Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bear - The Beginning

In honor of my first Mother's Day coming up, I am sharing the story of my son's entry into the world and the events that shortly followed.

I was induced just after 39 weeks because of elevated blood pressure and uric acid.  And because he was estimated to be large.
My induction was successful however I had a great deal of difficult pushing his shoulders out.  He had severe shoulder dystocia and was extremely bruised and stiff after birth.  He couldn't figure breastfeeding out, was super tired, and never cried.  The nurse kept giving him Tylenol because he was probably in pain.  I am still angry with my delivery experience for this.  For not advocating for my son that he be examined IMMEDIATELY.  I waited.  I had a nurse tell me "he just wasn't hungry".  I had another nurse tell me "It's normal for babies not to cry".  Then the 2nd night he came undone, he screamed every 45 minutes, would take about 1-2mL of formula, pass out and repeat.  We begged for help and none came, instead we were told we were "paranoid first time parents".

At 11AM the next day a pediatrician came to take Bear for his discharge exam.  She came back noting the nursery had gotten him to take 2/3 of an oz of formula, which he then immediately vomited all over her.  She said he had red flags, and was extremely stiff, he was seizing and needed to go the NICU before he stopped breathing.  I held him in the nursery till the NICU staff came.  The loaded him in an isolette on a gurney, wheeled him in my room to say good-bye. 

It was shocking. 

It the course of an hour I went from about to leave with my newborn to go home, to leaving with an empty carseat praying my son kept breathing long enough to get to the NICU.  Hubs and I headed home, it was on the way to the 2nd hospital, to get clothes, a snack, and anything else we would need.

We then headed to the NICU where we were informed we would not be allowed to see Bear.  We waited about 2 hours before we were allowed in.  He as asleep in an isolette, with the nurse who transported him watching over him.  He had an IV in his head and when she handed him over to me it took everything in my body not to break down and cry.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Parenting-Breaking the swaddle

We rock Bear to sleep every night, it's part of our routine.
If he wakes we try to pat him to sleep and if he is too upset we rock him to sleep again.
We put him down unswaddled on a Friday night (we figured we should try it while it was a weekend and we could nap if it was a big fat failure).  He slept great from 7-10 at which point he woke up and was wide awake.  I let him babble in his crib, and he would start to fuss.  He would then escalate to a cry for about 30 seconds, then drift off for a minute and start babbling again.  This cycle continued for about 20 minutes when he started crying without drifting off.  At this point I went in his room, replaced his pacifier, put my hand on his tummy and said "It's night-night time.  I love you".  I then walked out of the room.  He would blow raspberries, babble, yell and occasionally cry.  I had to go in 3 times to pacify him.  Everytime he would drift off he would wake up crying because he wasn't being rocked. 

I have to let him fuss to realize he CAN push himself up on all fours, so I had to let him to fuss to realize he can fall asleep all by himself.

He then slept from 11-1, woke for a bottle and went right back to sleep.  He then woke for the day at 7.  The next night was even easier.   He woke one time for a bottle at 4am and the rest of the night maybe cried for 30 seconds before putting himself to sleep.

Our sleep was going fantastic, until yesterday.
Bear decided to cut his first tooth.  Last night he woke every 30 minutes, if this pattern continues tonight, he will be coming in our bed. 

For me parenting a special needs child is give and take, ebb and flow.  He gives me cues, I take them and try to give him direction.  He exhibits a need and I give.  I give him love and snuggles and he takes them and gives me a great big smile and laugh.  Special needs along with an irritable child was extremely difficult.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Hubs and I have a strange position as parents.  Our little boy has special needs.  He requires more time and attention than most babies.  At 11 months old he is not mobile.  He can roll back to tummy and tummy to back, however, he cannot combine them and roll to get somewhere.  He is just starting to push up on all fours, but that is also dependent on when his last dose of medicine is.

He has an extensor reflex, this develops if something goes wrong in the brain. Until he overcomes this he will not be able to sit unsupported or walk.  We have therapy once a week now, it just recently increased.  He is in Occupational and Physical Therapy.  We are on the waiting list for a Speech Evaluation.

Bear is just starting to develop a pincer grasp, however has a feeding aversion.  To feed purees it is a dance of holding some sort of loud, obnoxious toy and getting him 100% distracted while sticking the spoon in his mouth.  I have gotten him to happily eat a 6oz jar of baby food like this.  Normally, he seals his mouth shut.

I honestly can't say I picked one style of parenting, but I do meld mostly with Attachment Parenting.  My little guy needs so much and the only way we have of communicating is for me to listen to his cues.  We attempted sleep training at almost 6 months old because the Neurologist said his awful sleep is because we didn't allow him to cry.  It was unsuccessful.

Bear was/is a screamer.  He screamed bloody murder for at least 18 hours a day for 5 months.  It finally started to improve and he screamed about 8 hours a day until 7 months when it finally subsided.  He is still a very demanding child and easily frustrated.  On top of all this we dealt with little sleeping.  For two months old to 5 months he was up screaming every 30 minutes. Hubs and I slept in shifts, literally.  We were walking zombies.  We finally demanded the doctors help us and they prescribed medicine with the warning that it wouldn't work.

Boy did it work.  We have a different child.  He is "delightful" (the words of all the doctors), he has such a great smile and laugh, and he sleeps.  Lately we had been dealing with sleep that was worsening, and we tried a new medicine.  This one was guaranteed to work. It didn't.

I have heard the "you need to let him cry" mantra way too many times and was almost tempted.  However, I feel it's very important not to force Bear into a schedule.  He is a baby, a human, with his own quirks and special needs.  He is not defined by a clock, or a book that touts a schedule.  I try to listen to what he needs.

