Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grocery List Simplified

In an effort to simplify my life, I've been trying to streamline some of my "household" processes. I know, it sounds like I am running a business here. There's two reasons for that: 1. I kind of am. 2. It makes it more appealing to me. I'd rather be the CEO of a business than Suzy Homemaker.

One of the processes that I've tried just about every method under the sun for is making a grocery list. Paper, online, Excel, Word, Google Doc, Evernote, in my head, on my hand. I've tried categories, columns, rows, scribbles. I downloaded all kinds of different lists and spreadsheets, but inevitably, I'd get to one end of the store and realize I'd forgotten one or two things along the way.

Then I got smart. One time when I went shopping, I took a little extra time and jotted down what's available in every aisle of the store. You know, the lists that are on the big signs hanging from the ceiling? I just wrote that down.

When I got home, I created a simple grid in Excel with boxes for the categories and then space below each box for me to jot down what we need. You can, of course, do it in whatever format works for you, but this is great for me. No lines, and I can jot in it easily. But most importantly, it keeps me from forgetting that one silly item that I don't feel like walking back across the store for, but I will really regret if I go home without. 

While I am going electronic with 90% of the rest of my life, this is one area where I still like paper + pen. I do love my phone, but it doesn't quite cut it for this task. And I do love my laptop, but I typically think of things that we need while in the kitchen, and my laptop lives in the family room.

It works really well. My shopping trips are easier now. My next step is to decide how to do meal planning and incorporate it with this list. My initial thought is creating 'copies' of this worksheet in excel and coming up with standard weekly plans (maybe six or eight) and having the necessary ingredients pre-filled-in. I know, it's supposed to be simplified, and that doesn't sound very simple...

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm becoming one of "those" people.

I thought my stint at staying home was going to last about 12 months. It's now been 15 months and will probably last until Beckett goes to school, so another two years. Two years from today, literally, since today was the first day of school here.

Now that I know what my life is going to look like for the next two years (well, you never *really* know, but a good chance), I am trying to become more organized. Well, actually, my problem is discipline, which bleeds over into my organization, or lack thereof.

Combining my love of spreadsheets with my desire to be more disciplined is leading me to creating a "home management binder." It is essentially what it sounds like - a binder that allows you to better manage your home - schedules, meal plans, shopping lists, phone numbers, important info, etc.

I'm not going so far as to creating a checkbox for brushing my teeth or scheduling every minute, but let me tell you, it's tempting. I've read lots and lots of blogs about this, and while I can't say whether it's the chicken or the egg that came first, the women who use these binder systems are very disciplined. They manage to save time and money, homeschool their kids, make everything from scratch, exercise, keep a spotless-perfectly-organized-home, keep their husbands happy, find time to blog, and live SIMPLER lives. While I'll be happy with (partially) accomplishing two or three things on that list, and have no desire to accomplish others, I am impressed with their discipline and the happiness they derive from their simpler lives. In short, I want to (in a few ways) be like them when I grow up.

I'll be sharing with you my methods and madness over the next few weeks as I embark on my latest obsession.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dear Beckett, you're 2 years old...

Dear Beckett,

My baby is growing up! It's surreal for me to think about these last 3+ years. It's been all baby, baby, baby for me. From your sister as a baby to having two under two to you still being under two, that's been my life for three full years. And now you went and turned two on me, and I had a realization that we are quickly moving beyond the baby years. I've been looking forward to that for quite some time, but now that it's happening, I'm not so sure I'm ready to move on.

But, you are two now. And you are acting every bit of it. Whiny, temper tantrums, crying over every little thing, whining, whiny, whining. Did I mention the whining? There are days where I swear I am going to lose it with the whining. Why was I so anxious to move beyond the baby years? You didn't whine when you were still an infant.


Beyond the whining, however, you have gotten much better behaved. You sit and listen in storytime instead of screeching constantly. You hold my hand in the parking lot and don't try to bolt. You obey simple instructions. You play nicely (sometimes) with your sister. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is listen to you two play together. It often goes like this:

Elise: blah blah blah blah...Right, Beckett?
You: Riiiiiight.

Elise: blah blah blah blah...Right, Beckett?
You: Riiiiiight.
Elise: blah blah blah blah...Right, Beckett?
You: Riiiiiight.
Elise: blah blah blah blah...Right, Beckett?
You: Riiiiiight.
Elise: blah blah blah blah...Right, Beckett?
You: Riiiiiight.

It's music to my ears. I seriously could listen to you two play together (nicely) all day.

