Monday, November 30, 2009

I Came Back!!

After a little over a week since having the teeth yanked (and I took a few days before hand to prep for it), I am back!!  Yay, right?  Lol.  Almost fully off the drugs (pain pills, people!), my head is finally in a clear enough state for me to write again.  That last post......... Totally don't remember actually writing it, much less posting.  Yikes!

So having wisdom teeth pulled sure does make you feel stupid for a while.  Thanks Mr. Oral Surgeon for contributing to that.  Honestly though, I was out of it for at least a week.  Trying to remember what events occurred is next to impossible.  Including my going to work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Did everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving?  Lots of turkey, mashed potatoes, and PIE??? Mmmm, pie!  My favorite dish of Thanksgiving is the cranberry sauce.  Yummmmmmy!

Whelp, I have a couple things coming up here.  Couple videos of the monster children, and I *need* to get my Monday Mingle done.  With that said, I'm off!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Wisdom Teeth Yanking...

Yep, it happened.  Had three of them yanked out.  I am officialy wisdom-free (feel free to laugh, i don't feel very smart today).  The last 48 (or is it 72 now?) hours of my life are a complete haze.  They have me on antibiotics, Percocet, and Motrin.   Yes, this mamma has been feeling NOTHING since having the surgery.

They also gave me sedatives prior to surgery because I am deathly afraid of the dentist.  Apparently, I was extremely friendly Wednesday morning.  Dr. Surgeon (who knows what his name was) said I was a model patient.  Oh how lovely.   Sedatives are a great thing!   Wish I could have them EVERYTIME I go to the dentist.

You will have to excuse any rambling or non-sense that comes out here. 

Do you think, by the way, it's normal to still have numbness?  My lower lip and chin are still pretty numb.  That freaks me out just a little bit.  I can't stand to have it touched, because it feels so weird! 

Also, I am so thankful for my insurance.  That was over $1,000 worth of procedures that I paid $95 for!

Anyways, thought I'd let everyone know I'm alive!  Back to sleeeep!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm Thinking of Her Today....

Today is a really really down day for me.  I haven't been able to completely put my finger on why I feel like crud-ola, but I do know that I'm thinking of my friend today.

She passed away when I was only 10, but I feel her with me everyday.  I wrote a post a while back which you can find here, in my old blog.  We aren't even approaching her birthday or anniversary.  Perhaps it's just thanks to the holiday season.

Yeah, I'm really thinking of ones lost today.  :(

All About Electricity and Outages (Part 2)

Disaster always seems to strike at the wrong time.  Or maybe that's why it is a disaster.  I mean, who wants to really sit in their house, dead of winter, with no electricity and no heat?  I sure don't.  Neither do the thousands of customers that are affected by a winter storm.

This is why PGE works around the clock during a large outage to get power restored as soon as possible!! We have crews out in the field, working 12-14 hour shifts, fixing lines, removing debris, and replacing poles.  Meanwhile,  there are representatives in the call center taking calls around the clock, also working 12 hour shifts.  It doesn't matter the time of day, or the year for that matter.

All of that being said, here are some helpful hints as the winter season approaches, and the chances of losing your power for hours (or even days) increases:

  • Make an outage kit!!  This should include a flashlight with extra batteries, a battery-powered radio (so you can get updates), a battery-powered alarm clock, bottled water, canned food (enough for a few days), manual can opener, blankets, candles, a lighter, and a first-aid kid.
  • Make sure you have cash on you!! You never know what the extent of any winter storm will be, and you may not have access to an ATM or bank.
  • Stay calm!!
  • If there as anyone in the home that needs electricity to live, consider a generator.  Most electric companies don't put a house on high priority because there is a medical condition.  (This may seem harsh, but in a large outage, there are lines and trees down and safety is #1)
  • If you see a line along the road, in the yard, or anywhere else, make sure no one goes near it!! The chances are it isn't a "live wire" but you should always assume it is.  Power lines are EXTREMELY dangerous!!  Call your electric company to report any lines or poles that are down. 
  • Check on neighbors and the elderly to make sure they are handling the outage okay.
  • Turn off all your breakers except one that is labeled for the lights.  The last thing you want is a surge in electricity when the power is restored, possibly causing damage to appliances.

You can find these tips and more on the Safety & Outages portion of PGE's website, or at American Red Cross.

While I sometimes don't have all the answers, I have many resources to get the answers I need.  With that, I leave you with the open invitation to email me with any questions you have at JAKA(dot)files(at)yahoo(dot)com.  I will be more than happy to answer questions and/or find the answers.