He is actually on a very strict schedule, that is predicted by him.  After he wakes, he immediately gets a diaper change and medicine followed by calm playtime on the floor to let it settle in his tummy.  30 min to 1 hour later, depending on his hunger level he gets his bottle.  45 minutes later we try food.  He goes down for a nap 4-5 hours after his wake time. His nap length is the only part of his schedule I predict.  Because of having 3 doses of his medicine a day (one is right before nap time and it does make him drowsy for a little while) he could sleep for HOURS.  And then be up all night.  I do wake him up at the 2.5 hour mark usually and he wakes up easily. 

When his sleep started worsening I decided to brave the even worse sleep exhaustion and pay attention to what he was saying.  Thank goodness for video monitors.  I watched him wake up and start almost panicking that he was swaddled.  We tried one arm out and it didn't work.  He didn't seem interested in the bottle.  He would go down quickly, however as soon as he started drifting into a lighter sleep state he would wake up panicking that he was constricted.

I talked to Hubs and we decided he needed to be unswaddled.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Going Green!

Hubs and I have slowly been going greener.  We are not extremely green, but I'm of the mindset that every little bit helps.

1) We downsized from an SUV that got about 18 mpg at best to a small car rated for 35 mpg on the highway.

2) We try to combine trips for errands into one day.  Unfortunately with therapy once a week and doctors appointments this is the most difficult to do.

3) We switched to cloth diapers.

4) We have a HE Front Loading Washing Machine, and a HE dishwasher.  All of our appliances are energy star.

5) We dry our clothes outside from spring to fall.  This year is an exception.  THE RAIN!!! It started raining last night and is expected to rain through Thursday.  I tried drying my diapers on a rack in the kitchen and it's just too humid.

6) We are starting to compost and we recycle everything.  Actually we live in a county where you send all your trash to one place and the pull the recycling out.  It's nice.

7) We try to buy very little to reduce waste.  We avoid things that are overpackaged and we try to use reusable containers for our leftovers.

8) I am trying to make my own detergent, but with a front loading washing machine and extremely hard water, this is proving difficult.

If anyone has another going green tips, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

Bear will be 1 in 5 weeks.

Friday night we successfully unswaddled him.  We have been trying since Thanksgiving.  I thought we were going to have to use that thing till he was 5.  And he already looked like a stuffed sausage.

Cloth diapering is going well.  We headed down to a local store on Tuesday and stocked up.  I bought 2 packs (12) Bummi's large organic cotton prefolds, 3 Thirsties Duo Wraps, 2 Thirsties Duo Diapers and a wet bag.  It was my own twelve days of Christmas!  We've been using them during the day at home.  I did not prep the diapers, I chose to prep as I go.  In order for diapers to reach their maximum absorbency they have to be washed several times.  Instead of using disposables and washing clean diapers multiple times I just decided to change him often.  I would say by the end of next week my diapers should be thoroughly prepped.

                                              Some of our new stash, the rest is in the wash.

                                                 Real boys wear pink....diapers that is!

The on Saturday we participated in the 2011 Cloth Diaper Change.  It was a Guinness Book of World Records attempt to have the most babies changed into a cloth diaper simultaneously.  It involved 400 locations all over the world.  It was a blast to join together with people who have the same eco-friendly views we do, and to be apart of an event to promote cloth diapers.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

So much to write...

But it's Easter!

Hallelujah HE is risen!  He is risen indeed!


Friday, April 22, 2011


Bear and I will be participating in the Great Cloth Diaper Change in 2011.  It will be held across the United States, and it will attempt to be the greatest number of babies changed into a cloth diaper simulatenously.

Cloth diapering is going great.  I'll update more after Easter with pictures of my new stash.

I hope everyone else's weekend is going great!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's cookin Wednesday-Gluten-Free

Tonight is my "Famous" (in the eyes of my husband) Barbecue Chicken. We are possibly having 5 adults and 2 children at dinner tonight so I went with boneless chicken for convenience.  It was on sale for $1.88/lb.  Also, this recipe freezes great if there are any leftovers.  What makes so different than the rest?  Marinating and RED onion.

-boneless, skinless chicken breast (I used about 5lbs because that's how much was in my package and Hubs will bring the rest for lunch tomorrow)
-1 large red onion (mine was .68lb)
-1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's because it's gluten-free)

Slice onion into rings.  Take a container that will fit all your chicken and has a lid.  I used a Rubbermaid container like this.  Spread some barbecue sauce in the bottom and put half your chicken in.  Lay half your onion slices and spread barbecue sauce over chicken and onions.  Repeat with rest of chicken and onions so you have two layers.

Put lid on and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours,  I usually let mine sit for about 4-6 hours,

When ready to cook, preheat grill (don't forget to oil your grates) and cook chicken for about 15-20 minutes, or until no longer pink (this time varies greatly by how large and thick your chicken is).  I usually cook the onions for about 10 minutes until they're soft and serve over the chicken.

We will be having this with frozen corn (I froze this last year) and salad.  This meal cost me $14.98 (not including salad dressing).  Here is my cost broken down. I do prorate it for times I buy an item and use half for one dinner and half for another. 

Chicken @ 1.88/lb -$8.48
BBQ Sauce - $1.82
Bag of salad 2/3.28-$1.64
Red Onion-$1.01


Or just $2.14/person.  This is assuming there are no leftovers, but I'm sure there will be at least one serving.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April Accountability #5

Cloth Diapering.

While I was pregnant I had all these grand ideas to cloth diaper my baby.  I stocked up on newborn prefolds and covers, a few one size pockets, and 4 Thirsties All In One's (AIO).  Then Bear was born.

There was the stress of the NICU, the first few weeks home, the doctor's appointments, and the constant screaming.  I couldn't add one more thing to my plate, I just couldn't.

