Friday, October 19, 2012

Five on Friday: Going Home

There are five things I love about going home to Bowling Green. Okay, there are actually more than five things, but these are the ones that came to me this morning.

1. My mom makes breakfast. Real breakfast. Sausage, eggs, and toast; an omelet; or sausage gravy with biscuits. You get the idea.

2. I get to hang out with my sister and her two kids. Cara is a great mom with a huge heart. She works as a massage therapist, goes to school full time, and still makes time for her little ones. Carter Ray is smart, fun, athletic, and capable of being more mature than many adults, yet still able to truly be a kid. His current passion is playing guitar, but he is also excellent on the skateboard, pogo stick, and with a fishing pole. Tae is a firecracker. She is into everything. The world was made for exploring, right? She never gives her parents a minute to rest. She loved taking Alex's pacifier away and giving it back to him a million times. He's a bigger boy now, and I can tell that Tae and Alex are going to get into plenty of mischief together as they grow older.

3. Time slows down. I've checked the clock, and it appears to work just like it does everywhere else in the world. However, everything just moves at a different pace.

4. Sharing beer and pizza with my mom while watching a Cardinals game. This experience is even better when they win.

5. It's home. There are Amish buggies, trucks jacked sky-high using lift kits, and a 24-hour Walmart where you are sure to run into at least one person you know no matter when you go. 

P.S. Sorry the pictures are so wonky! I need to do a tutorial on how to layout pictures in this app. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The ABCs of Mommyhood: L

L is for the way you look at me

O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you adore . . . .
-Nat King Cole

Though Nat was singing about romantic love, I assure you that I get a million different looks from my little guy every day that shows he loves his mama. I attempt to capture these with my iPhone. I really need to learn how to take better pictures, but there is no way an iPhone is fast enough to capture my Alex. Luckily, I've chosen a pretty cute subject, so I think that most of you will forgive me for not having better skills.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Living on a Budget: Week One

A couple notes about my calculations:
1. I am not counting the cost of things like olive oil, butter, flour, milk, salt and pepper, garlic or other similar items in the recipe calculations. Of course they cost money. I have them in my kitchen already, and I'm too lazy to do the math to figure out how much 1 tablespoon of flour costs.  I'll just count it when I have to buy new replacement items.
2. My husband doesn't really eat breakfast or lunch each day. He has a glass of chocolate milk in the morning, then he devours whatever I make for dinner. I make a lot at dinner. I do send him to work with snacks; I'll count those in bulk as I buy them.
3. I won't be able to remember every snack I consumed. I'll include fruit and other miscellaneous things at the end in a miscellaneous post.

Monday (10/1)
Breakfast: Fage yogurt - $1 (I am so addicted to this stuff.)
Lunch: Leftover enchiladas from Sunday.- Free
Dinner: Lemony Garlic Pasta with Chicken and Salad - $4.62

I modified this recipe for the pasta. --I ditched the walnuts and used angel hair instead of a "shapes" pasta. I also roasted the chicken separately rather than cooking in the same pot.
I roasted a whole chicken in the crockpot. This is scary. And messy. I didn't take pictures; I never would have gotten the grease off my phone. I used the carcass to make chicken broth for a later recipe. Carcass is a gross word. I used this website as a guide.
Salad: Lettuce, Tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil
Brownies from a box for dessert

The cost break down:
1/2 box of angel hair pasta: $.50 [on sale = $1/box]
1 cup parmesan: in my fridge
1 broccoli crown: $.40 [on sale - $.88/lb]
Chicken: $1.80 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Chicken Broth: in my fridge
Lemon:  $.33 [on sale - 3 for $1]
Lettuce: $.44 [on sale - $.88/head]
Tomato: $.15 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Brownie mix: $1 [on sale for $1/box]

Grand total for the day:$5.62

Tuesday (10/2)

Breakfast: Fage Yogurt - $1
Lunch:  Lemony Garlic Chicken. Leftovers. Free! Brownie. Leftovers. Free!
Dinner: Roast chicken, Mac 'n cheese, and Salad - $4.16

I used the roast chicken from yesterday. I significantly modified this mac 'n cheese recipe: I didn't use milk because I had heavy cream that I needed to use; so I used a cup of heavy cream and a cup of water. I also used about 1/3 of a brick of cream cheese that I had. And, who has powdered mustard? I just used a healthy squirt of regular yellow mustard. I also did not buy paprika.

