Saturday, August 4, 2012

Our home library keeps getting bigger and bigger...

Ever since deciding to have a baby (to be honest, even before then) I dreamed of creating the baby's library. And boy have I! I had two showers that were each themed as "BYOBB" - or bring the new baby a book. So with that, the baby and kid's books I already had, and the books I've purchased since then, we have quite a baby book library!

My Chicago shower - the table of books
(there were more in the gift bags - we brought a lot of books home from that shower!)

I do have to admit though that I have a bit of a problem when it comes to buying books, and Lucy is rather spoiled. I suppose there are worse things to spoil a child with, however.

The one thing I have done that I'm glad I finally got around to doing before the baby came was to affix a sticker to the back of each book saying who it was from. So now, each time we read a book, we turn the last page, read who the book was from, and say "The End!"

And I have to be a blushing proud mom for a moment - lately, every time I say "The End!", Lucy gets the biggest, most sweetest grin on her face! I don't know why she likes the end so much, but it makes me want to read more and more books to her before putting her to bed to see that smile again and again!

Now I've never been good at finding kids books at one of my favorite places to buy - Half Priced Books - but my sister-in-law sure is!!! I think it's a great place for books if you have the patience for it, and as Lucy is old enough to pick her own books, we'll be making many more book purchases there!

Before Barnes & Noble closed in our town (still sad over that), I liked to browse the children's book section, but I rarely made purchases there because of the price. For some reason, I have a hard time shelling out $14 for a baby board book.

I'd have to say that the place I buy the most books from - which is odd, because I rarely find anything for myself at this store but get tons of gifts for others - is TJ Maxx. Their selection is random, but I have found some really good books there - including books I have eyed at expensive book stores but haven't felt like purchasing. And at $5 or less, I can't beat that.

But my all-time favorite place to buy books is Kohl's. Each season, they have a specific line of 4 books that are part of their Kohl's Cares campaign. The books also have matching plush dolls (and anyone that knows me knows that I'm a HUGE SUCKER for a plush doll of a book, movie, tv show...). The good part is that the book and plush are always just $5 a piece. The best part though is that the money goes to charity - 100% of it!! (According to their website, at least!) The money helps fund children's education and literacy efforts. So you really can't beat that. So I get super excited each time the new line comes out-

Lucy even has her own library card. I'm not sure if she's the library's youngest card holder at 9 months, but I figure she's got to be on the top of the list for sure. I felt a bit silly checking out two board books when she has probably 40 at least, but to me, the action of getting her a library card, picking out a book, and having her experience that for the first time was more important. It's a huge goal of mine to have her growing up excited to go to the library once a week to get new books and listen to the kids story time.

Obviously, reading is important to me ;)

Which is also part of the reason we're having a hard time finding our future home - it's going to have a lot to live up to to keep all of our books. We're going to have to come up with some interesting book storage solutions for sure!

PS - my Iowa shower was book and sweets themed - here's a reminder for those that were there of the cavities you left with. Also - sorry to those that brought kids. Especially sorry to those that brought kids that found out about the goodie bags to fill to take home!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where has the time gone?

Time has always flown - except for when I was young in elementary school waiting for class to be over. Which supports the theory that the older you get, the faster it goes...

I wake up at a pretty early time and head off to work. When I get off work, I either go to the gym and head home or head straight home. By the time dinner is made, served, and cleaned, it's past 6. Then we have 2.5 hours or less of quality time with the baby before it's bed time.

So the secret is to make the best of the time available. Clean after the baby is sleeping. Or on the weekend. Read before bed - which unfortunately means reading less- but that's a cost savings as well!!!

Another secret- always be prepared!!! I no longer empty the car when I leave it - those blankets will come in handy someday, as will the beach towels and sunscreen! Keep two diaper bags - one for every day, and one for the evening and weekend outings that require similar but different items.

This is my favorite diaper bag - it's backpack style, so it's not inconvenient each time you try and reach down to pick the baby up. The side pocket is insulated for a bottle, it has plenty of pockets, and holds up to ten cloth diapers. Super plus!!

Take a look at your priorities in life. Although I had a mini (my husband who received my frantic emails today may disagree) freakout about losing my Pinterest account today, I never actually do any of the things I pin. At first that made me sad - I'd love to have time to spend on fun projects again. But I'm okay with that now - I can do them someday, but in the meantime, I'm going to watch the baby learn how fascinating it is to hold her head over the air vent with the A/C running.

