Sunday, February 28, 2010

Finishing Up

I hate that I'm consolidating a week's worth of items into two blog posts... BUT... it's already the end of the month! It's nice to be sitting down and relaxing tonight after our super busy week and after hosting the engagement party last night. It was such a fun time! The extra bonus that came along with hosting the party... my house has never been this clean! It's great! I finally feel like I'm caught up (for the most part!)
This afternoon I tackled all of the remaining items on my list. My husband and I got our automatic savings account set up, I listed three things for sale on Craig's List (a rocking chair, a pedestal sink & faucet and an iRobot Roomba that my husband won at work and we never use) and I have already had two play dates this week and the third is scheduled for Thursday.

The things on the list that took a little more time today were very gratifying to finally get completed!

1) Make a Cleaning Kit

This was really fun! I actually made two cleaning kits because I already had 2 caddies to hold my cleaning supplies in. They were previously being used to store cleaning supplies on a shelf in the laundry room and I would just grab what I needed out of them. Now, I have one designated for "Kitchen and Living" areas and one for "Bathrooms." I'm going to keep the bathroom caddy upstairs and the other one downstairs. I also made all of my own environmentally friendly cleaners today. Everything I made used one or some of the following ingredients: baking soda, vinegar, tea tree oil, olive oil, lemon juice and water. So, I now have a bottle of "All Purpose Cleaner" and a bottle of "Glass Cleaner" in each caddy and a bottle of "Mold & Mildew" remover in the bathroom caddy. I also made some furniture polish with olive oil, vinegar and fresh lemon juice, but I already used it all. I loved it! I used it on my tables and end tables. I'll definitely make that again! I also put two of my microfiber cleaning cloths in each caddy and a pair of some yellow rubber gloves I found in the garage in the bathroom caddy. It's nice to have everything where I need it now!

2) Clean and Organize Kitchen "Junk Drawer"

The before and after pictures probably speak for themselves on this one! I purchased a drawer organizer at Walmart today and boy, what a huge difference it made! I was able to fill a grocery store bag with trash out of that drawer AND I found my car charger for my cell phone which I have been missing for about eight months now! I also found a ridiculous amount of Sharpie markers. I've already used one four times today now!

3) Move Andy's Tub Toys

The bathroom that Andy "uses" is also the guest bathroom when we have company. In the past, we just picked up all his bath toys and shoved them in a drawer or put them in the sink. Over Christmas, we just moved them all to the tub in our bathroom, and that is where Andy has taken his bath every night for the past two months because I've been too lazy to move the tub toys back to the guest bath. Today I drilled holes in the bottom of a bucket for drainage and after Andy's bath tonight, put all the toys into the bucket and moved them to the other bathroom. Now the toys can go in the bucket at the end of his bath at night and if we have company we can just pick it up and move it to our bathroom (and back again!) without much effort.

4) Create a Monthly Meal Menu & Shopping List

My husband and I made a list tonight of the 13 dinners we eat the most and then I put them all on a 30 day calendar in Microsoft Publisher to print out and put in my household management binder. We picked 13 dinners because we are accounting for eating dinner out once per week and eating each meal twice. This filled 30 days on the calendar. Then I went through all of the meals and made a master grocery shopping list by category (meat, produce, canned goods, etc.) I'm going to go to the grocery store and shop for the month with my list and see if I can follow the menu for a whole month and only have to go to the grocery store for perishables after that. We'll see how that works out.

5) Create File Boxes and Filing System for Paperwork

Okay, so last month I sorted through all of our paperwork and put everything into file folders by category. At least it was all sorted, but it certainly wasn't organized! Now all of the folders are in two file boxes with hanging folders. One box is for all things house related an the other box is for everything else. It's a start. I'm sure there will be more files added, but for right now, at least it's all organized.

I can't believe it's the end of another month! I'll have to post my March list tomorrow. I'm actually starting to feel like I'm making progress for the first time since I started this mission. I know I still have a long way to go, but the more I cross off my list, the more momentum I seem to gain. I never really thought that changing the things I didn't like about myself could be so fun!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Playing Catch Up!

Whew! This has been a busy week... and it's not over yet! Today one of my best friends since 7th grade is coming into town, along with her Mom, to spend the weekend with us. Then tomorrow night we are throwing an engagement party for my brother and his soon to be bride! We are going to have about 25 people at our house! Eeek!

So, in the interest of time, here are the things I've gotten crossed off my list:

1) Make an eye doctor appointment

You would think this would be fairly simple, but I had to log in to our vision plan website to find out who was in network. My husband had previously set up log in information, but couldn't remember it, so I had to have them e-mail it to him at work, he forwarded it to me, etc. etc. and then I was able to look up and find a doctor on our plan. I called the office. All calls were being forwarded to the answering service. They told me to make an appointment online on their website. This took 20 minutes. No lie. But, it's done. Hopefully after March 15th street lights and signs won't look fuzzy when I'm driving anymore.
Just to let you know how slack I am, I made an appointment 3 years ago to go to the eye doctor. I went. I got my prescription. I never ever went to pick out glasses. So, it expired. I swear I will NOT do that same thing this time! (I hope!)

2) Clear out the Office
I really should put the word "office" in quotes, or at the very least, say "future office." Right now, it's just a room. Until last night, it was a room full of JUNK. My neighbors kids would comment on how messy it was. One of them told me that her Dad used that room for his office and she could see that we just used it for storage. Ugggh! Are we the neighbors with that house? We can't afford to build the wall unit desk we want or to purchase seating (which I'm determined to buy second hand), but at least now it's just a (mostly) empty room! Last night I cleaned everything out except for the things I need to list for sale on Craig's List (yes, that includes the random pedestal sink you see in the picture), the last box of the hardwood floors that we need to return to Lumber Liquidators (yes, my husband and I installed hardwood floors ourselves in the whole downstairs of our house the week after we closed on it. Very tedious. Very worth it!!!), the two chairs that are staying in the room, some computer stuff and some books that will eventually live on some sort of shelf.

Sigh. Deep breath of relief. It's nice not to have to look at that mess anymore when I walk in the door. And you know what? It only took me about 30 min. I should have done it a LONG time ago!

