about $.50. It took two apps to get 65 points. You can do the math.

Mobee is a secret shopper app that will give you tasks to do when you are in a store. Tasks are few and far between.

Easyshift is the same as Mobee. My problem is there were never any tasks in my area.

I'm revisting Swagbucks as I have found more to earn. Swagbucks is another points website. This one requires you to search on the internet, refer people, watch videos, fill out surveys, among other things to earn points that can be cashed in for items. I just earn for gift cards which they offer Amazon gift cards (yay, cloth diapers!) so you can really buy anything essentially.They even start you off with roughly 80 points just for filling out a profile. The points needed for rewards vary but they ask a lot of point. You can make points will little effort so its not that hard. To add what I had said before on my previous post, I have installed the Swagbucks tool button and it allows me to earn money for visiting sites. I think Swagbucks is my new #1 app!

The tough nights

When we are expecting the first baby everyone warns you about those first few months of sleepless nights. When we actually experience caring few a baby that is awake most of the night, we cant imagine anything more exhausting. But no one warns you about the exhausting nights you will have when baby is sick.

My first daughter, Morrigan, was incredibly easy. She slept through the night at 2 months old and didn't get sick until 8 months old. My second daughter, Freya, is colic so i'm used to pacing her around while she screams her head off. But nothing prepared me for the day Freya got sick.

Usually I sleep so well in the rain but the baby in the bassinet stirred. Freya had been sick for a few days now. She was stuffy and congested. I had only closed my eyes for maybe 20 minutes. I had paced the living room until 1 am with her and finally laid down in bed once she fell asleep. She stirred more and she let out a tiny whimper which I know is only the start of what will become a angry screaming cry if I don't act fast. I jumped up and I took her into my bed laying her next to me. I turned her into me to nurse but she refused. The angry cry that came out of my tiny little babes startled me. I didn't expect her to get that upset that fast. There was a raspy sound as she inhaled and exhaled as she screamed.

Freya wanted to be paced again around so back to the living room so my husband could sleep.  I paced her around the living room again for hours. I tried my best to console her but there was nothing I could do. She would nurse for a short time then she would throw herself around until I put my focus back on pacing about. I suctioned out her nose which made her scream louder. I put saline in her nose, which too made her scream even louder. She was so tired she wouldn't open her eyes, she just cried and cried.

The sun came up as we paced until my legs wobbled under me, I was exhausted. The morning sky looked as sick as Freya with low gloomy clouds and drizzly rain that feel like her tears. It only made me feel more exhausted and sorry that my little girl felt as terrible as she did. I finally got her to settle down long enough for me to sit down. We sat in front of the cool mist humidifier and watched a little television.

After crying for hours Freya cried herself to sleep. I watched her start to cry in her sleep. Tears actually fell from her closed eyes.
Nothing pulls at your heart strings more than when your child is sick or hurt. I sat there and wished I could take this from her. 

No matter how many time your child is sick it will always make you feel like the first time. You will worry, you will be exhausted, and you will try your best to make them as comfortable as you can. That is what a parent does best. We have magic cuddles and boo-boo kisses.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fun Cake to Make With Kids

This really would have been a better post for around Easter but really, it can be done anytime. I'm always trying to come up with fun things to do in the kitchen with Morrigan. I want her to feel comfortable measuring out ingredients and using kitchen items while having fun. Here is a great idea Morrigan just loved and its tasty!

Its actually a lot easier than you think. A multicolored cake seems like a big mess. Its a bit more than your average easy box mix because of the extra bowls and dying the batter. But its so worth it.

Just make a white cake mix as directed on the box. Then separate the batter into equal amounts in how ever many bowls as you have colors. I did three, pink, yellow and green. Then put one color into a greased and floured cake pan. My advice is to get the colors as level as you can. Lay the bottom color down and level it as much as you can. Then add the next color and then the next. I suggest putting the second layer down in spoon fulls all around instead of pouring it into the middle so you can spread the color out so there is minimal mixing of the two colors. Do the same for each layer you have.

You could tie-dye the colors by taking a tooth pick and swirling the colors or you can drop the colors in randomly and get a camo look. I will try each of these looks another time. Subscribe to my blog so you can get the update on how each of these fun multicolored cakes come out.

