Monday, May 13, 2013

More Adventures in Thrifting - May 13, 2013

I really needed to get away and I hadn't hung out with Amy for a bit so off I went to shop at my favorite thrift stores and chat and run around for a few hours. Whee!

This trip made me realize that I'm not quite as spry as I used to be. I used to be able to go to 4 or 5 stores in a row. Now after 2, I'm already running out of steam. You'll see.

First stop, Value Village. The issues I mentioned in my roundup post were in full effect - staples in things! Holes in things because of those staples! But also great prices, especially on kid clothes. It wasn't as amazing as I wanted it to be, but I got a few things.

99 cents on the left, $1.49 (Hello Kitty!) on the right.

99 cents each. The kid is obsessed with two long-sleeved black shirts, so I'm hoping she'll be willing to wear this short-sleeved shirt soon. (So far this is not working and she still wants the long-sleeved shirts, even as it gets warmer...) Update: There was a hole in that Peace shirt that I didn't notice because it was hidden in the decal. Boo. Oh well, at least it was only 99 cents...

Capris, pink pants, jeans, $2.49 each.
Two shirts for me - the purple was $2.49 and the plain black shirt (yay) was a half-price color so it was only $1.25.

Then onward to my favorite indie stores that benefits animals. It's always so hit or miss at this one but the prices are just so incredible. Kid clothes are 50 cents per piece (up to 6x), the shirts I got were $1.50 each, and the skirts were $1 each. Oh and I got one book for 50 cents. When I paid, the woman "warned" me that the shirts were $1.50 - I wonder if someone complained once...

This skirt and I are getting married and having skirt-babies. I love it so very much. In vanity-sizing news, this skirt was marked a much larger size than I usually wear yet fit perfectly. Ridiculous! Anyway it looks brand new to me and it has that adorable belt. Hard to tell, but there are little beads in the middle of the flowers too.

My friend found two of these shirts - one in my size, one in another friend's size. Score!

So soft and comfy.

Plain shirts are way too hard to come by. This one's Ann Taylor Loft - so it's older (Loft now doesn't have the AT modifier) but it's perfect.

I keep swearing I won't buy books and then I find things like this that I really really want to read and I give in.

Shirts for the kid - the top one is Carters and doesn't seem to have ever been worn/washed. The neckline is kind of wonky though. We'll see. Love the cupcake shirt on the bottom.

Pants for the kid. The jeans are a bit big but they're Janie and Jack, which is a higher-end brand, so I grabbed them. The kid liked the middle pants, which are sort of yoga-pants-ish with a little jeweled crown on the waistband.

Plain black shirt and OMG IT'S A DRAGON FLYING THROUGH RAINCLOUDS OF HEARTS. Mine mine mine.

Why did I buy a white skirt when I spill things on my clothes every 5 minutes and/or sit down on ketchup or whatever? I do not know, but this was cute and fit well so I thought hey, why not for a whole dollar.
Last stop was another indie store. They were having a BOGO sale of all things - every single piece of clothing, buy one get one free. I took a giant armful of pants into the fitting room and...nothing fit. That was annoying. So as you can see, I only bought clothes for the kid - plus one extra thing that I'll explain below. Kid clothes are $1 each, so everything was 50 cents except I accidentally bought a "new" item that was marked $2, so two things were $1 each, which...really, I can't complain. But by the time we got to this store, I was tired and didn't look as closely at everything - so the kid clothes are mostly too big for her now. But now she has jeans and shirts for the fall.

Both things are too big for the kid now, but at 50 cents I couldn't resist. The skirt has shorts under it. I'm still trying to make skirts happen for her, although it's still tricky for her to wear them.

I am in love with the...hedgehog, I guess? And the other shirt is kind of odd and I grabbed it on a whim but might re-thrift.

Oops, the Gymboree shirt on the left was NWT so it was a whole two dollars. And adorable - but possibly too small for her. We'll see. The other shirt's pattern is made up of tiny repeating owls, I promise.

Finally, a new bag to use as a carry case for her talker. The bag we got with it is having zipper issues as well as various other problems. I think this one will work well. It was $3.
And last but not least, I went walking with Amy through a neighborhood yard sale the next day. Pickings were slim - I bought three things total (as well as one glass of lemonade for 5 cents). A book for the kid for a dollar, a Scrabble game that I'm going to pillage for the tiles for crafts for $2, and this for a dollar - I couldn't resist:

Hotel key! From Ireland! I just fell in love with it, even though I have no idea what I'm going to do with it. Put it next to the 60s IHOP ashtray I have, probably...