3) Touch Up Paint On Stair Walls

Okay, so our ENTIRE house was painted in beige flat paint. I can. not. stand. flat. paint. EVERYTHING shows on it, it's not washable, ugggh! I'm much more of an eggshell finish girl myself. Slowly I've been conquering one room at a time and painting it something a little more fun than beige, and DEFINITELY not flat paint! However... the hallway up our stairs... that's a different story! I could never get up that high to paint it over, so I will forever be touching up those walls. The builder left us a quart of wall paint for touch ups... thank goodness! Our hall walls were a MESS with a capital 'M'. Mostly from moving the king size mattress up the stairs. Matt and my brother did this. I was soooooo over moving by that point. It was over 100 degrees out the day we moved and we did it all ourselves. Fun times. I also hit the walls with the vacuum pretty much every time I go up and down the stairs. It looks a TON better! This activity also took me about 30 min. I can't believe I let the walls look like that for eight months!

and finally...

4) Set Up Payment Plan for MRI

Back in October I had to have a breast MRI done. (you can read about it here) After fighting with my health insurance for months, they are refusing to cover it. I'm so frustrated with them because the final letter they sent said that it's not standard medical practice to do a breast MRI for someone of moderate risk (which they are saying I am) and dense breast tissue (which makes it hard to accurately read a mammogram). If they don't consider it standard medical practice for someone of MODERATE RISK then there is something wrong. The radiologist that did my mammogram and ultrasound didn't hesitate for a second to say that I needed an MRI. The breast specialist I had to visit also whole heartedly agreed with that opinion, but I went up the chain of command at the insurance company until they finally sent it for an outside medical review. There is nothing further I can do. Thankfully the hospital gave me a 50% discount on my bill from the amount they were going to charge the insurance company, but it still leaves me to pay almost $700. I still would have had it done even if I had known ahead of time that the insurance company wasn't going to pay for it, but it still stinks. So, now I'll be paying $50 per month for over a year, but I know that I don't have breast cancer, so I can't complain too much.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Finally! A Blog Post!

Well, it's nice to finally sit down to do this blog post! Even if it is 11:44 p.m! I've finally finished painting the built-ins. Yahoo! Except for some minor touch up painting, but I've already put things on the shelves. I just need to get a couple picture frames for some photos I'd like to put out, but otherwise, I'm done. The picture above is of the right built in. The one on the left is identical. My camera broke, so I had to take the picture with my phone, and it just wasn't coming out very clear if I tried to take a photo of both at the same time.

I think my husband did a fantastic job building these! It's exactly what I wanted! It's so fun to finally be getting the living room set up. It's actually starting to feel more like a home. I'm super duper excited to throw an engagement party for my brother and his fiance on Saturday. It should be a lot of fun.

I know that this project took longer than my husband expected, but it was totally worth it! I also got some more things done on my list, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. I need to go to bed!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Resolution # 47

I know that it might seem like I've been slack lately. I haven't had any new blog posts or anything new crossed off my list, and I have been extremely slack with things around the house (laundry, cleaning and OH MY the vacuuming!), but it's all because I've been diligently working on Resolution # 47 ... Painting the Built-Ins.

When we chose the floor plan for our house and went to the design center to pick out our kitchen cabinets, fixtures and upgrades, one of the things we did not choose to pay for was the built-in cabinets on either side of the fireplace. There were two reasons for that: 1) My husband and I are big do it yourself-ers and we just couldn't justify paying over $1,200 for something that we could do ourselves for about $250 in lumber. Granted, the builder's built-ins would have been the same cabinetry as our kitchen cabinets and surely worth more than $250 in lumber, but that brings me to our number two... 2) We (when I say "we" what I really mean is "I" because I'm sure my husband would have defaulted to me on this one) wanted white cabinetry for the built-ins. I didn't want them to match the saddle finish kitchen cabinets.

So, here we are in our NINTH month of owning this home... and we are... finally... wait for it... putting in the built-ins! Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. My husband has done a FANTASTIC job building these. This is the most patient I've ever seen him with a project and the most attention to detail I've ever seen him have, and I have to say, they look awesome! So, why have I not had any new posts? Well, I've been caulking and painting these suckers for three days now. One of the things we learned about ourselves as a couple while renovating two houses is that caulking and painting, along with taping, mudding and sanding drywall is completely my department. Matt builds. I finish.

Right now he's out in the garage making the cabinet doors. I'm taking the time to type this up while waiting for the pink caulk I used to turn white and tell me it's dry so that I can finish painting. Tomorrow I will post a picture of the finished product!

The other thing I'll be doing tomorrow... picking every little easy to do resolution left on the list for February and trying to cram them all into one day to catch up. Fun!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Resolutions Are More Fun With Friends

Today I crossed a fun one off my list! I made 5 meals ahead for the week and froze four of them. My future sister-in-law and I did this together! We picked five dinners, looked through our pantries for ingredients we already had on hand, went to the grocery store for the rest and spent the afternoon cooking!

We have been talking about doing this for a few weeks. We both feel like more often than not, we will make dinners that serve 4-6 (when we are both only feeding 2 adults) and then we try to eat the left overs, but sometimes part of all of them end up getting wasted. We decided that if we got together every couple of weeks we could make some yummy meals and split them.

So, today's menu consisted of: Chicken Enchiladas, Chicken Pot Pie, Pasta Sauce (with ground beef), Broccoli & Cheese Soup and Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto. Yum! We also both had some bananas that were really ripe, so we made 2 loaves of banana bread. Now, of course I'm not eating any baked goods this month, so it just about killed me to put that loaf of banana bread in the freezer, but I sure am looking forward to breaking it out next week!

I know that Matt and I are going to get 2 meals out of our portions of the enchiladas, pot pie and pasta sauce. We had the risotto tonight and I have enough left over for lunch tomorrow. The best part about all of this... Jaime and I each only spent $26!

It will be fun in the future to get more adventurous with our recipes and try some new things, but it's certainly encouraging that we could make such yummy meals that will feed us for over a week on such a little budget. Plus, it didn't feel like a chore spending the afternoon cooking, it was just a fun afternoon with my best friend.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Everybody Needs a Lazy Day

Everyone needs a lazy day every now and again, right? I don't know if I have needed an entire week of laziness, but that is exactly what it has been! My week of self-imposed laziness finally wrapped up this morning with a massage and facial courtesy of my Husband... a gift certificate I got for Christmas... in 2008. Seriously?! I don't know a single person who would put off using a SPA gift certificate for 14 months! Well, it was wonderful! I loved every second of it!