So have fun with it, do crazy color combos. The kids will love it. Think of holidays like red white and blue for the 4th of July.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

To My Daughters

To My Daughters

To my first daughter,
You taught me how to love unconditionally.
You taught me how to slow down and enjoy the simple things.
You taught me how to see the world through the eyes of a child again.
I’m sorry I wasn't confident as a mom.
I’m sorry I questioned things too often.
I’m sorry I pushed you to learn the next thing.

To my second daughter,
You taught me I can do great things if I try.
You taught me to be confident in my decisions.
You taught me my heart is as big as I let it be.
I’m sorry I can be impatient.
I’m sorry I have to rush you around.
I’m sorry I can’t give you all of my attention.

To both my daughters,
Thank you both for every smile, hug, kiss, laugh, and cuddle.
Thank you both for forgiving me when I’m being short with you.
Thank you both for reminding me what life is all about
I promise to always find time for you
I promise to always respect you as a person
I promise to love you both with all my heart

Feeling the mommy guilt this morning I felt like I wanted my girls to know how I feel. As much as I a parenting them the same, I'm raising them completely different due to the fact they are effected by the other, schedules, and my growth and how I change as a mom. Things are different, when Morrigan was a baby I had all the time in the world to give her. I never had an obligation other than keeping house. For Freya, I have my schedule, Morrigan's schedule, Chris's schedule to work around as well as Freya's schedule. Its not as easy going as it was when Morrigan was a baby and it makes me feel guilty. But when Morrigan was first born I was afraid to do what I wanted to do. I wanted to breastfed but didn't know how. There wasn't a internet community like there is now. Also, there are far more services out there for breastfeeding support. I'm so much more of a confident mom now, 8 years later, I know I can figure things out for myself. I have learned so much from each of my girls. I am so thankful for what they both have given to me, all they have contributed to my life.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Saucy Asian Meatballs


For the meatballs:
1 lb of ground beef
1 tsp. sesame oil
½ cup of Panko breadcrumbs
¼ tsp. of ground ginger
1 egg
3 tsp. of minced garlic
½ of thinly sliced green onions

For the sauce:
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Preheat your oven to 400°F (by the way, I just learned how to make the symbol for Fahrenheit, click here to learn how.)

 In a large bowl, mix together all the meatball ingredients. I used my clean hands and really dug in to mix it well. Shape the mixture into tiny meat-a-balls. I made mine a little big since it was only me and Chris eating them. If you make them 1 and a ½ inches this recipe will yield roughly 15 meatballs. I just like my meatballs bigger. I then placed them on a greased cookie sheet and baked them for 12-14 minutes (10 mins if smaller)

While the meatballs are in the oven, whip together the sauce. Whisk together all the sauce ingredients. Then, when the meatballs are done toss the meatballs and sauce together.

You can add some green onions on top, maybe sprinkle some sesame seeds on top for good measure. I served the meatballs with white rice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The School Bus Rush.

Is it a dance of chaos! Every morning no matter how early I get her up, Morrigan will drag her feet to get out the door.

Let me paint you a picture so you can understand my woes. The bus comes at 8:24 sometimes earlier, sometimes later. I usually get Morrigan up at 7:35 to get ready so we can leave for the bus stop before 8:20. I think 45 minutes should be enough for this girl to get ready. She showers the night before, her clothes are laid out before bed and she likes to eat breakfast with her friends in school. The only thing she needs to do in the morning is get dressed,  brush her hair,  brush her teeth,  and get her coat and shoes on. That takes me 15 minutes and I also do make up. She does actually only take 15 minutes to get ready because the first half hour is spent with her refusing to get out of bed and then refusing to go to school.

