Monday, May 31, 2010

Work v. Family - Who Wins?

I don't know when I learned to read, but I've always loved reading as far back as I can remember. I rarely have time to finish a book these days, but I do enjoy reading magazines. My favorite magazines are Fitness, Car & Driver, Playboy, Cooking Light, Cooks Illustrated, and any magazine about parenting. I guess you could say that I have unusual taste in reading materials.

I feel like Car & Driver has been missing something vital since the departures of Patrick Bedard and Csaba Csere. Bedard's Libertarian-leaning articles were always my personal favorites and I thought his point of view was quite refreshing. I can't figure out why he left the magazine after more than four decades, but I guess it was time for him to move on. In my opinion, Csere did a great job as the Editor, but he did come across as rather arrogant about the magazine's obnoxious redesign a few years ago.

I'm still warming up to the new Editor (and I think it's telling that I can't remember his name), but the magazine layout is more pleasing to my eyes. I don't know why David E. Davis returned and I just don't care for his style, but what the heck do I know about running automotive magazines? All I have to say is thank goodness that John Phillips hasn't gone anywhere or I may have stopped reading C & D altogether.

The current issue of Car & Driver has an interview with Ron Gettelfinger. Gettelfinger has been the president of the United Auto Workers (UAW) for the last eight years and he's retiring in June. I don't do much to hide my dislike of unions, but this post isn't going to become a screed against those parasitic organizations.

Instead, I think I'll share the last answer of the interview. He was asked what he might have done differently. The Interviewer didn't specify whether he meant personally or professionally. I was struck by Gettelfinger's response. He said, "One thing, I look at my family and the amount of time I've been away and the sacrifices they have had to make in order for me to be able to do my job. I regret that. If I could do it over again, I would have tried to find a better way to balance my family and the demands of the job." His answer continued for a couple more sentences, but that is the main point.

Ron Gettelfinger is 65-years old. He may be a union man, but he comes across as a perfectly nice individual. He was elected to two terms as president of the UAW - the pinnacle of success for his industry. But, upon being asked what he'd do differently, he expressed regret that his family was shorted by his career.

I wonder how many professionals have the same regrets?

I worry about the regrets I will have once my own son is grown. I'm very glad that I can stay home with him now, but one day I do expect that I'll return to work. At that point I realize that it will be easy, tempting even, to work harder to buy more "things" to give him. But he doesn't want things. He wants my time and attention.

I hope I don't look back on my life and wish that I spent less time at work and more time with my family. I hope that in the battle between work and family, I hope that my family wins.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Favorite Household Items for Cleaning

I'm exhausted since I was up late last night (this morning actually) and up early this morning. I spent hours at the Strawberry Festival today and I'm exhausted. Since I feel lazy, it seems like a good time for another list. This time I'll focus on my favorite household items for cleaning.

Microfiber Cloths - I bought these at the 99cent Store and I use these little babies every single day for so many cleaning tasks. Dusting, wiping up spills (with a busy toddler around, I ALWAYS have to wipe up something), wiping down counters and the dining room table, cleaning up my son's grubby face & hands (he has his own special cloth), and regular old dusting.

Plain White Toothpaste - Toothpaste is great for cleaning up silver. You read that right. I use plain white toothpaste on silver. It works well, it's cheap, I always have it on hand, and it doesn't smell bad. What's not to like about that?

Hydrogen Peroxide - Everyone has a bottle of H2O2 in their medicine cabinet, right? Peroxide is good for whitening dinginess away.

Baking Soda - What can't baking soda do? It can be used as a gentle scouring powder. It deodorizes. It can be used (with white vinegar) to improve drain function & smell. Seriously, the next time you notice that your drains are slow, do the baking soda + vinegar + boiling water trick and it'll clear things right up.

White Vinegar - So versatile! You can use it in cooking, cleaning, or deodorizing. I always have a spray bottle filled with water & white vinegar to handle light cleaning. It dries quickly and doesn't leave streaks either.

Ammonia - Why buy Windex when you can just mix up water & ammonia in a spray bottle? Your glass, windows, and mirrors will be just as clean and you'll spend far less money.

