Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sick, Sick, and Sick Again

Caleb is sick. Again. I didn't even post about the last couple of times he was sick (he had some sort of stomach bug 3 weeks ago, then bronchitis 2 weeks ago) because it seems like all I do is write about how he's sick! I hope that this increase in illness is due to his first year in preschool, and that he'll get it all over with now and be healthier in the future.

One can hope.

He woke up in the middle of the night last night (of course--I have never known a child who got really sick during the day--it's always at night). Scott went in and checked on him, then came back to report a few minutes later that Caleb was "burning up." That's Mommy's signal to step in. I am the designated drug administer. I gave him some children's Tylenol and tried to get him to go back to bed, but he was coughing and couldn't sleep. So I ended up taking him to the living room and rocking him to sleep (something I haven't done in a long time!), then laying him on the couch and sleeping beside him on the floor.

Now, a couple of weeks ago we went into the doctor as a follow-up from his bronchitis, and the doctor was very concerned that his ear infection from March never really cleared up completely. She'd been keeping an eye on it and checking it every couple of weeks, and it still didn't look really good. So she referred us to an ENT (ear/nose/throat doctor). That appointment is scheduled for Friday.

So I really didn't want to take Caleb to his pediatrician today and then to the ENT tomorrow. I called his pedi and told her what was up, and she agreed that he should be okay until tomorrow. We'll see what happens. Caleb hasn't complained too much of ear pain with this illness--it's been more fever (102.2 was the highest I recorded), cough, runny nose, and headache. He laid on the floor today in the living room, mostly watching TV, from 8:00 until 5:30. Seriously. I finally got him to eat some pretzels and Annie's bunnies arond 4:00, and he didn't use the bathroom at all until 5:30. He went to sleep tonight at 7:00--about an hour early for him.

Let me just recap here, for my own sake and for the record, Caleb's illnesses over the last six months or so:

  • 10/25/08--right ear infection
  • 11/24/08--right ear infection
  • 2/18/09--right ear infection
  • 2/19/09--rotavirus
  • 3/4/09--follow-up appointment from ear infection, right ear still doesn't look great
  • 3/14/09--left ear drum burst (and outer ear infection), right ear still looks iffy
  • 3/27/09--follow-up appointment from ear infection, right ear still looks "pulled back"
  • 4/2/09--stomach bug
  • 4/11/09--bronchitis
  • 4/14/09--follow-up from bronchitis, right ear still looks pulled back, referred to ENT
  • 4/30/09--Caleb complains of some left ear pain, headache, fever, chills, cough, runny nose

On top of all of this, we had to take Caleb to a special kids' dentist because his normal dentist thought he might have cavities. He's been complaining that his upper molars hurt on both sides. Now I'm thinking that it's just pain from his sinuses, because the dentist gave him the all-clear yesterday. She did, however, say that he has an extreme overbite and will need some orthodontia in a few years. (As she told me this, I just visualized money flying out of my pockets. Better start another SmartyPig account for that!)

Pray with me that the ENT will be able to help my little boy tomorrow. I won't be surprised if Caleb has to have tubes in his ears or his adenoids removed. I hope the doc recommends some sort of allergy testing, too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Few of My Favorite (Eco-Friendly) Things

I've been meaning to do this for awhile, but here is a list of some of my favorite eco-friendly things from around our house.

EcoGear Backpack
I get so many comments about this backpack! When Caleb started preschool, I looked high and low for a backpack that would be the right size for him and didn't have toxic materials in it. Seriously, most backpacks have tons of vinyl, which contains lead. I found this one online at EcoGear and it fit the bill perfectly. It is super cute, and it's made out of organic cotton canvas, non-toxic dyes, recycled plastic, and sustainable wood. How cool is that? And even cooler--they now sell these at Target. They have other designs--a pig, an elephant, and a panda. They are the perfect size for a 2-5 year-old to carry. Well worth the $29!

(You can see a picture of Caleb wearing this backpack on my left sidebar. He was 2.5 at the time.)

