I have many friends who either use the Cricut, or wish to buy a Cricut and want to know more about it.

My first advice – if you are interested…search Youtube from some videos. There are lots of them out there that will just give you an idea of what the Cricut does.

Now, for the products:

1) The Cricut uses cartridges. There are TONS of cartridges out there. Some are expensive. Some are retired. Some have lots of really cute die cuts. And some are pretty useless to me. LOL
2) Cricut Design Studio. This is software to help you design a page of cuts with the cartridges you own. You can however, sneak peek what are on all the cartridges. BUT you can not cut out a design without the cartridge.
3) Gypsy. Handheld device to design a page of cuts. You can also store your cartridges on this device so you don’t have to bring all your cartridges with you to crops/friend’s home.
4) Markers. Pretty cool. Instead of cutting, you can “draw”. Or you can draw and then switch to the blade and cut. Then you have an outlined version of your cut.
5) Deep Cut blade. I haven’t used this yet (nor have I purchased it). Apparently, you can cut thicker products – cereal boxes, fabric mounted on stabilizer, etc.
6) Vinyl. Pretty cool. You can cut vinyl to make a sign for a window, stenciling for your wall, glass etching, etc.

But now you venture into the “illegal” world. There are third-party products out there that allow you to cut using SVG and TTF files on your computer. SVG files are graphic files and TTF are fonts. You can download many free fonts to your computer and with these “illegal” software products, you can use your Cricut to cut these. I personally use Sure Cuts A Lot. But there are more out there – Fairy Cut or Make the Cut. There may be more out there… One thing to say about these products – if Provocraft, the maker of Cricut determines you have used one or more of these, your warranty will be void.

I get some of my free fonts at dafont.com and 1001freefonts.com . I also check in every Friday for free fons here Free Font Friday

I also like to shop at Custom Crops . They have a nice graphic of what each cartridge can cut. And plus they have some really good deals!!

All this information can be overwhelming. It takes a little while to digest. But I love using my Cricut. I don’t over do it, but I probably use my Cricut on at least 1/2 of my pages. Maybe even 2/3.

You can make cards, banners, boxes, letters. You can cut vinyl and put up stencils on your wall. Or make a etched glass plate/block. It’s a very versatile tool.

Today, I attended the funeral of one of my baton teachers. Yep, I was in baton. All of us girls were. We all loved it. We were in the competitions, lots of parades and just shows for the parents. It was lots of fun.

The baton teacher had two girls. They were a little younger than I was. But I remember them fondly. We had lots of fun running around together. We even went to their cabin on Bass Lake a couple times.We were invited to boat and ski. We even watched their father and cousin run a “marathon”. Well, we thought it was a marathon, it was probably a 5K.🙂 I remember glow sticks. I remember their swimming area. Their grandparents, Chuck and Bernie built a home right next to the cabin. The last time I was there, the home was mostly finished, but not quite. Behind their boat was the first time I skied around a lake. I was able to use the “cheater” skis. They were latched together. It’s the one and only time I have been able to ski.

So, I’m standing there saying a long-due Hello to one of her daughters. My appearance at this funeral, in her eyes, is just another baton student, in a long line of students. I’m not sure now if I’m intruding on a personal time – saying goodbye to her mother. But I mean no ill-will. Her mother was invited and attended my wedding. And isn’t that how it goes as you get older, the only times you see people seems to be at weddings or funerals. Life keeps you busy. And keeping in touch with people in the past is a hard thing to do.

It is also difficult to think that these moments – going to the cabin and baton, were huge events in my life. We were really excited to be going camping and meeting up with people that we knew. We thought that was so cool. I’m not so sure that their daughters think it was a huge event. I think they had people visiting them every weekend. LOL

So, those are my thoughts of the day. Judy – you will be sorely missed. Your soul shone so bright while you were here. I will miss your cheerfulness. This world needs more people like you. Rest in Peace.

Ok, so I’ve been telling some of my mommy friends that I have been getting my diapers really cheap or free!

They all want to know how. So, here I go:

First – sign up for Amazon Mom. It’s free. You get 15% off your orders. And you get two-day free shipping Prime membership. Remember, it’s FREE!

Amazon Mom Signup

Next – you want to find the diapers, wipes, and anything else you need on a monthly or regular basis and put it in your cart. Remember to change the option to subscribe and save. I can get Huggies, Size 3, 156-count for $22.34 a box. Regular price is $31.91.