Until next time!
Dagmar's Home Thrifty and Vintage link party featured

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Our AAC Journey - Look What She Can Do! - May 8, 2013

Last June, my kid started the evaluation process with a therapy group dedicated to AAC devices. Within a few weeks, we were surprised to find that the therapist recommended the PRC Vantage Lite2 over a few other options - but it made so much sense, too. (And I owe that therapist so much because there's no way we would have come across that option on our own - but it was perfect.) After months of working with the office's device, my kid got her very own VL2 - and all of her teachers and therapists (including her other SLP) embraced it, met with the rep for PRC on their own time, and made sure to check in with me and ask me questions and ensure that we were all on the same page.

The image above is a small peek into what the talker has changed for my kid. The interview was a fill-in-the-blanks style discussion, with the teacher asking leading questions. But even though only simple answers were required, a year ago this still would've been impossible. Now? She was able to participate just like all of her neurotypical classmates -- and her personality shines through. She loves the bus! She wants to work at the grocery store! She loves her kitties!

(As an aside, apparently now she's getting in trouble for telling jokes in class at inappropriate times. I'm sorry, but that doesn't exactly upset me.)

And meanwhile, her verbal ability has grown so much this year - dovetailing perfectly with her use of the AAC device. She sings along in the car now. (She is very specific about what songs she likes - she's into the Rockabye Baby Madonna CD right now, and track 11 in particular. "Bor-dah!" she says, rather clearly. [Borderline!] She also likes to sing along with Lisa Loeb, the Nields, and - much to my chagrin - Kindermusik songs from classes we took together in the past.) She speaks in short but complete sentences sometimes. ("I want my iPad, please." "I want more Enchanted. TV. Please.") She's able to say words with multiple syllables. I feel confident that we are on the path that her SLP speaks of often, where she will be mostly, if not completely, verbal - someday.

But the talker is making that possible, is bridging that gap, and will always be there for her if she needs it. (This is like how I imagine her walker will be used - she is now up to taking eight independent steps or more - the other day she took two steps, stopped, stood, adjusted her stance, and kept walking to me - and I suspect someday she'll walk most of the time. But I also believe she'll need assistance in some form at least part of the time.) And without the talker, she wouldn't have been able to do things now. She wouldn't have been able to talk to the President or ask how many more minutes until we get home or tell me that she wants to wear the black shirt again. In my experience, it is absolutely true that AAC encourages verbal speech and does not discourage or limit it.

I say this all the time, but we continue to be surrounded by positivity. People who believe in her, who have never said "she can't" or "she won't" and who open themselves up to possibility. We've started the process to the kindergarten transition, and we've already started working on getting the PRC rep over to the new school to meet with the new teachers. We. As a team. When my husband and I moved here, we knew the school system was "good," but we didn't know that we'd need it to be good in very different ways. We definitely have been lucky in that regard.

We're no longer with the therapy group that set us on our path, so I have been busy immersing myself in understanding Minspeak and the VL2. I will be taking an introductory class in two weeks and then following that up with whatever else I can do. I have already programmed more riddles into the device - like I said, I'm not entirely upset that apparently my kid is the class clown... (Sorry Lost Voice Guy! You might have some competition after all!)

Links that go to Amazon are referral links that give me a small percentage of the sale.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Update: Keurig Vue House Party Was a Success! - May 5, 2013

So it turns out that I am OK at throwing parties. While I spent a bit some a lot of time feeling overwhelmed at the sheer number of people in my house at one time (15, not including me, my husband, and our kid - but including other people's kids - that's a LOT for me!), I think I mostly did well managing the chaos. The kids played, the adults chatted with one another, and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen making coffee (hot and iced), iced tea, and hot cocoa for the gathered guests with my Keurig Vue. The kitties were banished to the office - I'm waiting for them to forgive me...

Ridiculous selfie - me with my apron on while I was baking. More about those coffee cups in a minute.
Taken by my friend. Me showing off the Vue. Awkward outfit looked cute in person, not in pictures, I think.
Since I never entertain this many people, I tried to go out of my way to do a few things that were special - beyond what House Party had sent me to throw the party. See the white coffee cups in the background of the selfie above? Those are from my wedding china. Which I have never used, and my 10th wedding anniversary is this August. 20/20 hindsight - I probably shouldn't have registered for china. But at the time it seemed like it was what one was "supposed" to do, so I did it. I thought I might someday host Thanksgiving or Passover - not realizing I was eventually going to move hundreds of miles away. So it just seemed like it was time. However, the cups only hold 6 ounces, so they really were more suited for decoration than actual use. Still, they got washed and they saw the light of day - it's a step! (I do think the pattern is nice - very simple. But if I had it to do over again, no, I would not register for china. I see plenty of fancy plate sets at Goodwill and other thrift stores...that says lots of people feel as I do and that it's easy enough to get a set for cheap if you really want one.)