Now, back to reality. I have been getting things done off my list this week, don't get me wrong, but I just feel like I've been super duper lazy around the house. Laundry is taking longer than usual to get done, I keep putting off vacuuming and mopping the floors and I still haven't clipped my coupons from last week. Mostly I have spent much of Andy's nap time this week re-reading old decorating and home magazines and spending entirely too much time on the computer. I don't know what my problem has been, but I've just been having a severe lack of motivation this week!

Well, that ends today. Time to get back on track. My husband has been ridiculously productive lately and I feel like I need to start matching that! I think I mentioned on here before that he gave up T.V. for the month of February and so far, I have loved the results so much I'm considering giving up cable altogether. I have watched very little T.V. this month as well, and I just don't miss it. Matt has been tackling long overdue projects around the house and he's been doing a lot more cooking (I love it when he cooks! I'm hoping someday to have the money to surprise him with a cooking class) and we've just been spending a lot more time together in general. I think that we have been inspiring each other to make changes in our lives together. We have been very blessed that we have grown and changed together and in the same direction in our 9 years together, but sometimes that can work against us as well. Sometimes I feel like we enable each other's bad habits and laziness a little too much, but lately that has all been changing. Now instead of encouraging each other to procrastinate, we are encouraging each other to get things done and feel that sense of accomplishment together. I'm not sure why it has taken us this long to get ourselves back on track, but I'm really enjoying growing even closer in our relationship and feeling like we are building a life TOGETHER and not just kind of moving through life simultaneously.

Okay, enough being mushy and sentimental! I seriously need to practice better time management skills. Starting NOW! I have my lists. I'm getting organized. But none of that matters if I can't keep myself on somewhat of a schedule. I work from home part time as well and I feel like I have been failing miserably in that department lately as far as structured work time goes. This weekend I need to get a daily schedule together for myself. I know it's not on the list, but it must be done. Okay... I'm off to get something accomplished!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Laminate Happy :-)

I love laminating things. I think that I would be really happy if I had my own laminating machine in our home office. A home office that might actually... one day... maybe... come to fruition! My intention was just to laminate my husband's monthly household chore list and my daily and weekly household chore lists... but I couldn't stop there. I also printed out the trash and recycling pick up schedule from our Department of Sanitation's website... and laminated it. Then I decided that I needed to make a little instruction sheet for doing laundry (in case, you know... there is ever a time that I'm not doing laundry... ha ha ha ha!). Seriously though, if something ever happened and I was sick for a week or needed to have surgery or God knows what, someone else should know how to wash the cloth diapers (because there is a process there!) and the couch covers, etc.

So, I'm going to hang all of these up in our laundry room. Maybe after I paint in there I'll get a cork board off of Craig's List and cover it with cute fabric and put all my laminated lists on it, except for the trash pick up and recycling schedule. That is going to go on the wall in the garage above the trash can. You would think we could remember what day is trash day, however, on weeks like this week, where Monday was a holiday it pushes trash day back by a day. The problem is that the sanitation department follows some holidays, but not all, so I never know if trash day will be on Thursday or Friday if it's a holiday week. Like this morning, my husband forgot to put the trash and recycling outside, so I hauled it out there, and while I was outside Andy found a tea light candle that he decided he would try to eat. When I came back inside he had purple wax stuck on his top teeth and he was holding the candle, shaking his head and telling me "Nooooo." That's right kiddo! Nooooo, scented wax does not taste good to eat!

So, needless to say, I sent Matt an e-mail, nicely reminding him to try and remember to take out the trash, blah blah blah... well, today wasn't even trash day. Tomorrow is. Because the Sanitation Department had the day off on Monday. Matt could have totally played that card even if he did forget and say he knew all along that trash pick up is tomorrow... IF we had a schedule up!

Okay, so the office. (Sigh) I have to get it all cleaned out before next weekend because we are hosting an engagement party for my brother & his fiance (who I might have mentioned before is also one of my best friends from college! Yay for gaining her as my sister in law!). The office is the first room you see to the left when you walk into our house. Right now it's serving as a very disorganized storage room. It's going to be a little while before we have the money to build the desk that we want along the wall in there, but in the mean time, I'm thinking I need to put some kind of table or something to keep the printer set up on. Right now I work on the laptop at the kitchen table and haul the printer out here every time I need it (which lately has been quite a lot!) so I'm thinking I need some kind of a temporary set up in there. It's hard trying to get organized without a good place to set stuff up.

Well... time to go check some things off my cleaning list... now that I only have 15 minutes left before Andy wakes up from his nap! Isn't that always the way???!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How to Make a Coupon Binder

I'm really happy that I'm crossing this off my list tonight, although this TOTALLY was not my plan! My plan for the evening was to lay on the couch and watch T.V. I haven't done that in a long time. I've been really busy at night either working on things from my list or doing contract work for the company I used to work for. They give me projects from time to time and I don't want to pass up the money! Plus, my husband decided to give up watching T.V. for the month of February, except for the Super Bowl, so, there has just been less motivation to sit and watch T.V. and more motivation around this house in general to do other things! In fact, as a couple (my husband in particular), we have been so productive around here without T.V. that I even called the cable company to find out how much our bill would be per month to only have Internet and phone and get rid of the cable completely. Turns out it would be $50 less per month. Right now we are trying to weigh out if we think we are getting $50 a month's worth of enjoyment out of the cable... I am thinking not... but we'll see.

ANYWAY... tonight, all I wanted to do was watch T.V. and zone out. However, my husband was in the family room with me and I didn't want to be rude and kick him out, so I was going to put on the latest episode of Mad Men to show up On Demand (because I told him that I made the decision he could watch Mad Men because we are trying to watch Season One in order and they don't stay On Demand very long, so at the end of February he would have missed a bunch of episodes). Well, for whatever reason, it wouldn't play the show. Finally I just gave up and came downstairs (two hours ago) and decided to work on something from my list.

So... I tackled the chore of making dividers for my coupon binder and organizing all my coupons by category. Ummmm... tedious! I personally find it easiest to organize my coupons in baseball card holders in a 3 ringed binder. I like having each coupon in it's own slot so that I can see what I have. I have decided it will be easier for me to organize by category and not by date, so I made a Table of Contents page and then title pages for each category and they are tabbed with corresponding numbers. At the end of my binder, I printed out some blank calendar pages so that I can jot down reminders for things like when my CVS Extra Care Bucks expire, etc.