Bleach - Think beyond the laundry room, though it does keep your whites white. It is used most often in the house when one of us has been sick. I mix up water & bleach and wipe down all surfaces to avoid spreading illness throughout the family. It easily whitens up discolored white grout. I also use it when cleaning toilets and around toilets.

Soilove - My favorite laundry helper! Why don't any of my son's shirts have stains? Because I use Soilove! It's only 99 cents and it removes nearly any stain. I keep it in a spray bottle so I don't use as much product and I spritz almost all of my son's shirts prior to laundering.

Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner - I have hard water and I hate scrubbing toilets because the hard water leaves terrible toilet bowl rings. This stuff is the best I've found for removing toilet bowl rings and, if you leave it on for a few minutes before scrubbing, it is darn near effortless. It does have a strong smell, so open your bathroom window or turn on your exhaust fan while using it.

CLR - We have clear glass shower doors and we have hard water. This means that we are always fighting to keep those glass doors clear. We squeegee the doors and wipe them dry after each shower, but we still have problems keeping the glass clear. I used to spend hours scrubbing until I began spraying the doors with CLR. I use it once per month and they are nice & clear. It stinks, there is no other way to put it.

Limeaway - Another favorite since we have hard water. Every now & then I use this on our shower stall because the hard water deposits tend to build up on the shower floor. The smell is gross, but it works like a champ.

Clorox Wipes - I've been using these a lot lately. I use them to swipe lightswitches, door knobs/levers, faucet handles, telephones, remote controls, toilet levers, refrigerator handles, and my son's potty chair. I like the Orange scent.

Comet - I clean my kitchen sink every night and I use Comet. I like it because it smells clean and it removes any food staining - even red pasta sauce!

Arm & Hammer Essentials Heavy Duty Cleaner/Degreaser - If you have any greasy gunk around your stove, this stuff is for you. Spray it on and wipe it off - no scrubbing necessary. It smells reasonably pleasant for being such a strong cleanser.

Swiffer Wet - I don't prefer to use many disposable items, but I do like these things. I like how they smell and I use them when I'm too lazy to break out a real mop.

Shark Steam Mop - It hisses like a bag of snakes, but it works great! If you have any buildup on your hard surface floors, you really need to try a steam mop. It's also nice to use if you don't want to use cleansers on your floors. It's keeps my tile nice & clean with just plain ol' H20.

What are your favorite cleansers?

Friday, May 28, 2010


UGH! It's been a late night and it's nowhere near over yet. So I am sorry, my friends, but there will be no post tonight. I hope to have a really awesome post for you tomorrow! Your love and prayers will be much appreciated in the meantime. . .

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Two Recipes for Hot Days

I have a couple of posts that I keep meaning to write, but I really need to work on how they are presented because they could be considered offensive. In case you're wondering, one post is about wieners (the male kind, not the kind you eat with ketchup & mustard) and the other post is about. . .you know, I just don't know how to put it other than lezzing out at a sex party. And, no, I have not.

Instead of working on difficult to finish posts, I thought I'd offer up a couple more recipes that are weight loss friendly. Both of these recipes are fast, easy, and won't heat up your kitchen. Perfect for the upcoming hot days of Summer!

Tuna Wraps
5 La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Tortillas
2 cans water-packed albacore tuna
2 Tablespoons low-fat mayo (I used the Best Foods brand, but I also like Smart Balance)
1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
4 tomatoes, diced
1 cup baby carrots, minced (I used the food processor)
Seasonings (for tuna): cumin (don't be shy with it), salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes

Thoroughly drain water from tuna. Flake tuna in bowl and mix in the mayo, cilantro, and seasonings to taste. In a separate bowl, mix spinach, onions, tomatoes, and carrots. Heat tortillas until they are pliable. Equally spread the veggie mixture and the tuna mixture on the five tortillas. Tightly roll tortilla and cut in two. Serves 5. Each wrap is 4 very filling WW points.


This next one isn't really a recipe, more like guidelines.

My Favorite Salad
Vegetable Ingredients: Lettuce (I use any except iceberg), fresh spinach, green onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, hearts of palm.

Use as many raw vegetable ingredients as you'd like. They are all 0 WW points for 1 cup.

