Sunday, May 31, 2009

On a Different Note...

I wanted to mention that I will be guest posting over at A Mountain Mama on Wednesday. Kelli is doing a series about the women of Appalachia, you can read about it here. I love her blog and was so pleased when she asked me to do a post in her series. If you haven't visited her blog yet you should check it out, her family is living off grid here in the mountains of Kentucky and it is so interesting and inspiring to read.

Help! I May Have to Rehome the Cats

I am starting to think the cats may need to go to a new home. No, Tigger hasn't peed on me again, this time it's fleas. P.J. does go in and out, if we don't let her just lies on the couch for hours staring out the window. I thought if we wormed them regularly, got their shots and were treated with Frontline it would be ok.

Not quite two weeks ago I spent $35 for two treatments of Frontline and applied it as directed. I have been using this stuff for years on Dynamo, my mom's cat, and it always worked perfectly. Last year we noticed that our cats were still getting a few fleas, even right after a treatment, so we tried some other stuff but none of it worked as well. This year the Frontline doesn't appear to be working AT ALL. I found 13, yes, 13 fleas of Tigger last night. I am at a loss.

There is no way I can keep these cats inside with my babies if we can't get rid of the fleas. I don't know what to do. I vacuum my floors almost daily. I can't use a powder of any type on the cats or on the carpets, I'm afraid it wouldn't be safe for the kids. It's really making my house feel unsanitary. The husband found two fleas on his sock last night. He is not a happy camper.

The Frontline package says it's not safe to treat the cats with anything more for two weeks. I am afraid we will be overun with fleas by then and honestly, we really can't afford any more than $35 a month on top of food, etc. for all of our pets. I can't stand the thoughts of getting rid of these cats, especially P.J., but I can't let my kids live in a house infested with fleas. Not only do they bite, they carry tapeworms (been there with the cats, oh so many times).

If anyone has any suggestions or ideas, please share them. If we can't get this cleared up within the next few days the cats will have to go and I do not want to have to do that.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another Way to Earn Money Online

As I've mentioned before, I am intrigued by the many ways of making money online and I discovered another interesting concept recently. I had heard of Bum Marketing , but I honestly didn't have a clue what it was. I stumbled across this site recently and it seems really promising.

It is a free course, actually free with no strings attached that I can find, that teaches you how to make money through affiliate marketing with no money upfront and no website needed. I haven't tried it yet, but I have read the accounts of many work at home mama's who say that it brings in cash. You can read more from people who have already tried it here and here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grumpy's Birth Story

After having so much pain medication during my labor with Bug, I decided this time around that I was going to try and avoid everything except the epidural. I would have tried to avoid it too, but I was fairly certain I wouldn't be able to handle the pain without it so I never gave the thought of an all natural birth much consideration.

Since Bug came two weeks early I assumed Grumpy would probably be early too. By 38 weeks I was almost 2 cm. dilated, so I got my hopes up. I was also having a ton of discomfort, from backaches to irregular contractions. I was sure that something was going on, but the next two appointments showed no progress and everyday that passed without a baby I became a little more desperate. My pregnancy with Grumpy was much harder than my first and I was ready for it to be over. My little Grump had other ideas.

By week 39 the doctors were talking induction. They told me if I had made any progress by my next appointment they would break my water, if not I would have the choice to be induced. When I was 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant (the day before my 40 week appointment) my contractions started to get worse. I also had a little bleeding, so I was 100% sure I was going into labor.

By that night I was getting pretty uncomfortable and since we live an hour away from the hospital, my husband convinced me to go in. I kept having contractions the whole way there. They weren't unbearable, but they were worse than the ones I had when I arrived at the hospital with Bug.

Almost as soon as they put me in bed and hooked me up on a monitor, my contractions stopped. When the nurse checked me I had still made no progress. I was a little upset. My doctor offered to let me stay the night, just in case, because we lived so far away. I hate hospitals so there was no way that was going to happen. On the way home the contractions started back, only stronger.

I had an appointment the next day and they monitored the baby to see how he was doing because I was past my due date. By this time I was starting to get really tired of the contractions and I was so sure that when I was checked there would be no progress. To my surprise, I was 4 cm. and 80% effaced. They scheduled an induction for the next morning, if I didn't go into labor on my own.

We went to Wal-Mart and I began to get very uncomfortable while walking around. I actually had to stop and breathe through a couple of contractions. We went home so I could rest up for the big day.

My mom was making fish, hush puppies, and homemade french fries that night which in one of my all time favorite meals. I blame her for many of the events that are to follow because there was no way I was missing that meal.

I went to my parent's house at about 6:00 and I was incredibly uncomfortable. Mom helped me time the contractions and they were coming 4-5 minutes apart. I wasn't about to go back to the hospital until I was sure I was actually in labor, plus the food wasn't done, so I waited. By the time the food was done my contractions were coming about 3-4 minutes apart. I contracted between bites of one of the most yummy meals I've ever had.

By the time I got home it was getting hard for me to walk, so I knew I needed to go on to the hospital. The hubby was starting to freak out a little and being a bit cranky because I took the time to eat. I realize in hindsight that it wasn't the wisest choice, but I really found it hard to believe I was actually going into labor. I tried not to let him see how uncomfortable I was, but by the time we got halfway to the hospital I was starting to wonder if I was going to make it.

There were no beds available so I ended up in the hallway of the surgical suite. The good news is they gave us a $50 gas card for our trouble, the bad news is I had my cervix checked on a gurney in the hallway of the surgical suite. I was at 6 cm. and she could feel the bag of waters. I was so relieved that I was finally going to be able to get my epidural.

