Friday, February 29, 2008

Traveling with a Toddler

Well our first far away family vacation is a few weeks away and the preparation has already begun! I have a whole notebook filled with packing lists, information about flying with toddlers and the logistics of our trip. Our guest room looks like a tornado came through with piles of clothes, suitcases, toiletries, shoes, new small toys and vacation supplies everywhere!

I am both so excited and so nervous. We have never been away on a plane with Z before. This vacation requires us to fly and thus we have a 4 1/2 hour flight to prepare for :) I have read a lot about flying with toddlers. They say to have a new toy or book for every hour of flight. I could not afford to go out and buy 8-10 new toys (and I don't really trust the dollar store with all the lead paint issues) so we have borrowed from friends and family, bought a few things and took some books and dvds out from the library.

We borrowed my sisters portable DVD player. This will be key not only on the plane but during our vacation as well. Z loves his George and we might need him now and again while we are away. Last I counted we have about 12 "new" things for the plane I hope they make Z happy :) We have little trucks, an Elmo Dr kit, flashcards, a mini magna-doodle, books about trucks, 2 books with little mirrors in them, a foam puzzle book, a little wooden puzzle, stacking cups, word books and a brand new Baby Pro Ball dvd!!! He hasn't seen the ball movie in over 2 weeks (we had to return it to the library) and so he will be reunited with it on the plane ;)

Z will not have his own seat for this flight (I know what some of you are thinking right now) but there are 3 of us (did I mention my dad is going :)) so we will have our own row. I ordered the Baby B'Air so that he will be strapped to one of us during parts of the flight. We are bringing a car seat (this was a huge debate) and we ordered the car seat travel bag from One Step Ahead. We plan to check it and so we bought a cheap car seat that we will use as an extra when we get home. We also ordered Z a leash :) Another huge debate but so necessary where we are going and this one is cute and looks like a monkey!

Since Z drinks rice milk, we will be bringing a week supply. I am so nervous about bringing a box of it on the plane but they say as long as you declare the amount that you are bringing and that it is for a small child, it should be okay. I hope so!!!! We will be lost without it. We are also bringing a weeks supply of his favorite snacks, some baby food (yes he still eats baby food, I wish he would get past that) and boxes of Chex cereal :)

Once we get to our destination we have adjoining rooms with my dad. This will be so nice when Z has to nap or goes to bed early :) We also have lots of disposable bibs, forks, spoons, his meal time fun mat, dish soap to wash out his sippy cups with, baby medication, bouncy balls, his favorite stuffed friends, suntan lotion and his sun hut (yes we are going somewhere sunny).

We are all so excited we just need to make sure we have everything we need. If you think of something that you think we must bring....please let us know! I know that I will spend the next few weeks obsessing over Z and S's suitcases and I will be the one who leaves things behind ;)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

All Aboard the Potty Train.....

Well Z has been chosen to participate in the second round of field testing for the new Baby Signs (R) Potty Training program! This program is designed to potty train children before the age of 2. I know it sounds crazy but it has already worked for so many people, many of whom have children less than one! I have one friend who tried it with her 2 1/2 year old and she was using the potty after the first day!

We got our kit in the mail and it is really cute (I have put it in my Amazon Store, which is over on the left). They have a train whistle (get it...the Potty Train), a board book, a children's DVD, motivational stickers and a parent guide. I found the parent guide to be easy to read and very informative. I read it in one sitting and I am in the process of putting together our plan for potty training :) I would start today but we leave for vacation in a few weeks and I would hate to have to start and then stop or worse yet have to potty train while we are away! So we will start as soon as we get back.

Z has seen the DVD twice and really loves it (I find it a little monotonous). He has learned the routine from the DVD and the 5 signs in the Potty Training program. The signs are potty, more, all done, wash (for wash your hands) and good job. We have also taught him poop...just because it is fun to do :) He also has his new potty which he loves! It is in our downstairs bathroom and he likes to sit on it (with his pants on) while I go potty and read. We have a stack of his books in the bathroom. It is very cute :)

I found this really cute potty watch online which I am going to order. You can set it to go off every 30, 60 or 90 minutes to help remind children (and parents) to use the potty. It plays either "London Bridge", "Oh My Darling" or "Are you Sleeping". The website has changed the words to the songs so you can sing a potty song every time it goes off ;)

So after vacation we will be up and running with potty training. I have to admit, I really nervous! I will keep you posted, I am sure I will have lots of stories to tell. They say the key is staying positive, patient and creative. We shall see....."chooo, chooo".

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's Letter Time

Check out our new letter board! It might not be the easel that I wanted off craigslist but it works great and takes up much less space. I bought the board (which is also a dry erase board) at Staples for $20. The letters are from Parents Magazine and can be found at Target. They are big and chunky and perfect for little hands. They were only $16.24 :) Z loves it and we enjoy singing the ABC's as we put the different letters up :)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Boys Weekend!!!

