Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Works For Me


Okay. So you may or
may not have browsed through all the fun-filled photos from our "Staycation," but iffen you DID, you're probably wonderin' why in thuh WORLD you are now staring at a picture of an opened box of Denture Tabs. I mean, it's probably not what you've come to expect here at "The Davidson Den". But you know what? I like to think (when I go to bed at night) that we just keep you guys guessing, that you just NEVER know what you might find over here...


So, Denture Cleanser it is!


Of course, there is a reason you are staring at this unfortunate photo of an unfortunate product. I just so happened to have this stuff out last night...because I needed it. That's right, folks. I'm 35, and I use Denture Tabs. Although...it's most LIKELY not why you think. (Though I'm not going to pretend to know your thoughts...)

You see? I'm participating in...

And this?




This Denture Cleanser?


Well, it does, in fact, work.
for.
me.


Let me enlighten you.

I don't know about YOU, but my kiddos often (and when I say "often," I mean so frequently it sometimes makes my head spin) leave their sippy cups (with that last little bit of whatever they've been drinking that can't come out because of the no-spill valve location) in our car or the diaper bag or outside or...well, you get the idea. And when--not if--when. that happens, the valves very quickly begin to mold. Most of the time, the mold is SO stuck inside that no amount of soaking in soapy water, washing in the dishwasher, etc. will get rid of it.

For years, do you know what I did? Probably what YOU do. I chucked them. I'd sometimes hang on to the cups themselves, thinking I'd get valve replacements, and years ago, I would succeed in this endeavor (though it might take six trips to Wal-Mart to finally REMEMBER to pick some up). But NOW, those valve replacements are conspicuously absent from the shelves at Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, and so on. (I won't go into this further, but this is just one of the many reasons I have turned into SUCH a conspiracy theorist.) AN-EE-WAY. I had resorted to looking on Ebay for new packages of valves and found them for well over what I would pay for a couple of new CUPS!

Instead, I decided to Google possible ways to clean those suckers. Just to see. I actually ended up on some random forum where LoTs of mamas had shared tips to try. To me, none of them sounded remotely like they'd work, especially since I had tried many of them. Except for two things.

1) Soak them overnight in water with a Denture tab (use according to instructions).

and

2) Use dental brushes to get down in those ridiculously tiny crevices and scrub the moldy stuff right out (without damaging the valve). Yes. Dental brushes. I know!! I had never heard of them either!!!

Well, I'm here to tell ya.

Moms!!

This actually works. I have successfully salvaged SEVERAL sippy cup valves using these tips. And I just thought I'd do the honorable thing and share those tips with YOU. If you ever happen to try it, leave me a comment and let me know how it goes!

I'm sure I shouldn't be using these sippy cups in the first place. Plastic toxins, BPAs, tooth decay, tooth malformation, etc. But I don't have time to know everything there is to know about that right now. (I've got enough on my plate.) Maybe later. Until then, our sippy cup valves will at least be spotless--even if they are toxic or carcinogenic.

For more things that "work," click the Works For Me Wednesday banner above. On deck next from The Davidson Den for things that "work for me": homemade laundry detergent and baby wipe solution. So, y'all come back now...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Staycation: The Weekend

Saturday's Activities:

1. Breakfast was cereal and bananas. And then we turned right 'round and gave the kids their peanut butter sandwiches in the car at about 10:30. I guess Paul thought they were hungry, and the kids certainly didn't turn down the offer of food! So, it was a weird food day...oh, well.

2. Drove downtown. The plan was to see the Kinders (for the third time this summer) at Main Library, but we left too late. Rats! By the way, they are a precious, sweet couple. Been fans since Noah was a toddler. And they put on a great show each and every time. We are never disappointed.