I was trying really hard to hold it together, but the pain was getting so bad that I was getting desperate for medication. They called for my epidural and told me it would be about 15 minutes. I wasn't sure I would survive that long, but at least I had a number to work with.

A few minutes later the doctor came in and checked me again. He announced that I was 9 cm. and there was no time for an epidural. This is the part where I almost freaked out. I didn't see how I was going to actually give birth without my epidural. I was really scared that I wouldn't be able to do it, I kept thinking what if I just can't get him out, what if he gets stuck. I started praying for the strength to do what I had to do.

I'm not sure how long it took, I know there were about three or four series of pushes before the Grump arrived. My husband was the one that almost passed out this time, I'm not sure why unless it was the stress of watching me labor without meds and seeing the birth a little more closely this time around. My niece (pregnant again, btw) was a trooper and did not almost pass out this time.

When Grumpy was born he had the same pitiful little cry that his big brother had and he weighed exactly the same, 7 pounds, 10 ounces. He kept looking around like he was terrified and smacking his little mouth. I was able to nurse him almost immediately, which was so much nicer than waiting hours like I had to with Bug.

Even though I know that our bodies were meant to have babies naturally, I am still amazed that I actually labored and delivered without any medication. It boggles my mind. Although I definitely didn't plan a natural birth, I'm glad now that it turned out that way. I felt so much better after and was able to walk to my room within an hour of having the baby. I'm not sure if I would be brave enough to attempt it again if we had a third baby (we're not!), but I think I would at least give it a try.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bug's Birth Story

I love reading birth stories and since I have a couple of my own, I decided to share. Here is how my little Bug arrived...

At my 38 week appointment I was 2 cm. dilated and my doctor decided to strip my membranes. Without discussing it with me first, I might add. I had been having some mild contractions for a few days, so she sent me to be monitored and told me that she was fairly certain that I would be having the baby that weekend. I laughed, I found it hard to believe he was ever going to come out.

I had heard that walking would speed things along, so after work the next day my niece and I decided to go for a walk at the local park. It was almost ninety degrees that day and since I was the approximate size of a small cow, this made for a miserable almost mile long trek. I persevered and headed home feeling grouchy and extremely hopeful that the baby would soon make his arrival.

The next day I was still only having mild contractions so I decided to go shopping with my parents, there didn't seem to be any reason not to. While standing in the bread aisle of Kroger my water trickled. No one seemed to notice, although by the time I got to the car my pants were completely soaked.

It was about a 40 minute drive home, then I had to get the husband and head to the hospital which was another 20 minute drive. I still wasn't very uncomfortable and was having a hard time believing it was for real.

I got home, grabbed the husband and my bag and we were off. He was so calm, I was quite proud of him. I still wasn't in any real pain, but I do remember being a little nervous. When we got there a truly brilliant nurse tried to convince me that it was unlikely that my water had actually broken. My pants (a second pair) were so wet that they squished when I walked. I knew I was in good hands at this point.

The same nurse announced (after discovering that yes, my water had indeed broken) that I would now be catheterized. I didn't think so. We argued for a bit then she called my doctor who said I only had to be cathed long enough to get a clean urine sample. I still haven't figured that one out. As soon as that lovely experience was over they started me on Pitocin.

My contractions started coming pretty regularly after the Pitocin was started, but I wanted to wait as long as I could for my pain medication. I fully planned on having an epidural, but I wanted to at least have an idea of what labor felt like before I gave in. The nurse (a much better one this time) came in a couple of times and asked me if I wanted my meds, but I still wasn't that uncomfortable. Finally, they told me my blood pressure was getting too high and that if I would take the meds it would help it to go down. I agreed since I was starting to get pretty uncomfortable.

The medication did help the pain to ease up a little, but it didn't last very long and made me feel very groggy. I remember having a detailed dream about cheese crackers and when I tried to talk my husband he had a hard time understanding me. He kept making cracks about increasing the Pitocin to speed things along and I do recall saying something along the lines of "Are you stupid? Will you please just shut that hole in your face?". But I never hit him, although the thought did cross my mind. The pain between doses of the medication was getting pretty unpleasant so when they asked if I was ready for my epidural I didn't waste any time saying yes.

By this time a ton of my family had arrived, including my niece Kelli, who I was planning to force back into the delivery room with me. I also wanted her to come back when I had my epidural, but the anesthesiologist wouldn't agree for anyone to be there, not even the hubby.

I'm not sure what time I received my epidural. I do know that I slept through the rest of my labor. I woke some time after midnight feeling a ton of pressure and when the nurse checked me she said it was time to push.

I still couldn't believe it was really happening. I remember thinking "Wow, this is just like A Baby Story", it just didn't seem real. My husband was there of course, along with my niece Kelli who was supposed to be taking the pictures. She almost fainted, but was able to pull herself together. As much as I would like to make fun of her, she was four months pregnant and hadn't ate anything for awhile. I was still really groggy from the meds, but after only 11 minutes of pushing my 7 pound, 10 ounce baby boy was born. He had the most pitiful cry, he sounded like a little puppy whimpering.

I remember seeing his little hands first, he had really long fingers just like me. Even though I planned to breastfeed, it went almost two hours before they brought him back to me. Thankfully, he was a little trooper and didn't have any trouble latching on, though I'm sure they gave him sugar water during that time period.

There are a ton of things that I would have changed about my first birth experience, but the thing that bothered me the most was not getting to nurse Bug right away. I cannot fathom why any hospital would think it is wise to keep a breastfeeding baby away from it's mother for two hours after birth.

