You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2011.

- Owen slept 13 hours last night. THIRTEEN. Anyone who has followed the blog since he was born knows that he and sleep did not get a long for a very long time, so naturally this sleeping through the night thing has thrown me for a loop. I checked on him twice to make sure he was still breathing, and what I found is that he’s finally sleeping on his stomach — something I’ve suspected for a while, just never caught him doing.

But there he was, face down, sleeping on his hands. FACE DOWN. Likes to freak me out, this kid. But hey, I guess he’s comfortable…and well rested!

- I’d also just like to state for the records, since this basically serves has his baby book, that he now says “Mama”, “Dada”, “Dog” (EVERYTHING is dog. Dog, dog, dog. Especially…well, dogs.) and…”Elmo”. Yup, he says Elmo. We do let him watch some Sesame Street so don’t bother sending the Bad Parenting Police our way with their anti-TV torches. I’m ok with 20 minutes of PBS. He turned 10-months this week and I can’t believe we have this real live person who attempts to communicate with us. Nuts!

- I’d like to start working on a photo montage of Owen’s first year before the next two months fly by me. I started looking into songs that might work with it, and most of them are JUST SO CHEESY. I have one in mind that might work, but am looking for some suggestions. What do you think would work for a recap of a little boy’s first year? (And please, no “Beautiful Boy”. I can’t put my finger on it, but that song bugs me.)

- I had a clothing meltdown last weekend. I’m not saying this is a braggy way, but I’ve lost a lot of weight and don’t know what to do with this new body. I’m about 12 pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight and nothing I own fits. Yeah, yeah, wah, wah. But it’s true. And I know it’s because I’ve been nursing a big baby and he’s just taking away all those extra calories. Most likely when he stops nursing, most if not all of the weight will return and then my clothes will fit.

But right now, they don’t. And I can only wear the same jeggings/tee/cardigan/ballet flats- comb so many times. I need some clothes.

The meltdown happened on Easter when I realized I was dangerously approaching a go-naked-to-the-inlaw’s situation and I really don’t think that would have gone over well. I ended up in an ill-fitting outfit that made me feel sloppy and unattractive and while of course it didn’t matter what I was wearing there, it affected my mood.

Owen’s baptism is this weekend. I have a handful of showers coming up and three weddings to attend. So in addition to every day clothes, I need some fancier options. I’m hesitant, though, because I feel guilty about it. Like buying clothes that I most likely won’t fit in by the end of the year is a waste of money and I should save it or spend it on something more useful, like a new vacuum. (Ours has finally waved its white flag in surrender to the beast that is Kodiak.)

So yeah, I’m just whining. But I’m conflicted about it. And in the meantime, I absolutely must buy something to wear this weekend, because if I thought going naked to my in-law’s would have been a bad idea, I can’t even imagine the repercussions of going nude to church.

- Can we talk about Extreme Couponing on TLC? Have you seen this show? I started watching after I decided to get serious about our food budget, and YOU GUYS. These women. Ok, they do amazing saving money. I mean, they get their grocery bills down from something like $600 to under a buck by using coupons. But…BUT. Do you see what they buy? Most of it is crap.Piles and piles of frozen pizza, 50 bottles of yellow mustard, tons of candy.

I am fascinated by their skills, yet horrified by their Hoarders-esque storage rooms filled to the brim with items they don’t use, yet bought because they could. At least some of them donate items to charities.

I am super impressed by the way some get overages by couponing, which they in turn put towards fresh items at the grocery store. I’m pretty sure my store doesn’t do that, though, and also, I don’t have the desire to buy, nor the space to store 100 boxes of antacid just to earn some free stuff.

It’s riveting, though, and keeps me most entertained on Wednesday night. Thank you, TLC, for such a gem of a show.

What does this sign mean to you?

I’m not asking to be sarcastic. I’m asking because we pass this on our walk daily, and every single day we encounter a problem because of it.

Here’s how I read it: I walk on the left side of the path. If there is a biker, they are coming straight at me, but since I am a pedestrian, I have the right of way and therefore do not have to move to the right. They, in turn, being on the bike, have ample time and speed to circle around me on the right (their left). Because like on the road, you pass on the left.

Right? Or, er, correct?

Because it’s like a deadly game out chicken out there. Sometimes the bikers don’t move, so I have to push the stroller out of the way quickly to the right to avoid becoming road kill. Which is not always the best solution if there are bikes coming up behind me on the right! And if they win the game of chicken, they give me a death stare as they zoom by me on my left.