Cook quickly, but still healthy. Yes, I love a good risotto and baked dessert and meals that take hours in the oven to cook. But for now, lunch  meat in a whole wheat pita is yummy and quick - and requires less cleanup after!

And it's important to roll with the punches. As hot as it's been lately, I thought it would be fun to take the baby to the city pool with the 0 depth entry that she could sit and splash in. So after getting home, getting dinner made and eaten, and packing and getting in the car, we made it to the pool at 6:30 to find out it closes at 7 every night!!!! So swimming turned into ice cream instead. Still quality time, even though it wasn't what I had planned!!!

On a side note, I did get my Pinterest account back!

Also, still don't understand why a city pool closes at 7 PM - the sun is up until 9:30 through the summer, and people don't get off work until 5! Oh well. There's no fighting the city when it comes to common sense...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mommyhood - the great debate is on!

I've been asked before why I named my blog Surviving Mommyhood. At the time, it was because I was still learning just that - how to survive becoming a Mommy. But it means so much more than that. Childhood is often looked at as the determining factor of how people act as adults - troubled adults must have had troubled childhoods, greedy adults must have been spoiled in their childhood. But what people don't realize - however true this is for the particular person or not - is that most often a person's childhood is based on their primary caregiver's state of Mommyhood. Now, I don't believe this to be entirely true, as I believe in Parenthood - dual caregivers doing equal shares of the "work". And it's not always a mom and a dad - it can be a grandparent, guardian, mentor, or any other number of persons. But in society's eye, it is quite often the Mommy.

But I digress... what got me started on this rant today? It happens to be my birthday (yay) and I wanted to treat myself to a haircut. So I went to my salon and was lucky enough that my favorite stylist was open. So I had the husband bring the baby down to meet the stylist (she's been my stylist since I was still in my "I'm never having kids" phase). She asked if she could give the baby a sucker - specifically, it turned out to be a mango flavored dumdum.

So, being the easygoing Mommy that I am, I said sure. The baby wasn't sure at first, but quickly learned that it did indeed taste yummy and figured out how to work on it. So she had fun with that for a few minutes, and then my husband finished it for her. In the meantime, another stylist had come by and asked how old the baby was. It's a question I'm used to, so I answered that she is nine months old today. So the other stylist responded about how she couldn't believe I was giving a 9 month old a sucker - think of all of the sugar and she can't possibly be old enough for that!! And she was pretty brazen in telling me so.


Everyone has their different ideas of what is right and what is wrong. The morning I found Lucy chewing on my flip flops, I decided she was old enough to not worry as much about what she ate. I keep obvious limitations - no known allergens (peanuts), no seafood, no milk to drink until she's a year. And I don't begrudge other parents their right to make their own rules for their children. But seriously - I don't need to hear your opinion of me letting my daughter enjoy a sucker for a few moments.

I've touched on similar in previous blog posts- the great formula vs. breast milk debate, the debate of organic vs. non-organic. And I've been argued with countless times over the simplest of "choices". I'm quickly learning that when it comes to Mommyhood, no phase in life or state of being can possibly be more debated and heated.

On a side note, life goes on. The husband and I finished our first 5K over the weekend. We were slow and steady, but we finished the race! We're going to be signing up for another 5K next month - this 5K takes place at night and participants are supposed to be decked out in glow sticks and glow in the dark items. I'm going to be purchasing some electroluminescent wire and sewing it into our clothes. I know I won't win the race, but there's still a chance I can win the costume contest for the best glowing costume!

Aside from the wonderful tutu my friend is making me for the occasion - pink and neon green, natch- I need your ideas for costumes for the husband and I. It has to be somewhat easy to run in and somewhat cool as it will still be August in the midwest. I will post pictures after the race, and will put together some sort of prize for the winner if your costume idea is chosen!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Feeling Used

Holy cow - it's been more than a month since my last blog post! I can't believe how fast the time goes. I realized this over the weekend as I went through the boxes (yes, boxes) of clothes that baby girl has already grown out of. Holding up the tiny newborn onesie made me realize how much she's grown. She'll be 9 months old in two weeks, and you can bet that I'm very, very sad about that. People think I'm nuts when I say that I miss the nighttime feedings (now that I no longer have to do them!). She's sitting on her own, inches from crawling, trying to stand, trying to talk, and just trying to grow up too fast.

