Tuesday, March 31, 2009

extreme couponing

So I took couponing to the next level this week and added Wal-Mart. Because I had several coupons to use before they expired at the end of this month, it turned out to be quite a large shopping trip, but the rest of this month will most likely be pretty small. Again, I only bought things that we could stockpile in our pantry or cabinets or freeze, and only things we would ordinarily buy at some point.

I was originally going to itemize everything like I've done before, but that seemed a bit too daunting.



Wal-Mart (The old lady in line behind me was so excited to see how much I saved with my coupons. She kept saying how proud she was of me.)

Overall, my out of pocket was $157.83 and the original price of all of this was $284.41, so with sales and coupons I saved $126.58 or 45% of the original price! That's not bad considering how many "staple" items I was able to buy. I didn't buy a single item I didn't have a coupon for except for Ben's security blanket. I even had a coupon for my socks ($1 off any No Nonsense brand item, and I found the socks on clearance so they were only $2 for the pack!)

Here's the best of my purchases, and feel free to ask if you want to know how much anything else was or where the coupons were from.

Free - Diet Dr. Pepper (go here to get your free coupon, can be used anywhere)
Mentos Gum - $0.28 / pack ($1.00 off coupon from All You Magazine - March)
Halls Cough Drops - $0.18 (after $1.00 off coupon from the newspaper ads, I think)
Grands Biscuits - $0.50 (on sale at Wal-Mart for $1, then coupons from newspaper ads)
Glade Oil Warmers - $0 (I had two buy one get one free coupons and the check-out guy said I could use them both, so they were both free. I'm not sure if he was supposed to do that, though.)
Reynolds Foil $0 (Walgreens has an in-store add, plus the add from the paper makes it free)

The rest were various combinations resulting in the following:
4 4-packs of toilet paper for $2 each
6 things of deodorant for $0.99 - $1.24 each
4 large bottles of shampoo for $1.49 - $2.24 each
4 packages of Pillsbury fridge cookies for $1.83 each
6 boxes of Quaker granola bars for $1.50 each

I bought a KC Star at Price Cutter and it was definitely worth it. I believe they have twice the coupons of the Springfield News-Leader, especially for food. Some were duplicates, but then I just bought twice as many of that item if it was a good deal. I've also started taking a Sharpie and writing how much I paid for an item on the item. I think this will help me remember how much I spent the first time, so I can aim for that price when replacing it. We are lucky to have plenty of storage cabinets above our washer and dryer and a nice pantry, or this could get out of hand. I would still like to install some additional shelves in the laundry room, but I'm not going to have another coupon trip this large for a while.

Mom noticed I didn't put any pictures of Ben up today. We visited great-grandma Hebbert today, but I'm going to write about that tomorrow with pictures, so here's Ben and daddy on the couch.

Monday, March 30, 2009

answers about Ben's craniosynostosis surgery

We had the appointment today and the doctor confirmed my suspicion that his head shape has gotten significantly worse. Because of this, he is planning surgery for the first half of May when Ben will be 10-11 weeks old. He said I win the award for the most questions on a second visit. We will schedule surgery during our next appointment at the end of April. If anyone thinks of any more questions, let me know and I'll take them to that appointment.

Before surgery

When / where do I donate blood for his transfusion?
I will donate at the Community Blood Center and I will be called this week to let me know when. It has to be within a specific window of time close to the surgery.

How many more appointments will we have between now and the surgery?
One more appointment at the end of April. We will schedule surgery then, for sometime during the second week in May.

Will Ben need blood work done prior to surgery? yes

Is there a time he should not eat prior to surgery?
Typically midnight, but when I meet with the anesthesiologist prior to surgery ask again, because of breastfeeding.

He’s on medicine for reflux – should he stop while in the hospital?
Again, ask the anesthesiologist. Probably no medicine the day of surgery.

Should he stop taking medicine several days before surgery? No.

Will that interact with any of the other medications? See above.

Will his head be shaved? Typically yes, but the doctor’s going to only buzz the are where his incision will be. He will also keep the hair for me, since it’s technically his first haircut.

During surgery

How long does the surgery last?
1 ½ hours but I won’t see him for a total of three hours including pre and post op.

How much bone will be removed?
The strip of bone will be 1 ½ inches wide and 6 inches long. The bone is so thin at this age it can be cut with scissors!