I know that everyones brain works differently and some people would have a lot more or a lot less categories, but this is what works for me:

1. Meats
2. Snacks
3. Pasta
4. Soup & Canned Fruits & Veggies
5. Baking & Breads
6. Breakfast
7. Condiments & Salad Dressings
8. Prepared Sides & Rice
9. Drinks
10. Dairy & Refrigerated
11. Freezer
12. Candy
13. Baby
14. Ziploc, Tinfoil, Cling Wrap, etc.
15. Paper Products
16. Cleaning Supplies & Laundry
17. O.T.C. Medications
18. First Aid
19. Beauty, Hair & Body Care
20. Pets
21. Office Supplies

Now, I don't actually bring my binder to the grocery store with me when I shop. I do see a lot of other shoppers with their binders in the aisles when I'm at the store, but I would be way too scatterbrained if I tried to do that. So, I match up the coupons I have with the deals in the weekly sales fliers and I make my lists for each store ahead of time. As I'm making my list, I pull the corresponding coupons out of my binder and put them in an envelope marked with the store name. Usually I'll just go to one grocery store and then CVS and or Walgreens or Rite Aid because they are all very close to my house. It just depends on where the deals are that week.

I'm definitely still a novice at this whole couponing thing, but I'm hoping that the more organized I am, the more money I will save our family.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why I Hardly Ever Read

Growing up I read a lot. The past ten years or so, not so much. I really enjoy reading and want to read more, but I feel like I need to find balance. The reason that I hardly ever read anymore is that I have this problem where I can not function in day to day life until I finish whatever book I am reading... especially if it's particularly good. I'll start a book and stay up reading until 2:00 in the morning and then the next day I'll read any chance I get. Nothing gets done around the house. I'm trying to force independent play time on my son so that I can sit on the couch and keep reading. I pass him off to my husband as soon as he walks in the door from work so that I can go stay up until 2:00 a.m. again and finish my book and then be COMPLETELY non-functioning the next day too because of a lack of sleep!

And if it's a SERIES of books... and it's GOOD... forget it! There is no hope that our house will survive a week straight of me reading.

I don't know how to find that balance. My goal this month was to read one book. The book I chose was Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner. She also wrote In Her Shoes and Little Earthquakes. The reason that I picked that book was because I had already read the first quarter of the book... almost a year ago. (pathetic... I know!) I started the book last spring and then life just sort of got in the way. I even brought it with me to the hospital when I was in labor. (Boy was I delusional thinking I would read then!) I hadn't picked up the book since. So I picked it for two reasons: 1) I had already started it and I needed to finish it. Plus, my Mom had given me the book to read and on occasion asks if I've finished it, and then I just feel stupid that it's been over a year and my answer is still no...and 2) I figured that if I hadn't been prompted to pick it back up yet, then maybe it wouldn't suck me in to the point where I couldn't put it down and I could just read a book like a normal person. WRONG.

Sunday night I resumed my reading. The second part of the book totally sucked me in. I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. and finished the book. Sigh. So, I can cross reading a book off my list, but I still need to figure out how to find some balance in that department!

Thank You Notes

This was a good one to cross off my list... my thank you note to Aunt Sue. Aunt Sue is my husband's Great Aunt. Last year when Andy was born, she crocheted him a beautiful baby blanket and packaged it up with several other homemade Christmas trinkets and sent the care package just before Christmas. I wrote her a thank you note along with all the rest of the thank you notes for other Christmas presents we received, and put it in the mail. Or so I thought. Admittedly, my thank you notes were not done on time. So 3-4 weeks later I received a note in the mail from Aunt Sue asking if we had gotten the package, because she hadn't heard anything from us and if not, she would trace it through the postal service. At the time I thought oh, our notes must have passed in the mail. Well, not so much. About a month ago when I was unpacking a very haphazardly packed box, I found that thank you note to Aunt Sue... along with all the other Christmas thank you notes I had written. Sealed. In their envelopes. Addressed. No stamps. NEVER MAILED!

So, now, not only had Aunt Sue sent Andy what has turned out to be his favorite "blankie" but she also sent a follow up note checking to make sure we received it, and then NEVER HEARD A WORD OF THANKS FOR OVER A YEAR!!!! I'm mortified. Yesterday I wrote her a long apology and included the original note, still sealed in it's envelope. It went out in the mail today.

I know that most of my friends no longer send thank you notes for any gifts they receive, but I still try very hard to do so, even if they don't get out on time. Sending them in a timely manner is something I need to get better at for sure.

This is the kind of thing that I might have let go on for another year and it would just nag at me and I'd always feel bad about not rectifying the situation. It feels really good that I didn't do that this time. I just apologized and took care of it. I'm starting to like the "new" me!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Being Girly

I might be the only girl on the planet who would go SEVEN months in a new house before getting her closet set up! It's not like we were doing any remodeling or anything. It is a brand new house and it is BY FAR the nicest and largest closet I have ever had. I have no good reason (or excuse) for letting it go as long as I did. I know that the fact that I can't fit into 90% of my clothes right now probably had something to do with it... but STILL!

It took me two days. I got all the clothes off the floor and got everything washed. I unpacked a bag of clothes I had lent a friend when she needed a bigger size right after her baby was born. She gave those back to me a good nine months ago. The fun part about those clothes was that I had forgotten a lot of what I had! Plus, now that I'm finally, FINALLY committed to losing weight, I think that I'll be fitting in them soon. They are all my summer clothes, and I feel confident that I'll fit back into them by summer. Who knows, maybe they'll be too big! Hey, a girl can dream!

Here is the sad part. I didn't have very many pairs of shoes to start with... and I had to get rid of EIGHT pair... including both pair of boots. My feet grew a half a size when I was pregnant with Andy and they are all just too tight now. So, this leaves me with 1 pair of dressy flip flops, 2 pair of casual flip flops, 1 pair of navy blue heels, 1 pair of sneakers and 1 pair of crappy worn out black casual flats. So, when I reach my first weight loss goal, which is getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight, I'm rewarding myself with a new pair of shoes. Same goes for when I reach my second weight loss goal, which is getting my BMI into the "normal" range.

I also organized all my jewelry & polished all of my silver jewelry that had tarnished. Today I bought a two pack of really cheap tie hangers from Walmart that are coated with a velvet like fabric. I hung my necklaces from the hangers and hung them from the rack in my closet. I also now have a clothes hamper in my closet so I have no excuse to throw dirty clothes on the floor.