3. The next thing on the agenda was to visit the Clinton Presidential Library. We had not had an opportunity to do so (EVER!), and today presented a PERFECT scenario, considering they were celebrating President Clinton's birthday and admission was FREE all day! Woo hoo! Did somebody say "FREE"?? It really was the best day for us to go (even though it was crowded), since going places with VERY small children like ours is always a risk. Things can go wrong, you know? Like someone could dirty all the diapers you brought, or someone could have an emotional meltdown, or someone could cause too many problems and need to be disciplined. Sometimes events get cut short. I'm sure you understand. That said, I would have hated to pay full price admission for something like that and then have to leave early. PLUS it wasn't exactly like Paul or I read (or even glanced at) each and every item on display. Little kids can't stand in one place for longer than...I don't know...5 seconds?! We were B-L-O-W-I-N-G through there faster than our toast and sandwich-eatin' family can blow through a loaf of bread (and that's pri-tee fast, people)!!!

We especially liked the authentic replicas of the Oval Office...


and the Cabinet Room. Just look at our future Presidents! (Noah is Vice.)



Which one do you think will be MOST prepared for the countless photo and publicity ops on the campaign trail?

A bonus at the library was that it was the last day of the "Moon to Mars" space exhibit. We got to see real life pieces of spacecrafts, astronaut food, and even experienced a little weightlessness in a tilted room. (Boy, those are soooooo weird.) Noah was pretty doggone fascinated.








What'cha lookin' at, Gabe?


Huh?


They had a couple spacey-type attractions to try out, but there were height and weight restrictions (and waivers to sign). Wee little ones need not apply.

We also went to a little science class deal where they talked about "observation" and did a handful of science experiments to "wow" the kiddos. Paul and I were quite bored. They were all things you'd see in any typical elementary science classroom.


The pics of the other 3 watching didn't turn out, but Atticus looked on as well as anybody (with snacks in hand).

After we had toured the entire library (as best we could), they served birthday cake and punch on the patio. Happy birthday, Bill! We decided we'd have to do this every year, because our family should NEVER pay for something when we can go for free AND get a piece of cake. And by going and seeing a little bit each year, maybe by the time Noah turns, um...EIGHTEEN! we will have seen most of the important things to see about President Clinton's time in office. Maybe.




SOMEbody's sick of taking photos. And his initials are..."Noah."

The fountains were quite intriguing, of course. So--both going and coming--we spent a significant amount of time staring at, touching, and generally just being in awe of the water.





4. Our return home had a lulling effect, despite the crunching and munching of crackery snacks by the bigger three kids. Atticus and I were nodding off somethin' awful. In fact, Atticus conked completely out, but then woke up once we got him inside the house . (Don't you hate it when that happens?) Once he finally calmed back down and fell asleep I decided to lie down for a bit, and I ended up sleeping for a little over 2 hours! (This is particularly amazing because I'm almost never able to fall asleep during the day, no matter how tired I am.)

5. Dinner was brown beans, homemade cornbread, and baked sweet potatoes.

6. The kids ate ice cream cones outside for dessert.





Acting Like Twins

7. Then it was baths and beds...and Paul and I went to bed "early," too!

Sunday's Activities:

1. Homemade pancakes for breakfast. These are the most awesome pancakes ever, by the way!!


The trick is to separate the eggs, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, and then fold them into the batter.


Just take a look at all that fluffy goodness!!

Normally, I make them with blueberries, but we happened to be fresh out of Saylor's least favorite fruit, so I made them plain (to her great joy), and they are just as good this way. Recipe can be found here. We thank you, Bobby Flay, from the bottom of our hearts.

2. Off to church, only maybe 5 minutes late, which is oh, so good for us.

3. Lunch. (Nothing worth mentioning.)

4. And naps.

5. During naptime, Paul and I finally made a decision about homeschool curriculum this year.

Early on in the spring I started assessing whether or not to purchase an actual curriculum. You see, because I used to teach school (before having babies), I own a LOT of stuff Pre-K through 2nd grade (and some beyond 2nd). All this time I've been homeschooling I have not really needed to buy much of anything. Maybe I'd purchase a workbook for extra practice now and then or some kind of manipulative that I once had in the classroom but somehow don't possess any longer. That's been great, but what it MEANS is that I, the teacher, have to PLAN the homeschool curriculum. I have to go through the math books, the grammar books, the literature books, etc. and choose a little bit of each to make lesson plans with. Now, obviously, I know HOW to do that. After all, that was a huge part of my JOB as a teacher. But. I was a teacher with no other responsibilities. I wasn't even married for two of the years I taught! So I easily (and happily, I might add) spent every waking minute of my free time doing lesson plans, making this and that for the lessons, organizing my room, grading, etc.