It's a battle every morning. Because im busy arguing with Morrigan every morning I often run late as well.  The baby is crying to be changed, I'm tripping over the cat who is tying to get my attention so I might remember to feed her. Then there is my eight year old in bed with this banshee wailing because she doesn't want to go to school. Then anything that could go wrong does. The keys are missing,  the baby spits up on both me and her. Morrigan can't find her library book and I forgot it was library day. Her sneakers are tied in the most difficult knot that even a boy scout wouldn't be able to do. Then, like every morning, we find ourselves running for the bus. We are saying our goodbyes as we are running, Morrigan's shoe laces become untied as she is running and I show up at the bus stop looking like a comic book villain with red swirling angry eyes and my eyebrows now stuck in a downward position.

I'm covered in spit up, my shoes aren't fully on my feet and my hair is now falling out of my pony tail. It makes for a tough start to the day. No matter how early I put her to bed the night before there is always an epic battle every morning. But this is karma. I was not that different from Morrigan when I was a child. And, as my mom would say she hoped I would have a child that would do the same and her wish came true. My brother and I both have little miniature versions of ourselves. I always thought my mother had some kind of special powers. Now I know what it is, she can curse you with karma. 

Anyhow, I saw this video by Elle on her Mom's vlog channel, What'sUpMoms, on YouTube. It made me laugh it's so relatable.  So here is a link to that great video. If you are not already subscribed to her channel, do so. There are great videos from Elle and 2 other really great and funny moms. Enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ways to Make Money While Being at Home.

I'm in no way saying you will substitute an income with these methods. But there are ways to make money or earn items and discounts on items easily while you hold down the home front. All of these options I have personally tried and though I'm certainly not making an income, its nice to have something for little effort that I can accomplish right on my laptop as I feed my kids.

These are just the methods I've tried. There are many ways to earn a little bit while you are at home.

If you use Pampers anything, there is usually a code somewhere on the packaging. By entering the code into the website you are given points. Points can be added up over time and there are many things to trade your points in for. I use my Pamper reward points to buy photos from Shutterfly.

If you see something you like and you have the point my suggestion is to grab it while you can. Items and discounts don't stay on the list for long.

Viggle commercials aren't completely clear on what the Viggle app really does. Honestly, when I first saw the Viggle ads I thought it was like Netflix and I would watch and earn points for free shows on their service (which you can earn points to watch shows and movies, read eBooks, and download music) But what I learned which interested me is that you watch your own TV to earn points so there is no service (than you regular cable or satellite service) to subscribe for. Really, its free! I just open the app, hit a button, and let it listen to my TV to determine what I'm watching. I earn points for watching shows. Most shows are available and its very easy to earn points. There are so many things to choose from like discounts at major stores like Best Buy and Footlocker. Also there are gift cards as well which go fast so grab them when you can!

My only issues with Viggle is if you have a lot of back ground noise, which us stay at home parents often have with children running around and toys making noise, then its hard for the app to link up to the show. If you have an old smart phone or a table and a wireless internet connection, you can put the app on that device and leave it next to the speaker. Also it take a while to accumulate the points need to get something worth your while.

I heard about Ebates through their many commercials on TV and I thought it sounded too go to be true, there had to be some kind of catch that would either make it impossible for me to benefit from it or I'd have to pay money somewhere. I was wrong. Ebates not only gives you cash bag on purchases but it also gives you coupon codes for better deals. My only regret with Ebates was not signing up sooner. If I had done my Christmas shopping with Ebates I would of made a lot more money with their cash back rewards than I did.

For my first purchase I went to JCPenney to buy some much needed clothes online. I not only found a coupon code on Ebates for 10% off the purchase over $50 but with my purchase I made $16.32. Plus, just by signing up I got a $10 gift card to Target (Target was my choice but there are about 6 major retailers to pick from.) Best part is there are no strings, nothing hidden, just go to Ebates, find the store you want, the link sends you right to the site, and you shop no different than you would have otherwise. You earn by how much you spend. Its that easy! Then, periotically they will mail you a check. No need to cash it out, they will do it for you. You can earn money for each person who signs up that you send an invitation to. This method is highly recommended!

Inbox dollar is a survey sight that you warn small amounts of money for taking surveys. Once you get $30 in your account you can cash it out. Its free to sign up and its safe despite other sites I have come across. The problem with Inbox Dollar is that its very time consuming. It takes a while to accumulate money. Also you can start a survey, get so far and then it will say you aren't the demographic they are looking for. So you just wasted 20 minutes of your time for nothing.

