Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How do little boys know to do little boy things?

So, why are certain things innate? Why do boys know to play with certain boy toys, like cars, balls, dirt, etc.  I think it is so funny that Luke enjoys all of the things most other little boys enjoy.   So, I did a little research on the subject, and have pasted and referenced some information below the cute pics of Luke for those of you who are interested.

But, back to our Luke.  For example, he loves playing with cars.  In fact, he pretends a lot of things are cars and pushes them around on the ground and makes car noises.  He also enjoys taking whatever you have stacked so neatly and making it crumble very dramatically.  He loves opening up the kitchen cabinets to pull out the pots and bang on them with a spatula.  He loves to play with balls as well.   Lately, his obsession is to bring a ball to the edge of the top of the stairs and push it down the stairs.  He sits there until the ball stops rolling on the bottom floor, goes and gets another ball and then repeats the activity.

Lastly, he enjoys his books and reading them.  But, he REALLY likes to pull them all off of the shelves.

Here are some pictures of our little boy being a boy.

Another one of his pastimes.  Clicking buttons on the Hepa Air filter machine in his room.  He likes to turn it on.  If you turn it off, even if he is 10 feet away, he ALWAYS notices and will go rapidly back to the machine and turn it back on.  He also gives you the stare-down, as if he's asking you why you touched it.

Here is some interesting information that I found on a science blog:

Psychologists have wondered for decades whether boys preferred "boy toys" because of a natural inclination to like hard, mechanically-oriented things, or simply because those around them encouraged them to play with the toys they felt were appropriate for boys. Similarly, do girls "naturally" like to play with dolls, or are they encouraged to do so by their parents? While researchers have found that kids around 18 months and older do prefer the traditional gender-specific toys, research for younger kids (presumably less-influenced by their parents) is less clear-cut.

A 2000 study showed babies between 3 and 18 months old pictures of toys traditionally preferred by each gender and measured how long boys and girls looked at the pictures. The boys as young as 9 months old seemed to prefer toys like balls, blocks, and cars to dolls, dustpans, and ovens. However, even the 18-month-old girls showed no apparent preference for any type of toy based on how long they looked at them.

New technology allows researchers to record the precise eye movements of infants, and a team led by Gerianne Alexander designed a simple study to see if 6-month-olds really showed sex differences in toy preference. Thirty babies were placed in a car seat in front of a small puppet stage, whose curtain was opened for ten seconds to reveal two toys: a pink doll and a blue truck. The curtain was lowered, the position of the toys was switched, and it was raised again for another ten seconds, so each toy was seen in each spot for the same amount of time. Then the number of looks at each toy was carefully tallied by gender. Here are the results:
While both boys and girls fixated more on the doll than the truck, girls looked at the doll significantly more than the boys did, and looked at the truck significantly less than the boys. The researchers say babies this young don't have the motor skills to actually play with these toys, so the result must be due to different visual preferences in boys and girls. Arguably, babies at this age don't have any opinion about gender roles and don't even particularly distinguish between genders, so social influences must not be responsible for this difference.

 Alexander, G., Wilcox, T., & Woods, R. (2008). Sex Differences in Infants' Visual Interest in Toys Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38 (3), 427-433 DOI: 10.1007/s10508-008-9430-1

Also, for further reading, here is a link to an article on a book about the differences between boys and girls:

Hairy Men

I know---strange title for a blog entry, right? Well, there is a good explanation for it, believe me.

Last weekend, while most everyone else in Austin was watching the UT game on TV or Live at the stadium, we decided to attend the Brushy Creek Hairy Man Festival near where we live. This year was actually the 16th year that the festival has been in existence.  Last year, shortly after we moved into our new house, I began hearing about this festival and seeing advertisements for it.  I was very anxious to go and Drew and I actually made plans to go.  However, Luke had another idea--he decided it was time to see the world--maybe he wanted to go too?

So, my water broke that afternoon and the rest is history.  This year, I decided we would not miss it.  So, what is this Hairy Man Festival about, and why in the WORLD would we want to go to a Festival about a Hairy Man???

The road that we live near, Brushy Creek Road, turns into "Hairy Man Road" near our house.  There is actually a legend of a strange hermit, the Hairy Man, "who haunts the winding road along the Brushy Creek. Many legends persist about the Hairy Man. Some believe he was an infant accidentally left behind by settlers heading west in the 1800s. Raised by wild animals in the fern bluffs, the Hairy Man viewed the creek as his own. He resented the intrusion of strangers into his territory and would jump out of the trees to frighten people away. Or, hanging from the leafy canopy above the road, he would drag his feet across the top of passing carriages. On one occasion, the Hairy Man attacked a horse-drawn wagon, spooking the horses. The old hermit was supposedly run over by the wagon and killed, and now his spirit lingers along the creek and road."