Well this past weekend S and Z went off on a boys road trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house. This was so that I could help throw a Bachelorette party and a Bridal Shower for my best friend L ;) From the sound of it they had a great time! There were fishies to feed, pancakes to eat, a first time sledding adventure, books, visiting with Z's auntie and uncles, an indoor golf game, balls to play with, trucks to see, a puppy to play with and of course Grandma M and Grandpa J.

Meanwhile, back at home I was very busy getting ready for the two parties. I did however make some time for myself and got a massage! It was so wonderful (S is going next week as a trade off) and I also got to workout for over an hour :) I loved having time alone to do whatever I wanted. I forgot what it was like to be able to get out the car and actually run into a store quickly :)

At the end of my nice day the girls came over for L's Bachelorette Party. We had lot's of good food, yummy drinks and played some really fun games :) I am now in love with the game Mad Gab! It is so much fun :) You have to check it out (I just put it in my Amazon store) it is so funny. We played it for quite awhile :)

By Sunday morning I was definitely missing my two guys. I got a very nice message on my voice mail from Z saying "Momma" and it made me tear up. I had a great time at the Bridal Shower and L seemed to really enjoy herself. Bridal showers are so hard on the bride (and I had 4). It is so wonderful that your family and friends love you so much and want to shower you with gifts, don't get me wrong, but it is so hard to be the center of attention! You have to wear your perma-grin, make small talk and have to sit and open presents while everyone watches. Because of all of the attention, you usually start to sweat and then you then have to make comments about each and every gift. L did a great job with all of that and she and her fiance got some really nice things. It was a very nice event!

When I got home my guys were here waiting for me with big hugs! It was so nice to come home and see them after 2 whole days :) Z was glued to my side and he seemed bigger! We had a very nice family evening and Z went to bed super early (he had not really slept that well the night before). After he went to sleep we put on our jammies, poured some leftover margaritas (not part of our diet) and sat down to watch a movie. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Babies, Sleep Problems and Lunar Eclipses

About a month and a half ago my grandmother called me to tell me
that if I wanted to have my babies two years apart, I should
get going. I thought this was a very funny thing coming from my
grandmother! I thanked her and explained to her that when Z could sit and color and or go to preschool for a few mornings
a week, we would talk :)

The truth of the matter is that I am just not ready. Call me selfish but I am really enjoying my alone time with Z and my sleep :) Z only started sleeping through the night about 4 or 5 months ago and I feel like a new person! He also stopped nursing around the same time so I am now able to eat and drink whatever I would like (I couldn't have dairy or soy for over a year!!)

Z was a very colicky baby due to his food sensitivities and was up all the time. Once we figured out the dairy and soy connections he was a little better but we had already developed some bad habits. In the beginning Z was up (like most babies) every hour or two. This lasted for quite a few months. He would have stretches of 3-4 hours but nothing more than that. It was so exhausting and S was not able to help out too much because I was nursing.

The other major problem we had was that Z slept in a bouncy chair for the first 6 months of life!!! We originally put him in the chair to help him sleep because he was so colicky. This position seemed to really help him and we were told to do whatever we had to so that we all got sleep. They said that you couldn't spoil a baby under 3 months.....well I am not so sure about that :) Z loved his chair and would scream whenever he was put in a flat position. I think he would have really loved to sleep on his belly (like his mommy) but we were discouraged from allowing him to do this. So in the chair he stayed. We finally moved him out (with a lot of tears) when he became too big for the chair (not to mention his 6 month appointment was coming and we didn't want to tell the doctor that he was still in a chair).

Once we had made the successful transition from chair to crib, it was time to let the child cry it out! Yes we let him cry...we used the extinction method. I read everything I could online, read the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley but in the end we followed the extinction method from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. My best friend L was my coach and I thank god for her and support!

We had been bouncing Z to sleep for 6 months on a big exercise ball. I am not kidding...our child was either rocked or bounced to sleep every single time. It would sometimes take 45 minutes to an hour to get him to sleep and this was cause for lots of tears. We did this 3-5 times a day and it was killing our backs! At the 6 month mark I had had enough...I couldn't take it anymore. I had tried methods from the No Cry Sleep Solution but they weren't working fast enough. I knew that if I didn't do something quick, I was going to lose it.

So one day I put him down for his nap and let him cry! He only cried for 20 minutes the first time, 15 minutes the second time and 45 minutes the third time!!! That was torture and I cried for most of that time too. I finally broke down and got him but then the fourth time he cried for 50 minutes and I stayed strong. After that he would cry for 5-15 min and finally he wouldn't cry at all (just talk).

It was a miracle! I had time to myself, my back no longer felt like it was going to break and my son was actually going to sleep on his own!!! He was still getting up 3 times during the night but at least he knew how to fall asleep on his own :)

Slowly but surely we worked out our bad habits and dropped a feeding every few weeks/months. It was hard work, there were lots of tears but we did it. Finally the 5 o'clock feeding was dropped and Z was sleeping 7-7! Hooray!!! We did it!!! I know much of our problems were our own fault but he is our first and we were so tired! Once we had accomplished this feat it was time to start thinking about weaning (a whole other blog topic).

