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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Just a Quick Link...

I don't have much time to post today (this is my third attempt) as Grumpy will not nap, but I wanted to post a link for those of you needing to make money from home. If you enjoy writing, or even think you might, check out The Freelance Home Writer. This site is by far the best resource I've found for getting real information about online writing opportunities, so if you're interested in trying your hand at writing for the web you should check it out.

I will try to do a more in depth post tomorrow, Grumpy is calling!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Disappointment

I am no longer able to nurse Grumpy. I have struggled ever since he was three weeks old, my supply just hasn't been there. I have been sick repeatedly with everything from a mild stomach bug to bronchitis to an abscessed tooth that resulted in a jaw so swollen that I looked like I was chewing tobacco. I also had an outpatient surgical procedure which was promptly followed up by four gargantuan canker sores inside my lower lip. I'm sure that being constantly ill has had an impact on my supply but I didn't really think it would cause it to pretty much disappear.

I have tried increasing fluids, pumping between feedings with a hospital grade pump and taking Fenugreek and I've still had to supplement between one and three feedings for most of Grumpy's life. This weekend he started refusing the breast. I knew my supply was tanking again so I'd started back on the herbs, but this time he had apparently just had enough and he went on a hunger strike. We thought the poor baby had a bellyache and we bounced for over an hour before I finally decided to offer the bottle. He drank six ounces without spitting up any and has refused to take the breast during the day ever since. For some reason he will still take it at night, although he does fuss a little at first.

I decided I would just keep nursing at night if I could keep my supply up that much, but last night I didn't even have enough for that. So, I guess that's that. I have struggled with this so much, I'm almost relieved to see it come to an end, as bad as it may sound.

I am not one of those people who thinks that you are a monster if you formula feed, Bug was mostly formula fed because I had nowhere to pump at work and had to go back at six weeks. He has turned out quite wonderfully, if I do say so myself. I just wanted so badly to breastfeed this baby for at least the first year because I didn't have the chance to do that for Bug. I feel a little bit like a failure because it shouldn't have been this hard. Not to mention the recent reports of rocket fuel in formula.

I know some would tell me to keep trying, but honestly, I don't want to put Grumpy through that. My mommy instincts having been telling me for awhile that it was time to let this go, but I just didn't want to listen. I am going to try to stop feeling like such a failure because things didn't work out the way I had planned and that, as you probably already know, it much easier said than done.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The View from My Bedroom Window


I get to wake up to this view every single morning. I can't imagine wanting to live anywhere else. Until winter hits, now that's a different story. We've had the most beautiful weather the past few days and I know that it won't be long until it's green everywhere you look, I love spring and summer!

For more Gratituesday visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Great Work at Home Resource


As I discussed in a previous post , it seems more difficult than ever for families to have a stay at home parent. For many at-home parents a return to work outside the home seems inevitable and for those aching to leave a full time job, it looks impossible.

When I first quit my job about two and a half years ago we were hit with a lot of unexpected expenses, so I decided to look into working from home. Every article I read advised me to figure out what I was good at and focus on how to turn that into an income. My choice was a no-brainer, I love to write and had actually started being published a few years earlier, so that was the direction I chose to go. For you it may be making a craft, baking, or selling merchandise through a company like Mary Kay. No matter which way your interests and abilities lean, I believe that WAHM.com will have a resource that can help you.

My favorite part of this site is the message boards. I found my first private writing jobs there and was able to bring in nearly $300 within two weeks of deciding to focus on my writing again. The women on the writing board are very helpful and willing to share any information and sources of work that they find, it's where I've gotten almost all of my writing leads and information. While I don't have experience with any of the other areas of the board, I would think that they would be just as helpful. They have boards on every type of work at home job you can imagine, be sure to check out the "Stickies" at the top of each for information about getting started.

