Saturday, June 30, 2012

A month of blogging

I made it! Today is June 30th and I have posted at least once every day since June 1! So here's what I have learned so far:

1)I really don't have something to talk about every single day. There were days when it was all I could do to write a quick "This happened today," at the end of the night.

2) I have more to say than I thought I did. Especially about saving money and education. I am passionate about both, because both feed into my role as a mom, which is my ultimate passion.

3) Blogging from the iPad isn't fun. I don't like the blog docs app at all, and blogging from safari isn't ideal either. There are some things that just need to be done old school.

4) While I may not be ready to take my blog to a professional level, I have really enjoyed interacting with others who have been able to do that. I am enjoying sharing their posts with others and helping them with their goals. I hope that, even though I don't have any major goals yet, I have at least given them something interesting to read every now and then!

So, happy end of June! I hope that I can keep up posting during July :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

One more day!

After today, only one more day of the daily post challenge! I am happy that I haven't missed a single day! Go me!

It is going to be a busy weekend. Matthew's parents are here, so we are enjoying our time with them. I won't have time to write about much until Monday, unless I can post on the road tomorrow. I have plenty to say, but time is elusive. Especially this week!

Here's hoping for a restful night and a day of fun tomorrow!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Make any wall a word wall!

If you have a wall with nothing hanging on it, and a preschool aged kiddo that loves books and language play, you have got to check out word walls.  If you Google "word wall," all kinds of images come up.  Word walls are exactly what they sound like - they are an area where you display words, usually.  All you need is some alphabet cards and some word cards, and something to stick them to the wall.

I have done a different twist on it in my own classroom when I was teaching 2's. I used pictures.

Picture "word" wall

The only words I used in this picture word wall were the kids' names.  The rest were pictures of things that began with each letter's sound.  We did short vowel sounds - A for Alligator, E for Elephant, I for Igloo, O for Octopus, U for Umbrella.  With consonants we focused on the most common sound - for example, the hard "k" sound of the letter C.

RJ is three and is ready for sight words.  Sight words are the most common words you see in print.  Since the English language has some pretty complicated rules, "sound it out" isn't always an option for beginning readers.  Just like we memorize addition fact and multiplication tables in order to speed up the process of doing more complicated math, we memorize sight words in order to built speed and fluency with reading. 

RJ has been working with a great teacher all year, and I have been working with him this summer, so I decided to check out and see what sight words he knows and put those words on our word wall to start with.  Boy was I surprised!

Sight Words Word Wall
These are the words RJ knows so far.  Most of them are sight words but he also knows milk, hit, and play. All together, there are 27 words on the wall!  He knows many of the words on the Preprimer list of Dolch Sight Words. 

We are using our word wall to reinforce the words RJ already knows, and then he is using those words in other learning situations.  When we read a book, I trail my finger along the print and pause when I come to a word he knows, so we do a shared reading of the text.  We take words like at, it, and in and play word addition - for example, c + at = cat. You write C, make the sound, write at, and say "at," then blend the word together to make "cat."

I love working with my beginning reader.  He is so excited about his word wall, and I can't wait to see what words we add next!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Daily recap

Today was challenging. My boys are learning how to fight. T is six months old! Yet, there they sat, bugging each other in the cart at SAMs.

My accomplishments for the day: Registered RJ for pre-school, ran errands, made baby food, got some exercise in.

Failures: forgot multiple things on my grocery list, got too frustrated with the kids, didn't get any housework done.

Tomorrow is another busy day. Sure hope I'm up for it!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I stay at home, and I won't apologize for it!

The whole age-old debate: Who has it harder? Working moms or Stay-at-home-moms? WMs work all day and still have to pick up kids from daycare, make dinner, do all of the things an at-home mom does.  SAHMs have a 24/7 job of house keeping, taking care of others before themselves, no sick days, no vacation days. Both have their perks as well. WM's have a career, hopefully a fulfilling one that provides extra income and makes the family comfortable.  She has life outside of her home and family.  A SAHM doesn't miss out on any of the big milestones of her children, because she's right there with them most of the time. I'm a SAHM and my sister is a WM.  We each have things we envy about each others lifestyles. We each have things that we know we wouldn't be able to stand. Both of us work hard and have healthy, happy families to show for it.

Recently I saw this floating around on Facebook: 

"Yes, my house can be a little messy at times, but I work a full time job, commute 4 hours round trip, and only have two days off a week. My husband works, too. If you work, and support your family, you understand. If you don't work, maybe you should get a job and see how the rest of us live, instead of making statements. Repost if you support the "real" working mothers out there!"

The first thing I thought when I read this was "Wow... I'm a measly husband-moocher-offer, and my house is STILL messy..." But the more I read it, the more it kind of offended me. "If you don't work, maybe you should get a job and see how the rest of us live.." 

I don't know that it is possible for me to have more respect for working moms and single moms. I cannot imagine doing what I do plus going to a 9 to 5, or doing it by myself.  But ALL MOMS WORK! My kids ARE my job, and I take them seriously. I work hard for them. That means that my house isn't always perfectly clean.  That means that there are days where I am ready to drop by the time my husband walks in the door. I don't keep a crazy schedule.  I don't try to line out my day.  I have a 3 year old and a 6 month old.  They are the schedule setters.  Some days they give me an easy schedule - they nap, they entertain themselves, and they are happy.  Other days they are sick, teething, don't sleep at night, are grouchy, and I spend my whole day hopping from one to the next trying to take care of what they need.  When I'm sick, I suck it up, unless I happen to get lucky enough to get sick on a weekend (ha!) in which case I have help.

