Saturday, March 29, 2008

Weekend Guests

Aunt Nancy and Uncle Andrew came out from Illinois this week and brought Sammy up to spend the weekend with us. Lilypad Princess is in love, she hasn't left Sammy's side since they got here. Today we met Kristen, Doug and Connor for lunch. The kids colored and played and ate, then when we were all done we went down to the little pond to feed the ducks. Our last stop was at a little candy store where LP and Connor got HUGE lollipops, I'm dreading the sticky mess that is going to make!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

First Flowers of Spring

First Flowers of Spring

While Lilypad Princess was out playing Easter Sunday she discovered the first flowers of spring in our yard. There are some delicate little white ones, and these beautiful little purple ones popping up all over the yard. Lilypad Princess ran from one flower to the other, checking out each one.

I love seeing these first hints of color in an otherwise still brown, dead-looking yard. It is the first sign that life is coming back, and the yard will soon be full of bright, beautiful colors.

Easter First Flowers of Spring

Easter with Friends

Friends

This year with our family too far away, we didn't have our usual big, family Easter dinner. Lilypad Dad had to work, so it was just Lilypad Princess and I for the day. But we are very lucky, and have some wonderful friends around us. Munchkinetta and her parents invited Lilypad Princess and I over for dinner with them. LP desperately needed a good nap, so we didn't go for dinner, but went over for dessert and playtime.

Big Hugs

Munchkinetta has such a sweet family, they are all so warm, friendly, and welcoming. I felt right at home with them and enjoyed some yummy pistachio cake, port wine, tea and conversation. Lilypad Princess skipped the desserts entirely and went right to cooking her own meal in Munchkinetta's kitchen (I am still very jealous of this kitchen).

Goodnight

LP and Munchkinetta spent the evening playing dress up, piano, Little People and cooking. There were lots of hugs going around and at the end of the night, two tired little girls in their pajamas wanted to have a sleepover in the dress-up trunk.

Easter Day

Easter

After the egg hunt was over, Lilypad Dad headed back to bed and Lilypad Princess and I had breakfast together. Then it was time to get ready to go to church. She was very excited to wear her beautiful dress from Nannie and Grandpa. She was even willing to smile and show it off for the camera!

Easter

After church was over, Lilypad Princess and I decided to try out her new Easter bubbles in the backyard for a while since it was a beautiful day out.

Easter

Just like her Auntie La, Lilypad Princess can't be outside for 5 minutes without getting dirty. Here she is showing me her dirty knees. Then it was time to head inside for a nice nap.

Easter

Easter Morning

Easter Morning Egg Hunt

Easter morning, Lilypad Princess called me from her crib about 8:00. She must have decided to give Lilypad Dad and me a little Easter gift by letting us sleep a little later. As soon as I walked in to get her, she asked me if the Easter Bunny was here. I guess she remembered what I was whispering as I put her to bed the night before.

Easter Morning Egg Hunt

We got Lilypad Dad up for a few minutes and all headed down stairs. The first thing LP saw was a basket with grass sitting on her little table waiting for her to fill. The Easter Bunny had come!

Easter Morning Egg Hunt

Instead of taking the basket around with her to fill, LP placed it on the table and ran around collecting eggs to bring back to the basket. She found all of the plastic eggs the Easter Bunny left, as well as the little presents from Nana and PopPop that the Easter Bunny had hidden and marked with yellow eggs. She stopped to open and play with each of the little gifts in between hunting, then when all the eggs were found, she checked out her Easter basket.

The Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt Disappointment

Saturday morning Lilypad Dad and I took Lilypad Princess to an Easter egg hunt in a neighboring town. We knew this was going to be a large one since it was well-publicized, but they had the hunt split by ages so we thought it would be a fun time for the little ones.

Everything started off great. It was a nice sunny day, even if a little chilly. As we pulled into the parking lot, we realized that Munchkinetta and her parents were in the car right in front of us. LP was thrilled to see Munchkinetta and got even happier when we realized Buby and Barefoot Princess and Barefoot Baby were there too.

While waiting for the hunt to start, Lilypad Princess went up on stage to get her picture taken with the other kids in bunny ears or costumes, then we found our friends again to wait...and wait and wait. Apparently the Easter Bunny got caught in the traffic jam to get into the parking lot and was late. All the kids were lined about around the hunt area and there was an occassional breakaway who couldn't take the anticipation anymore and would go running for the eggs. Finally the Bunny arrived (on a Harley) and suddenly the field was filled (guess we weren't in the right place to hear them yell go). And just like that, the eggs were gone. LP and here daddy ran right in, but there wasn't a single egg left. I wish I had thought to bring a couple with me in my pocket for her to "find". We weren't the only ones to not find an egg though, and someone took some that had been turned in and dumped them back out, so LP was able to pick up a couple before we left.