So it has only been in the last few months that I have felt human again. I am sleeping, working out, losing weight, eating whatever I want, I am more organized and I can actually complete a thought (well most days). That is why I am not ready to enter into the pregnancy haze. Don't get me wrong...I loved being pregnant! I am just not ready to be back in my maternity clothes anytime soon :)

S and I do want more children (in fact I think S would like them now) but I would like to space them at least 3 years apart. I read an article in Parents Magazine not too long ago about the perfect spacing for siblings. At the end of the article I realized that there are pros and cons no matter what you do! I feel that the people who space their kids close together either had a really easy time with their first child or just want to get the sleepless nights and diaper years over with :) I am hoping that the three year span works out, S and his sister are three years apart and it seems to work :)

Okay, I know this blog entry is so super long but I have one more thing to share before you go...last night was the lunar eclipse. S spent most of the evening outside taking pictures of it (I have a few of his best here). The weirdest thing about the eclipse was that at 10:05ish when it was full...Z woke up, screamed out, jumped up and turned on his aquarium and then went back to sleep. Maybe he has a connection with the universe that we did not know about :)

Happy Sleeping Everybody!!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bath Time for Toddlers

Well I feel the title of this blog should really be True Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom. Bath Time at my house as always been a struggle. When Z was a small baby he hated the water. He would cry from start to finish, no matter what we did. We were given many suggestions to help the process go smoother but nothing worked.

I remember being out this past fall with my friends C and K. I asked them to be honest and tell me how often they bathe their babies. I often find that the answer to this question is either every day or every other day. And where there are families who do follow these strict bath time routines, I also know that there are many families who are lying :) If your child hates to bathe or you lead a very busy life...the bath is the first thing that goes out the window. I am sure many families are lucky if their child makes it into the bath tub 3 times a week (which according to a segment I saw on the Today Show, is okay). C and K did admit that sometimes bath time only happens 2-3 but that they aim for every other day :)

Well at that time, we were lucky to get Z in the bath once a week. The experience was so terrible that all three of us in the house dreaded it. We tried different times of the day, would only bathe him if S and I were both there, tried soothing music, bubbles, toys, name it we tried it! Z hated to get his hair wet and so we tried baths without hair washing...he would cling to us as we tried to put him in the water (which was not too hot or too cold by the way). It was so strange to us because he loved the pool, lake and ocean! We even tried bathing him in a bucket with my mother in-law. She too soon realized that bath time was a losing battle.

Then come Halloween, something miraculous happened. My friend K Booed our house and left a bag full of goodies at our door. They were goodies designed to help make bath time easier for Z :) So that night we gave him a bath with these new toys and we had no tears! He even let us wash his hair. Now granted, we had been introducing new toys for some time but for whatever reason he allowed us to bathe him!

Z now loves the bath. He signs bath and runs to the stairs wishing that you will follow him. Z would take a bath every day (twice a day) if we let him!!! He loves the water, to splash around, loves the Dan Zanes cd we play and does not mind getting his head wet or water in his eyes. It has been a complete turn around thanks to K and her Boo Bag :)

So why do I still not bathe Z everyday or at least every other day? Well we have a new problem on our hands......he now cries hysterically when you take him out. It is torture getting him out of the tub and so we are lucky if we hit 3 baths in a week! If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to comment. My only successful strategies so far have been timing Z's bath with S's homecoming or bribing him with a special game. And when all else fails, I just take his tearful, squirmy body out of the tub and try to dress him as quickly as possible so that we can move on to the next thing.

So yes I admit child does not bathe everyday! I am sorry if that offends you, I will continue to work on it. For now, my little Z will be bathing 3 times a week (2 times with me and once with S) and as I said before...the Today Show said that was okay :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Very Special Guest

Well we had a very special guest stay over the other night and we were all sad to see her go! One of my all time favorite students G came to spend the night and help out with Z. I met her and her mother half way at a coffee shop and it was so nice to sit, relax and catch up with them. I use to work at a very special school where we truly got to know our students and their families. This particular family is very special to me and G's mother even sang at my wedding :) The kids from this family have all stayed over our house before and it is always so much fun to have them around :)

Z was a bit shy when G first came in but before we knew it they had bonded over a game of basketball. It was then true love and he played with her all night long! They played ball, she drove him around on his car, they danced together and had lots of fun with bubbles. She helped feed him his dinner, got him in his jammies and Z showered her with hugs and kisses ;) At bedtime G read Z his books, she then gave him a big hug goodnight. When G went to leave the room Z let out long wail. He started to sob because he did not want to leave all the fun he was having with her. It took S quite a long time to get him relaxed and sleepy.

Then it was my turn to have G all to myself :) We ate dessert, chatted, played video games and watched a really silly show on TV. It was so nice to have her over. The next morning Z was beside himself when he saw G again and spent the morning playing with her. When we had to drop her off he was very upset. He cried when she got out of the car (I think he has a little crush on her) and G looked so sad to leave her new little friend. It was such a nice visit and we will have to have her back again really soon :) Thanks G for all of your help, you were the perfect mothers helper!!!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Fun Day with Daddy!