I had an extremely easy labor and delivery, I was at the hospital for about seven hours total before Bug made his arrival. The drugs they gave me before the epidural caused me to be unable to remember a lot of it, so I decided that night if I ever had another baby I was not having them again. I was, however, going to have an epidural as soon as I could possibly get one. If you've read the short version of Grumpy's birth, you know that things didn't quite work out the way I planned. Tomorrow I will do the long version of the arrival of my Grump. See you then!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Why Do These Things Always Happen to Me?

I don't understand why my pets can't be normal. We adopted Tigger from the local animal shelter in January of 2008 and, outside of being goofy and not too bright, he has been pretty easy to deal with. He had already been neutered and he's always used the litter box. Until today...

There I sat on the couch this morning feeding Grumpy a bottle when Tig hopped up beside me. I thought he wanted me to pet him so I put my hand out to rub his head. And he sprayed me. That's right, he peed all over my robe, then hopped down and went on his merry way. For some reason the hubby thought it would be ok to laugh. It was not ok.

He doesn't seem to be sick or anything, he's used the litter box normally the rest of the day. I just cannot fathom why he did this and why this type of thing always happens to me. I was not the only person sitting in the living room, why couldn't he have marked my husband as his terrority? If anybody has any ideas about this one I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Love Hate Relationship with Pacifiers

I alternate daily between an intense adoration and bitter hatred of the pacifier. Bug refused to take one because that would have completely disrupted his plans to make my life as difficult as possible. I was determined that Grumpy would not only take a pacie, he would love it.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant I began stockpiling the pacifiers. I bought one of every single kind I came across. I had a personal hope that he would prefer the Soothie brand, but he decided on Mam. It has to be the newborn size, offering anything else makes him gag and give me looks of intense disappointment and disgust. Unfortunately, this results in my four month old bearing a striking resemblance to Hannibal Lecter, but it's what floats his boat.

This should not have been a problem. Mam's are common and easy to come by. A couple of weeks ago I boiled all of his favorite pacifiers dry which resulted in a restless night for the both of us. I bought more then promptly lost one and spent the next few days clinging to other one as though my life depended on it. Yesterday I went shopping and bought two more so that I could stop interrogating my entire family (yes, this included the cats who have been caught pacie napping more than once) once an hour about the whereabouts of the surviving pacifier. Everyone was relieved.

Within a few hours of bringing home the new ones, I managed to lose the one I'd been obsessively tracking so I decided to go ahead and boil the new ones. Then Grumpy needed a diaper and Onesie change so off we went while the pacifiers merrily bubbled on the stove. I became distracted by Grumpy's overwhelming cuteness when naked and spent way too much time blowing raspberries on his belly....the only pacies to survive this time around were the Soothies, which Grumpy hates. I was back to no pacie. I was angry.

Thank the Lord, I managed to find the one that I lost yesterday, it had rolled under the bed. Once again I will be protecting that pacifier with my very life until shopping day comes around. Bug is currently napping, but the husband and the cats have already started to look nervous.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Look Who's (Still) Sleeping in My Bed

The night I brought Grumpy home from the hospital I put him into the bassinet that I had pulled up next to our bed, then settled in for some much needed sleep. Then got back up to make sure he was breathing. Then climbed back into bed, thought I heard him make a weird sound, got back up, decided he looked lonely and put him into our bed. Then I became terrified that the husband was right and he might actually squish him in his sleep so Grumpy and I headed off to the couch.

Upon discovering us the next morning, the hubby decided that for the first couple of weeks he could take the couch and me and the Grump could have the bed, just until he (I) got adjusted. Guess who's still sleeping in my bed? That's right folks, my husband has spent the last four months on the couch.

The husband has made a few comments about it, but overall he's been quite patient. I have tried to ignore him, talk over him, reassure myself that the couch is a perfectly reasonable place for him to spend his nights, etc. Now he's pretty much stopped mentioning it, having resigned himself to his new life of sleeping on the couch until Grumpy turns 12. I am starting to feel a little guilty.

Yesterday I decided to clean all of the junk out of the crib and move it over next to our bed so that Grumpy would only be about eight inches from me. The hubby was quite pleased to come home and discover this. We decided he would stay on the couch a couple of nights until Grumpy (I) got used to the arrangement, then he could move back in.

Last night at bedtime I carefully placed Grumpy into his crib then lay down in our bed next to him. He had rolled a little farther away than I expected, putting him almost ten inches away instead of eight. I got up and scooted him back toward me. He wiggled away. I got back up, stared at him for a minute, decided he looked lonely and put him back in our bed.

It's not that I don't want the hubby there, of course I do, he keeps my toes warm. I am also reasonably sure that Grumpy will be fine, especially considering the fact that he wasn't upset when I put him in his crib last night. I didn't co-sleep with Bug and I regret it, I had no idea what I was missing. I love putting my cheek against Grumpy's little head and feeling him next to me warm and safe. Nothing could be sweeter.

Let me clarify, it's not that my husband doesn't want him in our bed, he is welcome to stay now that he's not afraid that he will squish him. I can't sleep that way, I have tried with Bug when he wasn't feeling well or got scared and I always end up in the floor or at the foot of the bed. Since I already get up so early and lose sleep getting up with the baby, I think it's best that I try to get Grumpy into his crib now.

So, I will try again tonight. I'm sure he (I) will be fine. I'll just keep telling myself that...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Marshmallow Incident

I've mentioned my cats once or twice before, but for those of you who haven't met them yet, Tigger is the yellow tabby and P.J. is the tortoiseshell. Tig is an incredibly annoying goofball who is terrified of, well, everything. P.J. is a typical female with a bad attitude who terrorizes poor Tig whenever she gets the chance. She is also a bit moody. For example, she escaped once last year and her first plan of action once she made it out the door was to attack not one, but three stray kittens that were living out there. She is a menance.