All About Electricity and Savings (Part 1)

As some of you know (and some don't), I work for the electric company in Portland, Oregon.  While PGE is a great company to work for (most of the time), the winter season is always the hardest.  Between the holidays and the rising costs of electric bills due to heating costs, it can be frustrating for both customers and the representatives answering calls.

Each year, PGE gives all customer services representatives a "refresher" course on "high bill training."  We go over a TON of material to help us in answering inquiries from customers in regards to higher bills in the winter.  That's what I will be focusing on in this post.  Tips on things you can do around your home to make sure you are getting the most for your dollar.

On average, a household's breakdown of their electric bill is: 60% to heating and cooling, 20% to heating water, and 20% for everything else.  This is assuming they live in an all electric home (no gas).  Ultimately, if your bill is $100, $60 of that goes to heating and cooling, $20 to heating water, and $20 to everything else.

So how do I reduce my electric bill?  Well, there are many ways.  You can visit PGE's website, and we have an Efficiancy section of the website.   Check out this calculator where you can manually figure out what each appliance is costing you per hour, per day, or even per month!  I use this talking to customers ALL THE TIME!

Here are my quick suggestions (which I have learned from PGE's training):
  • Cover your pipes!!  Cover the pipes used for hot water to keep the heat in.  Use covers for the cold pipes to avoid the water freezing.  You can buy pipe covering (like the picture on the right) at your local Lowe's, Home Depot or other home hardware store in your area.
  • Cover your windows with plastic.  Really.  This helps to keep the heat in, and the cold out.
  • Shut doors to rooms you aren't using.  Leaving doors open will cause drafts in your home.
  • Let the sun shine!!  If, by a miracle, the sun comes out, open your drapes or blinds!  The sun is a great, free, way to warm up your home.  Plus, you can turn off lights, and save more!  Double whamey. :)
  • Make sure your water heater is working properly!! The number one reason that people have increased bills in a short period of time is a malfunctioning water heater. 
    • Check for leaks.  There are three places the water heater can leak from:
      • At the water heater itself.  Check for water surrounding your tank.
      • Leaky faucets in the home.  Make sure there is no drippy, leaky faucets.
      • Under the house.  While it sounds like no fun to do so, you should check for leaky pipes under your house a couple times of year. 
    • Check the temperature of the hot water coming out of the faucet.  You should set your water in the kitchen or bathroom on hot, and fill a glass.  Using a thermometer, check the temperature.  Compare that to the setting on your water heater.  The recommended temperature setting for any water heater is 120 degrees F.
    • Flush your water heater at least once a year.  This is something I JUST learned, and was absolutely horrified to learn you are suppose to do this.  For a how-to on this, check Wiki's step-by-step guide.  Can you believe there is gunk at the bottom of your water heater? EWW!!!
    • Heating elements in the water heater don't last forever.  Wiki's How To can walk you through how to test to make sure your heating elements are in working order.  The easiest way to tell if one of them is malfunctioning, or needs to be replaced, is if you seem to run out of hot water faster than normal.  Having no hot water could mean both are out.
  • Turn off the lights you are not using!
  • A full freezer uses less electricity than one that is not.  Since the freezer will have less empty space to freeze and more food to freeze, the temperature will stay at a lower temperature consistently.

Random facts and things you may not know:
  • Most appliances that are plugged in use electricity.  Anything with a little light (microwave w/ digital display, phone chargers, alarm clocks, and yes, even the PS2!) drains electricity.  It may be a little bit, but that could add up to dollars a year!!
  • You will stay warmer if your house is arranged correctly.  Keep your furniture where you sit and sleep on inside walls.  Outside walls and hallways tend to be drafty.
  • If you have baseboard heating, check your thermostats!!  Most of them don't have an "off" switch, only a "low" setting.  This means your heat can come on, even if you are on "low" if the temperature in your house gets below whatever "low" means.  It is very inefficient.  I have baseboard heating in my house, and the heat gets shut off at the breakers most of the year to avoid unwanted heat. 
  • Older style thermostats are extremely inefficient. It may say that you are heating to 65, but the reality is, it could be 60 or 75!  Home Depot has a great device that measures the temperature inside your home, but you can find them just about anywhere starting at $10!

Oh my goodness, I could go on and on with energy savings tips.  I really had to force myself to stop.  Hehe!

While I sometimes don't have all the answers, I have many resources to get the answers I need. With that, I leave you with the open invitation to email me with any questions you have at JAKA(dot)files(at)yahoo(dot)com. I will be more than happy to answer questions and/or find the answers.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Konnor Says Welcome!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ariana Feeds Herself!!!