And finally, I vacuumed. I am pretty sure the closet hasn't been vacuumed since we moved in. To be fair, it wasn't that bad. The carpet had been protected by all of the clothes covering my closet floor! When my husband walked in to look at it he told me that it was so GIRLY in there! That made me smile :-)

Not What I had Planned

Well, that picture is the scene from the balcony of our hotel in Myrtle Beach on Saturday morning! Yup! Snow! The first time it has snowed there in TEN YEARS! What are the odds it would happen over night before my half marathon? Well, we found out at 10:30 p.m. Friday night that the race was cancelled. I was really bummed. I had been so excited and nervous and anxious for February 13th to get here. So, now I'm not sure what race I'll be running in. The two races for the spring season with Team in Training are in San Diego and Seattle. I'm not sure I can make either of those two trips and I know that the fundraising minimums are higher. I think they are going to try and find another race for us to enter that is within driving distance. Of course I would LOVE to go to San Diego, since I've never been, so I'm (not so) secretly going to look into making that one work, but not get my hopes up!

One lesson learned this weekend: Do not bring your 17 month old to stay in the same hotel room with you the night before a race. Well, not if you want to get any sleep anyway! Ha! This was a good practice run to know what NOT to do for the real thing!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Totally Nervous!

Well, I'm done packing to head to Myrtle Beach and run in my very first half marathon tomorrow! I'm running with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. I am super proud of the fact that I raised $2,595! Now, all I have to do is finish that race! The thing that is going to make it interesting is that Myrtle Beach is expecting 2-4 inches of snow tonight and it's supposed to be 28 degrees, windy and still snowing at race start tomorrow! Eeek! I went to THREE stores today trying to find some thin gloves to throw away when I warmed up during the race and no one sold gloves! How bizzare! I'm not throwing away my good ski gloves, so my Dad suggested I put 2 old socks on my hands! ha ha That is my plan. Hopefully they won't have to cancel the race. This is a really exciting challenge in my life, and the first thing I've followed through on in a really long time.

Okay, so I've actually started on my closet. I'll finish it this weekend and write about it in my next post. I'm not sure what else I'm going to tackle this weekend. I guess it depends if my entire body feels like jello or not after tomorrow!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Are You Smarter Than a 17 Month Old?

I'm trying to teach my son to say "Please." He does really well with "Thank You" and he knows how to say please and he knows sign language for please... he just chooses not to say it. He just asked me for more water, so I was working with him to say "Please." Since he wouldn't say it, I told him he could get more water after he said "Please" and took him upstairs to change his diaper. Well, he carried his sippy cup upstairs with him (without the top), went straight into the bathroom, turned on the cold water in the tub (because he knows the difference between hot and cold and is obsessed with the cold... he turns it on during his baths and pours cups of ice cold water over himself... maybe he's hinting that he'd rather live up North! ha ha) anyway, he filled his sippy cup just a little bit and then drank the water! Then he filled it a little bit again and drank it down... and just kept doing this over and over and then gave me a look like "fine! If you aren't going to help me I'll do it myself, but I'm NOT saying the word PLEASE!"

I hate when I'm outsmarted by my 17 month old!!! Sigh.

Yesterday I crossed two things off my list. I made a vet appointment for Milo. Milo is our cat. Anyone with a cat can TOTALLY understand why I've procrastinated taking him to the vet. He's a really good cat... at home. I also signed up for Upromise (, we'll see if that turns out to be worth it and the Publix Baby Club( The Publix Baby Club is a really good deal if you have Publix in your area. You even get a free book called "Caring for Your Baby and Young Child." I wonder if it teaches manners?

I feel like I should tackle something bigger today, like organizing my closet (YIKES!) but we'll see. I also feel like I should confess that I ate 3 Oreo Cookies, which are neither a baked good or a bread product, but I still shouldn't have had them. I didn't know my husband would bring a package of Oreo's into the house when I made my February list or I probably would have also added "no eating over-processed junk food cookies!" Oh well... they sure were good!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Keep the Change

Last year I noticed that my husband would leave a ridiculous amount of change and sometimes dollar bills (or if I was lucky, five or ten dollar bills!) in his pants pockets. I would always find the money in the dryer and get all excited because my attitude was totally one of finders keepers! Well, last April I decided to start a little challenge and save all of the change and bills that I found in the wash for 1 year and put it all in the bank for Andy. Of course, at the time, I assumed I would open a savings account for Andy long before now... but... well, this blog wouldn't exist if that was how my life worked!
So, now, 10 months later I finally made it to the bank with Andy in tow, to open his very own savings account! Yesterday I emptied out his big white ceramic pig full of change and the glass milk bottle I had filled with bills. Now, I have never rolled change in my life. I don't know why I assumed this would be some major time consuming hassle, but I've always just dumped my change into the Coinstar machine at the grocery store... call me lazy. This just didn't seem like something the new me should do, and I didn't want to short change (no pun intended) my son's savings account. So I sorted all the coins, went to Walmart and got some change rolls and rolled all that money up myself. Do you know what? It only took me 15 min. to sort and 10 min. to roll. Live and learn I guess.

Well, 10 months into my laundry coin challenge and ... drum roll... Andy opened his savings account with $135! I'm sure my husband is kicking himself because he could have totally gone on a nice little shopping spree to Best Buy with all that coin! I'm surprised that I was able to keep from raiding that piggy bank for so long, because we are signed up for the Keep the Change program with Bank of America and it totally doesn't work for us. There is always some reason that I end up moving that money back over to our checking account. It never seems to get above $50 or so. Just now I looked up what our keep the change total is over the entire length of time that we've been signed up for the program... it's $2,988.38. Gulp. I'm kicking myself for not having the same discipline with that account!!!!! It's hard to see it spelled out that way! Okay, so lesson learned. If I can keep from raiding the piggy bank then surely I can keep from transferring that money back into our checking account! I guess it's just easier to click the mouse a few times on the computer than it is to pull that darn rubber stopper out of the bottom of the pig!

gDiapers Review ~ Part 2

Well, I guess it's time for the conclusion of my gDiapers review since I caught myself telling my husband earlier that "I'm loving these gDiapers!" Andy has now successfully napped in his gDiaper (and he naps for 3 hours every day... yes, I realize I'm really lucky... but wetting through cloth diapers was a problem at nap time), pooped in his gDiaper and gone overnight in his gDiaper. I'm happy to report that we have not have any leaks or blow outs thus far!