How soon can I breastfeed after surgery?
As soon as he’s out of recovery.

Should I bring pumped milk?
Yes, and the pump just in case.

How long is the hospital stay? 3-4 days

Will Ben be in intensive care?
Yes, for at least the first 24 hours.

Can my husband and I stay with him at the hospital? yes

What kind of pain medication will be used?
Tylenol and codine in the hospital and only Tylenol once he’s home.

Where exactly will the incision be?
From ear to ear across the top of the head, behind the hairline.

Will it be a straight line or a zig-zag?
The incision will be a zig-zag so the hair lays better over it once it grows back.

What are the possible complications?
There is a 0.5% chance of infection and an even smaller chance of too much bleeding that would require an additional blood transfusion.

What type of anesthesia will be used? General.

Is the anesthesiologist a specialist in infants?
There is one who recently started and completed her fellowship in a pediatric unit. I have requested her for Ben’s surgery.

Is the brain ever touched during surgery? yes

How long will he have bandages on his head?
The bandages will be removed the day he goes home from the hospital.

How long after surgery will he be coherent?
He’ll be awake that afternoon but groggy for the following day at least.

How badly will his face and eyes be swollen and how long will it last?
The swelling varies but will be at it’s worst a day or two after surgery and should go down within a few days.

Will he most likely be nauseas after surgery?
The anesthesiologist can give him anti-nausea medicine.

Will he have black eyes or peeling eyelids from the swelling afterward?
Possibly black eyes but not peeling eyelids (that’s more common with facial surgery).

After surgery

What kind of medicine will he need to take once he’s home? Tylenol

How long will he be sore or need medicine once he’s home.
Varies, couple of weeks?

How long will we need to be incredibly cautious with his head?
Treat the head like he’s a newborn / or like his whole head is a soft spot.

What should we expect as far as eating / sleeping changes?
Difficulty for the first few days home.

Should he sleep angled or on a pillow?
Nothing different than right now.

Can I pull clothes over his head? If not, how long should I wait?
Avoid tight fitting clothes for the first couple of weeks.

How do we care for the incision?
Keep it clean and dry.

When can we wash his hair? He can take a full bath a week after surgery.
Sponge bathe until then.

How many more appointments will we have after the surgery?
One month and three month follow up.

Will he have stitches that will have to be removed? Dissolvable

If the stitches are dissolvable, how long until they dissolve? About 2-3 weeks.

When will we know if he needs a helmet? Very unlikely.

Do families purchase helmets for protection as opposed to shaping?
Only needed for toddlers / walkers who risk bumping their heads.

Is there a chance of Ben needing a second surgery and how will we know?
There is a chance that the plates could refuse and he would have a less than desirable cosmetic correction, and in even rarer cases he would need a second surgery.

What are the chances Ben will have any development delays due to compression on his brain thus far or from surgery?
Very unlikely given his age.

How long until we can notice a difference in his head shape?
Immediately, and improving over time; completely corrected by age 2 (as much as it’s going to be.)

Questions from friends:

Have you used platelet rich plasma therapy for this procedure?
It’s not recommended because of the cost and because newborns heal so quickly.

Are there any long term consequences/things to be on the look out for?
He’ll be monitored for early fusing.

What is the recurrence rate? Any increase chance for a similar problem in future babies/siblings?
There is a chance, but it’s still rare and there is no certainty of how common it is within a family.

What are the chances that he will need further procedures related to the current problem down the road? unlikely

What are things to be watching for (i.e. is there anything that if he does/doesn't do) that should make one contact the surgeon right away?
Fever, infection, redness around the incision

How long and often will he have follow ups related to the surgery?
At least 2, 1 month and 3 months

Anything to specifically avoid given his current problem both now and after the surgery?
No, for the most part his care will not change.

Is there anything else that should be known about the current condition, procedure, recovery, and outlook?
His head shape is more severe than last time (at 5 days), and surgery is recommended for 10-12 weeks of age.


After all of the excitement of visiting the surgeon we went to Wal-Mart to get Ben a toy. Actually, I got him a security blanket because I've been reading and discussing with my friends how much it can help transitions to have an attachment object. I bought two just in case something happen to the first. He's been grasping and holding onto his gross burp rags when he's in his car seat, so I figured I'd give him something a little nicer.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

off dairy

I've been off dairy for quite a while now, and it's killing me. When we began having problems with Ben's stomach, the doctor suggested I cut out dairy to see if it has any affect on him. However, we started the reflux medicine at about the same time. So we don't know which is really helping him.