After the disappointment of the hunt, LP wanted to go in the big bouncehouse. But the house was filled with big kids who were being much too rough for a 2 year old, so we didn't let her go in. That was the end of the line for LP, who decided to let us know how disappointed she was in the whole day with a 2 year old temper tantrum. We said a quick goodbye to our friends and headed off to the car. LP cried the entire way, but everything was forgotten as soon as we stopped for a apple-cinnamon muffin on the way home.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Just Like Grandpa

Uncle Dave and Uncle Michael came over for dinner again tonight, bringing the already cooked meal with them. It's so nice having a yummy meal that I don't have to cook, and it's nice having company for dinner as well. It's good for Lilypad Princess to sit down at the dining room table with us for a meal, and she insists on having candles.

I wasn't sure if she was going to eat tonight's meal, Uncle Dave made roasted potatoes with rosemary, peas, and lamb chops broiled with veggies. LP is not a white potato person, so she ignored those, she tried a bite of the peas, but LOVED the lamb. She ate every bite on her plate, then asked for more. She is apparently just like her Grandpa, maybe she should have had his meal at the restaurant the other night.

Safe Kids


It's official, this June I will turn my carseat obsession into something more useful, I will take the course to become a certified child passenger safety technician. I have registered for the 4 day course, which includes class discussions and hands-on activities installing different kids of seats in different cars.

Car accidents are the number one killer of kids age 1-14. Child safety seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71% for infants, and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4 years. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to install correctly, and they are often not used correctly. In fact, one study found that 72% of nearly 3,500 observed child restraint systems were misused in a way that could be expected to increase a child’s risk of injury during a crash (NHTSA 2006c). I am really excited to get involved with SafeKids and help make a difference for kids.

Once I have my certification I will be happy to check anyones seat for them. In the meantime, if you aren't 100% comfortable with your seat installation, please go to a carseat check. You can find one near you by going to Seatcheck.org or the National CPS Certification site. For more information about seats and installation, you can check out Car-Safety.org. More information why rearfacing is safest and extended rear-facing can be found here and here.

Mortgages

I'm the first to admit that I'm not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to the economy and financial matters. Most of the time I kind of tune out when the news turns to economic topics. But even I have had to pay attention to the news about the economy lately.

One thing I have been wondering about is how the interest cuts might affect our mortgage. This is obviously our largest financial investment, and one that I pay close attention to. We have a 30 year fixed rate mortgage, but I wonder if these interest cuts will make it worth it to us to refinance.

I think next week I am going to look into the closing costs of refinancing, the current interest rates on mortgages and try to figure out whether or not it would be worth it to refinance at this point. One site I found that has easy to understand descriptions of the different types of Mortgages is MoneyMagic, a company in the UK.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs

Today Lilypad Princess, Lilypad Dad and I colored Easter eggs. This was LP's first time coloring eggs, and she had a great time. I hard-boiled a dozen eggs this morning, and after she finished them she wanted to do more. Here is the coloring session in photos.

Starting off by coloring on an egg with crayon
Coloring Easter Eggs

Dipping the eggs in the color
Coloring Easter Eggs

Picasso hard at work an another egg
Coloring Easter Eggs

She decided the fingers worked better than the spoon
Coloring Easter Eggs

The whole hand works even better than the fingers. Yes, her hand is a shade of blue.
Coloring Easter Eggs

Her very first Easter egg ever.
Easter Egg

Dinner, Delivered


The best thing about our house isn't actually anything inside of our house. It's not even in our yard, it is our neighbors next door. We didn't know when we looked at the house or even signed the contracts that by buying it we would be adding to our family.

Uncle Dave and Uncle Michael have become a part of our family, and are a daily part of LP's life. Uncle Dave stops by every morning and we always stop by their house on the way home from the Y. LP spends as much time playing in their backyard as she does in ours, Uncle Dave is always happy to babysit for LP, and they spoil LP as much as Grandpa and Nannie or Nana and PopPop.

Who else but family would be willing to just walk in and take over your kitchen, and who else would you be comfortable with taking over your kitchen? That's just what Dave did tonight. Earlier today he asked if we had plans for dinner already, and decided we'd all do dinner together. So tonight he walked in the door, headed to the kitchen and cooked us all dinner in my kitchen. LP got to play with her toys until dinner was ready, and I had a yummy dinner made for me. Dinner was Orange Roughy (not sure what it was cooked in, but it was delicious!), broccoli rabe with ginger, sweet potato, and salad. Everything was so good, Dave makes sure I never go hungry!