Well we just had the best morning :) S is off from work today so he let me have some ME time and workout while he got Z and himself ready for the day. It was so nice to start my day with my workout and not have to worry if I was going to wake Z up with my step aerobics ;) I also got to take a nice long shower!!! It was the best.

We then went out for our Z day :) We started off for breakfast at a nearby diner. We are in a low-carb contest this week so while Z filled up on pancakes.....S and I enjoyed a veggie omlette with turkey sausage. We both said no to homefries and toast (big move for us) and got sliced tomato instead :) Z loved this diner and was bouncing up and down to the fun 50's music.

After a wonderful breakfast we took Z to the local indoor playground to play. S had never been to one of these and was a little overwhelmed. Z had a ball and it was nice to share this experience as a family. After our playtime was over we went to the grocery store for some family shopping (hunting for low carb foods).

It was such a nice morning and I was sad to see it come to a close. I hope that we will make a habit of having these special times with Z :) Thanks S and Z for a great family day!!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Church with a Toddler...take II--Continued

He did so well!!!! He was the perfect angel (and a good looking angel at that). We did have one moment that had us all nervous, he saw his dad proceed in and put his arms out for him. When S smiled and kept on walking Z let out the longest and most high pitch cry. He sobbed for a few moments but then my dad held him and all was well. It did help having my parents there, Z went back and forth between them and was so good. He only left with my dad for about 5 minutes during the sermon but sat through the rest of the service!!!! I was so proud of him....there is hope for our plane trip coming up in a few weeks :)

Thanks mom and dad for helping us out! Congratulations S and Good Job Z :)

Church with a Toddler...take II

Well we are going to give it another go! Z and S are dressed and ready to go (of course I am not) and the toys, books and food are packed for another Sunday worship. S is still going to sing in the choir this week but I have backup this time.....Grandma and Grandpa are coming to church! I really hope that this helps the situation and that Z is distracted by them and thus leaves S alone. Maybe 3 adults are better than 1 :) They won't be able to come every week but if today works out, we have discussed S singing in the choir every other week. That way we can go to church 2 times per month as a family (which is why we joined in the first place). It seems like the perfect compromise, we shall see. Well check back later and I will tell you all how it went. Pray for us or wish us luck! Which ever seems more natural for you :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

"No Z, Not All Cards Sing" :)

I gave Z his Valentines Day cards yesterday to look at. He had an Elmo card, a basketball card, a homemade card from his girl A and a picture card from O. He was busy looking at them and then came to me with a very sad look on his face. He brought me the basketball card and kept opening it and slamming it shut....I looked at him and wondered what he was trying to tell me. He then took the card and started dancing, stopped and looked at me with a big question on his face. It was then that I realized that he wanted the card to sing :)

For his birthday he was given three music birthday cards (the kind that play music when you open them) and we have saved them. Every other week or so we take them out and he plays with them. He has opened and shut them so many times that I am surprised they still work. Well he didn't understand why these new cards did not do the same thing when he opened them. Why didn't they sing for him? I tried to explain that not all cards sing and showed him the special features that each of these new cards had :) Seeing that my lesson was completely lost on him, I then took out the old singing cards and allowed him to play with them. It was too cute :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Z's Love Notes to His Family and Friends

-Thanks Grandma M for playing music with me
-Thanks Grandma N for taking me out on fun outings
-Thanks Grandpa J for all of our long walks
-Thanks Mr. Finnegan (and CC) for all of the tickle time
-Thanks Auntie KK for chasing me
-Thanks Auntie A for playing games with me
-Thanks Auntie L for making me laugh so much
-Thanks Auntie K for teaching me to say “Nooooo” and for encouraging me to be GREEN!
-Thanks Uncle B for showing me the didge
-Thanks Uncle M for making me laugh (especially that silly
Santa outhouse)
-Thanks Uncle A for Big George…he is the best!!!!
-Thanks Uncle M for playing football with me
-Thanks Godfather M for all of your kind notes to me
-Thanks cousin G for having really fun toys
-Thanks cousin S for playing with me (hope to see you soon!)
-Thanks Great Grandparents for having long hallways and fun
stairways to play in (and for loving me)
-Thanks to the 3 dogs in my life for all of your wet kisses
-Thanks Aunties L and S for loving me
-Thanks cousins N, O and C for sharing your toys and loving me (GAK)
-Thanks A, A, N, I and G for being such good friends
-Thanks playgroup friends for being so much fun when we hang out
-Thanks Friends moms for hanging out with and supporting my
-Thanks Daddy for loving me and taking such good care of me
and mommy
-Thanks Mommy for my laundry, baths, food, playtime and for
bringing stuffed George into my life.

I love you all!!! Happy Valentines Day

Love, Z

(Daddy made that cool sign for Mommy and Mommy made the toast for Daddy!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Favorite Time of the Day....

