Thursday, September 30, 2010

new experiences.

Polar bears, 1st carousel ride, 1st shared ice cream cone with her sweet cousin=Lucy's first trip to the zoo!

My sister has a season pass to the KC Zoo and today Lucy and I joined my sister and her three youngest boys for the afternoon. I don't have a lot of photos--I mean, let's face it....when you're at the zoo with four kiddos under the age of 5 it makes it a bit more difficult!

However, I managed to snap this one on my phone. Gage is about 6 months older than Lucy and he was NOT interested in sharing his ice cream cone. Carter, Lucy's 3 year old cousin, gladly shared his ice cream bar. Anyways, something about that interaction triggered Gage to hold his ice cream cone out for Lucy and the two of them took turns back and forth. By the end they were both a sticky mess, my sister and I were cracking up and I was delighted to get to create such fun memories.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

out of control discipline

(hmm...I thought I had this scheduled to post early this morning...I'll figure out the automatic post times sometime!)

What do you get when you put together a Family Studies major with a Criminal Justice major-turned social service worker? Two people with LOTS of ideas, thoughts and concerns about human behavior and discipline.

My husband and I talk about parenting....a LOT. Before we were married we began talking about how we saw our family. What we liked growing up, what we felt could have been different, how we'd like to raise our kids, our thoughts on homeschooling, whether or not spanking is effective, etc....We have a variety of books on our bookshelf about parenting, discipline, and even homeschooling. We take each book not as a reference guide, but merely as a discussion starter---and the homeschooling book? We just want to be educated should we ever decide that one or more of our children would benefit more from being educated at home.

With both of us having backgrounds in the foster care world we've seen "discipline" go horribly wrong. We watch what others around us do and talk about what methods we feel are or are not effective....but mostly, we just talk about what we'd like to try.

Lucy is nearing the age where she can recognize a few things that are not acceptable behaviors---but we get that she still needs a lot of reminding that we don't play with DVD's. :)

Now my husband and I have both been guilty of being the parents that literally say "NO" all day long...and often at increasing volumes. But last week (after one of those days) I felt really convicted about my attitude. Sure, I'm exhausted, sore and growing a baby--but Lucy doesn't get that. She's just exploring her world and I was trying to stop that explorative spirit. The next day at MOPS--our speaker further tugged at my heart about nurturing my daughter's creativity and changing my focus from worrying about the "minor" things.

That night (and into this weekend) my husband and I talked at great lengths about how can we teach our daughter to obey us as parents while also not creating an environment so controlled that we kill her curious spirit? We don't have many answers yet---but we're on the same page and enjoying the discussion. We know there are certain things that she must learn she can't touch---and the other things? Well, it's merely an annoyance for us to have to put all the towels back in the drawer for example--but for her, it's a good 15 minutes of fun finding the towels, unfolding them, lining them up on the floor and then sitting on each one. It takes us two minutes to clean up---and soon she'll be at the age when she can start helping.

It's easy for me to forget sometimes that my daughter is only 14 months old...and developmentally she can't possibly remember or even predict what things are off limits...especially in new environments. My husband's job and my education have continually reminded us of that fact and the fact that discipline can (and often should) look differently for each of our children. We're learning, talking and adjusting our ideas and expectations---which honestly, I feel like is the best part of all of this. We know we're going to have days when we fail miserably---but we'd like to be able to get it "right" most of the time! :)

I love that my daughter is curious. I love that she doesn't show much fear and will willingly go play with other children and hug family members she hasn't seen in a while. I love the excitement in her eyes when she figures something out or discovers where all of her shoes are "hidden". I don't want to kill this curiousity by saying "NO" to every minor thing and losing my cool daily.

....and for that, I'm going to need a LOT of grace :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

14 weeks...and some odd days

A little late getting a pregnancy update on here--a trip out of town Fri-Sunday put us a bit behind in every aspect of life it seems.

Baby #2 is 14 (almost 15 weeks) baked. We had an appointment last Thursday and were able to hear the heartbeat. The doctor was having a hard time finding it--but located it quick enough for us to hear it briefly--but we weren't able to get a heartrate because it was so difficult to locate. No weight gain yet, but the belly is starting to shape up (or maybe I'm just trying to convince myself that I look more pregnant than fat? hmmm.... :)

We're getting excited--I think the shock of "oh my goodness we're going to have two babies under the age of two!" has worn off a bit and we've moved on to talking about baby names, nursery ideas, and planning for a smooth transition.

