Thursday, December 30, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We just got home from our trip to Illinois for Christmas. Nine hours in the car, and man, I'm exhausted. Bed for me as soon as I finish writing this! The trip was great, Robert got a million toys, and everyone loved him. They were fairly happy to see us, too. ;) He got his first haircut and his first birthday smash cake. Fun, fun, fun! Tomorrow is going to be a busy day of unpacking and trying to find places to put all the new goodies, but that will keep. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are getting decompressed by now!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Motherhood is when every once in awhile you're laying in bed and about to fall asleep, when suddenly a thought pops into your head about a TV show you watched a long time ago, when a snake crawled into a baby's crib and ate him, and you suddenly have to get up and go check on the baby. Not because you actually think he's been eaten by a snake, or is being menaced by anything worse than giant dust bunnies, because if that were the case, telling yourself that the room has no vents except the one into your own room and giant snakes can't crawl in closed windows would put an end to the worry. You get up and go check on the baby because the world is a big scary place, and the baby is so small, and it's such a worrisome job to try and keep him safe and let him grow, all at the same time.

And when you've gotten out of bed and left your room and turned on the bathroom light for indirect illumination, you open the nursery door as quietly as you can, using the rhythm and technique you have perfected to minimize the squeak you keep telling yourself you should address with WD-40. You go in and look in the crib and there he is, all curled up sleeping, and you wonder how you could have ever made something so perfect. And there are no giant snakes around, just a few industrial sized dust bunnies, so it's time to sleep.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Today I forgot an appointment, because I suck! Or rather, I mislaid an appointment. We were supposed to go to membership class at church, but I spazzed and thought it was next Saturday, and so instead I slept in and then gave M a chance to get a nap and didn't even think about it till I got an email from my pastor about it. Crud! Well, we'll just have to figure out another time for meeting, I guess. I need to pay more attention, seriously.

Anyway, the last couple days have been pantry filling days. Kroger had a super-duper sale this week, and an open house for the holidays as well! We decided to try one of the big fancy Marketplace Krogers in the town next door, and it was pretty cool. They had all kinds of sample tables set up, and it was fun to taste things and let Robert taste them as well. He actually managed to sip a little apple cider from a cup, which was neat and bodes well for the future. He also met Santa Claus for the first time ever and did not cry! He looked very concerned, but that's okay. We did really well for shopping, too. I bought a ton of canned and boxed goods and used about 35 coupons, and got ninety dollars worth of groceries for twenty bucks. Hard to beat!

Today, after the scheduling snafu and all the napping, Robert and I went out shopping again, this time to Walmart for baby food. Giving him frozen and thawed baby food veggies is fine (though more difficult now that I've blown out the motor on my blender and have to get down the food processor), but he's showing a definite preference for the entree-style baby foods. Turkey and veggies, Chicken noodle, spaghetti with itty-bitty noodles, stuff like that. It actually smells appetizing, which surprises me. Baby food has come a long way.  And he eats it even though it is a little lumpy, and that's good. We got a ton of baby food, I decided I might as well get him a fruit and oatmeal combo for each morning, a veggie for each lunch, and a dinner entree for each dinner. Twelve days worth of food, plus bagel thins for his solid food lunch and a loaf of day-old bread was 27 dollars, more than we spent on adult food!

It's totally worth it though. Not just because we do like taking care of our baby, but because he's started sleeping a lot better since we started giving him bigger meals. Lately he'd been waking up very early, uncomfortable and demanding a bottle, and taking four bottles a day and wanting more! Now we've got him on the eight-ounce jars of food at breakfast and supper, and with a four-ounce jar and a selection of solid finger foods at lunch. He also gets the sippy cup at some meals, and all this new food has him feeling good! He's back to sleeping eleven hours again, thank God, and he really seems to enjoy the new variety. He's a very good eater. I just have to try and be careful to make sure he's eating healthy! We have a meeting next week with the WIC nutritionist again, I'm sure she'll have lots of ideas.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Days Are Just Packed!

Wow, I can't believe it's Friday already. This week has gone by in a blur! I don't know why, but every day has passed in a rush, and then melted together, and I haven't even gotten my shopping done yet! That's okay, because it's not like we're exactly flush right now, but Kroger is having an awesome canned-food sale that I don't want to miss. We're going to go this evening, I have all thirty-seven (thirty-seven!) of my coupons ready. Here's hoping it all goes smoothly!

Yesterday, Robert and Jami and I went out to the mall to get Robert's Halloween pictures taken. We had been planning to do it on Tuesday, I had a ride from Jami arranged and the appointments made and everything, but then I let M drive off with the carseat! Argh! I couldn't even think about using the big-boy front-facing carseat because that's up in the storage area and M has the only key. Double Argh! We ended up going on a walk instead, which was nice, but it was still a very frustrating afternoon. So today I scheduled again, for Sears and JC Penney both, since I had coupons for both and they're in the same mall. Might as well, right? It's tons cheaper to get one package from two places than to get two poses from one place. Studios are weird that way.

Anyhow, I got a call from Penneys, our usual place, to say that their server was down, so that while they could take the pictures, they couldn't show them to us that day, and we'd have to come back another day. That didn't sound very good. We went over to Sears for the appointment, and did okay. I don't like them as well as Penney's, honestly. It was obviously the same franchise of photo studio as the one at Walmart, the website setup and even the signs were the same, and Walmart was just awful. The photographers tried hard, but none of them really had what it takes to work with babies. One thing I've learned is that you have to make a fool of yourself to get a good picture of a baby, and none of these women would even talk in a loud high voice. I had to do it myself to get any smiles from him. They also decided to take more pictures (or the manager did, she made them do it and tossed some of the earlier photos because apparently the seat he'd been on wasn't safe, and getting rid of the evidence was crucial or something. That was weird.

So at the end of the shoot, they had six decent pictures of him, minus all the ones the manager deleted. That's a lot less than our Penney's shoots have been, and it took longer. Part of that is because Robert is crawling now, granted. He doesn't want to stay! After five minutes that turned to fifteen waiting for proofs, they showed us a whole bunch of collages and enhancements and all that, then persisted in trying to sell me a four hundred dollar photo package. Bwa-ha-ha! I bought my one little photo package and confirmed that things would be online, because the grandparents usually like to buy pictures too. As I found out, they put the natural photos on, but none of those fancy enhancements they made. Another reason I like them less than Penneys, who put all the enhanced pictures up to buy as well. Ah well, it was an okay session and we got some cute pictures that will be here next week! (And yeah, they put giant watermarks on as well. This is the photo we bought, pretty cute, huh?)

Guest Post: Country Fairs

Thanks for the post from Darrick Moreno

Going to the Country Fair in town is great fun for the entire family. It's a time for us to join together and have some real good old-fashion fun. Going to the Country Fair with my family reminds me of when I was growing up in a smaller town. The entire town looked forward to the Country Fair. It was the major event of the entire year.

I just love the cotton candy at the fairs and introduced my kids to cotton candy. I also enjoy the fresh popcorn. I was surprised to see at the last Country Fair that popcorn is now in several very delightful and spicy flavors. One treat that can't be beat is the hot fried pork rinds. The family that makes the product were recently featured on national television!

We also like to go on a few of the rides. I personally stick to the safer, more sane rides. You will not see me on the roller coaster or other wild rides! After a long day at the Country Fair I am glad to return home because I plan to watch the satellite TV we got after looking at this Direct TV comparison.

Sticky Situation

From time to time on my blog, I will do reviews of websites I've been asked to look at, sort of like a survey where I share the results with people. I receive compensation for doing these reviews, but they don't tell me what I have to say, or even that I have to say nice things. All the opinions contained herein are entirely my own.

Today I went to look at a site called This was an interesting site, because it's not really something I ever actually thought about before. makes custom labels, nameplates and die cuts for commercial and industrial uses. It seems like half the things I buy have some label or sticker on them, be it a safety label, a product sticker, or an inspection sticker, but I never really stopped to wonder where they came from. Apparently these aren't done in-house by the companies involved, they come from companies specifically set up to make stickers. Which makes a lot of sense, now that I stop to think about it. 

The biggest part of the site seems to be devoted to custom labels. They don't do labels for home use, but if you need a few thousand labels for whatever commercial or industrial reason, you're all set! And yes, the temptation is strong to order a few thousand entirely silly labels to stick on everything, so maybe it's a good thing that I'm pretty much broke right now. You can supply your own art and get them to make it look however you want, which is kind of neat. I have seen sites that do that before, but never for such large quantities. 

