Monday, April 28, 2008


My oldest turned six. This is the cake I made for him. I was very thankful that it actually stayed standing, since it was mostly held together by frosting. My son was actually really excited about it, and at $6, it was cheaper than one of those boring bakery cakes. Like most of my birthday projects, I got this idea from Family Fun magazine. I changed it from their sand castle cake to my medieval castle cake. Still, it's an awesome magazine. You can get a 3 year subscription for about $7 on Ebay. (I buy all my magazine subscriptions on Ebay, and I pay less than $10 a year total for all of them.)
Another benchmark, Child #2 told me that he wanted to wear underwear like his brother. This was a little surprising, considering three months ago I couldn't bribe him to even sit on the potty. I tried every trick and every tactic, and he barely went near it. Although, lately he had been trying to use it by himself. Okay, I told him, if you want to wear underwear, you have to keep your diaper dry. For two days, he ripped off his diaper every few hours and went to the bathroom himself, and he actually kept his diaper dry. Well, why not? So I put a pair of underwear on him. It's been almost a week, and he only wears diapers at night now. I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Buried in Things to Do?

I am totally and completely overwhelmed. I spent the last few weeks visiting with my mum (awesome!!!). That's her, isn't she beautiful?? She does face painting, and she did all the kids faces, mine included. Then I did hers. I was going for a landscape. We also went to Blue Bell and drove by all the bluebonnets. After she left, I became steeped in filling out forms and making appointments in preparation for the homestudy. Then I got an itchy throat, which turned into a knock down cold virus, fever included. My eyes are droopy and my brain is slow, so I apologize ahead of time for all typographical errors.

Things I have to do:

  • fill out more paperwork
  • fold laundry
  • finish reading my library books (In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories, There is no Me Without You, 10 Steps to a Successful International Adoption, Spectrum Guide to Ethiopia)
  • get more library books (Toddler Adoption, Journey to Ethiopia, Attaching in Adoption...)
  • sew things in my "mending" pile - most common problems are holes in the toes of footie pjs and holes in the back of my husband's jeans.
  • stock up on rice (because I hear they are rationing it and that is what people from south Florida do - if we hear that something is in short supply we go out and buy a dozen of it, no matter what it is)
  • bake a castle cake and make some kind of fake shields for Child #1's birthday party on Saturday
  • go to Wal Mart for metallic spray paint to make fake shields really cool because I love my kids and they deserve it,
  • list more stuff on Ebay (I've made $110 so far this month!)
  • list the really good stuff on Ebay while people still have money that hasn't gone into their gas tanks
  • fashion more tomato cages out of wire coat hangers and colored string (poor man's solution)
  • take the dogs to the Vet (totally putting this off because of the sheer expense of it)
  • do more paperwork,
  • go blow my nose and take some Tylenol because my head is all kinds of stuffed up (I am just thankful that the really sore, itchy throat is gone)
  • use up the bananas that are quickly turning brown by baking them into a lovely bread
  • clear more land to extend the garden a little more (coming soon: spinach, corn?, and beans plus more tomatoes - I think I have about twenty of those now),
  • cuddle with my kids and read them books because they just keep getting bigger and bigger so fast,
  • post on my blog... oooh, cross that one off!!
Things I wish I had time to do:

  • watch my DVDs from the library (Poirot with David Suchet, Philedelphia Story)
  • get Netflix again so I could finally see Juno and season three of Battlestar Gallactica (Yes, I am a total geek and I embrace it) Is the new season of Monk out yet?
  • watch Miss Guided on the web - I saw a few hilarious episodes and the one where they spoofed the Breakfast Club had me wanting more,
  • finish reading The Arm of the Starfish by Madeline L'Engle,
  • upload six months worth of digital photos so I can finally get CVS to print them,
  • get my taste buds back so I can enjoy a night time bowl of ice cream,
  • knit, crochet, cross stitch, work on my quilt, do a jigsaw puzzle, play killer UNO with my siblings... Oh now I'm just going off on a tangent of things I haven't gotten to do in five years. Well, no, that's not true. I did do a little on the quilt about six months ago, but Child #2 developed an unhealthy fascination with the sewing machine needle going up and down, up and down... I decided to wait until he was a little older, and I keep the sewing machine unplugged, just in case.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thrift Store Review: NORTHWEST ASSISTANCE (NAM) FM 1960 Houston

My mom visited us, which partially explains my long absence. I decided we should try a new thrift store to celebrate. Northwest Assistance Ministries actually has about three resale locations. This is the only one I have been to, but I hear that it is the largest. It is in an old Wal Mart building at 3645 C FM 1960 West, so it's nice and spread out. Call for hours 281-880-9000. There are even old shopping carts that you can use! Strollers fit easily going down the aisles. There is something here for everyone. VHS and CDs for $1 (Raffi!). If you're into mismatched dishes and kitsch art, this is the place for you! They have a saavy pricing person though, so the nice stuff is like $4 and up. I just couldn't rationalize a green glass paperweight. Sigh.