Since writing is what I have experience with I plan to share some information over the next few days about how to start earning money almost immediately writing online as well as some information about building residual income. I think the ability to make a living from home is such a blessing for families who are searching for a way to keep a parent at home with the kids and I really believe it's possible if we set our minds to it!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bug and Annie...Never a Dull Moment

I had not planned on posting pictures of my boys, but I have been reconsidering (trying to be brave) and after talking it over with the husband we decided that shots like the ones above are within our comfort zone. I am one of the most paranoid people you will ever hope to meet when it comes to my kids, I know I probably take it a little too far sometimes. Anyway, on with this post...

The photo is of my great-niece (that makes me sound so old!) Annie and Bug playing outside last Thursday. Bug is used to playing with his male cousins and he is never quite sure what to do with Annie. She is a force to be reckoned with and when she tries to take something from him, like the lawnmower in the picture, she doesn't kid around. They are hilarious when they get together. He tries to reason with her, but being one and all she's not into talking things over yet. He is learning at an early age that there's just no understanding women.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sleep? Not Around Here


Babies sleep. They do, I've witnessed it for myself and read about it in books. But my kids didn't read these books. I remember when Bug was 3 weeks old he stayed awake from 9:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night. I was a first time mommy and thought it was a fluke. I was mistaken. He did start having two regular naps and a normal bedtime of 8:30 when he was about 8 or 9 months old...ah, I remember those days. Sure, his normal waking time varied between 5:00 and 6:30, but hey, at least I had those naps and an early bedtime.

The toddler years were much the same, laying in bed crying and kicking until 10:00 or 11:00 (or 1:00) then waking up at 5:30. Grumpy started out having good naps and I hesitantly began to believe that maybe, just maybe he would sleep the way babies are supposed to. Ha! He has a good, hour long or more nap about once a week. Most days he dozes about fifteen minutes three times a day if I hold him and wakes up immediately if you try to put him down. Last night he didn't sleep until 10:30. Ten freakin' thirty! I get up at 5:00 to send the husband off to work so this morning I was zonked.

I couldn't wait for him to leave so I could crawl back between the sheets. Then I heard Bug's door open. He walked into the living room wearing just his undies and holding Teddy to announce "I woked up." . Why am I not surprised?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Staying Home with the Kids: Is it Worth It?


Times are very hard right now for so many people. Many of us stay at home or work at home moms left our jobs before the economy fell apart and the salaries and budgets that we were sure we could make it on...well, not so much anymore. Thankfully, the company my husband works for doesn't seem to be heading in the direction of layoffs, but this past year has been a rough one for our family. Our washing machine died, our truck kicked the bucket, right about the time I was actually starting to bring in some money from my freelancing my computer crashed and burned, and my husband had to have oral surgery. It was not a good year financially.

As everything fell apart around us I began to wonder if leaving my job to stay home was the smartest idea. Of course, being pregnant meant finding another would probably be a little difficult so I kept plugging along with my writing, but believe me there were moments of panic. I talked to the hubby about it and he was adamant that it was best that I stay home and here are a few of our reasons for making that decision, even when our finances were begging for mercy:

1. Daycare is not a place that we would ever freely choose to place our kids for a myriad of reasons, but if we did choose to go that route, we would have about $75 every week of my take home pay left over to pay for other things like gas for me to get there and clothes for me to wear.

2. Our family life would suffer. My kids would be in someone else's care for about nine hours a day. When we all did make it back home we would be rushing around trying to get dinner, laundry, baths, stuff ready for the next day. My husband would have to help out more with the house which would mean less time for him to spend with me or the kids. Been there, done that, don't ever want to do it again.

3. The kids would suffer. I despise the idea of having to get my babies up before daylight, cram them in a car and cart them off before they are even fully awake. Not to mention having to spend that much time away from us, I don't think it would be fair to them.

4. I am a horrible working mama and my husband is slightly afraid of me when I am gainfully employed outside the home. I get mean and nasty and filled with resentment that I am not the one spending my days with my kids.