Speaking of growing out of clothes... I've really learned to value used baby clothes. As much as I love to be able to pick out outfits for her (which has rarely happened to this point with all of the clothes that were bought for her as shower gifts and whatnot), I also appreciate a good value. I bought eight sleepers and a dress last week that were used for a total of $16.

Above - my used clothes bargains! Or, if you prefer, my pile of conquest clothes!!

Buying used is a great way to save money. There are many things I save on by getting used - cars, books, music, games... the list goes on. Of course, there are things that I will not buy used - underwear, swimsuits, and shoes are on the list for sure (however I will accept used baby shoes from good friends). And there are things that I wish I would remember to buy used - take movies, for example. I often find myself buying a new dvd or blu ray, only to wish later on that I had thought to buy it used.

Another great perk of the used item market is being able to sell items! After taking our house off the market and going through our storage unit to try and minimize the items we'd have to store and hopefully move next year, I was able to weed out a lot of items that I no longer want to keep. Some of them are listed on Craigslist, some of them already sold to stores that specialize in used electronics, and others are waiting in the garage to be taken to the Goodwill. I've had some success with Craigslist items in the past with exercise equipment and Coach purses. No bites so far on the items I have out there currently. There is always the old tried and true garage sale as well. They are a great way to make some throwing around money and clear out the junk at the same time. I find them to be a lot of work, however, and would much rather not make the $20 and just take the stuff straight to Goodwill!

Whatever the case, used can be the way to be!

(Although nothing beats the feel of a brand new pair of shoes!!) (After they are broken in - not while breaking them in.)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mommyhood can be a love/hate relationship...

I love being a mom. But sometimes I find myself loving moments and looking back and wondering what I was thinking...

I love that my baby is strong enough to push herself up and off of things.
I hate that it means that she pushes herself off of me while I'm holding her.

I loved when my baby learned to blow raspberries.
I hate it when she does it with a mouth full of food.

I love that my baby is growing and becomes more interactive each day.
I hate that my baby is growing and becoming less of the little bug I brought home from the hospital.

I love when my baby poops after a bout of constipation and two prune/apple juice cocktails.
I hate when I have to clean it moments later.

I love that my baby is on the verge of crawling.
I hate that it means that soon I can no longer leave her on the floor with toys and leave her for a moment without supervision.

I will love it when my baby takes her first steps.
I will hate it shortly thereafter when I realize that my home and baby are no longer safe.

I will love when she says her first words.
I will hate what that word is if I don't start watching the words I use...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

All's Quiet on the Home Front

My blog has been quiet lately. I wish it was a no news is good news sort of thing, but it's more neutral than anything. It's certainly not a bad news situation, but there are some things I wish were different. For example, it would be good news to share that my house sold, but no such luck yet. We press on, however. I spend most of my moments trying to treasure and preserve my time with Baby Girl, as she recently hit 6 months and keeps growing and growing and growing. My wishes that she remain my tiny little cuddle bug are unanswered, so instead I'm trying to memorize her every moment before she too quickly moves into a new phase. My family has been busy - busy enjoying the spring, busy trying to sell the house, busy being active and social and trying to be healthy. I'm halfway through the first weekend I've had in a long time where I don't have any obligations, and it's hard to swallow! Next weekend starts the run of showers, parties, and festivals all over again. I wouldn't give it up though, but it sure would be nice if I had more free hours in the day. Maybe someday when scientists find out how to survive on no sleep...

Today - well, the few hours I was out of the house - was devoted to grocery shopping. I get into food ruts where I can't think of anything to make and want nothing more than to drive through the nearest unhealthy restaurant. The best way to get out of the food rut is to spend an hour or two browsing through a specialty grocery store. On weeks where I have a bit of spending money, I may find myself perusing a Whole Foods or similar market, buying some good looking produce or fancy cheeses. But on weeks like this - where the bills stack a bit higher than is fun, I take my frugal pocketbook and head to an Asian market.