They also do name plates, bar codes, die cuts, and other identification-related stuff. You can't actually buy anything off their website, because they only do customized work, but I think it's very convenient that they have an info box right on their site that can be used to get a quote. I would much rather do that than have to use a telephone. All in all, I think I'll keep them in mind in case I ever come up with a product that needs labels! 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Busy Day

Just a quick one tonight, to keep up my streak. We had a busy day today! First thing in the morning was baby music class, which is always great fun. There is a new boy in our class who is just a couple of weeks younger than Robert, and who has just as much hair. They sat next to each other today, and were very interested in each other. That can be a dangerous thing at this age, especially with boys! Nash, the new boy, is very inquisitive, and he liked trying to go for Robert's face and hair. While I was on the phone after class, I had to hang up abruptly when an unexpected lunge from Nash made Robert fall over backwards and start crying. It was okay though, no harm done and they had a good time trying to pull up on the wall together. Babies are so funny. I've locked in a class for Robert for next semester, we've got a partial scholarship and I'm going to watch the teacher's son during one of her other classes, and we'll call it even. Sweet!

After baby music class, we met up with Jami for shopping. Woo-hoo! The rent is paid, so we don't have much money, but the bills are also all paid for the moment, so what money there is can go for things like new Robert clothes! The thrift store was chock-full of goodies today, very exciting. I got Robert the most adorable, practically new, insulated winter coat with a hood. It's green, and I swear, if anyone wore it already, it doesn't show. Only four dollars! I also got him some new corduroy pants and overalls, a pair of khakis just like Daddy's, a new bodysuit for pajamas, a workout suit that is just as cute as can be, and a lighter jacket for less-cold days. The total for everything was about 8.50. That's the price of one baby outfit new, if you can even get it that cheap! I love the thrift store!

After that, Jami showed us the Gap Outlet Store, which was very cool. It's a big place, and the stuff is very cheap, though you have to be careful because quite a bit is actually damaged and not just overstock. I got Robert about ten pairs of identical white socks for a quarter a pair, then got myself some new socks as well, for fifty cents per pair. I also got him two identical pairs of mittens, figuring that might at least help me keep track of one right and one left. I need to get him some mitten clips. I need to go back to that store sometime with lots of time to look around and sort through things, because it was pretty cool.

When we were done there, we went over to Sams and had lunch at their little cafe thing. We had hot dogs, drinks, and soft pretzels with cheese, all for a total of 6.60, which is a  doggone good price for two adults to have a filling lunch out. Robert ate some soft pretzel too, after I brushed all the salt off. He seemed to like it, though he didn't actually consume very much. It's a start. We walked around the store, and I think we'll have to go back so Jami can pick up the pickles and olives she was eyeing so avariciously. ;) I got chimichangas and mini egg-rolls, lunch and dinner staples at our house, as well as a rotisserie chicken for supper. By then, we were all exhausted and it was starting to rain, so we went home. But it was a good day!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Today I cooked up some rigatone for Robert. It was the biggest pasta noodle I could find that wasn't a lasagna sheet, and the nice round tube shape was appealing. I made several cups of it, cooked it till it was nice and mushy for gumming, then put it in the fridge. When lunchtime rolled around, I put three nice-looking noodles in a plastic bowl with just a little butter, and gave it to him in his high chair. Within ten seconds, he'd dumped the pasta out onto the tray and was chewing on the bowl. Eventually the rigatone ended up on the floor, unwept, unhonored, and untasted.

We are not having good luck with finger foods. The only finger food Robert will eat is french fries and arrowroot cookies. Oh, and he also ate a Kit-Kat stick I gave him on Halloween, and subsequently refused to sleep for most of the night. That one was definitely an error. I've ordered a case of what are called "Baby Mum-Mums, rice rusks that are supposed to be really easy for babies to eat. He doesn't like the baby puffs much yet, but he does like things that he can hold in his fist while he chews them. The rusks are much bigger than the puffs, and they got rave reviews, so I'm going to try them out. I'm also going to try cooled steamed carrots. So far cheese and kidney beans have not worked at all, and even cotton candy would not pass his lips. I have thought about buying some edible rice paper since paper is Robert's favorite thing to eat, but I feel that would just lead to confusion down the road. We'll keep working on it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Hi all, long time no see! I have been very busy and crazy and all sorts of things, but I really do need to start getting back into this! I come to you today bearing gifts of adorable Halloween baby pictures, and the promise of lots more on the Flickr photostream! Go there, you will not regret it! I have videos to upload too, but they need editing and that takes forever.

Robert is 41 weeks old today! He has been out of the womb for as long as he was in it, crazy thought! I can't believe how big and clever he's gotten, so quickly. Already he's pulling up and cruising like a champ, and if he's not walking by Christmas, I'll be surprised. Things like pointing and talking are coming more slowly, but he's always watching and interacting. He and I play the back-and-forth syllables game where I mimic the noises he makes, which he thinks is hilarious. He can clap his hands and shake his rattle and bang his sticks in baby music class, he is getting to be a pro at that. Things look good for getting another semester of that, and I'm really excited about it! His nine month checkup was great, the doctor says he looks perfect and is right on track. Just what we like to hear!

Our budget, as always, has been a little more shaky in its progress than Robert's growth and development. It takes a month or two to recover from the long payless drought. I think we're getting there, and we still have a fairly comfortable cushion in savings, but I don't want to tap it. The bills are up to date, so if we can pay the rent and not spend any more money for, oh, ten days, we'll be fine! Yeah, that's likely for us... Robert and I did go out shopping today and did well for ourselves. We got about 200 dollars worth of stuff at CVS and Walgreens for 17 dollars out of pocket, and I got 15 dollars in ECBs and register rewards to spend next time. That's not bad at all, considering all the stuff I got. The big thing was yet another glucose monitor, this one a fancy one that can plug into a Nintendo DS. I don't need it myself, but I donate them to the church, because other people do need them. They go on sale for free-with-coupon all the time, so I have about four of them now. I also got a couple things of Dawn, some kleenex, a new nice razor, NyQuil and Dayquil, a couple bottles of nasal spray, four bags of cough drops, about 70 freezer pops, four things of deodorant, four bottles of Olay lotion, Halloween treats to give out, a can of iced tea, and the newspaper. Good sales!

I've still been doing Weight Watchers, though this week I've suffered a little bit from Halloweenfooditis, if you know what I mean. But I've also done lots of walking and lots of water-drinking, so maybe it will balance out. So far I've lost 18.5 pounds and I'm feeling good about it. Cross your fingers for me, we've got Robert's candy stash in the house!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Count Your Blessings

It's been quite a few days since I blogged (again), but now I've got my camera cord and batteries issues sorted out, so hopefully I'll be able to do a little more. Sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy now that Robert is mobile, I'm always having to try and keep one eye on him. He's teething for real now, too! He has one teeny little tooth bud that we can see in his gum when he consents to opening his mouth wide enough. It's been waking him up at night, which means less sleep for everyone. I just need to get some new time management strategies set up, I guess. That's the problem with having a baby, just when you get a routine down, they're in a new phase and everything's up in the air again! Of course, that's what keeps it interesting too, so I probably shouldn't complain too much.

Sometimes I end up feeling overwhelmed, and I just don't know how everybody else seems to manage. Sometimes I wish I had insurance just so I could maybe get onto Adderall and manage my ADD the way my mom does. Maybe then I wouldn't have such a hard time being organized. It's surprisingly easy to let myself get bogged down and depressed if I'm not careful, but I know that's silly. When that happens, it's time to count my blessings, because there are tons of them. I'm very lucky!

First and most importantly is my family! I've got my wonderful husband and beautiful baby. We're all together, we're all healthy. I'm the lucky woman who doesn't need to ask her husband to help around the house or with the baby, and Robert is the lucky baby whose father is present and affectionate and fun. M and I are the very lucky parents whose baby is healthy and on track and uncommonly adorable, to boot! He just gets cuter every day. Beyond that, we have extraordinarily supportive extended families to help us through the rough times and celebrate with us in the good times.