It's different now. Now I have a toddler scooping toilet water out with a toy pitcher and dumping it into the bathtub (against my wishes, y'all, against my wishes), while I'm nursing the infant, while I'm helping the preschooler write her letters, and while I direct the 1st (going to 2nd) grader to (for goodness' sake!) sit down and get to writing his story! Oh, and did I mention that the phone rang twice during that scenario, I had to discipline the toddler (who knows better), clean and disinfect the area, and now lunch is looming over my head, which means as SOON as the infant is done nursing, I'm off to the kitchen to scrounge something up for them to eat (and I've got to get in there before the toddler sees me--because once he knows a mealtime is nearing, he loses all self-control and starts crying for food). Whew! And after ALLLLLLLLL the other millions of crazy things that will transpire in our typical day, once ALLLLLLL those children are sweetly sleeping in their beds, do you think for one second that I want to drag out school books and start making lesson plans?! Well, no, I do not.

Okay. That was long way to tell you that I was really hoping to give myself a break and find an all-in-one, easy, laid-out, integrated curriculum to use this year. At least for Noah. (After all, Saylor is still just Pre-K/Kindergarten, which doesn't exactly require a curriculum.) I did some research. I read reviews. I picked out a few which sounded good to me. They were expensive. I waffled. I went to the used homeschool book sale and looked and looked. Didn't see what I was looking for. Found a couple new ones. But chickened out since I hadn't read about them yet. Emailed a few people. Asked some questions.

And then one day I thought, "WHY am I about to spend $200-$300 on a new 2nd grade curriculum, when the bulk of my time as a teacher was spent at the 2nd grade level?! I have plenty. I'm just going to have to buckle down and get to planning." So that was that.

Until.

I heard about a new homeschool co-op group doing a classical curriculum. The tuition and fees pay for one day per week in a group setting (giving mom a day off) plus the materials/curriculum for the rest of the week. It's all laid-out for you. It's easy. It's a no-brainer. Oh! It sounded so good!! I checked with the director. There were spots available for both Noah and Saylor. But. It was expensive. It was even MORE than the curriculum I would have purchased weeks before.

After church, my friend let me take home her book and look over the first couple weeks worth of lessons. So I did. And I drooled. Not because it was stuff I could never think of. Or stuff I could never teach. Or amazing ideas. Or anything like that. But because it looked so EASY to do. So easy to just say, "Noah, here is your list of stuff you must learn this week. Here are your project choices. Here is what you need to memorize. Now. Go to it! (I'm here if you need any help.)" How nice would that be? And I thought both Noah and Saylor would enjoy themselves, getting to eat lunch and go to recess with peers, but be home with me 4 out of 5 days of the week. (Because I'd HATE to have them gone all the time!!) Anyway, just because I was drooling didn't mean I could HAVE the thing I was drooling over. We discussed. We looked at it from many, many angles. But it just came down to the fact that it was too expensive for us right now. So. If you need me for anything, I'll just be here making lesson plans. *weak grin*

6. We all went to bed at decent bedtimes and pondered how much fun we had during our Staycation. Staycation 2009. All-in-all it was pretty much a success. We adored having Daddy home with us, and though it has come to an end and life has picked up where it left off, we will always treasure the memories of our little family doing these many little things together and how big our love for one another has grown.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Staycation: Day 5

Day 5 Activities:

Today was a day of REST. We went NO-where and did NU-thing.

There were significant loads of laundry done. Even a wee bit of ironing. (I'm now at 12 items to be ironed, down from 38. Not bad, eh?)

There was toy-strewing and wackiness and...you might want to sit down for this...even MORE wrestling!! (I know you're shocked.)

Of course, we all had our individual choices of activities as well. Paul did his usual YouTube watching, I tried (in vain) to catch up on my Google Reader, and the kids?? Well, let's see...

