A Frugal Birthday

Disclaimer:  This post is being written later in the evening than most of my other posts.  This is because I was busy making cow costumes for my family to get a free meal tomorrow at one of our favorite fast food restaurants.  Sometimes it seems I’ll do anything for something free.

IMG_0297Last week we celebrated our oldest child’s fifth birthday.  Though we had celebrated her younger sister’s third birthday this past fall in Wisconsin, this particular birthday felt very different from the others we have celebrated with our kids.

In Virginia, our birthday celebrations looked pretty much the same:  I would spend most of the money on food, a bit on balloons, easy decor, and plasticware, then invite at least 30 friends and family members to eat with us and share cake with the birthday girl.

I had lots of help for these birthday celebrations, in addition to my husband, I’d usually have a friend or two, my sister-in-law, parents, and maybe my own sister helping me to cook and prepare.

With a fresh start in Wisconsin, I wanted to change up our birthday routine.  A change in our normal birthdays will take my girls’ minds off missing all of the friends and family we used to be near to.  I was hoping to celebrate the fact that we’ve made new friends.

I was also hoping to stick to a tight budget in light of our new financial goals.

Here is how we celebrated:

  • I asked my daughter what would mean the most to her for her birthday.  What she wanted most of all was a cake with Elsa and Anna (from Disney’s Frozen) on it.  Fortunately for me, my dad pays for our Sam’s Club membership, so we were able to get a half sheet cake with Elsa and Anna on it for under $20.  (Side note:  my daughter was so excited that the cake actually had her name on it.  I love the innocence of children.)
  • Instead of feeding everyone a meal, which is more necessary when you invite more adults and/or have older children, I made the party earlier in the afternoon.  We served easy, inexpensive snacks like string cheese, baby carrots, and “snowman building” snacks (marshmallows, pretzel sticks, and chocolate chips).  I grabbed some lemonade to wash it all down.  Snacks set me back about $15.
  • To continue with the Frozen theme, I grabbed a snowflake covered plastic table cloth, and pink plates and plasticware (birthday girl’s request).  Target delivered for $7.
  • Finally, we needed napkins and cups.  Both set me back $3.

We invited my daughter’s new friends to the park early in the afternoon, and fortunately for us, the local town pool is in the park my daughter chose.

The kids spent a couple hours having snacks, swimming in the kiddie pool, and playing on the playground.  I’m not sure about everyone else’s children, but my girls had a great time.  They slept well that night, too!

The local town pool charges a small fee for moms bringing their children to the kiddie pool, so all in all, we gave our little five year old a fun birthday party for about $50.

The best part:  When asked the next day how her birthday was, our little big girl said it was her best birthday party ever.

Of course, she probably doesn’t remember the last four…

But I’ll take it!

Milestone Birthday Over Here

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This little beauty turned 5 years old yesterday.

There is an immense amount of innocence, yet some seriously profound wisdom that comes with the 5-year-old heart and mind.  Her smile and laughter exudes joy.  She is insatiably curious about the world and the way it works.  She feels so deeply, not only for herself, but for others as well.

This little girl was celebrated yesterday with friends and family at her new favorite place:  the local pool.  In light of our new budgeting arrangements, we tried to keep the costs on our celebration as small as possible, while still making our big girl feel special.  I’ll detail more about how we did this in a post next week.

Enjoy your weekend, readers.

Green Updates: I Live in a Jungle. Well, Almost

Friends, I am ashamed to tell you that I have not kept up with my weeding.

Today I ripped what could be called trees out of my garden beds.

No, I am not lazy.  It’s just been an eventful summer, and I honestly haven’t had much time to spend in the dirt.

Fortunately, with the ample rain we’ve had in the last few months, I have several large tomato plants and two generous basil shrubs.

Because let’s face it:  what else do I need to eat?

I can make tomato sauce.

I can make pesto sauce.

With the addition of pasta and cheese, I could probably live on those two plants alone for weeks.