Just after we came back from our travels, I made an incautious move in the kitchen and broke the ceramic insert to my crockpot. Even though I was lucky that the shrapnel, which was very close to Robert and I, didn't hurt anyone, I was devastated because we cook so much of our food in the crockpot, especially in the winter. And at this time of year, we have no extra money to spare, as I've mentioned before. I posted about it on Facebook, mostly to vent, and my family came to the rescue! Not only do I have a new crock pot, I have the warm blanket of remembering that my family and M's family that's my family too now, all of them care about us and are thinking of us when things aren't going smoothly. And the new crockpot is a blessing in itself, I found it on sale at Kitchen Collection in the mall, and it's great! It's got a carry handle that a spoon buckles right into, so on Soup Sundays at church, I can just pick up the whole thing and go. With an eight month old baby, anything that increases our portability is awesome. :D

More blessings! Even though we do not have a lot of money, we still have fabulous opportunities to enrich Robert's life! There's a lot of stuff going on in this area that is great for babies. The other week, Robert and I went to Baby Loves Disco at the mall, a disco party for babies and little kids with a lot of stuff sponsored by various mall stores. We got to dance to the music, and Robert got a little plastic egg-shaped shaker, and a cute orange sock puppet. It was fun, and great exercise! The library has baby reading programs, though we can't go this semester because M needs the car on Tuesday mornings, and it's cool enough to go to the zoo now. Robert loves his baby music class, and it looks like his scholarship may be extended so he can do it in the new year as well! That would be wonderful. It's such a nice time for him to be able to socialize with other babies, and we just couldn't afford it without the scholarship help.

Robert's health is a huge blessing. Even though it bothers me to not be insured, that's nothing compared to how glad I am that Robert's health will at least be taken care of. He's a very healthy little boy, and because we have state aid, we don't have to worry about how we're going to get him his checkups and vaccinations, or about how we can take him to the doctor if he gets sick. The pediatrician practice we go to is really great, and we like all the doctors there. He has his nine month appointment coming up next week, so we will see what the doctor thinks of his crawling and his tooth and his wriggly twenty-pound self! Having WIC has been a major blessing too, and I breathe a little prayer of thanksgiving every time I look at the cost of formula. He's getting three solid meals a day, one fruit, one veggie, and one protein, but he still gets four six-ounce bottles as well. That adds up fast! WIC doesn't cover all the formula costs, but it's a big help.

I am getting healthy too! Weight Watchers is working for me, and for the moment it's even faster than last time. I think the fact is that with all Robert and I do, I get quite a bit of exercise. Now that I'm not eating so aggressively badly, my body has time to burn some of the calories. I worry about our grocery bill, but I'm still trying to combine frugality with eating right, and hopefully I can balance it somewhere in the middle. I want Robert to have a good relationship with food, and that means fixing my own relationship with it first. But I've lost 11 pounds now, and my pants are feeling noticeably looser. I'm looking forward to "shopping in my closet," and getting out all the clothes I haven't been able to wear since before the baby.

Ah, clothes, another blessing! We have a thrift store right around the corner from our house, thank God. They sell baby clothes for fifty cents an item, and now they've got their winter stuff out. I've been putting Robert into pants, and realizing that what was pants on him this spring is shorts now, when it fits at all! He's growing so fast! So yesterday we went out and bought six pairs of pants, a set of overalls, and two shirts for my little guy. They're 12 month sized, so he should be able to wear them all winter, I hope. Sure they're big now, but he's a baby, so it's cute. Looking at the price of new baby clothes, I'm doubly grateful for the thrift store. Sure it's nice to get a brand new outfit for him once in awhile, especially for special occasions, but there's just no reason to shell out that kind of money for clothes he's going to wear for three or four months.

I have lots more blessings to count, but this post is getting long, and I'm already feeling much better. It really is a good exercise to do when you're feeling a little low. Another good trick is actual exercise, so I think I may take Robert and go out and get some exercise endorphins!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Giving Til It Hurts

Today Robert got two breakfasts, sneaky boy! He woke up at 6:30 and M gave him fruit and cereal, but Robert was obviously still quite tired, so M was more than happy to lay him down again and go have some more sleep himself. Robert woke again at 9, and this time I got up with him, (this being M's day to sleep in, since his classes are M-Th this term). I didn't know Robert had already gotten breakfast, since M usually just gives him a bottle, so I gave him fruit and rice as well, and also a bottle, when he still seemed hungry. He ate it all! I can't believe this kid is still in the 35th percentile for weight, except that when he is not sleeping, he is in constant motion!

Once we were all up and fed and dressed, we headed out to the blood donation center in the next town over (which is about three minutes away). I had gotten a call earlier this week because they're critically short on my blood type, so I said I would try to drop in. This is the first time either of us has donated since Robert was born, I was breastfeeding and then just too darn busy. We took turns, I gave first while M was on baby duty, then vice versa. I was very impressed with my phlebotomist, she got me on the first stick, which not too many can do! It was a fast and easy donation, and I felt fine afterwards, just a bit wobbly for a few minutes. M donated and did fine as well, and Robert charmed the pants off everybody at the center. Afterwards, we informed Robert than Mommy and Daddy are superheroes, saving ten lives with a single hour's work!

This afternoon M had a meeting, so Robert and I stuck around the house. We watched a little Caillou, which I don't think is as bad as some people say, and went outside to blow bubbles. It was very windy, and all Robert really wanted to do was chew on the wand, but it was fun anyway. The neighbor kids came over, they are very fond of Robert and like to play with him. It rained then, which cut at least a little of the horrible oppressive heat. I am so ready for some fall! I stayed on points today, though barely with the horrible choice of snacks they had available at the blood center. I helped myself liberally to salsa sandwiches throughout the day, which is whole wheat bread, butter spray, and salsa. Only two points, tasty and filling. It's also a serving of veggies!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Back Home and Busy!

Okay, now we're back home and back into our routine, and I need to start blogging again! It's hard for me to pick up my good habits again after falling out of them, but now that we are far away from family once more, everyone needs their daily dose of Robert! You can find lots of new Robert pics on the Flickr photostream, to help make up for my long absence.

I've decided it's time to get started with Weight Watchers again. I never lost that baby weight, and added a few more pounds besides, which is just ridiculous. Coming up with the money is going to be interesting, but I think I can do it if I cut back on some other things I've been doing with our money. It means cutting back on the recreational couponing, the things I get super-cheap and end up donating. I donated a ton of stuff this past year and I feel good about it, but now I need to repurpose the money for awhile into the membership dues and paying for more produce and healthy foods.

Today has been my third day on Weight Watchers, and so far, so good. I have been to my first meeting, and stayed on plan every day so far, even though yesterday we went to a biergarten for M's orientation mixer and there were  fried sauerkraut balls. Holy cow. But I displayed some moderation, and also saved my points all day for it, so I was okay. Not drinking beer definitely helps! I also went to the mall and walked around for an hour on Monday, earning some activity points, and today I actually went down to the exercise room and hopped back on the eliptical. I totally wore myself out in fifteen minutes, but it is a start! Fifteen today, sixteen tomorrow, and on and on... Eventually I will be able to keep up with Robert as he learns to crawl and walk!

Today I had a really hungry day for some reason. I ate all my points throughout the day, then went and exercised and ate those points in the form of a turkey and pickle sandwich! (A piece of provolone cheese costs three points, but pickles are free, free, free!) It was surprisingly tasty. Robert had a hungry day as well, including an entire extra bottle even though he had his daily fruit breakfast, veggie lunch and bean dinner. Maybe it's the weather. I can't believe it's still ninety degrees out! When it cools down, we will walk again, and earn points from it! Woo-hoo!

Oh, and today after Robert had eaten his fill of the steamed pureed peas I made for him, I let him have the bowl and spoon for a little self-feeding practice. Not a lot was accomplished, but it was very funny. And then he got a thorough bath!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Baby Music

Today was an exciting day because it was the start of Robert's baby music class! He slept so well last night, very happy to be back in his own bed, and didn't wake until 7am. M got up with him and let me sleep till 8, which was awesome. At nine, we went to the music class, where Robert and five other babies near his age got to hit sticks together, shake bells, and rattle rattles, as well as dancing with the mommies and playing clapping games. Robert is too little to clap or sing, but he really liked the instruments, and he was totally interested in all the other babies. I think he had a really good time. We are very lucky because we got a scholarship to the Kindermusik program for this semester, because otherwise we just couldn't afford it at all. I think we are really going to have a fun time with it.