Then Bear has chronic constipation because of his muscle issues, so between MiraLax, Lactulose, Suppositories, Diaper Cream and play doh poop I just didn't feel ready and put it out of my mind.

Fast forward to last week.  Obviously the Newborn prefolds and covers and 2 of the Thirsties AIO (size small) weren't going to fit.  But I have about 6 one size pocket diapers and 1 medium and 1 large Thirsties.  So I figured, these diapers are wasting space in my closet and I'm almost out of Target daytime diapers.  So let's try them out. 

I figured I'd just use them for pee for now and when Bear got the "poop face" that I could change him.  All went well for the first day, however Bear decided to break me in fast.  The next morning he pooped before I even knew it.  I almost panicked.  I wasn't prepared for poopy diapers.  So I just went in the laundry room, pulled the insert out of the pocket and threw it in the laundry bag.  I went to the bathroom, swished the dirty diaper in the toilet.  It was shockingly easy.  The poop came right off, and I just flushed the toilet.

I did my first load of cloth diapers last night and it was so easy!  I'm hooked.  Bear, I and my Mom are even going to a cloth diaper event this coming weekend.

We are going to need more, I believe I have 8 diapers and that is just not enough to even make washing them worth it.  Thankfully the ones I love are on sale because they're being discontinued, so I believe we will be adding to our stock soon.

Currently, I still use disposables at night (Bear is a heavy wetter) and if we go out.  I don't have a wet bag or any extra inserts to up the absorbency.  So if we're out and I have to change him, I'm stuck.  I hope to remedy that soon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Follow Up: April Accountability #4 Make Me Healthy Monday!

Since going Gluten Free I have a ton more energy.  I actually have not had a cup of coffee since Thursday.  This is big.  When I crawl into bed at night I actually have that feeling like when I was a little kid.  I still have a ton of energy and don't want to go to bed!

Before, I was crawling to the Keurig in the morning and downing a cup of coffee while Bear played on the floor.  I'm still putting him on the floor to play, but blogging instead so that we can start our day after his medicine has settled in his tummy.

It is definitely not an easy diet change to make, however, I feel AMAZING so it gives me a lot of motivation to stay away from gluten.  I think this is why dieting never worked for me before. I  would lose a couple of pounds and have great motivation but then it would stop.  And I would never feel better.  I would feel hungry, and irritable and still exhausted. 

Also, I'm down 5.5 lbs without even trying.  I feel less bloated, and have pep in my step.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April Accountability #4

My diet.

About 6 months before getting pregnant I went gluten-free.  I was tired, I had gained about 60 lbs effortlessly and extremely uninterested in anything but laying on the couch.  It was suggested that I could have Celiac Sprue disease by my Gastroenterologist so I did a gluten elimination challenge.  I felt amazing about two weeks later and decided to have the blood work to check for the antibodies of Celiac.  My test came back negative, however, I tainted the results by eliminating gluten for over two weeks.  Since I felt amazing, and the only cure to Celiac is to be gluten-free, I decided to forgo repeat testing while eating gluten or a small bowel biopsy.

Then I got pregnant and remained gluten-free until about the 2nd trimester.  At this point my stomach was not a happy camper.  I sailed through the 1st trimester with no morning sickness or food aversion.  Then Thanksgiving hit.  While I was nausea free, ever single food made my stomach do somersaults.  The only thing my body really seemed to respond to was, yep you guessed it, gluten-filled foods.  Bread, pasta, and crackers were staples in my diet.  I didn't seem to have a very negative response to it so I kept a gluten diet.

Then Bear was born and there was the stress of the NICU.  I ate the free nursing-mother meals, which were gluten filled comfort foods.  I lost 15lbs of the baby weight easily (then again Bear weighed 9lb at birth) and the rest have been stuck. 

I've lost and regained the same 5lbs for 6 months now. I just figured it was the stress of special needs, and the hospitalizations, the fast food, the comfort eating.  However, once things started to calm down I decided to clean up Hubs and my diet.  I made homemade wheat bread and we ate salads and sandwiches.  And I didn't lose a pound.

In the past two months I've been becoming increasingly more exhausted no matter how much sleep I have.  And **TMI WARNING** my monthly period has been coming less and less.  Last time was 90 days and I'm already up to 45 days this cycle.  I'm guessing as my immune system is regulating it's becoming more and more sensitive to gluten.

Wednesday I had enough.  I said farewell to some of my favorite friends and embraced my gluten-free lifestyle.
(all images from google search)

I know there are many gluten-free alternatives but the specialty flours are extremely expensive and most recipes are highly disappointing.  Although, I do recommend the Betty Crocker Baking Mixes. I really liked the Chocolate Chip Cookies, however with a stick of butter they are probably pretty unhealthy.

I do think I will invest in some gluten free oats to try to convert a few recipes I have.

So on top of budgeting, driving less, cooking at home and working on my marriage.  I have to frugally cook gluten-free.

I do this by
1) Buying very few gluten-free alternatives.  My one allowance is pasta.  I buy corn past from The Christmas Tree Shoppes for $1.29/bag.  I haven't bought it in a while so the price may have changed.

2) I cook like a meat and potatoes kind of girl.  I usually make some sort of protein, and a vegetable and starch. 

3) I replace pasta with brown rice.  Except for tomato sauce (yuck).  We have turkey and gravy over rice, chicken and wild rice soup, you get the picture.

4) I do not buy seasonings or instant anything.  There is LOTS of hidden gluten so the easiest way to avoid this is to cook at home.

In the past 2 days, I have more energy and am feeling "lighter".  We'll see if this lasts.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Debt Beatdown #2

Mortgage Debt.

Ugh.  I got a punch to the stomach today.  I was delving through our credit report (which you should check at least once a year by the way, it's free at and saw that we owe 99% of our mortgage. 

