Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving

We gave our thanks for a great many things this year.
Our family.
Our friends.
Our countless blessings...

And Turkey!

Grandma giving Ian a lesson on turkey cleaning.
He was really into it!
PIE!
YUM!
Our feast! The turkey was from McGinnis Sisters and it was great!
Stuffing, 2 kinds of cranberry sauce, Mashed potatoes, squash, dinner rolls...
and no vegetable. Because we forgot it. (Ha!)

My first trip to the ER

I've never had to go to the Emergency Room before (that I know of) 
and I don't plan on going again anytime soon.
2 weeks ago we caught a stomach bug...
probably the same one that pretty much every person I know has now had.
It was nasty, even though it didn't last very long.
I'm not sure what happened to me or
why it was so much worse for me, but for a while
I felt like someone was sitting on my chest and I couldn't breathe.
So... we went to the ER just to be on the safe side.
At that point, we didn't know it was a stomach bug that was going to 
hit the whole family. We thought it was just me.
So I had the full cardiac work up to make sure I wasn't having 
a heart event. I wasn't. 
In the middle of the night that night, Ian and Aaron
were vomiting, too.
But we did recover in time for Thanksgiving, thank goodness. 

I

Ki-Yai-Yai-Yai

Indians said they'd come!

...To the Thanksgiving show at Ian's school!



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lauren's adorable winter hat

Bought it from Etsy! Isn't it just precious?

Happy 30th Birthday to Me!

I'm an old lady now... An old lady who is finding it difficult to actually write blog posts right now! There is a second birthday post coming about my fabulous friends, but I need to track down a picture before I can post it!

Cookie cake from Grandma & Grandpa Bishop while we were on vacation
Nutella cheesecake I made for myself!
Birthday present from Ian!
Ice cream cake!
campfire on the patio with the kiddos
Dave & Busters with the Johnsons...
can you believe how big Isaac is??
Birthday gift from Roger- a Le Creuset frying pan!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ian's first time on electric guitar

And Lauren doing to sweet dance moves, while keeping up with the pedal.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Best Indoor Play Places in Pittsburgh (updated!)



We are entering the winter indoor play season again so I thought I would update and repost one of my most popular posts ever! Here are the 'Burgher Tots' choices for best indoor playplaces in Pittsburgh for 2011-2012!


Restaurants/Fast Food:
  • Big Mac Museum- North Huntington, PA
    • This is hands down, the most fun and cleanest indoor play area at a fast food place that we've ever visited. Of course, it's McDonald's and you have to accept that for what it is. There's a bathroom in the play area so you don't have to pack up your stuff & kids to take your tot to the potty. There is a lot of seating, high chairs, etc. There isn't much of a "toddler/baby" play area here, though, and it is a bit of a hike for some.
  • McDonalds - Rt. 286, Plum, PA. 
    • This McDonald's Playplace is HUGE. It has a 3-story building to house the playground. There is also a toddler/baby play area that is (mostly) separate from the rest of the playground so the babies are a little safer and able to get down. It opens at 10:00am.
  • Chick-fil-A- Monroeville, PA 
    • Better food than a McDonald's in the opinion of most. The play area is really small...just a slide and small climbing area, but it is always clean. The kids love it and nobody is ever scared to go up to the slide. 

"Fun Centers"
  • Wildwood Highlands-Wildwood, PA
    • It can get pricey, but it is a huge, clean, exciting indoor fun center. There is a large climbing structure and a smaller "under 3" section. There are also games and tickets like a Chuck-e-Cheese.  The food is pretty good (and reasonably priced). Check out the "Preschool Special" if you go on a weekday. Downside: it doesn't open until 11am. 
  • My Little Outback- Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
  • E2-Greentree, Pittsburgh, PA
    •  There's a pirate ship playground with a slide and climbing wall. TONS of ride-on toys, play kitchen, baby play area, trains, etc. If your kids can't find something to keep them busy, I'd be really surprised! They also have tables for you to bring your lunch! (They even have a nut-free table and will disinfect it again before you sit down if you ask them to.) Free coffee for parents/guardians. Opens at 10:00am.
  • Jumpin' Castle, Warrendale, PA
    • We have been to the JC twice. It seems a little $$ to me, but I think all the nice playplaces are pricey. There's a toddler play area, a huge climbing structure, air hockey tables, a climbing wall, puppet theater, ball room, bounce house, etc. No food or drink (other than the water fountain) allowed. It's always clean, but I could see it getting very crowded. 
Malls:
  • Ross Park Mall
  • South Hills Village
  • Pittsburgh Mills
  • The Mall at Robinson
My problem with mall playgrounds is the germs. I know you'll probably think I'm nuts, but I think they have to be as germy or more germy than the doctor's office. It seems like if we don't wash the kids in hand sanitizer when we're done playing, we end up sick. They're great in a pinch, but if I can swing it, I tend to avoid them. 