I kind of miss the 9 to 5, but I don't envy WMs.  I know many of them get stuck with everything I just described, and more, on top of their careers.  But I won't apologize for being a SAHM, and I will absolutely defend my "job." SAHMs may not get a comment on their messy house (ha, I would), but I have heard all of the following:

"You're JUST a SAHM??" (incredulous look of shock) Yup. I am, and I love it.

"How do you find your life fulfilling when you have no career to show for it?" Well I guess happy healthy kids just can't top a successful career or anything...

"Are you going to go back to work when they start school?" Funny, I didn't realize I had ever LEFT work....

"You're a SAHM and your child goes to preschool?! Don't you feel lazy?"Yup... giving my kids social interaction for a few hours a day, a few days a week.... running errands without hauling them both in and out of strollers and carts.. Yup, you can call me lazy, works for me!

I am happy for you if you are a working mother who is happy.  I'm sad for you if you're a working mother that wants to stay home, because I know it sucks to be stuck doing something you don't want to do.  If  you have a career outside of the home, I applaud you. If you're a single mom, you rock!  Just please remember - I don't provide "financial" support to my family, but I provide all kinds of other support.  You support your family the best way you can, I will do the same. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Word wall surprise!

I am going to set out to write about word walls tomorrow, since I just put one up in my house. RJ and I have been working on sight words, and I have been surprised at how many he knows. I shouldn't be, because his teacher this year was ah-maaaaa-zing. He can write all of his letters, upper and lower case, and he knows all of their sounds. He is learning how to sound words out. He can count on and on and can identify numbers as high as 9,999. Actually he can do 10,999 because we are working on anything to the left of the column is thousands.

So after I put up the letters for the word wall today,I decided to start off by putting only the ones he can identify up on the wall. I took out my set of pre-primer Dolch words and started showing him each one. He identified about half of them. He identified four words from the primer set. He also knows words that aren't in my cards like ball, milk, play, etc. I made cards for those words. He also knows the "it" family - he know i-t says "it" and that if you put an s in front of it, it says "sit," etc. Sit and hit also went up in the wall.

When we got all the cards up there and counted them, we had 27 words all together. I texted his teacher excitedly. She texted back "Don't forget the it, at, and an families. He knows all of those. And his friends' names."

I think I am going to have to find a bigger wall....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Long day of cleaning today. I finally restored my kitchen and living areas to their normal state of cleanliness. Hope I can keep it up. Tomorrow will be laundry catch-up.

T is trying to get a tooth, so close! Where has the time gone? He changes every day. He has filled out, jumped to the 5th percentile in weight. He isn't crawling, but he is mobile. I got a bunch of toys out today and started checking batteries. We will have lots of fun tomorrow. RJ is loving exploring the toys with him. I am also looking forward to setting up a word wall for RJ tomorrow. He knows 17 words now, plus he can read his classmates' names. So big! I asked him if he wanted his new teacher to call him by his name or RJ. He said his name. Aaaw. Of course, then I called him by his name a few minutes later and he didn't answer lol!

Other than that, we had dinner with friends and just chilled. What a nice Sunday :)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Children's Place Monster Sale

Recently I said in a post that I never buy clothes for full price, or even for sale price only, because I only buy clothes where I can use coupons.  Today, the hubs gave me an hour of mommy time and I spent it checking out The Children's Place at our local mall.  Right now, they have their semi-annual Monster Sale going on.  That's 50% off already reduced merchandise and many other special prices throughout the store. I needed shoes for school and underwear for my oldest. Here's what I found:

 Brown lace up boot/loafer looking shoes.  Original price $22.95, marked down to $18.99. 50% off already reduced merchandise, plus 20% off coupon, for a sale price of $7.99

I didn't do AS well on the underwear, it is regular $6.95/3 pack.  It was on sale for $5.99 and with the 20% off coupon each pack rang up $4.81, for a total of $9.62/6 pairs. It's 11.99 for a 7 pack at Target, so I guess I did okay.

Now the only problem with this is I couldn't STOP once I got in there.  I have a very cute 6.5 year old niece that LOOOOOVES her some Justin Beiber. And even though they only had a L (she wears a M), I couldn't pass this up:

Originally priced $14.95, marked down to $5.99.  50% off already reduced merchandise, plus 20% off coupon for a final price of $2.39. She'll love sleeping in it or even wearing it with leggings :)

And the baby clothes, oh my goodness.  They didn't have anything I couldn't live without for T, but I have an 8 month old niece:

Total original cost of outfit: $36.95. Each piece was marked down to $5.99 so when you add the 50% off and the 20% off coupon, I got the whole outfit for $7.17.  I bought it a size up and am putting it back for her birthday, but I also found this for right now:

Dress and bloomers, regular $24.95. Marked down to $11.99. With 50% off and 20% off coupon, I paid $4.81.

Had I bought everything for the marked price, I would have spent $113.70 before tax.  Buying on clearance and sale, with my coupon, I paid $31.94 before tax. I saved $81.76 off the retail prices!

Granted there is no reason to ever pay ticketed price at The Children's Place, as they are very good about alternating their sales and they ALWAYS have coupons. But the Monster Sale is my favorite, at least until they put their jeans on sale in the next couple of weeks! 

My mom shopped this sale earlier this week to get RJ some school clothes - while he doesn't have to wear a uniform until Kindergarten, I thought it would be nice and easy to buy him some interchangeable polos and easy on/off pants to be his "school uniform" for this year.  My mom bought 3 pairs of pants, each regular price $14.95, and 3 polo shirts, which would have been $32.50 for all 3. Total bill would have been $77.35 for all of it, but the pants were on sale for $9.99 each and the polos were on sale for $4.99 each. With the 20% off coupon I gave her, she paid $7.99 for each pair of pants and $3.99 for each shirt. Total price before tax: $35.94.