Elbow macaroni: $.50 [on sale - $1/box]
Cheddar: $.83 [on sale - $5/8cup bag]
Heavy cream: in my fridge
Chicken: $1.80 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Lettuce: $.44 [on sale - $.88/head]
Tomato: $.15 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Cucumber: $.44 [on sale - $.88/cucumber]

Grand total for the day: $5.16

Wednesday (10/3)
Breakfast: I forgot breakfast. Oops! I did go to Starbucks, but that comes out of my fun money not the family budget. I also had a brownie. Who needs a diet? Free!
Lunch: Lemony Garlic Chicken. Leftovers. Free!
Dinner: BLTs with Macaroni and Cheese and Corn on the Cob - $6.57

Bacon: $3.99 [on sale - $3.99/pkg]
Bread: $.66 [on sale - $1.75/pkg]
Lettuce:$.44 [on sale - $.88/head]
Tomato: $.60 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Avocado: $.50 [on sale - 2/$1]
Mac 'n cheese: Free!
Corn on the Cob: $.38 [on sale - $.19/ear]

Grand total for the day: $6.57

Thursday (10/4)
Breakfast: Safeway brand Greek yogurt (yuck!): $.89
Lunch: Mac 'n cheese: Free! Hot dog: $.23
Chili with Cornbread: $7.31

Chili beans:  $2 [on sale - 10/$10 can]
Ground beef: $1.49 [on sale = $1.49/1lb]
Tomatoes: $1.66 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Green pepper: $.50 [on sale - 2/$1]
Red pepper: $.50 [on sale - 2/$1]
Bacon: Free!
Onion: $.20 [on sale - 3lbs/$1]
Spices: On my shelves
Sour cream: In my fridge
Cheddar: $.63 [on sale - $5/8cup bag]
Cornmeal: $.33

Grand total for the day: $8.43

Friday (10/5) - Monday (10/8): I went to Missouri, so very little food was made at home. 

Other miscellaneous things we ate as snacks:
Grapes: $5.17
Clif Bars: $10
Almonds: $3.05
Bananas: $.63
Apples: $1.79
Pears: $2.09
Raspberries: $3.98

Grand total for miscellaneous: $26.71

Total for this post: $52.49

Friday, October 5, 2012

Five on Friday: Things I Hate About Traveling Alone with an Infant

1. Trying to nurse on the plane while the people around me act really awkward. Uncomfortable! Of course it doesn't help that Alex tries to pull an acrobat routine while nursing. Attempt to use a cover, you say? You are freaking hilarious.
2. Trying to change Alex's diaper in the airplane bathroom. There is a changing table, but what a joke. Then, it turns out that Alex had not pooped, someone near me just had bad gas. Jerks!
3. Lugging so much crap around the airport and trying to shove it all under my seat--because with a baby, the overhead bin is pretty useless. I need the toy NOW!!!
4. Alex has to be good for sooo long. He is generally a good kid, and he was a rock star today. He cried for a total of three minutes from the time we left until we made it to my parents' house eight hours later. But, that's a long time for an active little boy to be good.
5. People who do not move when they are sitting in the aisle seat for their neighbor in the window seat who has to use the bathroom to change their presumably stinky kid (see #2 above). I am not a large person, and it's uncomfortable enough with just me. But, it is impossible to suck it in enough to squeeze me and a baby through without something hitting you in the face. I would feel sorry (but still think you deserved it) if Alex kicked you in the face.

Whiny-ness aside, I was quite thrilled to make it to my destination. Expect a happier post next Friday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Living on a Budget

Budget? What's that? Oh's that pesky tool intended to improve financial health.
I've been trying to get in the habit of living on an actual budget. But, it's rather difficult.  I have a serious problem distinguishing between what I want and what I need. Maybe my blog readers can help keep me accountable?