You continue to be my sweet boy. You'll often lay your head on my shoulder and want me to rub your back. You love to give kisses and hugs. You tell me "awt you" when I tell you I love you. And the other day, you told me you loved me unprompted. Kid, that would have been a good time to ask for your first car.


Meal time continues to be a bit of a struggle. You like eating, and you're actually a pretty good eater. However, if your sister is done eating, you are suddenly "All DONE!" and ripping your bib off and trying to get down as quickly as possible. And then you're still hungry. And then it's a battle to get you to eat at the table.

Now, remember how we talked about what a good sleeper you were and how I loved you for it? I thought you'd taken that conversation to heart, but apparently not, because YOU'VE GIVEN UP YOUR NAP. For all that is holy and good, why? Why? You still sleep like a champ at night, but I cherished your nap time. I've tried to get you to nap, but all you do is scream of 45 min, so I've given up. Sigh. I am not happy about that.


Your vocab is fantastic. You speak in five and six word sentences. One of your favorite things to say is "I no wanna xyz" or "I really wanna xyz." It's so funny when you say it, because you are very emphatic, too. In fact, I think you've been talking in sentences much longer than we gave you credit for. Sorry about that!

Your biggest success these past few months is probably learning to swim underwater. You are so cute about it. You just step right off the step and go under. You do kick your feet, but not really hard enough to accomplish anything, so while you're down there, you kinda look around and chill out. It cracks me up. You also LOVE to go "uppa, uppa" which means to throw you into the air and let you go under. You will do it repeatedly. You beg for uppa, uppa, uppa constantly when we are in the pool. File that under annoying as well.


While it may seem that I've talked about your lesser qualities here, you should know that you are my sweet boy. You have a mischievous, sweet grin that gets you out of trouble quite frequently. You ask me "You okay, Mommy>?" every time I cough. You cuddle with me throughout the day. You are the perfect mix of wild and sweet, and that's exactly what I love about you. The mix of who you are. I love you, Mommy

Dear Beckett, you're 21 months old...

Dear Beckett,

I have to admit, this is not my favorite age. It's not really you, I don't think as I didn't really care for this age when your sister hit it either, so it's nothing personal. I love you, but man oh man, you certainly try my patience daily. While your language skills continue to grow, you want to be able to tell me things that you just can't tell me. And that frustrates you, so you throw a tantrum. And that frustrates me. And then we're both frustrated, and that's just not a good combination. Thank goodness, I know this is short-lived.

20101130EParty (41)

But while we're talking about frustrations, let me tell you about my absolute least-favorite I've ever faced as a parent. Your fits upon waking from a nap. Two or three times per week, you wake up in a snit. You scream and throw yourself around, and nothing, I mean nothing, makes you happy. I've tried snacks, juice, rocking, singing (yeah, I know, that doesn't make anyone happy), tv shows, books, leaving you alone, trying to engage you, leaving you in your crib, taking you out of your crib. I just don't know what it is. I've talked to numerous friends and family about it, I checked with the pediatrician, and the conclusion is I just have to wait until you outgrow it. Let me tell you, if you weren't so darn adorable, it'd be even more infuriating. Those long lashes and blonde curls are going to save you time and time again, I believe.


You love Mickey Mouse and going to Disney. You remember exactly where to go to get on each ride, although you have negative patience when it comes to waiting in line. I'd think it was your age, but your dad is just like that, so I assume it's genetic. Or maleness. Either way, keeping you occupied in line is a bit of a struggle, but it's worth it to see your sheer joy on Dumbo or "The Baby Ride (It's a Small World)."

You are still obsessed with shoes, and it drives me bonkers. You want them on and off and on and off and on and off. One night, I was picking up the family room after you'd gone to bed, and there were SEVENTEEN shoes in the family room, courtesy of you. Seriously.

You continue to sleep well. It's so wonderful to have a good sleeper. You lay right down for your nap and do the same at nighttime. You sleep with a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal under one arm, a Detroit Tigers monkey under the other, and your butt hiked up in the air. Other than that whole waking up as a terror bit, you are a great sleeper, and I thank you for that. In fact, I love you dearly for that. Sleep is not overrated, especially as a tired parent.


Your favorite toy is probably books. You love looking at them, having them read to you, carrying them around, 'reading' them aloud, and occasionally chewing on them. I love that you love books, as reading is one of my favorite things to do. I can think of very few things I'd cherish more than if you became a voracious reader like me.

