Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Virus, virus go away. Come back....never

Not for us. For our computer! We are just recovering from a very nasty virus on our computer. Scott finally had to completely clear out everything on the computer and start over. Thankfully we were able to get our pictures onto disks before he did it. And we were blessed to even be able to do that. The virus let us do everything once and then, after "seeing" what we were doing, wouldn't let us do it again. I prayed good and hard after Scott was only able to download the first bunch of pictures onto a disk (which didn't include any of the pictures of Libby and Hudson) and none of the others. Thank God! Scott was finally able to get all of the others. I was absolutely sick with the thought that we would lose all of those pictures! Libby's first and second years. Hudson's birth and first 7 months. Well, thankfully we have them all. Now we are just trying to build everything back up (we also lost our whole favorites folder).

The virus was "Antivirus 2009". First, our computer started moving really slowly for a few days. Then these pop-ups started coming out of the blue (some really bad and gross ones, too). We would just be sitting there and they would come up, without us even clicking on anything. Once, when no one was even at the computer, 15 of them came up! Then after about a day and a half of that, something popped up that said, "Your computer may be at risk. Download Antivirus 2009 to scan for possible infections." And then it gave possible "symptoms" (erratic PC behavior, advertisement pop-ups, etc.) that matched what our computer was doing. Without thinking further (we just wanted to fix it!), we downloaded it. What it does is it "scans" the computer and says there are multiple infections, and then says you have to pay $50 to buy it so it can get rid of the infections. Thank God Scott thought it was fishy before he paid the money. We would have empty bank accounts now if he had gone through with it. But then it was impossible to get rid of it. He tried multiple virus protectors, and even went out to buy one (because the virus wouldn't let him download the free ones from online). Everything was able to scan and tell us that there was a virus, but nothing could get rid of it. But finally it is gone. The thing is that we had virus protection before, so we don't know how we got it in the first place.

So, be careful! If you see anything about Antivirus 2009, don't even click anywhere on the screen (even to exit out of it). A guy at a computer store said that as soon as you even click on the page you get it.

Oy, what a week. So, how has yours been?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just to make you smile

Just for your enjoyment.

Yesterday, after Libby woke up from her nap she was playing with some loose change in my bag from some morning errands. I asked her if she wanted to put the change in our change drawer, to which she said yes. After a few minutes, she came to me with a handful of change and asked if she could put it in her pocket. She was just wearing a diaper (for nap) at the time, and when I told her she could, she wandered into the bathroom where her panties and shorts were. After another few minutes, she came out, and this is what I found.

Diaper still on, then panties, then shorts. She did this all by herself. Normally she takes her diaper off first, but apparently not this time. Oh, and her back pocket was heavy with change.

Do you have any funny stories to share?

A walk (and ride) to a farm

There are a lot of things that I want to catch up on, so I'll try to get to them one at a time. The other day we went out to my parent's house and walked a little way to a farm near there. We left Hudson with Mamaw and Papaw, tied Libby onto Scott's back, and off we went.
While taking pictures, I had to capture Libby's great artwork. She is her own favorite slate.
We were disappointed that most of the animals were in the barn and out of the sun, but there were a few horses out, including this colt (the white one in the middle). We tried to feed them some grass, but they were having none of it.

Then we got back to Mamaw and Papaw's house and Libby explored for a little bit. She found this dandelion, which she had to blow.

Good summertime fun! More to come, including that day in the park that I promised to you back when I talked about my town, and a trip to Rolling Ridge Ranch.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Menu Planning

This has been a few weeks coming (sorry Judy!). We were talking at our last La Leche League meeting about saving money and meal planning, and I shared my new inspiration. I promised to share it with them, but then I got sidetracked.

Thanks to simple mom, I rediscovered meal planning. Back before I began having babies, I was very efficient about planning meals 2 to 4 weeks at a time. It saved a bundle of money, and reduced eating out to almost nil. Then babies came, and my patience for meal planning began to wane. I ran out of new ideas for meals, and we got tired of the same thing over and over. So, we began to eat out more and more, mostly to keep from starving to death (in reality, we ate out maybe twice a week). Finally, I had enough when a few weeks ago we were out at the chiropractor's office and Libby said, "Mama, I'm hungry. I wan Taco Bell." I decided that my family needed me to feed them nutritious, homemade meals again and I needed to figure out how I was going to do that. Then, that day or the next, I came across simple mom's meal planning idea. It is a novel idea, but of course I need someone else to think of it for me. Basically, she has a theme for each day of the week. Brilliant!