Before, I would eat dairy all day. I always had milk and cereal for breakfast, a sandwich with cheese for lunch, and cheese sticks or yogurt as snacks during the day. Then, most often dinner would involve at least some form of dairy.

To satisfy my craving for ice cream, I bought generic fat-free cool whip (entirely chemicals, I recognize) and put them between two of Josh's home-made chocolate chip cookies from yesterday and I made myself a fake ice cream sandwich. I made several of these, wrapped them in foil and froze them overnight.


Granted, I'm still eating some dairy in baked goods, but I'm really restricting my intake. I'll start slowly reintroducing dairy on Thursday and I'm going to have to restrain myself from eating an entire gallon of ice cream.


Ben's been loosing some of his hair, but he's grown quite the mullet in the back.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

questions about Ben's craniosynostosis surgery

Monday I meet again with Dr. Mace, Ben's surgeon. I have composed a list of questions to ask during this appointment and I will post the answers after Monday's appointment. If you can think of any other questions I should ask, leave a comment below or let me know.

Before surgery
When / where do I donate blood for his transfusion?
How many more appointments will we have between now and the surgery?
Will Ben need blood work done prior to surgery?
Is there a time he should not eat prior to surgery?
He’s on medicine for reflux – should he stop while in the hospital?
Will that interact with any of the other medications?
Will his head be shaved?

During surgery
How long does the surgery last?
How soon can I breastfeed after surgery?
Should I bring pumped milk?
How long is the hospital stay?
Will Ben be in intensive care?
If so, will he stay in intensive care for his entire stay?
Can my husband and I stay with him at the hospital?
What kind of pain medication will be used?
Where exactly will the incision be?
Will it be a straight line or a zig-zag?
What are the possible complications?
What type of anesthesia will be used?
Is the anesthesiologist a specialist in infants?
Is the brain ever touched during surgery?
How long will he have bandages on his head?
How long after surgery will he be coherent?
How badly will his face and eyes be swollen and how long will it last?
Will he most likely be nauseas after surgery?
How long does the nausea last and can he be given medication for it?
Will he have black eyes or peeling eyelids from the swelling afterwards?

After surgery
What kind of medicine will he need to take once he’s home?
How long will he be sore or need medicine once he’s home
How long will we need to be incredibly cautious with his head?
What should we expect as far as eating / sleeping changes?
Should he sleep angled or on a pillow?
Can I pull clothes over his head? If not, how long should I wait?
How do we care for the incision?
When can we wash his hair?
How many more appointments will we have after the surgery?
Will he have stitches that will have to be removed?
If the stitches are dissolvable, how long until they dissolve?
When will we know if he needs a helmet?
Do families purchase helmets for protection as opposed to shaping?
Is there a chance of Ben needing a second surgery and how will we know?
What are the chances Ben will have any development delays due to compression on his brain thus far or from surgery?
How long until we can notice a difference in his head shape?

I can't believe we're only about six weeks away from surgery. We should be scheduling it during Monday's appointment. I have spent a great deal of time reading message boards and other mom blogs about this surgery. Many babies have had a rough time sleeping, eating, and being comfortable for several weeks after the surgery. Several moms said it was as difficult as first bringing them home from the hospital as newborns, because they cry a lot and don't want to sleep very long. Other moms didn't have as difficult a recovery. I am so grateful he is able to have surgery so young, because it seems the moms of toddlers had a much harder time with recovery. Some even reported their babies having night terrors for many months after the surgery. Scary.

I believe the incision will be horizontal from ear to ear across the top of his head. A strip of bone will be removed where the pink lines are below.

*Diagram from American Family Physician

Here is Ben's head, thankfully not nearly as bad as the diagram.

My list makes me seem like a crazy paranoid mom, but it is so terrible and overwhelming to think about my baby having surgery in six weeks. I just want to know everything I can.

Friday, March 27, 2009

frugal dinner - vegetable chicken stir fry

In order to trick Josh into eating more vegetables, I volunteered to cook vegetable chicken stir fry for dinner tonight.