This is why I never ever buy clothes without coupons! Tell me your favorite places to buy clothes for yourself or your kiddos! Do you use coupons?

Friday, June 22, 2012


Random photo for a Friday night... This is what my hubs noticed as we were getting ready to head to bed. I think my 3 year old is a little strange. Lol!

I blog with BE Write

Thursday, June 21, 2012

5 things I never buy without a coupon

I have been working hard on saving money, and have been putting everything I save with coupons and my Target debit card into a savings account.  So far I have saved over $100 in the past two months and have bought myself a new cell phone.

I am not one of those extreme coupon type people.  I would love to be, but with two young kids at home sometimes I just think that it's not practical. However, there are some things that I never buy without coupons.  Since I am a lazy couponer, if I can find these coupons then everyone can.

1) Cereal - We eat two kinds of cereal in this house: Honey Nut Cheerios, and Lucky Charms.  Ever seen Bill Engval's bit about his doctor suggesting Cheerios to lower his cholesterol? He says something along the lines of "If I have to give up Lucky Charms, life isn't worth living anymore anyway!"  Yup, that's my husband.  I can always find coupons for either $1/2 or $1/3 by looking at and  Sometimes has these coupons as well.  I do our shopping every pay check, so that's every two weeks, which means I need that much cereal anyway. Extra bonus - sometimes the Target check out prints out store coupons for cereal, and you can stack those with manufacturer coupons for even more savings.

2) Diapers - Okay, I kind of cheat here because *usually* I order diapers via subscribe and save with Amazon.  But the boxes don't quite last me the full month.  Even before I did it this way, though, I was pretty good at scouting out diaper coupons. Target alternates having coupons for all of the different brands, and has Pampers coupons monthly right now.

3) Paper goods - I use the up-and-up brand from Target for my toilet paper and paper towels, and they always have coupons for one or the other, or both.  It may only be 50 cents off, but you're already getting a good deal by going with the store brand.  And the quality is actually really great, my husband prefers their paper goods over name-brand stuff.

4) Personal care items - I can always find coupons for shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, and the like.  Last month I purchased Pantene shampoo and conditioner, regular $3.89 each. Paid $2.89 for both. Hooray coupon stacking!

5) Clothes.  Okay, so you don't buy clothes at most grocery stores, but clothes probably should have been the number one on my list.  I never pay full price for clothes.  I don't usually pay *just* sale price for clothes. I shop sales, with coupons. Last year, in September, I got my niece two swim suits, cover ups and matching hats, a pair of sunglasses, and an outfit for a total of about $25. Yay clearance with an extra 50% off and a coupon for an extra 15% off!

I'm by no means an expert, but these five things are by far my easiest things to buy with coupons.  Feel free to share what you never buy without coupons! :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More nothing

I hate it when I am too busy to post. This post a day stuff is tough!! I hope that next month I will be able to post every couple of days and always have something interesting to write about.

The big news of the day is RJ got in to the private school we want him to go to! It's less important to me that he go to this school for pre-school, but I want him to continue there for elementary school and it is hard to get in. We have no family there, we aren't parishioners, and we aren't Catholic, so we had to wait for open enrollment. People got there at 2pm the day before open enrollment began to get in line. I did not, so we wound up on the wait list, but I called today and they had a spot open up! Their 3K program is 3 days a week, from 8:30 until 11:30. That's the least amount of "school" time RJ will see since we started at a MDO when he was almost 2. I am planning lots of activities and moving ahead with setting up a "school room" at home for him, so we can do some stuff at home together. I miss teaching, would love to go back to the program we were at before T was born, but it's on opposing days of the week from RJ's school and I don't want him to have to go 5 days...

So that's what's new here today. I hope anyone who reads this has a wonderful evening!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Good friends, great times

I love how there are some friends that you can go years without seeing, and when you get together again, it's like you just saw them yesterday. I got to spend time today with a friend like that, as well as her four kiddos. It is even more special because we are friends from college - before marriage and kids! It's fun to look back and see how much we've grown in the past eleven years!

Too bad it rained, the kids didn't get near enough time to swim! But we still had a blahs. Of,course, now I am exhausted! Guess we are getting old! Funny how kids do that to you ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

World's Sweetest Dad - Father's Day Project

I am always looking for something crafty for the kids to do around holidays.  It's always hard to decide what to do for my husband.  I want something that a guy will like, but want the kids to put their special touches on it.  This year I came up with something particularly brilliant (in my opinion).

That, friends, is an automatic candy dispenser from The Sharper Image.  Stick your hand under the sensor, it drops a handful of your favorite candy into your hand.  My hubs has a huge weakness for M&Ms, so I thought this was very clever.

I painted RJ's hand and did a stamp pad on T's foot.  I did these on sticker paper - you can buy it at the craft store, usually used to print your own stickers.  I cut them out and peeled off the backing and put them on the candy dispenser.

I added scrapbooking stickers and put the names on the hand and foot prints, and added a saying to the front.  Filled it up with M&M's and put batteries in it. Ta-da!

World's Sweetest Dad!  He says he's going to have to fill it up with peanuts or something because he'll burn through a bag of M&M's a day hahaha.  He'll have the popular office, that's for sure!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Father's Day!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Night 2 of operation nursery

Last night was awful. T was up and down from 11:30 on. I want to run screaming from this and just let him sleep in our room forever.

Except I don't really want that. And he's going to out grow the rock and play before I know it. Better to get him sleeping in the crib before that day comes.

So another night of being held hostage in the nursery it is. Which makes for very short posts. *sigh*

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Big night for my baby

I finished cleaning up the nursery today and the hubs moved a rocking chair in there for me. I nursed T and put him down in his crib for the first time (well he has napped in it a handful of times). He woke up, I heard him talk a bit, but he's asleep now. Fingers crossed for a restful night!