Well, and maybe some garlic.  😉

These last few years have been tough in the garden.  I have either been pregnant or have a small baby, and that just makes it hard to spend long amounts of time outside.  Clara is able to sit by herself now and has been for a couple of months.  At first she could sit with some toys on a blanket in the shade, but now she is super mobile.  I worry she may find some tasty stinkbug and try to eat it.  So I really can’t take my eyes off her outside.

Madeline, on the other hand, loves “pulling grass” (pulling weeds).  She is my big helper.

Friends, it isn’t even September, and I am already looking forward to next year’s garden.  I am so hoping that Clara becomes as enthusiastic as Madeline.  I look forward to the ability to spend a few hours in the garden while the girls play together in the backyard.

And, for heaven’s sake, I look forward to my own zucchini.

Lest the squash bugs kill next year’s crop as well.

A Small Victory Amidst a Hard Few Weeks

I am always unsure of how much detail I want to share on my blog.

Seasoned readers will remember that I used to refer to my children and my husband by nicknames rather than their first names.  Though I have decided that using first names is okay, I still tend to be cautious with how much I share on my blog about our personal lives.

I hadn’t been sharing that my husband’s mother had been fighting cancer for almost two years.  It hadn’t seemed a necessary detail, so I withheld it.  I had also worried about over-sharing someone else’s information; afterall, it wasn’t my disease.

I wish I could share that my mother-in-law is in remission, but I cannot.  Instead I will share with you that she met our Lord Jesus this week.  It was a long, hard struggle for her, my father-in-law, and every close family member, especially in the last few weeks of her life.

It has been overwhelming at times; we have stayed at my sister-in-law’s house several times in the past few weeks, close friends have been watching our girls, and we have been burning the candle on both ends.  We talked, cried, laughed, and cared for my mother-in-law as one family.

We came home to discover there were some house repairs that could not be put off any longer.  This was just the icing on the cake for us.

I kept telling my husband all week:  “I am weary.”

And I was.  I had the energy each night to really only pray for the spirit and strength to get up the next day and do it all over again.

Today was probably the first day in almost a month that I stayed home with my girls by myself.  It was a normal day.  It was hard to settle both kids back into their normal routine, not to mention the fact that my body would just rather sleep.

This evening, when the sweet sweet hour of bedtime was nearly approaching, my firstborn gave me a good scare:

She has recently learned how to open our front door, and has, on occasion, walked out onto the porch.  While tending to her sister, I didn’t see nor hear Madeline, and so I began to call out to her.  I walked throughout the house, but couldn’t see her.  I opened the front door and called for her.  No answer.

She is two.

After calling out for her a few more times I heard her little voice behind me in the hallway.

“I here, Mommy.”

Her pants and underpants were around her ankles.

“Madeline pee pee potty.”

I went into the bathroom to check, and sure enough, my little girl went into the bathroom on her own.  She pulled down her pants and undies, went to the potty, and managed to wipe herself.

Then she proceeded to deposit some bath toys into her potty.

But that is besides the point.

This little girl of mine is growing so quickly.  Right before my eyes.

God showed me today that although it has been a hard month, a hard couple of months, and I am weary, I must continue.  Life goes on.  I have two girls that need to be raised, and I am the best woman for the job.  (Or at least that’s what I am led to believe.)

Paying Attention to the Terrible Two’s

Just last week my sweet Madeline turned two.

100_2731Yes, this girl.  She is giggly, full of laughter, smart, fun, and, to add to this list, a bit of a whiner.

And a weiner, if you ask me.

Madeline had always loved her pacifier, a binky, she called it, and would happily take it any old time of day.  When we knew we were expecting again, we allowed her the binky only for naptime and bedtime, in order to begin a process to wean her off of it.

Although Madeline hadn’t seen a pacifier for almost 3 months before Clara was born, she knew exactly what it was, and she still wanted it.

