Monday, November 29, 2010

NOT ME Monday

Oye, what a week. I mean, a marvalous one, but WHAT A week. Holiday, husband home from work, baby's routine all out-a-whack, too much food and too little sleep - you know the type.

But among the many happy moments in my Thanksgiving week, there were some that were more than slightly irritating - and you know me, I always respond in the best, most polite way possible when irritated. I never lose my cool, and I have more patience than anyone you know.

In fact, it was with that very polite attitude of mine that I responded when I realized I hadn't a single egg in the house with which to make a pumpkin pie. On Thanksgiving Eve. Me? Forget eggs? Never.

It was Not me, mind you, who made Thanksgiving stuffing that was entirely too dry a couple of years ago. And therefore, it was not our dear neighbors who refrained from asking me to make it last year. It was also not my dear neighbor's husband (affectionately known as Levi's adopted grandpa) who, forgetting I had made that stuffing two years ago, reminded everyone of how dry it was. As such, it was NOT ME who, after being asked politely to give stuffing another try this year, made it TOO MOIST. I didn't even know that was possible.

Did you follow that? I sure hope so.

It is NOT my child (get a load of this one) who has recently discovered (ready for the gross-out factor?) his rectum. Yes, his anus. During each and every diaper change I wouldn't dare be caught saying "Levi, do not put your finger in your rectum" NOT ME! that's gross. Seriously GROSS!

In a stroke of blind faith, it is not me who has been giving my dairy sensitive toddler 4-8oz of cows milk, daily, for the past week. Oh no, I know full well what kind of problems that can cause. I've SEEN THEM. Weeks of diarrhea can be the eventual result of ONE SIP of cow's milk - why on EARTH would I give him more than that. Better question: How in the world can it be true that he's actually tolerating it? Go figure.

Feeling guilty about our expenditures on disposable items, I did not recently sew a new set of baby-wipes out of two old, donated blankets. I mean, you've heard me say RIGHT HERE that I don't want to use cloth wipes (because I don't like poop going into my washer, it is for that very reason I rinse all my diapers. Yes, yes, I know I could "rinse" my wipes too, but that's taking it a step too far people). I did, however, come up with a plan I think might work. I'll let you know.

Lastly, in the veritable abundance of free time I have, I did NOT recently take up yeast-bread-making as a hobby. I have not recently found it therapeutic to bake fresh bread, after fresh bread, after fresh bread. Nor have I been boning up on my baking science so as to use the least amount of yeast possible, while maintaining a strong flavor. Christine Boothman, this one's for you:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tightwad Tuesday

I'll continue in this vein, because it's on my mind.

As I'm thumbing through this tightwad book I keep mentioning, one theme seems to permeate many of its pages. It's a theme I've had at the forefront of my mind this week - and maybe you can relate. First, a little background into why this theme is so relevant to me...

I don't know when it started really, but I'll take a stab in the dark and guess it was probably college. I lived in dorms. I had very very little space, and even less money. I surmised that the things I would buy while in college wouldn't need to last me beyond college - and for the most part, I was right. I shopped primarily at Walmart for any non-food item I would need, and that was that.

Every piece of furniture I bought was made of particle board. Every electronic item (save my laptop) was bottom-of-the-line. Virtually everything I bought was cheap. I don't mean to say it was all inexpensive (although most of it was that, too) I mean it was cheap. You know, cheap quality.

Knowing in the very very back of my mind that these things were cheap, I had no expectation that they would last a really long time. And I treated them as such. Without my even knowing it, or paying attention, this way of buying followed me (or us, I should say) on into marriage and adulthood. After all, we've never really been "rolling in dough", so we've always tried to buy inexpensive things. And what did that leave us with? You got it: A collection of things that don't hold up to long-term use, and a long list of things that need replacing.

Which brings me to the theme running throughout the book I'm reading: Buy good quality things, and take excellent care of them.

For us, that means we are going to start saving to buy the higher quality choice within the category of items we're looking for. Why? because it will save us money in the long run. I need to get this idea of "temporary stuff" out of my cheap brain. Living frugally means so much more than spending less money - it means getting MORE for the money you spend.

Note that I did not say buying quality things means buying expensive things. Sometimes the higher quality item can be found used - which, in some cases, would still last longer than a lower-quality new item. Do you get where I'm going with this?

Note that I also mentioned taking good care of the high-quality things you buy. Taking impeccable care of a low quality item may actually be equivalent to, if not better than, taking poor care of a high quality item. I'll use one of my own possessions as an example...