The other thing I did was bake. I really like cooking and baking, but I never do it. My husband does most of the family cooking - it's just easier and it works well for all of us. But I love cookbooks and recipes (and, if you know me, books about food in general - ha!) and I like trying new things. Coincidentally, Snack Girl posted a recipe for baked donuts about a week before the party. I had been considering going to Revolution Donuts to buy some but instead, I made my own. And my good friend Kate has Amazon Prime (in which I probably should invest at this point) so I sent her money and she bought me a heart-shaped donut pan that arrived within a day. I made Snack Girl's donuts as well as these chocolate ones (though I used butter instead of olive oil, which seemed weird, and I skipped the glaze because I can't find my double boiler - er, not broiler, as the recipe says - and the last time I did the pan-on-water trick, I fused the two together and yes, eventually they came apart but I just didn't have the energy SO they were plain).

Oooh, Instagrammy goodness. And cute heart-shaped donuts.
And a week ago I made vanilla simple syrup with real vanilla beans and vanilla sugar with the rest of the beans, just to be fancy. I bought milk - 2%, whole, and half and half - and made sure I was stocked on Almond Breeze too. And I put out my array of Torani syrups too.

I forgot to take a before picture - this is sort of a halfway-through picture.
Then I put out Goldfish crackers and m&ms, and the rest of the party was from House Party - they really send a great party pack. I had Mrs. Fields cookies, mints, and coffee. Plus plastic and paper cups that I used for iced drinks, for the kids' hot cocoa (with Dandies vegan marshmallows!), and for when I ran out of my own mugs - which I did.

I think that my guests tried at least one of everything. Despite the fact that it was disgusting outside - pouring rain, 50 degrees - some chose iced drinks (my party pack included Nantucket blend iced coffee - the blend takes into account that it will be brewed over ice and thus diluted - I think my cold-brewed coffee is way better, but this is much faster and with milk/simple syrup, it's not bad at all - and also Southern Sweet iced tea, which I loved in a K-cup and loved even more in a Vue Pack - you can really taste the tea as well as the sugar, rather than just a cup of sugar...).

I also made vanilla lattes (fancy and fun!) and plain old coffee (Donut Shop and Barista Prima Italian Roast) and hazelnut coffee (which I really like). The hot cocoa I made was from Whole Foods - I just used the hot water from the Vue to make it. And I didn't manage to grab myself a cup of coffee for the entire party, but it was best that I wasn't overly caffeinated, I assure you.

The Vue, by the way, was a workhorse. It easily brewed 30 cups of whatever, all within a few hours, and had no issues. I like how it's quieter than my Keurig Special Edition was - it made it easy to stand in the kitchen and chat while I was overseeing the brewing process. I don't know if I would have bought one on my own - my regular Keurig was working just fine for me, K-cups are less expensive, and I'm a pro at my Ekobrew - but now that I have one I'm not sure I'll switch back. I probably will buy the Solofill reusable refillable filter (after coupon, it should be about $15 at Bed, Bath & Beyond), though I might wait to see how Keurig's official filter compares if/when they release it.

And I survived the party! And I now kind of want to do another one of these - I have my eye on the upcoming SodaStream HouseParty. Pick me! Pick me!

The aftermath - all headed to be recycled.
Don't forget - until May 11 you can get 40% off the Keurig Vue V500 brewer with my coupon code, and from May 12 through May 31 you can get 25% off. Register your brewer once you get it and you'll get a coupon code for buy-two-get-two-free Vue Packs. After that, I recommend BB&B for your Vue Pack needs - with a 20%, $5-off-$15, or $10-off-$30 coupon you can bring the price down to something very reasonable for the quality and convenience of Vue Packs, and right now it's one of the few stores that actually stock a good selection of flavors and types.

In the end, I will say that I recommend two things: House Party (though you may not get any parties for years - it's worth it when you do get chosen for one!) and the Keurig Vue V500 brewer. Hooray!

This post includes referral links - I get a small percentage from Amazon links and my Keurig Vue coupon gets me a credit to But other links - Dandies, BB&B, etc. - are just because I want to share things. Thanks!