There's nothing more exciting to me than strolling through grocery aisles with products that I normally don't see in my week to week grocery shopping. Granted, I can't read most of the packages, but most of them do have English translations somewhere on them. A larger Asian market will also have some produce and fresh meats and seafood, which can also be an adventure in food. I normally stock up on rice noodles and Panda chocolate biscuit cookies and spend the rest of the time looking for fun new things to try. Candies are usually a safe bet, as well as frozen pancakes and pork buns. However, every once in a while I get an item that sounds good in theory, but goes into the garbage after an initial try. The price can be the best part - tonight's adventure gave me three bags of groceries for $30.

Of course, I still had to supplement my experimental groceries with my regular run of items, so it was a second trip to my "regular" grocery store. I've actually started really enjoying going to the grocery store each week. I do spoil myself each time with a stop at the Caribou Coffee kiosk for a skinny latte, but after that, it's all business. I wish I could say that I have some good frugal tips, but the grocery store is one place I have been splurging lately. The main reason for that is for health- it seems that the healthier you want to be, the more you have to invest. However, I also spend more than I need to for convenience, too. For example - fruits and veggies. I enjoy taking cucumbers for lunch, but if I buy a whole cucumber, I won't find the time to cut and bag it for lunch, and it will end up going bad. I can spend a few extra dollars, however, on mini cucumbers that I do not need to cut up to eat. So I do spend on the convenience, but in the long run, it's worth it.

I also love shopping when it's busy. Not because of the crowds, of course, but they have the sample ladies out when the store is busier. Some of my favorite ways of cooking veggies come from the lady that gives samples in the produce area. And I think she's starting to recognize me as well... either that, or she's very friendly to everyone and thinks I'm nuts for talking to her like I see her all the time!

Grocery shopping used to be a task I hated, but I've found a way to make it a little date with myself each week. I don't do as good of a job at saving money as I should, but I'm taking strides toward being much healthier, so it's a good balance. Now if I could just find a way to start looking forward to exercising the way I look forward to my weekly grocery shopping trip, I'd be set!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Easter!

It's been a long time since I've blogged, but live moves at a fast pace, and sometimes trying to keep up with it is all I can manage!

The house has been on the market for 2 months. We've had what I consider to be a lot of traffic - usually one private showing a week - but no bites yet. I was really down about this for a while, but with the change in weather and being able to get outdoors with the family and enjoy nature a bit, it's brought my spirits back up some. Being active always makes for a much lighter spirit (and body...)

Baby Girl is growing like a weed, and I wish she would slow that down too, but my wishes are unanswered. She's starting to sit on her own with little wobbling, so soon after that will come the crawling, and the walking, and the running... I'm just hoping we are in a new house sooner than all that so that we can babyproof it as we move in.

It's Good Friday, so I have the day off to spend at home with the baby. We're being lazy and staying in our PJ's late and snuggling and relaxing. The poor girl has a cold that keeps her up more than she'd like, so I think everyone in the house - especially the husband that doesn't get today off work - is just a bit worse for the wear. But we'll get through it. Hopefully she feels much better for a certain someone's visit on Sunday (Hint: hop, hop!).

This weekend, I'm tackling LAUNDRY and CLOTH DIAPER STRIPPING (dun dun dun!!). My household normally does laundry on the weekend, so no big change here, but I'm tackling it from a money saving and green angle. I bought some clothesline yesterday and got that hung and am going to hang my first load of sun dried diapers as soon as they run through the rinse enough times to get 6 months of detergent build up cleaned from them. I was also feeling curious and industrious and wanted to try and make my own laundry detergent. From the research I did on this, you can make detergent that is highly effective at cleaning clothes for what equates to $.01 a load!!! However, this requires a 5 gallon bucket to hold all of the detergent you make. So while I do want to try this, I think I would prefer to be in my new home when I do so that I have more space to work in and don't have the home staged all the time. Also, I think I should probably work through the stockpile of dye and fragrance free detergent that I've stocked up on from various store sales.

I'd absolutely love to hear from anyone that either makes their own detergent or uses any sort of alternative to the typical lines of detergent sold in most stores.

So here's hoping the sun comes out all bright and shiny like it's forecasted to so my clothes actually dry on the line. I'm going to be very embarrassed if I'm in my yard after sundown pulling in all of my clothes to run them through the dryer.