I have an especially difficult time when it comes to our food budget.  I buy too much produce that we can't eat in time. I'm terrible at using leftovers. I always need some fancy ingredient which drives up the cost of our grocery bill. I need a solution! I turned to the internet to discover how other people do it. Based on my in-depth research, it sounds like I need to do a few different things:

1) Plan my meals
2) Make meals based on what's on sale (especially meat and produce)
3) Use everything!
4) Coupon
5) Simplify the menu
6) Pay with cash

My well-(over)stocked freezer

However, most of these things come with some difficulty. Planning my meals, using the sales to make my menu decisions, and couponing requires a lot of time. Simplifying the menu is difficult because there are so many delightfully inspiring things in my cookbooks and on Pinterest. Use everything...leftovers never taste as good, who needs two cups of heavy cream, and I really thought we'd use three heads of lettuce. Pay with cash, but the closest ATM for our bank is 15 minutes away. Ugh. There, now you know my excuses.

Maybe a little refrigerator organization would help me to use everything in the fridge. Hmm.
Right. Time to get past the excuses. Just do it. (Thank you Nike for a life motto!) Since you, my lovely readers, are keeping me accountable, I thought I'd tell you my plan. I created 35 days of dinner menus. (I'll send you my extensive excel spreadsheet if you're interested.) About 1/3 of the items are meatless meals - meat is flippin' expensive. There are a variety of meat dishes too: chicken, ground beef, pork, fish, sausage and a few pricier meats, like steak, shrimp, and salmon. Each week, I will pick six or seven menu items based on what's on sale. I'll also stock up on meat that I can freeze for later in the month if there is a good deal ($.99/# chicken!). And, I've started attempting to use coupons to buy staples (pasta, rice, flour, sugar, beans, etc) and treats (ice cream, oreos, brownie mixes, etc).

This week, we're having:
  • Lemony Broccoli Pasta with Chicken and a Salad
  • Roast Chicken, Mac 'n Cheese, and Salad
  • BLTs with Mac 'n Cheese (leftovers!!), and Salad
  • Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Pepper with Salad
  • Chicken Quesadillas with Black Beans and Rice
  • Chili with Cornbread
  • Bean Burgers with Guacamole and Broccoli
The Lemony Broccoli Pasta, Mac 'n Cheese, and Chili should all make enough leftovers to keep me eating at lunch times. I'll post menus, pics and prices next week.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The ABCs of Motherhood: K


More specifically, baby kisses. I kiss my kid all day long. Seriously, he is probably going to develop a phobia he gets so many kisses from his mommy every day. Kisses on his little forehead and nose, kisses on his chubby cheeks, and kisses on his tiny toes. Ha - that rhymed! I spend too much time talking to a baby all day.

Usually, Alex loves kiss attacks.* He giggles and smiles with delight. However, since I'm doing the attacking, it's impossible for me to get a picture. So, I tried to take a picture of me giving him a regular kiss this morning. You can tell he just loves it, right?

Okay, maybe not so much.  But, I swear -- he does love the kiss attacks! Or, at least I do. Though I do not love the way my neck looks in these pictures...yikes! I probably shouldn't have written that since now it just draws attention to my neck. At least my blog visitors can feel like they are getting my honest feelings about this whole life thing.

*kiss attack - n. the act of covering a small defenseless child with kisses

Friday, September 28, 2012

Five on Friday: Unread Books on my Shelf

Baby genius. He's reading about why he babbles.
Having a theme is really helpful to my blogging, so, I'm going to start a Five on Friday series. Every Friday until I get tired of this series, I will write about five (somewhat) related items. This could be five things I saw on a walk that day, five people that pissed me off, or five baby boy birthday party ideas. Today, I'm writing about five of the unread books on my bookshelves.