Go and check out her plan, and I will also share mine here.

  • Monday: Croc*Pot/Soup
  • Tuesday: Pasta
  • Wednesday: Mexican
  • Thursday: Casserole/Stir-fry
  • Friday: Homemade pizza
  • Saturday: Something easy
  • Sunday: Mamaw & Papaw's (dinner at grandparent's house)
By following this rotating theme idea, it was so much easier for me to think, "okay, what pasta do I want to make Tuesday?" instead of, "what in the world can we have Tuesday?" I was actually able to sit down and plan for 4 weeks and fill in all the days in no time at all! Here is what I have planned for the next 2 weeks.

Monday, Aug. 18: Chicken tortilla soup
Tuesday, Aug 19: Lasagna toss, salad
Wednesday, Aug 20: Taco salad
Thursday, Aug 21: Mexican bean and corn casserole (from this book)
Friday, Aug 22: Homemade pizza, and Blueberry cheesecake cupcakes
Saturday, Aug. 23: Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Monday, Aug. 25: Croc*Pot chicken stew
Tuesday, Aug. 26: Olive Garden fetticuni alfredo (from a restaurant's secret recipes list that I have)
Wednesday, Aug 27: Chicken fajitas, beans, rice
Thursday, Aug. 28: General Tsao's chicken (with lots of veggies and rice)
Friday, Aug. 29: Homemade pizza, strawberry peach crisp
Saturday, Aug. 30: Chicken fingers, salad

The nice thing about this is that you can adjust it to your own family's taste. Scott doesn't like soup so much, so I have it on Mondays when he is out of town for work. I don't like casseroles so much, but Scott loves them, so I alternate between casserole and stir-fry each week. I can proudly say that we have not eaten at a restaurant in over a week (how sad is that). And the only reason we did eat out is because we had family in and ate after church before they went back home. It is so nice to know where our food comes from. And, we are saving lots of money. So, I hope this helps someone else to have a much easier time figuring out what to make for their family. I know it has for me.
What about you? Do you have any creative and fresh ideas when it comes to meal planning? Has this given you a renewed determination? If so, share it with us in the comments section.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


After a brief hiatus, I am back. I appologize that I have not posted anything new for over a week. This has been a week of many things, for me and my family. It has been a week of filling up the love tank of my little girl by saying, "Yes, sweetheart" when she asks if I can play with her (instead of doing other things, like blogging). A week of discussions about how we can take a step back as a family and rediscover living naturally, both as a way of saving money and taking ourselves out of the fast paced life of a take-all-give-nothing consumer. It has also been a week of amazing weather, beckoning Libby to come outside and play with the neighbor boys, and demanding that we leave the windows open. And finally, it has been a last several days of sinus infections as a result of open windows and chilly nights. But, now here I am. I have lots to post about, but I will begin with these.

Here is Libby, almost 2 years ago at 6 months old.

And here is Hudson, a few days ago and almost at the end of his 6th month (already!!). There were a lot of pictures, and I may post some more because I love them so much, but these were the ones I liked a lot.

Oh, the wonderful itchy scratchiness of grass!
And check out that belly hanging over his dipe!

A quick stolen kiss from someone who loves him almost as much as mama does.

And a peek and a smile from underneath the thing he loves almost as much as he loves mama.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pumpkin butter

YUMMY!! I finally harvested my only surviving pumpkin. My good friend Leslie had emailed me a recipe for pumpkin butter, and I had to try it out. My-oh-my. If you like spiced pumpkin, you absolutely have to try this. I have not gotten good at taking pictures as I go along, so I only have a few. Here is the pumpkin before it went into the oven. I wiped off the outside with a wet cloth, and the baked it in the oven at 300 degrees for an hour or so. When it is done, you should be able to puncture it with a fork like you do potatos. You will want to bake it on some kind of pan, because it gets really soft. Then you let it cool. I actually left mine in the refrigerator just like that overnight until I could process it the next day. When it is cool enough to handle, cut it open and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Cut it into chucks and peel the outside off with a knife.