Bobux Shoes for Babies and Toddlers
Another thing people comment on a lot are Isaac's shoes. When he was smaller, he wore Bobux soft-soled shoes like the ones on the left here (his were a different style, but these are cute!). Bobux uses what they call "eco-leather", which you can read about here. I like knowing that Bobux shoes are safe for Isaac to put in his mouth (cuz, you know, that's what babies do)!

I must say that it is pretty hard to find eco-friendly shoes for toddlers. There are several options for babies and big kids (including the ones from Simple Shoes), but not as many for early walkers. I was happy when I found these at Bobux. They are from the i-walk collection.

Check for coupons at before you buy. Usually you can find a 15% off coupon.

Shoes for Mom and Dad
While I'm reviewing shoes, I should throw my own shoes in the mix. I love my Simple Shoes! I've had them for almost a year now, I think, and they are holding up well. They are super comfy and stylish, too. The bottoms of the shoes are made from recycled car tires, the laces are old plastic bottles, and the inner is made from organic cotton and hemp. I hear Ellen wore them on her show on Earth Day!

You can buy these at or at for about $55 or less. (Simple also has some incredibly cool boots that are on sale now but are still out of my price range. Maybe Mother's Day...?)

Non-Vinyl Lunchbox

Just like the backpack, I wanted a lunchbox that wasn't made of vinyl, either. After all, the kids at preschool actually eat out of their lunchboxes, and oftentimes food comes in contact with them. I wanted him to have one without lead!

Crocodile Creek was the answer for us. Isn't this firetruck lunchbox adorable? It's a great size for him and fits several reusable containers (because of course we don't use plastic bags!). It is phthalate and PVC-free. It's about $15 at amazon or Whole Foods.

Steamer Mop
We have quite a bit of tile flooring in our house, and I have NOT been happy with the job that my lousy Swiffer Wet Jet does in cleaning it. Not only does it not clean very well, it uses yucky chemicals and leaves them on my floor. I always feel like cleaning up my floor after I clean it up! I am just striving to have a house that is as non-toxic as possible (especially since I have a toddler who likes to eat everything that falls on the floor). To that end, I have had my eye on a steamer mop for several months. I finally broke down and bought one a couple of weeks ago. I LOVE IT!

I got the Eureka Enviro Steamer. It uses hot water to steam the floors. That's it! Just water--no chemicals. It's really quiet and easy to use, and I finally feel like my floors are clean. I bought mine from amazon for about $68. A little pricey, but in the long run it makes sense because I don't have to pay for any replacement pads or refills like I would with the Swiffer. The steamer uses cloth pads that you just stick in the washer and hang to dry. Yea!

That's all for now. Perhaps I'll have a volume 2 of this in the future!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Menu Plan, Week of April 27

Last week's menu worked out pretty well. The banana pecan waffles were incredible! I think that will become a new special treat around here. The recipe makes 12 waffles, and so I had plenty of leftovers to put in the freezer. They thaw and heat wonderfully by popping them in the toaster! (Note: I only use about half the butter called for, and I use whole wheat flour--they were still great!)

The macaroni and cheese was fabulous, too. What a great recipe! I've used Alton Brown's recipe from Good Eats for about a year now, and it's great, too, but according to Scott (the ultimate judge on all things food in our house), the new one from Pioneer Woman is better. (And she has beautiful step-by-step photos.)

Another big win was the chicken & black bean taco filling. I meant to make it into quesadillas, but I got lazy and just plopped it into some sprouted tortillas for yummy tacos. The recipe made plenty to freeze and reuse as an easy meal in the future.

Let's hope this week's menu goes as well! Most of my items are based on what's on sale at Sprouts this week. They have particularly good deals on chicken, chicken parmesan sausage, and pineapple which I'm going to use.

Monday: Tortellini and salad

Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner--Quiche with spinach, mushrooms, and chicken sausage

Wednesday: Leftovers (last night of Awana!)