After class, we stopped by the thrift store on our block because they are having their summer clearance sale! Woo-hoo! I pretty much cleared them out of their 18 month old summer stuff for boys. At ten cents per item, why not? I also got him a backup Halloween costume for a dollar, and some twenty-five cent sleepers. All in all, I got two bulging grocery bags of clothes for five bucks. Not bad at all! Robert was very tired and hungry by the time we got home. He didn't want solid foods much today, he took a bottle and a nice long nap. It was great, and allowed me to get a little nap as well. M even cooked lunch, making sloppy joe spaghetti. That was kind of odd, but pretty good! We're eating a lot out of the stuff we brought back from my folks, they let me do a freezer raid before we left. I left them the prepared meals but took some snacks and a bunch of raw ingredients out of their two stuffed-full freezers. The ground turkey went into the spaghetti, and then for supper, we had cheesy potatoes. My mom makes them and freezes them just because they are M's very favorite. It is her way of bribing him to want to come visit more often. ;)

I found a way to get half my continuing legal education credits for this year for free, by going to a guardian ad litem seminar a few towns away. That would be great, because CLE credits can be very expensive. I just need to do some paperwork and send it in tomorrow so I can get a space. It's a little weird to be getting CLE when I haven't worked in two years now, but it's important to keep my license current. If I can do it without paying an arm and a leg, so much the better!

Oh, and regarding yesterday's picture, my dad turned down the temp on the hot tub so that it was like bathwater, and then we took Robert in. He thought it was just awesome, like a giant warm bathtub. He splashed everyone and did his faux-swimming moves and played in the little waterfall. Even when we turned on the jets, he wasn't a bit scared. I gave him a real bath right afterwards, just to be on the safe side with chemicals and all that, but he was fine and had a great time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Home Again!

I haven't blogged in a whole week, because we have been sooo busy! We spent the past week with my folks and my extended family up in Illinois, and it was great. I'll probably try to drop in a few stories in the next few days, but trying to tell the whole trip in one entry would just be too long! It was  a really fun time, though. We drove home this morning, early early so that M could get his grades done. It was sad to leave, but I'm so happy to have had the time with them. Robert really got to know them more, now that he's so much more alert to the differences between people. It was kind of interesting to watch him not only as he got to know Mimi and Papoo, but to see how he recognizes M and I as different from any other people. He definitely knows who we are and wants us around. That's pretty cool.

While we were up north, I did tons of grocery shopping and cooking. The cupboards were pretty bare when we got there, with my mom being laid up and my dad trying to take on all the stuff she couldn't take care of, so I went on a rare solo shopping expedition and bought almost three hundred dollars worth of groceries. I saved more than 50 dollars from coupons and sales, but that's still definitely the most money I've ever spent on groceries. But hey, it was food for five adults and a baby, a big box of diapers, extra food for a party, so it wasn't anything like my normal shopping expeditions. I used that stuff to do a whooooole mess of cooking.

This week was fun because I got to show off some of my best recipes. I made Philly cheesesteaks, pulled pork, baked fish, chicken-bacon-artichoke pizza, and barbecue, among other stuff.  We froze a bunch of leftovers, so when my sister has her surgery next week, there will be meals in the freezer for them to warm up. Hurrah! There is more to tell, but M wants to go to bed, so I will post this and go with him. Later for more posts!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Good Night and Good Luck

Happy September, everybody! We're too busy for a post tonight, so here is a picture instead!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Baby, Sitting

Today was a big day for spending piles of money. That's rarely fun, but it's especially unfun at this time of year, when the amount coming in is so small as to be practically nonexistent. With our trip coming up, though, it's important to make sure everything is in order. Today that meant groceries, rent, and a vet visit. It also meant getting up really early, because M had to go to school and deliver his final exam. I hauled Robert's sleepy little body out of crib at quarter to seven and we rolled out at seven-fifteen. The only good thing about that hour is that the traffic is much lighter than an hour later in the morning. We dropped M off and came back for a breakfast of peaches and rice and leftover pizza, then packed up the birds.

Our budgies are senior citizens now. Jeremy is eight years old, and probably coming up on nine around the end of the year. (Budgie birthdays are an inexact science.) Aegis is about the same age, then Dana's just a little younger. Isaac and Boris are tougher because I didn't get them as bappies, but they're at least five and probably considerably more. A well-tended pet store budgie has a lifespan of about ten years, maybe a little more. Some of my budgies haven't made it this far, but the ones that have are starting to show their age. One symptom of that is beak problems. When they were younger, they could chew their cuttlebone to keep their beaks trim, but now kidney function and other bird health stuff makes their beaks grow faster than they can whittle them down. Aegis and Boris, especially, have bad problems with this, but Dana's starting to as well. I can't trim beaks at home, it's much harder than trimming nails, and the consequences for screwing up badly are grim. So I have to take them in periodically to the vet.

Bird vets are not cheap. Seriously not cheap. Especially since they insisted that Dana would need a physical too, because they haven't trimmed her before. But that's what the emergency summer savings account was there for, and you have to take care of your pets. At this point, if one of them gets very sick, it would probably not be a kindness to do much more than palliative care, but beak and claw maintenance is a quality of life issue, and we owe them that. I've taken care of most of them their entire lives, after all. And being responsible teaches Robert good lessons, even if he's too young to remember them now.

While we waited for the birds to get done at the vet, Robert and I went shopping. There is only so much soup you can eat in a week without going insane, so I picked up some of the sandwich meat and cheese on sale at the deli. I'm liking the deli sales at Meijer lately, if you can get the meat at four dollars a pound and have them slice it thin, two dollars can get you quite a few sandwiches! We got salami, mesquite turkey, and provolone cheese, plus the sale bread. I found some half-price milk  that hits its sell-by tomorrow, some clearance caffeine drink to put into water bottles, and picked up some frozen peas. I had two two-dollar-off coupons for Ball Park franks, which was great, cause they're on sale for two-fifty. Fifty cent hotdogs, yay! I also used my coupon for a free Sobe, and bought a raspberry lemonade that ended up tasting very banana-y. That was all easy, and then I did the WIC stuff, which was a nightmare.

This is only my second month buying baby food, and last month was simple because I only bought peas, carrots, apricots, and peaches. I wanted to mix it up a little more this month, but that was a big mistake. It turns out it's really difficult to get 32 jars of baby food where not a one of them has any extra starch, sugar, salt, or dairy. I had to run back once because I didn't realize that I got three boxes of rice this month instead of two like last month, then canceled the transaction entirely because one set of jars had yogurt in. I didn't want to make the people behind me insane, so I had him just set all the jars aside and did the rest of my checkout. Robert, who was overdue for a nap by now, was wailing like a tiny banshee as I tied up my bags and went back to the baby section to replace the ones with yogurt. I got new jars and came back, only to find out after waiting in line and checking out again that some of my other jars had added starch! Robert was frantic, and I was so stressed out I could've cried, but a nice manager went back for me and got me some jars that would work while the cashier finished my checkout. They were both very nice to me, and even though the experience was upsetting, they washed the bad taste out of my mouth I had after the last time I did WIC at Meijer.

All told, after coupons and the WIC vouchers, I only spent 15 dollars at Meijer, which is not too bad. Robert and I then had to go pay the rent, because YOU MUST PAY THE RENT, she declares, twirling her moustache evilly. Robert and I always have a nice time talking to the ladies down in the office, even if we got the sad news that the pool closes at the end of this week. No more swimming for us, and we hardly used the pool. It was too hot to swim! Oh well, we can swim at Mimi and Papoo's house! I ended up moving three hundred fifty dollars from our emergency fund into the bank to make sure we'll cover the rent and all the bills. Really, it could be worse. This time last year we were into our credit cards, even though we had food stamps then. Now I am still on track for paying down the credit cards, and though money is a worry, we at least _have_ money to worry about.

Also, check out my big strong baby boy! He's gotten to a breakthrough point with this sitting thing. He can't pull up to a sit, but if we sit him up, he can balance and even catch himself sometimes when he starts listing. And he really enjoys sitting up, too! My squishy little chicken nugget is becoming a little boy faster every day.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Scaring the Baby

Today was a nice and mostly lazy Saturday, which I always appreciate. We're getting ready for our trip next week, so I haven't gotten groceries lately and we've been eating our way through the stockpile in more or less creative ways. It's funny because a year ago, I was just ramping up the stockpiling, going into squirrel pregnancy mode as I worried about the baby and money and how we were ever going to make ends meet. It's been just about a year since I started looking into couponing, actually. We had soup for lunch today, since I've gotten a bunch of it very cheap this past few months. For supper, I defrosted one of the steaks I got from my folks. It was a very nice steak! I have another, but I wanted to save it, so I took the steak and pounded it just as flat as I could, till it was more than twice its original size. I cooked it up in a little olive oil then cut it into chunks, and we had delicious steak sandwiches. Creative and tasty!