Meaning, we have 1% equity.

Blech.  However our credit card debt is dwindling.  I cannot wait to pay it off.  CANNOT!!! I get all giddy inside thinking of no more credit card bills coming in, no more paying interest for using money we don't have.

We are still in Stage 1 of our Debt Beatdown.  Getting rid of credit card bills.  We have about $1000 left, the one credit card balance we had, hadn't cleared our propane bill and it was about $500 more than we anticipated.  So we'll just keep knocking it down.

Do you have debt?  If so, what is your debt beatdown plan?  I'd love to hear how others are doing it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cooking Success and Failure Week 2

Let's see how we did this week!
Saturday April 9
Lunch: we had a fun visit down to Amish country and picked up some lunch meat at a bulk food store.  We had a picnic on the front porch of a furniture store (don't worry we stopped in to buy something first) with some homemade bread from home and snacks.
Dinner:  I wasn't very hungry so Hubs had leftovers from salisbury steak night.
Sunday April 10
Lunch:  Sandwiches

Dinner:  hot dogs, macaroni salad

Monday April 11
Lunch:  Sandwiches

Dinner:  Pizza Hut.  We got home so late from the hospital and were wiped.  Bear was melting down and by the time we got him settled and in bed it was so late and we were so hungry.

Tuesday April 12
Lunch:  Sandwiches or Pizza
Dinner:  Applebee's.  I made a chicken crockpot dish.  It smelled revolting and looked even worse.  So we decided to go out (Yes twice in one week, but I felt it was warranted)

Wednesday April 13
Lunch:  I picked up salad for lunch because I started Gluten Free (GF).  Hubs had sandwiches
Dinner:  Caesar salad, hot dogs (I had mine without a roll), frozen canteloupe and canned peaches

Thursday April 14
Lunch:  Leftover salad or sandwiches

Dinner:  Pancakes (I found a box of GF mix someone gave me) and turkey breakfast sausage.

Friday April 15
Lunch:  Au Bon Pain for me, it was the only thing at the hospital and I was unable to bring anything from home, Hubs had Wendy's, he was on the road for work

Dinner:  Jimmy John's, I had Cornish Hens out but Hubs said he really wanted sandwiches.  I know you're all thinking, but didn't she just go GF?  Jimmy John's offers an Unwich.  It's they're sandwich (same amount of meat and condiments, etc) all wrapped up in very large lettuce leaves.  It was fantastic, and the Beach Club (Turkey and Avocado) was only 200 calories. We also had potato chips.

I know it seems like we went out an awful lot, and we did.  However, this has been one of THOSE weeks so the fact that we even made it through is success.  I wish I could have cooked more, but days like yesterday (driving 40 minutes by myself with Bear at naptime, walking the 20 minute walk to the doctor's office, then back to the car, then back to the doctor's office, then back to the car, and then the 40 min drive home in traffic which became an hour) it took all my energy just to survive.  So tough luck.  Next week is a little calmer, however it ends in Easter.  Although in our house holidays=leftovers!!! and less cooking afterwards.
I ended up having to purchase romaine lettuce and 2 packs hot dog rolls and macaroni salad and potato chips.
And as a follow up, that GF pancake/waffle mix was absolutely HORRID.  Ruined the whole pancake experience. I thought with enough syrup it would mask the flavor.  I was wrong, very wrong.

Thankful Thursday

Sometimes, when life is this chaotic I get so caught up in the moment that I miss sight of the bigger picture.  Times like this, I need to pick out things that make my life what it is, and how thankful I really am.  So it's time for a reminder.

I am thankful for the little baby boy I get to wake up to every morning.
The baby with this crazy hair in the morning.

I am thankful for the husband I get to fall asleep with every night.

I am thankful for all the blessings God has provided to me and my family.  Hubs has a stable job, we have a roof over our head, and more love than is even imaginable.

The farmer who is willing to plow the back 2.5 acres so that we don't have to maintain it this year.

Days like this, that go into memory as some of the most beautiful nights ever.

Life.  I am so thankful that I get to be apart of this.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Hey, it's still technically Wednesday.  This week is CHAOTIC!!!  These are the times when special needs smack me in the face. People with typical children aren't, literally, at the doctor or therapist every day for an ENTIRE week.

Hubs and I, and Bear, worked on this for Mother's Day.  Next to the heart I covered up Bear's name, but you get the idea.  I forgot to give the Butterfly a happy face though.  I'll have to remember to do that before we give it. 

I used a red tote that we already had.  Someone had given us a bunch of books at our baby shower in it.  And I then bought fabric paint on sale at Joann Fabrics and used Bear's footprints (yes my child has HUGE feet).  I still have to heat set it.

Next week I'll posted the finished projects.

And yes, there are paint splotches all over.  It's very hard to get a 10 month old to cooperate.  Oh, and excuse the horrid photography, it's hard to get a good picture in the sunroom at dusk.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

That which does not kill you...

Only makes you stronger.

This is my mantra for this week.  If I let my guard down, I'm sure this week would hit me like a deer on the freeway.

Yesterday was going well, until about 30 seconds before we are to leave, our second appointment gets cancelled.

So now we have 5.5 hours between appointments and we decide we'll just come home.

Our first appointment goes smoothly and we end up with ANOTHER prescription.  Yes, that prescription must be compounded and since we're about 40 miles north of home, they can't just electronically send it to the pharmacy that's about 20 minutes away from our house.

Our second appointment goes just as swimmingly and we head home with a referral for ANOTHER doctor to see and a Bear that is about to implode.

He sleeps horrible. 

Today we get up, head to the pharmacy (20 minutes from home) just to drop said prescription off.  We come home, he naps, house guests show up, and my dinner is terrible.  I experimented with a recipe and lets just say, I doubt it was even edible.  So we head to the local Applebee's (the last place I wanted to be with a 10 month old who was about 1 hour out from bedtime).