Last year we bought a humidifier for Levi's room. It was a nice one - I got it at Walgreens. It was not top of the line, it was a generic, but I'd say it was a nice one. We used it every single night in Levi's room throughout the winter last year. Then what did we do? we left it in his room, full of water, all throughout the summer. Mold grew in it. I would look at it every-so-often and think "you know, I should really try to clean that", at which point I would decide that it would take too much time and effort. After all, it called for "distilled water", a requirement we never took seriously, and I figured I had probably ruined it long ago. And I had. In all honestly, it would have been better for us to have purchased a cheap humidifier, if we were going to ruin it. We would have saved some money.

This winter we purchased an equally nice humidifier with a filter. It does not require distilled water. Needless to say, I plan to care for this one very well. I intend for it to last us many winters. Speaking of winters, we are also considering the purchase of a snow-blower. As per our most recent "ah-ha", we plan to buy a nice one, with a good track record, and a good warrantee - and not settle for the cheapest workable option we can find. If it lasts, it will more than pay for itself in the time and energy necessary to remove snow from a long driveway and sidewalk year after year after year - or however long we're in Nebraska.

Please don't take this post as anything more than a reasonably-new-mother trying to get her thoughts out. If anything, I'm preaching to myself. Take from it what you want, but there's nothing I'm trying to convince you of. You don't need my convincing.

So, Your thoughts?

Monday, November 22, 2010

a post about weaning and breastfeeding (fair warning)

I feel conflicted.
Happy, and yet sad at the very same time - you might almost say the feeling is bittersweet.
Today, for the first time ever, my toddler did not ask to nurse upon waking.

"what's the big deal?" you say. "He's 18 months old for heavens' sake, you're practically nursing a preschooler." you say. Well, you see, that's the crux of my issue today. He IS eighteen months old (next week). And this IS normal and natural weaning behavior. But I have some serious decisions to make.

Ever since we (Levi and I) finally got nursing figured out - finally nursed exclusively at 4 months - finally adjusted to intolerances - ever since then I've nursed him on demand. Meaning, any time he asks. Why? because I could. I spent 4 months feeling like I couldn't, and now I CAN. Along with that came my decision to follow a plan of "child lead weaning", meaning allowing Levi to cut me off, versus the other way around. And I was, and still am, fine with that plan. But as I am coming to find out it is not all that cut and dry. I have to make some decisions, I have to decide where to draw the line. I have to (as my mother would say) "Make my choice, and love my choice", because once I make it, I have to stick with it.

What choice is there to make? Well, in simple terms I need to decide whether or not, if he "forgets" to nurse at a regular nursing time, I am going to nurse him, say, an hour later when he remembers or gets bored. That may sound like an easily answered question - but I'm vexed.

If I choose to nurse him whenever he likes (i.e., on demand), I'm most certainly following my "plan", so to speak, of child led weaning. At the same time though I wonder if I should limit nursing to a specific place, and/or specific times. If I do set boundaries he is almost sure to completely wean in a matter of months - and I'm just not sure I'm ready for that.

Oh, I think I'd be ready for it if HE initiated his own weaning. I think I'd be ready for it if HE (without my having to set boundaries, or having to refuse him, or having to redirect him as I did this morning as we were leaving the house and he REMEMBERED he hadn't nursed) decided he was done. But for me to step in and push him away? I just don't know if I can...

Nursing my toddler to a state of almost-sleep each night, watching his heavy eyelids droop closed in my arms - it's the most precious thing in the world. I find it absolutely adoring that knows when to unlatch and ask for the "other side"(in words that sound more like "uh-sigh") - and to actively keep it from him would be very very hard for this mommy - indeed, very difficult.

...and yet there are times where I'm SO DONE. There are times where my toddler is cranky and snarky, and bored, hanging on my ankle (when I OBVIOUSLY need to get some work done!) looking up at me and crying "MUH???" (which means milk). And all I want is for ME not to be the only thing he wants at that VERY moment. Sheesh!

So, which feeling is stronger? That's the question of the day. Do I draw a line, and if so, where? Do I set boundaries, and if so, where?

No, this is not one of those posts where I eventually come to a conclusion. In case you were waiting for that. Sorry. Stay tuned. And leave your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tightwad Tuesday

I'm a tightwad at heart. Surprised much?
Didn't think so.