I am getting in the swing of pinterest now and finding some really good organizing ideas. Can't wait to try some of them out. And tomorrow I am looking forward to celebrating Father's Day with the hubs (and to posting my crafty project).

Friday, June 15, 2012

T's First Beach Adventure

The hubs had a much coveted Friday off today, so we decided to goof off a day early and took the kids to the beach for the first time this summer.  We usually don't even make it until Memorial Day before we go, so we were actually rather late this year.  This trip was also baby's first trip to the beach.  It was a round trip of about 10:30 am to 5:00 pm and we only spent about an hour and ten minutes of that actually at the beach.  Lots of work, but worth the effort. Enjoy pics below :)

I would rather play in the sand than say cheese, mom!

What is THAT stuff??

RJ enjoying the waves

Your ocean does not impress me!

Hmmm... maybe a little impressed...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Early literacy with preschoolers

My whole world revolves around being a mom these days.  I love it that way. There was a time, however, when I did things other than be a mom.  I worked several jobs and got a college degree in Education.  Graduated with honors, actually (yes, I am bragging, but it was hard work!). I graduated in December and before I could get a job, I was pregnant with my first. Now that my son is three years old, I felt like it was time to start flexing those rusty teaching muscles. We did a week long lesson on a book, where he progressively took over reading the book for me.  When I posted the end of the week video on Facebook, people were impressed with my kiddo "reading" the book. He really more memorized it, although he does remember certain words from the book if I write them down and ask him what they say.

Here's how we did it. First, he is in a summer program with a wonderful teacher and one of her sight words of the week was "it."  I looked through his Brand New Readers and picked out a book that had the word "it" in it multiple times. It was a very repetitive story - the little girl does something to get the ball moving, the dog catches it.

Day 1: First I wrote down the word "it" and put it in our pocket chart on the wall in the kitchen. He loves having words in that chart. He very quickly learned that i-t- spells it. When I introduced the book for the first time, I showed him the pictures and read the description on the inside cover of the book (all Brand New Readers have this, it's a great tool).  We talked about the dog and the little girl and what they were doing.  Then I showed him the word "it" in the book and asked him "What does i-t spell?" When he answered correctly I said "Good! Every time you see the word it, I want YOU to say "IT!" We read the book through twice, with me pointing to the words as we went.

Day 2: I showed him the cover of the book and asked him if he remembered the title. He said "It says 'CATCH!'" *smarty pants* I asked him if he remembered what they were playing, he said they were going to play catch with a ball. Ball was repeated every other page, so when I started reading I paused at that word and asked him "Do you know what that says?" He said "Ball?" I said "Yes, so every time you see b-a-l-l, you can read it!" Catches was also repeated, so we did the same with catches. We read it twice through, this time with me holding his hand and trailing across the words while we read.

Day 3: My little smarty pants was able to read the book to me. He trailed the words with his fingers like a pro and looked at the picture if he came across a word he didn't know.  My hubby said "He just memorized it." Well... yeah, he did to an extent, but that's the point of sight words (which was the main focus).  So I made a game with the text of the book.  I wrote out the whole book in sentence strips.  RJ and I used them as a puzzle to put the story together.  I would read him a line, he would decide where it went in the story.  We built the story from title to end, then read it together. I would pop-quiz him on the more common words.

Day 4: I went out and bought a pocket chart to put our story puzzle into.  We ordered the story - this time, RJ was able to tell the difference between the action words throw, hit, and kick by using his beginning letter sounds. He was able to order the story himself.  I then gave him a pointer and had him read the words. I am going to try to upload a video below showing how he did:

Hopefully the edits will work and the video will turn right side up hahaha. He loved doing this every day.  The words he has retained from the story are "it" and "ball." The repetitive nature of the story gave him the confidence to read fluidly, and he loves using the pointer. I can't wait to start the next book with him!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Another day...

Another short post. I have been running around like a crazy fool the past couple of days. I have time to myself now and all I want to do is veg and watch tv.

Tomorrow I am hoping to start looking into tweaking some stuff on my blog. I am not sure what I want out of it yet. I enjoy putting my thoughts into words. I think some people might even enjoy reading them. Beyond that, I don't know. I guess we'll see :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


It is after 11. I need to go to bed. But I just wanted to pop in here a) to fulfill my post for my post a day challenge and b) to say that I am such a lucky mom. My boys are so sweet and wonderful. Even on days like today when the big one's stinker is showing and the little one screams if he thinks I am going to get far enough away he can't touch me. I love my family!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Parking lot panhandling

My heart hurts for people who are going through hard times. My family is amazingly blessed and I try to pay it forward whenever possible. I don't usually hand money to the guy holding a sign on the street corner, but if I have a snack or a drink I haven't opened, I am glad to share. I am compassionate to a fault, according to my husband. I get suckered into things that make him roll his eyes. Yup, we're that family that buys something from every kid that knocks on our door and hands us a fundraiser packet. I can't help it (neither can he but shhhh, don't tell him I said so).

That said, I hope the following paragraphs don't come off as too harsh, because I really am struggling here. Our town has about 66k people and is the hub for an area population of about 300,000. Our homeless population is in the hundreds. One side of town has a median income around $31k while the other side has a median income of around $54k. There are definitely people struggling. In Houston and Austin, you see people panhandling out on every major intersection in certain parts of town. Here, you only see that every once in awhile. When I lived in those bigger cities, intersection panhandling bothered me a bit. I was raised by cautious parents who taught me to be kind, but cautious. I was mostly alone in my car and having a man I didn't know walking around my car was always a little unnerving.

