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Friday, February 25, 2011

Hiking with Little Ones

B Daddy and I love being outside. Our collection of outdoor toys rivals that of most any household. Two boats, six bikes, a three man tent and about eighteen backpacks are stashed in our tiny garage just in case an opportunity presents itself to go have an adventure.

With two kiddos under age two, it's usually easier to stay home and hit up the park on Saturday; but this past weekend we threw caution to the wind and drove up to one of my favorite easy hikes, Dukes Creek Falls in Helen Georgia.

The kids did great; Sweet B (aka #2, aka Britain) slept the whole hike in and the Squirt toddled along, picking up sticks and rocks and dragging Monkey (his puppy dog lovie) through the dirt.

We brought lunch and ate down by the falls (all of us, even Sweet B) and the Squirt fell asleep just as we finished up. It was so much fun to share this love of ours with our kids. Why have kids if you can't indoctrinate them early, right?!

My recommendations for hiking with a toddler:

1. Get a hiking pack for your kiddo to ride in
2. Pick a short but super scenic hike
3. Bring snacks. Lots and lots of snacks.
4. Make up games to play along the way.
5. Expect it to take 4 times as long as it would take adults alone.

Most importantly - remember it really is about the journey, not the destination!

So how do you pass the things you love along to your kids?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Confessions of Self-Righteous Budgeter

Oh Dave Ramsey. How you haunt me.

Last time I posted about the Leipprandt family finances, I was embracing the brokeness and finding joy in the journey. That was September.

In October we got some not so exciting news about our health insurance premiums going up. As in UP. UP UP.

In November, for the first time since beginning this journey back in 2007, I realized that our outgo was going to be more than our income. Not by too terribly much, around $200 or so. Without cutting back our comfortable lifestyle (Tivo, eating out, spur-of-the-moment $2 Buck Chuck purchases) we were going to have a negative cash flow month. I did realize at the time that in the grand scheme of things, this was a rich person's predicament. A few small sacrifices and we'd make our budget without issue.

But you might also recall that I was 8 months pregnant in November. And I had an 18 month old. Who had a double ear infection. Who was not napping. Poor poor me.

It was too stressful, this budgeting thing, knowing that the numbers weren't going to add up the way I wanted them to. So I punted. I didn't pull cash out, we just used our debit cards. (No big deal right?) And then I didn't actualize the budget. (Why was I doing that anyway? It's not like there wasn't still money in the checking account.)

And November turned into December, then January and now February.

For months now we haven't been living on a budget. We've been swiping our debit card at will, secure in the knowledge that Chick-fil-A and Target can't possibly break the bank. Right?

We've been fortunate, the checking account hasn't been overdrawn. But we haven't been putting money into our Roth IRAs or the Squirt's college fund either, because I haven't known how much we had available to put away. So Saturday night we sat down at the computer with a bottle of wine (as any good budget conversation should begin) and took a hard look at the dirty truth. There's not enough money right now to go into all of our neat little categories.

Come March we begin anew. Cold hard cash from the ATM, little white envelopes and everything.

Because I know it's worth it. This Dave Ramsey thing is like losing weight. First you have to do the REALLY hard work - the strict diet, the brutal exercise. And then you start seeing your progress and it doesn't seem so very hard anymore. And then you reach your goal and you discover you LIKE working out and you FEEL BETTER when you eat your vegetables. So you keep it up.

And that's when you know you're free. You're free to have cake when you want it without feeling guilty. You're free to skip a day or a week of working out, because the healthy habits are ingrained now. You're not falling off the bandwagon without getting back on.

So we're jumping back on that wagon. Anyone want to join us?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Seventh Day

This afternoon I'm at rest.

So difficult to do. In this season. Laundry, working out, grocery shopping, feeding and cleaning and feeding and cleaning. It's the rhythm of my life right now and it is good. It is purposeful.

But this day was made for rest. And this Sunday afternoon is all glorious. My slippered feet are stretched out in front of me on our red striped hammock and it's quiet. The chickens are scratching down below me, birds are calling out and the sun is slanting in to warm just enough of me.

I need this more often. Don't we all? Our Creator knows that we do.

To swing back and forth, back and forth in the quiet. Adjusting my rhythm until I find the holiness of the seventh day and the simplicity of rest.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I've Become a Potthead

In addition to the craziness a 2 month old has added to daily life around the Leipprandt house, I've got a strange new addiction - Harry Potter.

I downloaded all 7 books onto my Kindle just before Britain was born and am just about to finish the last one. I was really hoping to read all 7 in the first seven weeks of Britain's life, but these darn kids keep getting in the way of my reading time.

So anyway, I've joined the Harry Potter fan club and now I'm DYING for the final movie to come out! Are any of y'all Pottheads too?!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Accepting the Unperfected Life: Post 2

You all know by now that I have issues with coming off as having it less than all together. It's something that I'm God is working on.

Desiring to have it all together is one reason you haven't seen kitchen re-do pictures or pictures of the Squirt's big boy room or even #2's new nursery. None of them are finished. None are close to perfect. And even if they are finished one day, they will likely never be ready for a close-up because of dirty dishes, dirty clothes, dirty name it. My "my house always looks this way" self wants to wait and take the perfect picture, once the shelves are totally accessorized and the fresh cut flowers in their vases.

But like I said, this desperate need to have it together is something that we're working on, so here's a glimpse of the Squirt's new big boy room - in all it's imperfect glory.

Remember the room before??

Here's the best shot I could get of it today:

This is the corner we all curl up in each night to read books before bedtime.

The climbing wall! Envy of toddlers neighborhood-wide.

The office-turned-bedroom closet

Still totally lacking in organization, but I've made a start with these bins...

We still want to hang some book shelves within toddler reach and I have a little coat rack/diaper bag holder project up my sleeve, but realistically this is 98% done.

Thanks for helping me admit I haven't got it all together...maybe soon you'll get to see the kitchen too. : )

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Homemade Playdough

It's a full month into the new year and most of you have already given up on your resolutions, right? That my friends is why I set goals this year instead.

One of my goals for 2011 was to be a more creative mom. With this in mind, I (oh-so creatively) Googled around for indoor toddler activities and found a classic, Homemade Playdough.

Eljiah and I made this in less than 10 minutes one day during an Atlanta blizzard (snow flurries to you Northerners) and it has provided at least an hour's worth of entertainment since.

Sidenote: If an hour doesn't sound very long to you, you do not live on Toddler Time. Toddler Time is like dog years. One minute equals one hour and one hour has been known to last up to one week in Toddler Time. Even if you don't have a toddler yourself, you may occasionally find yourself on Toddler Time. This most frequently occurs when you are in a hurry and unavoidably land behind a harried mother of two at the grocery store.

But Homemade Playdough. It is AWESOME. Never again will I get caught on game night with a shriveled nugget of Cranium playdough!

Here's the recipe:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt (we used Kosher)
2 Tbsp Cream of Tartar
1 Tbsp lotion (any old kind will do. We used J&J baby lotion and I think it helps keep your hands from drying out while you're playing.)
1 cup water
Food coloring

Mix the first 4 ingredients together in a saucepan, then cook for 5 minutes or so over medium heat while stirring in water. You'll know it's done when it looks like...well...playdough.

Add several drops of food coloring and let the kids help knead until your color comes through nice and bright!

This recipe makes a good sized hunk of dough. You could definitely split it in half and have two different colors. We made yellow and blue, by which time my creative juices were overflowing, so I showed the Squirt what happens when you put the two together. Genius. Sheer genius.

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