I've recently been reading a book by Amy Dacyczyn called "The Complete Tightwad Gazette". It's actually a compilation of three books, which are compilations of many little newsletters Amy wrote throughout the 90's. At first I found it hard to believe anything she would have to say could possibly be relevant today, 15-20 years later, but it is. It seriously is. And if the saying can transfer from things theological, to things thightwad-ological: I feel convicted!

This woman is serious. She means business. washing and re-using ziplocks is just the tip of the iceberg. In reading her book I have been asked to lay aside my previously held notions of money's value. Page by page she gives me not only ideas for keeping just one penny more, but also reality checks regarding my standards of living, and the hold that "keeping up with the Jonses" has on my life.

There are a number of things I've learned from this book - and a few I already knew, had already employed, and simply needed to tweak. Below are some of the recent changes we've made in order to stretch our dollars.
  • Set a goal: put money into savings each month. At least something. Shouldn't be difficult if we follow through on everything else below.
  • Pull 20 fewer dollars out of the ATM each week for consumables. As Amy reminded me, it's NOT about how much you save in coupons and ad matches - it's about how much you end up spending.
  • Quit buying junkie crap that falls apart. Start saving to buy quality goods that won't need replacing. You get what you pay for.
  • Stay away from convenience foods as much as possible at the grocery store. Chips, crackers, canned goods (besides veggies, fruits & tuna), anything in an individual serving, anything that can conceivably be made at home (would you believe I made wheat thins yesterday? oh yes, yes I did).
  • Refinance our home at a lower interest rate (done. Closed last Friday. went from 5.8 to 4.375 for a savings of about $100/month)
But why? Why do all this work? I mean, aside from our mortgage, we aren't in any debt. Why wouldn't we just spend what we've worked hard to earn? We've worked HARD for it after all. Shouldn't we enjoy that money?

Well, yes. But that enjoyment may be more long term than short term. I'd much rather "enjoy" my children getting a college education tomorrow than Jonathan and I having a larger home today. I'd much rather "enjoy" my years of retirement tomorrow than a vacation today. I'd much rather "enjoy" being able to stay home with my kids tomorrow than have new furniture today (did I mention we went curb scouting Sunday? found some neat free furniture!) Although I'll be the first to admit that these values have been difficult for me to enforce, the outcomes of their enforcement are well worth their effort.

I'm preaching to myself. Can you tell?
Sometimes I need a reminder of why I'm "going to the trouble" so to speak. It is worth it, it really, really is.
And, let me tell you, I am ridiculously lucky to have a husband who believes that. Otherwise I'm afraid he may think me certifiable.

Friday, November 12, 2010

From Generation to Generation

Goodbye Grandma,

See you on the other side of Glory!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Heredity strikes again

I took Levi to the Ped. yesterday and, as it turns out, he has yet another sinus infection. I think my friend Rachael put it best when she said "what are they going to do about recurrent sinus infections? give him sinus tubes?" Alas, there is no such relief for babies with angry sinuses, as there is for babies with angry ears.

No, Levi came by his sinuses, and their proclivity toward becoming infected) honestly. His mommy and granddad, and great granddad are all big time sufferers of sinusitis. Sad, but true.

(Proclivity: that one's for you, Rachael Blaske)

So, here we go on another round of Antibiotics. Gosh I hate Antibiotics. As if having to take the darn medicine every day wasn't enough, it also gives my dear toddler the craps. Nice.

After two nights of restless and interrupted sleep (please refer above to sick toddler, and add to that a week of cheesemaking and therefore middle-of-the-night-heading-to-work for hubby) I am in a particularly grumpy mood. It's hard to be productive when one is grumpy, let alone feel good about anything one may have accomplished, whilst grumpy. Hmph.

Here's to a better night, tonight.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My morning, in photos

I was up with this goofy little boy a few times last night. He awoke near midnight in need of a little pat on the back. Then hubby left for work sometime around 2am. Near 2:30 Levi awoke again this time soaked from the diaper down (why do kids hold their pee until there's a gallon of it to let go of? I don't get it.). He was also burning up (as has been the trend of the past few days, we go to the Ped. this afternoon). I gave him more motrin and put him back down.

He was whining again at 6 - a waking I rolled over and ignored - and then at 7 for the day. We're both a little tired and worn out from the eventful night. Fortunately, he's not too tired to pull out mommy's clothes and play dress-up. Goof. My only regret of the morning is not catching him in this get-up while he was also wearing his bright orange sunglasses - which he only recently figured out how to correctly put on by himself.