Robert got three meals of solid foods today, a fact of which I am quite proud. He had banana and rice for breakfast and ate nearly a whole banana. Wow! Lunch was garden veggies and pasta from Gerber, and then for supper he had more pureed kidney beans. He ate about half the beans and got bored of it, so I put a few spoonfuls on his tray and let him fingerpaint with them. He liked that quite a bit, and make a huuuuge mess. Bathtime tomorrow morning before church, definitely! But I think he's going to be very artistic.

After dinner, we both switched off playing with Robert to tire him out for bed. For awhile, we were all playing together on the floor. M laid down on his back and his shirt rode up.  I scooted over there with Robert in my arm and went "I see... belly!" like I often do with Robert,  then started tickling M's stomach. Those of you who know him know that M's reaction to tickling is loud giggling and yelping, punctuated with squirming and the occasional flail. He did all of that as I continued tickling him, till suddenly Robert burst into loud and hysterical tears! He has a special sort of cry he does when he's scared, short little frantic sobs designed to make parents feel terrible about whatever they did. I stopped tickling M immediately, and we both set about trying to comfort the baby and assure him that Daddy was okay and everything was all right. It took several minutes before Robert calmed down and stopped crying. Guess we won't be playing the "Tickle Daddy" game till he's a little older.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Model Child

So, remember the other day when I posted five million pics of Robert outside and said it was for a project? Today that project came to fruition, more or less. Robert and I went downtown and got him signed up with a modeling agency, how exciting! I sent his picture to them more than a month ago, and they eventually got back saying they were interested and liked the pictures and wanted to see him. So I took him in, and we learned about baby modeling and filled out some forms, and learned what kind of "headshot" type pics he needs. Babies don't have headshots so much as they have whole-body shots, being as how they are quite small. They need to be on white or not-busy backdrops.

So in the afternoon Robert and I went to a new photo studio to get some pictures. This place was neat because they don't send away for your pictures, they have the big picture-printing machine right there. How convenient! The photographer, Levi, was awesome at getting Robert to smile and laugh. It was hard picking out one pose for the package I had a coupon for and then two for the modeling sheets. In the end, the whole thing cost about forty dollars, which is pricey, but I got a 10x17, two 8x10s, two 5x7s, four 3x5s and 32 wallets of the one pose, and then 2 5x7s each of the two model shots. So I did get quite a few photos, plus the sitting, all for that 40 dollars. It's a pretty nice place, I might go back if I get another coupon.

Another exciting milestone in Robert development is protein! I talked with the nutritionist at WIC about Robert's eating. She says he's completely on track and ready to start both proteins and yogurt! Exciting! Jarred meats are nasty, nasty, nasty, so she recommended starting with pureed beans instead. I have a policy with the pets that I think I'll extend to Robert of not feeding them anything I wouldn't be willing to eat a bite of, so beans are the far superior option. And he really liked them! I went very simple, took a can of precooked and seasoned kidney beans, rinsed them well in warm water to get most of the seasoning off of them and warm them up a bit, then pureed them with warm water and rice into a smooth mix. He needed one bite to think about it, then ate the rest of it right down very happily. What a good eater!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wear and Tear

I need to get some sleep, really. I did better last night than the night before at getting to sleep, but that was partly because I went to bed really late. We also got up very early, so I only got four and a half hours sleep. I did okay during the day on that much sleep, oddly enough. Robert and I went to the health department and got our new WIC vouchers, we picked up the portraits from Penneys, which are fuzzy and will need to be reordered, I made an actual dinner of turkey mignons and steamed carrots, and did three loads of laundry. I got a lot of stuff done, when you think about it!

Trouble is, exhaustion usually reveals itself in my emotions first, and tonight I am in such a bad mood. Cranky, jealous, irritable, and depressed over stupid and meaningless things! It's not a good way to feel, and even though I know I should be shaking it off, the physical weariness makes it impossible. I need to remember that when I write, it is to please myself first, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about it or if anyone even reads it. This blog is great because I do get feedback sometimes, but even if I didn't, it would still be worthwhile to write. I need to focus on that and not on wishing I were a better writer, or that I had heaping piles of praise being dropped on my head. I know I will feel better once I finally catch up on my sleep, but I don't know if that's going to be tonight. I get into these self-defeating cycles where I get tired and become anxious and then can't sleep due to anxiety. Maybe I will do some of the meditation I learned in Hypnobirthing and see if it helps. Tomorrow is a big day, after all, and I can't afford to be so underslept.

Anyway, there's another batch of new pictures on the Flickr stream. They are very cute ones of Robert smiling and laughing, so you won't want to miss them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I gotta go to bed! This insomnia is not good for me at all. Robert and I have our WIC appointment tomorrow and we need to be bright and chipper, but last night I lay in bed for two hours. Yuck. Anyway, here are a bunch more pictures of Robert on the Flickr photostream to make up for not posting much tonight. It was a quiet day anyhow!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Robert Goes Outside

I forgot to post yesterday! I got so busy answering ChaCha questions and reading my new book, suddenly it was 2am and I was falling asleep in my chair. D'oh. Here are extra pictures to make up for my shameful lack of diligence! We took Robert outside this afternoon to get pictures of him in natural light. I took thirty-six pictures of him and he smiled for exactly one of them. I think I will try again tomorrow in the morning, when he generally feels more smiley.

Today was a cleaning day. My friend Jamie came over in the afternoon, so in the morning M and I straightened up the joint, washing dishes, gathering laundry and cleaning the living room. I put the plastic floor pad from the desk that we NEVER EVER EVER use under the baby feeding station so I don't have to set a towel down anymore. It looks much nicer and is more effective to boot. (The desk is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, it takes up a huge chunk of our bedroom real estate and is used only as a repository for junk. I would like to get rid of it, but have been consistently outvoted by M and M's muscles, without which the desk cannot be moved.) Anyway, the place is looking a lot better and Robert has more room to almost-crawl. He crawled nearly a baby-handspan today before falling on his face!

Jamie's visit was fun, we talked about baby stuff and cravings. She is pregnant now, and is inheriting a lot of Robert's baby gear, since they're pretty sure it's a boy. This is awesome because we have no room for Robert's old stuff, and I don't want to actually get rid of big things like the swing. Today I gave her a box of Robert's newborn clothes, so there's the added benefit that I'll be able to see another teeny baby wearing Robert's adorable outfits and remember how he looked wearing them. D'awwww. As an added plus, Jamie and her husband come to town often, so they will look after our pets while we are traveling! Awesome! That's always the hardest part of traveling, finding someone to care for the animals. I am very happy about that.

Not too much else of interest today, so I'll backtrack to yesterday. We went to church and had some fun there with Robert's little buddies. The microphone system at church is new and very, very sensitive, so we also got a little of the sermon from the Unitarian church across the way, much to the pastor and sound guy's chagrin. It made Robert's friend CeeCee cry, very sad. After church, we dropped M off at school to do an afternoon of intense, baby-and-wife-free schoolwork, and went shopping.

Well, napping, and then shopping. Priorities! I had thirteen dollars in CVS reward money that was expiring yesterday, so that was the big priority. Luckily, CVS was running some great sales. Robert and I went in and got three things of John Frieda shampoo, two Glade scented oil warmers and two refills, a bottle of eyedrops, and three big cans of iced tea, all for under five dollars, which I paid with a gift card. I spent the 13 reward bucks and got 11 back, so that's not shabby at all. I saved fifty dollars off retail.

I just want to take a moment here to shill for John Frieda's Frizz-Ease line. I don't normally do that in my regular blog posts, but I am feeling in very good charity with them because I love their stuff and they release great coupons for it. I have frizzy flyaway hair, especially in the summer. This is hands-down the best shampoo I have ever used for making my hair actually look neat and orderly after it's been brushed and dried. It's awesome, and if you have frizz, you should try it out. Kind of expensive at five bucks a pop, but like I said, they have great coupons that combine well with CVS sales. I got my three bottles for two dollars after coupons and reward bucks. It's definitely worth more!