Seven and a half months later, we are still fighting with Madeline over a pacifier.  During naptime or bedtime, she steals the pacifier right out of her sister’s mouth, then climbs back into her own bed.

Obviously this is frustrating.  Not just to my husband and I, but I’m sure to Clara as well.

I mean, imagine you’re cuddled up in a blanket with your soft bear, sucking away on a pacifier when, oh no!, something rips the pacifier from your mouth.

I can totally understand why she screams when this happens.

Ryan and I have tried a lot of different things to discourage this behavior.  We have talked it through with Madeline, pointing out how upset her sister is.  We have made her give the pacifier back.  We have flicked her hand.  When she laughed at me after I flicked her hand, I tried slapping her hand.

That is about as far as I’d like to go with a two year old.

And yet we still found ourselves refereeing “binky wars” each time the girls went down to sleep.

After doing a few internet forum searches (because where else would I find sound parenting advice?), I came across a poster who suggested to a fellow mother that perhaps her toddler just felt left out and needed some extra attention.

Though it seems obvious now, the thought hadn’t occurred to me before.

But how could it not be?

Nursing Clara takes up almost an hour of the day (four times at around 15 or so minutes each time), plus I have to carry her from room to room.  I spoon feed her about half of her miles, and I have to help her with her water cup at every meal.

Girl needs a lot of attention.

My Little Miss Bits, on the other hand, can do so many things for herself.

But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need my attention.

So tonight, after bath time, I tucked little Miss Squishy Bean into her crib.  I called Madeline into the living room where we enjoyed some ice cream together.  We read together for a while, then colored for a bit.  When Madeline announced “baby doll sleepy” (talking about the toy doll she had been carting around all day), I figured she might want to go to bed.

And with that my two year old happily walked into her room and climbed into her own bed…

To steal the pacifier only twice tonight.

But nonetheless it’s progress.

And regardless, if it’s a little more time and attention my little Madeline needs, then I am happy to oblige.

After all, that is why this physicist is domesticated.

😉

 

You Caught Me!

100_2666Red lipped.  Er, red handed.

I haven’t blogged in almost four weeks.

Why?

Well it has been a crazy busy four weeks here at the Domesticated Physicist household.  I just finished up two online classes last week, which, by the way, is not what I would recommend when you have two little people at home.  That’s a lot of school.  Just, you know, for your information.

But other than that, we have had quite an adventurous few weeks:

100_2674 100_2679I have had some one-on-one time with my Clara Squish.  Watching her learn to sit up, then get on all fours, and now army crawl has been awe-inspiring.  I cannot tell you how special and amazing it is to watch this little girl move.  And, of course, her joy in her new mobility is great.  She squeals and squeaks happily while hurling herself across the living room floor.

100_2685The girlies continue to grow to love each other.  Most days.

100_2710Miss Madeline has recently learned how to put on shoes.

No, not just her shoes.  Any shoes.  Daddy Beard’s are her favorite.

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We visited the beach!  Our little Bitsy Girl went only about this far into the ocean.  “Water scary”, as she reminded us every time we got on to the sand.

100_2717Clara was skeptical, as well.

100_2731All in all, though, we had a good time with family and friends.

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This momma got some relaxation in.  Because somebody liked napping on the beach.

100_2745Might I suggest beach tents for your next family vacation?  These things are amazing to make babies sleep while listening to the ocean.

Best $25 ever spent.

Last but not least, we celebrated a birthday:

100_2772This little girl turned two!

(Next year she’ll be 22, mark my words.)

Also, I love this photo of Madeline looking at her cake, but I have yet to figure out why I look so much like a praying mantis.

So I offer you this picture instead:

100_2774I know, not as good.  Plus my creepily placed hands are still there.  Weird.

Anyway.

Friends, I am back.

(Cue “Welcome Back, Kotter” Theme.)

Hey, it’s my blog.  I’ll do what I want.

Tune in tomorrow for the continuing adventures of:

This Domesticated Physicist.