Additional Ingredients: The WW points are listed behind the item - Grilled boneless/skinless chicken breasts (1 WW point per ounce), black beans (2 WW points per 1/2 cup), garbanzo beans (2 WW points per 1/2 cup), kidney beans (1 WW point per 1/2 cup), pinto beans (2 WW points per 1/2 cup), regular shredded {cheddar, mozzarella, jack, Parmesan} cheese (3 WW points per ounce), crumbled feta cheese (3 WW points for 1 1/3 oz.), pickled beets (1 WW point per 1/2 cup), hard cooked egg (2 WW points per egg), canned tuna fish (WW points vary by brand).

I usually only use one or two of the additional ingredients.

Dressing: I do a few different things for dressing, depending on the salad I've mixed up. I make a low-fat ranch dressing using 1 cup nonfat milk, 1 cup mayo (1/2 regular & 1/2 low fat), and 3 Tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch powder. I sometimes make dressing using salt, pepper, garlic, oil (olive or flax), and vinegar (balsamic is what I currently prefer). Sometimes I use salsa as a salad dressing. If I've recently made a batch of low-point chili, I'll just toss the chili in with lettuce, onion, carrots, tomatoes.


What do you like to prepare on hot days?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Looong Day of Babywearing

My son stepped on the digital scale this morning and I mentally made a note of his current weight. 26.6 pounds. This is interesting because I wore my son in the ERGO for six hours today. He spent four hours on my back and two hours in front while I desperately tried to get him to take a nap.

I have to say that I am more impressed with the ERGO each time I use it. Initially, I didn't care for it and I found back-carries to be difficult at best. Somewhere along the line, I have become very good at hoisting my kiddo over my head and onto my back. I still feel like a weirdo when I bend over at the waist so I can reach the straps, but I can't figure out another way to grab them. I've also learned that it is far more comfortable for me if I wear the waist strap down at hip level.

I'm excited to report that my back doesn't hurt. My shoulders don't hurt. Nothing hurts at all even though I wore a 26.6 pound toddler for six hours!

I still love my pouch and I'm still enjoying my ring sling, but the ERGO is definitely one of my three favorite carriers for toting my toddler. Here is my order of preference: pouch, ERGO, ring sling.

What carriers do you like for toting your babies or toddlers?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Favorite Foods

Tonight we'll be having Tuna Wraps stuffed with spinach, spring greens, cilantro, onions, carrots, and tomatoes. I still haven't decided if I want to add black beans to the wrap and I'm kicking myself that I used our last ripe avocado the other day. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share some of the foods that I always like to keep on hand since I'm working the Weight Watchers (WW) plan.

Seasonal Vegetables and Fruit - I generally only purchase produce that is in season for a couple of reasons: it tastes better and it's cheaper. Where I live we have a wonderfully long growing season with plenty of growing heat so produce is pretty darn cheap nearly year-round. My favorite vegetables are: broccoli, carrots, celery, onions, peppers, garlic, zucchini, butternut squash, pumpkin. And I adore all greens: collards, mustard, turnip, spinach. My favorite fruits are: apples, bananas, strawberries. WW points vary according to what fruit or vegetable we're talking about. Generally speaking, they are the lowest point things you can eat when you compare volume to points.

Frozen Vegetables and Fruit - I have no problem hitting the freezer section of the supermarket if the fresh produce looks a little limp. Sometimes the price per pound (or ounce) is cheaper than buying fresh. My favorite frozen vegetables tend to be broccoli, spinach, green beans, and those blends with carrots, peas, & green beans. My favorite frozen fruit are berries - I prefer a blend of blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. WW points vary according to what's in the package.

Beans - I stock dried beans because they're so cheap and canned beans because sometimes I do a poor job planning and don't want to take the 15-minutes it takes to cook the beans in the pressure cooker. If I use canned beans, I always drain and rinse the beans thoroughly. I prefer black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and lentils. Most beans (not all) are 4 WW points per cup.

Whole Grains - I always have a tub of brown rice in the fridge. I usually also have barley and quinoa on hand if I'm burned out on rice. Most grains (not all) are 4 WW points per cup.

La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Tortillas - These are high fiber and low carb tortillas and they are HUGE. I use them to make very satisfying wraps. 1 WW point per tortilla - did I mention that they are HUGE?

Oroweat Double Fiber Bread - At 12 grams of fiber for two slices, you will be nice & full even if you only had a boring old sandwich at lunch. 1 WW point per slice of bread.