Thursday: Teriyaki chicken stir-fry over brown rice (we were supposed to have this last week, but skipped it)

Friday: Homemade pineapple pizza

Saturday: Potluck dinner at the church for the Awana leaders

Sunday: Either eat out or fend for yourself! :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cheap Organic Clothes

Whenever possible, I buy clothes that are 100% cotton. They are soft, cozy, and breathable. Plus, after Caleb was born I found out that he is very sensitive to synthetics like polyester--he'll break out in a bright red rash if his skin rubs against them too much.

But did you know that it takes about 1/3 of a pound of toxic pesticides and fertilizers to produce the cotton for a single t-shirt? (See here, here, and here for just a few stats.) These toxins are getting into our water sources and causing cancer and other awful problems.

The answer, of course, is to buy organic clothing, but it has traditionally been very expensive. Now there's hope! My thoughts on WalMart overall are pretty mixed, but they do a great job at incorporating organic clothing and accessories into their mix.

If you search their store online for "organic cotton", you get 164 results! They carry all sorts of CHEAP organic cotton items. We're talking about $10 for a 2-pack of baby blankets, or $4 for tank tops like the one below.

But wait, there's more! This month at WalMart (in stores and online), they have some cute Earth Day inspired organic cotton t-shirts for all ages from $4-8. Woo hoo! I bought several last week (like the one pictured below).

I think WalMart is about to get more of my business. (Plus, for those looking for an even better deal, participates in Bank of America's Add it Up program, so you can get 4% cash back on your purchases.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Giveaway from

There is a fantastic giveaway over at Bellaziza's this week. They are giving away over $200 in products from, including the following:
A set of 4 stainless steel airtight food storage containers, a children’s 3-piece stainless steel dish set, a children’s 3-piece green frog dish set, a yellow zebra mug, a set of 4 colored children’s bowls, AND a Klean Kanteen 12 oz. sippy bottle with adapter and spouts!!
The website looks pretty cool, and offers stuff like stainless steel water bottles (which I adore and carry everywhere) and wooden and stainless steel tableware. Soon they'll have a stainless steel ice cube tray, which looks fabulous, especially for freezing homemade baby food.

Entries are accepted through midnight tonight.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Menu Plan, Week of 4/20

I have found that one of the best ways for me to save money is to plan out my meals. If I don't have a plan, it becomes too easy for me to get frustrated and go through a drive thru! So, I'm going to try to start posting my menu plans each week. For more menu planning ideas, go here.


Monday: Breakfast for Dinner--Pecan waffles, scrambled eggs, coffee, and juice

Tuesday: Mac and cheese, salad, steamed broccoli

Wednesday: Leftovers (It's Awana night, so I don't have time to cook!)

Thursday: Teriyaki chicken bowl (brown rice, sauteed chicken, steamed veggies, teriyaki sauce)

Friday: Ravioli, salad

Saturday: Chicken Quesadillas

Sunday: Leftovers (Awana again, no time to cook)

I also plan on making breakfast cookies and chunky banana bran muffins.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Day at the Movies

When Caleb started potty training, he was a little reluctant. To offer him an incentive, we told him that when he was potty trained, he would get to go see a movie in a big theater. Well, today was the day!

He's actually been potty trained pretty well for a couple of months, but there just weren't any appropriate movies out there to take him to. But AMC solved our problem--they had a Disney Matinee for preschoolers today (runs through Thursday, I think, if you are interested!) and showed the movie Cars. How perfect! That is Caleb's favorite movie.

Scott was so excited when he heard about the matinee. He made plans to take off work and make a day of it. The movie started at 10 at our local mall, and after the movie Scott planned to take him to lunch, have a ride on the carousel, and play with the trains at Barnes and Noble (one of his favorite free activities). Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well.

From what I hear, things started out well. Caleb did fine before and during the movie. He had brought his favorite stuffed animal, Pooh, and hugged him tight while he watched Cars.

After the movie, he kept chewing on Pooh. Here's the order of events, as I gathered them from Scott.