Swagbucks is another points website. This one requires you to search on the internet, refer people, watch videos, fill out surveys, among other things to earn points that can be cashed in for items. I just earn for gift cards which they offer Amazon gift cards (yay, cloth diapers!) so you can really buy anything essentially.They even start you off with roughly 80 points just for filling out a profile. The points needed for rewards vary but they ask a lot of point. You can make points will little effort so its not that hard. But you have to be patient. Like Viggle, it takes time to accumulate the points needed to turn it in for something actually worth it.

If you are interested in any of these options just click the link and start earning. I'm experimenting with more options like a mobile app that asks you to scan items in store. We will see how that goes but I may need to update this list later. But these options listed above, I have tried. Some are more successful than others but each are worth a try. My most recommended are Ebates (if you shop online you're a fool if you don't sign up for Ebates!) and Viggle. If you are a Pampers user the reward app makes it very easy to put in those rewards points (check the back of the wipes!). Swagbucks, I'm still trying to see if time and value is worth it for me. I have given up on Inbox Dollar. I earned fast then it was very difficult to earn after the first few days.

Good luck earning money and items at home. Hope you find what works for you.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Adventures in Breastfeeding:Teething

If breastfeeding isn't hard enough, just when you think you have mastered how to breastfeed your baby, your baby starts teething. Just like Morrigan, Freya is teething early. She's almost 4 months old and she is showing sighs of teething.

It started with her fingers always being in her mouth. Most babies at her age will start putting things in the mouth anyways.  Then the drool faucet turns on. Freya started having a huge wet spot on her clothes right under her chin. I would change her and in 5 minutes her shirt would be soaked.
She was so obsessed with putting her fingers in her mouth that she would put her fingers in her mouth during nursing. Which by the way, hurts like a biotch.  She would break suction but try to prevent the nipple from leaving her mouth she bites down on the end. Even without teeth biting hurts.

It's a fight to keep those fingers out. I pull her hand away and before long they creep back up out of nowhere. The thing I have leaned is to lay her down and nurse side by side.  While nursing she is laying on one hand and I hold the other. I put my thumb in her little hand and I also stroke the top of her closed hand with my finger. It keeps her free hand busy which keeps them out of her mouth.
I also notice red marks on her fingers. She is biting down hard on her fingers. I remember Morrigan doing the same thing. It stopped after a few times after biting her hand ounce her teeth actually came in. I also remember her fighting the bottle to get her hands in her mouth. So by now I know what's going on.

Then she stared fussing while nursing. She would pull off after just a minute or two of nursing and cry. It's a struggle to nurse her right now.  But I'm learning what makes her want to nurse. 
Freya has been sleeping a lot more. I let her sleep as much as I can. She has been living in her swing for the past 4 days. I have been pumping to keep up my supply. It's okay if she doesn't nurse as often or as long. It's just a problem to work through.

I used Orajel with Morrigan twice when she was teething but with new research,  I no longer feel comfortable using such a product. Luckily, Morrigan teething was easy.  I think Freya is going to suffer through teething.  If it's bothering her this much already, it's going to be a struggle. 

I bought one of those rubber animal teether. It's a Infantino lamb we call "lamby". Freya loves lambs! And she chews on it like it's made of jellybeans. Also I use a very old teething trick my grandfather suggested when I was teething. You take a face cloth and run it under the cold water. For good measure put it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for just a few minutes.  Then bundle up the middle and clip it with a cloths pin. Freya loves chewing on the cold face cloth. I just have to supervise her while she is chewing on it.

It's very similar to my trick when Morrigan when she was getting her molars. I found these things that had like a pacifier bottom but a net was on top. They are net feeders, we used Munchkin brand.

You can fill it with fruit or steamed vegetables.  I would give Morrigan a cold piece of cantaloupe inside as the fruit was very firm. But it's not recommended to give it to a baby as young as Freya.

I just try my best to keep her happy. If she gets upset she will not stay on the boob. If you are struggling with a teething baby, I hope you find something in this blog that helps. Whether it's a trick to try or comfort knowing you are not alone, I hope it makes your time easier.