Ok, so now for the free part, or almost free. I participate in Swagbucks. It’s a website where you download a toolbar and search through their website. Sometimes you get awarded points. You can also earn points by taking their daily poll and just checking to see if you qualify for surveys. You earn even more points for actually taking the surveys. There are other ways to earn points, but I don’t really use them too much. Apparently, you can earn points by watching some tv clips and playing games. You can also earn points, 2 per each dollar spent, by clicking a link to shop at some of your favorite stores. If you want to sign up, click here:

Search & Win

Then, I redeem 450 swagbucks for a $5 amazon gift card. I apply my gift card balances to my account and then, when it’s time for my diapers to ship, I pay nothing or a little more, dpending on how many certificates I have saved up!

It’s a great deal. I previously used Target diapers. They are a great quality diapers for the least amount of money out there. But free is better! LOL

And subscribe and save can be used for so many things other than diapers. You can do it for shampoo, conditioner, etc. I just stick to diapers for right now.🙂

where people get their panties in a bunch about the holidays.

People. There are lots of them. Lots of variety. Black, white, brown, and everything in between. Catholic, Jewish, non-secular and bunches more. Adult, child, infant, embryo. Male, Female, trans-gendered. Straight, gay. The differences never seem to end.

There are lots of celebrations this time of year. Chanukah/Hanukkah, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and a whole bunch more.

The media has chosen to hype Christmas. They’ve made it very popular. They’ve done a very good job at commercializing Christmas and Santa. And every year, it seems to be introduced earlier in the year. I saw Christmas decorations out at the same time as Halloween decorations. A bit early, in my opinion.

Since the media has chosen to popularize Christmas, those celebrating other holidays, or those who choose to celebrate Christmas without “Christ” have been looked down upon.

I don’t understand the refusal to accept other people’s beliefs. And it really gets heated about Christmas. Whether I choose to believe or disbelieve in God has nothing to do with this holiday season. There are many faiths and we all celebrate this season in much the same manner. With family. And giving. And celebrating those two together. There are also miracles celebrated. The birth of Christ, the miracle of a little oil lasting eight days, an appearance of an image on a gentleman’s cloak, and celebrations in race and the “old world”.

So, what difference does it make if I say to you Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas? Happy Hanukkah versus Happy Kwanzaa? As long as I’m wishing you joy during this season, you shouldn’t take offense.

According to the pie chart on this page: http://www.religioustolerance.org/worldrel.htm who draws their information from the U.S. Center for World Mission, 33% of the people in the world are Christian. That means that 67% are not. 67% of the people do not celebrate Christmas. Keep in mind these are worldwide figures.

In the United States, 76% of people designate themselves as Christians, according to Wikipedia here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States . Yes, that’s the majority. But it’s not everyone.

So, please, when someone wishes you (as a majority-hold Christian) a Happy Holiday, don’t be offended. Say “Thank you and Merry Christmas to you.” It’s just your way of sharing your joy of the season and it is their way of sharing their joy of the season. Don’t be offended when you hear Happy Kwanzaa or Happy Hannukah either. Just because you (as a majority-hold Christian) are in the majority, doesn’t mean everyone celebrates the same holiday as you.

I also hope that if you happen to know a Jew, Pagan, African-American, etc. that upon their holiday, you wish them joy of their season. Or as an employer, you allow their family to celebrate and give employees off the time they deserve without consequence.

It’s all about acceptance. Acceptance of people in general. Their celebration might not be your cup of tea. But it’s not polite to poo-poo their celebrations. Let’s be polite and celebrate how we wish without judgement.

And please, no comments citing this quote and that quote for or against who started Christmas. You can find quotes all over the Internet. In fact, the two places that I cited earlier may or may not be reliable in the figures of the percentages of Christians in the world. But I pulled my figures from there – so I cited my references.

how and WHY my mother (of 4 girls) could keep the house clean.

Before AJ was born and until he could crawl around and get into things, we were very lazy on the house-cleaning front. If we were to have company, we would literally spend the entire weekend cleaning the house. And not just de-cluttering, but cleaning. Dishes, the stove, the oven, the bathroom (YUCK!), the floors. It took the two of us about 10 full hours to clean the home to be presentable for company. (Did I just admit that! LOL)

Well, now as the mother of three wonderful children, I know why and how. You HAVE to keep the house clean, or it drives you crazy. You HAVE to be organized, otherwise your day will get the better of you. If you go to bed without the dishes cleared from the table and counters, they just multiply. 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there saves you 10 hours of cleaning times 2 adults. You see, being able to put 10 straight hours of anything is impossible these days. Especially when you clean one room and move onto the next and the children have messed up the one you just cleaned.