My friend J recently said that her favorite time of the day was when she gets to sit and read before bed. It is time for her to relax after a long day and lose herself in her reading. Considering she has twin toddlers, I am glad she is allowed to have this time to herself...she deserves it! This got me to thinking of what my favorite time of day is. I have to admit it was hard to decide, so I decided to cheat and have 5 favorite times of the day. They are in no particular order ;)

1. Getting Z in the Morning--This is if it is after 7am :) He usually has a big smile and cries
out "Momma!". It is so sweet and I just love to see his smiling face.
2. Hearing the garage door open in the evening...that means Daddy is home! Z and I both
get so excited to hear that sound and we run to the door to greet S. We give him a great big hug and it so nice to have him home!
3. Dance Party---Z loves to dance and so we put on the Wiggles or some other fun tunes and dance away. Dance Party is even more fun when Daddy is there to join in.
4. My Workout--This is my newest favorite part of the day. For the last 6 weeks I have been
working out while Z naps. I love this me time to take care of myself and exercise. I actually
have some muscles forming :)
5. Being Tucked In--I love when S comes to tuck me in! He usually goes to bed later than I do
so he comes upstairs and gives me kiss and we have a few quiet moments to reflect upon the
day. We have done this for years and it is so wonderful!

Well there is my list ;) Just a quick post today. This is just what I needed to warm me up on this icky and cold day!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Chemical Free Cleaning Supplies and Roast Chicken

Okay, I know that these two topics sound a little strange (especially together) but I have a reason for putting them me!

Yesterday at the store I bought a fresh chicken to roast. It was not that expensive at all (under $6.00) and the plan was that Scott would cook it so that we would have chicken for dinner and for sandwiches during the week. Well Scott got sidetracked doing errands and so yours truly was in charge of the bird! Now as I mentioned before, I was a vegetarian for 9 years. I gave up red meat in high school and all other meat in college. I did have to start eating fish due to health reasons but I only started eating chicken when I was pregnant with Z (still no red meat for me). Needless to say I have never prepared a whole chicken before. This was quite the experience!!! During the process I debated going back to my vegetarian lifestyle :( I felt the need to apologize to the bird as I gave him a bath in apple cider vinegar and patted him dry.

I used a Reynolds Oven bag to cook my 7 lb chicken which was so easy! I seasoned it with EVOO, salt, pepper, rosemary and some poultry seasoning. I am always very careful when working with raw meat. I make sure that only a few surfaces are used and I have everything on hand that I would need so that I am not opening cabinets with my contaminated hands. After I put the bird in the oven I washed my hands and went to town scrubbing our kitchen.

Here is where the Chemical Free Cleaning Supplies come into play

For years now, S and I have been using all natural cleaning supplies in our home. We do have some bottles of soft scrub etc. for those occasions where the natural cleaner won't do the trick but for everyday cleaning we use the natural cleaners. We have found many brands that we like but recently I hit the jackpot! S's best friend, Uncle J, started a cleaning business called Green Clean Maine. If you are in Portland, Maine I highly suggest you look them up. They do a fantastic job and clean with homemade remedies created by Uncle J himself. He brought me some of these cleaners when he last visited and I am in love! They work so well and I know that they are completely safe to use around Z. He does not yet sell them to the public but as soon as he does I will tell you where you can get them. They are so great!!! Thanks Uncle J :)

Well 2 1/2 hours later we had the most delicious chicken! Even Z (who doesn't eat anything) was devouring it!! Scott then decided to take the carcass and make a soup (he is is mother's child). Before I knew it he had a huge pot of the most delicious chicken and rice soup simmering. We now have enough food for 3 or 4 days...all for $6.00 (maybe $7.00 if you add the rice, carrots and onion he used in the soup). We plan to do this every couple of weeks now.

Well it was a wonderful Sunday meal and I can't wait to eat chicken soup tonight. We finished our dinner off with a banana cream pie in honor of S's 1/2 birthday (a blog post for another day). I hope you all had a wonderful weekend :)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"The Grocery Game"

The current topic of conversation seems to be grocery shopping. This must be because I recently declared that we are trying to cut back on our expenses. Everywhere I go, people are talking to me about the ways that they save money on their grocery bill. This is indeed an expensive area of our budget and I decided that February would be the month where I tried to take control. I wanted to learn how to get the most for our dollar. I am finding that there is a huge learning curve in the land of grocery saving and this has been more of a challenge than I ever dreamed!

A week ago my friend M mentioned to me a site that she has successfully used in the past called The Grocery Game. I went and checked it out and though I don't fully understand it, it looks really cool. They claim that you can save hundreds of dollars each month on your grocery bill and they offer a 0ne month trial for $1. I might try it for a month and see what happens but paying $10 every 8 weeks is a bit of a turn off for me. I am so stubborn and would really have to be convinced that I would truly save a bundle to pay $5 a month to belong. I will let you know if I end up trying it out but for now I plan on just playing my own grocery game :)

So, I have become the queen of coupons over the last few weeks. When I was last at my mom's house I went through all of her old Sunday papers and clipped away. I only clipped coupons for the things we use but there were so many back issues of the Sunday paper that I walked away with a bundle. I really struggle with balancing coupons. Most coupons require you to buy more than one of the item and that stresses me out as I operate on a weekly budget.