Once you have it all chunked up, put it in a food processor and puree the heck out of it. Add water a little at a time if you need to. It will be a nice smooth consistency. You will probably have to do several batches of this to get all of your pumpkin done. Once it is all pureed up, you add the spices. You will want to add them all to your taste. I will give general amounts, you can add more or less. Here you go:

6 to 19 cups homemade pumpkin

1 - 1 & 1/2 cups sugar

3 - 4 teaspoons cinnamon

1 - 3 teaspoons nutmeg

1 - 2 teaspoons clover and ginger

1 & 1/2 teaspoons allspice

water to desired consistency

Now, here's what I did. I only had 4 cups of puree, so I didn't use as much spice as the recipe calls for. I didn't use any allspice, because I don't have any, but I used all of the other spices. I can't remember the amounts I used, though. You pretty much can't mess it up unless you go overboard on the spice, but then you can always add more sugar=) Do be careful that when you are done with this part, it is watery enough but not too watery. I added too much, and mine is runny. Now, put all of this in a crock pot, and cook it until it reaches the consistency you like, all day or all night. Eat some of it warm (it's delectable, I'm telling you), and put the rest in the fridge.
I had a picture of what I ended up with, but I just deleated it, so there goes that. I had 4 smallish jars. I have one in the fridge, and I put the rest in the freezer when they cooled.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My poor little girl

Libby wanted to wear this Ohio State dress to church on Sunday, so I took a few pictures, thinking about possibly posting something about football season coming up. Well, I am glad that I did, because now I look at them and realize that they are the last pictures I took of her with all of her beautiful teeth. She knocked one of them out Sunday afternoon! Oh, it was terrible. She was climbing up the side of the recliner I was sitting on (which she's not supposed to do, mind you), and I leaned forward to get something (I think Hudson's binky had fallen) and she fell forward and hit her face on the end table and completely knocked her tooth out. We have been to the dentist, who said that everything else is alright, nothing else is broken, the whole tooth came clean out, and she will probably just have a hole in her mouth until she is 7. I mourn that tooth for her. She is doing great. I loaded her up with arnica for a few hours when it happened, and then chamomilla before bed and before we went to the dentist on Monday. I can't believe how well she did at the dentist. She hasn't been to a doctor since she was a year old, so the only doctor she knows is our chiropractor=) She sat on my lap and opened her mouth like such a big girl. I'm sure the chamomilla helped. Now she talks and eats like nothing ever happened, though she puts her tongue up there all of the time. So, life has returned to normal for us, though she will not look like this again for many years...
Now she looks like this. Still absolutely adorable.

Oh, a mama's poor heart.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I love my city

If you have never been to Marietta, Ohio before, I suggest you come to visit. It is beautiful, historic, comfortable, family friendly, and did I mention beautiful? Scott and I took our babies for an afternoon and evening having fun outside, and it just made me remember why I love this place. The storefront-lined streets beckon you, and the rivers that line the town will entrance you (just don't swim in them, or you'll grow a third arm). This is a place where people live because they want to. Where at any time of day you will see people walking along looking in stores; or running, walking, or biking along the bike trail and through the park. Where you can go and have a picnic at the gazebo and watch the squirrels run. Where you complain about the intense humidity of a river town, but know you love living here anyway. This is not a hot spot beachy ocean town. It is not a lake town with multiple canals and river-front multi-million dollar houses lining them. It is a historic, river lined, sleepy cozy friendly town. Here was our fun time in pictures. First, if you look past the big cars, you can see a small snippet of the store fronts that line the streets.

After playing in the park (which I will post pictures of later, in order to keep this post semi-short), we came downtown to walk around. Libby couldn't resist playing in the fountain, trying to touch the water. Inevitable, every summer, someone will put soap in this fountain and it will overflow with bubbles.

Next, we went down to the water to get a closer look at the geese. Libby has a love-hate relationship with those things. She got as close as she was comfortable with, and didn't go any further.

There is something about watching the water that is so relaxing. There is almost always a person or two sitting down here, just watching the boats and birds on the water.

When we were ready to eat, we ordered a couple of burgers from a new little bar and grill on the river. Libby decided to sit in the grass while we waited for out food. Once we sat down and started eating, the birds came and hounded up for scraps. I couldn't believe how bold these little guys were! They even snuck up under the bench we were sitting at and got a fry or two that had fallen.

Just as we were finishing up with our food, a couple came up in full Scottish garb and starting playing music. The guy was wonderful with the bagpipes, and the lady did alright with the drum. It seemed that she was more interested in swinging her sticks around than keeping a beat. Still it was nice to listen to, and immediately drew a crowd. But, the very best part, and the part that made Scott say, "Boy, this is quite a town.", was right before we left. A muslim looking family (I don't know their exact origin, but they looked Muslim) came up to listen to the music. One of the guys went up and stood in between the kilt wearers and had another guy in his family take a picture. We had a chuckle as I snapped a quick shot and we headed back to our car. I love this place!

What about you? Tell me what you love about where you live.