Physically speaking I feel exhausted...still. I'm incredibly sore already. I had a lot of back pain and cramping throughout my first pregnancy and the pains seemed to have started sooner this time around. Partly that's due to obviously caring for a toddler right now--and partly due to the travelling in a car this weekend and sleeping arrangements. The nausea for the most part has disappeared---though I did manage to throw up a lot Friday night while out of town in a hotel room....but my husband and I are calling that a fluke and both praying that we're past at least one discomfort.

I'm hoping for the second trimester energy boost to show up any day now and we're going to try a back support belt that my doctor recommended.

Otherwise we're preparing for a big (big as in several years in the making!) trip to Florida in a few weeks, trying to get caught up on work for my job at home, working to keep up with one curious lil' gal, and learning a lot about parenting and discipline (but that's another blog post!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

take me back.

I am not what you would call "knowledgable" about music. I don't have a diverse collection of CD's or iTunes. I find a few songs that I tend to listen to over and over again....and those songs can literally take me back to a moment in time in an instant.

When I hear "I can only Imagine" by Mercy Me, I'm 18 driving in my "new" car on my way home from college for the weekend. It's blaring as loudly as possible on the then working stereo system in my car (because, in case you didn't know, it's incredibly cool to blast Christian music on your car radio.) I'm a freshman in college and a new believer in Christ.

"Praise you in this Storm" comes up and I'm a senior strolling through campus with my mp3 player. It's a Sunday afternoon and my Grandfather has just passed away, the last of my surviving grandparents. Tears undoubtedly collecting in my eyes as I struggle to figure life out in general.

"Here's to Hindsight" by Tara Leigh Cobble (google her music, fantastic) puts me in my small basement apartment my first year out of college. No heat, flooded when it rained and the stove sat in the middle of the room. I'm trusting wholly in God at this point, knowing He alone brought me through college & called me to graduate at that appointed time. I'm working as a para for a local school, struggling to pay bills, and enjoying my evenings at the local coffee shop reading.

"Love of God" by Mercy Me---and it's a year after I sat alone so many nights in a Manhattan coffee shop learning about my Jesus---now I'm walking through my soon-to-be fiance's apartment. He's learned this song knowing it's my favorite and the song I will someday walk down the aisle to. I walk through a tunnel of streamers and meet him at the end. He puts down his guitar, gets down on one knee and changes my life forever. I know then that the year alone in that tiny apartment shaped me for this moment.

"Everything" by Michael Buble and I've just shared my first kiss as a wife! We walk out with arguably the biggest grins on our faces of all time. We are united as one and ready to face the world.

"Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman and I'm watching my husband wrestle on the floor with our fun-loving daughter. They've only known each other a year, but they will be buddies for life. She has Daddy wrapped around her finger and he is completely smitten by her. She'll wait by the door everyday and yell "da-da!" as soon as she sees that red car roll down our street. Their relationship makes me so thankful that he is my partner and the father of my children.

"He's always been Faithful" and it's any moment over the past 8 years. Eight years ago I made a choice on a college campus. I chose to follow Jesus...and believe me the path since then has been a rocky, but beautiful, journey. He has been faithful in friendships, in crossing my path with my husband's, in starting our family on His timing, and for providing for every need we have ever worried about. I will forever be singing this song.

I'm no music expert....but I know how to be taken back.

13 weeks and odds and ends

I think I'm going to do the survey every 4 weeks...maybe up until things are really different each week :) And no photo (as of yet) because, well, I look like I feel...which has not been great this week.

Nausea has mostly been replaced with headaches---though the vicious head cold that invaded Lucy and I this week has been the least fun. Lucy and I got some sun on Monday with a quick trip to the library and the grocery store---and again yesterday with a quick drive around town. I'm hoping we can both get out for a few hours this afternoon

Since most of my time has been spent on the couch or in bed when Lucy is sleeping, I managed to read a library book in about three days and get some work done on a new excel budget we are going to try out. We've been using a nifty excel sheet I designed for well over a year now and are ready to try out some more in-depth planning. We work with a pretty limited income and want to be diligent to account for every penny spent. Not to mention, it's kind of encouraging to see areas we've continued to lower our budget...I think it encourages us to keep cutting costs!