Anyway, after CVS we hit up Office Depot for their back-to-school loss leaders. It was right on the way, so it was an easy stop. I picked up ten pocket folders, three rulers, and three pencil cases, all for a total of 17 cents, which I was luckily able to find in my wallet. I wasn't about to do a debit transaction for 17 cents, that's just dumb. Hooray, stray nickels and dimes.! Most of the stuff at those office stores is ridiculously expensive, but if you go regularly and only buy the best sales, you get great deals. More stuff for the food pantry! I'm sure there are kids who use it who still need supplies.

Our last stop was at Sam's Club, where I spent a lot of money. I don't shop at Sam's as often as I used to, but every so often I go and stock up. I had armed myself for this trip in advance by cashing out the rewards for our two credit cards. Discover's cashback rewards scored us a free year's renewal and a ten dollar gift card, very nice, and Chase gave us 50 dollars right into our bank account, also excellent. Not, you know, excellent enough that I'm not still working to pay down as fast as I can, but still. All of that went right into this trip. The biggest expense by far was new printer ink. I won't buy the off-brand stuff anymore, but three color and two black cartridges set us back sixty-plus dollars. Yeow! Good thing we don't print too many pictures. This set will also last a lot longer than the last set. I ruined those cartridges by trying to get the off-brand cartridges to work. The first set we had lasted a long time.

Besides ink, I got a case of bottled water that'll last us a few months, a box of tortilla chips and two jugs of salsa, five pounds of carrots, three pounds of grapes, six pounds of bananas, and five pounds of mozzarella cheese. I also got new trash bags and paper towels (Yes Dad, we actually needed new paper towels, finally!) After much consultation with Robert, who was very encouraging, I also caved and bought the new Nora Roberts hardcover, The Search. It was ten dollars less than the cover price, and I have wanted it since before it came out. I'm so weak! But I stayed up half the night reading it, and it was amazing, and I'm not really very sorry. The whole trip, after gift card, came to 145 dollars, ouch! But I got pretty good deals on things, and passed up a lot that I would've thought were good deals before I educated myself.

When we got home, I embarked on one of my favorite activities, putting things in the freezer! I broke the big bag of shredded mozzarella into two-cup portions in individual baggies, put them in a freezer bag, and froze most of them to save for when we need them. We use tons of mozza, but in the fridge, some always goes to waste. I washed and froze the grapes, which are delicious that way, and pureed and froze almost fifty carrot cubes for Robert's future meals. The bananas are still green, but when they are ripe, a lot of them will hit the freezer too. I love it! I spent most of the evening, after baby was sleeping, reading my book and answering questions. As of tonight, my total ChaCha earnings are about 38 dollars, and I'm having a good time. After my last job, having a good time is extra-nice.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sleepy Saturday

Contrary to my expectations, Robert slept until nearly nine this morning, partially because the lousy weather meant it was surprisingly dark all morning. This spoiled my plans to take him outside and get some pictures of him, so that will have to wait for tomorrow. I need ten or fourteen good pictures of him taken outside for a project whose details I will disclose later if  things work out. But it has to be sunny! Today was just hot. But at least we got to sleep in.

We did the typical two-meals, four bottles, and a snack for baby food today, with another frozen banana as the snack. Robert was fussy in the evening, even after Orajel and Children's Tylenol for the teething, so we gave him a diluted bottle to chew and suck on. He doesn't like water much yet, but even a little formula taste makes him happier. He went to bed really early, poor munchkin. Tooth soon, please! During the day he was better, near-crawling all over the place, and actually making some progress walking in the aroundy-go. He's smiley and happy and pleasant for most of the day and very fun to be around, it's just when he gets tired in the evening that it gets hard.

When Robert was occupied or sleeping today, I answered more questions on ChaCha. It's kinda fun, and I ended up making fifteen more dollars today. I won't get rich on it, but it's a lot more than I usually make sitting on my butt at the computer! And hey, if I'm careful and keep up my 66% savings average, 25 dollars is like 75 dollars worth of buying power! Every little bit helps, and if I can keep from dipping into our savings, I will be really proud.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Questions and Answers

So things are going pretty good so far on the earning money online thing. I got approved as a guide, answering text message-sized questions with text-sized answers for 10-15 cents a pop. It's like Yahoo Answers, but faster and you get paid, so I rather like it. I made almost 7.50 today just doing it for a couple hours, mostly after the baby went to bed. There's a referral program, so if this works out, I will happily pass it along to anyone else who is interesting in trying their hand. I also got my first article approved on another site. So cross your fingers and hope that lots of people need the information I have to share!

Robert had a very busy day. He is so, so, so close to crawling. Not only can he get up on his hands and knees and rock, he can get up on his hands and toes and arch his whole body! He is sort of crawling already, but he can only move backwards. His arms are just so much stronger than his chubby little legs! He played with his balloon and had lots of solid food, and it was very nice. He also got a lot of sitting up practice. He's getting a lot better at that, he's learned he needs to lean forward a little to stay upright, and he even caught himself once with his hand. Victoria provided a strong incentive for him to stay upright, because he is extremely interested in her right now. We had to rescue her from baby hands more than once! M and I traded off naps and chores, and it was all in all a pretty good Friday.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Streams of Revenue

Today was a very nice morning. M got up with Robert and actually took Robert to school with him so I could have a rest and really sleep in. I took full advantage, catching up on several days of restless nights. It was great! When they got home, we Skyped with my folks. My mom just had her surgery and she is doing pretty well, with any luck, she will come home tomorrow! Hooray! And I'm so happy that she's got the laptop now, it will make her convalescence so much nicer. When Skyping was done, I gave Robert garden veggie baby food out of a jar, while M got a much-deserved nap.

For supper, Robert had carrots and blueberry-banana out of my freezer stash. I really like this homemade food thing! I think when I have my WIC appointment next week, I will ask for less baby food coupons and more fresh produce vouchers. I would like to try more of different produce. Fresh avocado is a reliable hit (plus I'm really starting to like it myself), and carrots are great. I would also like to try some squashes, green beans, freeze some more bananas. We definitely need more bananas. Baby loves his frozen nanners! M and I had macaroni and peas for supper, to which I added the rest of the barbecue chicken from the crockpot last week. Man, that turns out really well, and is so easy! I don't worry about making barbecue chicken anymore, because after we are tired of sandwiches, we can do this!

Okay, what you do is you make barbecue chicken in the crockpot. Take enough thighs and legs to reasonably fill your pot, and peel as much of the skin off as you can. Pour in most of a bottle of barbecue sauce. I use whatever I've gotten free at the store recently. Let it cook for six hours. After about four, take the bones out and start picking apart the big lumps of chicken. After six, mash it all up like you would pulled port, and get out any of the gristly bits from the ends of the bones that might be left. Voila, barbecue chicken! It's great on sandwiches, with just a little extra barbecue sauce for more flavor.

After you're bored of sandwiches, it's time for macaroni. Take two boxes of macaroni and cheese, and a big pot half full of water. Boil the water, then cook the noodles three minutes. Toss in half a bag of frozen peas, and cook until the noodles are tender. Meanwhile, take a cup and a half or two cups of barbecue chicken leftovers, or whatever you've got, and microwave them till warm. When the noodles and peas are done, drain them and return them to the pot. Dump in the chicken, the cheese packets, and a lot of garlic salt. At least a teaspoon, maybe more to taste. This is a lot of macaroni to season. Add whatever butter and milk you normally add to mac and cheese. I use half a stick of margarine and about a quarter cup of milk, because I don't like it runny. Stir everything up really well, and eat it! It's great, trust me. It's also a good way to use up pulled pork.

Anyway, the other thing I did today was look for paying work online. I got a newsletter from All You about it, and thought it would be worth exploring. So I signed up with a couple of content-for-pay websites, and one answer questions for pay website. I did up a little writing sample that was 900 words about bird care, and submitted it, and was accepted to both sites. I'm sort of in limbo with all three places at the moment while they review me, but I'm optimistic. I've done all right with a couple of online endeavors so far, and while this isn't going to be a job-equivalent for me, if I can even make 150 dollars a month, well that's my entire grocery budget right there!