Here, though, we have a whole different breed of panhandler. We have people who hang out in parking lots and walk up to you while you're getting into or out of your car. Most of the time these people are men, of every age and race. Most of them keep a fairly respectable distance, a few have walked right up on me. They always have a story and need money for something. Last week a guy wanted to follow me to the gas station and have me put gas in his truck. Today a guy approached me as I was getting out if my car wanting to sell me something (he said he didn't feel right taking hand outs). I always listen politely, tell them I don't have any cash, and continue on. Most of the time, they are polite and walk away. One guy got nasty but thank goodness he was one that approached my husband and me together.

My problem is this. I am a mother, who doesn't ever leave my youngest at home. I always have at least one child with me. And I am almost always alone with them. I hate it when these men just come walking out from between cars and start talking to me. Part of it is the stigma, I will admit it. Particularly the guy today - he was either not quite all there mentally, or he was on something. People are unpredictable and can be downright crazy. As a mom, it is my job to keep my kids safe, and stranger danger definitely screams in my head when these situations come up.

What do you do? Carry something for self defense? Call the police? Call the store and report them? It's so hard to imagine doing any of those things, because in my heart I feel compassion and pity for someone who has come to this method of trying to get what they need. But it is a war inside of me, because I have these beautiful, innocent children. I believe they are the reason I get approached - either people see I am a mom and hope I have a big heart, or they play on a mother's fear of having strangers around her chidren. My husband is a concealed carry license holder and wants me to go that route. I don't have the guts for it, although I may invest in pepper spray. I don't want to be afraid of these people, I want to live and let live, but I am afraid that a first time of someone being aggressive about it is probably still one time too many.

Tonight I will be saying extra prayers for those people out on the street. I pray they will have enough food to not be hungry and that they find a comfortable place to lay their heads. But, starting tomorrow, I am probably going to start calling stores and warning them when they have guys approaching people in the parking lot. I hope that doesn't make me a terrible person.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Busy day, quiet night

Today we started wedding planning for my sister! I am so excited! We worked on flowers today, picking out types and colors. I can't wait to see what my mom comes up with. I am going to start working on the design for save-the-dates this week. The venue is picked and the date will be official on Tuesday!

It's quiet around here because I let RJ go home with my mom. It's the first time he has stayed with her while I went home. I am 2.5 hours away fom him. I have also never been away from him for 2 nights. I have to say, I am holding up better than I thought. Hubs and I watched movies together and folded laundry.

Not sure what I am going to do tomorrow. Lots of ideas. Hopefully I will have something interesting to talk about!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Homemade baby food

I try really hard not to take being an at-home mom for granted.  I was blessed to have my grandmother live next door when I was growing up, so I had her home all the time. My mother-in-law stayed home. My husband and I were very lucky, and I feel very blessed to be able to stay home with my kids.  I believe it's a privileged, one that we make sacrifices for.

Since we only have one income, I assigned myself the designated money-saver of the family.  I do things as cheaply as I can, as long as I can make healthy decisions for the family that way.  You may or may not have read my ramblings about coupons and my 5% off at Target (which, by the way, I need to move the $22 I saved today over to savings, whoop!).  I breastfeed primarily because I believe it's best, but a side bonus is that we don't have to buy formula.  We never go out to dinner without coupons these days too!

One of my tricks to save money is making my own baby food.  When RJ started solids, a good friend sent me to check out, a great website devoted to making and introducing solids to your baby.  I did about half and half with RJ, I am hoping to do mostly homemade for T. gives instructions, but I decided to take photos and write up a step-by-step for any of my friends and family that might want to try out making baby food for their little ones.

I bought two sweet potatoes.  I totally spaced on writing down how much I spent for them, but, according to my friend Google, they average 2/3 a lb apiece. I *believe* I got them for $1.98/lb. So 1&1/3 lb would be $2.63.

This might be tedious to you if you've baked potatoes before, but I actually never had before baby food making, so I am going to include the instructions.  First I washed the potatoes really well.  Then I stabbed them all over with a fork to poke lots of holes.
In case that didn't make sense (haha).

I wrapped both in foil and baked them in my convection oven at 400 degrees (425 for a regular oven) for 45 minutes. When they cooled off enough, I split them open down the middle and made sure they were cooked through.
 I scooped out the cooked "meat" of the potatoes and put them into the food processor.  I didn't have this wonderful invention when RJ was a baby, I had a 20 year old blender and it worked just fine. I did one potato at a time.

I added freshly pumped breast milk to the potatoes. Note - if you are making baby food in big batches, which is what these instructions are for, you cannot use milk from your frozen stash.  It isn't safe to defrost and then re-freeze breast milk!  Also, if you aren't nursing, you can use freshly prepared formula or just water to thin your puree. For my whole batch I used about 3.5 ounces. Run the food processor until the potatoes are a smooth consistency.

mmmm, tasty!

That's it!  All that's left to do is store it.  There are containers out there specially made for storing homemade baby food.  I use ice trays. I got them 2 for $1 at Dollar Tree. They stack well in the freezer, so they don't take up a bunch of space, and the cubes of food pop right out.  Even better, one cube is roughly one ounce, so you know exactly how much you've got and exactly how much to defrost. I spooned the potatoes in, making sure not to overfill.

I double wrap  my ice cube trays with plastic wrap.  First I wrap from the top, then I take a second sheet and lay it on the counter, set the tray on the sheet, and wrap from the bottom. Stack them in the freezer and they're good to go!