Tomorrow is our day off (and like I said before, I'm super excited for WIP Wednesday).

Thursday is therapy.

Friday is the only day that we could reschedule our appointment.  The doctor was out sick.  So now, I alone (because Hubs can't take ANOTHER day off) am heading 40 miles north with Bear at nap time (I need all the prayers you can muster that he falls asleep in the car) to go to another doctor's appointment.   This one is not critical, however I do need to alter the one prescription he has.  We always seem to run out before the month is up and then insurance won't cover it and he really needs to take it EVERY day.

Sunday we have lunch plans after church.  I know, I'm whining, and I'm trying very hard to stay positive, but church ends at 11:30, usually we're out of there by 12 after some socializing and oohing over a new baby girl (she's so tiny!!! she makes Bear look like a giant).  Then it's a good 15-20 minute ride to this family's house and did I mention bear usually naps around 12:30 or 1 every day.  And then it's a 40 minute ride home.  While I love this family to death and am really excited about having some fellowship (especially with other adults) sometimes the inconvenience is so daunting.

My posting may be sparse and off topic this week.  Hopefully, I'll be able to get back into the rhythm by Saturday!

Monday, April 11, 2011


is going to be one of those days.

We have three doctors appointments all quite a distance from home.  They first is at 10, the last is 3:30.  I have a feeling Bear will be having a few meltdowns.

We'll be packing a picnic lunch of sandwiches and praying the weather holds out.  There is an 80% chance of rain and it's supposed to be in the 60's. 

I can't wait till Wednesday, I've got a great WIP.  And it's in plenty of time for Mother's Day.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we have Bear's 9 month follow up appointments (about 5 weeks late for some reason).  Hopefully we'll get some new direction and some of our questions answered.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April Accountability #1 Follow Up - Cooking at home

I'm sure you've all been wondering how I've been doing with eating at home.

So to be accountable to myself and to the world of the Internet, here is my past week
Friday April 1
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions with homemade sauce (all found in the basement freezer) on top of spaghetti with homemade dinner rolls

Saturday April 2
Lunch : Leftovers or Taylor ham, egg, and cheese on homemade roll
Dinner: Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken from Stephanie Rice and Brussel Sprouts

I did go to the grocery store on Saturday to get some much needed veggies and noodles to turn the leftover chicken into Chicken Noodle Soup and Chicken pot pie.

Sunday April 3
Lunch:  Out for Mexican food after a late church meeting
Dinner:  Snack-neither of us was really hungry after eating lunch so late

Monday April 4
Lunch:  Hubs-PB&J Me-Wendy's (it was a horrible day, between story time, registering my car, the rain, and Bear falling asleep in the car, I was so hungry and I knew I would just have to sit in the car till he woke up)  So this is the first OOPS of the month.   I WILL do better
Dinner:  Chicken Noodle Soup

Tuesday April 5
Lunch:  Chicken Noodle Soup or PB&J
Dinner :  Homemade Pizza using Heather's Pizza Dough Recipe

Wednesday April 6
Lunch: Granola Bar or PB&J
Dinner:  Salisbury Steak, Gravy, Egg Noodles, Brussel Sprouts

Thursday April 7
Lunch:  Wendy's or Leftover Salisbury Steak- Bear is sick again, so we went to the doctor.  On the way back I had to get him medicine so I figured we'd go there quick and then home for a nap.  He fell sound asleep halfway there and I was starving.  But I didn't get a Frosty so it wasn't so bad, right?
Dinner: Homemade chicken pot pie.  I made my first pie crust EVER and it was fantastic

Friday April 8
Lunch: Leftover chicken pot pie
Dinner:  Steak and Shake.  We decided to go out tonight instead of having lunch out tomorrow.
Not too bad.  I did not anticipate Bear falling asleep in the car after registering my car and, like I said, I had a horrible day and just couldn't function.  Then with him getting sick and having house guests, I was just stressed and didn't want to think about making myself lunch, plus this way, both times, he got a longer nap.  He wakes up AS SOON as the car turns off.  And not happily.

But I did great for every dinner!  I found the chicken in the freezer and after a few days I got sick of it so I decided for pizza.  And then I was going to make creamed chicken over biscuits (pretty much pot pie filling over biscuits) and decided I was going to attempt a pie crust.  I'm so glad I did.  I've slowly been getting over my fear of baking.  I've attempted bread and now pie crust.  I feel so much more accomplished knowing I don't have to run to the store for a loaf of bread or stock up on pie crusts when they're on sale.

I think I'm going to meal plan for the next week.  I was not in the mood this past week.

I ended up having to purchase 2 packs egg noodles, 2 packs of brown gravy, carrots, celery and butter.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The biggest deal I ever got was....

We have guests visiting so my blogging time is limited!

So today I will share the biggest deal I ever got.  And, I wasn't even paying for it!

I found out I was pregnant with Bear in September 2009.  Hubs and I planned to wait to buy a crib till the Spring so I wasn't even really seriously looking around.  I had just started price comparing and deciding what color/style/options I wanted.

Then Babies R Us had their New Year Sale.  Yes, I was like 16 weeks pregnant and looking at cribs. 