My main concern when I started using them was that I wasn't sure if they would be economical for us. When we were using the Fuzzi Bunz when Andy was younger, we just had the initial outlay of money and then really didn't have a monthly diaper budget to speak of. I was not so keen on the idea of buying the inserts regularly for the gDiapers. Of course I was in love with the idea that they were flushable and biodegradable and that I will be able to compost the wet diapers (starting a compost pile is TOTALLY on my list this year... sometime...) but if they weren't going to save me money, well, then that was a tough sell. My solution has been that I'm using the cloth inserts from my Fuzzi Bunz when we are home and I can change him more frequently and using the disposable gDiaper inserts when we are out running errands and for naps and overnight. This would probably have been more of an adjustment for me if I hadn't been exclusively cloth diapering for almost a year, but it was easy to slip right back into the habit of tossing the liners into the diaper bag, along with the cloth wipes and running them through the wash.

One funny thing that has come out of all this is that my son has learned the word "Awesome!" He's only 17 months, so it's super cute when he says it! I was a little hesitant to flush the inserts at first. Maybe because we'd lived in a house built in 1920 for so long, I'm just naturally panicky about plumbing issues, but I had to remind myself that we now live in a house built in 2009 so why not give it a go?! I followed the instructions and was truly amazed at how the inner core just broke apart with a good swish in the water. When I was watching it all flush down and thinking how GREAT it would be to not have to empty a trash can full of disposable diapers every day I said "Awesome!" and my little mimic repeated it right back to me! ha ha! Now he says it all the time.

So I guess that sums up my review of gDiapers... totally AWESOME! (I just wish they were sold in more places)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Not Getting Any Easier

Today was a hard day. God bless my husband for putting up with my minor emotional breakdowns (and the major ones... but there was no hyperventilating crying going on today ... or any crying for that matter!... so I'm counting it as minor). I have a problem, and I'm not sure if other people are the same way or not, where I will just have one or two or sometimes three little things happen that stress me out and all of a sudden I'm running through the laundry list of things in my head that are stressing me out, getting more and more worked up, feeling more and more anxious and then it all just SNOWBALLS! As my husband pointed out to me today, none of those things are even related! There is no reason to let one affect the other.

I think my major issue today is that I just had this overwhelming feeling like I can't keep up. My house is a DISASTER, I desperately need to go grocery shopping, I fell off my diet bandwagon over the weekend and I was just feeling like there were not enough hours in the day today to get everything done. I'm just still not caught up on things after being gone for 10 days, home for 2 and then gone for another 2 and a half. So, this was my general mindset today. Then, I opened a letter from the mortgage company that our monthly payment was increasing by $100 a month on our rental house because of a shortage in escrow since our taxes and insurance went up. This was pretty much my tipping point. I think that was the major anxiety inducer. Then I went upstairs and was just OVERWHELMED with the smell of poop. I went into the bathroom and saw that the dogs had totally and completely ripped apart a disgustingly dirty diaper that I had left in the trash can from earlier and not yet taken outside. I was using disposable diapers today until I could get my gDiaper covers washed, so all of the gel filling from the diaper was all over the bathroom floor. The dogs have never done that before, so I thought nothing of leaving the diaper in the trash can there.

I told Matt tonight that I don't know when I'll start feeling the effects of the accomplishments I'm making on my list. When I look back, I feel like I have accomplished a lot in the past 5 weeks, but yet I still feel very stressed and anxious and lately have been having trouble falling asleep at night because my mind is always racing. The problem I am having now is that if I try and tackle long overdue items, then I'm neglecting my daily chores. If I focus on my daily chores, then I'm not accomplishing anything big from my list. I feel like I'm just failing at finding that balance between the two. My goal is to get into a good system at home with chores so that I have a free hour while Andy is napping to tackle a long overdue item. So far, I just haven't made it to that place. The same goes for gaining better control over our finances. January was the closest we've been able to stick to our budget in I don't know how long, but yet, we still didn't make any "extra" headway on debt.
I know I'm still figuring it all out as I go, and I'm trying really hard to remember that these things aren't going to happen over night. Matt reminded me that I wrote in my blog that I'm in this predicament from YEARS of neglecting things I should have taken care of. I am reminding myself that is why I think it will take me a full year to straighten my life out.

So tonight I washed all of my maternity clothes (yes, Andy is 17 moths old... please don't judge me!) and packed them up in a bin, where they will stay, nice and clean and organized until they are needed again (hopefully in the not so far away future)!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Can I Get a Do-Over Please?

So, apparently when I go out of town my brain just short circuits and I totally forget all that I am trying to accomplish. I hate that I have to start my count over on how many days I have gone without baked goods or bread, but, that's exactly what will happen as of tomorrow.

My husband and I went out of town this weekend to use a LONG overdue (as in THREE years... yes I feel extremely guilty) gift certificate for a stay at a bed & breakfast in North Carolina. We left Andy at my Dad's and had our first child free night in 17 months and 9 days! And it was great! So, we were at the B & B and they had told us that they put out a snack in the afternoon, so before I got in the shower I asked my hubby to go down and see what kind of goodies they had! He came back with 2 pieces of pound cake. It was the best tasting pound cake I had ever had (probably because I hadn't had any baked goods in over a week!) It was not until a good 15 minutes later when I was blow drying my hair and thinking about going downstairs for another piece that it hit me... I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO EAT ANY BAKED GOODS!!!! WHAT WAS I THINKING???!!! I immediately said something to my husband. He said he was wondering what I was doing, but wasn't going to call me out on it. Then I remembered that I had a piece of banana bread for breakfast that morning at my Dad's... that had TOTALLY not registered with me either! So, then this morning, the inn keeper made us the most delicious puff pastry pancake thing with apples. What was I going to do? Refuse breakfast at a bed & BREAKFAST??? So I enjoyed every bite of that apple pancake-y goodness! Then my Dad made us chicken parmesan subs for lunch... and guess what I did?! I enjoyed every bite of that fresh baked sub-roll (heck, I even went to the store with him to BUY the sub rolls!)

So, I totally failed this weekend on my toughest item on the list for February. The old me would probably say "Oh well I already ruined it" and just give up for the month, but instead I'm just going to admit that this is hard, chalk it up to being out of town with other people feeding me and be okay about not being totally in control of my choices, and just get back on track tomorrow!

