Thursday, April 30, 2009

Put-off by the Post Office

Why do I always seem to have such a hard time making it to the post office? This seems like a simple errand that everyone must do from time to time, but for me, I absolutely DREAD going. My friends never understand why it takes me months to send them a simple gift, return a book, or mail a stationery order, etc. Well, here are just a few of the many reasons I STRONGLY DISLIKE going to the post office:

Maybe it is because in Chicago a post office with a parking lot is rare if one even exsists? This means driving around the block until a meter spot opens, or someone pulls away from the always full curbside parking (loading zone), or parking blocks away and hauling both kids in through the snow, rain, wind, or whatever else Mother Nature is dumping on us that day.

Or maybe it is because the postal workers who work there are so patient, calm and friendly...NOT!

Or because it means I will be chasing Noah down while lugging the 22lb carseat in the crook of my arm and trying balance the stack of 4 packages I need to mail out.

Or because I love spending 30mins of my day waiting in line (I wish I could say 'standing in line' but... see above) no matter what time of day I go!

Or maybe I love to pay WAY too much for packaging tape because I forgot to tape the box before I left the house and of course they won't share theirs, and this is the second time I have had to buy it because I thought I would out smart them by keeping a roll in the car, but whoops...I drove a different car that day!

Now I realize some of these issues are self-inflicted, but for once, it would be nice to have a peaceful, quick, positive experience. I think the only way that would happen is if someone built a drive-thru post office...hmm...not a bad idea. If you see a 'Mailing Mama' open up in a city near you just remember you heard it here first!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Warm weather means...

...naked baby legs and bare piggy toes! I LOVE 'em!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tree Update - Spring has Sprung!

I'm not sure if you can tell from this picture, but there are finally tiny leaf sprouts on the tree out front. Yes! It is quite a welcome change from the blanket of snow that covered it just a few weeks ago! Bring on Spring!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The world is not my trash can.

Since tomorrow is Earth Day, I thought I would post a couple things I do to help make the world a cleaner place...

I haven't always made a focused effort to take care of the environment like I probably should, but in the past 6 months or so I have tried to get a little better at the 3R's - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

I have trouble with the last R - Recycle (see below), so I try to make it up by focusing more on the other two.

I bought these great reusable bags that I LOVE. I use them instead of getting plastic grocery or shopping bags everywhere I go. In the past two days I have saved 6 shopping bags by using my cute reusable bag instead. I do have one exception to this rule so far - I still get bags from Target, but my reason for that is because I REUSE them to put stinky diapers in...instead of using a Diaper Genie and in my opinion Target has the best plastic bags.

I have also worked on reducing the amount of paper towels I use. I admit, it is sooo much easier to grab one, use it once for just a little drip and toss it out only to grab another one to use for something else. In order to realize that there are other ways to clean up spills, wipe messy faces, clean the mirrors, dry your hands, etc I decided this would be a good thing for a PTA (paper towel abuser) to give up for lent. Yes, I am proud to say I made (6.5 weeks?) paper towel free! It wasn't easy...especially on day 1 when Bowman decided to heave-ho in the kitchen - it would have been MUCH easier to clean it up with a huge wad of paper towels as I usually do, and it was very tempting, but I did not.

For some reason I have a recent sense of guilt when I throw plastic containers out with the trash. I have been trying to come up with ways of reusing them instead. These are just a few of many plastic items I reuse.

I love the plastic coffee creamer containers (the liquid kind). I use it as a plastic bag holder for the car. It fits perfectly in the cup holder in the backseat and makes it easier to grab a bag to collect any garbage that might get left in the car (I guess this is another reason I keep the bags from Target). I also figured out a way to inter-connect the handles when putting the bags in the container so the next bag comes out just a little to make it easy to pull out). You could also use it to make salad dressing has a nice pour spout and you can stick any unused dressing back in the fridge.

Another favorite that you will find all over my house are plastic takeout containers. They are great for storing small things like crayons, office supplies, items collected on nature hikes...the options are really limitless here!
Here is why Recycling is a little tough for us.
Our dumpster is fenced in and unfortunately there isn't room for another container. The only option would be to separate and collect it myself and drop it off at our closest recycling center. Maybe I will make this a goal for the future, but right now, I have a hard enough time getting to the grocery store, post office (future post to come on this one!), Target, etc. I can just see myself collecting items to recycle and having good intentions of dropping it off, but running out of time because someone had a meltdown and then leaving a container of stinky trash in the back of the car. I can hear Jon now lecturing me now...ooops! :o )

So there you have it. The few things I do to try to make the earth a little cleaner for us all to live. What are the little things you do on a day to day basis to help out?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sparking Carrots??!!

Over the weekend I made Millie some diced carrots by cutting them into small cubes and simmering them in chicken stock until they were soft enough for her to mash with her little tooth-less gums (she is 8 1/2mos and still no teeth!). Today I wanted to warm them a little before giving them to her so I put them in the microwave for 11 seconds. Three seconds...yes, THREE seconds later it looked like the Fourth of July. Sparks were FLYING! Are you kidding me? I took them out quickly to see if in my usual mindless lunchtime haste I had put something metallic into the bowl, but there was nothing in there but tiny little charred pieces of carrot.