They offered the Babi Italia Pinehurst collection as part of their promotion.  If you bought the low dresser (in the back of the picture) they gave you the crib for free.  The only catch was that it was in the Natural wood.  Exactly what I wanted.  My parents had told us they wanted to buy us the crib and dresser so we figured this would be a great option, quality for low cost.  My mom went to her local Babies R Us and they put together the total price and we were all shocked, because they gave her an ADDITIONAL 30% off because it was on sale.   They even agreed to deliver it to MY local store (450 miles away).  The total came to $337.
Pinehurst Tea Stain - Babi Italia  - Babies"R"Us

 A week later Babies R Us called my mom and let her know they didn't have any dressers in stock, only the cribs. But, they would offer her a replacement.  They read her the name of Baby Cache Uptown collection.  We both figured it would be a cheaper crib and dresser, but we were wrong.
Uptown - Natural - Baby Cache  - Babies"R"Us
The crib costs $499 and the dresser $599.  We managed to get both the crib and the low dresser for $337.

I would have to say that to this day, this is the best deal I have ever come across.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Going to the big D and I don't mean Dallas

I didn't like what the judge had to tell us.  I got the jeep and she got the palace...

Sorry I can never think/talk/blog about this subject without that song jumping in my head.

The big D.  Divorce.  No I'm not getting divorced but this subject has been on my mind a lot lately with some ongoings of people close to us.  And with April Accountability going on, I'm figuring this is going to be #3. 

April Accountability #3- My marriage

No on in my family is divorced, while half of Hubs' Aunts and Uncles are divorced.

He fits the stereotype for America, approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce.

Bear is a special needs child that includes a love of screaming and a hatred of sleeping.  For about 3 months, Hubs and I slept in shifts because Bear did NOT sleep.  We have overcome those horrid, horrid months but he still does not sleep well.  The stress of a new baby, especially one that comes with extra stress and needs, puts us at a high risk of divorce.

I'm writing this to open the forum.  To open the discussion of what to do when your marriage is in trouble.  Now I'm by no means an expert on HOW to repair a marriage, I'm simply going to elaborate how Hubs and I are WORKING (did you notice the ING on the end there?  This is a work in progress.  We have small successes followed by failures and hard days, but in the end we're still working) toward a better marriage and a better future.

1)  My husband is the second priority in life.  My first is to God, my third is to Bear.  While this may seem strange, especially a baby with his own set of special needs, but this is how God wants it.  God created Adam first.  Therefore, your first relationship is with God. Second, he created Eve, therefore your second relationship is with your spouse.  And third, he gave Adam and Eve children.  God clearly defines the order of importance of your family.

2) We sought marriage counseling.  It has helped us communicate better and to learn to weather the storm.  It has given us the validation that we are tired, we are stressed, but it has also helped us turn inward rather than outward.

3) Sex.  This is something that God gives to married couples, it's not just intended for procreation, in fact, it's referred to as intimacy most often.  Intimacy is more than just the gratuitous act of sex, is a joining of mind, spirit and flesh with your spouse. It's an act of love that helps diffuse anger, arguments, petty worries and doubles joy and halves sorrows.  I am a married woman and intimacy with my husband is an important factor in our marriage.  Could you imagine never hugging your child?  Or telling them "I love you"? Or that bond when they fall down and skin their knee and look up to you for comfort?  This is how you show your bond with your child.  A lot of times a new baby means lack of sex.  Their is the 6 week postpartum period where we're all petrified of ever going near our nether regions again, or if you had a C-Section the ripping pain across your abdomen.  Then there is the new mom exhaustion, if your breastfeeding there is the constant touch all day long of a newborn, add in to that the fact that you can remember when you last showered and it's completely understandable why intimacy is so lacking in a marriage.  However, this is part of my bond with my husband and while I will jump and run to my baby every time he cries, I must jump and run to my husband when he shows a need for an intimate bond with me. Believe me, it's not easy, and sometimes I do have to force myself to do it.  But it's always amazing how much happier I am with myself and my husband when we are intimate.  It grounds me in our marriage.

4)  Time and space.  Sometimes these walls start closing in and Hubs and I need space.  Sometimes I leave Bear with him and I take a long, leisurely bubble bath and I read a book.  Sometimes I go run errands by myself.  Sometimes I let Hubs go outside and work in the yard or do something enjoyable for him.  We all
have the need for quiet, ME time.  And it's important that we facilitate this for each other.

5) We eat dinner together every night possible.  Even if this means it's 9:30PM (the other night) and we're tired, we eat together.  We may not talk in the morning or be awake together, so it's very important that we end every day together.

6) Commitment.  Hubs and I are very committed to our marriage.  (Obviously there is no abuse or adultery and we are both happy with each other). 

I understand there are extenuating circumstances and reasons for divorce so I'm only stating what has worked for us.  What has helped us grow together as a family with a new baby instead of apart.

And he's still my best friend.  Some pictures from our wedding day.  My hope is that for the rest of our lives together we can still look at each other with as much love in our eyes. (We look SO young!)

all photography courtesy of Photography By Nelson

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How I Recover

Yesterday was a rough day. I bawled my eyes out and went to bed feeling like a failure.  Hubs did night duty (I have no idea what I would without him, seriously) and I went to bed in an effort to make today a better day.

So today I vowed to have a day to recover. 

1) The Lord hears prayers and I get out of bed at 7:30 and Bear is still asleep.

2) Make the bed.  For some reason a fresh made bed just instantly makes me feel better.  Don't judge my decor, it's a new comforter and I have yet to buy new matching bedding and curtains.

3) Half unload the dishwasher, those darn plastics take forever to dry!

4) Get the washer and dryer both empty from last night's laundry showdown

5) Deep clean the kitchen table

7) It's almost 9 AM and Bear finally wakes up.  Go get him, change his diaper, give him medicine and put him on the floor to play.

8) Sit down and enjoy this

 While he watches the baby

So that I can do a little of this

Cleaning is so therapeutic to me.  It feels like every mark I wash away, every bit of garbage is another stressor gone from my life.  Every time we donate to Goodwill I feel as though I have a little more room to breathe again.  I love having enough stuff so that my home works for me, but not enough stuff so that I feel crowded.