In typical Tigger style he managed to step on a discarded marshmallow, I think Bug left it lying on his art desk but I can't be sure. I noticed that he was running around frantically and P.J. was following him, but it took a minute to figure out what was going on. Yes, I did take a picture before helping him, but come on, who wouldn't? P.J. didn't offer any help either, as you see in the picture, she just watched him struggle with the evil marshmallow. I'm pretty sure I heard her snicker.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Tried Writing for Ehow...

I posted before about my hopes for starting a residual income stream and I have finally managed to put some articles up on Ehow. First let me say, writing articles for this site is so much fun that it has addiction potential. It's extremely easy to use and you have instant gratification with the click of the "Publish" button. I am loving it and would probably do some even if there was no potential for cash.

I decided to do a little experiment just to see how much different my earnings would be with a article I wrote off the top of my head and one I wrote after researching keywords. So far, "How to Survive the First Week Home with a New Baby" has had 21 views and earned a whopping $0.15. I didn't do any research for this one, I just pulled the information from another article I had sitting around but had never published. I did keyword research for "How to Create Healthy Meal Plans", have had 25 views and have earned $1.11 so far. Needless to say, I think I'll keep researching keywords.

Now, I realize that $1.26 doesn't look very impressive, which is one of the reasons it took me so long to actually try writing for Ehow, but the more I read the more intrigued I am with the notion of earning money this way. I was writing articles for web content sites for $10 each, about things that were horrendously boring. If I continue to earn only $1.15 a week for this one article I will have earned almost $60 in a year's time, which is more than I ever got for a much longer article before, an article that wasn't nearly as much fun to write. I feel safe in saying that my earnings for each article will increase over time as they haven't even been picked up by search engines yet.

The only glitch that I see in the site is that their page views and earnings don't update regularly, which can be a little annoying. Mine haven't updated in two days, but from what I've read on the forums there this is par for the course and everyone does eventually get updated.

I have written four articles so far and will attempt to add one or two everyday. I don't want to try to meet deadlines right now because with two little ones, especially a four month old, it's just too risky. This seems like the perfect time to give Ehow a whirl and so far, I'm enjoying the experience. I will keep posting updates every so often to let you know how it's going.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Brutal and Relentless War on Clutter

I am not brave enough to put an actual photo of my own clutter here. It's so bad that I'm embarrassed for some of my family who visit this blog to see it. For those of you who have seen it...I'm so very, very sorry. I'm not exaggerating, the baby's crib is completely full of stuff. Bags that should have been taken to Goodwill, bags that should have been given to my pregnant niece, clothes that I keep forgetting to hang, bags of clothes that the boys can't wear just yet and of course, my purse.

I would like to say the clutter is only in our bedroom, but sadly, it is not. I, with the eager assistance of Bug, threw out a 30 gallon trash bag of stuff from the bathroom last week. And our bathroom is tiny.

I am not exactly sure when this happened. We got rid of so much stuff it was unreal when we moved here almost three years ago, but it's piled back up again. The husband and I have sat down and talked strategy about how we can maintain the house more efficiently, and we have decided that if we didn't have all of this stuff the house would be much neater and cleaner. We're going on a decluttering rampage and the bathroom was the first step. Our new motto: If we don't absolutely love it or require it to survive, we are tossing it.

I'm hoping we can get started on the bedroom this week, it's the worst room in the house with the kitchen running a close second. Surprisingly, Bug's bedroom is the tidiest. I know it's going to be hard not to hang onto stuff "just in case we need it", but the idea of living in a neat and tidy environment instead of a chaotic mess is appealing enough to encourage me to do what needs to be done.

After all of the unnecessary stuff is gone a friend (thank you Carolee!) is going to come over and help me with one or both boys so that I can do a deep cleaning of the really bad areas. I can't wait! Maybe this will be the motivation I need to actually keep my house clean enough that I'm not too ashamed for my mom to come over...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Grumpy is Growing Up

Last night I cleaned up Bug's highchair for Grumpy, just to see if he was big enough to actually sit in it. It seems that he's growing tired of his carrier, two swings and bouncer so I thought I'd give him another option. I had my doubts about it, but as you can see he really enjoyed it. I'm hoping he'll be willing to sit in the highchair while I cook and clean up the kitchen, two things that are quite a challenge at the moment. My baby is growing up so fast!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Simple Ways to Reduce Your Grocery Spending

When I can't seem to save money anywhere else, I can usually find a way to cut back on food. Here are a few ways that I save money on our groceries:

1. Set yourself a monthly spending limit. For us, it's $330. That averages out to just over $80 a week. I don't necessarily stick to $80 per week, if I happen to find a good sale I stock up. If I know I have $50 left in my budget at the end of the month it's not a problem because I can just use up all those things I found on sale. I am quite proud to announce that for the first time ever, I managed to make my $330 last five weeks in April. I didn't do the happy dance in the checkout , but only because I wanted to spare the husband embarrassment.

2. Cut back on portions. I'm not saying do without, but don't fix more than your family will eat. For example, when I make pork chops I only make three. It may sound pitiful, but my hubby eats two and I eat one so there's no point in making more than that. I just separate them out into meal size packages before I freeze them. Bug currently hates pork chops, but I always cut up part of mine and try to cajole him into eating it. He usually chews on it for a second and spits it back out, but I'm hoping to wear him down eventually.

3. When you plan your meals for the week think about how to use the leftovers. Either get creative and plan to use them in the next night's supper or "as is" at lunchtime. Make it your goal to toss as little as you possibly can.