Scott: "Don't chew on Pooh, Caleb."
Caleb chews on Pooh.
Scott: "If you chew on Pooh again, Caleb, I will take him away from you."
Caleb chews on Pooh.
Scott takes Pooh away.
Caleb runs off across the food court in the mall, screaming bloody murder.
Scott runs after Caleb and catches up to him. He explains to a sobbing Caleb that it is not okay to run off in a mall, and tells him how dangerous that is. He tells Caleb he will get a spanking.
Caleb slaps Scott across the face!
Scott scoops Caleb up and takes him out to the car. Plans for the fun daddy-son lunch and carousel ride are abandoned. Scott takes Caleb home, spanks him, and sends him to his room to cool off.

Poor Scott. I feel so bad that he took off work for that. It could have been such a fun day.

Discount on Charlie's Soap

Charlie's is my favorite all-natural laundry detergent. I have never tried anything better than Charlie's (and I used Crunchy Clean for about a year) that is safe for the environment and for sensitive skin. It really works and gets your clothes very clean. I use it on all our clothes, including cloth diapers. There's no fragrance added, either.

I haven't seen Charlie's run any discounts before, so I was pleased when I got this in my inbox today:

Charlie’s Soap, Inc is providing coupons to be used on our new shopping cart from today until Apr. 22, 2009.

When you get to the checkout page, just put which coupon you’d like in the field and hit the SUBMIT COUPON button. Voila! Instant fun! Won’t remember them by the time you go to No problem. Just click the AVAILABLE COUPONS button and it will list them. Limit one coupon per order, so choose wisely!

totebag: Enter this coupon to get a non-woven, reusable grocery tote bag for just $2 with any purchase.

freetote: Enter this coupon to get a non-woven, reusable grocery tote FREE with any purchase of $40 or more.

april15: Enter this coupon to get an additional $5 off any purchase of $50 or more.

fairtax: Enter this coupon to get an additional $10 off any purchase of $100 or more.

As always, thank you so very much for your support. Don’t forget to Refer-A-Friend to get your own private coupon! And if you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

C. Taylor Sutherland, III

Pres. Charlie's Soap, Inc.

800-854-3541 (Toll Free)

336-548-6035 (PH)

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I've posted before about Caleb's horrible food habits. The list of foods that he'll actually eat is pretty short, especially for a 3-year-old. Isaac eats just as many (if not more) foods than Caleb.

But things have taken a turn in the past few weeks. At the end of March, we went out to lunch at Tin Star with some dear friends of ours, Lin and CaLyn. Caleb had a quesadilla--which in an of itself is a pretty new form of food for him. But then he took a french fry and, at CaLyn's encouragement, dipped it into ketchup and ATE it! I know, I know, it's still junk food. But before that point, Caleb never would have dipped any one food into another food. Any time we suggested it, he looked at us like we were crazy.

A week or so after that, I had some chips and queso from Taco Cabana. (We eat healthily around here most of the time, but we do have our vices!) He has always liked chips and asks for them whenever I get them. This time, I told him he could have one if he'd dip it in the cheese first. I expected a flat refusal, but he complied! And he liked it! Ever since then, he has loved chips with queso!

And here comes the real biggie in my book: on Wednesday night, I hosted a pizza party for some of the kids at Awana for meeting a Scripture memory goal. I told Caleb a few days before hand that he could go to the party with me, and that there would be big kids there eating pizza. "I want to eat pizza, too!" he kept saying. He's said stuff like this before, then balked at the actual tasting, so I didn't hold my breath. But sure enough, at the party he loaded a plate with a piece of pizza, went to sit down without me, then called from across the room, "Mommy, I'm eating pizza!" I went over to see him, and I just about cried. My child was eating the same meal I was! There is hope that we can all eat the same food together at the dinner table someday!

After the pizza party, I had to lead Awana, so Caleb went to childcare. I had brought some snacks for him to have during the pizza party if he had refused to eat the pizza, and I gave those to his teacher in case he got hungry later. I had forgotten that there was some blackberry pomegranate yogurt in the bag--a snack I had intended for me. When I picked Caleb up from childcare, his teacher said, "Caleb ate all of his yogurt." I just stood there, with what I'm sure was a very stupid look on my face. "He ate that yogurt? Wow!"