Noah? Lest you had any doubt...Wii. A lot. The rest of the time he laid on the couch with Paul and watched Food Network and Bear Grylls, though not at the same time. ('Cause that would NEVER happen. Have you SEEN what Bear eats?! The execs at Food Network would die first before Bear made an appearance on one of their shows!)


Saylor? She watched Mary Poppins and AutoBGood (check it out--these shows are really great) and classic Donald Duck cartoons and played Calico Critters in her room. All alone. Just the way she likes it.

Gabriel? Ran around nekked most of the time. Hey, don't judge...it saves me from having more diapers to wash. Ha! I'm just kidding. (Mostly.) Plus it's easier for him to use the potty that way. He just takes himself right in there, gets the stool, places the potty seat on, uses it, flushes, and then washes. He really does! (But put a pull-up or diaper on him...and it is LICENSE to wet and/or dirty it!) Plus he's had an ongoing rashy issue down there for several weeks now, but you know what? You didn't ask to hear about THAT. You're here reading about our staycation, not my child's bum. If I decide to take you there again, I'll warn you with an appropriate title. Deal?

Gabe also made up a game while Atticus was finishing supper. He would run to the kitchen cabinets, stop and look at Atticus, then run toward him, screaming and laughing, and when he got to Atticus he'd lightly hit the bottom of Atticus's squeaky shoe just one time to get a little squeak. And then he'd run back and do it all over again. Atticus thought this was ingenious.


And what about Atticus, you ask? Oddly, he's got rashy issues, too, (oops!) which caused him to wake up in pain at 5:00 a.m. this morning, which caused ME to put him in bed with US, which caused him to sleep until 8:30, which meant his nap didn't start until more like 11:00 (which is normally when he'd be getting UP from a nap), which meant his whole day was C-R-A-Z-Y. However, he played and bounced and crawled and got into things and even performed a tiny bit...

video


Before you ask (not that there's any question)...YES, Atticus is on the toilet. (I know--he's going to kill me when he gets older.) He has actually "gone" on the toilet several times over the last several months. (I'd just like for him to be accustomed to things.) And he "went" last night, too. Good boy, Atticus!!

And despite our laziness, we actually did do a few things around the house. Paul made the meals today. Yay! And vacuumed our bedroom. And I sorted through the Rhea Lana clothes and a big bag of clothes Krista gave us. And went through Noah's outgrown clothes for Gabe and Gabe's outgrown clothes for Atticus. And then I did a little of this...


And a little of that...


I SO wanted to get around to this...

But I spent too much time doing this...
And then by the time the dishes were done, the laundry was in the dryer, the stained things were soaking, the alarm was set, and the lights were all out, I really only had the energy to climb into this...
Yes. It's looking like I'm gonna need a VAcation from my STAYcation.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Staycation: Day 4

Things are starting to wind down. Like our energy level. And our ability to make a plan and stick with it. Today was kind of wacky because we couldn't seem to decide what to do with ourselves, but it was a great day, nonetheless.

Day 4 Activities:

1. Some children actually slept later than usual today. Always a plus!

2. Breakfast was watermelon, banana, and bagels with cream cheese. Well, truthfully, someone had to have a hamburger bun with cream cheese, because we didn't have enough bagels. But there's no need to get bogged down in the details, is there?

3. There was even more tickling, wrestling, Wii playing, lazing around, etc.

4. We lunched on another Davidson fave: peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

5. Once we were all awake, dressed, and fed, we headed to the library. The kids picked out a few books while I used the library's printer once again. (Have I mentioned my Dell printer isn't compatible with our...oh. wait...)

6. We had dressed the kids in their matching Easter outfits to try for a picture. (When you're a parent of FOUR children, age 7 and younger, you say you'll try for a picture. There are no guarantees.) We found some beautiful flowers, sat next to them, even smiled and sat nicely, then Mommy clicked and POOF--out went the battery. For a brief moment I thought it was a fluke, so we tried again, got all set up and everything, and...nothing. Doggone!!