If there's one time of year that reminds me of how precarious our finances are, it's August and September. We still have all the money I put in savings for the summer, but doggone it, I want to keep it there! I'm pretty sure I'll have to dip in at least once when September's rent comes due along with the other bills, but if I could eventually replace that money, it would be great. And in this economy, there is security in multiple streams of revenue, even if most of those streams are closer to trickles. I spend a lot of time online anyway, might as well make that and my research skills pay. Wish me luck, and I will update on that as things develop.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Roll of a Seven, A Lucky Surprise

Happy seven month birthday, Robert! He celebrated his birthday by being cranky most of the day. That tooth has just got to come in soon! He wouldn't take an afternoon nap, and was exhausted but sleepless by six. We eventually got him down around seven, which probably means he'll be up again at six. Which means I've got to get to bed pretty soon here. He's been getting lots of fruit in his teether lately, and making a huge mess, but he likes it. I took a whole bunch of pictures, which you can see on the Flickr photostream, as well as one for the page here. He's getting baths a lot more frequently these days, that's for sure. Between sweat and fruit, he can be a sticky, stinky baby. But he also likes the bath a lot, now that he has a bath book and a boat to play with. I think he will have even more fun once he's reliably sitting up without my help in there.

I know I was talking yesterday about how things were when we first realized Robert was coming into our lives. I wrote a letter to the baby, or to the idea of the baby, on the night of August 16. I went to look at it today, and realized that both the file and the backup had been corrupted! I was really sad, but when I opened the file in Wordpad I was able to find a raw-text, barely readable version still left. It's sad how ephemeral things like that can be, isn't it? The only way to preserve anything digitally, I guess, is to have enough backups that they can't all be lost. In the spirit of that, and of sharing with you all, here's the retyped version of the letter I wrote: 

Dear Baby: 
Hello, for the very first time. I won't know for sure until tomorrow if this hello is premature, but at this point the evidence is suggestive that you and I have been hanging out for awhile, with me all unawares. You're very sneaky! If I'm wrong, and you have decided not to show up yet, then that's okay. We will meet another time. But I feel flutters inside me and I know they can't all be the butterflies of waiting for the doctor tomorrow. I've already taken two pregnancy tests, and you're certainly indicating your existence there! Way to not be shy. That's important, especially in a family with two very distractible parents. I am sure you will never have much of a problem getting our attention.

I feel a lot of different ways right now, knowing you're here. It explains all the moodiness and funny feelings I've had this summer. It explains the time at the Honda dealership where I nearly passed out and threw up in the poor dealer's trash can! But you never made me sick for very long, and that's why I never noticed, I guess. I owe you for that one. I hate puking. Your dad and I didn't see this coming, but it wasn't because we didn't want you. When I was in college, my doctor told me I wouldn't have children without medical assistance. That can get really expensive, and be so heartbreaking. I didn't know if I would ever be ready to walk that road, even though I wanted kids. We thought that maybe when we were older, when he was finished with school, when the economy turned around and I had a job with insurance. I didn't see the signs, because I just never thought to look. 

Maybe the timing isn't so good for us right now, but if you're here, it's a miracle, and that's not something to be disregarded or wasted or ever, ever regretted. You were created in love, and will be born in love, and raised in an extended family full of love and support and laughter and prayers. I don't know where the money's going to come from, but we will figure it out. Everyone is going to be thrilled to have you. Allie and Kirsten have been bugging me to introduce you to them for nearly five years now, and they will be very excited. We haven't said anything to anyone yet, because I just took the test this morning, after you squirmed all night and kept me up. Then I took the other one this afternoon, because it was so hard to believe. If we're lucky, maybe we'll see your picture tomorrow at the clinic, and we can share you with everyone. 

Right now, the whole thing feels huge inside my head, and it's hard for me to wrap my mind around. I look at the baby development websites, and it's like my thought process just flips off, and I can only stare and wonder. I feel bad that I didn't see earlier, that I didn't start taking the vitamins weeks ago, and that I ate all that ramen. Sorry about that, baby, it was delicious, and my will is weak! At least I don't smoke or drink, and my iced tea habit is apparently much better than coffee or soda. I promise I will do better by you from now on. I'm sure that later on we will place many expectations on your likely-oversized head (hey, it runs in the family!), but for now, all I want is for you to be healthy and whole and okay. 

Maybe we only just found out about you, but we love you already, and we're going to do our very best for you. I hope you can ignore or forgive the lapses and mistakes along the way, and that we can give you the sort of life that you deserve. I'm so sorry that we aren't bringing you into a better world, and that the place and time we live in is so messed up in so many ways. I'm sure your dad will teach you that every time and place is messed up in its own way, but if I could make you a perfect world, I would in a heartbeat. But it'll be okay, I promise. Let's both get some sleep now, and hopefully I will see you in the morning. 
Love, for the very first time, 

Monday, August 16, 2010

An Anniversary of Sorts

Tomorrow is Robert's seven month birthday! That is a milestone in and of itself, of course. Seven months, what a big boy! But today is also special because one year ago today, I woke up very early on a Sunday morning and left M sleeping to drive out to Walgreens. I had been having such strange feelings in my stomach for the past couple of days, I was no longer able to sleep for worrying. I had to prove to myself, I thought, that it was gas bubbles I was feeling, or indigestion, or whatever. I left a note on M's computer that I'd run out to get a new hairbrush (which was something I happened to need at the time anyway), and would be back soon, just in case he woke while I was gone. I thought I would go out to Walgreens, get a test, come back, reassure myself that I was imagining things, and have the evidence disposed of by the time M woke. Not that I was worried about him seeing it, really, but I would've felt so silly. We both knew I was infertile, and on birth control pills besides! I felt like a little bit of an idiot even entertaining the notion, but the persistent strange feelings in my stomach would not be denied.

Buying a pregnancy test is a little embarrassing no matter what the circumstances, I think. Luckily, the store was pretty empty before seven in the morning on a Sunday. I decided against the Walgreens brand and sprang for a two-pack on one of the more inexpensive name-brands. I also bought the hairbrush, and some headbands, and a can of iced tea, and some candy, just to show that I was totally not out first thing on a Sunday morning for the sole purpose of buying a pregnancy test, no sir. I'm pretty sure the cashier didn't care even a little bit one way the other. When I went home, M was still sleeping, no note necessary. Ah, those days of lazy weekend slumber! I left him sleeping and went into the bathroom. I had barely gotten the post-test plastic cap onto the wretched thing before the big bold PLUS sign was becoming visible. I just sat there for a few minutes and looked at it. I was stunned, but somehow I was not surprised. The kicky feet inside me were not gas and not indigestion, and deep down I think I had known they were not, but I was in such deep denial that I had made myself disbelieve.

Telling M was the next thing on the agenda. If I had it to do over again, I probably would've just waited till he woke up, but I was not thinking entirely straight at the moment. Basically I woke him up and waved the test at him and told him it was positive, and he had no idea what I was showing him or what I was talking about. It took several minutes for us to get onto the same page and wasn't exactly the sort of storybook reveal I sort of thought it would be if we ever did have a kid, but the circumstances were also not exactly what we had envisioned. We had no idea how pregnant I was, or even if the test was accurate, or what on earth we were going to do now. At that point, we did not even know the month we conceived, much less have an idea on things like last menstrual cycle or due date. It was entirely overwhelming. In the days to come, we would go to New Hope for the first time, take three more pregnancy tests (all positive, of course) and get an ultrasound to show us the face of our unexpected addition. But when I think back on that day, it's sort of funny, how absolutely shocked we were.

We didn't actually do anything that day, because it was a Sunday and no one was open. We didn't call anyone, I'm not even sure we really said the word "pregnant" beyond the initial conversation. It wasn't until the next day that we got the other tests done, and I felt comfortable enough with the reality of it all that we started telling people. My dad was in the hospital for tests on his heart, and I almost waited to call them, but decided not to. If he was going to have a heart attack, might as well do it in the hospital, I figured! I was a little worried what the reaction from our folks might be. I didn't have a job or any insurance, we were barely scraping by as it was. The last time I'd talked with my dad about my prospects for the future, I'd wound up crying (which makes a lot more sense in retrospect, with the whole hormones thing.) But of course my parents were just thrilled, and M's parents were thrilled, and they were 100% behind us all the way. My mom was just beside herself with excitement, and it was actually pretty funny.