Caleb actually likes yogurt, but until now he's always just wanted plain yogurt with no flavoring. If he'll eat flavored yogurt now, I can make him some with real fresh fruit in there! I can hide all sorts of nutrition in yogurt if he'll let me. He ended up having not one but two more of those flavored yogurt containers the next day. (Which is great because he's currently on an antibiotic.) I hope that he's not stuck on it being in a commercial container, but we'll see.

All in all, I am SO pleased with his progress. We are finally getting somewhere! Please pray that he'll continue to try new foods--and that not all of them will be junk!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Day Out with Thomas

Ok, I'm super behind on posting. Things have just been busier than normal.


Scott called in to our Christian radio station (KLTY) and won tickets to Day Out with Thomas--an event in downtown Grapevine where Thomas the Tank Engine takes you on a 25-minute ride on the old historic railroad. We read about it online and thought Caleb would have fun there, so it was great that Scott was able to win tickets. Evidently there aren't too many people who call in to KLTY at 5:45 in the morning (when Scott is driving in to work)--he was both caller 4 and 9!

Our train ride was scheduled for 9:00, and the website said to get there one hour early. I couldn't imagine why we'd need to get there that early, but we complied. We pulled into downtown Grapevine around 7:45, and I hopped out at the Main Street Bakery to buy us a croissant, a cinnamon scone, and some coffee (all yummy!). We ate in the car, then went over to the railroad station where the event was.

I have to say, the event was a little disappointing. They had a toy train display which was really neat--some rich man's very expensive collection of tiny locomotives--but of course it was covered with big signs that say, "DON'T TOUCH!" Perfect for preschoolers, of course. Then there was the booth for temporary tattoos. Yup, tattoos. For 3- and 4-year-olds??? Wha?!?!? Other than that, there was a gift shop, lots of gross-looking carnie food (corn dogs, funnel cakes, and the like--smelled disgusting at 8:00 in the morning, I must say), and a photo op with Sir Topham Hat (stand in line for 30 minutes, pose for 1 minute, pay $14 dollars for a picture).

The train ride itself was the main event. Here's Caleb heading off toward the train.

We eagerly hopped on board and settled into the upholstered seats.

Windows lined the train car, so we got a good view of...well, the backs of low-income houses. Lots of clothes hanging from clotheslines, abandoned play equipment, broken trampolines...Scott even got to see a man in a wife beater surfing the internet in his kitchen! Oh, yes. What a view it was!

Seriously, though, it was okay. The kids certainly didn't care about the view. Caleb wasn't feeling very well that day, and he was tired from waking up super early that morning. He didn't say much during our ride, but that's just part of his personality. When he experiences new things, he just kind of takes it all in, then he talks about it for the rest of the day.

I'm glad we didn't pay a whopping $18 apiece for the tickets, but it was a good family activity.

My First Real Foray into Walgreens

I promise this won't turn into a blog all about couponing, and there will be posts soon with pictures of my cute boys and our recent adventures, but this is what's on my mind at the moment and therefore it's what gets posted! :)


I went to Walgreens once last Tuesday, but I only purchased one thing (and made 50 cents). This time I decided to go for it and use the advice from Southern Savers to get some major deals.

I went through the aisles, trying to carefully match up the items in the ad to the items in store. As you'll see below, this is extremely important! Walgreens has really high prices on some things, so if you don't get the one on sale, you are paying WAY more than you need to!

Here's what I got:
  • Cottonelle Fresh Wipes, 42 pack
  • Wal-itin Allergy 10 mg 10-pack
  • Visine
  • Physician's Formula Organic Mascara
  • 4 bags of Hershey's candy
  • Tylenol Sinus
  • Wal-itin Allergy 10 mg 30-pack
  • Colgate Total toothpaste

I went to the check out and used my gazillion coupons like a good little shopper. The total came out to be a staggering $50.86. WHOA! I reassured myself, though, that the first time you shop at Walgreens, you have to pay out real money (and I got mostly medicines, after all). After your first big purchase, you end up with so many Register Rewards and rebates that you end up using that on your next trip instead of real money.