Many people have mentioned the coupon websites out there like and couponbug. Some charge a fee and others are free. I plan to investigate them but S does not like it when I have to install foreign software on my computer and most of these websites require you to download a program....I will have to investigate that further.

My friends L and C both mentioned the low income grocery store in our area as an option for me. L goes there every couple of weeks and claims she saves a bundle. C has not yet tried it but plans to bite the bullet and leave the beautiful grocery store that she and I currently shop at. I talked it over with S and we thought that we would give it a whirl but go to our regular grocery store for meat and produce. Well I did that today....I ended up spending $30 more than last week and last week I was $25 over budget! Aaaahhhh!!!!!

So here is what I have concluded so far.....I need to operate off of a monthly budget and not a weekly budget. If I plan on using coupons or stocking up on things on sale...then it only makes sense. For example, right now I have a one month supply of Z's chicken fingers in the freezer because of a coupon I had (and knowing Z, now that I have all this chicken he will start to refuse to eat them). So I have 18 days left in the month, a house full of food and $150 left in the grocery budget:) It is a challenge but I think we can do it. We plan to "live off the land" (eat what we have in the house) which means creative cooking times ahead. The money left in the budget will be used for meat (weird coming from a former vegetarian), produce and dairy products. I am pretty sure that we are all set on the rest and if I have to bake my own bread or go shopping in my mom's cupboard...then so be it ;) I will let you know how we make out.

Oh, I almost forgot, I wanted to update you on our Biggest Loser Family Competition. We only have a few weeks left but I am down 8 pounds and S is down 10.8 :) I have 7 more to go and he has 7.2 :) We are working out like crazy, eating better and only drinking on the weekends! We have even cut that back too. We are doing well in the competition and hope to finish in the top 3. I will update you again soon!!!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Snowy Day Art Projects

On this snowy day, I thought I would share with you some art projects that Z and I have done this winter. He may only be 16 months but give him a sponge and paint and he goes to town :) We like to use 1/6th of a George Foreman Grill sponge....lots of cool texture ;)

This next one was a lot of fun! I pre-made the snowman out of small paper plates and cut the hat and arms out of a Weight Watchers frozen dinner box. I punched holes in the plates and tied them together with ribbon. Z helped me attach the arms and hat. I then asked him to point to his eyes and then I made snowman's eyes, then I asked him to point to his nose and I made the snowman nose etc. He then painted the body with the sponge. He loves "Frosty" as we call him.

I like to call this next one his Picasso Snowman :) I gave him each piece with glue on it and he decided where the parts of the snowman should go. This is my favorite!

And Just in case you forgot his real indoor snowmen......

We hope you enjoyed Z's winter gallery :) We are so looking forward to starting our spring gallery. We just need some inspiration! Unfortunately that silly groundhog said we have 6 more weeks of winter!!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

MNO--Mom's Night Out!!!

All moms deserve a Mom's Night Out! Whether it is out with your husband, a group of friends, your sisters or just one of your close friends....we deserve it! I am fortunate to have a very supportive husband who comes home early to let me go out about 3 times a month! I have my once a month outing with my best friend, my book club and I split the other outing between meeting up with old friends or attending my local MOMs club Mom's Night Out.

Last night out I went out with my best friend L. She and I have been BF's for over 12 years! We met the second week of our freshman year watching Friends (of all shows) in the dormitory lounge. Since then we have had our share of highs and lows and she truly is my third sister! Since our lives were just getting too crazy busy, we decided to carve out this once a month meet-up so that we can sit back, relax and catch up. It was so nice to have L all to myself last night with no kids or husbands around. We talked, laughed and I was so sad when it was time to say good-bye. Thanks L :)

So is time to get out and have some much deserved ME time. Between the kids, housework, husbands and work (if you are a working mom) you deserve a break! Call up an old friend, find your local MOMs club or get your friends together for a fun night. You do not have to go OUT and spend money to have a great Mom's Night Out either. Some of my favorite MNO's have been at someones house where you can relax and take your shoes off :) So get your girlfriends together for a game night, start a book club, or get together and watch TV! Just make sure you take the time to keep up the connections and friendships that you have made during your life. MNO's will help to keep you sane and happy and for this your husband and kids will be happy :)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Valentines Day Countdown....

Well the Hallmark holiday is only a week away! Like many of you I have had my share of bad Valentines Days...there was the one where my high school boyfriend broke up with me the week before, the many where I was alone and the worst of them all was when my boyfriend in college stood me up and then showed up at my house at 11:30pm with a box of chocolate to make up for it (btw I am very allergic to chocolate!!!).