4. Frozen veggies are a lifesaver. You can find them on sale at Kroger for $1 a bag, which is usually much less than fresh produce. You actually get more nutrients from the frozen veggies because they are frozen at their peak instead of lying around on a supermarket shelf. Of course, this only applies if you aren't a Southerner who can find a way to fry the nutritional value right out of any food that you come into contact with.

5. Sit down and make a list of the meals your family enjoys that are also easy on pocket book. Then, when an unexpected expense comes up all you'll have to do is get out your list instead of trying to figure out what in the world to make.

When I first left my job it seemed almost impossible to make our grocery budget last the entire month, but now it's one of the easiest areas of spending to manage. We also eat healthier now as well because I don't allow myself the freedom to toss in all of the junk that we used to buy. Now if I could just learn how to cook everything from scratch I'd be flying!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I've Got Nothing...

I have nothing of any consequence to say today, it seems. The house is a bit of a wreck (shock and awe!) and I think the kids are in the process of waking up. Grumpy's already been up once, but I hear Bug wiggling around so I think my "me time" is pretty much a wash out today. Oh yeah, and it turns out that when you stop breastfeeding you really do get your cycle back pretty quickly. Sigh.

I hate days like this. I want to be happy and cheerful and a wonderful mama, but I feel like pulling the covers over my head until Saturday. Wait, no Sunday, I could completely skip grocery shopping if I wait until Sunday.

I have no idea what to make for supper as my well laid plans went out the window, so to speak, along with my attempt at roasting a monstrous chicken. I had planned to use the leftovers for stir fry tonight but by the time I got that thing finished I was so tired of looking at it that I refused to stand there and pick it apart, I just tossed it. Not very thrifty in hindsight, but PMS will make you do crazy things.

It seems like Bug senses when I'm not feeling well and he picks those times to do the most bizarre or irritating things that he can think of. Like last night, for instance. He asks me if he can empty his water cup and I said yes. I hear the back door open then close and he runs to me proudly announcing that "I threw the lid over in those weeds, Mommy!". I asked him why in the world he thought this was a good idea. His response? "Well, I just already did it. I've got more cups anyway." I considered poking him in the eye, but decided it was too much trouble.

I'm going to read my Bible, maybe get a shower and try to perk up a little bit so that when the husband calls he won't sense a bad mood on the horizon and be too terrified to come home. Hopefully I'll have something more meaningful to say tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pizza Casserole

This is one of my favorite recipes and it's even better the next day. I actually stole it from my sister, then tweaked it to suit my bunch. Even Bug loves it.

Pizza Casserole

One package of penne pasta
One jar of spaghetti sauce (or make your own!)
Half package of pepperoni
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/2 cup banana peppers
1/2 cup olives
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta. Mix with spaghetti sauce then add veggies. Layer pepperoni on top and cover with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted.

You can also add hamburger, Italian sausage, whatever suits your fancy. I also like to sprinkle parmesan cheese on top, but then I'm a cheese freak. It's super easy, fast, great for leftovers and oh so yummy!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Left Them Alone for Two Seconds...

I was folding laundry while Grumpy played in his swing nearby and Bug tore paper to shreds. It was a picture of domestic bliss I tell you. I walked to the dryer to get a laundry basket and when I returned this is what I found:

There he sat, covered in paper scraps and looking quite happy with himself. I asked Bug for an explanation as to why he thought this was a good idea. His reply? "Well, Bubby wanted to play with my papers. So I letted him." Of course. It all makes perfect sense now.

I realize that this makes me look like a horribly neglectful mother. I can assure you, no one got hurt during the taking of this photo. I have only been mama to two for a few months. I really think there should be a rule that nothing that takes place during the first year can be held against me.

Creating a Schedule

I used to have a schedule. I remember those days fondly, I didn't always succeed in getting things done, but I had a method. I didn't think things would change too much when I got pregnant, at least not until the end, but boy was I wrong. I started having all day "morning sickness" at 5 weeks and was sick all day, every single day until about week 14 of my pregnancy. Things started to slip as I spent many days on the couch surrounded by crayons, coloring books, the remote and a plethora of Bug's cars and trucks. After awhile, having no plan became the plan.

Since Bug slept until 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning, I used that time for writing, then he ended up falling asleep most days so I had two opportunities each day to get some work done. I didn't worry too much about the house and since I managed to do the dishes, put laundry away and vacuum every once in awhile, it didn't look too bad.

Then along came Grumpy. Turns out, newborns want stuff. A lot of it, all day long. He woke up to nurse before the hubby left for work and didn't usually nap again until 9:00 or 10:00. By then, Bug was up and ready to go. All of those little things I hadn't worried too much about like dusting, cleaning out the fridge, and scrubbing the tub desperately needed doing and I was left with no time to do any of it. I could barely manage to do the dishes once a day, so writing was definitely out of the question.

Now that both boys (seem to) have reasonably consistent sleep routines, I have thrown together a schedule that may or not work. Here it is:

5:00 - Get the husband off to work/Bible reading
6:00 - Write until the kids wake up
8:00 (or whenever Bug wakes up) - Breakfast and clean up
9:00 - My Shower, make beds, feed critters, vacuum
10:30 - Snack
11:00 - Play with (sneakily teach) Bug
12:00 -Do something useless that I enjoy
12:30 - Lunch
1:30 - Bug's nap
2:00 - Dishes, clean something that's really dirty, write if Grumpy naps
4:00 - Wake Bug/Snack
4:30 - Put away huge mound of laundry that is living on my bed
5:00 - Tidy house/talk to the husband for almost 3 minutes before Bug makes him go outside.
6:00 - Supper
7:00 - Dishes, bath both boys unless I can harass husband into showering with Bug, feed critters again.
8:00 - Change into my p.j.'s, give Bug snack, get on computer to read favorite blogs, check lol cats website.
9:30 - Bug's bedtime.
10:00 - Get Grumpy back to sleep. Get back up to write or talk to pitifully neglected husband. Or fall asleep drooling next to Grumpy. Husband covers me up and makes snide remarks about my lack of concern for him the next day.