5. We have what we need. We have food, shelter, clothes and we are together. We do have a lot of luxuries too, like satellite, internet, cell phone, but if we had to lose all of those extras it still wouldn't be worth putting my kids in someone else's care for the majority of their waking hours.

I am not saying that moms who work outside the home are bad, I used to be one. I wasn't very good at it and it made me miserable, but that's beside the point. Having a parent at home is what works best for our family and I know that there are a lot more families out there like us. It's so tempting to throw in the towel and feel like being home isn't worth the struggle, but I think that if it's where you want to be and it works for your family then you shouldn't give up without a fight.

That's the reason I started trying to work from home as a writer, something I had had some success with a few years ago but had to abandon when life became too hectic. It's hard to manage time right now with a three month old, but I am slowly starting to find a new routine. It's not easy, but I'm hopeful that I will eventually have the financial security to know that no matter what, I will have the option to always be here for my kids. I know I'm not the only parent who feels this way, so in the next couple of weeks I am going to post some information and links about building income from home. We can do this!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gratituesday: Brotherly Love


I love the idea of Gratituesday which is hosted by Laura over at Heavenly Homemakers. I have learned over the past couple of years that my attitude tends to lean quite heavily on the negative, so I have to make a point to consider things I'm grateful for on a regular basis. Not that there isn't plenty, I feel blessed beyond measure, but I don't appreciate those blessings nearly as much as I should. Anyway, on with the post...

After Bug was born my husband and I decided we didn't want any more kids. I really meant it when I said I didn't want more and I actually considered having a tubal due to my issues with hormonal birth control. The baby bug bit me hard during the winter of 2007 and at the top of my list of reasons for wanting another baby was so that Bug would have a sibling. I did wonder if maybe I'd waited too long for them to be playmates, but overall it just felt like the right thing.

Last night I had Grumpy on my lap while Bug was bathing and he began to cackle out loud at his brother's silly antics. I was absolutely stunned. For a couple of weeks now his little face has been lighting up when he sees his bubby, but this was his first real out loud laugh. Bug loved it and would lean over to smile back when the baby would laugh. Grumpy would kick and try to get closer to him, it was the sweetest thing I believe I have ever seen.

Later Grumpy was in his bouncer and Bug would pretend that the baby had kicked him and fall over into the floor making his brother laugh out loud again. I can't believe that they are already interacting. You can tell that Grumpy just loves his big brother, he gets so excited every time that he sees him. I am looking forward to watching their relationship grow as they get older and am so thankful that God has given my the privilege of being mommy to these two beautiful boys!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Playdough Is a Tool of the Devil




Bug loves Playdough. It is one of his favorite things so I have tried to be patient and understanding, always keeping in mind that although it is a horrendous mess, he does need a creative outlet. By about the third day of trying to remove the squished, dried Playdough from the living room carpet I begin to think that maybe his 96 crayons, 52 markers, various paints, colored pencils and inkpens really should provide a sufficient creative outlet, but a week or two later I hear "Mommy, can I have my Playdough?" in a surprisingly sweet and inncocent voice. I fall for it every single time. Because I am an idiot.

Last night I made the mistake of looking at a picture on the computer of Bug playing with the Playdough. He immediately wanted to know if he could have it, but since it was almost bath time I told him he would have to wait. I hoped he would forget. He didn't and when I got back from changing into my p.j.'s Bug and Daddy were having a blast on the coffee table with no newspaper or protective plastic bag anywhere in sight. Sigh.

This morning he wanted it again so I said yes, as long as he kept it at the kitchen table on his plastic bag and was very careful not to drop any in the floor. The photo above is what I found when I got finished with my five minute shower.