7. Back at home we switched cameras and tried one more time. We were not in as pleasant a mood as before, unfortunately.

Yep. This is as good as it gets today.
(The details you can't really see: Noah's shorts are madras, Saylor's dress is white eyelet, and she has a navy bow with a small lime green one on top. Baby blue, navy blue, lime green, and white. That was our "color scheme.")

8. I put the three youngest down for naps while Paul and Noah went to FedEx Kinko's. (Did y'all know they've officially shoved the "Kinko's" part out of the "FedEx Kinko's" title? It's so weird to me to think of "Kinko's" and call it "FedEx.") Ahem. We had to get our Notice of Intent to Home School faxed in to the Superintendent's office. Paul also took several of my school books and made some copies for the kids. Wasn't that sweet?

9. Next we decided to have dinner at The Purple Cow since the kids had never eaten there before. The food wasn't half bad. The kids had grilled cheese sandwiches ('cause I actually let THEM choose) with apple sauce on the side instead of chips ('cause I did NOT let them choose their side item). We ordered milk for the kids to drink and Noah said, "I knew they'd have milk here. 'Cause 'Purple COW.' Get it? COW?" Ha! Paul and I had burgers, which tasted somewhat homemade, I thought. If we ever go back, the only thing I'd do differently is go ahead and get the fries or at least something other than the fruit cup I ordered. Why did I DO that?! In my 35 years, I've never had a decent "fruit cup" at a restaurant. It's always 85% varieties of unripe melon, two grapes, a strawberry, and some slices of nasty ol' banana. I'm ALWAYS disappointed with the "fruit cup!" Afterward, the kids and I shared some kind of triple chocolate malt dessert thingie, which they kindly split four ways (their idea, not mine--wasn't that nice?) was much too rich for my "Plain Jane" taste. But...still good.


"Sweet potatoes and kale for ME, thanks!"



This is Gabriel's immediate reaction after first tasting the chocolate treat!

10. After dinner, I buzzed away in Paul's car over to the Rhea Lana sale, while Paul took the kids (all four!!) to Petco to look around just for fun. I mean, I left him IN the restaurant with all four and all the gear. So he had to gather stuff and children and shuffle through all the tables and cross the parking lot and buckle car seats and then stop and get out somewhere else and watch all four in a real and for real STORE. I'm so impressed with him! It was his very first outing on his own with all four kiddos under his care. You go, Daddy-O! (And just so you know, this was not my plan! The restaurant was just S-L-O-W for some reason, and it got too late for me to help him 'cause I had to be at the sale by 7:00. 'Cause being on time for a sale of this magnitude is of utmost importance...especially when it takes three whole hours to get the shopping done! Right?) Anyhoo, back to the pet store...


"Mommy and Daddy actually used to HAVE one of these things??!!"

Gabe thinks it might "hurt" him.

Seemingly unimpressed with the ferrets...

11. The Rhea Lana sale was an overall success. I noticed many of the items I had consigned had been sold, so...yay! And I purchased three large bags of clothing, spending an average of only $3.57 an item. And we are done. Well, except for pajamas and Saylor some shoes and probably a pair or two for Noah and new underwear and socks and Saylor some bows and Saylor a coat and maybe something matchy for Christmas. Except for those things, we are done.

Note of explanation: Rhea Lana is held in the old Linens 'N' Things building.

This Blog is in Constant Need of Repair

Okay. I just NOW noticed that my comments section has been MISSING entirely from my blog posts. What in the world?! So, I've spent the better part of nap time trying to determine the cause of that and then "fiss it." You'll be happy to know, all done. (As far as the rest of the crazy problems, I'll reserve those for another day, another nap.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Staycation: Day 3

Day 3 Activities:

1. Day 3 started out in much the same way as Day 2, in that Daddy was sleeping in. (Shame, shame. Ha!) Today was a cereal day. Unhealthy, but quick and easy.

2. We cleaned (some) and got dressed, but decided to stick around the house through lunch. So, Noah played the Wii some more, and the rest of us did various other things. There was a bit of wrestling and tickling and playing and blogging. And Atticus woke up like THIS...

NOTICE the hair??!!