Today is a much better day.  Bear is sick and vomited all over me and himself, so I bathed him and have another load of laundry going.  I made a loaf of bread (that unfortunately collapsed a bit) and tidied up a bit more.

Sometimes, when it rains and pours.   And sometimes, you can't do anything but play in the puddles.

WIP Wednesday

I'm still knitting along with Ashley and Rebecca over at Make it and Love It.

I guess I got in the knitting groove and managed to finish up 2 washcloths.  The second one I took the liberty of playing around with knit/purl combinations.  However, I didn't think to put a border on it so my edges are all curled up.  I started a new one with a border so we'll see how it goes.

I know it's not pretty, but I'm darn proud!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The not so nice side of motherhood

I'm bawling my eyes out.

I've hit my limit.  Bear woke up at 5AM for the second day in a row.  A full 3-4 hours before his waking time has been lately.  He then napped from 10-10:45AM. End.

I tried to put him down to nap for 2 hours, he refused.  No matter what I did.  And now, Hubs puts him to bed like usual (albeit an hour early at 7) and he runs to the store to get a valve for our pipe.  Of course the half bath decides to start leaking today!

Not even ten minutes later and Bear is back up screaming.  I go in, try to soothe him, and it doesn't work.  So I pick him up to rock him and he is wide awake staring at me.  I lost it.  I seriously started sobbing unbelievably, I'm just at my wits end with him today.  I haven't been able to do anything right.  No matter what, if I put him on the floor to play he wanted to be held.  If I held him he wanted down.  If I put him in the swing for a few minutes he screamed like I was murdering him.  I am so tired.

I have no idea why I can't sleep at night but last night I slept from 11-3 then was up till at least 4:30 then Bear was up at 5 and I managed to nap till 6 when Hubs had to get up.

I am thoroughly emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted today.  So, I put him in his crib where he cried, babbled and then yelled at me while I bawled my eyes out in the living room waiting for Hubs to get home.  All I want to do is take a long bath and go to bed.  BUT, the dishes need washing and a load of laundry has to get started.

However, we can't do anything until Hubs fixes the pipe in the bathroom so we can turn the water back on.

Cue more sobbing.

This is why my schedule needs fixing.  At 4:30 I went and walked around Wal-Mart.  I did have the excuse we needed cat food.  But mostly, it would occupy Bear while we waited for Hubs to get home. I literally was getting more exhausted and closer to the verge of tears with each step. I made it home to find out Hubs ended up working an extra 20 minutes late and I almost fell apart. 

I think it's about time I head to the doctor for a physical to find out why I'm so tired all the time, no matter what.

This is the unglamorous side of motherhood that people don't tell you about.

April Accountability #2

To drive less.

Generally Bear and I go out almost every day Monday through Friday.  Then on Saturday we do something as a family, and on Sunday we go to church.  Church is about 30 miles away.  

That's a lot of driving.

We did however recently downsize from an all time four wheel drive SUV to a small car that gets 30mpg or better.  So that was step 1 in reducing our fuel costs.

Thursday and Friday this past week we stayed home.  And ya know?  Bear napped great.  He slept pretty well at night too, however I noticed he gets bored.  Probably because when I'm home I'm rushing around trying to clean up, do laundry, eat, go to the bathroom and he wants to be entertained.

So now I have to work on a schedule for allotting clean up time and play time.  And I need to make a weekly rotation so that my cleaning is effective.  I generally feel like I'm chasing our mess around the house.

So I decided to break down my day by what we already do that works. 
8:00 AM - Bear usually wakes up about now so I change his diaper and put him on the floor to play.  I immediately get his medicine ready and give it to him.  He needs to take his reflux medicine on an empty stomach so it's easiest to do it now.
8:30 AM - I usually sit down and have a cup of coffee while he is playing and watch the news to try to wake up.  Bear is DONE playing (and loudly letting me know) so I sit him in the high chair and attempt to feed him breakfast (he has a feeding aversion from all the medicine so it's a hit or miss game, mostly miss)
9:00 AM - After a lot of fighting, game playing, electronic toys making noise, I give up trying to get him to eat.  Sometimes I get a whole container of yogurt in him, some days it's a half a spoonful.  I then allow him to have a bottle and he chugs it right down.
9:30 AM- I rush around throwing laundry in and trying to tidy up dishes or unload the dishwasher, do a quick tidy of things, throw last nights bottles in the sink, etc.
10:00 AM - I look around at the state of our house and I just want to go out.  Usually about now is when I start getting packed up, I get him dressed, diaper bag ready and we head out.  Usually it's to Target, or Walmart or the small mall in the next town over.
12:30 PM/1:00 PM- Somewhere in here, Bear is ready for a nap.  Depending on what time we get out of the house and we get home this is when chaos ensues.
4:00 PM - Bear wakes up and depending on what we've done for the day I usually rush around trying to get dinner made and him fed and I'm just worn out.

The days that we've stayed home I've pretty much cleaned from 10-12 and this makes Bear frustrated because he wants to play with me.

In the next few weeks I'm going to work on creating a schedule.  It will be a very loose schedule, mostly just things I need to get checked off within basic time constraints.

My goal is to drive less.  Gas is over $3.50/gal here and depending on where you live, it could be astronomically higher.  Driving also emits carbon monoxide which is slowly killing our planet.  I'm a Stay At Home Mom who doesn't stay at home.  So for now, we're going to work on concentrating our efforts to stay home more and make a more productive use of our time out of the house.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Free, Frugal Fun!

Now that Bear is 10 months old I've been trying to find new things for us to do.  Generally, we just run errands either walking around Target or the grocery store. 

However, when you're trying to stay on a budget and avoiding unneccesary purchases, this isn't the smartest thing to do.  So I decided to do some research on things we can do.