What are your favorite indoor spots for the under 5 crowd? I'm not familiar with many in the North Hills, or in the city. I'm always up for a new adventure, though!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Family Photo Shoot on my Birthday

We went out in the back yard this afternoon to try and take a picture of our family. I decided we don't take enough pictures of our whole family so I wanted to commemorate my 30th birthday with a mini-shoot. We didn't really have high expectations for it...we were using the timer on the camera and we have three young children. That we got a couple with them all looking at the camera is a feat in itself! We were also just "as is." Nobody really had their hair done, no makeup, no dressy clothes, etc. But maybe now that we know we can do it, we will try to do a fancy one.




Friday, November 4, 2011

One Year of Cloth Diapering

We are closing in on a full year of cloth diapering our youngest child. We started when she was four months old and it has gone well for the most part.

Once I figured out that I need to wash her inserts with a little bit (like a Tbsp.) of bleach each and every time I wash, it was smooth sailing. For some reason Lauren's diapers always got stinky/funky right after she peed (even if they smelled clean when they came out of the wash) and the only remedy I found that eliminates the stink was a little bleach in the wash. She must have really stinky pee. What can I say?

Our wash routine is this:

Diaper covers and liners (and wet bags) into the washing machine on a long, hot wash with detergent. I use Arm and Hammer free and clear. After the first wash finishes, I remove the covers and wash the liners with a tablespoon of bleach. When the 2nd wash is done, I put the covers back in and run a full wash cycle with just water. If I come back and see soap bubbles in the mop sink (where our washing machine drains) I run another rinse cycle. (And I keep doing this until I don't see any more bubbles in the mop sink.) Most of the time I'm done after the first rinse. After the diapers are done with the washing machine, I put the inserts into the dryer (on low) and hang the covers to dry either outside on the line or inside over the banister.

Our stash consists of:

16 Bumgenius 4.0  (12 snap and 4 velcro)
4 FuzziBunz One-size
4 Charlie Banana One-size

We own some flips (hey Alayna!!) and a couple of hand made dipes, but we don't use them. I don't like things that leak... and the Flips and the hand made diapers both leak for us...so we don't use them.

What I like about Cloth Diapering:

  • So.Much.Less. spent on something that we throw right into the garbage can. Ian and Aaron still wear some kind of disposable diaper (pull-up, slide-on) for sleeping, but other than that, we've virtually eliminated disposable diaper use from our house. (Two potty trained, wooohooo!) Our monthly diaper bill went from about $80 to $10. (I'm estimating $10 because it costs about $30 every 3 months to restock our  pull-ups.) 
  • So.Much.Less. garbage. A family of 5 can generate a lot of trash, but if you take the disposable diapers out of the picture, the garbage bags are a lot lighter! We used to put out two full-sized kitchen garbage bags of disposable diapers...each week. Yes, we are generally using fewer diapers these days anyway, but the difference is very noticeable. 
  • They look cute. Nobody can deny it. They just look CUTE. 
By the numbers:

320 = the number of dollars we spent on the stash of diapers we actually use on a daily basis
1,825 = the number of diapers changed just for Lauren this year. (averaging 5 dipes/day)
620.50 = the number of dollars it would have cost to buy disposable diapers for Lauren this year. (averaging      5 diapers per day, keeping in mind some days it's a lot more diapers than that!) 

So what? $300 bucks savings? Is it really worth it? 

Yes. 

For me, it's more than just the dollars spent. It's about no chemicals against my baby's bottom. It's about reducing our non-biodegradable garbage output. It's about fewer diaper rashes. It's about  making a decision to live healthier and wiser and sticking with it. And if you think about it, I spend a lot of extra money buying healthier things. So why, in this case, wouldn't I rather spend less on the healthier option?

Why haven't we taken the plunge for Ian & Aaron's nighttime needs? We haven't really decided what will work best and more importantly, we don't know that making a huge investment when we are so close to being done with them. Most importantly, both boys have tried and expressed a dislike of the way cloth diapers feel during the night...sleep is very important to us. Jeopardize it we will not. So part of the reason is stubbornness, part of it is comfort. 

Should you cloth diaper your kids? Yes. You should at least try it. You might find you like it! And you really can't ignore the straight up economics of it.








Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween 2011 - Super Mario Style

We bought the Mario (Aaron) and Luigi (Ian) costumes because
 last year's purchase of Buzz and Woody was money so well spent. 
Playing dress-up with their halloween costumes is
a lot of fun for the Vandervort Boys. 
Lauren's costume was very low-key. She just wore regular clothes since 
she spent most of her in-costume time hitching a ride in the Ergo carrier.
I bought her a white fleece winter hat to which I glued
red felt mushroom spots.
She will be able to wear the mushroom hat all winter and that's a great
buy for $1.99. (And the hat came as a set with mittens from Walmart!)
I made Roger a Bowser costume, but it was quite cumbersome
for wrangling tots. And I wore a (bought) Princess Peach costume.
It was really fun to have a family "theme" for Halloween this year
and I think we'll try to continue the tradition for as long
as our little minions let us...
Hey, maybe next year we can be Gru, Vector, and Minions from Despicable Me!