The last 9 Valentines Days with S have been wonderful and this year will be our 10th Valentines Day together :) We have done a lot of wonderful things in the past.....romantic dinners, fabulous gifts, limos coming to the house, flowers, romantic getaways etc. Last year we spent our first night away from Z and went into the city for an elegant dinner (with lots of wine). We then we spent the night in one of the nicest hotels, it was wonderful :)

Well this year things are a little different. With money being tight there will be no lavish dinners, limos, hotel stays or expensive gifts. We have decided to spend nothing on this years Valentines Day and get a little creative. This year we are going to make dinner together, enjoy an inexpensive bottle of wine, talk, eat slowly, enjoy each others company and then present each other with love letters ;) My friend C asked for one from her husband for Christmas and that inspired me. I thought it would be the perfect gift to one another. I cannot wait to read what S writes.

Last year we made gifts from Z and they were so sweet. S designed a website about why Z loved me (he is way too computer savy) and I made a book with pictures of why Daddy Loves Z. It was funny that the gifts were similar, yet so different. It was very sweet and we still have both and plan to treasure them forever!

Well everyone, I hope that you take some time and thought when you plan out this years Valentines Day. Please remember that if your gift or idea comes from your heart it is worth much more than anything bought in a store! So you have a week.......take this commercial holiday as a chance to show your loved ones how special they are to you :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Rainy Day, Tomato Soup and a Big Comfy Hand-Me-Down Sweatshirt

Rainy days are good for one thing....sleeping! At 7:30 this morning when Z woke up, I looked out the window and pulled the covers up over my head. It was one of those days when you want to curl up and go back to sleep. Well that isn't an option when you have a toddler so our day began 5 minutes later with the smell of coffee and rice milk :)

Normally on a rainy day, Z and I like to hibernate indoors. We play games, read books, have a dance party and just enjoy spending the day in our jammies! Today we had Kindermusik class so we needed to get dressed and go out into the elements. After a fun 45 minutes of singing and dancing my friend K said she was going to go home, put on her comfy clothes, eat comfort food and not leave the house for the rest of the day! That sounded perfect to me :)

So Z and I drove home and I went in search of comfy clothes for both of us. I pulled out one of S's big sweatshirts and shorts (I do have to workout in a minute so I couldn't get too comfy) and I found some sweats and a very large hand-me-down sweatshirt for Z. Z seemed relieved to be rid of his sweater and jeans and loved this very large 4 T sweatshirt :) I gave him a squeeze and went in to make the grilled cheese and tomato soup (weight watchers style) that I had been craving since K said "comfort food". We had a very nice and relaxing lunch together (Z had his usual chicken fingers).

I am very fortunate in that I not only have a wonderful mother who keeps my child very well dressed but I also have two very nice Hand-Me-Down Angels! I love getting the hand-me-down bags and going through all of the great stuff! My hand-me-down sources have great taste and take very good care of their things. We even got two tuxes in the last bag we got!!! Z has the most extensive wardrobe thanks to them and my mom :) I have not bought him anything in a very long time and I am so grateful for this.

So if you don't have someone who currently gives you hand-me-downs....I strongly suggest you find your own angel. Look for someone with a well dressed child a little older than yours (who doesn't plan on having anymore children) and befriend them :) Or ask never know where you will find a Hand-Me-Down Angel. One of my angels is my mom's friend and the other is a friend's sister. Thanks you guys! You keep Z warm and well dressed all year long :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Baseballs, Basketballs, Footballs, Soccerballs....

It does not matter what kind of ball it is (although lately he prefers basketballs) Z is obsessed with toy balls! He has a ball pit filled with different types of balls that he has been given. He sleeps with a baseball, takes a football where ever we go, plays basketball morning, noon and night and even prefers to read books that have balls featured in the story!

Last week at the library I was looking through their DVD collection and found the jackpot of all movies. It is a movie all about balls! I showed it to Z in the library and he carried it all over the place with a great big smile on his face. The movie is one of the Baby Pro Sports videos called Let's Play Baseball-Basketball-Soccer Sports. These videos, according to their website, are designed to "inspire physically active lifestyles for young children". At first my husband and I thought this was ridiculous. Z requests this movie all of the time by signing ball and bringing us the DVD case. He sits there mesmerized as the classical music plays and the narrators beautiful voice explains what is happening on the screen. We both thought that watching this movie did nothing more than encourage our son to be a couch potato.

That was until we turned the movie off....he then runs to his basketball hoop to shoot baskets or he goes to find his soft baseball and throws it around the room. This video even taught him how to kick a soccer ball! We had been trying for a long time and now he imitates the children in the video and can not only recognize his soccer ball but knows what to do with it :) I really do like this movie for many reasons. First, Z loves it and it makes him so happy to watch it. He gets so excited about the video and loves to imitate the kids after. Second, it shows not only babies and children playing the sport but also youth and then pros playing as well. It is a very nice progression through each of the three sports. Third, it is a very calming video. The music and the woman's voice are very soothing and nice to listen to. At a party last weekend we had more than one adult get sucked into the movie because they enjoyed listening to the woman's voice. And finally, I love it because the baseball segment is just long enough for me to take a shower ;)

Thank you Baby Pro Sports! We have to return this video to the library today (sad day) but we are going to check out one of the other Baby Pro DVDs that they have. We also plan to check it out again for Z's plane trip coming up soon. On second thought, we might have to convince Daddy to let us buy our own copy for the seems like it will be well worth the money!