Recently, GO Magazine posted an article titled A Cheapskate's Grocery Guide GO visited six Springfield grocery stores and priced a list of items to compare. The majority of the time Wal-Mart had the best prices, with Dillons having sales that were occasionally cheaper. Dillons had the highest prices on occasion too. Price Cutter was surprisingly high compared to the other choices.

Heeding their advice, I bought my stir fry ingredients at Wal-Mart. Eggs were down to $1.25/dozen (cheaper than the GO article), and brown eggs were $1.54. Frozen stir fry vegetables were $1.83, Tyson boneless, skinless chicken tenders were $4.96 for 1 1/2 lbs, and bean sprouts $1.77. Everything else we had in our pantry and cost very little per serving, but would make this recipe much more expensive to make if you had to buy everything.

1/2 lb. chicken, cut up and cooked ($1.65)
2 eggs scrambled ($0.26)
1/2 bag frozen stir fry vegetables ($0.92)
1/2 bag bean sprouts ($0.89)
1 cup rice cooked (we have a 20 lb. bag from Sam's, so 1 cup costs pennies)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 onion chopped
1 tbs. sesame oil
1 tbs. rice vinegar
3 tbs. brown sugar
pinch cayenne pepper
vegetable oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbs. minced fresh ginger

I'm not very good at cooking or giving cooking directions, but you can get the idea.
I made the sauce first and let it simmer while I made the rest of the meal.
Sauce: brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, cayenne pepper, ginger
Cook the chicken with the garlic then set it aside
Scramble the egg and set it aside
Heat oil with the onion and once it's cooked, add scrambled eggs and rice to make fried rice
Add the frozen vegetables, bean sprouts, chicken and sauce and cook until the vegetables are done.

Granted the onion, fresh ginger and 1/2 cup of soy sauce cost more than any of the un-priced items on the list, the whole meal easily cost less than $5.00. Basing my cooking on what we already had in our pantry, I only spent $3.72 out of pocket for dinner for two, and the ingredients I have left over can either go back in the pantry or be frozen, so nothing is wasted!

I also LOVE Red Diamond sweet tea and I could easily go through a gallon every other day, but I can't stand to spend that much money on tea. Yesterday I made a gallon pitcher of Lipton iced tea and added 1/2 cup of Splenda and it's not too bad. For the first gallon I used 5 tea bags and I think next time I'll try 8 and 3/4 cup of Splenda because the first gallon tastes a little watered down. Either way, making my own gallons of tea = huge savings compared to buying gallons of tea at the store.

For dessert Josh made chocolate chip cookies and we both ate an excellent meal for just a few dollars without feeling deprived.

Dody sent me a picture of Ben yesterday at the park.

I called the pediatrician about Ben's persistant but fading eye goop. The nurse told me to massage his tear ducts in addition to giving him his eye drops three times per day and call if his eyes haven't cleared up by Monday. We will also be meeting with the surgeon on Monday to schedule Ben's surgery.

Ben watching me (sleeping while I) cook (a rare sight.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I just finished reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. It's a fascinating book about our culture’s food choices. The first half of the book is a little dry, but builds the foundation for why our eating choices need to change. He focuses on nutrients, food myths, evils of the food and drug industries, and how food has become increasingly less "food-like" over time. In the second half of the book, he explains how we actually need to eat. His message is Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Eat food.
Pollan explains that "food" is whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats and other items that usually contain five or fewer ingredients. You must know what all of the ingredients are and nothing should be difficult to pronounce. He then proceeds to read the ingredients of Wonderbread and explains how far away from "bread" it actually is. Most store bought bread has so many unknown ingredients and high fructose corn syrup, that it's much more like fluffy sugar and much less like bread.

Not too much.
The author emphasizes that most products that advertise health claims should probably be avoided. Most reduced fat or fat free products are highly processed contain a great deal of synthetic products to make up for the fat loss. Pollan also reflects on the titles added to food such as free range, grass fed, and organic. Buying items from farmer's markets or locally is superior to any of these titles. Free range can mean that chickens were allowed to stand on a dirt plot for an hour or more a day. Grass fed can be applied to any cattle because they were almost all fed grass as calves. Instead, we should look for titles like "pasture raised" or "grass finished" to insure our food is the most nutritious.

Mostly plants.
Pollan is not strictly favoring or opposed to vegetarianism (read his previous book, The Omnivore's Dilemma.) However, he does favor a diet of one meat product per day and the rest fruits and vegetables. Even further than that, the plants should be mostly leaves and less seeds (flour, corn, grains and most of what we eat.) Eating in-season will also provide a more balanced diet and introduce us to foods we would not normally choose.