As you speed towards your second birthday, it amazes me how much you pick up just by being around other kids and your sister. You'll blurt out a word I didn't even know you knew, or you'll point to something in a book that I didn't know you could identify, and I am amazed. You are an amazing little boy with an amazing personality. I am so blessed to be your mom, and I love you so much, Mommy

Dear Elise, you're 3 years old...

Dear Elise,

Three is now your favorite number. You've been so excited to turn three that you'll tell anyone who'll listen. In fact, you'll tell anyone anything as long as they are willing to listen to you. Yep, you are a talker. Some days, I have to ask you to please stop talking for just five minutes. It never works, but I try. I should know by now that it does nothing but make you start talking more, but I still try.


The biggest news these past three months is that you are finally, finally, finally potty-trained. I never really pushed it with you, and I really let you lead the way. And once you were ready, you were ready. You've had maybe one or two accidents, but other than that, you are a champ. Fortunately, you inherited my bladder of steel, so we don't have to stop too often while we are out and about. I am definitely thankful for the small things in life.

About a month ago, you and Beckett got to be in Aunt Ingrid and Uncle Kyle's wedding as the flower girl and ring bearer. You were so incredibly cute and grown-up about the whole thing. I about melted into a pile of mush on the floor as you took Beckett's hand and attempted to guide him down the aisle. He wasn't quite as into it as you were, but regardless, you were simply adorable.


You continue to impress me with your vocabulary. You're not super interested in learning the sounds letters make (although you do know all your letters), however, you love to count. You count everything. All the time.  You can also recognize groups of items up to four without having to individually count them. I think this makes you a genius, although it's probably totally age-appropriate.


We've had further battles with getting you to sleep in your bed and stay there. You just much prefer to sleep with me. Problem is I am the world's lightest sleeper, and I don't exactly like sleeping with you. And while you have no problem spending 24 hours/day with me, I prefer a little break from you every now and again. You're cute and sweet, and I love you and all, but even in your sleep, you exhaust me.


If I had to pick one word to describe you, I think it would be vibrant. You live out loud. Your personality is bold. You command attention. You are vibrant. My sweet girl, I hope you retain every drop of that vibrancy as you continue to learn about this world and enjoy life. You are truly a gift to us and everyone around you. I love you so much, Mommy

Dear Elise, you're 33 months old...

Dear Elise,

There's really no way to start this letter without sharing the big news of our move. You are now a Floridian, and it's really no surprise how well you've adapted! You love our pool, you love the warm weather, and most importantly, you love the fact that I stay home with you. I have to admit, I don't love it quite as much as you, simply because you never, ever nap, meaning I never, ever get a break. But don't worry, kiddo, you not napping is my payback, and I'm certain that karma will pay you back as well.

You've continued to grow leaps and bounds with your vocabulary. And the things you say crack me up on a daily basis. It's amazing to watch your little mind work and try to make the words you have fit the situation you are trying to describe or explain. You don't always get it right, but you certainly are creative. On a fun note, you still call M&Ms "lemmers", and my heart melts when you tell me you love me in Elisenese, "Awt you, Mommy."

At Bonnett Creek

One of the biggest things that's happened these past three months is that you learned to swim underwater. We went to a birthday party, and there was a child who was the same age as you who could swim underwater. You looked at me, told me you wanted to do that, you went under and coughed up water a few times, but within 20 min, you were swimming underwater. That determination to succeed will undoubtedly serve you well in life.

We go to the gym quite frequently, where you go in the childcare. You absolutely love it. You immediately find a baby doll and play with her non-stop. Beckett's not quite as fond of it, and you sweetly try to make him happy when he cries. In fact, you try to be a second mother to him quite often, and I have to remind you that he only has one mom. Speaking of babies, you take a doll with you every. single. place. we. go. You sleep with one, you eat with one, you take them everywhere. You even told me you were going to be a baby doctor when you grew up. That would thrill me, my sweet girl.


And on the baby not yet again, we go to Disney quite often, and you are obsessed, I mean OBSESSED, with "It's a Small World," which you refer to as "The Baby Ride." All those little dolls dressed up in colorful outfits and singing and dancing is like your version of heaven. It makes me happy to be able to make you so happy with something so simple.


As you continue to grow and become less of a toddler and more of a little girl, my heart explodes with pride and joy every day. I'm sure you know by now that I am a total sap, and I mist up nearly daily at all the things you are learning. You are a sweet, beautiful soul, and I only hope that as you grow, your soul continues to shine through as bright as it always has. I love you so much, Mommy

Tuesday, January 11, 2011