Does anyone out there remember a little Woodstock toy (you know, from Peanuts) that had wispy feathers on top of his head and he bounced up and down (battery-operated) and his feathery hair would puff up and down on his head. We used to have one when I was a kid, so I am on the HUNT for a picture to show you just how similar my Atticus looks when his hair gets this way! SO CUTE!!

3. When lunch rolled around, we had a Davidson favorite: black bean burgers with some fruit on the side.



4. Then we made some homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. Didn't you know?! There's time for BAKING on staycations!!!!! Wow. Cookies and milk for a treat!



5. The babies went down for naps and a sweet friend from church came to stay with them.

6. Paul and I took the big kids "out" for a surprise.

"Where could we be going?"

7. We went to the movies to see Up.

Look UP!!!!!

And just consider this a review: Oh. my. word. I love that movie. It is precious beyond description. Cute, hilarious, endearing, inspiring, heart-breaking, creative, honest, wise, and deeply meaningful. It is all these things and more. I highly recommend it. (For mature 4-year olds and up, that is. It is quite suspenseful at times. On second thought, maybe 5-year olds. Little Saylor (usually not our sensitive one) is still a bit concerned about that bad guy!) And the BONUS was that we were the only ones in the theater. Yay! Otherwise, we wouldn't have been able to get THIS...

or THIS...


8. Got home, fed baby, changed diapers, gathered gear, etc. (We do this a lot, if you hadn't already guessed.)

9. Then off we went to Playtime Pizza. And this will serve as Review #2 in this post: Big place. Lots of noise. Food is way over-priced and not very appetizing. But it definitely has its fair share of excitement. And. Did I mention it's big? The indoor Go-Karts was the main draw for our little family, which works out perfectly for Paul, because he adores Go-Karts (and would actually really like to have his own someday). He took both Noah and Saylor on them (one at a time), which burned $10 just like that. Poor Gabriel. The one who loves cars the very most. He was too small to ride. He was truly heartbroken. Life just ain't fair, is it?

Anyway, there were a few (very few) little kiddie rides, which were thankfully free. SEVERAL games didn't work, which I thought certainly should NOT be, considering the exorbitant prices we'd paid just to ENTER this joint! Everything else cost anywhere from 25 cents (toddler-7-year old games) to 7 dollars (laser tag for BIG kids). Our crew chose several ball-throwing games, air hockey, a racing game or two, and UFO Stomp (one of those dance games where you step on the footprints in time to the music). The Davidsons came away champs, pretty much. Both Noah and Saylor (with Daddy driving) came in FIRST when Go-Karting (is that a word?!). And Mommy? Well, let's just say NO ONE (in that WHOLE place) could touch her score of 330,000 or so on UFO Stomp! Ha ha! I guess I finally found a game I can win. Go Davidsons!!!

All-in-all, we'd probably have to give Playtime Pizza a "C-" since the food was "just tolerable," there were games out of commission, there wasn't much AT ALL for the "under 4" crowd to do, and there was no place (I mean NO place) to get away from the constant arcadiness of the arcade!! I wouldn't have been shocked if someone had had a seizure on the way home. (And, y'all, I'm used to a lot of noise with four kids; so you know it must have been bad!!)

Posing with Pete Za (pretty lame, huh?)

I'm certainly thankful all those chairs weren't filled while WE were there! Yeesh!

"PLEASE, Daddy, PLEASE??!!!!!" (Like they had to beg...)


Gabe was NOT a fan of the mini-carousel

Gabe likes CARS!!! Remember?!


Hmmm...looks like our smiles are beginning to wane

A+ on this play area for my "rough and tumble" toddler

10. Dear, sweet Atticus was SO exhausted. And Saylor, having had no nap today, was pretty much "done" as well. Overstimulated and pushed to our very limits, we all returned home to our very OWN beds and pillows (one of the GREAT things about a staycation) and promptly turned in for the night. (Some of us had to get in a little TV and computer time first, but you get the picture.)

What are staycations for???

I'll tell you what they're for. They're for trying to get a little R&R, while foolishly choosing activities you think the kids will love, but that in actuality WEAR EVERY ONE OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Right??!!!
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