So there you have it, my attempt at a schedule that might actually work for my crazy little household. I am hoping to at least feel like I have control of my days again. I'll let you know how it goes.

Happy Mother's Day!

In honor of Mother's Day, and as an excuse to finally be able to boast about how adorable my kids are, I am finally posting real photos of my boys. With a little trepidation, I might add. They are the reason that I get up every day and even if the hubby and Bug hadn't made me a card (which of course made me bawl like a baby), I would still be the luckiest mama in the world.

I also have a mom of my own who is amazing. She still puts up with me calling 3-74 times a day to share something exciting, or to whine, and complain. She watches my boys for me so that I can rest, clean and write. And every Friday night she makes me supper, I look forward to it all week. I can remember when I was little, I always felt sorry for the other kids because she wasn't their mom too. That's just how great that she is. I would post a picture of her here, but she would likely kill me.

Here is a poem by Pamela Spurling that I found on A Christian Home . I actually have it on my fridge, it helps to keep me motivated between temper tantrums and belly aches...

Why am I a Mommy?
a message for Mama's of boys... by pamela spurling

Why am I a mommy, you ask?

You're a mommy so that you can teach that little one to know Jesus... so that he can see the Bible translated... so that he can hear how to sing praise songs to the LORD... so that you can receive dandelion bouquets and sloppy kisses... so that you can wash the feet of Jesus by washing a little bottom or face... so that you can discover other
languages: baby talk, or the language of boys playing... so that you can learn to enjoy and then even miss the smell of sour milk or dried food on your sleeve and shoulder...

You're a mommy so that you can call the repairman only to find a Lego is the culprit behind your broken washing machine... so that you can be there to console the member of the losing team... so that you can watch food disappear... so that you can learn to mend broken hearts, broken vases, broken plates, broken windows, and broken dreams... so that you can love your husband and teach that little one how to love his wife someday... so that you can go without sleep or a meal or a new dress or a weekend away---you have a little one who needs something more... so that you can be the first one to ride in the new car of a proud teenager... so that you can learn how to face heartache and trust in the LORD...

You're a mommy so that you can be the first to notice the need for deodorant and shaving cream and razor... so that you can lose sleep waiting for the car to pull down the lane---late again... so that you can laugh at that joke for the umpteenth time... so the you can wipe off fingerprints from ceilings and doorframes... so that you can learn bravery by pulling things out of an old backpack... so that you can learn to be a good sport about water balloon tosses... so that you can assure him his voice will change and won't always sound crackly... so that you can see your husband's younger self all over again...

You're a mommy so that you can learn to be the "other woman" in your son's life... so that you can learn to wave good bye... so that you can light the candle that will be extinguished after he lights the unity candle with his new bride...and so that you can anticipate with him the birth of his first child with an expectancy greater than you have ever known.

You're a mommy because the LORD loves you so much that He wanted to
teach you to pray...

That's why you're a mommy.

Friday, May 8, 2009

This is Truly Unbelievable!

I was stirred awake this morning by Grumpy starting to squirm and whimper, which isn't unusual as he always sleeps with his head pressed against me. When I looked at the clock it was 5:51. That's right...Grumpy slept through the night! Not only that, I gave him his bottle and he went back to sleep. As of right now, 8:35, he is still sleeping.

As I've mentioned here before, my kids generally have sleep issues. The issue is they don't do it. Not on a regular basis or for any length of time. It's starting to look like my kids may actually begin to sleep normally. Bug has started going into his room for 1:30 quiet time everyday without a fight, then going to bed at 9:30 without a fight and sleeping until 7:00-8:00. There may be light at the end of this tunnel after all. A girl can hope, can't she?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our Grocery Budget

Tomorrow is grocery shopping day around here, which means that I'll have to get my menu plan and grocery list together. Our newly revised monthly grocery budget is $330 and we also receive WIC vouchers for our son, which takes care of the majority of milk and juice that we need. It also provides peanut butter or dried beans, cereal and eggs. Since our chickens provide our eggs, I give those away to family members, but everything else is a huge help.

That works out to about $80 a week, which is a big improvement from the $125 we were managing to spend last fall. Outrageous electric bills put a stop to that wastefulness pretty quickly. That amount does not include other items like diapers, pet food, toilet paper, etc. We usually spend about $30 a week in that area.

My grocery shopping strategy is pretty simple. I keep a piece of paper on a cork board in the kitchen and jot things down as I run out of them. I try to keep a stock of canned goods, flour, sugar, etc. I can't keep a huge amount because I don't have the room, but enough so that if we are very low on funds or there is a weather issue we won't run out of food. By replacing these items as I go, I never have to worry about our stock running low.

I also have a pantry list of items that we use regularly that I refer to, just to make sure I haven't missed anything. I take a quick glance at each section (frozen, produce, etc.) and make sure that we have everything that we need. This is especially helpful when you are running on three hours of sleep (I'm looking at you, Grumpy) and there's a fairly good chance that you didn't write anything down on your snazzy little cork board.