So Ariana grabbed the spoon and proceeded to feed herself.  Going along with it, you can imagine the bath she needed after all was said and done.

Tuesday Woes.... Monday Mingle Dilema! HELP!!

I am overly sleepy today.  The dizziness that I have been experiencing the last few days (almost a week now) has me so exhausted I can't explain it.  So here I am, home sick, with absolutely NO creative juices flowing.  There are plently of things I could be working on, and SHOULD be, but sheesh!  Too tired.

Poor little Ariana has a cold, too.  So I kept her from daycare today.  Her little nose is all stuffed up and runny (yes, both at the same time. lol).  Not to mention you can hear the congestion in her poor breathing and when she coughs, it breaks my heart!  Cranky baby is her nickname today.

So I just remembered something.... Next Wednesday I am having 3 of my wisdom teeth removed.  Two of the three are beneath the gum line, while the third is barely sticking out.  So, yes, I will do next week's Monday Mingle, but there is no guarantee on the following.  Maybe i can mime that mingle. Haha!

Anyone have any other ideas for November 23rd's Monday Mingle?  Justin won't do it, i don't think.  Let me know!! I'm down for suggestions!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's Monday!!! Time To Mingle!!

Goooooood Monday to everyone!! I actually have been looking forward to Monday's for the last couple weeks.  Jennifer at Eighty MPH Mom hosts Monday Mingle every single week.  I'll admit I only stalked MM for a few weeks before I decided to put myself out there.  I'm so glad I did, too! It's a blast!

So, if you are a MM stalker, go ahead and try it!  It truly is a little bit (ok a LOT) addicting.

On that note, it appears my sound/video is off.  Also, I'm sick so no making fun of my sniffles or how flippin pale I am! Haha!  Or the fact that I, apparently, didn't introduce myself. LMAO!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I Managed...

Somehow, I managed to follow my own blog.

I guess this goes to show that I should NOT be doing blog stuff at 4:30 in the morning while sick. HAHA!

On another note, my email button is in fine working order! Woot!  The Twitter button?  Not so much.  Grrr!! While figuring out all this blog stuff isn't THAT difficult, that darn Twitter button is driving me INSANE!  And, yes, I did just shamelessly link my Twitter to this post. Lol!

Perhaps I should go back to bed now? Ugh!

By the way, is it just me or is there no way to spell check on blogger?

Okay, good-night!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lamaze - Toys For Babies

Ariana has had one toy, Mr. Spider as we call it, for a couple months now.  Something about this toy keeps her attention, and she LOVES it! 

My little cutie-bug was absolutely distraught over goodness knows what last night, so I handed her the spider.  Immediately, whatever her deepest worry was, was forgotten.  She put that spider right into her mouth.  It was in that moment that I looked at Justin and asked him, "What would we do without that spider?  What if we ever lost it?"  These thoughts had passed through my head before, but it was then and there that I realized just what this spider was to her.

He had no answer, just a panicked look in his eye.  I immediately hopped on the computer and found Genius Babies, who sells a wide variety of baby toys, including the most popular Lamaze toys.  While we didn't find any of Buzz the Bug (which is what I found it's called), they have a ton of other great toys for Ariana's age.  At her stage, it's hard to find toys that will keep her attention as well as toys that are safe. 

Everything is in her mouth at this point, so I am constantly worrying about parts coming off in her mouth and her choking.  What mother isn't, right?  After some more digging, I did find our spider friend for sale at Toys R' Us.  $12.99 is definitely well-worth it.  Buzz's wings make crunchy noises, while each of the objects hanging from his feet do different things.  Ariana's favorite is when i squish the object that squeaks.  She will giggle and giggle - which, in turn, amuses mommy as well.  The rings on the end of one of Buzz's feet go into her mouth, and all around, he is very easy for her to hold onto.

I am currently awaiting approval from the man of the house to expand Ariana's Lamaze toys, in hopes she will find something that will give her even half the joy that Buzz the Bug does.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Chose This Life...

I was recently asked an absolutely outlandish question by someone I considered to be a friend.  Some may not feel this question is so out of line, but it took me by surprise.

A friend asked me if I would ever give my kids up for adoption in turn for the life of partying that I used to have.  If i regretted my children or the choices in my life.

Perhaps this question was asked because she, herself, has a two year-old.  And maybe she, since she broke up with his father, is questioning whether keeping her child was the right route to take.  Lately, she has been (excuse my language) "whoring around" and partying like we did when we were in high school. 