There was lots of clothes. In fact, they were selling grab bags (black, plastic trash bags) of clothes for $1 each. I did not partake. I have phobias about polyester and rayon taking over a closet. The kids clothing was $1 for tops and bottoms and $2 for dresses. I had to hunt, but I found something for every child. I don't mind buying Tommy Hilfiger and Gap when it's resale. There was also a big pile of kids bucket style sun hats (new with tags) for $.50 each. Sweet! I can never have enough of those. They are upstairs, downstairs, in the car and in the diaper bag, and yet, we still lose them. I stayed away from the adult clothes, most of them were $4 each and just too time consuming to look through them all.

There is a room off to the side filled with books, luggage, toys and baby items and lots of furniture. It reminded me a bit of my beloved Faith Farm, but the hardcover books are $2! Kids "flimsy" paperbacks were $.25 and all other paperbacks are $.50, plus none of the kids books were over $.50. I went to town on kids books. Seriously, there were SO many. The toys were not great, in fact they really sucked. There was a gem though - a vintage Fisher Price Medical Kit with original inserts and case, only missing the thermometer ($1.50).

They have a lovely display counter by the register with some great jewelry. I saw many sterling silver and gold items and she told me certain tag colors were 25-50% off. I drooled a bit over a big silver mercasite ring, but even after a discount it was still $20. I would rather have a crock pot for that price. No really, that is my price goal for my crock pot. Ah, someday...

Upon checking out, I saw on a sign that they had "grab boxes" on sale 4 for a $1. How could I go wrong. She told me I needed to take my reciept and drive around to the back. We went to the loading area, and there were two types of grab boxes - books and housewares. I hadn't pictured them being moving box size - silly me. This was a problem since I was toting three kids, grandma and a double stroller. I settled for two of books and two of housewares and limited visibility out of my rear window. I highly recommend these grab boxes (just hope you don't get the Readers Digest books or Encyclopedias). My mom and I went through them in the garage and I seperated stuff into keep, garage sale, Ebay and trash. I think I liked the books boxes better. There was a wide variety of the good - DK State Atlas, Syd Hoff, James Marshall, paperback fiction, vintage books - and the very bad - missing covers and a really funky stench. The housewares was a total lottery. The good - vintage full leather suitcase. The bad - homemade ceramics and tacky plastic martini glasses. Then there was the bizarre - an Aircast foam walking cast and diving weights. At least we figured out why the boxes were so heavy. As I told my husband, if I can sell even one of those items on Ebay for $10, then I made money off the boxes. Of course it means I need to get around to listing it....

I highly recommend this thrift store for it's variety, prices and kid friendly carts and aisle spacing.
Some prices:
Kids "flimsy" books $.25
Other kids and all paperbacks $.50
Hardcover adult books $2.00
Safety 1st Booster Seat $5.00
1970s art on piece of wood $2.00
Cute mini teapots $2.00-$5.00
Kids shirts, onesies, shorts and skirts $1.00
Womens sweaters $4.00
VHS, CDs $1.00
Silver Turquoise bracelet $4.00 on sale