After I have taken care of the things we are out of, it's time to go through the fridge, freezer, and cabinets. There's almost always something that I've forgotten about or that needs to be used up quickly. I jot these items down and incorporate them into my weekly menu plan.

I hadn't been planning our breakfast, but I think I'm going to have to start. I cannot seem to come up with anything for breakfast right now, so I think a little forethought is in order. Bug asked for an ice cream cone for breakfast yesterday and I gave it to him. I think it's time to incorporate breakfast into our menu plan.

After I plan our menu for the week I look at each meal just to be sure we have all the ingredients that we need on hand or on the list. Once that's finished I am ready to go shopping. Not emotionally ready due to the fact that Grumpy tends to tag along, often making for an experiment in grocery shopping terror, but on paper it looks good.

I don't use too many coupons because I buy a lot of generic stuff. There are a few exceptions, like coffee and flour, but for the most part I find that the off brands are just as good, sometimes even better. Also, while I do try to stick to about $80 a week, if there is a great sale on something I go ahead and stock up. For example, our local grocery had four pound bags of sugar for $0.99 a couple of weeks ago. I didn't need sugar, but I went ahead and bought the limit of four bags because I know I'll need it later and would rather not pay $2.00 if I don't have to.

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I am trying to cut back on the processed foods that I buy and I'm not quite sure yet how that's going to affect our spending. I know that initially it will probably increase because I'll have to buy items that I don't have on hand, but everyone swears that over time it will pay off. We shall see.

I would also love to be able to incorporate organic milk into our diet, but I can't seem to find it anywhere for under $7 dollars a gallon. We go through three or four gallons a week around here and I just can't swing $120 a month for a milk at the moment. That's one of the pitfalls of living in the backwoods, I guess. Well, I'm off to work on our grocery list. Ok, I'll probably go back to bed first, but after that, I'm on it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

All About Bug

I thought it would be fun to share a bit about the wonderful creature that we call Bug. He is without a doubt one of the most adorable little boys in the world, and I'm not just saying that because I'm his mommy. Here are a few facts about the boy:

1. His daddy called him conehead for the first 6 months of his life. Yep, he really had a conehead but I mean, come on, that was kind of mean.

2. So far I have managed to let him roll off the bed, get his head hung between the couch and the wall (so scary), and get his head hung behind mom's entertainment center. He still loves me, most of the time.

3. He has the most beautiful pale blue eyes.

4. He has an adorable little pug nose. We have no idea where it came from, but Grumpy has it too.

5. He would prefer to be outside, nude if possible, most of the time. He isn't allowed to go out there naked, but since he's tried so many times I would assume it would be a dream come true for him.

6. He potty trained himself right before Grumpy was born.

7. He asks about 1,276,789,001 questions everyday. Here's an example of a standard conversation with Bug:

Bug: Why are there birds?
Me: Because God wanted to make them I guess.
Bug: Where is God?
Me: He lives in Heaven, way up in the sky, too high up for you to see.
Bug: But why?
Me: Because that's where Heaven is and He lives there so He can watch over us and take care of us.
Bug: But why?
Me: Because he loves you very much, even more than Mommy and Daddy love you.
Bug: Oh. Am I God?
Me: Sigh.

8. He would skip meals, tv, baths, candy and breathing oxygen if it meant he could follow his Daddy around outside.

9. He is afraid of absolutely nothing. Not even the dark, most of the time.

10. His favorite show is Maggie and the Ferocious Beast.

11. He knows his ABC's and can count to twelve.

12. He's pretty sure he's 15.

13. He spent his entire second year of life throwing temper tantrums so horrible that I thought about selling him on Ebay.

14. He has been flogged by a chicken. Twice. (See no. 9.)

15. He loves broccoli.

16. He is a great big brother.

17. He's huge, when I carry him his feet touch my knees.

18. Telling him, "Goodnight, see you in the morning", makes him cry.

19. He trashed his room for the first time when he was 2.5 because he was mad at me, then he proceeded to lock me out of his room. See no. 12.

20. He didn't get his first tooth until he was a year old.

So there you have it, a few facts about our little Bug. He keeps us on our toes, but I wouldn't trade him for anything in this world! Lock him in the closet yes, trade him, no...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Writing and Residual Income

Residual income is a dream come true. Think about it, you do work once but continue to earn from it day after day with no further effort on your part. Who wouldn't jump at a chance like that? When I was a mommy writer with an almost three year old meeting deadlines could be tricky. As a mommy writer with a three year old and a three month old, it's darn near impossible. Instead of stamping my foot in frustration and whining about it I have decided to look at it as an opportunity to explore the wonderful world of residual income. OK, after stamping my foot and whining about it. On with the post...

Another aspect that appeals to me is the freedom to write and create whatever I feel like. I cannot tell you how many content articles I have written that were so dull I wanted to shoot myself in the foot just to liven things up...topics like "How to Build an RV Awning" or "The History of Bar Codes". I love the idea that I can write about parenting, cats, gardening, all the myriad of things that interest me. I actually get excited about the possibilities, something that never happened with content writing.

It's fairly simple, you create content and submit it, then you are paid for ad clicks on your pages or for the page views themselves. If you choose your topics and keywords wisely you will earn more. The Freelance Home Writer has some great posts that you should check out if this idea appeals to you at all.