When I lived near a Borders, I had an addiction to book buying. I would spend hours in that store browsing around. I loved looking at the covers, reading the synopsis on the back, and wandering around the different sections. I enjoyed all the different areas of the store. Some days, I perused the self-help aisle or the do-it-yourself aisle. Other days, I tended to mosey around looking at the biographies and literature. On particularly self-indulgent days, I would browse through the art books.

For the most part, I limited myself to just looking, but an occasional book would make its way out of the store with me. My bank account is happy that Borders went bankrupt, but I don't know that I really am. I have not looked up the nearest Barnes & Noble, because I don't think my bank account can really handle it right now. I do love my kindle fire, but it's not quite the same thing as going into a bookstore and actually holding the book.

There are definitely more than 5 unread books on my bookshelf.  But, I thought I'd list a few and see which one you guys think I should read. 
The five unread books on my bookshelf.

1. The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan: Every feminist should read this book. I have not read this book. I haven't even tried to read one page of this book. Does this mean I'm not a feminist? But, I am a feminist. So, this book sits on my shelf waiting for the day when I have the courage to read it.

Alex's choice.
2. This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman: A gift from my parents from a couple Christmases ago. It's a compilation of short philosophies that are about three pages long. This would probably be an easy read to pick up with a seven-month old running around the house.

3. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy: My mother-in-law loaned this book to me a few years ago. In fact, I don't think she was my mother-in-law yet. I have started this book. I was a few hundred pages in when life became too distracting to finish. Plus, everyone had the same name. I needed a diagram to keep the characters straight. Hmmm...I bet they have one on the interwebs. I'll find it and print it if I pick this book back up.

4. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel: Everyone raves about this book. I've read the first 10 pages at least three times. But, I haven't been captured by it yet. If you vote for this one, please tell me how long it took you to love this one!

5. How Language Works: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, and Languages Live or Die, by David Crystal: This book came home from Borders with me one day. I read a few pages and thought it was fantastic. I just haven't had the chance to read it yet. I would blame it on the baby, but that wouldn't be fair since I have had the book for at least four years and the baby is not quite that old.

So, which book do you think I should read?

Babies and books. Is there anything cuter?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The ABCs of Motherhood: J

J is for Johnny-Jump-Up! 

This thing was awesome. It was hard to actually catch Alex sitting/standing still in this thing. I would definitely recommend one of these contraptions to moms everywhere.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The ABCs of Motherhood: I

I, as in me, myself, and I. Identity. I've always felt that I needed to define who I am; I think most people do. Who am I? Am I really who I say I am? Or, am I just pretending to be who I am? Or, worse yet, am I trying to be someone I'm really not?

I have always known I wanted to be a mom. I may not know what I want out of my career, but I've always known that having kids was in the cards for me. If I wasn't able to get pregnant, I would have adopted. I couldn't imagine my life without kids. But, now that I have one, the quest for defining "I" is becoming more difficult.

I have started to hate to introduce myself. When people ask what I do, I'm half-ashamed and half-delighted to say that I'm a stay-at-home mom. I feel like a walking contradiction most of the time. I absolutely adore staying home with Alex, but I also hate being home all day. It's weird. I want to be a great mom, but I don't want mom-hood to be the only thing that defines me. Most days being a mom ranks high on my list. I love the snuggles, how no one but me will do when he gets hurt, the big crocodile tears, the "ma-mas" and "da-das" that are directed at me. Other days I wish I could be a little more free to forget. I'd love to go out and just have a crazy, fun time again. Now there's a part of me walking (or crawling anyway) around in the world that cannot be ignored, even when I know Alex is safe with a capable husband, grandparent, friend, or babysitter.

Defining "I" is more difficult because I cannot imagine myself without defining my relationship with my little boy. I think we all are defined by our relationships with others, but this is a little different. Never before did I have the urge to say, "My name is Jayme, and I have a husband." I did not introduce myself by saying, "Hi. I'm Jayme. I have loving parents and one sister." But, I feel like I can't help but drag Alex into every conversation. I guess I'll have to live with a "love me, love my kid" philosophy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The ABCs of Motherhood: H

Hurt. Happiness. Heart. 