Or sometimes there are people not following the sign at all and waking on their right, so you’ll be walking towards each other and then bikes will come along and all hell breaks loose because OMIGOD WHERE DO WE GO?

I very well could be wrong here and maybe I AM supposed to move aside for the bikes. I have no idea. The sign isn’t all the clear.

What do you think?

Owen and I thank you in advance for keeping us from becoming road pancakes.

I’ve completed my first grocery shopping (complete with coupons and a meal plan!) after getting serious about our food budget, and now I’m excited to share the first Cooking Deliciously on a Budget recipe with you. As promised, I will share the recipe, then break it down dollar for dollar to prove that eating healthy and deliciously CAN be done without breaking your budget.

(I hope!)

A while back, a reader (Hi, Kerri!) sent me a phenomenal chicken and dumpling recipe. Tyler’s Ultimate Chicken and Dumplings. The first time I made it, Michael paused mid-bite, looked up at me and said, “This? Is delicious.” It’s a keeper, guys!

The recipe is super long and I want to go over some minutia about the budget breakdown, so this time I’m just going to link to the recipe HERE. But here’s the tweaks I made to the original:

- I omit the bay leaves, because I never have them on hand, and it didn’t seem to miss it.

- I also use half a large yellow onion (diced) in place on the pearl onions. Just saute them with your vegetables.

- If you’re looking to make this recipe super fast, you can of course substitute making your own stock with store bought, as well as use a rotisserie chicken. If you have the time though, I HIGHLY recommend making your own stock. It only takes an hour and is SUPER delicious. Plus, you’ll save money doing it yourself and you know exactly what goes into it.

- The dumpling batter makes more than can fit at one time in the dutch oven. To accommodate for this, make your first batch, scoop out the dumplings when cooked, and let the second batch cook while you eat.

Budget Breakdown:

* For all recipes from here on out, some ingredients that I always have on hand and rarely have to buy will be considered freebies, or zero dollars.

 This list includes: salt, pepper, dried spices (unless it’s unusual and had to be bought specifically for a recipe), olive oil, butter, flour and sugar, baking soda and baking powder (unless they are used in very large quantities). *

- 3.5 lb roasting chicken – on sale for $5.68
– fresh thyme – $1.99/about 30 cents worth used
– 1 head of garlic – $0.92/used half at 46 cents
– eggs – $1.69 for 6/2 for 56 cents
– chives – $1.99/about 50 cents per 1/4 cup
– buttermilk – $1.99 for a quart/50 cents per cup
– carrots – $0.99 lb/2 used at 50 cents
– celery – $1.99/about 53 cents for 4 stalks
– frozen peas – on sale for $1.00/about 40 cents per cup
– yellow onion – $0.82/half at 41 cents
– heavy cream – $1.69/1/4 cup at 42 cents

Total for purchased ingredients (all which will be used for multiple recipes, except for the chicken): $20.75

Total cost of ingredients JUST used in chicken and dumplings: $10.26

Total cost of dinner per person (serves six): $1.71. ONE dollar and SEVENTY-ONE CENTS!

This is super filling so one bowl is plenty. We will eat it for leftovers the next night, plus have at least two more servings left over for lunch during the week. It’s the ultimate comfort food, with little guilt. What’s better than that?

Under five dollars for dinner? I’ll take it!

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this post for a while, but when I was asked on Formspring about being a stay-at-home mom and maintaining a budget, I thought it was about time.

Living on one income means living on a budget. It’s not about how much we have, it’s about how far we can stretch it. How much we can do with what comes in every month in terms of our lives. There are of course non-negotiable expenses. Bills that have to be paid each month. But after that, we need to do our best with what’s left: food, home, savings.

I’ll admit, we haven’t been doing as well as we could be. We’re fine, but we’re not saving like we should be. And this is the time in our lives to do it! We recently sat down and decided, enough — it was time to get serious about where our money was going. We sat down and looked at what was coming in and what was going out, or more specifically, where it was going out to.

And the number one biggest expense? Food.

Between running to the store whenever, lunches on the go and multiple — multiple – trips to Starbucks and the like, we were spending far more than necessary and it was a wake up call.

So I hatched a plan: in order to get serious about our food budget, I was going to be honest about it here. On the blog. On the internet. I’m setting a monthly limit and am going to hold myself accountable on these pages. Both for me, and also for anyone else looking to do the same for their budget.