I had to bring Jon in to take a look. I just couldn't believe this. The whole purpose of me making the carrots myself was to know exactly what was in the food I would be giving my little Mills. Anyway, he couldn't believe it either.
So of course I had to get online and find out if this was 'normal' or if I had just witnessed a fluke occurence? What was going on?
Unfortunately, I was dissapointed to find no concrete answers. Everywhere I looked seemed to have a different assumption than the next, but these are the reasons I found:

From the USDA website:
"Some foods such as raw carrots and hot dogs can cause arcing while being microwaved. In hot dogs, this can be due to the uneven mixing of salts and additives. In carrots, it can be due to the minerals in the soil in which they were grown. Whatever the cause, turn off the oven immediately to end the sparks"

Some sites mention that it has to do with the higher amount of minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium) in carrots -and a few other veggies.

Others say if the carrots are cut with metal knives and have sharp edges/corners that the electrons congretate at the ends and jump from one piece to the other??
"Anecdotal evidence suggests that a cut edge of the fruit or vegetable must be present, touching that of another cut edge, for the phenomenon to occur. This phenomenon seems similar to that of the 'edge effect' where electrons congregate at the sharp edges and point of a metal in an electric field and can discharge via a spark to another edge or point nearby."

Doe anyone else think it is crazy?
Whatever the reason, it is still unnerving to me. Am I the only one who has witnessed this?

If you don't believe me, and don't have the time to experiment on your own, I found this clip on YouTube that looked EXACTLY like what happened in my kitchen today...right down the to bowl they used. Now you can experience flaming carrots without the fire hazard!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mr. Fix-it

If you know me, you know that I am a little crazy about my kids' sleep schedules. Consistency is key and one thing that has remained consistent in both Noah's, and now Millie's bedtime routine is Baby Tad. Baby Tad is a stuffed frog who plays 'nighty night' music and allows you to set how long it plays - up to six minutes. This thing has worked wonders on nights when the inevitable night waking occurs and although I don't like to get my kids 'hooked' on something I might need to break them of in the future, this guy has been the one exception. Well good 'ol Tad returned from Florida a changed froggie and not for the better. He no longer worked! Panick set in. Not only is it tough to find this particular model (I don't think they make it anymore), but our first night back, Millie woke up at 4:30am and I really could have used his help. So last night I took Tad to see 'Daddy, MD'. He performed a fairly quick, painless procedure to realign some wires that were out of place. Now Tad is happily singing his merry tunes again and everyone is sleeping through the night again.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Egg-cellent Easter!

Happy Easter to everyone! We just returned home after vacationing in Florida for the week (more on this in a future post), but we still had time to color eggs and await the arrival of the Easter Bunny. Noah was excited for his visit this year. He had a great time hunting for eggs while Millie watched and giggled. After he found all his eggs he kept asking where the Easter Bunny was. I told him he visited while we were sleeping and Noah's response..."That Easter Bunny, kinda sneaky!" Yes, he is!

Here are a few of the eggs we colored. I thought Noah would lose interest after decorating just a few, but he surprised me by saying..."Do more, Mommy, do more!" We colored 17 eggs with only a few casualties. Next year I will have to hard boil a boat load of them so Noah and Millie and Mommy all have enough to color. (Mommy had a little trouble at first giving her eggs to Noah to color after he quickly colored all his - so we worked together to decorate the rest and that made us both happy).

The flowers in the picture above were made with coffee filters. We folded them in half, then in half again, etc until they were as narrow as we could make them. Then we dipped them in the remaining dye, unfolded them and set them out to dry overnight. The next morning, we made them into pretty flowers by layering and twisting and holding them together with a pipe cleaner stem! I'm sure you could do this anytime of year using food coloring as well.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tree Update - Spring?

(I wanted to post this last weekend and completely forgot, but I still wanted to make sure it gets added)

I haven't done a Tree Update in quite some time, but you haven't missed much. It has been the same old, bare bones, brown tree for quite a few months now. For the past three for four weeks I have been taking quick peeks at it, keeping my fingers crossed hoping that maybe THIS will be the time I see the first signs of new Spring growth. Well Sunday there were some changes from the boring brown...
These were NOT the changes I had in mind! I guess you never know what to expect from Mother Nature sometimes. She loves to keep us guessing. The funny thing is that on Jan 10th, I posted this picture of the tree and 'couldn't stop looking at how pretty it was'. It is interesting how a few months and a couple 70 degree days just a few weeks ago can turn an average cold, snowy day even more bitter!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

All Aboard!

After a trip to Costco we always have plenty of large boxes on hand...what a great train they made and who knew this would keep the little ones busy for almost an hour!

Looks who's 'bringing up the tail!' Good dog, Bowman.