I didn't have this blog active back then, but I did have another online journal I was keeping, a more private one that is not quite as open for the world to see. I posted a message there on August 17, 2009 for my friends that I will replicate here for posterity:

This has been such a weird summer. Sure we've been in a new place and I still haven't gotten a job, but there have been other weird things as well. Like the dizzy spells. Sometimes when I was walking around or in the shower, I would start feeling really funny and need to sit down or lie down. Then there was the great grandpappy dizzy spell back in May, when I all but fainted on the floor at the Honda dealership, then threw up in the poor manager's trash can. Then there was the moodiness, to the point where I was fighting tears if I didn't win initiative in a game or saw an especially sentimental commercial. I thought it was because I was depressed about not working. I gained some weight, too, but I did get off Weight Watchers, and it wasn't like I grew out of all my clothes or anything...

You know, when you put it all together, it seems far more suggestive than it did at the time. But when a doctor has assured you that something won't happen without significant medical intervention, it's just not the first thing on your mind, and when you haven't had a regular menstrual cycle since high school, missing a couple periods isn't something you think much about. But when something starts butting its head against your pelvis and demanding attention should be paid, well, attention generally gets paid. 

All that said, guess what, everyone! We're spawning! It's not an ideal time for it, but considering I didn't know if it would happen at all, I'll take a miracle as it comes. After four pregnancy tests to confirm it, anyway. It's hard to doubt at that point, especially when you started taking them to figure out what was wiggling and jiggling and tickling inside you. We're getting an ultrasound ASAP to figure out how far along we are, but we could have a new Davisling come January. Wow! It seems like so little time with so much to do, but at least we noticed now, and aren't one of those couples who show up at the hospital in labor, all unawares. We'll be very busy, but there's time for a little shock and awe yet. 

What a difference a year makes, huh? It's hard to believe how quickly it's gone, or what a beautiful baby came from such slapdash and makeshift origins. But I think it's reassuring too, Robert has always been a baby who has his own. We're there to give him everything we can, but he's an independent little cuss, and he's going to make it just fine. 

Guest Post: Bobby LaBonte

Thanks to Roman May
My son Spencer was three at the time, while we were watching the Michigan race in I think 1995. Vroom vroom, he use to say while we tuned our satalite tv. to the now weekend ritual. "Bobby BaBonte", he would say, as the Winston cup champions would glide around the oval. I think "Bobby Babonte" was one of his first words, either way; this is why I've become a Bobby fan. The green number 18, at the time, was pretty much the only car my son could pull out of the crowd. Bobby won that day, and the excitement of race day with dad just gets me every time.
His uncle Alex pulled down a number 18 car from his collection at the bar and handed it to my son. His eyes lit up, and set him of on his "Bobby Babonte" Chant. To this day I get a chuckle from knowing that the name on the matchbox car was Dale Jared, not Bobby. Bobby is just a year older than I, and I hope to see him come out of his racing career strong. I thank him for those Michigan racesmy son and I shared. Now 15 years later it's still a memory we cherish.

Going Bananas

Today at church there were so many babies! We sat in the back on the blanket, and there was M and I and Robert, and another little baby and his big sister and their mom, and another little boy and girl and their mom, and the twins and their moms, and it was just a huge baby convention. Robert thought it was awesome. He loves other babies, he thinks they are fascinating. In another few months he will probably express this by trying to poke and smack them, but for right now he mostly just watches. Some of the long-time members were obviously tickled to see such a baby boom. Which is good, because Robert was a pistol through the whole service, so it's just as well that people like him! This teething thing is rough business.

I've started using the Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder  with Robert, after a friend recommended it to me. She said it was the only thing that made her teething baby happy. I sliced up a banana and froze the slices in an ice cube tray, then shoved enough of them in to fill the little mesh bag. I thought it might take a little while for Robert to figure it out, but within thirty seconds, he had the mesh part in his mouth and was sucking and mashing like a champ. He loved it, and the bananas are good for him, and it probably feels pretty good on his gums. Unfortunately, it's far from a clean proposition, and he ended up with banana in places I didn't even know it was possible for a baby to get banana. He looked like he'd put on hair gel, but it was banana. We gave him a bath this morning before church, and he could probably use another one. But it makes him happy!

I was very annoyed with the newspaper today. I started getting home delivery of the newspaper to avoid having to go out and pick it up every Sunday, and because it is cheaper. Today, my newspapers didn't come at all! I waited till after church to make sure they weren't just late, but apparently the office closes at noon on Sunday, so I was out of luck. Someone did respond to my email this afternoon, but they said they wouldn't redeliver the papers, they would just credit my account. And a fat lot of good that does me, when I've already paid for a year, and after that year the price goes up! What I paid for the papers I didn't get today isn't going to buy me a paper a year from now! I emailed them back and told them that since it was their fault I had to go out and buy two newspapers today, they should credit me the newsstand price instead. We'll see what they say about that.

Robert and I did a little shopping today, not groceries, but we went to Michael's. I had a coupon for 25% off my entire purchase including sale stuff, and I was hope-hope-hoping the paper stacks would be on sale. They were last week when I went to get some pipe cleaners, but no luck. Robert, who'd been super-fussy, did fall asleep in the store though, so that was nice. I did get some good deals, I got some plastic dishes and some picture frames that were very cheap. It was pouring down rain by the time we were done, so we made an unscheduled detour to Babies R Us, where I just happened to have a coupon in my coupon pouch. We picked up refills for the Diaper Genie. Not cute, but useful. Then I went to both CVS stores and neither of them had this weeks sale items and neither of them had the newspaper. Very disappointing. I ended up having to stop by a gas station on the way home to get them. Sigh.

Anyway, everybody give prayers and good thoughts to my mom, who gets her hip replaced tomorrow! She got one done a couple years ago, and now she needs the other one. It's a big surgery, but she's going to feel so much better when it's done!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sleepy Boy

Robert has been sleeping very fitfully lately, which is sad for all of us. I don't know exactly why, but he wakes fussing several times in the night, cries for a few moments, and then subsides. When we go in, he's sleeping, but he does it again a little bit later. Then he wakes up much earlier than usual, which is also quite unfortunate. During the day he's tired and naps a lot, and is fussy in the evening. I wonder if this is a teething thing, and hope he's not sick or something. He's not running a fever or anything, and is active, so maybe it's just the dreaded teeth.

M went out to class today, but other than that we all stayed home all day. I cleaned up the living room and vacuumed again, because Robert was having a rolly day. He wants to crawl so much, he just can't quite get those legs under him! Soon, very soon. We watched Fraggles, ate soup, and fed the baby bananas and rice. It was pretty much a quiet and more importantly, very inexpensive day. The baby was obviously exhausted by about six, and against my better judgment, I put him to bed at six-thirty. I am afraid of how early he will be up in the morning.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Little Night Robert

It's late, once again, and here I am dashing off a post just before I go to bed. I am a bad mommyblogger, I totally forgot to even take a picture today! I had to sneak into Robert's room just now, aim the camera by guessing (the LCD screen is useless in a dark room) and snap a single picture.Surprisingly it turned out okay, though you can't see much of his face.

Robert made it an early morning this morning. He fussed a little at 3:30, then wanted a diaper change at half past four. He was up for the day at six, which made M and I both very sad and tired. We watched him and took turns napping to catch up on sleep. At least the baby was in a good mood, even though he got up so early. He ate pears and garden veggies and pasta, and lots of bottles. He still will have little to do with bottles of regular water, and nothing at all to do with the sippy cup. I think I may need to try another kind. Out of curiosity, I tried to drink from the sippy, and found it very difficult. Maybe he can't get the idea because it's too hard.

We went to Kroger in the evening and took advantage of the mega sale again. I made a rookie mistake in my counting that makes me mad and cost me a few dollars of savings, but it turned out that some of my coupons rang up better than I thought they would, so in aggregate, I spent exactly what I expected and got a few dollars-off coupons for next time. Unfortunately, I am already over budget for groceries this month because there have been so many good stock up sales! Oh no! Well, it's not like we need a lot more food this month, and the things I would still like to get are just that, things I'd like rather than things I need. Still, there's a heck of a lot of month left. Boo. August is the cruelest month in this household, definitely. But I still have a couple of CVS and Walgreens gift cards, and a small gift card to Sams, so I'm not totally cut off, just curtailed. It'll give me time to (sigh) organize. And I don't regret all the money I spent on school supplies, either. Some kids will have a better start to their school year because I'm getting creative with the groceries for a couple weeks, and that's nice.