Speaking of which, we're working on lowering our grocery budget each month and were hoping to try and get by with $160/month for groceries. We're right at $100 spent right now, which is a little over where I'd like to be at this point in the month, but that's included two last minute runs to the gas station for milk---which is arguably more expensive & snacks for various events we've been to lately. Also, we did some stock up on some lean meat last week--which drove up our spending.

We're loving the food from our freezer. Between the homeade smoothies ready to go for an afternoon snack--all the way to the pan on enchiladas that just needed to be put in the oven last night for a great's nice, especially this month. We've done well eating through a lot of our items and are working on a list for what we want to try/keep next month.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stock up on EVERYTHING :)

If you know me at all, you know that I'm a frugal fan. I shop with coupons, compare prices and work to get the best deal always. Our linen closet is full of drugstore freebies, our pantry is stuffed with grocery store deals and our totes are packed with clothes for our daughter to the future.

When I was pregnant I started stockpiling. I bought diapers when I could get them at amazing prices, wipes when they were almost free (or free), baby wash and, you guessed it, clothes! I love the styles of the brand name stores. Their quality is superior and their clothes, in my opinion, are often cuter! Their prices however are outrageous! We started figuring the approximate size Lucy would be in and bought a season ahead. (Example: I've been filling a tote up this summer for clothes for her to wear next summer. ) I wait for the clothes to go on clearance---then I wait for an additional sale (usually a 30% off everything) and I buy what I think we'll need. The best part is I get the cute clothes---for a much better price---than the store brand styles. Plus, by buying ahead I know what I need and can look for ways to fill those gaps at garage sales and consignment sales.

(Pajamas for next summer. They were $10 for both on clearance---then I got 30% off that---and then an additional 20% off that---and honestly, $5 a piece wasn't bad to begin with!)

Here are some examples of our clothing stockpiles:

(this is a stash of a few of the shirts I bought last fall/winter for lucy. If you can see the price tag it says $5.99---and I got an additional 30% that price)

Now, it doesn't always work out. For example this fall I have several long-sleeve t-shirts ready to go, but our pants collection is pretty sparse. Sometimes clothes are still a little too big or a little snug when it's time to wear them, but when I'm paying a couple of dollars or less for an article of clothing---that's ok to me---and it rarely happens!

So, scour the racks (or online stores)--right now is a perfect time to stock up for next summer.

(Christmas Jammies from last years collection--$3.99 and 20% off)

12 weeks.

Pregnancy Highlights!

(saw this on other blogs and now I'm going for it!)

How far along?
12 weeks!

Size of Baby?
A plum

Total weight gain/loss?
zero so far!

Don't know--but I did draw the "boy" duck at MOPS yesterday...

Maternity clothes?
Some Maternity t-shirts, maternity jeans, stretchy skirts/shorts

Not yet feeling it...

Ok...getting up a few times at night.

Still nauseous, exhausted, and started having horrible headaches this week :(

What I miss?
...Well, this week not getting to join in on a Martini Night get together :)

This week: BBQ chips and grilled hot dogs. all beef ones---does that make it better?

Best Moment this week?
Starting MOPS again, trips to the park with Lucy, cuddling on the couch with my older baby and watching Ice Age

What I'm looking forward to?
Our next appointment---to hear the heartbeat on the doppler!

Monday, September 6, 2010

holding on.

My daughter is nearly 14 months old, a toddler....

This time last year she was just shy of two months old. Now, I certainly enjoy reflecting on the past and taking some time to get a little sappy now and then, but yesterday at the park took it to a whole other level.