Canned Meats - I love the convenience of canned salmon, tuna, and chicken. I use these in casseroles, to make patties for grilling, to make salads, and to make sandwiches. WW points vary.

Lean Meats - You can always find some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in this house. We cook up a large package of these once a week and keep the pre-cooked chicken breasts in the fridge. This removes fast-food temptation because we always have something healthy to eat within minutes. We almost always have 4% ground beef on hand for patties, chili, to add to pasta sauces, and more. WW points vary by ounce.

Eggs - Eggs aren't glamorous and they aren't sexy, but they sure are satisfying and tasty! I like to hardboil them by the dozen so that I always have something handy to snack on if the crudites aren't cutting it. I know people like scrambled egg whites and egg white omeletes, but I'm a yolky kind of gal. 2 WW points per egg - ditch the yolk and the white is 0 points.

Nonfat Milk - Two cups of milk fulfills the WW Good Health Guideline for dairy. I'm glad that I never had whole milk growing up because I understand that people who did really are grossed out my nonfat milk. I don't like my drinks this way, but I kinda like my milk watery and weak. 2 WW points per cup of nonfat milk.

Powdered Nonfat Milk - Want to save a little money while cooking? Use powdered milk (all you have to do is add water) when you're cooking. Even if you think powdered milk tastes awful in the glass, you'll never notice the taste when you cook with it. 2 WW points per cup (prepared according to directions, of course)

Chicken Broth or Stock - I do have canned broth in my pantry for those rare times that I don't have any homemade stock on hand. I prefer to use homemade if at all possible though because it gives superior flavor and mouthfeel to the finished dish. I use it to make soups, cook grains, and make sauces. WW points vary.

Instant Potato Granules - Yeah, yeah, I know. Look, I haven't actually made "real" mashed potatoes in years and I don't think that anyone is the wiser. I make these instant potatoes with nonfat milk and don't add any butter. I figure that most people put gravy on potatoes anyway so they won't notice the missing fat. If I'm not serving gravy, I season them up with ranch dressing powder so that they are tasty. Lately I'm a fan of making ranch dip with nonfat sour cream and stirring in some of that to make the finished potatoes creamy and delicious. 2 WW points per half-cup for the potatoes prepared with just water & nonfat milk.

Flax Oil - You can choose from a few different types of healthy oil to fulfill your Good Health Guidelines, but I prefer to use flax oil. I like the nutty taste it imparts to plain ol' steamed veggies. Don't cook with flax oil, just use it to finish off your dish. 1 WW point per teaspoon.

Olive Oil - Another healthy oil and the one that I prefer if I need to cook with oil. I don't fry often so it's lower smoke point hasn't been a problem in my kitchen. 1 WW point per teaspoon.

Capers - These briny berries add a tasty tang to sauces and pasta dishes. Big taste for being such a little package. 0 WW points.

Mustard - My favorite condiment. I stock Dijon, spicy brown, and yellow mustards. I use more mustard than mayo when I make deviled eggs, tuna salad, chicken salad, macaroni salad, or potato salad. 0 WW points.

Flavor Helpers - The ones that I use most often are: kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, onion powder, granulated garlic, curry powder, turmeric, chili powder, fresh lemon juice (I freeze it in ice-cube trays), soy sauce, fish sauce. A complementary mix of these flavor helpers will liven up any boring dish. 0 WW points.

Sugar-Free Jell-O - I love this stuff when it's hot out. Sometimes I get cute and layer it in a wine glass with fat-free whipped topping. I've also been known to mix in fruit on occasion. WW points vary according to what you do with it.

Sugar-Free Popsicles - Another sweet treat that I love when it's hot out. WW points vary by brand.

Kool-Aid - It is so cheap to make a pitcher of Kool-Aid and you can control the sugar content. The package calls for a crazy amount of sugar (a cup I think - I'm too lazy to go look) and I've found that you don't even need half of that amount. You can also do what I did as a kid: freeze Kool-Aid in ice-cube trays to make ghetto Popsicles. WW points vary according to how you mix it.

Iced-Tea - I prefer Lipton black tea bags when I'm making iced tea because I find it pleasantly astringent. 0 WW points.