So I took Isaac and my bags and went out to the car. Once I was safely in our Explorer, I started looking through my receipt and looking for my Register Rewards. There weren't any! I should have gotten $3.49 in RR from my toothpaste, and $3 from my Visine and Tylenol purchase. Sighing, I unbuckled Isaac from his carseat, grabbed my bags, and headed back inside to talk to a manager.

At the counter, I told the manager I was missing two RR and I was trying to figure out why I didn't get them. I quickly figured out that I got the wrong size on my toothpaste, so I went to exchange that while he looked at the other problem. There was a deal where you buy two qualifying items and you get $3 in Register Rewards. I bought Visine and Tylenol Sinus. He looked at the items, looked at the ad, looked at the items some more, and shrugged.

He returned the Tylenol and the Visine, then rang it up again. Still no RR printed out. Finally he just rang it up as a $3 discount and gave me $3 cash. That was nice. And once I got the right toothpaste, I got my RR for that, too. So I left the store for the second time (with 3 receipts) feeling pretty good.

But now that I am home and looking through my receipts again, I am so frustrated. I made two big boo-boos.

#1: I bought some Cottonelle Fresh Wipes (hey, I have a potty trainer at home!) which, if I had thought to use the in-store coupon, would have been $1.49 after coupling it with the manufacturer's coupon. But no, I forgot I had to tear the coupon out of the ad, so I ended up spending a whopping $3.19 for those suckers. Aaaaaaaaah!! SAVINGS LOST: $1.70.

#2: I tried to buy Visine at $3.49 and Tylenol Sinus at $4.99. Well, evidently I bought the wrong items. My Visine rang up at $6.99 and my Tylenol rang up at $7.49. What?!?? I just checked the ad AGAIN and evidently I got the wrong size Visine and I should have gotten "Rapid Release" Tylenol. Oh, the details. (And that would be why the RR didn't print!!) I did get the $3 back, but I lost out on savings. And my receipts are totally messed up, indicating I returned those items and got discounts on them, so I don't think I could return them without a major hassle. SAVINGS LOST: (deep breath) $6.00.

I used $14 in coupons. These are the rebates and RR I have coming from these purchases:
  • $10 from PF organic mascara purchase (through Walgreens esavers rebates)
  • $9.95 from PF organic mascara purchase (through PF) (YUP! Since the mascara was only $9.95, that means I made $10!)
  • $3.50 RR from the toothpaste
  • $5 from the candy (esaver rebate)
  • $6.99 from the Wal-itin (esaver rebate)
That totals $34.14 ($21.99 from ebates, which actually gives me an additional 10% back for putting it on a gift card, so add $2.20; $3.50 RR, $9.95 mail-in rebate) that I'll get back from the purchases. Not bad, but I can do much better--and I will next time!

If you are going to Walgreens, I definitely recommend the PF organic makeup deal--that's a money maker. The toothpaste comes out free (actually you can make a dollar if you use a coupon), and the candy comes out to 87 cents per bag if you use the $1.50 coupon that was in the paper a few weeks ago.

If you have questions about any of these deals, check out the Southern Saver post for Walgreens this week.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rear Facing Until at Least Age 2

Go here for the full story, but the AAP has just changed its guidelines on child carseat safety.

We've always heard to turn our kids around from rear-facing to forward-facing when they are 20 pounds and at least one year old. Well, here is an excerpt from the AAP's release:

New research indicates that toddlers are more than five times safer riding rear-facing in a car safety seat up to their second birthday....

Toddlers should remain rear-facing in a convertible car seat until they have reached the maximum height and weight recommended for the model, or at least the age of 2.

There a great post here by El, who is a child passenger safety technician. She has several helpful links off of her post.

We had just turned Isaac around last week (at 14 months) and were thinking we were conservative to wait so long. I will be telling Scott that he's going to have to turn that thing back around now!