So, where else would you create a festival named after this Hairy Man, but in the Austin area, right?  We already have a Spam Fest, and a city-wide celebration of Eeyore's birthday--why not add a Hairy Man celebration to the mix.  The festival was like a small community fair, with pony rides, a petting zoo area, amusement park-type rides and bouncy castles, some arts and crafts booth, and fair-type food.  Here are some pictures of us enjoying the afternoon there.

Luke likes his new shoes.  But, Drew had to keep hold of Luke's hands, because he kept trying to squat down to take them off.  His poor little feet are so fat, that they don't fit into shoes well at all.

I like this picture above.  It looks like Luke is saying, "thanks man for taking care of that drool for me."

So, this is the guy that I thought should take home the $500 prize and title as the Hairiest Man.  He actually has won in the past.  But, apparently, the judges did not agree that he should hold this year's title.  I'm sorry for posting this, but I know some of you all want to see a Hairy man.

Here is Luke's friend, Ford, taking a look at the hairy men. 

And here are Sarah and Ford catching a glimpse of the Hairy Man who competed in the contest.

Ever since the festival, Luke has been waking up in the middle of the night (nightly), usually at 2am or 4am, sometimes at both times.  I'm not sure if this is due to him teething or going through a growth or development spurt.  But, part of me wonders if he is having nightmares about the hairy men.  I guess it was pretty frightening.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Deals, Deals, Deals!

So, I have always been someone who will shop around for the best deals. I have always been a "saver" and very frugal. In fact, growing up, I remember saving EVERYTHING. When we would go trick-or-treating on Halloween, I would save my candy--and, it would last forever (I remember having some candy left on Halloween from the Halloween the previous year). That is, except for that year my brothers found it. In all years besides that year I remember that only the orange and black-wrapped peanut butter candies would be left at the end; and, by that time they were little rocks and I had to throw them away anyway.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Because I feel it is time to share where I have found some of the best deals! I love sharing these things with others, because I am so passionate about not paying more than is necessary for things. Why should others have to pay more than is necessary? So, here we go...

Are you looking to try a new restaurant? Why pay full price? Go to There, you will find TONS of gift certificates you can purchase for a small portion of the price. For example, (Austinites) you can purchase a $75 gift certificate to Hudson's on the Bend for $30. But wait---it doesn't end there. As the month goes by, if you sign up for a free account, you get emailed codes to enter to get an additional percentage off. Currently, if you enter "SPORK" when you check out, you get an additional 70% off. So, that Hudson's on the Bend $75 gift certificate is now $9. CRAZY---but it is no joke. This is how we go out to eat.

GROUPON (and Morgan's Deals, LivingSocial,etc.):
Ok, if you have a smart phone, get the Groupon app. Or, if you don't have a smart phone, go to and create an account to get deals e-mailed to you daily. You can get AMAZING deals there. We recently purchased a $50 gift certificate to the GAP for $25. We knew we had many upcoming birthdays and Christmas to purchase gifts for, so we knew we would use it. Similar websites, which send you these daily deals are Morgan's deals and Living Social. I'm signed up for both of those sites as well.

For us, the key to bargain hunting is not buying stuff just because it is a good deal--that would be counterproductive. We are actually strategic about it--we think about all of the purchases we know we are needing to make over the next year and plan the purchases so that we can get the best deals possible.

For example, if we are needing to take a trip, we watch very closely as they run fare sales pretty frequently. We were able to snag a deal on a trip from Austin to Tulsa for $78 one way.

Also, we buy the soaps and wallflowers from bath and body works. We know they have a semi-annual sale, so that is when we stock up for the year. Actually, we now have a bath and body works outlet store near us, so we don't have to wait for the twice-annual sale.

Here is a great listing for when to buy things--there are certain times of the year where it is better to make the purchase than others:

For example, Clothing:
When to buy: Thursday evenings, six to eight weeks after an item arrives in stores.
Why: After an item lingers in stores a month or more, retailers start dropping its price to get it out the door, says Kathryn Finney, author of "How to Be a Budget Fashionista." These season-end clearances tend to be the same month that designers host fashion weeks (February and September) to preview the next fall or spring collections. So smart buyers can check the catwalk to see if any of this season's trends — say, leggings or military-style jackets — will still be hot next year, and then scoop them up on clearance.