Here’s my plan for spending:

* Each month I will set a $400 food budget. I know this may sound high to some (or low to others), but based on what we were spending, I think this is an attainable goal. My long-term goal is to spend less than $400, but I feel this is a good start for us. This $400 includes groceries and home supplies/toiletries.

* Coffee purchases will be made from an account which requires us to use 10 debits a month to maintain a high interest rate return. We have to make 10 purchases, so they might as well be small. That allows us for on average two a week, making it more of a treat and less of a “need”.

*Each week I will go through the grocery circulars that come in the mail and plan my shopping list around them. I will make meal plans. I will use coupons when available and in addition, shop at local farmers’ markets.

Here’s my plan for staying accountable/helping others hoping to do the same for their budget:

* Once a week, I will share a recipe I made while cooking on a budget. I will do this while continuing to eat fresh produce and meat, organic whenever possible. (We don’t eat a lot of processed food now, and I see no reason to start just to save money. I believe you CAN eat healthy and deliciously on a budget!)

* I will break down that recipe dollar for dollar, sharing with you the total dollar amount per serving.

* At the end of the month, I will share my total spending for the month; both with my successes and my stumbles. I will share tips I have learned and invite others to do the same. If you would like to join me on this journey, you can share your successes and stumbles at the end of the month too.

I firmly believe it’s not about doing without, it’s about doing MORE with what you HAVE. Whatever your budget, there are ways to make it stretch and that’s a good thing, no matter how many zeros are in your paycheck.

I’m excited about this journey and I hope you’ll find it interesting/helpful as well!

- Remember when I asked you to delurk and you came out of the shadows and linked to your blogs? I’ve been reading you mwahahahah! Well, ok, not all creepy-like. I’ve just turned the tables and have been lurking around quietly. And you guys! How come you didn’t tell me sooner about all your fabulous blogs? I needed some new reads and you delivered. I’m thinking of making a post just to highlight some of my new favorites. Stay tuned!

- We have a new addition to our family. His name is BOB.

If it were physically possible to make out with a jogging stroller, this would be the jogging stroller. I know, who am I? Getting all hot and bothered over a stroller. But this thing is a dream. Turns on a dime, can be pushed with basically one finger and O is the king of our town as he gets pushed along. I had never heard of the BOB before Owen was born, but apparently they are like, a THING around these parts. They are everywhere! Singles, doubles. We must pass at least two on our daily walks.

One woman stopped me the other day (pushing her double BOB) and asked if I had ever seen a higher concentration of them than in our town. Maybe it’s a New England thing? Like how NYC loves their Uppa strollers? Are BOBs big where you are?

Either way, give me a minute while I go stare longingly at him…

…Ok, I’m back.

- Crazy how life changes, eh? Just a year ago the thought of spending hundreds of dollars on a stroller (I KNOW) would have seemed ridiculous when I could spend it on something like shoes. Oh, shoes. I still love you. I’m sorry I’ve been cheating on you for adjustable suspension and breathable mesh.

Speaking of shoes, would anyone be interested if I offered up a pair for sale? They’re not heels, but adorably preppy Sperry Topsiders that I love so much, but no longer fit into. Pregnancy didn’t really seem to make my feet bigger, but it apparently did something in regards to this particular shoe, because they are too tight.

They’ve been worn MAYBE five times and are in perfect condition. I’d offer them up for less than I paid. Would that be weird? They don’t smell, I promise. And if someone buys them, I can buy a new pair that fits. Win!

- Now that I have this fancy jogger, I’m thinking about maybe, you know, jogging with it. I’m not a runner by any means so I would have to start reeeaaallly slow. Maybe even try the Couch to 5k thing? Maybe? But whatever I do, I need some new tunes to run jog walk briskly to. On your mark, get set, give me some songs!

- BOB is calling. Must go. Coming, darling!

I was working on this ridiculously whiny post a little while ago about how it was only the morning and we’d already had a day, but had to stop when O had enough of his blocks and was nap time fussy. We went upstairs and as I was nursing him, I could tell he was trying his hardest to poop. Which is good, since lately he has been waking himself too up too early from almost every nap by taking a poop. Seriously. Every time. I’m beginning to think he’s doing it on purpose.