Gerber 1st foods sweet potatoes are 99 cents for 5 ounces (2, 2.5 oz containers).  That is 19.8 cents per ounce. I made 24 ounces for that $2.63 we estimated at the beginning of the post.  That is 10.9 cents per ounce. And the taters were super yummy, according to somebody:

Only a taste to start with
Mmmmm! Yummy taters!
T isn't quite ready for even a whole ounce at a time, but he ate up the little taste I gave him.  I'm keeping a few little tastes in the fridge for the next couple of days, and the rest is going into a freezer stash.  I recommend using up your baby food within one month, although the "maximum" storage time is about three months.

Friday, June 8, 2012


I got that from my in-laws this past birthday. I need another one that says something about moms and sick days. I was miserably ill today. My poor boys had to go to the doctor with me, and then to fill my prescription. RJ had a hard time waiting. He didn't want to wait for the iPad. He didn't want to walk nicely in the store. He didn't want to wait patiently for our lunch in the Target food avenue. We made it through lunch, picked up my meds, and headed for the front door, only to find it pouring down rain. We waited it out, because the last thing this sickly mom wanted to do is get wet trying to buckle the kids into their seats.

About 15 minutes later, we headed through the wet parking lot towards the car.  RJ, of course, stomped at the first puddle he could find. I said "Oh no! You aren't going to jump in every puddle you see, are you?" He said, "Oh.... Sorry mommy..."

That's when I realized that I was being THAT MOM again. The harried, frustrated, snapping mom. Trust me, anyone who has had a 3 year old boy probably understands. We all have a little bit of THAT MOM in us, but I like to think I'm in control of that most of the time. I save it for moments like the Buc-ees story.

Sickly mommy often turns ino THAT MOM way too easily. And RJ really is a great kid. And puddles are fun. I looked at my sweet boy, and said "You know what, jump with both feet when we get to this next one!" The look on his face was priceless, and the gleeful laughter made me feel better. For a moment.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Nursing mommy truths

My little nurseling has been going through something. He is farting like a man and really fussy.  I introduced rice cereal last week, to his delight.  Unfortunately he then started waking up at night. Now it's up to twice a night, and he isn't wanting to go back to bed.  This morning I heard him whine, then heard him rip one, so I know it's his tummy.  As a result, he's wanting to nurse much more often.  I think he'd stay attached if I let him.  Kind of like having a newborn all over. I'm trying, so far in vain, to work back to that sweet sleeping through the night thing. I stopped offering him the cereal earlier this week, but so far, not so good.

So as I'm nursing him for the fourth time in about as many hours, it occurs to me that there are just some truths about nursing that nobody tells you before you start.  Especially when you have an infant and a preschooler. Let me inform you. :)

1) Your preschooler will absolutely wait until you are nursing your infant and then decide he has to poop.  Yes, we're working on bathroom independence, but still getting streaks if mommy doesn't follow through, so to speak.  Never fails - the only times RJ has to poop are the times when T is latched on and half asleep. Ever been faced with the decision to wake your sleeping baby, try to wipe one handed, or let the preschooler be on his own? Yeah... I can't stomach nursing in the bathroom, or cleaning up streaks, so option 1 it is.

2) Your preschooler will strip from the waist down to go potty, and he will forget how to put his own clothes back on. It's okay though - you will learn how to sort out clothes with a baby latched on. Ambidextrously.

3) Your nurseling will sense when you are trying to be productive, and he or she will find a way to thwart you.  Yes, that's all kids, but my nurseling seems to be especially good at it. Like today when he was screaming while I tried to clean out the ferret cage, and then the bottom fell out of the 20 lb bag of litter... I think he did it.  I know he's just a baby, but his "FEED ME NOW" powers just took over and caused the whole thing to rupture.  I took the hint.

There are plenty of others, I'm sure, but these are my three of the day.  Maybe it's early sibling rivalry. Maybe they are learning how to tag team me already.  All I know is it's exhausting, but extremely fulfilling all at once!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Short and sweet

Last night was a mess. I did a rare thing and stayed up late reading a mystery novel. By the time I flipped the lights off, the baby was awake to nurse. I got to bed at midnight. T woke up again at 3:45 and that's when the "party" started. It's what our parents might call payback. My husband and I both were terrible sleepers. I didn't start sleeping more than 5 hours a night until I was in my 20's. The kids seemed to pull a page out of that book. I nursed T, and while I was dosing in the rocking chair I heard RJ start screaming right outside my door. He came in and said he had a bad dream about a very bad spider. Not unexpected - any nightmare he has always revolve around bugs. Hubby got up to try to handle that. I lay T down, and he promptly woke up.

This cycle continued until after 4:30, at which time I tried to nurse T again and RJ moved into our bed. I lay T down again and he started talking. Cute little coos and gurgles bounced off the darkened walls. RJ tossed and turned next to me. I finally gave up and moved T to his swing and sacked out on the couch. RJ didn't fall asleep until Matthew got in the shower.

After that banner example of a parent's night,I figured the least my children do for me would be sleep in until 8:00. So I was a little miffed when T gave me the "Feed me!" nonsense at 6:40, and downright despondent when RJ came padding out of my room at 6:50. Oh well. There's always nap time, right?

Yeah.... So there was no nap time for RJ. He refused. I pulled every Mommy trick I had out of my hat. Threats, yelling, pleading, sent him to his room for nap instead of the couch, and I even called Daddy. All to no avail.

So all of this rambling led me to this:
Er... Technical difficulties... Will have to add picture tomorrow. Until then, night!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Today was my massive day of fail.

My to do list for the day was to get my car inspected, go to HEB for milk and a few groceries, and get my tires balanced and rotated.

I called our Toyota dealership to see if they do inspections, and specifically asked if we needed an appointment. Our Toyota dealership reeks of fail. Sadly I put in a month of temp work with Gulf States Toyota, as a mystery shopper who called and evaluated their Express Lube program. So I am not making this up - our dealership fails with a capital F on all criteria I used to check for. However, they said no appointment was necessary.