Hitting the mall on a weekday ensures you'll get a good selection. "On the weekend, you'll only get picked-over stuff because the stores don't have time to restock," she says. By Thursday, most of the weekend sales have begun, but everything available is on the floor.  Or, if you are like me--you pretty much limit your clothes shopping to TJ Maxx, Ross & Marshall's  :-)

Here, is the other key for us.  For everything we regularly buy, we try to have a frequent shopper card, or something of the sort.  Here is a GREAT example:  diapers.  We, of course, go through diapers right now like crazy, since we have a baby.  We buy pampers, because we love them!  They fit great for our Luke, they are very absorbent, so you have less diaper changes, AND they have a rewards program.  First, we buy the largest package we can, because they cost less per diaper that way AND we buy them at Sams Club.  We have found that is the least expensive place to buy them.  If you buy pampers, make sure you keep the little green sticker that is stuck to the plastic within the package.  Then, sign up for a account, and log the rewards codes.  You can also search for more rewards codes online and enter those.  For example,

Because babies are very expensive, it is important to shop around for the best deals on things.  If you sign up for a Babies-R-Us rewards card, you get a 20% off coupon, along with many others, every month mailed to your house.  If you can save up your baby-related purchases for a once-per-month trip, than you could have quite a lot of potential savings there as well.  Also, has a forum for bargain hunters and a link for free stuff and great deals:

Lastly, we buy a LOT of stuff online.   And, when we do, we do a lot of comparison searches.  My favorite way to search is google shopping.  You can simply go to and search for the item your purchasing, then click the shopping link at the top of the page.   Here is an example of a diaper search:  Diaper Search.  Then, I don't stop there on my deal hunting.  After I find the site where I am going to be making my purchase, I then do a search for a coupon code for that item/website.  For example, if purchasing pictures on Shutterfly, I would google "Shutterfly Coupon Code".  Retailmenot is a great site for coupon codes. Also, if you shop through (and have created a bing account), you can often get cash back as well.

Shutterfly reminds me of another deal I'd like to share.  So, we all probably have tons of digital pictures, but I know some of us are really bad about getting them printed.   Here is a good way to do it for FREE.  Yes, I said FREE!  Just create an account at, and  Each of those sites offers free prints (some 50 prints, some 100 and some 25 or so) for new accounts.   If you are planning on printing pics anyway, you may as well do that.  You don't even have to leave your house--they will ship them to you within days.  Or, if you are inpatient like me, you can have them printed at target and walgreens using those same websites and pick them up within the hour.  If you already have an account, create a new one with your spouse's email address--he or she can get free photos also.  Then, if you want to print more than your allotted free number of pictures, just do a search for coupon codes, and get free shipping, an additional % off, etc.

I also watch Terri of KVUE's Smart Money Blog regularly. In fact, I have it bookmarked on our home computer. She posts some great information, including her deals of the week:

I have many other tips for the frugal, but this post is getting long.  I'd be happy to share with you though if you are interested---just call or shoot me an email.  Or, if you have a tip, I'd LOVE to hear about it.  Add a comment to this post and share with all of our readers!       

I'll end with some obligatory Luke photos--it's been a while since I posted pics of our little guy:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Flooding near our home

Last week, we got news that we were going to be getting some rain. We were extremely excited, because we really needed it. And kept raining......and raining......and raining...and raining.

I guess all of the rain that we were missing from August decided to come over a two-day period in September. I didn't really even have a clue how bad it was, because Drew and I have been SO busy and have not seen any TV shows or news. That is,until we tried to drive down the road near our house, Brushy Creek road. We didn't even recognize the area because of all of the debris. In fact, one of our favorite parks is hiding under a ton of water from the flooding of Brushy Creek Lake and debris from Tropical Storm Hermine is everywhere. It is pretty sad.

We didn't take any pictures because we were too much in awe and shock to even think about taking pics. However, for those of you who are not in Austin, here is a video:

I had almost reserved one of the pavilions at the park for Luke's party--but,I am glad now that I did not. It looks like it will be a while before our beloved park will be able to reopen--so sad!

And, just in case you want to see more, here is another video I found showing flooding at the brushy creek sports park:

Oh---and our house is fine. We are at the top of the hill and have to walk down several blocks to get to brushy creek. Actually, our yard LOVED the rain. I feel badly for those who had a lot of damage to their houses due to the flooding.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day & Celebrating Audrey & Lauren's 3rd Birthday

We spent Labor Day in the Houston-area (Sugar Land) celebrating Audrey & Lauren's (our nieces') 3rd Birthday.  Erica (Drew's sister) planned a really fun Dora the Explorer party.  Audrey & Lauren had to go on a short adventure as Dora (complete with backpacks) to find their birthday candles that the evil, sneaky fox, Swiper had taken from them.  We also played pin the tail on the donkey, participated in sack races, and ate some delicious carnival food (snowcones, hot dogs, corn dogs, caramel apples, etc.).  Great job, Erica, planning a fun party!

We promised everyone we would post some pics from the party and send them the link, so here it is (

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A few videos to share...