I've been struggling with the letter H for about a week. I just was not sure what to say, or how to say it.

Alex and I have been going through a lot of hurt this month. His hurt is physical, mine emotional. Alex is climbing on everything: the buffet, the kitchen cabinets, patio doors, closet doors, trash cans, bookshelves, dressers, the crib, the dining room table, his stroller, the desk. With all this climbing comes a lot of falling. I'm of the philosophy that you should let a little kid explore as much as possible as long as they can do so reasonably safely. I don't catch him every time he falls, but I do snuggle him if he cries after bumping his head or scratching his hand. Alex gets hurt, but it doesn't ever last very long. He's resilient and on to something new, usually within a matter of seconds.

My hurt is not so quick to heal. I'm still hurting over the death of my dad. I've known for a long time that life is not fair, but this seems more unfair than usual. I'm also struggling with adjusting to California. It's beautiful here, but I'm finding it rather lonely. Ben works long hours. He's gone at 6 a.m. and usually doesn't get home until after 8 p.m. That's a lot of hours alone. On top of that, my job search has been pretty fruitless. I'm trying to get out and meet people, but it's rather difficult to make new friends. I feel like I had so many good friends in Madison. I'm sure there are good people here too, but it takes time to really get to know them.   

Despite the hurt, there is a lot of happiness in my day. Alex is almost always a constant source of joy. It's hard not to smile when he spends most of his day being so darned cute. He has no idea that I cannot sing, and he always smiles so big when I really belt it out. He giggles when I give him raspberries before a diaper change. He talks, and talks, and talks, and talks every morning when he wakes up. It's like he's been saving up all his dreams from the night before and cannot wait to start telling me about them in the morning.

I once read this quote:

Making the decision to have a child is momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart
go walking around outside your body.
 ~Elizabeth Stone

I do not know who Elizabeth Stone is, but I now I know how she feels.

Yesterday, I was working on a menu for the upcoming month. We are trying to cut down on our grocery bill, so I'm trying to plan our menus, use coupons, and make meals with less complicated ingredients. I'll post about the experience later. But, my attention was not completely on Alex. He was crawling around the living room and dining room. I could hear him babbling. I saw him climbing over his carseat, chewing on everything, and exploring his world. I was typing and trying to partially pay attention to him at the same time. I heard him go into the kitchen. I'm okay with him playing in there, because it's all baby-proofed. There's not much trouble he can get into. A couple minutes later, I realized he was being awfully quiet.

A quiet child strikes fear in a mother's heart. I quickly got up to check on him in the kitchen. Not there.


I quickly glanced around the dining room and living room. Not there. I checked behind every chair. I checked in the Moses basket. I called his name.  I checked the stairs. I start panicking, hyperventilating, heart racing. Under the desk. Under a blanket that is lying flat on the ground. I call his name again, knowing in my head that he won't respond in any way I can hear. He only turns his head when I say his name. He is not downstairs.

I run upstairs and do a check of his bedroom, our bedroom, and the bathroom. He's not upstairs.

I go back downstairs. I check behind the curtains.  I check the closets, even though the doors were closed. I check outside on the back patio. I check outside by the front door. There is something from the UPS man, but no baby boy. Now, I'm in tears. I am freaking out. Did the UPS man take him? Surely I would have heard if someone walked into my home and took my kid. But, now I'm starting to doubt myself. Yep, terrible parent. Plus, I'm sure my little guy is freaking out, or at least he will freak out when he wants his mama and she's not there.

I run back upstairs, dreading making a phone call to 911. I hear the tiniest noise. Hope! I go back into my bedroom, and there's my little guy. He's chewing on something. I scoop him up and hold him tight. I don't let go for at least ten minutes, and only then when he insists that I put him down. My heart...climbing up an entire set of stairs on his own. Thank goodness he did not fall. Thank goodness I found him. Thank goodness I have him. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The ABCs of Mommyhood: G

Grandparents are the best!

They come when you're born.

They are willing to hang out or snuggle.

They come for big life events.
 They make you laugh.

They carry your bottle when you ask. 