Do you have some healthy or low-point foods that you like? Please share!

Monday, May 24, 2010

$lash Your Grocery Bill

If you've been reading this blog, you probably know that I'm not a fan of wasting money. Housing, insurance, and transportation are probably the Big 3 in most people's household budget, but I suspect that the grocery bill is in the top five. Unlike the Big 3, the grocery bill can be lowered fairly easily in most cases. Here are a few things I do to keep our grocery bills low:

Treat your kitchen like a grocery store. I don't mean that you need to hire stockers, but you do need to imitate them and rotate your "stock" whenever you return from shopping. I do this with the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry. Sure, it takes a few minutes to move the older items to the front, but I never have to throw away food that has expired or spoiled.

Store your food properly to avoid waste. Keep your flour, brown rice, barley, quinoa, and other grains in airtight packaging (I use Ziplock bags most often) in the fridge or freezer and you won't have to worry about those pesky pantry bugs. Keep your oils and vinegars in a cupboard away from your stove/oven - the exception to this is flax oil, which I keep in the fridge. Keep apples and bananas away from other fresh produce because they promote quick-ripening of other produce. Keep onions and potatoes in a well ventilated area to reduce chance of spoilage. If you wash lettuces prior to storage, be sure to dry the lettuce thoroughly - you can use a salad spinner or a clean & dry dish towel. Wrap celery in aluminum foil to keep it fresh for a loooong time - sounds kooky, but it works. Keep milk and eggs toward the back of the fridge rather than in the door to prevent temperature variations.

Avoid most processed foods. Yeah, I know that they seem to make life easier, but they are incredibly more expensive than using whole foods. You might say, "But Rice-A-Roni is only .99 per box!" I say that you can purchase A POUND of brown rice for the same price and you can control the seasonings/sodium. Same thing applies for any potato-based side dishes. Perhaps you like Lunchables. Okay. You'll save money if you purchase crackers, lunchmeat, and cheese singles to make your own lunchable-style snacks. Maybe you don't know how to cook and you serve Dinty Moore when you want beef stew. The internet is lousy with websites to teach cooking techniques and view tons of recipes. Check it out and, I promise, you won't be sorry. Note that I do purchase a few processed foods.

Focus your shopping on the perimeter of the grocery store. The interior contains most of those processed foods that cost so much money. The perimeter has fresh produce, fresh meat, and dairy items.

When you are in the interior, look up or look down - don't just focus on items at eye level. Need some cold cereal for the kiddos? It's a good bet that the most expensive cereal is found at eye level. Go a step further and eschew the boxed cereals altogether. You can find sacks of knock-off Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, puffed wheat, and more on the bottom shelf in the cereal aisle. I'm a lazy old cow and I do use canned cream soups when making casseroles. The name brands are at eye level and the far less expensive store brands are found above or below.

Consider shopping at "ethnic" markets. We eat a varied diet and our meals often include ethnic cuisine. I buy really cheap dried beans & lentils, seasonings, yogurt, oils, olives, spreads, and certain vegetables at a Middle-Eastern market. I buy really cheap seafood, seasonings, and certain vegetables at an Asian market. I buy really cheap beef, dried beans, certain vegetables, and seasonings at a Hispanic market. I do not drive all over town. I just swing by when I happen to be in the area.

Don't turn up your nose at 99 cent stores. I have found some crazy-awesome bargains at my local 99 cent store. Seasonings and personal care items (dental care, soap, etc.) are a great buy at these places.

Consider limiting the meat in your diet. Even when it's cheap, meat is pretty expensive. If you can't commit to one meat-free dinner each week, at least commit to decreasing the amount of meat in your meal. In a future post, I'll give my recipe for a delicious lentil & brown rice casserole that tastes "meaty" enough that my Mid-Western raised hubby eats it without complaint.

Consider trying frozen vegetables. Not the frozen vegetables with sauces, just the plain veggies. Oftentimes, I have found that the frozen veggies are cheaper per pound (or per ounce) than the fresh veggies. Buying the frozen veggies in bulk at Sam's Club or Costco is generally even cheaper.