Here are a few more sites you may want to check out:

Residual Income Web
My Work at Home Blog
The Writer's Blog by Dana Prince

This seems like an opportunity with so much potential and the perfect solution for moms of little ones who can't ever make promises about things being done on time. I am just getting started, but I will post updates from time to time on my progress. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Need a Cooking Lesson...Several Actually

I do not like to cook. Actually, it's not the cooking I hate so much as the cleanup. I don't own a dishwasher (hoping to remedy that sometime soon) so that can mean a lot of time spent at the sink. Grumpy doesn't take too well to being unattached to his Mama for more than ten minutes at a time, so that can make dish washing a little tricky.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, things pretty much fell apart after Grumpy was born. I have found myself relying more and more on prepackaged foods, which I had been slowly getting away from in the months before the baby arrived. I had a long way to go, but what little progress I had managed to make has disappeared. I'm even back to mac and cheese out of the box. I do cook some foods from scratch, like cornbread, mashed potatoes and occasionally, peanut butter candy, but the prepackaged foods far outnumber the homemade and the mommy guilt is eating me up.

Another of my hangups about cooking from scratch is the cost. Our favorite jarred spaghetti sauce is $0.99. I really don't see myself being able to make homemade for less than that, I could be wrong. I know that the health benefits would be worth the cost, but when money's tight it's very easy to justify tossing a jar of sauce in the grocery cart.

I'm also a little concerned about the time it will take to start preparing everything from scratch, see above reference to Grumpy. He is a pretty demanding little booger sometimes and he may not think Mommy should waste so much time in the kitchen when there's obviously rocking to be done.

My last concern, and it's not the least of them, it's how the food will taste. I'm just not the best cook. I try, I really do, but things don't always turn out the way I intended. Thankfully, the hubby will eat pretty much anything and is too scared of me to complain (kidding), but I know that I have my limitations.

Even with all of those concerns I am still planning to try and do something about my fear of cooking from scratch. I can't keep feeding my family foods with ingredients that we cannot pronounce, especially when I have a mom at my disposal who can pretty much teach me to cook anything.

I have decided to gradually replace our processed foods one at a time. This coming week I am going to tackle that spaghetti sauce. I know myself well enough to realize that if I try to change everything at once we'll be back to Kraft dinners within a week. So, I'm off to find the simplest homemade spaghetti recipe possible. I will keep you updated on my progress. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

50 Facts About Me

I stole this idea from Heather at Want What You Have , I hope she doesn't mind. I always find it interesting to read about the authors of my favorite blogs and I thought you might as well.

1. My husband is the only person I ever seriously dated.

2. We only dated for five months before getting married.

3. We decided before we were married that we didn't want any kids. Yeah, we changed our minds about that one.

4. It only took one try to get pregnant with Bug and two tries to get pregnant with Grumpy. I will never take for granted how blessed I am to not have fertility issues.

5. I am descended from the first Italian immigrant to the US, but I look Irish with red hair and green eyes. Go figure.

6. I have one older brother and two older sisters. My youngest sister is 12 years older than me, I was a surprise.

7. I'm not quite 5'2.

8. My pinkies on both hands are very crooked. It's an inherited trait.

9. If I wasn't a mommy and writer I would be a veterinarian.

10. Halloween is my favorite movie of all time. I am terrified of Michael Myers and can't watch it if I'm going to be home alone.

11. I used to live in a haunted house. Seriously, it was horrible.

12. I have five great nieces, four great nephews, and another great niece due to arrive in spring.

13. I would rather read than watch t.v. any day of the week.

14. The only music I really like is country and gospel.

15. I have never lived more than five minutes away from my mom.

16. I eat six times a day.

17. My favorite color is red.

18. I am obsessed with making lists, not all that great with actually marking things off though.

19. I never went anywhere without makeup from the time I was twelve until I was 27, which coincidentally, was right after I had Bug.

20. I have no idea what kinds of clothes are in style at any given moment.

21. I would rather be home than anywhere else in the world.

22. I live so far out in the boonies it's unreal. I dream of moving deeper into the boonies. I'm not antisocial, I promise.

23. I am terrified beyond reason of spiders.

24. I am not afraid of snakes and really enjoy picking them up to freak out my mom and husband.

25. I actually enjoy getting up early, even when I don't have to be anywhere in particular.

26. I have been bitten by almost every animal imaginable, including a water dog (I don't care what anyone says, they do bite) and a goat.

27. I love animals anyway.

28. I would rather have a root canal than dust.

29. I don't mind cleaning the toilet, as long as it's my toilet.

30. I got my first ever side by side fridge last year and am ridiculously in love with it.

31. Sometimes I wear my p.j.'s and don't comb my hair all day until it's time for the husband to come home. Sometimes he comes home early. He says he loves me anyway.

32. My older brother is one of my favorite people even though he's a big grouch.

33. I created a website a few years ago dedicated to my cat, Dynamo. She passed away two years ago of cancer and I still miss her everyday. I need to update that website.

34. I have two parakeets, Suuny and Beak. Sunny is almost twelve years old.

35. I used to have a pit bull.

36. I was a legal secretary before I became a stay at home mom.

37. I used to be a carhop.

38. Cheese and mushroom pizza is my favorite food.

39. I am not a big fan of beef, I am always finding weird stuff in it.

40. I am still spoiled rotten by my mom and I enjoy every second of it.

41. I get my feelings hurt easily and am capable of pouting like a two year old.

42. I had postpartum depression after Bug.

43. I have naturally curly hair that turns into a pyramid shaped ball of fuzz if I use a brush.

44. I am so cold-natured that I can't wear short sleeves until the median temperature is at least 78 degrees.

45. I kill all fish that are placed into my care. I don't mean to, it just happens.

46. I am afraid of heights.

47. I would love to go to New Orleans.

48. I am obsessed with the Old South, hence my reason for wanting to go to New Orleans.

49. I whine way more than I should.

50. I can spell almost any word in the English language with no trouble at all, yet I have to use a calculator for simple subtraction.


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