They are always really proud to show you off.

And they are snuggly and warm!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The ABCs of Mommyhood: F


Is anyone else out there attempting to feed their child solid foods? And, failing miserably?

We nurse on a very specific schedule, because we feel that Alex sleeps better when he has a more specific nursing schedule. Every four hours, Alex nurses. I attempt to alternate nursing with feeding him every four hours--so he's either nursing or being fed solids every two hours throughout the day. He usually acts hungry before it's time to nurse, but he often refuses to eat his solids when I try to feed him. 

We started giving Alex rice cereal around 5 months. Then, we switched to fruits. I had always heard that babies liked the fruits because they are a little sweeter. Well, not Alex. I attempted to feed him peaches, and he made a scrunched up, "yucky!" face.  I tried to feed him blueberries and bananas this morning.

This is what I got for my efforts.

He does like some vegetables. Despite the fact that they smell horrid, he apparently likes peas.

Ben has better luck than I do. Perhaps it's because I smell like milk. Why settle for less than the best?

The doctor says there is nothing to worry about; he'll take to eating in his own good time. But, I cannot help but worry. Is he getting all his vitamins and nutrients? Is he starving? Would he eat if I offered something different? Worry - that's the real work of parenting.

Then there is the whole ordeal of attempting to make our own baby food. I really need to get started with that. But, I hate making up a bunch of stuff just to have him scrunch up his nose at it. It's not like it only takes a few minutes to make something. I did buy an immersion blender. Now, I just have to get to work with making something. I'm considering just pureeing whatever we eat at night to feed to Alex the next day. At least then I'm not attempting to make a bunch of special food. Anyone out there have thoughts on that approach? Or, what did you do if you're making your own baby food?

Friday, September 7, 2012

The ABCs of Mommyhood: E


I should do more exercise. This thought is not really unique to mommyhood. I thought this often before I became a mom. However, now the need to exercise is more imperative. I really need to lose the baby weight.

Believe it or not, I had actually lost all my baby weight. If you had asked me at the end of July, I would have happily told you that I was back to pre-baby weight. Yay! Go me! I had done nothing to deserve this. I was breastfeeding and avoiding exercise like the plague. Rumor has it that you burn 600 calories per day breastfeeding. I have not been able to verify that with any reliable source material, but it's a great story I tell myself each time I reach for another Oreo. Regardless of my terrible eating habits, I really had lost the baby weight. All 43 pounds of it.

Then, I went to Missouri. My dad was receiving hospice care at home. Since I don't have a job, I went back to spend time with my dad and mom. It was a rather difficult and trying time. That's a story for another day. I was home for almost four weeks. Four weeks in Missouri could wreck anybody's diet--and I mean diet in the loosest sense of the word. From February until July, I ate my fair share of sweets, but I also ate a ton of fruits and vegetables.

Then, there was August in Missouri. My parents are both well-liked in my small hometown. When people in small towns are suffering, their friends bring food and lots of it. There's nothing like homemade chicken and dumplings to help you through your grief, unless it's beef lasagna, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, brisket, pork loin, or ham. There was also any number of desserts to choose from: german chocolate cake, chocolate pie, homemade coconut creme pie, brownies with nuts, brownies without nuts, lemon bars, chocolate chip cookies, etc, etc. The fruits and veggies were sort of lacking, with the exception of fresh tomatoes out of the garden. Plus, there was more soda and sweet tea than we could drink. I gained 10 pounds in less than a month. Yay! Go me!

So, now I need to exercise. But, it's nearly impossible with an infant. My kid hardly ever naps, so I've decided I have to wake up early to get my work out in. Jillian Michaels and I had words this morning. Most of my words were not very nice ones. But, I have used my 30-Day Shred video twice in the last four days, so that's saying something. I'll keep the interwebs updated on whether or not I actually make any progress with exercising on a semi-regular basis.

I feel like this post was really about food, but that's way better than exercising anyway.

This is me about a week before Alex joined us.
Luckily, most of those 43 pounds really were
concentrated in my belly!