Some of his most profound statements from this book:

Avoid food that makes health claims.

Shake the hand of the hand that feeds you.
(In buying as much food as you can from farmers.)

Eat only food your great-grandmother would recognize as food.


Ben is on night three of sleeping well. He sleeps from midnight to 10am waking at four and eight. That is definitely manageable for me and makes my life so much easier than the previous weeks.

Our Gumdrop pacifiers came in today too! the only kind Ben likes

Josh ordered them and didn't realize there were color choices, so we have fifteen pink ones, five orange and five blue. We're fine with that. It's still easier than driving back to the hospital for more.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

the story of stuff

Katy recently wrote a great post about consuming less, and it reminded me of an excellent video I came across last year. Annie Leonard created a twenty minute animation that focuses on our production and consumption patterns and connects these patterns to the environmental and social repercussions of our spending decisions. This video truly changed how I view consumerism.

We still have a very long way to go, and couponing doesn't exactly go hand-in-hand with this concept. However, spending less and not feeling a need to purchase new helps this concept fit into my world view.

I also looked into subscribing to the Kansas City Star, and to get it delivered to Sparta costs $28/month. I really can't decide if it's worth it. We certainly don't need another bill, but if I would make that cost back in coupons, then it's worth it. I can't decide.

I think Ben is starting to enjoy his baths. We also had another good night last night! He broke out a little on his neck and chest after I tried Johnson and Johnson wipes. We're back to unscented and his little rash is already about gone.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

so I might be the cheapest friend you have

Couponing Week 3!

All of that for $0.68!
(That's $58.83 worth of merchandise originally. I've explained how below. It's all about matching sales with coupons and rolling store credits from one week to the next.)

CVS deals for the week of 03/22:
Excedrin $7.99 - $2.00 coupon - $2.00 ECB = $3.99
Cascade Action Pacs $4.99 - $1.00 on sale - $0.50 coupon = $3.49
Nabisco Wheat Thins (2 boxes) $5.88 - $1.00 on sale - $1.00 coupon = $3.88
Dawn Ultra $3.99 - $1.00 on sale - $0.50 coupon = $2.49
Glade Spray (2 cans) $3.78 - $1.89 BOGO coupon - $1.00 ECB = $0.89
Sure Deodorant (2 things) $5.98 - $1.00 coupon - $2.00 ECB = $2.98
Aveeno Shaving Cream $4.79 - $2.00 coupon - $2.00 ECB = $0.79
Original cost of all items = $37.40 - $18.89 in coupons / sales = $18.51
$18.51 - $13.00 in ECB's from last week - $5/$30 purchase in-store coupon = $0.51!
(I actually spent $7.51 out of pocket and I have $7.00 in ECB's to spend next week.)

Walgreens deals for the week of 03/22:
Frosted Flakes (4 boxes) $16.95 ($3.99/box) - $6.95 sale - $2.00 RR = $8.00
Hunts Tomato Sauce $0.99 - $0.60 coupon = $0.39
Colgate Toothpaste $3.49 - $2.50 Walgreens coupon - $1.00 coupon = $0.01 overage
Original cost of all items = $21.43 - $ coupons / sale =
$8.38 - $8.17 in RR's from last week = $0.17!
(I actually spent $2.17 out of pocket and I have $2.00 in RR's to spend next week)

ECB = Extra Care Bucks = $ off your next purchase at CVS
RR = Register Rewards = $ off your next purchase at Walgreens

The next step is getting a subscription to the Kansas City Star and start couponing for more grocery items as well as the weekly pharmacy deals.


Ben actually slept more last night than he has thus far! He slept for four hours straight, woke to nurse, then slept another three hours. I felt so rested this morning. It was amazing.

We had lunch with aunt Katy and dinner with Dody and Clifford with coupon shopping and the library in between. We were both a little worn out after such a big day.

Monday, March 23, 2009

we bought a Prius

After much debate, Josh and I decided it would be better if he had a car, given the miles he drives between here and Jefferson City and the amount of money we spend on gas. So we began our search on Craigslist and found a used Prius in El Dorado Springs. Josh test drove it yesterday and Pam and I went to buy it and bring it home today.