Since it seemed as though we would eliminate this problem today before he fell asleep, I waited until he was done and put him on the changing table. Only, it turned out he tricked me and it was only gas, and by the time he was zipped back into his sleep sack and we settled into the glider, he wasn’t all that interested in napping at all. Instead, he started doing his patented “I’m too cute to nap” routine, by stopping nursing every few seconds to peek at me, then smile, then burst out laughing. It’s hard not to laugh along with him when he does that.

Not willing to push it if he wasn’t tired, we came back downstairs and I put him in his walker, figuring he’d tire himself out soon enough. Within minutes, he had pooped (yay!) and was rubbing his eyes. I changed him, brought him back upstairs, and settled back into the glider.

And then he reached out, grabbed my thumb and mumbled “Mamamamama” as he nuzzled into my breast. He hasn’t really said it much since he discovered he could, so each time is still exciting. And this time, so sweet.

Just like that, my day turned around. In just an instant it went from downright annoying, to pretty darn awesome.

So tell me, what’s the bright spot in your day today?

It was bound to happen. A baby learning to eat solids with only two teeth will most likely choke on something.

But when it happened today; when in a split second he went from happily munching away to a look of panic, it didn’t matter that it was bound it happen. It was happening.

We were with friends at the local coffee shop and it happened in the quarter of a second it took for me to turn my head and sip my drink. When I realized he was choking, I went into instant overdrive and while I always hoped to stay calm in this situation, I was downright panicked.

I instinctively did exactly what you’re NOT supposed to do and shoved my finger in his mouth to dig out the piece of food. With my other hand I was unbuckling the straps of the high chair to yank him out and when I did, I started banging on his back. I could hear the table of old ladies behind me in a twitter, but it seemed like a dull buzz rather than words.

Just as quickly as it began, it was over; the offending food now a mushy blob on his chin. As I covered him in kisses, he shook me off in favor of the bag of toys next to me. I’m fine, Mama. I’m fine.

It wasn’t until later at home as I read over the pamphlet describing the correct way to help a choking infant (hint: don’t shove the food down their throat) that the tears came. The reality of what could have been.

There will be worse moments to face, I know. Bigger scares, greater fears. This was the first of many. And I wish was the last one we have to face.

Being a parent means putting your heart on the line every single day for the life you created. It’s a heart breaking  thing, really.

He may have been the one who choked, but I am the one left all choked up.

Dear Owen,

You’ve been nine months for a week now, and I’m just sitting down to write this letter to you. Actually, I’ve been terrible about writing you monthly news letters. I was great at it while I was pregnant, but kiddo, you keep me on my toes and we’re a busy pair! Instead, I’ve been writing you quarterly letters, and in the end, I think I actually like it better. It’s amazing to see how much has changed in just three months.

You, little boy, are awesome. You begin every day with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. Your smile is actually one of my favorite things about you. It’s like you can’t just smile with your mouth — you have to smile with your ENTIRE FACE. Your eyes crinkle up (just like mine!) and you scrunch your nose and throw back your head and oh! It is wonderful. You are sleeping so much better now, usually only waking once to nurse and then staying in your crib till about 7. And when I bring you in bed with us then, you alternate between nursing, and whipping your head around to talk to Daddy. It’s also the place where you play with the only toy you have a real attachment to; a Peter Rabbit that you make hop and give kisses to.

The kisses! Open mouthed, wet slobbery kisses, given any time I ask for one. Omigod, I love it.

One of your favorite pastimes include flying around the house in your walker. You can round corners,  back up, and go anywhere you want to in that thing. You can also torture the dog and pull things off shelves and end tables. Nothing is safe anymore. You’re not crawling yet, but you are so very close. Part of me can’t wait to see you take off, but the other part of me wants you to stay in one place because I can’t imagine how much more trouble you’re going to get yourself into! It took you a while to learn to roll over (I think because there’s just so much of you to roll!), but once you did, you only did it for about a week before becoming bored with it. When I would try to encourage you to do it again, you’d look at me like, “Mama, this is silly. What do I need to do this for?” You have always been a back-sleeper, but have started to roll over in your sleep now. Sometimes it wakes you up and you wake up scared. I try not to laugh at you when I roll you back over!

You LOVE to eat! You’ll try anything and will eat most, except for green beans. The face you give me when I put those in your mouth! You can self-feed puffs and small pieces of mushy things, but until your top teeth come in and join the two you already have on the bottom, I’m too nervous to give you things that require more chewing. Maybe you’ll like green beans when they’re not pureed! I can’t say I blame you. You are a champ at using a sippy cup, and even like to drink from our water glasses sometimes. And those top teeth? You’ve been working on them for WEEKS! The bottom ones came in without a fuss, but these have been giving you trouble. I can see them under the skin, though, so I know they’ll be here soon.