Lunch with Bobu and Uncle Mikey

lunch with bobu
Yesterday Lilypad Princess, Lilypad Dad, and I headed down to go to visit with Bobu and Uncle Mikey. We headed over to Chilis for a little lunch, where LP enjoyed some chicken, french fries (of course), mandarin oranges, and rice with veggies. Actually she enjoyed the chicken for dinner last night instead, since she didn't eat any of it for lunch.

It was a nice lunch, Lilypad Princess and I hadn't seen Bobu or Uncle Mikey in a while. And LP loved having the attention of all three guys and had lots to say to them.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lilypad Likes: Dragonstone Castle

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Lilypad Princess received her Christmas gift from her Aunt Christina today, Dragonstone Castle by Haba. It is the cutest soft "book" that can be opened up wide or formed into a box to make a castle. It also comes with a princess, knight, and dragon. The castle folds flat and all the pieces fit back into the plastic bag with a handle to take anywhere with you.

Lilypad Princess loves it, we spent a good portion of the afternoon flying the princess and knight around on the dragon's back, checking out all the features of the castle, and having everyone go in and out of the castle through the door.

Dragonstone Castle is actually a wonderful toy designed for babies age 6 months and up. The pieces are all soft and squeezable, the colors are all bright and fun, and each piece has things to discover and explore. The castle has a bird that can pop in and out, a caterpillar that slides along a rope, child-friendly mirrors, and crinkle paper. The knight squeaks and the caterpillar is a rattle. I think a baby would love this, and as LP's interest in it shows, would get lots of play out of it for years.

I have found it on a few different Websites, including Oliebollen.com. According that Oliebollen, this was a Parenting Magazine Toy of the Year.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Backyard Playground


My current hunt is for the perfect swingset for our backyard. Grandpa and Nannie want to buy Lilypad Princess a swingset, they have been waiting two springs for her to be old enough for it. This year she is climbing, sliding, and swinging on every piece of equipment at the parks, so I think she is ready.

My dad has asked me to do the research and let him know what I think would be the best one for her. I've just started looking, I didn't know there were so many options out there (or how expensive they could be!) I would like a wood set that will hold up for years of play. Of course a slide and some swings, and I think I'd like a little clubhouse as well.

Cedarworks has some beautiful sets fit for a princess (one style shown above). I'm not even sure they would fit in our backyard though, I think you would need to own a castle to install one. So our search is still on, if anyone has one that they love and would recommend, please let me know!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Play Ball!



It's that time of the year again. The rivalry picks back up in the pond, and Lilypad Princess and I lose Lilypad Dad to the computer as he tries to manage his fantasy baseball team. Unfortunately, Lilypad Dad is not a very adept baseball manager, the only time his teams have ever made it to first was when I took over the management for a couple of weeks. Each year Lilypad Dad has struggled to get his team out of the bottom half, never coming anywhere near the winning position.

This year there may be hope for Lilypad Dad though! Sports Prophet® has created a fantasy baseball draft assistance program designed to help you dominate your fantasy baseball league. This Web-based program is accessible from anywhere, so LilyPad Dad can access it even when he heads up to his fraternity brothers for the draft. The player rankings are based on Predictive Modeling by PhD scientists, creating the most advanced draft assistance tool. It provides you with all the data needed to make the right decision about any player based on that given round and situation.

Throughout the season you can continue to use the software as it provides full season roster management, including updated mid-season projections via artificial intelligence. All stats, injury reports and major updates are available from within the software. With this program, Lilypad Dad might not only have a shot at winning the money prize, but bragging rights for the next year over his frat brothers!

Anyone interested in using the Sports Prophet software to manage their team can get $10 off by using the promo code BMC200.



A Place to Sleep

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Lilypad Princess asleep in her bed at Nana and PopPop's house.

Actually, LP has her own room at Nana and PopPop's complete with a comfy crib, bed for when she's bigger, bookcase full of books, toys, her own bathroom, and the best part of all, the Cinderella print on the wall. But she did enjoy pretending to nap in the basket, as well as play hide and seek with her and with her Nana's sneakers.

Steven, An Oyster Joke?

OK, I am the first to admit that I don't have a large joke repertoire. I leave the jokes up to Steven, the king of corny jokes. So when I was asked to start off this post with a joke about oysters, I was stumped. A search of the web didn't turn up much except for this one.

What did the girl oyster say to the boy oyster?
You never open up to me.

There must be SOMETHING better than that, Steven, any suggestions?