First fail: I suggested Chinese food for lunch. RJ was thrilled. It took me more than 30 minutes to get us out of the house. As I was struggling to put the kids into the car, it occurred to me that I had never done a buffet with both kids, by myself. Maybe I sensed the theme of the day was "fail," because picturing trying to juggle both kids through the buffet line had me quickly backtracking. RJ was not pleased but we settled on Jack In The Box. I even had a coupon for a free sandwich with purchase of a large drink. We went through the drive thru, with T squawking his displeasure, I got everything squared away, and was feeling fairly productive already.

Second fail: I pulled into the dealership at a little before noon. I sat and waited - usually they meet you at the car. Nobody came. I accepted that I was going to have to locate someone, even though I had a sudden feeling of dread about the whole thing. I get out, get the stroller from the trunk. Unload T into the stroller and put the food into the stroller basket. The service manager is outside now, talking to another customer. I am taking my time, I go around and start working on RJ.  As he is getting out of the seat, the service guy comes to talk to me. He says "Well I am 2 people down and it's lunch time... It will be over an hour." The perky lady on the phone did not tell me the whole place shut down for lunch. My dad is a mechanic. They take lunch on shifts. Why? Because other people who work 9 to 5 drop off and pick up cars during lunch... But oh well. He suggests coming back between 3 and 5. Fine. Now we have lunch, so if I take the time to go to HEB, lunch will be cold. Defeated, I decide to take the kids home and feed RJ and then do nap time and try again.

Third fail: I start loading everyone back up. Put my large drink I had just purchased on the trunk of my car. Got RJ buckled in, got T back in his seat and buckled. Popped the trunk. Without taking my large peach iced tea off. Splat.

Fourth fail: RJ flat refused to nap. T napped, nursed, napped again. I got my exercise done, only to be robbed of a shower.

3:00 rolls around and we take 30 minutes to get ready to leave again. I decide to stop and cancel my gym membership on the way - the one I haven't used in 6 months. Which brings me to...

Fifth fail: I go to cancel my gym membership and the sly lady behind the counter talks me into keeping it. They dropped the minimum age for the child care and T can go. I don't know how I feel about it yet, but I'm going to give it a shot. So maybe that fail will work out in my favor.

I did eventually succeed in getting the car inspected and we did make our HEB run. As I was working through the produce section, RJ in the cart and T in the sling on my hip, another mom stopped me and told me "You are awesome!" All I could do was laugh and tell her how not awesome I felt. Then I went on my way and picked out fresh sweet potatoes to start making my first batch of baby food. Maybe I won't fail there ;)

Sometimes as a mom, my whole day feels like I should get a big fat F. Yet I sit here and look at my gorgeous, content baby. I think back to RJ easily remembering his sight words and already helping me read our book for the week. Ya know, maybe I am more awesome in my failure than I thought! Happy, healthy kids are my main goal and so far, so good!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mommy weight obsession

Being a mom is the most thrilling, wonderful experience. It's the one thing I always knew I wanted to be, and it's a dream come true. It's also terrifying, anxiety-inducing, and sometimes frustrating. This is my mommy story :)

RJ is a full blog entry all on his own.  He was born post-term, after 13 hours of labor, by emergency c-section. He had a fairly severe case if mecinium aspiration - basically he had his first bowel movement before he was born and he sucked it into his lungs. He was in the NICU for 12 days, came home at 13 days old with his days and nights reversed and a wicked case of withdrawl from the sedatives they had him on. He nursed every 2 to 3 hours until he was 8 months old. There was no stopping the nighttime nursing, I tried everything to fill him up. Sleep was precious. But it all worked out and he's a bright, happy 3 year old.

There were some things about RJ's start that made T's more normal start a little bit mystifying. Hubby had never seen first baby stools - wish we had taken video of THAT experience! I had successfully nursed RJ, but he started with a feeding tube and then bottles of pumped milk. I had never nursed from the very beginning and had no idea what to expect. T was 11 oz smaller than RJ at birth, and by the time we left the hospital he was down to 6 lbs 11 oz. He was jaundice, which I hadn't experienced with RJ. T never seemed to want to nurse and continued to look yellow. He was born December 19, and the jaundice is still very evident in his Christmas morning picture. I don't remember what took us to the pediatrician the week after Christmas, I think RJ had a cold. We decided to do T's 2 week check-up while we were there. His weight had gone down to 6lbs, 8 oz. So began the weekly weight checks, which were depressing because he only gained an ounce every 4 to 5 days. My whole life started revolving around feeding the baby. Pump, nurse, pump, feed pumped milk, repeat. T showed nipple preference after a day of bottles, so I switched to syringe feeding. Eventually though, he started growing big and strong.

I was working on the baby books tonight, which is what  this post. RJ was in the 75th percentile at 4 months. Thomas weighed in at 13 lbs 7.5 oz last week, which puts him on the 2nd percentile. I had a reason to be proud with RJ - we nursed for 10 months, when I was sure the NICU experience was going to kill that chance. Not only did we nurse, but he was big and strong. I'm proud of T's weight gain too, because he is now accelerating at a quicker rate than "average." I spend a lot of time questioning my parenting, and I know weight isn't THE measure of how I am doing. But that scale sure can make me happy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday morning coffee rambling

I love shopping at Target. Thought I would say so just in case you are new to my blog. I love shopping there because I get 5% off with my Target debit card. I get an additional 5% off for every 5 prescriptions I fill. My main reason though is that you can coupon stack. Target has store coupons that you can use in conjunction with manufacturer coupons.