When I got home today I went to the grocery store to get a Sunday paper. The store was insanely crowded. Why did everyone leave their Super Bowl Sunday party shopping until 5 p.m. on the day of the Super Bowl??? (what am I saying? That's TOTALLY something I would do!) They didn't have any papers, so I went to Walgreens. They don't even carry papers, so I went to another grocery store. They had newspapers in a thing out front, so I used all the change left in my wallet to buy one. Although I was previously undecided on what today's item would be, there is NOTHING I'd rather do right now than sign up for delivery of the Sunday paper!!!

I checked the mail when I got home and had a package from one of my very best friends. It had some adorable note cards with my initial on the front that she bought me a while ago and just recently found, along with two super cute pictures of her kids. It just totally made all of my frustration from driving around looking for a newspaper dissapear. Thanks Micaela! You are the greatest! :-)

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Dream of Having a Cute Laundry Room

Maybe someday I will have one of those cute laundry rooms that you see in magazines, but for now, I'm happy that I can walk from the door to the dog food container without climbing over blankets and baskets! Ha! Today's item was done out of necessity! My neighbor is coming over to feed our dogs tomorrow afternoon and I don't think she could find their food if she tried. Our laundry room was A MESS! I could deal with the stuff on the floor because that was all slowly going away as I made progress through our laundry, but what I couldn't handle was all the STUFF piled on the dryer. I couldn't actually reach the controls to start the dryer without knocking something off the top. Admittedly, I didn't really put ALL of that stuff away in it's proper place. Some of it just got relocated until I can deal with it at a later time (that time NOT being today!). I'm horrible about that! I move the mess from one spot to another when I'm "cleaning." I'm trying to be better about that, but I don't always succeed. Sigh.

So, I have a problem where sometimes I don't want to start a project unless I can finish it TOTALLY & COMPLETELY how I want, which is why I was saving "organizing the laundry room" for later in the month. I have some fun sea foam green paint left over from another project that I'm going to use to paint the walls and my husband and I would also like to put some cabinets up above the washer and dryer and some base cabinets with a counter top on the other wall behind the door. Alas, that is not in the budget right now. So, for now, my laundry room is organized. But it will be WAY more fun when it gets a makeover! Maybe it will even be cute!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

This is REALLY Hard!

So, this is only my 4th day giving up bread and baked goods, but I'm really struggling! I'm SO incredibly exhausted! It's like my body doesn't know how to function if I'm not eating poorly! Not that eating bread is bad for you, but the amount of simple carbs I was eating definitely was. I just keep reminding myself what it felt like to not even want a Coke at the end of last month and if I can just get through the next three weeks I'm going to feel SO much better... plus I lost another pound, so that is certainly encouraging... but OH MY GOD! I didn't think I'd feel this BLAH!

I figure if I put all this on here it will help keep me from cheating. Change is not easy, but I know how good last month's accomplishments felt and I'm determined not to fail at this only two months in!

gDiapers Review ~ Part One

Yesterday I went to Babies 'R Us (because they are the only store that carries them around here) and purchased a 2 pack of Little gPants and a package of disposable inserts ( I started Andy in them after his nap yesterday, and so far, I like them. The jury is still out though because he hasn't had a poop in them yet, slept through a nap in them or gone overnight. They are, however, holding his wet diapers just as well as disposables! The big difference (besides the inserts being disposable) between these and the Fuzzi Bunz we were using when he was younger is that I only have to change the insert for a diaper change, not the cover. Since the Fuzzi Bunz were pocket diapers, I had to change the cover and insert, so that created more laundry than these will. I have read in some of the reviews that most poopy diapers do not stay contained in gDiapers, that you have to change the cover as well. I'm hoping that won't be the case for us most of the time. Andy's poop is pretty firm and I think it will stay contained most times, but we'll find out.

One thing that I really like about the gDiaper is how soft the elastic band is around his legs. Another thing is the fit. They fit him really well and aren't at all bulky so it does not make a difference in how his pants fit. One difference in the gDiaper from both the Fuzzi Bunz and disposables is that they Velcro to the back instead of fastening to the front... that will take some getting used to. I keep wanting to put them on backwards! Inside of the outer cover, there is a snap-in vinyl liner and you just lay the insert inside of the liner. I have found them pretty simple to use.

They are very easy to flush as well. You just separate the outer cover of the insert from the inner core and put them both in the toilet, give them a good swish with a stick (I'm using a toilet wand that you can put a scrubby cleaning pad on for the toilet) and the inner core breaks up pretty easily as soon as it hits the water. Right now, I feel pretty comfortable flushing them! If we were in an older house, I probably would not.
Now, here is the issue... the disposable inserts are actually more expensive than buying disposables. This is only going to be a viable option for me if I can keep the cost the same or less than disposables. My plan is to put my cloth inserts in the liner instead of the disposables when we are home and when Andy hasn't just sucked down 2 large sippy cups full of milk or water, and just use the disposable liners if we are going to be out of the house for a bit and during nap time and overnight. If I can kind of create a hybrid of cloth and disposable diapering but be using disposable inserts that are biodegradable, then I will feel like I succeeded! I'll definitely still use the small and medium Fuzzi Bunz the next time around, because I love not having any waste at all, but it's nice to know that I have a new option for this stage.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How to Make Your Own Baby Wipe Solution

When Andy was younger we used cloth diapers pretty much exclusively for him, unless we were traveling. On the recommendation of a friend, we decided to go with pocket diapers and chose Fuzzi Bunz. They were easy to use, we hardly had any leaks or blow outs and they were just so darn cute! We would pre-load the diapers with the inserts at night while watching tv and have them in his drawer ready to go whenever he needed a change. At first, we were using disposable wipes, but we found that since we were tossing the diapers and the inserts into the diaper bag, we didn't like being left with the disposable wipes to throw away, so I started making our own wipe solution. Our initial purchase of 18 Fuzzi Bunz came with several cloth wipes for free. They are just flanel wipes that look like they would be very inexpensive and easy to make. I have read that some people tear paper towels and make their own solution for disposable wipes, but for us, we figured that as long as we were washing the diapers, we might as well throw the wipes in too!