While I might not like to joke about oysters, I do like to eat them. I'm not really a raw oyster person but I love good, fried oysters. But I know there are lots of people who enjoy them raw. Be Oyster Aware is a site that aims to inform people of the risks of raw oysters and educate them on how to enjoy Gulf oysters safely. They also include some recipes that sound really good, I'd like to try the grilled oysters and the oyster cakes!


Monday, March 17, 2008

How to Survive a 6 Hour Layover

Of all the traveling we did too and from Tulsa, I was most worried about the 6 hour layover. Lilypad Princess really surprised me though, she was wonderful for the entire layover and it passed much more quickly than I expected. So for anyone else who might find themselves with a long layover, here are Lilypad Princess's tips for surviving a 6 hour layover.

Color and sticker a Little Einstein book
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Practice your alphabet letters
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Set up a portable dollhouse
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Eat lots of junk food
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Watch the planes come and go and celebrate when it's finally your turn!
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dinner with Grandpa and Nannie

Dinner with Nannie and Grandpa
Lilypad Princess has been asking to go see her Grandpa and Nannie alot lately. So today we decided to get together at the last minute for dinner. LP and I headed an hour east, and Grandpa and Nannie headed an hour west and we met right in the middle.

We found a local restaurant with super yummy food, an Irish singer and bagpipes, and spent 2 and a half hours together. Apparently this wasn't enough for Lilypad Princess, she was quiet upset that we weren't following Grandpa and Nannie to their house. We have decided that we are going to find a park nearby and make this a more common routine. We will head over early enough to play at the park for a while, then head to the restaurant for dinner together.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Child's Sense of Distance

Normally when Lilypad Princess talks about someone who isn't with us, she tells me that they are "far, far away". Nana and PopPop are far, far away (which is true). Grandpa and Nannie are far, far away (I guess to a 2 year old, a 2 hour drive is far, far away). But daddy is also far, far away when he's at work, and her friends are far, far away if they aren't playing with us at the time.

Yesterday Lilypad Princess reminded me of a child's view on distance and travel just isn't the same as ours. All of a sudden while getting dressed for the day, she turned to me and told me that she missed her Nana. I told her that I missed Nana too, and asked her if she wanted to call her. LP told me that she didn't want to call, "Let's go see her." I told her that Nana was too far away to go see her today, remember how we had to go on the airplane last week? She gave me an exasperated look, like she couldn't believe I wasn't smart enough to think of it, and told me, "No, we go see Nana upstairs." Then she started heading up the stairs to the guest room where Nana sleeps whenever she stays with us.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Travel in Budapest

I love to travel; Australia and Ireland have been my two big international trips so far. Although I probably won't be going anyplace anymore exotic than Oklahoma or Disney World for the next few years, I still like to think about places I would like to visit.

One city that I think would be very interesting to visit is Budapest. Described by a travel guide as "old world charm and cosmopolitan living on the banks of the Danube", I love the mix of Western luxury and simple traditions. Budapest is a major spa center and 'taking the waters' at one of the many baths or spa-swimming pools is something that every visitor must experience.

Apartments in Budapest can help you plan your Budapest holiday by booking an apartment to stay in instead of a hotel. They offer your choice of 49 different accommodations, all with the amenities of 3-5 star hotels. But by staying in an apartment instead of a hotel you can have the convenience of a kitchen, saving you money on restaurants, laundry, and multiple rooms to keep a larger travel party together. If I had my choice, I think I would stay in the Hollywood Apartments of Budapest

Princess Taste

Uncle Dave is over to visit and is going to stay for dinner. We're all exhausted after a long day, so we're trying to decide what we want for take-out. Uncle Dave suggested filet mignon and cavier, to which Lilypad Princess exclaimed, "Yum, that sounds delicious!"

Health Supplements

Now that I have gotten into a pretty good routine at the gym, I've turned my attention to my nutrition. I'm working on cutting down portion sizes, eating healthier snacks, balancing food groups, and reducing fat.

Along with the food changes, I have started looking into nutrition supplements as well. I need to start taking a multivitamin again, and I have been grabbing protein bars and fiber bars as a quick snack on the run. I came across that a site where you find discount bodybuilding supplements as well as vitamins and general, well-being products. Supplements.net has some really interesting bars and snacks, such as the Better Balance Pretzel Sticks, Protein Chips, and Luna Bars. The ones the sound the best to me are the thinkOrganic Raw Fruit and Nut bars. The Apricot Coconut, Chocolate Coconut and Cherry Nut sound like they could make a yummy, healthy treat when I'm craving something sweet.