When these things happen while Grumpy is screaming, it's almost 11:00 and I haven't started the laundry and my tooth is throbbing with every heartbeat the Ugly Mommy Voice is almost guaranteed to come out. And so it did. Which is the reason that I am certain Playdough is a clever and surprisingly fun tool of the devil, designed to trip us up at just the right moment. Playdough is now an outside toy. Moonsand, too. And I refuse to feel guilty about it no matter how many times that my lovely husband rolls his eyes.

My Favorite Ways to Use Leftovers

As I've mentioned before, one of the easiest places to cut back spending is the food budget and there is no better way to do that than by using leftovers. Around here Bug and I consume quite a few leftovers for lunch, but the hubby isn't too fond of them so I've managed to come up with a few ways to turn leftovers into something new and exciting and not so obvious so that he will eat them too.

One of the simplest ways to avoid tossing your veggies is to freeze them for soup. Anytime we have any leftover canned or frozen vegetables I just toss them in a big container in the freezer that I have on hand just for this purpose. Then when it's time to make what I call the World's Easiest Beef and Veggie Soup all I have to do is dump them into my kettle.

I also reinvent my mashed potatoes by turning them into potato cakes. It's so easy to do, I just add black pepper, onion powder (you could use onions of course, but I can't stand the crunch) and enough flour to make it possible to form patties that will hold together. Then you just fry them up like pancakes, they are soooo good!

I love to make roast in the slow cooker, but since there are only two of us who actually eat it (Bug will only eat hamburger...and then only in other foods, but never an actual hamburger) there would be a lot of waste if I didn't come up with a clever way to reuse it. Since the meat is so tender I shred it up and drown it barbecue sauce, wrap it up aluminum foil and heat it while my bread bakes. This works well with pork or beef and even my husband loves it.

I absolutely hate wasting food so I am thrilled to have found ways to use leftovers that we not only will eat, but actually enjoy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Danger of Blogs

I am a blog junkie. Sure, you can't tell it from the number of posts I've managed to write here, but left to my own devices I will peruse mommy blogs until my eyes glaze over. When I found myself desperate to quit my job a few years ago blogs were such a source of inspiration and encouragement to me. I learned a ton about how to stretch our money, feed my family and run a household. The blogs also helped to alleviate the loneliness that can come when you're in the house all day with a little one and no real conversation. But I recently realized that you can definitely get too much of a good thing.

Although we haven't always made the wisest decisions concerning our finances, I can now stretch a dollar until it begs for mercy. I truly understand and value an early morning quiet time with the Lord and I have found a schedule that works pretty well to keep our house running smoothly. Yet I continue to spend time searching these blogs and comparing the way I do things to the way others do them, always feeling that my way is "coming up short".

We don't eat all organic. It's not readily available here and even if it was, we probably couldn't afford it most weeks. I do not grind my own grain, make my own laundry detergent and we have satellite television. While I do breastfeed, my supply isn't up to par and I supplement with formula. These are only a few examples of the things I regularly beat myself up about when I read about how other moms run their households and care for their families. I could actually torture myself for days and feel like I was somehow cheating my family because I didn't do many of the things I was reading about on other blogs.

My husband knows me way better than I know myself and he has spotted the problem and has offered me some very wise advice; to sum it up he wants me to prepare foods that we like, buy some Gain detergent, feed the baby whatever will keep him healthy and full, find something good to watch on television and be happy! His simple wisdom about these things is exactly what I need to hear sometimes, God definitely knew what he was doing when he gave me this man!

I'm not saying mommy blogs are horrible, they are interesting, helpful and often hilarious. I just can't read more than one or I begin to drive myself and every one in my family completely insane. I actually felt like I didn't know what I believe is important anymore and as silly as it sounds, I had to give it some thought. Here is what I finally came up with: I don't get the benefit of circumcision so we didn't have either of our boys done. We eat Hamburger Helper sometimes and I don't think it will really hurt us. I think breast is best, but formula is ok too. I think public schools are bad places and I don't intend to send my kids there if I can help it. I think the term "tomato staking" in reference to children is ridiculous. Carefully monitored watching of television by my kids is not only ok, but can even be good and educational. My house does not run on a perfectly timed schedule, is often messy and my son doesn't have certain times to play blocks or color. There you have it. My dirty little secrets are out.