We now have a Nissan Frontier to sell, if you know anyone who is interested.

Ben was fussy on the way up and some of the time on the way back, and after a night of little sleep, I am exhausted. We are on day 7 of eye goop, and the eye drops are helping, but his eyes are still gross, especially after he's been sleeping for a while. I'm going to call the pediatrician again tomorrow to ask about it. I have really wanted to take Ben for professional pictures, but I don't want to make an appointment until his eyes have cleared up completely.

We have pacifier problems - we can't keep track of them. So far we've lost five between the dogs, traveling to Jeff City, and I'm not sure how else. We recently ordered 25 more Gumdrop pacifiers online. They are only available at the hospital here in town and it's the only kind he likes. We found they cost quite a bit less if we ordered them through Amazon. We're down to one, so I hope our shipment arrives before we loose it too.

Ben spends a lot of time holding onto his pacifier for dear life.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

seed starting

From the day we made the offer on the farm (3 days before we found out we were expecting Ben), I have been dreaming of having a vegetable garden. During the winter I researched planting times, starting seeds, and the basics of gardening. Josh visited the extension office to get regional planting times and recommendations, and based on that and my web research I created an ideal planting and harvesting calendar. However, because of our precious arrival, things got a little delayed, so I'm late in starting some of the seeds. Today I started celery, lettuce, onions, spinach, peas, parsley, tomatoes, okra and peppers.

This is what the very tentative schedule looks like:

Late March: Start celery, lettuce, onions, spinach, peas, parsley, tomatoes, okra, pepper seeds
Early April: Start basil, beans, and marigold seeds
Late April: Start corn, cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pumpkin seeds
Early May: Transplant celery, spinach, basil, cucumbers, okra, beans, corn, marigolds, peas, lettuce, onions, parsley; plant carrot seeds directly in garden; start second round of spinach seeds
Late May: Transplant peppers, pumpkin, tomato, watermelon and cantaloupe; harvest lettuce, spinach, peas, okra, beans
Early June: Harvest lettuce, spinach, peas, tomatoes, okra, peppers, beans
Late June: Start second round of beans and lettuce seeds; harvest celery, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers
Early July: Harvest onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, second round spinach
Late July: Transplant second round of beans, spinach, and lettuce; plant second round of carrot seeds in the ground; harvest tomatoes, corn, second round spinach
Early August: Harvest corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, second round lettuce
Late August: Harvest second round beans, second round lettuce
Early September: harvest pumpkins, second round beans, second round lettuce

I realize my plan seems quite ambitious for someone who has not done this before, but I've got the time and space, so why not. If some of these things don't turn out, I'll try again next year - no harm done.

Here is the "before" picture of my garden space.

I am hoping to have it tilled this week and this coming weekend Josh and I plan on building raised beds. We are also looking at fruit trees to plant along the driveway. I think those would make a great gift for my first mother's day.

Ben was less interested in my gardening plans, but he did well in the Bumbo chair and the Snugli while I was planning and planting.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

closet cleaning

While in Jefferson City, Josh and I visited our friends in Columbia and I came home with a trash bag of clothes. Katy recently hosted a clothing swap and shared some of the leftover clothes with me. This gave me the opportunity to box up the last of the maternity clothes (minus two pair of maternity jeans I'm still wearing until my size stabilizes). I also went through all of my pre-pregnancy clothes and determine what fits and what doesn't. Of the articles that do not fit, I kept the clothes I really liked and put them in a piece of luggage at the top of the closet to reevaluate in a few months. I kept almost all of my pants although very few fit. I'm five pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, but my body shape is so different and still changing. I plan on doing another wardrobe overhaul before school starts and I will determine what pants are worth keeping.

Although it seems a little OCD, I keep my clothes organized by lightest to darkest and sorted by type (tanks together, t-shirts, then long-sleeved shirts, then pants). Before today I had almost all of my pre-pregnancy in luggage on the top of the closet shelves. And before I was pregnant, I tried to get rid of one thing for every new thing I bought. I also kept a drawer rule that I could only own as many clothes as would fit in my drawers, on my shelves and with the number of hangers I have.

I now have tons of room in the top of the closet and I would like to add a second shelf above that to store maternity clothes and our wedding keepsakes.