There is a local Mom's group at a church however, it runs until May and it costs $20.  So, it seems really expensive to pay $20 for 2 months.  There is another Mom's group for the area and again, it costs $20 but I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to something I have to PAY for.  I was looking for things to do that were free, in case Bear has a total meltdown or just can't handle it. 

I looked up things at our local library however they generally don't start until 2 years old.   We live in a "township" of a town.  Our mailing address is for the town, however we have a different school system and library.  Then I realized that the town, which is about 8 miles away is the county seat so their library is MUCH larger than our little one.  They have a 5 week story time for children 24 months and under.  2 of the weeks are already over, and we're going to miss one of the 3 left, but it's free and they had plenty of spots available.  So in a few minutes, Bear and I will be heading out to the library for a fun story time.

The worst part of it all, he's been sleeping great and we've all even been sleeping in.  Some days he's not even up till 8:30.  I'm forseeing that I will be prepping things the night before.

Why do babies grow up so fast??
I've been looking through pictures for his 1st Birthday and it makes me cry everytime that he's not a little baby anymore.  Where did this little baby go?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Accountability #1

My first accountability goal for April is to cook at home 6 days a week.  Sundays is a day for the Lord and for our Christian community.

To us this includes fellowship with our friends and generally after church we either go to lunch as a family or with another family.  Sometimes we have carry-ins after church.

Lately church has poorly coincided with Bear's naps.  However, he has recently dropped from 2 to 1 nap a day.  He seems to sleep better with 1 long nap versus 2 shorter naps.  So while we may not be there very long we do make an effort to go.

Also, Hubs parents will be out helping with some landscaping renovations and I know we will go out to eat at least once with them.

And then, we are so grateful, a woman from church has so graciously offered to babysit Bear for us.  So Hubs and I will probably have an afternoon date one weekend and I'm sure that will include a lunch (because I don't see it warming up enough for a picnic) out.

On top of that, the end of April is Easter and my family will be visiting.  So I've made a realistic goal and included 4 days of eating out.

I started Thursday night with making a slow cooker pot roast.  It was one of those last minute lucky meals.  The roast was still frozen, I had 3 potatoes left, and a bag of onions.  I threw it together, added some seasoning and prayed it would be edible.  It actually turned out great and Hubs and I both have lunch for April 1.

So 1 meal down, only 54 to go (not including breakfast, I generally don't eat anything and Hubs has oatmeal until it runs out).

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Debt Beatdown

Debt is a very serious issue in America.  And unfortunately Hubs and I contribute to it.  We bought a house and a car well within our means.  However our house needed quite a bit of fixing up and then we were pregnant and the baby needed a tub and a room to sleep in. 

We have credit card debt.  We have multiple credit cards with debt.  We decided to throw things up a little and do our own debt beatdown.

1) Never use the grace period on a mortgage or car loan.  Or you will be trying to make 2 payments in the same month.

2) Pay off the credit card with the highest APR and pay minimums on all others and the mortgage and car payment.

3) Balance transfer all other credit cards onto the one that now has a balance of $0.  We did this because we had a 0% balance transfer for 12 months offer.  After that it will be 25.99% but we're confident we can pay it off within a year.  Our other credit cards have interest of 26.99% and 17.99%.  The balance transfer had a fee of 3% so the fee was much less than paying interest for another year.  We now have one credit card with a balance and 0% interest.  Our tax return will pay this credit card off (this balance includes our last tank of propane because we didn't plan on winter lasting so long and needing another fill).

4) We have medical debt.  Bear spent 9 days in the NICU, I had an epidural, Hubs and I had surgery in December, Bear has been to the ER 3 times this year.  Also our insurance switched in January (we had hit our out of pocket max last year with the NICU stay) so we now have to pay all our copays and coinsurance again.  Bear sees at minimum 3 specialists (3*35=$105) every 3 months.  Add to that the plague and winter illnesses (our PCP has a $20 copay), and the ER copays (3*100=$300) and medical bills add up quickly.  The good thing about medical bills is that they don't accrue interest, they're not on your credit, and,as long as you make an honest attempt to pay, they cannot send you to collections.  However, it's still debt so that is our step after credit cards.

5) We have a car loan and a mortgage left.  We owe more on our house than it is currently worth.  Not much about $6000 but that it still the wrong way to have debt.  Also, our car is not very new and since we still have a loan on it we have to keep a low deductible and extra insurance on it.  It costs us more every month in insurance and we estimated that over the time of the loan this will be more than the vehicle is worth in the end.  We also only have 1 months of expenses in savings.
             a) contribute to our savings accounts to add an additional 5 months of expenses.  
             b) try to cut our food budget and send the increased savings to our car loan
             c) after step a is complete send extra money to the car loan and put food savings towards mortgage.
             d) once we have no loan we plan to send our extra money towards our mortgage and to put $100
                 a month in a rainy day fund.  We want to take a family vacation.

Paying off debt takes a lot of effort and self control.  We have been working on this for the past 3 years.  We have payed off about $30000 worth of debt and I get so angry at ourselves for all the money we've wasted in interest, fees, time and effort. 

Our goal is to be debt free and to own our house.  Once our house is paid off we will work on college funds.  With Bear being as "needy" as he is we have decided to put off making plans for expanding our family until he is 5.  So we have 4 years to perfect our spending before we even discuss our next move. 

Maybe now that it's April we'll finally have nice weather and I can do my favorite activity!!!
We have an electric dryer so having an outdoor clothesline is the easiest way to cut our budget.  We see a savings of about $4-$8/month in our electric bill when we are able to hang the laundry outside.  I do at least one load of laundry a day (Bear is a refluxer/spitter upper/vomiter and a drool bucket) and it really adds up quick!
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