I was not a good teenager.  Haha.  I think most of my mother's gray hairs were thanks to me and my crazy days.  Me and this friend used to party a lot, though we never got into any trouble with the law.  Probably should have, but we got lucky.

When I got pregnant with Konnor, of course I stopped everything.  The smoking, the drinking, the parties, and even hanging out with most of those people.  It was all different for me.  From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I went into "mommy mode." No questions asked, that's just where I knew I needed to be.  All my life I wanted to be a mom.  Taking care of my younger siblings growing up gave me a lot of the wisdom and strength in mommyhood that I have.

Anyways, back on topic here.  Without hesitation, my answer to her was "no."  I don't feel that you should live life with regrets.  You take everything that is throw at you, good or bad, and you grow from it.  Learn from the mistakes you make, cherish the good times, brush off the bad.  Don't let your past come back and bring you down.  Everything happens for a reason, and that is a quote that I have come to live by.

I know that if I wouldn't have been stupid and done crazy dumb things when I was younger, I wouldn't have my children.  I would have never met Justin.  Who knows where I would be and what I would be doing, but I know that I wouldn't be where I am.  Who cares what my life would have been like if I would have done this or that differently.  Living my life the way I wanted to has brought me where I am today.  I can honestly say that I am happy.  We may not have a ton of money, but we are living.  The kids may not have or get everything they want, but if they did, they would be spoiled. 

Growing up in a family without a lot of money, I can comprehend the value of a dollar.  I can make that dollar stretch.  Not everyone can say that.  That's okay with me.  Every decision that I have ever made, I can stand by.  I may not be proud of all of them, but they were my own, and I can embrace that ownership.

Okay, rant over.

Parent's Choice Formula - A Life (and money) Saver!

As a mommy with a newborn and a toddler, I really want what is best for my children.  From the clothes to the toys to the food.  We all know in this economy, the best isn't really always within reach of our budgets.  Mine, especially.  I work full-time, as does Justin, but we are barely scraping by.

I always wanted to breastfeed my children.  It was a dream, a goal, something to look forward to.  With Konnor, I endured 6 weeks of pain and agony trying to breastfeed.  My nipples were simply too big and his mouth too small.  Sure, we tried nipple shields, but that didn't work.  I could never afford a decent pump, so pumping was out of the question as well.  At the time, I was 19 and working at Taco Bell, still living with my mom. 

After those 6 weeks, I gave up.  Feeling defeated and depressed, I went in search of formula.  $25 a can is going to kill me, I remember thinking bitterly on my drive to the store.  At Wal-Mart, I probably read labels for an hour.  When I first saw the Wal-Mart brand formula, Parent's Choice, I didn't even consider it.  But as I read the label, and compared it to that of Similac, I realized there wasn't much difference.

That day, I bought Konnor Parent's Choice Milk-Based Infant Formula w/ Iron.  He loved it!  It was so easy for him to digest, and we never had any problems.  I loved it so much, that when my best friend had her baby, and was unable to breastfeed, I gave her a can to try, and she became hooked as well. 

When I had Ariana, I was determined to give breastfeeding a second shot.  I was prepped and stoked when she was born.  Unfortunately, it didn't even take a week for me to come to the conclusion that we weren't getting anywhere.  Having the same problems as before, I gave up the hope of breastfeeding.  I wasn't as bogged down by it as I was with Konnor, because I knew we had alternatives.  I knew it would be okay that I wasn't meant to breastfeed.

So, again, I made the trip to Wal-Mart.  Ariana started out with the same formula Konnor did.  We noticed she was very fussy and gassy, so we tried Parent's Choice Milk-Based Gentle Formula.  It was suppose to help with the fussiness and the gas.  We gradually moved her over to that formula, but noticed even though it helped, it hadn't solved the problem.  Ariana just has a very sensitive tummy.

A lot of people were telling us we needed to go to soy formula.  Especially my grandma.  I wasn't really ready to try soy, though, and Wal-Mart still had another option.  So we gradually switched her over to Parent's Choice Lactose-Free Sensitive Infant Formula.  We figured if she had problems digesting the lactose (which many babies do) this could be our solution without going to soy.

It worked!  This is what I love about Parent's Choice.  We had options.  One type of formula wasn't working, so we tried another.  And, if we needed it, they offer Organic Formula and even Soy Formula. Not to mention it's about 40% cheaper than the name-brand formulas, but with almost the same nutrition.  We go through about a can of formula a week.  At $15 a can, that adds up FAST!  I couldn't imagine paying the $25 a can - I would go broke!