The clothes on top of the dresser are what I'm giving away. I'm considering having a clothing swap of my own, but I'm not exactly sure how I would go about it. For now, these clothes are going into the basement with the maternity stuff. The laundry room or garage is my next project, depending on the weather this week. Spring cleaning is in full swing!


Ben had his first bottle last night. Josh was amazed at how quickly he downed it. It made me a little sad and at the same time, reminded me how much I need to pump. I stopped for the last week or so because I hadn't had time (was getting lazy about pumping and it's really not very fun).

Ben's new favorite activity is bouncing. He is cooing and making so many noises as of the last week, especially when you bounce him on your lap.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Unashamed of My Frugality (revisited)

I am amazed at the number of women who keep blogs with themes similar to mine. Josh has been researching small-scale agricultural pursuits and has found the same thing. There happens to be a large population of women writing about hobby farming, frugal living, organization, simple living, gardening, couponing, and being a stay at home mom. Unlike me, most also include religion, home-schooling, and/or crafting in the mix.

I want to keep writing Ben updates, but I'm going to try to expand into other aforementioned topics because if I write about Ben's sleeping habits every day then this blog will become too boring for even my dearest loved ones to keep up with. Below is something I wrote and posted on Facebook in January. I need to look back over it to remind myself of the goals I made for myself prior to Ben's arrival. (I still included a Ben pic and update at the bottom.)

Unashamed of My Frugality (written January 28, 2009)

In the last week, I have had at least five conversations that discussed how my friends are trying to save and spend less in fear of the economic recession. I’ve been a huge proponent of frugal living (despite ridicule) for years, and while in the shower I thought of a few things Josh and I do to (or try to do), to save money. We don’t use credit cards or have car payments, and I’m sure there are dozens of other things we do that aren’t on this list, but I tried to think of a few that seemed really easy for people trying to do one or two little things during the economic crunch to save money.

1. Use conditioner to shave your legs. – I always have conditioner left over because I don’t go through it as fast as shampoo, and it works just as well as shaving cream.
2. Use generic baby shampoo to wash the dogs. – It doesn’t wash off their flea protection and it only costs $1 a bottle.
3. Make or buy cloth napkins. – For our initial investment of $10 at Dollar Tree, we have bought way, way fewer paper towels. I’m planning on making our next set of cloth napkins using the leftover tablecloths from our wedding.
4. Take clothes out of the dryer as soon as it buzzes. – If you fold and hang things immediately, then you don’t have to iron them (or in our case, wear wrinkled clothing).
5. Buy almost everything generic. – There are a few things that really aren’t the same generic, but if you experiment with generic items, especially soaps, paper products and food, there isn’t a difference between most things.
6. Block off heating / air vents in places you don’t use and turn down the heat at night and every time you leave.
7. Line dry your clothes. – I’ve done this all summer for several years now and I love how my clothes smell and how fresh everything is after being dried outside. In the winter, I haven’t yet devised the best system for air drying in this house.
8. Drink almost only water. – Tea’s a close second for not being too expensive but still being something to drink besides water.
9. Use the public library. – I haven’t bought a book in quite a while, and Josh is even getting a little better about reading a few things from the library instead of buying. You can also find many books for free to read online.
10. Sell everything you don’t need online. – We’ve had the best luck selling things on Craig’s List, and a few things on eBay, but it’s ran by Republicans, so we avoid it for the most part.
11. Buy concentrated cleaning products. I’ve been buying in bulk and diluting cleaning products for years, but as soon as I run out of the current batch, I’d like to try making my own. I am also so glad that highly condensed laundry detergent is becoming the standard now.
12. Only use fabric softener every few loads. I’m not even sure if it’s really the best idea to keep using it, but I’ve been buying the “free and clear” kind. However, it does stay in your clothes after you wash them (that’s the idea), so you only need to add it every few loads, and the rest of the time it will already be in the laundry while you’re washing.
13. Buy everything you can used. More than one of my family members have told me, “but you want your baby to have at least some new things, don’t you?” Nope. He really won’t know the difference, and a bunch of my yard sale finds and hand-me-downs are way better than what we would have bought new in the first place.
14. Conservative coupon-ing. I do cut, keep and use coupons, but only for things I absolutely know I would already buy. I’ve seen some un-named loved ones get a little carried away with coupons, and I’ve also seen some incredible deals, but I only keep and buy things I know I would have used anyway. This also cuts way down on the amount of paper clutter and organization that goes behind keeping coupons. *This has changed a bit since January, but I still only purchase things that will store and that we will use.