No, I don't truly think you really care about my opinions on all of that. At least I hope you don't because I am just a wife and mommy struggling to make sure everything is taken care of and everyone knows they're loved. I also don't think you are horrible if you won't touch anything that's not organic, send your kids to public school and don't own a television so please don't be offended. My point is simply that it's ok for all of us to be the moms and wives that we are. If reading blogs, or anything else for that matter, undermines following your own instincts then it's time to take a step back and figure out what you believe. But that's just my two cents worth.

Monday, April 13, 2009

World's Easiest Beef and Veggie Soup

One pound hamburger
One can vegetable juice (like V8)
3/4 cup water
One can mixed vegetables or frozen leftover veggies
Black pepper to taste
One medium onion, chopped

Brown the hamburger and drain the fat off. Combine vegetable juice, water, meat, veggies, black pepper and onion. Bring to boil then simmer for twenty minutes. You can leave the meat out, use a different kind of meat or add rice or pasta. I think using vegetable juice instead of tomato is what makes this soup so yummy and it's also a great way to trick kids into actually consuming a few.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Meet the Cats
















It just occurred to me that I haven't introduced two very important members of our little family...Tigger and P.J. The tortoise shell is P.J., or P.K. as Bug refers to her. She is bossy, mean, and terrorizes our other poor kitty. She was a tiny 8 week old stray when we adopted her. Bug was 18 months old at the time and since they have pretty much grown up together he absolutely adores her. He loves to give her hugs and kisses, wrap her up in blankies and push her into the tub. She tolerates his affection pretty well, there's hardly ever any blood drawn.

The yellow tabby is Tigger (aka Tig). He was adopted last January from our local shelter and is still terrified of everything except me. A more annoying cat you will not find, but he grows on you after awhile.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Putting Life Back Together

No, no one died and I haven't been diagnosed with a terminal illness so don't let the title of this post alarm you. If you've been following this blog (and if you have I am in awe of you because I've had virtually nothing to say) you will have noticed that my posting has been scattered at best and I definitely haven't had it all under control. I have been struggling to put it mildly and my poor family has been topsy turvy ever since before Grumpy made his appearance.

I don't think that women always realize just how much our attitudes and outlook influence every part of our families' lives. A few months ago I was wholeheartedly devoted to living my life the way I thought God wanted me to and even though I fell short of that goal often, I had a goal. When my debilitating morning sickness arrived I started to let things slide. I didn't feel like praying every morning, I didn't want to focus on how to improve myself, be a better wife or mother. I just didn't feel like it. Little by little I lowered my standards until honestly, I just didn't try very hard at any of it anymore. My prayer life took a serious hit and as much as it pains me to type this, I rarely spend time in God's word or in prayer these days. And everything is falling apart.

I have been almost continuously sick since the baby was born. My house has actually been nasty at times and Bug has spent literal hours camped in front of the television because I didn't have the energy or motivation to do anything about it. It is a miracle that we haven't been hit with repeated late fees on our bills because I just can't seem to get motivated to pay them when I should. I won't even go into how I look, but suffice it to say, I've hit a low point there as well. It is embarrassing to admit all of this, but I think if I'm going to author a blog designed to inspire other women to get their homes and financial lives in order then I need to come clean about my own struggles.

I know that having a new baby is a real challenge and lots of people have encouraged me to cut myself some slack. I do agree with that, but a difficult (though blessed) time of life should never be an excuse to cut God out of the picture. It's when I need Him most. Had I brought my troubles to him and asked for help I know I would have received it. Instead I chose to go it alone and now my home is out of whack and in desperate need of being put back together. Thank the Lord that He is always there waiting for us to come back to Him!

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