Monday, February 4, 2008

First Cake for Z!!!

This past weekend the whole family went to a 1st birthday party for a good family friend. Z went with no nap but had a blast playing with the other kids, running after the balloons and checking out all of the new toys! He especially loved the goody bag he got...the perfect bag for a one year old. The biggest highlight for me (and I think Z too) was watching him eat his first cupcake!

Z has many food issues and as a baby was unable to digest milk or soy. Since I breastfed him for the first year of his life, that meant that I could not have any of these foods as well. Do you realize how many foods contain soy? I challenge you to go to your cabinet and look for 5 foods without some derivative of soy. It is really difficult to do!

Z drinks rice milk instead of whole milk or formula. We have been experimenting lately with adding in milk and soy into his diet. We have been trying foods where milk and soy are cooked into the food. These trials have worked at times and backfired at other times.

At his own first birthday Z had a banana vegan cake made with a rice milk frosting glaze. He did like it but it was not the kind of cake you can really get into and mash all over your face. So at the party we decided to let him try a cupcake. This cupcake had Elmo on the top and was covered in yummy, sugary frosting! Z had a blast. He ate the entire thing, was covered from head to toe in cupcake (as was I because I was holding him). It was so much fun to watch :)

Thanks for a great party C Family! You did a wonderful job and we were honored to be there!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Eating Out With Toddlers

Well lately I try to avoid taking Z to restaurants if I can help it. This is pretty easy to do since we don't have the money to be eating out right now. However, on occasion we do find ourselves at a restaurant with our sweet baby boy. In fact, Z and I have been out to eat twice in the last two days and it has been an adventure!

Back in the day I loved to take Z out to eat. He would lay in his carrier or sit in the high chair and chomp on a teething biscuit. Everyone would comment on how cute and well behaved he was and it was really fun to show him off ;) Now the game has changed! It is all about how fast can we get our food so that we can get out of the restaurant before we bother the people around us. What is the point?

About 6 months ago (after Z started walking) I vowed to never take him out to eat without another capable adult. This made my grandmother very sad because we use to be her ticket to lunch every two weeks. Eating out with Z has to be a tag team event. One person eats (or inhales) while the other tends to feeding/entertaining Z. Then the person who ate (and now has indigestion) takes Z for a stroll around the restaurant as the second person gets to inhale their food (sometimes alone). What fun!!!! As a compromise to my grandmother, who was not able to participate in the tag team event, we bring take-out to her house and let Z run around while we try to eat. It seems to work but she misses getting out and about.

Well my grandmother is off to Florida for the rest of the winter so the last two days have been about goodbye celebrations. Yesterday we went to lunch and today breakfast. Z is an extremely picky eater (I will address this in an upcoming entry) and proceeded to throw most of his meals onto the floor. He has also started this loud squealing thing when he thinks you are not paying attention to him and so he would do this (much to the enjoyment of the fellow patrons). I love to go out to eat but after eating out the last two days....I really do not see the point of taking a toddler (especially mine) out to a restaurant. I am a person who likes to relax, have a glass of wine and a good conversation. When Z is there the meal is very fast paced and chaotic. We get so many looks from the people around us and the wait staff seemed "thrilled" to have a toddler in their section :)

So family and friends....please know that as much as we love going out to eat, I think we are going to take a break for awhile. When Z is involved, take-out is everyones best option :)

Friday, February 1, 2008


Okay, I know I already posted today but after just leaving what I think was my bedroom....I had to take a moment to vent. Our bedroom is covered in laundry. Some of it is clean but most of it is DIRTY!! I can't even shut S's closet door (where we keep the dirty clothes) and I don't even know where to start.

Z's laundry seems to get done on a regular basis (I guess it is because it is easier and cuter). He always has clean clothes to wear and his clothes seem to make it into the dresser :) I guess getting that done must take up all of my laundry skills because I can't seem to stay on top of the rest of it. We are constantly fumbling through the pile looking for something presentable (and not smelly) to wear. Thank goodness S does not have to wear suits and ties to work.

Help me laundry goddess (check her out...I am sure she has no problem with her laundry). I need some serious laundry guidance. It is always my intention to do a little each day but that never happens. Then we get into the situation we are in right now which means....a weekend of doing laundry! So this weekend our house will be covered in mismatched socks, towels and T-shirts. So please, no one come over unless you want to come and help us fold and put away our laundry. Wish us luck.

Baby Signs and Z

Well I know I have mentioned it many times before but I am in love with Baby Signs (R) program. Z has learned over 60 and it helps us to communicate so easily. The cutest sign he is doing right now is please. He also says it and I love to hear it ;) I have lots of video footage of him signing but S will not let me put it on the internet (maybe when he is older). So for now I am going to show you two adorable twins signing away! This is a long clip but even if you only watch a truly shows how amazing signing with babies is :) Enjoy!!!!