Want to sample Parent's Choice Formula? Wal-Mart is giving away free samples of Parent's Choice Gentle Formula.  Just follow the link, fill out the form, and they will send you a free sample!  Pretty awesome stuff, and just one more reason why I LOVE Wal-Mart!

5 Months Later...

June 5th, 2009 was a beautiful, and extremely tiring, day.  Ariana was born at 7:03 PM, weighing in at 8lbs 2oz, and 19 1/2 inches long.  From the moment they put her on me (all gooey and yucky) it was love.  After 9 months of migraines and being uncomfortable, I finally had my little girl.

5 months later, I can hardly believe it was only that long ago that she came to this world.  I guess that's because her and I bonded long before she was born.  A bond only a mother and her baby can possess.  I feel like I know everything about her, yet nothing at all.

She is constantly changing on me.  From her attitude to her sleep schedule, it doesn't seem to stay the same for long.  However, we have adjusted.  Mommy knows now to expect to wake up at least once, and sometimes up to three times a night.  Daddy knows, too, that babies work is mysterious ways.

Ariana babbles - constantly telling us what is on her mind.  If only we knew what she was saying!  She can go from being sad and cranky to cracking smiles and giggling in a split second.  Grabbing toys and shoving them in her mouth, she finds EVERYTHING fascinating.  Her swing and spider seem to have become her best friends.  

She doesn't let us hold her to eat anymore, as she almost has holding her own bottle down to an art.  Sleeping at night now consists of laying her in her bed and turning off the light instead of laying on or beside mommy.

Little Miss Independent is what my baby has become.  Sitting up and playing in her activity center, grabbing her toes (and almost getting them into her mouth), and being more vocal are all new tricks Ariana has learned in the past month-ish.  We even think she is teething, although none have broken through yet.

Since I found my video camera and all the little things I need to make it operate (oh yeah, like the charger - that's handy) I have made a commitment to myself to record a little more.  Trying to remember Konnor at her age is hard.  I have a few videos, which I am SOOO thankful for, but not enough.  So with Ariana, I am really trying!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Halloween Style

I'll never finish my Halloween post, so here's a pic of my kiddos. HA!

Check out
2 Of A Kind, J. Leigh Designs, and Kristin for more Wordless Wednesdays!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Faces I Love!!

Ariana has so many faces! Her expressions are constantly changing, i can't keep up with her! Here are some of my favorite baby faces to date! Well, in the last few months anyways.  The quality sucks since I was in a hurry as well as at work (shh! Don't tell).

Might Be Talking to CPS Soon......


So first thing is first. I iron my hair to straighten it. I use a clothes iron because, well, I can, I guess. It's much better and a heck of a lot faster than using a flat iron, or whatever they are called. Anyways, that's what I use. No making fun!

Well, last week I was ironing my hair, like always, no big deal. Konnor comes up, asking what I'm doing. I tell him that the iron is hot and not to touch. I am ironing the underneath so I can't see what is going on behind me, where he is.

Next thing I know, I put the iron down'ish, and I know it's his hand as soon as I felt the iron touch something. It touches him for a MILLISECOND, but that millisecond was enough to leave a mark. He didn't cry or even make a peep. It never bothered him - he didn't say a THING about it. I put burn cream on it and that was that.

Well, fast forward to today. Preschool day. It's 11:30am, his dismissal time. I, unfortunately, am at work, and his father is picking him up. I get a call from him, and I'm thinking "great, the flake isn't getting him." I wish that were the case!

No, apparently his teacher saw the burn, and asked Konnor about it. He said something about "mommy" and then "Thomas the Train," which apparently wasn't a satisfactory answer for them (wonder why-lol). So they proceeded to ask his father, and his babysitter when she came to get her daughter.

Here I am, suppose to be working, but am having to answer questions from Konnor's dad. Finally get off the phone with him, and I have a text from his babysitter. Lovely. So I call her, tell her the story, etc etc.

I am FREAKING out that the preschool thinks this was intentional, and plans to call CPS on me. That is the LAST thing that I want to deal with right now, is CPS up in my business. I would NEVER EVER think about hurting my kids!!!

Gah!!! I don't know what to do. :(

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Mingle... My First!!!!

So today is my very first Monday Mingle!! I'm sooo excited!! Every week, 80 MPH Mom hosts Monday Mingle.  Tons of fun!! So here it is, my first ever Monday Mingle!!