It seems like every day you have a new skill. You wave hello and goodbye to everyone, even the dog. You clap, play peek-a-boo and babble all day long. On the day you turned eight months, you said “Dada”, and a few days ago you said your first “Mama”. I was lucky enough to already be filming you at the time, so I have that memory on film! What you can’t see when watching it is how my heart swelled and burst into a thousand pieces when I heard your voice say that word.

You currently still have hazel eyes, although they seem to be turning brown, and your hair is strawberry blond and sticks up like a fuzzy duckling. At your last well visit, you weighed 24 pounds and were 28 inches long. Still a big boy, but slowing down a bit. You still have the chunkiest thighs, hands and feet I’ve ever seen and I have no idea where that came from.

Your personality is really shining through, O. I call you The Mayor when we go shopping, because you do this Miss America wave to everyone we pass as you are pushed through the store. You flirt with all my girl friends (although you are a little shy around men) and when you laugh, there’s no way anyone won’t be laughing along with you. You can be cheeky and devious and adorable all at the same time.

You love your mommy and daddy so much. When daddy comes home from work your entire body gets excited and you start grunting and screeching until he will hold you. And when he leaves, you wave goodbye and although that’s sad, it’s really sweet too. You also are very interested in Kodiak now. When you’re not trying to run over him, you’re trying to pet him and he’s such a good boy with you. He tolerates being mauled and will run to you when you’re crying and lick you until you stop. We are trying to teach him “no face”, but he doesn’t always listen. At least you won’t be scared of big dogs!

You are finally napping in the crib, which has been a big success for me. You don’t always like it, and will sometimes cry for 10-15 minutes before falling asleep, or wake up after about a half hour and cry a bit before going back down, but you’re getting there. You’re much happier when you’ve napped, kid!

You are still nursing a few times a day and I really hope you make it all the way to a year. I think you will, if not more. Most of the time they’re short nursing sessions now, because you get super distracted by anything around you and tend to whip your head off my breast to look around, so I really enjoy the first and last nurse of the day which tend to be much longer.

You are our joy, Owen. I can’t tell you how happy you have made us. This year has been flying by and I cannot believe my next letter to you will be on your first birthday.

I love you, little man.

Love,

Mama

Last night I saw on the news that Prince William will not wear a wedding ring after he marries Kate Middleton. For some reason, this really rubbed me the wrong way.

I said something about it on Twitter, and there were some sarcastic responses about “like father, like son”, and it got me thinking, that’s exactly why I don’t like it. Wasn’t Charles keeping Camilla on the side while he was still with Diana? Am I wrong? Am I admitting to knowing way more about the royal family than I’d like to?

Either way, Charles’ history or not, it bothers me that Prince William won’t be wearing a wedding band. Especially since Kate will be. Being a married person myself, I’d be hurt if Michael chose not to wear a ring. Why? Because it symbolizes something more than a wedding day. Trust, committment, love, family. Sure, you can be a cheating bastard and still be wearing your wedding ring, so all those symbols could mean absolutely nothing, but to step out of the gate first thing — to say your vows, place a ring on your wife’s finger (essentially stating she is a taken woman) and then not reciprocate?

Meh.

I know I’m going to get flamed by at least someone in the comments. Someone whose father/brother/uncle/friend doesn’t wear a wedding ring and is a wonderful, loving, faithful husband none-the-less. Of course he is! I’m not saying by keeping your ring finger bare you are any less than a perfect partner. My friends’ father works with his hands, he can’t wear the ring. He’s been faithfully married for 30 years. That’s not the point.

What I’m saying is that here are two VERY public figures, surrounded by endless buzz about their wedding that has been going on for MONTHS. They’ve made a pretty huge stink about this whole getting married business. They’re royalty. And it’s not like neither one will be wearing a wedding ring; the wife will be. Why shouldn’t the husband?

Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe this is not a big deal to anyone else. Maybe in Britain, this hasn’t even been talked about.  I have a feeling, though, that if President Obama didn’t wear his wedding ring, there would be all sorts of controversy over it and the institution of marriage and family.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on this rainy day. Feel free to disagree with me, just keep it civil, ok? Comment wars are so 2010.

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