She went from snuggling in one swing... giggling with laughter in another
I smiled with pride as I thought over the past year and I almost felt a little sad at every comment my husband or I had made in which we said "I can't wait until she can do ________." We meant well, but's unbelievable all that she has done in the past year!
My cuddly baby is now a very active and happy little girl. She loves her daddy, giggles over everything, and now hands me her elephant and pacifier at the end of the nap. She is SUCH a big girl. :)
I also smiled with pride thinking of all the moments my husband and I have gotten it "right" over the last year--the moments where we disregarded "responsibility" or "cleaning" and got down on that floor to play with that active lil' gal. We often talk about how to really treasure this time when our children will be little and look back with the fondest of memories---and the least amount of regrets possible.
So far, I think we're getting it "right" more often than not. We let her get messy, crunch leaves, climb in bed with us in the morning to watch cartoons, walk/run through the Olathe mall--(because it's apparently SO FUN to do that), and we play...and play...and play some more. I'm sure we'll pretend to eat hundreds of meals or drink hundreds of drinks before the game grows old to Lucy. I'm certain we'll pretend to sleep on the floor hundreds of more times so she can dive into us and crack up when we pretend to be startled.
But mostly I'm certain that I love being a mommy (even on the worst of days), I love watching her explore her world, and I have LOVED watching my husband tranform into a father who will get down on the floor EVERY night and play with his lil' gal even after he's had the longest day as well.
~holding on to these moments~

Saturday, September 4, 2010

fill the freezer....errr...make room in the freezer?

When my husband and I made the decision that I would stay at home with my daughter once she was born, we realized there would have to be some huge changes to our budget.

A few months before my daughter was born I started researching, studying and investing time into learning how to use coupons to my advantage, stockpile successfully and stretch every last penny out of our very meager budget.

I learned the "drugstore game" quickly and filled up our linen closets with personal care products for pennies. I branched out and started using coupons everywhere (and yes, when I say everywhere...I mean it! I once used lightbulb coupons at a hardware store and got energy efficient lightbulbs for 25 cents a piece.) Anyways, the one area we still were having a hard time seeing significant savings was at the grocery store. We eat fresh produce, buy only fresh boneless/skinless chicken, and eat whole grain products.

Coupons for these items don't come along frequently, but when they do (or when there is a great sale) we stock up! We have continued to cut costs in this area, but with groceries still costing us over $200 a month on average--we decided to try out some freezer cooking this month. Only time will tell how we'll benefit, but having a variety of dinners, breakfast items, and meal components in the freezer is definitely exciting! I'm pretty confident that some of the items (making and freezing our own hashbrowns and fries) is bound to save us a little bit here or there---but again, we'll have to see this month just how much it pays off!

(Mr. B shredding potatoes to flash freeze for hashbrowns)

I lost a total count, but with a great deal of effort on my husband's part (I was busy working for my part-time job a lot of last weekend) we managed to stuff these items into our freezer:

2 pans of enchiladas
2 pans of lasagna
6 chicken/bacon/cheese subs ready to be pressed for grilled sandwiches!
homeade breakfast pastries
homeade breakfast sandwiches
taco meat
plain hamburger meat
shredded cheese
16 chicken/bean/cheese burritos
shredded chicken

All in all...we didn't accomplish everything on our list, but this gave us a nice start! Plus, cooking in bulk will save us time in preparation, clean-up, and the cost of ingredients!
(Lucy trying out the breakfast pastry--she loved it, but was also sick last weekend and looks so sad in this photo!)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"make" your own maternity wear!

Baby #2 is on their way and that means maternity clothes are slowly replacing my "normal wear" in my closet. With my daughter, my wardrobe was a lot of business maternity wear...which is cute and professional, but not really practical when I'm chasing her down and grabbing her hand before her finger officially goes into the electical outlet. :)

However, I am a sucker for comfy AND dressy attire. I love skirts paired with t-shirts and they are easy to stick a pair of leggings under in the winter time.

I had a few old dresses that didn't quite fit right in the chest after my first pregnancy and were in the "must sale" bag due to their immodest new nature.

But then I remembered stumbling on a blog that had converted a sundress into a maternity skirt (can't remember where now--but this was totally their idea!) Anyways, I took that idea and added my own spin to it!

I wish I had more photos of the progress, but this is what I've got.

I took sundresses and either cut (or used a seam ripper) to remove the zipper from the dress. I also took old stretchy tank tops that were too short and cut off the neck and arms. I pinned the shirt onto the skirt, right sides together. I sewed them together at the waist pulled the shirt right side out and voila! a skirt with a roll-top maternity panel!