A few things we aren’t doing but should:
1. Unplug everything we aren’t using. We don’t have an excuse outside of laziness and not wanting to miss anything our DVR is set to record.
2. Put plastic over the windows. – I hate how it looks, but it really does work. It’s so late in the year now, that I’m using that as my excuse. Next year we’ll probably be back to plastic again.
3. Meal planning. If we could figure out what we were going to eat in advance, and go to the store less, then I’m sure we could save a ton on our impulse and snack purchases.
4. Gardening. It’s in our plan for the coming year, among other things…

Two quotes from my second favorite Ben:
“Be industrious and frugal, and you will be rich.”
“Beware of little expenses – a small leak will sink a great ship.”
- Ben Franklin

And here's the Ben pic of the day:

I love how his hair sticks up everywhere when he wakes up, just like Josh. I am so glad we spent a few days in Jefferson City this week. I think it's the best thing for all of us. Over the past month, watching Josh become a father has been the most incredible experience. Seeing him stare at Ben with such pride and adoration somehow makes me love them both even more, if that's possible.
Ok, enough of that...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jefferson City

Ben and I visited Josh at his work then spent several hours walking around downtown Jefferson City.

We found my first apartment from when I was an intern here nine years ago.

My apartment was the top two windows on the left. The store below used to be Kaiser Jewelry but it's out of business now.

We then window shopped, sat outside at a cafe and drank iced tea and nursed, then walked around the outside of the capitol building.

We really do have a beautiful state capitol. I tried to explain to Ben how a bill becomes a law, but he didn't stay awake through my lesson.

We parked near the governor's mansion and as we returned to the car, they were starting a tour so we joined in.

The downstairs of the mansion is filled with portraits of Missouri's first ladies. I'm pretty sure our tour guide was a republican. She had a lot more to say about Mrs. Blunt and Mrs. Ashcroft and Mrs. Bond. The tour guide also spoke disapprovingly of Mrs. Carnahan for wearing a dress suit in her portrait instead of a formal dress like all of the other first ladies. (Mrs. Carnahan wore the suit to represent working women in Missouri - I went on the tour 10 years ago when Carnahan was in office.)

The downstairs stairwell was beautiful as were the rest of the rooms, but they didn't photograph well because of the dark walls and huge windows.

We ended our afternoon by visiting an art gallery near the railroad tracks.

Pushing a stroller up and down those hills was quite a workout. I think we're going to walk around inside the capitol building tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

one month today

I can't believe Ben is a month old already! We drove to Jeff City to visit daddy for a few days and Ben handled the car trip pretty well. I think we packed about half of our house in the car, but a lot of what we packed I'm planning on leaving in Josh's apartment for our subsequent visits.

Josh's very man-ish part-time pad

I think Ben's experiencing a growth spurt because he's wanting to nurse at least once an hour, every hour that he's awake. I am starving and exhausted from it all, but I know it will pass. His hair is also really thinning as of the last week.

Ben and I have each accomplished several milestones during the past month.
I can nurse with one hand and type with the other.
Ben grabs onto my necklaces or clothing when I'm holding him.
I can name all eight of Jon and Kate plus 8's kids.
Ben can roll from his side onto his back.
I have learned that people are so much nicer to you when you're holding a baby.
Ben will occasionally turn his head to see someone talking or moving.
I found out I absolutely have to wear a bra 24 hours a day now.
Ben can hold his head up for quite a bit longer and look around.
We both go through so much more laundry a day than I ever imagined.
I'm sure we've both learned so much more, but he's ready to eat again so I need to wrap this up.

I also received (what I'm considering) my first real smile today. I was carrying Ben around the house and talking to him and he gave me the cutest gummy grin and I got so excited.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

we wore green

Today we celebrated Ben’s first St. Patrick’s day by having lunch with Dody at McGregor. Ben woke up with his eyes completely crusted closed, but they are looking quite a bit better this evening. I also bought a pacifier to use when giving him his medicine for reflux, but I couldn’t get him to suck on the pacifier because it wasn’t the kind he likes, so I used the regular syringe. I’ll try again tomorrow with the pacifier because it seems like it would be so much easier.

We had dinner at grandma and grandpa’s and grandpa took some pictures.