Upon returning home from a lovely lunch with my sis-in-law Jillian (we went for pizza to Yia Yia's, and then to the Cookie Company for a delectable treat) I found this turn-cock leaking water on the floor of our laundry room. It's a very slow (and very annoying) drip. The connection point there is that of the water supply (pipe) to the humidifier line. If anybody has any advice about how to tackle this without flooding my basement, I'd be happy to hear it.

Amid the morning shuffle I had a delightful cup of coffee in this, my brand new mug. Would you believe that I made this mug? I did. It's true. But don't ask me to repeat the creative genius, I don't perform well under pressure.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Not me - Thursday?

Stop the presses! I'm blogging before NOON!

Ok, quell your excitement. Here we go...

Because I completely forgot about NOT ME Monday (started by this fantastic blogger), I have a few things to share - unfortunately.

this is going to be one of my more embarrassing not-me posts. get ready.

I've been washing diapers ALL WEEK. Diapers are Stinky (surprised much?) So it was NOT ME who simply assumed that the mild smelliness of my laundry room was due to washer buildup of stinkies. Therefore it was also not me who went hog wild trying to clean out my washing machine. Tide washer cleaner, vinegar, some other brand of washer cleaner, Hot rinse, Hot rinse, Hot rinse... On Wednesday morning it was NOT me who found a bag of totally nasty, liquefied, rotten potatoes across the room from my washing machine on my pantry shelves. Nope, not me. Gross.

After hearing Hy-Vee was having a sale on milk (.99 per half gallon, Wed. only) of course I went on down. I picked up my four allowed half gallons and also picked up a piece of pizza dough ($2.00, in case you were interested, and they roll it out and put it on a free disposable foil pan for you. Totally worth it). An elderly gentleman in front of me at the check-out noticed my pizza dough and commented that he didn't know you could buy just dough. Not surprising, not very many people know. He purchased his own 3 half gallons, and then walked over to the pizza kitchen to pick up his own piece of dough. So, after I made my purchases, it was NOT ME who accidentally (I SWEAR) walked off with HIS already-paid-for milk (which he had left sitting on the counter while he quickly grabbed some pizza dough) along with my own. No. I wouldn't do that. And if I did, I certainly would have noticed before I got home and loaded it into the freezer and wondered aloud "why in he world do I have so much milk?" I'm not a thief, not me!

As I was leaving Hy-Vee, headed to East campus to visit hubby, I most certainly not have to PULL OVER, already having driven HALF way there because I realized that I did not buckle my son into his seatbelt. No, I always make sure his 5 point, rear facing car-seat is properly buckled before I pull out of my parking space.

Lastly, I made a bundt cake yesterday in expectation of some wonderful visitors that came to play yesterday morning. The recipe called for cinnamon, which I thought I was almost out of. Until I found a little ziplock baggie of it. This is not surprising to me as I have a LOT of ziplock baggies of cinnamon after we purchased a large amount of it in Venezuela in 2007. So, I dutifully added the measured cinnamon to my mixerbowl, measuring it straight out of the bag. After my cake was fully mixed, poured, and in the oven, it was NOT ME who smelled the bag of "cinnamon" only to discover that it was not cinnamon at all, but rather cocoa powder. Nope, I pay far too much attention to detail for that.

As an aside, it was also not me that buckled my son into his highchair while I made said cake, and put cartoons on for him. I would never do that. I care WAY too much about my child's developing mind to EVER plop him in front of the TV to entertain him. Oh, and I certainly don't do this EVERY day during his lunch time. No no, not me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Just Do It

Did you?
(Did I what?)
Oh come on, you know.

So, did you?
(no really, I don't get it, did I what?)

You know, your duty, your CIVIC duty, your duty as a CITIZEN...

I know you have at least a few political opinions - opinions that you may not care to share, but opinions none-the-less.

I know you give an occasional annoyed glance at those facebook friends of yours who are always updating their politically charged statuses. While you may have already "hid" them from your feed, I know you care, deep down.


Do it so you have a basis upon which to complain (should you feel the need to).
Do it because you CAN; legally that is.
Do it to set a good example for you children - or your parents - or your neighbors - or anyone else who might see your "I did it" sticker.

(do it for 15 solitary minutes away from whatever you usually spend that time doing)

Do it because, face it, you really are running low on excuses not to, and shouldn't you save those for a time when you seriously need them?

Do it because even if you don't care about the political climate right now, even if you "don't know who to vote for", even if politics "isn't your thing", there will come a time this year when you'll want to say you had a say.

So go do it. Now.

Nebraska voters: go here to find your polling place and here for a voters guide
Washington voters: go here to find your polling place and here for a voters guide