What made me think of this today is sitting here sipping my coffee. Last month had a $5/2 bags of Starbucks coffee. I also had two manufacturer coupons for $1.50 /1. A bag of Starbucks is $7.98 at Target, I paid $7.96 for two bags. Well, whatever 5% off of $7.96 is actually. But it doesn't stop there because I noticed today on one of the bags that Starbucks will give you a free tall brewed coffee if you bring the bag back. So down the line I am going so save roughly another $4 - although technically it's not $4 I was likely to spend, I still love getting something for free :)

I decided about a month and a half ago to start writing down my total before coupons at Target, and then writing down the total after coupons and my 5% off. I am happy to report that I have saved $99 since I started! I made my first purchase with that money on Friday, I ordered new cell phone to replace my crapberry. I hate the blackberry (hence the nickname) and I don't really need 3G, so I am ditching the data plan and cutting our phone bill by at least $30 a month. 

The only thing that would be better is if our Target added a real grocery department with produce. Maybe someday. I sure hate going to HEB, they give me a hard time about my coupons I print online :-P oh well, maybe someday!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Another test post

Doing another test post from the iPad, something didn't go right this morning.... Using a photo of my two loves :) can you see them?

I blog with BE Write

I am far from perfect, and that is OKAY.

It must be hard work to be perfect. To sit in judgement of all those around you. Even worse are the confrontations you have to get into, because non-perfect people usually don't take kindly to having their imperfections pointed out.

Such a confrontation happened to us recently, and it all started with trying to walk through a gas station with my 3 year old. Now I have pretty well behaved kids, but they are boys. And this one, in particular, thinks it is straight up hilarious to run into things.

Now if you live in Texas, surely you have heard of Buccees. If you haven't, it's a chain of gas stations that promote themselves as the clean bathroom capital of the world. Some of them are just small corner stores, but there are many, many "deluxe" versions (so to speak) that include aisles of home goods, toys, apparel, foods, and a large deli counter. These stores are a hot spot for travelers, especially buses. As a result, it is very crowded. With my son, crowds are treated like an obstacle course, with the goal being "How many obstacles can I bounce off of?" Yup, walking with him is delightful, but we needed a potty break and this is THE place for that, so we set off. He started jerking on my hand as we walked across the parking lot, I gripped him firmly and told him to walk nicely. He stopped suddenly, jerking me backwards a bit. Then he wanted to run forward. I repeated my instruction to walk nicely. Then we got inside. Oh the wonderland of people and things to crash into. We somehow made it back to the bathroom with only a few more admonishments from me. We enter the bathroom and he promptly rams into a wall, nearly tripping the person he cut in front of to do it. I mutter apologies and excuse mes, and we make it to the bathroom stall, where he bounces off my leg and hits his head in the toilet paper holder. He cries, I take the opportunity to say "Honey this is why you need to walk nice and be careful," as I kiss his head. We make it through the bathroom trip, I take him to Daddy and I take the baby to change him. When that is done, we have to discuss snacks and drinks. I take the kids to find snacks, Daddy works on our fountain drinks.

Well you know how sharks smell the blood of the wounded and start circling? Yeah, that's my 3 year old when I am trying to hold his hand and hold the baby. He's jerking my arm out of the socket, running into my legs, darting in front of people, the works. I am starting to lose patience and my stern mommy voice is starting to come out.

Somehow we make our selections and make our way back to Daddy. I hand him everything and start heading towards the door. That's when my monster.... Er... child , starts running into people's legs. Feeling about an inch tall and cheeks flaming, I apologize and increase my speed, hoping we can just make it out without incident. That's when he does it. My beautiful, intelligent child drops to his knees in the middle of the aisle. Like a ship that just dropped anchor, I come to a sudden stop that jolts my whole body, jars my teeth, and nearly causes me to lose my grip on the baby. Yup, that last shred that was holding my nerves together just snapped. I sternly and loudly told my child "Get up off of the floor and walk right or I am going to spank your butt!" He gets up and we manage to make our way out.

That's when it happened. My husband and I had separated prior to the dropping to the floor incident, so he was at the registers when the clerk a register down from him started muttering about my less than perfect skills as a mother. Something along the lines of "Ugh, how horrible! He's JUST a LITTLE boy." I was safely out and was none the wiser, too busy basking in the success of fresh air and the promise of containing the beast... Er...child... in a car seat. My husband, however, was unlucky enough to overhear the comments. He said "Excuse me, do you have children?" The girl, who looked to be about 16, said "Well.... No..." God bless my husband, he told her "Then you are clueless and you need to mind your own business."

I am sure that girl went home that night thinking "Please, God, help me to be a better mom than that lady." You know what, that's okay. I pray that about myself every night. I ask Him to help me be a better mother to the two blessings He has given me. But I still wish I had taken my child back into that store and asked her to hold his hand and walk for 10 minutes.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Test post from iPad

Ok.... Testing!

I downloaded the light version of the iPad app. It doesn't have my green color for text, but that's ok :)

It says you can only do 6 pages with the light version. I wonder if that means 6 at a time or 6 before you have to upgrade. Hmmm......

At any rate, I love my iPad. The only problem I have is trying to decide how to spend my iTunes money lol so maybe buying the full version of this app won't be so bad. As of now I have spent more money on apps for my 3 year old than on apps for myself!

Well, I think I may have both children asleep. Time to put operation splash into motion (blow up the new kiddie pool).

I blog with BE Write

Post a day challenge.

I am going to try to post every day in June. Very ambitious of me...

The thing is, I got an iPad for a combination birthday and Mother's day gift. I have mastered everything on it, except for blogger. I need to download the app I guess. I can't edit text color or spell check on the iPad, and I have been letting that stop me. Well. Time to suck it up!

So I am about to purchase the app from the app store. I'll be back to update how that goes lol. Wish me luck!