Buy block cheese rather than shredded. It's super-easy (and fast!) to shred cheese in the food processor with the shredder attachment. Block cheese tends to keep longer too. Lately I have noticed that shredded cheese is the same price as block cheese so it always pays to compare prices. To avoid spoilage, I store half of the shredded cheese in a Ziplock bag in the freezer. The cheese defrosts perfectly fine in the fridge.

Unless you're brand-loyal, don't bother with coupons. I know that serious couponers will dispute my advice, but I stand by my thoughts. Coupons are generally only for brand-name items and I buy very few brand-name items. Coupons only take a few minutes to look at each week, but they just aren't worth it to me. If you do use coupons, at least use them right. Hoard your coupons for a week or two after they come out in the newspaper and you'll find that the item will generally go on sale in the store. Every now and then I'll use coupons, but I feel they are a waste of time for me for the most part.

Make a list and shop that list. Take a quick inventory of your well-organized kitchen (see first tip!) and develop a list in conjunction with the weekly sales flyers. I'm not store-loyal and I'll shop at whichever store is offering the best prices on what we need. Once in the store, don't deviate from your list. Making impulse purchases, no matter how awesome the price, is a good way to blow your grocery budget.

Don't waste your money on most cleansers or deodorizers. Ammonia is a major component of Windex. Mix water & ammonia in a spray bottle and you have your own window cleaner for just pennies. Multi-purpose cleansers brag that they are made with bleach. Mix water & bleach in a spray bottle and your have your own sanitizing cleanser for just pennies. Deodorizers often just mask odors instead of removing odors. Try a little baking soda or a little plain white vinegar to remove offensive smells - just don't mix them together! The exception to this is the drain. Try this little trick the next time your drain smells a little funky: Pour baking soda down drain, pour white vinegar down drain, let sit for five minutes, pour boiling water down drain. Viola! A fresh-smelling drain for pennies! I must confess that I'm all about the Clorox wipes to deal with my son's potty chair and dribbly messes. Yes, I use a coupon!

There are plenty of other things that I do to save a little here and there, but it's been a long day and I'm beat. I hope these tips help you $ave money on your grocery bill!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Two Recipes to Try

I hate cleaning, but I love to cook. I've been tinkering with recipes lately to make them as low-point as possible while remaining true to the original recipe's taste. I have a couple that I'd like to share with you tonight.

The downside to spending so much time in the kitchen is that I tend to taste a lot because I don't like to measure and I never follow recipes. Since I've been measuring everything (thanks to Weight Watchers), I've really cut back on my tasting in the last several weeks. I couldn't resist tasting this recipe that I whipped up for my son tonight.

Avocado & Tomato Salad
1 tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
Seasonings: A little salt, pepper, onion powder, & granulated garlic.

Mix everything in a bowl and enjoy!

This makes a lot and it's 9 points for the entire salad, so you be sure to share it or you'll be burning a lot of points on a side. Remember too that avocado is loaded with healthy fats so a little bit is very satisfying.

- - -

I've been making this sauce for years, but it originally calls for an entire stick of butter. Needless to say, I haven't made this sauce since starting Weight Watchers because the points value was through the roof. I came up with this decent version earlier in the week. This sauce pairs deliciously with light fish (cod, halibut, snapper) or chicken breasts.

Lemon Butter & Caper Sauce
2 glasses dry sauvignon blanc (I've also made this successfully with vermouth)
2 cups chicken broth
1 oz. lemon juice
2 teaspoons butter
2 Tablespoons capers, drained & rinsed

To begin making this sauce, I browned the outsides of previously cooked chicken breasts in a regular pan (NOT non-stick) so that I could get some browned bits for flavor building. The stove was set to Medium-High and the pan was dry - no oil or anything.

Remove chicken breasts to a covered plate, add wine to the pan, and turn stove to High. When liquid begins to boil, scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and capers to pan. Reduce sauce.

This makes a little more than 1/2 cup for 6 total points for all of the sauce. I have a little ladle and I get 6 ladlefulls of sauce at 1 point each. The flavor is fabulous and it really livens up plain ol' fish or chicken.

I hope you enjoy these recipes. Happy cooking!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Few Items for Purchase

Are you in the Southern California area? Are you looking to purchase a few pre-owned or brand new baby items? Then this is the post for you!!