Well, a few months ago, cloth diapering stopped working so well for us. Andy has transitioned to urinating less frequently during the day, but having more liquid each time. Every time he would go, he would completely soak through the insert and his clothes would be wet. I tried doubling up the inserts and although that held the liquid, I couldn't get any of his pants to fit right because he was so bulky around the bottom, that if the pants fit there, they were huge in the waist. We decided to switch to disposables. I completely underestimated how much all of that diaper waste was going to bother me, so today I went and purchased two gDiapers to try instead. I'm hoping that maybe the disposable and biodegradable inserts will be more absorbent than the cloth ones and I still plan to use my cloth inserts instead when I know he should be dry for a while. I'll post about using the gDiapers tomorrow. I'm going to try them out when Andy wakes up from his nap today.

So, long story short, we had gotten away from using the cloth wipes when we switched to disposable diapers, and I have really missed using them. First of all, they are softer and smell much nicer, second, they are MUCH more economical and third I just feel like the disposable wipes are kind of harsh with all of the ingredients. So, today I got my cloth wipes back out and I mixed up a new batch of solution. I keep my wipes in an empty disposable wipe container. The recipe is really simple!

Lavender & Tea Tree Oil Baby Wipe Solution
3 cups of water (boil water first and let cool)
2 Tablespoons of baby oil (I use lavender scented)
4 drops of tea tree oil
1 tablespoon of baby shampoo (I use Aveeno Baby Lavender & Vanilla Calming Comfort Bath)
2 Tablespoons of witch hazel

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and pour over cloth wipes in wipes container! Simple! You can vary the ingredients based on your brand preference or any allergies your child might have. This is so simple and will save A LOT of money! You should wash your wipes in a hot wash cycle with a cold rinse. I used to put mine in with the cloth diapers to wash, but now I think I will just wash them with my towels. I'll just drop them into the cloth diaper bag that I have hanging next to Andy's changing table when I'm done.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What I've Accomplished So Far!


Give up Coke for the whole month ~ THIRTY ONE DAYS! WHOO HOO!

Mail Team in Training letters

Put reusable grocery bags in car

Write Christmas Thank-you notes

Follow up with health insurance on MRI bill

Pack up, organize & store Christmas decorations

Make a vet appointment for Callie

Drink a cup of green tea every night

Paint half bath

Start taking my Metformin every day

Organize Pantry

Unpack Farm dishes

Organize gift cards in change purse from Grammy

Make a trip to Goodwill with items to donate

Finish linking all accounts to BOA "My Portfolio"

Don't eat out for 1 week

Establish maintenance schedule for rental properties

Organize tupperware and lower cabinets

Sort through crochet bag

Sort and organize ALL paperwork (in dresser, kitchen & file cabinet)

Set up recycling bins

Take clothes to the dry cleaners

Organize coat closet

Start a family activity calendar

Update Baby Book

Start a "Household Management Binder"

Set up a "Birthday Calendar"

Clean out keychain

Order wedding photos

Walk or run 6 days per week

Brush dogs every day for a week

Bring It On, February!

Well, I'm back home, safe and sound, from my week and a half long trip to visit family in Florida. It's definitely good to be home and I'm ready to fall back into a normal routine, although, it was really nice staying the week with my Grandparents at their retirement community. We didn't eat out at all while I was there, which is something I plan to continue as much as possible now that I am home.

I liked how simple my life was this past week. It's something that I spent a lot of time thinking about on my drive home today. I feel like I have a lot of things in my life right now that cause complications and I am going to work on identifying those things and start working on eliminating as many as possible. I hardly watched any t.v. while I was there, which was nice, didn't spend much money, went for walks with my Mom and Grandmother, enjoyed family dinners and spent a lot of time doing various activities with Andy. It was so nice not to have to worry about cleaning my house, or doing massive amounts of laundry (I did do some laundry there, but it was really easy) or planning meals. I want to work on getting to a point in my life where I have more time to spend just enjoying the more simple things in life and spending quality time with my husband and son.

So, today on my way home, Andy and I stopped for lunch at Chick-fil-A so that we could eat, and, more importantly, he could burn off some energy in the play area! I ordered a coke with my lunch because I thought it would taste really good after 32 days without it. I also ordered a chicken sandwich and waffle fries. Very healthy, I know! A funny thing happened... I was only able to drink about a quarter of my Coke. I also only ate two fries and about half of my sandwich. My body just didn't want it. After a month without Coke and a week and a half without eating out, I just didn't want or need it! I honestly couldn't believe it. I have given up Coke before and been successful for about a week, maybe two, but was dying to have one at the end of the two weeks. Maybe for me, the trick is to take something away for a whole month?! I think for February it's going to have to be bread and baked goods. This one is going to be SOOO hard. I think much much much more difficult than giving up Coke. I'm not giving up carbs, I will certainly still eat pasta, but from all the reading that I have done on different PCOS diets, they all say to cut out refined flour. For right now, I think I need to cut out ALL breads, but after the month is up, I'll add whole grain bread back in. I just don't think I can give the others up too unless I give up them all.

So, my February list is up! I'm totally up for the challenge! After crossing 31 things off my list, I'm inspired, so bring it on!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pre-Emptive Dog Hair Collection

While my wife and son are living it up in a retirement community in Lakeland, I had to stay behind and work, go to birthday and work parties, and keep the house in a somewhat normal order until Colleen got back in town. I was given a list of chores to do around the house as well as one item from "The List", which I agreed to do only if I could do the post as well. My mission was to brush the dogs outside every day for a week and see if it made any difference in the amount of dog hair that was vacuumed up every day.

There are some things on Colleen's list that I didn't know were items that caused her stress (see: Wedding Album, Home Improvement Binder, and Key Reorganization), but I completely agree about our dog hair situation. Our three dogs do nothing all day but sleep, eat, poop, and shed hair. We have this mini Shark vacuum with a clear canister that shows all of the hair being picked up. We use the Shark downstairs on the hardwoods and I can finish that in about 5 minutes. Before starting this experiment, the canister would be consistently 3/4 full (the canister being roughly the size of a Foster's Oil Can beer).

For my experiment I used the furminator ( deshedding tool. It costs about $40, but we've bought the cheaper ones and they don't work nearly as well as this one. Each dog received 50 strokes with the furminator and I ended up on average with roughly a ziploc freezer bag's worth of dog hair every day.

I noticed a difference during vacuuming immediately. What used to result in 3/4 of a canister every day was now less than half a canister! That doesn't sound like much, but when you have a 16 month old running around the less hair sticking to them the better!

So, I will call the Pre-Emptive Dog Hair Collection Project of 2010 a success. While I probably won't de-shed them every day from now on, maybe it's something Colleen and I could split doing during the week :)