Supplements.net has a good variety of products and the prices seem to be really great. Their site says that they have a low price guarantee.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Stellaluna


Stellaluna was the topic of conversation last week at Nana and PopPop's house. Nana has the sweet story about Stellaluna as well as a cuddly Stellaluna stuffed bat. Lilypad Princess noticed these the first day and Nana read her the story and told her about bats.

Two days later at the zoo, there was a bat exhibit in the rainforest. Lilypad Princess stopped to watch the bats flying around inside the dark case, then noticed the escapees who were sleeping right above our heads!

The next morning, Lilypad Princess yelled to everyone that she found Stellaluna. She had noticed a small moth sleeping on the blinds in the kitchen. His little brown wings and the way he was holding on made him look like a little bat wrapped up and hanging upside down. She was determined to rescue Stellaluna, so Nana very carefully lifted him up and put him back outside so he could fly home to his mommy and daddy who missed him.

A couple of nights later, Lilypad Princess flew through the house in her pajamas telling us that she was a bat. Stellaluna definitely made an impression on our LP, I'm so glad it was a good one so she will never have a fear of bats.
flying like Stellaluna

It's A Party!


5 Minutes for Mom is hosting the Ultimate Blog Party and I'm coming in as a late party-goer. For anyone who is stopping by for the first time, here's a little background about me.

I'm Lilypad Mom, 31 (almost 32) and I'm a stay-at-home mom (most of the time). In my previous life I worked for a software company supporting all of our partners. Now my life revolves around swim classes, Little Gym, playdates, non-existent potty training, and lots of hugs and kisses. I said I SAH most of the time because I do have a VERY part-time job, I work at a children's clothing store about once a month, mostly for the discount.

The other frogs who live on this lilypad with me are Lilypad Princess and Lilypad Dad. Lilypad Princess is two and a half and is the joy in our lives. She is very active, always on the go, running, climbing and jumping. Books, arts and crafts, and dress up are our favorite ways to spend our days. She has a very close knit group of wonderful friends, some of them we have known since they were 6 months old.

Lilypad Dad has a crazy schedule. He works in a major city and has unusual hours that can change at the last minute with no warning. So we are always trying to manage our schedule around his to spend as much time together when he's home.

I started this blog as a way to keep our friends and family members up-to-date on the latest events in LP's life. It has evolved into a way for me to create a memory book for her (I am going to have it turned into a book eventually) and a way to highlight things that I think are interesting for moms and kids. What I didn't expect was for it to be a way to meet new people. But this has been a wonderful surprise side effect, to meet some new people that I would never have the chance to meet in real life. Comments on my blog have led me to other blogs that I know love to read, and one sweet person even offered to send me some Candy Cane Lane tea after she read my post!

So if you are reading this for the first time, or just have never commented before, please leave me a comment! I'd love to meet everyone. Then head on over to The Ultimate Blog Party to check out some other participants. You never know who you might meet.

They are even offering some wonderful prizes to the party participants. If I were to win, my top four choices would be:

The Rocking Horse from A Rocking Horse to Love
Photo Tile Necklace from Elemental Memories
Custom Blog Design by Summer or Blog Makeover by Shauna
The Story Package by Cherish Bound

There are also tons of wonderful books and gift certificates that would be lots of fun to win.

Finding Insurance

Insurance. It's something we all have to have and is such an important part of life. Health insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, house insurance, pet insurance, travel insurance: there are so many different kinds of insurance out there. Some of which are a luxury, others are required. You cannot get a mortgage to buy a house without having home insurance and it is illegal to drive a car (at least in our state) without auto insurance. Unfortunately health insurance is not required, but should be something that everyone has, I cannot imagine having to pay medical bills without it.

We have recently been trying to get additional life insurance policies for Lilypad Dad and I. Lilypad Dad is covered with a policy at work, but we wanted to have another one just to be on the safe side. And now we have to start searching for a motorcycle policy. Pop Steve gave Lilypad Dad a motorcycle and now that he has his permit and the nice weather is coming, it's time to get it insured and registered so he can hit the road with Buby's dad.

Websites like Autonet Insurance Group make it easy to find the insurance you need. They can provide you with quotes for car, motorcycle, home, business, and courier insurance. Commercial Insurance helps employers find just the right kind of insurance they need, whether the business is a hotel, factory, or contractors.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Home Sweet Home



We made it home about 10 pm last night. After 12 hours of traveling and a 6 hour layover, we got into the airport about 9:30 at night. Lilypad Princess couldn't wait to see her daddy, and went running as soon as she saw him as we entered the baggage area. Despite the long day, she talked the whole way home telling him all about the trip.