I have a group of friends (HI! March Moms!), and we are doing a cleaning challenge. I’m finding that I really don’t have to do much of the cleaning that’s being suggested. For instance, we are following the Flylady. This week was the kitchen. Deep-cleaning the microwave, the oven, the stove. Those are typically clean. I wipe up most spills when they happen. Wiping fingerprints off the front of cabinets. I do that already, everyday. The kids fingerprints drive me crazy. The only thing I have left to do is to clean the fridge. Although, I have no outdated food in there, it does need a proper cleaning of the shelves. And the freezer – now that needs work. It should just be called the money pit because we put stuff in there and it always ends up in the trash 6 months later. However, I did de-clutter my countertops a little. I had too many piles, now I have letter sorters with folders. Now, just to make sure they go in their place!

when you look at a picture of your daughter and your heart swells with pride and your eyes fill with tears.  My gosh, she is just beautiful.  Where did she get that from?  LOL

DSC05709_1

She is just so darn cute. I love her giggles. I love her smiles. She has one dimple. On her left cheek. She very ticklish. She loves when Daddy bicycles her legs very quickly. And she loves watching her older brothers. She always is looking around for them. And they are always wanting to play with her. Makes my heart feel like it’s about to explode sometimes with cuteness overload.🙂

Ok, so I don’t blog a lot.  But life has been hectic.  I have a 10-week old daughter now.  And she’s not been a happy camper.

She has made her father and I manic-depressive about our parenting skills.  LOL  Or rather our ability to calm and soothe an infant.

At 3 weeks old, Emily was put on Zantac for acid reflux.  She was arching her back, having wet, painful burps and wasn’t sleeping well.  After a couple days on Zantac, she was a different baby.  She would gently fall asleep in my arms, instead of us having to walk, bop, pat and shhhhh all at the same time.

Well, three weeks ago, she started it again.  Except it didn’t click in my head that it could be the acid relux acting up.  After all, she was on meds for it.  Right???  And meds are supposed to work.  Right??

Wrong.  Apparently Zantac can stop working for some.  And it’s just not in infants, either.  It’s also in adults.  As a matter of fact, any acid reducer/heartburn relief medication can suddenly stop working and you try another “brand”.  Go figure.

Well, two weeks ago, she started arching her back at feedings.  And she started spitting up more and having wet, painful burps again.  I thought it was an allergy/sensitivity to dairy.  So, I cut it all out.  Everything.  No butter, sour cream, cream cheese, milk, yogurt, nothing with casein or whey in the ingredients.  It’s pretty extreme.  BUT, there are lots of substitutes available now.  Not a huge deal.  They’re not as tasty, but I’m dealing with it.  She finally nursed again after eating once in 28 hours and was doing well.  This was after a visit to the ER.  If ever your child is sick and you go to the ER, they immediately become better when you walk in the door.  LOL  And you’re out your co-pay.

Then 6 days later, she’s doing it again.  This time, I was a little smarter and got her to nurse – but I felt that tricking her into eating (by making her go to sleep and “dream feed”) was not a healthy habit to get into.

Off to the doctor for the 4th time that week and we got a prescription to Prevacid.  From my research, it is a low dose, but we got it.

We are on day 4 of the new med.  And she is finally acting like a 2 1/2-month old should.  She can sit still without crying.  She can play with toys.  She’s noticing her hands and grabbing things to put them in her mouth.  You see, before, she was in too much pain to be bothered with it.  She was not happy at all.  And neither was Mommy.  I would spend hours trying to get her to sleep.  And each minute I was trying to get her to go to sleep, I came up with a new theory as to what the problem was…the chocolate dairy-free, soy-free ice cream I ate, the orange juice I drank, the vitamins I took, my period starting, the garlic I added to the hamburger, the onion I put on the hamburger, did I eat something with milk in it, am I stressed, am I overfeeding her, is her diaper wet, is she overtired, is she just colic…  It just goes on and on and on.

And the doctors didn’t make me feel any better about it.  “Typically, mother’s milk is best, but maybe she can’t tolerate yours.”, “The Zantac should be working.  It’s a great medication and she’s on a good dose.”, “Maybe it was just a tummy bug.”  So, after spending $230 in co-pays in one-week, I decided to play dumb.  I didn’t say that I knew Zantac could stop working.  I just told them that she responded to the med in the beginning and the symptoms are back.  I even went on to say that I was thinking the drug store didn’t give us the proper prescription this month.  LOL  At first, they suggested increasing the Zantac dose.  And I just said “Do you really think that’s best?”  And he said that no, he thought switching medications would be best.  YIPEE!  I had suggested the switch on the first doctor visit.  I could’ve saved myself $210! 

So, here we are – Day 4.  She’s napping regularly.  She feeds and falls asleep easily.  She’s actually hungry.  When she cries, she is crying for boredom, hunger or a wet diaper (she has pretty strong opinions about a wet diaper)!  There is no fussing.  And she’s smiling.  Which is the best part of the whole thing.  Because she has an awesome smile.  And she’s cooing now.  It’s so precious to hear that sound.🙂