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Surprisingly, pretty well. We haven't lost any more plants, and I am doing super with my seedlings. We just did yellow bean seeds and those were fun! They are almost a foot tall and I only planted them last week. They need to be transplanted to the ground, but I am running out of room. I have already put my cherry tomato seedlings in the ground, and they look nice. The watermelon seedlings I put in a few weeks back did not do so well. Not one of them, in fact. Oh well, no watermelons. I am very proud of my cabbage seedlings. The seeds are tiny, about the size of poppy seeds, and the seedlings were puny too. But look at them now! I don't actually know how to cook cabbage, but I have eaten it before. Actually, the only time I've eaten cabbage is when I would be at the mall, and I wanted to eat "healthy" - I would get the steamed vegetables with my chinese platter. I haven't had that in about nine months now, and I am craving it. So I figure, I will find out how to make it just like the cheap Chinese place at the mall, and maybe I will make some bourbon chicken to go with it or maybe the orange chicken or perhaps the terayki... Moving right along, the broccoli is growing. I have one that is ridiculously huge and one that hasn't seemed to have grown at all. All the berry plants are just sitting there. I am not sure if they are sleeping or just deciding whether to die or not. The few leaves on them are green, so I figure that's got to be good. Right? The tomato plants are alive and growing a little taller, just barely. The cauliflower have surprised me by growing like crazy just this last week. They are now bigger than the broccoli. Except for that little one in the corner, I think that's the runt of the litter. My onions are growing too. I don't know when I am supposed to harvest them, since I can't actually see if they are getting bigger or not. It makes me want to dig one up every other week to check their progress. Anyone with experience growing onions? Child #2 has gotten so obsessed with going outside every day, that he has snuck out the door with no pants on before we even had breakfast. He says he is going to let the dogs out, and then he just follows them out. I have since learned to always have the deadbolt on. Thank goodness he can't work the deadbolt. He is especially happy that the air conditioner is now turning on and off. This is a carry over from last year, when he was obsessed with air conditioners. (I remember last summer at his 3 year check up, and all he wanted to do was stare out the window at the AC fan humming away. The pediatrician looked a little concerned and asked, "Does he do that all the time?" Obsess about fans? Yes. Thankfully, the doctor was able to get his attention long enough to ask a few questions, so not a total obsessive. All the same, I now have a prescription for an OT assessment, so we'll see what they say.) We had school outside twice last week. It actually seems to make the boys more calm. How strange. Child #1 sat and listened to stories about different types of wasps in the Christian Liberty Nature Reader. Awesome book - cheap, simple, lovely. That was until Child #2 walked onto an ant hill. He does that like clockwork every four months. Of course, I go swooping in, pulling the shoes off, pulling the pants off, swatting away at his legs and feet. I make sure to kill every last one that went on him. How dare they bite my son? Thankfully, he only had about six bites, so it could have been worse. Most of the time, I love being outside, feeling the sun and the breeze and the smells. I really hate the bugs though - red ants, wasps, hornets, bees, spiders. I cannot even begin to tell you how many biting and stinging insects I see when I go outside. But, no lizards!

Adoption Fund Progress Report for March

I don't know where these people get the time to post on their blogs every day! I am kicking myself to do it once a week. It's better than my diary though, since I write in that about six times a year. Sooo...

March has been a busy and productive month. My dear, hard-working husband had more overtime this month than he has ever had at this company. He has worked almost every Saturday, and one Sunday (I think God understands). The result was that he earned enough to pay for the car troubles and put some in savings. I made $62 from the consignment sale.

Plus, I had a very successful garage sale. I have never made more than $50 doing a garage sale, but we made over $300 on Saturday morning. It was mostly due to a few wonderful people that brought over some big and small items. Thank you! I am a total introvert, and I was very nervous about doing a garage sale all by myself, but it was more fun than I thought it would be. I did learn a few things that I will remember for next time. One of them is to put a price of 25% higher than what I really want on the bigger items. When I am inevitably offered the lower price, I will bite my lip and sigh, and say, "Okay, it's yours". They got a bargain and I got a good sell price. I probably would have sold the Power Wheels right away if I had done this. As it was, I had 14 people ask about it and barter and I kept saying, "No sorry, I can't take less than $50". Man, I should put out a Power Wheels with every garage sale, just to draw them in. Then if asked, I will say it's $100. Deceptive sales tactics or effective marketing? I also had three people try to buy our crapavan. Oh boy, they don't know what they would be getting into. My favorite customers: the young hispanic boy that was very excited to find the first four Harry Potter books and paid for them out of his own money ($1 for the set); the four hispanic guys that were interested in our cheap, "tempermental" lawnmower - they tinkered with it and then got it working nicely (they were a funny bunch and laughingly offered to keep mowing for $5 off); the group of boys shopping with their grandma and armed with lots of quarters to shop with.

Anyway, we now have 37% of the total. I am finally gettting to listing things on Ebay. Hopefully, the hubby will have another overtime paycheck coming, so I hope to up the savings some more soon. For now, we have enough for the homestudy and agency fees, so that is enough to get started!