This video was taken with my phone in low light, so it is not the best quality. Luke likes making animal sounds---specifically, puppy sounds. His favorite stuffed animal is his puppy, which he sleeps with every night. You can see in the video that he is carrying his puppy along with him. When Luke cruises around the furniture, he never likes to venture off alone--at least one of his toys comes along with him:

We also took a video with our camcorder of Luke playing. Just thought we'd share for those who haven't seen him in a while:

And lastly, here's a video of Luke walking behind his push-cart. Luke's balance isn't perfect yet. And, it's probably because he loves to walk and stand on his tip-toes like this:

Our City, Round Rock, named one of the top 10 family-friendly cities in the US

We read in our community newspaper last night that the city in which we reside, Round Rock, was recently named one of the best places to raise children in the nation.  With its miles of walking trails, sports facilities and friendly atmosphere it is easy to see why.  Family Circle magazine released its annual roundup of the top 10 family-friendly cities based on affordable housing, quality schools, access to healthcare, green space, low crime rate and financial stability.

Here is a link that goes into a little more detail:

Family Circle Magazine Top 10 family-friendly cities list

Yeah, Round Rock!

Also, Ohio State played its first game of the season on Thursday night.  So, Luke had to get decked out in his Ohio State Gear.  I thought I'd share a couple of pics that the Ohio State fan division of our family would enjoy:

Our Trip to Seattle--Luke's first airline flight

Drew, Luke and I decided to take our first long family vacation together to a place far away--Seattle.  We have had so many questions from friends asking us why we chose to go to Seattle.  So many people ask us, "Do you have family there?"  Well, we actually purchased two airline tickets last year on September 1 for Thanksgiving to go to Tulsa, but we ended up canceling the flights so that we could drive up instead.  This meant that we had a credit on Southwest that we had to use before September 1, 2010.  So, Drew and I discussed going somewhere cooler, to vacate the blazing, Texas heat.  We landed on San Francisco, San Diego or Seattle as our choices (after a review of  We eventually chose Seattle as neither one of us had been before.

We were very glad we chose Seattle.  The weather was AWESOME!  Highs were in the upper 60's every day, with just a few clouds, a light breeze and lots of sunshine.  We stayed downtown, near the market, and we didn't even need to rent a car.   We did TONS of walking, and used public transportation when we needed to travel far.

Luke was a perfect traveler.  Since the flights were not full, Southwest allowed us to bring our car seat onboard.  Our family took up an entire row, and Luke slept through the flights to and from Seattle.  We were on the go nonstop once we arrived in Seattle, and Luke just went with the flow.

We had a wonderful time there and thought we'd share some of our pictures with our readers.  There were too many to post here, so here is a slideshow of the photos from picasaweb:

Catching up on Posts--Luke's first Shiner :-(

So, I feel like a terrible mom!  Luke got his first shiner under my watch and care  :-(.

I know we can't possibly protect him from ever getting hurt, but I didn't think it would be so soon in his life. This is how it all went down.....   I was upstairs changing the sheets on a guest bed--Luke was in the room with me.  As I finished putting the new sheets on the bed and placed all of the decorative pillows on the bed, I started to go to the other side of the room where I had placed the old sheets, so that I could grab them, grab Luke and then head back downstairs.   At the same time, I saw Luke pull up on the side of the bed.  A little voice in my head said, "Heather, remember there is a metal bed rail that Luke cannot see, hidden underneath the thick comforter.  What if he hits his head on it?"  I replied to the voice, "I am just going to run over here quickly to grab the sheets and then I will grab Luke on the way out of the room.  It will be more efficient that way, and SURELY nothing could happen in that little bit of time."   Well, I should have listened to the voice.  As soon as I reached down to grab the old sheets, I heard a loud bang and then a scream.  As Luke was bending down to go back to a crawl position from his standing position, he slammed his poor little supraorbital foramen (bone just above the eyelid) on the metal bed rail.   Why didn't I listen to the voice?  (Now, I think it was probably the Holy Spirit).

I immediately got onto my phone's internet as I cuddled my little baby, trying to search for what I should do.  Many thoughts went through my head, almost simultaneously...  How serious is this?  Should I take him to the ER?  Could he lose his vision?  If I take him to the ER, is someone going to call CPS on me? We are going on a trip to Seattle next week on Southwest--is the flight attendant going to try to take Luke from me since he has a black eye (I had just heard a blurb from a news story where this happened:  click here to read.)  So many things were going through my head, and I now know just how much I was overreacting!  Based on what I read, I tried to put ice on the eyebone.  Luke didn't want ANYTHING to do with that.  In fact, after a few minutes of crying, he wanted down to play.  But, mommy was still feeling terrible.

I lost a lot of sleep that night--trying to figure out if he was going to be ok--if I should call our insurance company's 24 hour nurse hotline, etc.   In fact, I finally decided to move him from his crib in his bedroom upstairs to the pack n' play in our bedroom, so that I could more easily listen to him breath.

Luke is such an explorer.  I know that this is not going to be his last injury--and, I know we probably will eventually have to go to the ER.  But, in the meantime, I am going to pray for his safety and listen to the little voice in my head!