I was cleaning out my son's closet and I have a lot of baby items that I'm selling. I'd forgotten that I had some of these items! Check out my list and see if I have anything you want or need. Post a comment with a contact method (or contact me directly if you know me personally) and we can work out the details, negotiation, etc. I'm happy to send pictures of any item you're interested in or set up a time to meet with you if you want to check anything out in person.

Jeep Overland Limited Jogging Stroller -
I blogged about the pros & cons of this stroller on April 27th. My little guy is a little too tall for it these days and I can't justify keeping it around. Includes manual. Price: $80

Evenflo Titan Elite Convertible Car Seat -
Never been in an accident. Manufacture date of January 23, 2008. Weight range of 5 pounds up to 50 pounds. Rear facing weight limit is 35 pounds. My son is 3' tall and he doesn't fit comfortably in it any longer. Has cupholder and snack cup. Includes manual. Price: $50

Kushies Classic Infant Sized (10-22 lbs.) Cloth Diapers -
Never used! These diapers were washed & dried around eight times in preparation for use, but they never fit my son's thin legs so we didn't use them. Made of eight layers of 100% cotton flannel plus an inner waterproof barrier to help keep baby dry. Has a built in flap/liner. The exterior is soft cotton, just like the interior. These diapers are secured to baby via hook & loop closures (like the Velcro brand of closure) at the waist. They have elasticized legs for a snug fit and to help contain messes. I have a variety of cute prints and gender neutral solid colors - 2 white, 2 mint green, 2 yellow with bees, 1 white with multi-colored fish, 1 white with squiggly lines & polka dots. It is my understanding that these are a fitted diaper, meaning that you do need a diaper cover, but the manufacturer says you'll only need one at naptime, bedtime, or with a very heavy wetter. Price: $8 each or $56 for all 8 and, if you buy all 8, I'll throw in the one diaper that I did try with my son. Note that these ended up with a somewhat "pilly" look after the washing prep.

Kushies All-In-One Ultra Infant Sized (10-22 lbs.) Cloth Diapers -
Never used! These diapers were washed & dried around eight times in preparation for use, but they never fit my son's thin legs so we didn't use them. Made of five layers of 100% cotton flannel with a special poly/rayon middle soaker for increased absorption. Has a built in flap/liner. The exterior is waterproof vinyl. These diapers are secured to baby via hook & loop closures (like the Velcro brand of closure) at the waist. They have elasticized legs for a snug fit and to help contain messes. I have a variety of cute prints and gender neutral solid colors - 2 white, 2 yellow, 2 mint green, 2 white with pastel polka dots, 2 white with stick figure families. You do not need a cover with this diaper. Price: $8 each or $72 for all 10

Kushies Classic Toddler Sized (22-45 lbs.) Cloth Diapers -
Never used and still in package! Made of eight layers of 100% cotton flannel plus an inner waterproof barrier to help keep baby dry. Has a built in flap/liner. The exterior is soft cotton, just like the interior. These diapers are secured to baby via hook & loop closures (like the Velcro brand of closure) at the waist. They have elasticized legs for a snug fit and to help contain messes. I have a variety of cute prints and gender neutral solid colors. It is my understanding that this is a fitted diaper, which means that you do need a diaper cover, but the manufacturer says you'll only need one at naptime, bedtime, or with a very heavy wetter. Price: $8 each or $72 for all 10

Kushies Prefold Cloth Diapers -
No stains at all, these diapers are perfectly white. These are "old fashioned" rectangle-shaped diapers. They are 2x4x2, meaning that the middle part is twice as thick as the sides. These are not absorbent diapers, but they are 100% cotton flannel so they are soft and very breathable if your little one has a diaper rash. These diapers can be secured to baby by using diaper pins, Snappis, or simply folding them in such a way that you can lay them directly in a diaper cover. I always lay them directly in the cover and have never fooled around with pins because I'm chicken. You will need a diaper cover for these diapers. Price: $1 each or $10 for all 12

Bambineo/Bambinex Fitted Size 1 (7-22 lbs.) Diapers -
No stains at all! These diapers are oh sooo very soft! They are made of rayon from bamboo (90% bamboo, 10% polyester). Each diaper includes a booster insert to improve absorbency. These diapers attach to baby via hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. This is a high waisted diaper with very generous leg openings; it fits kinda like a Sumo wrestler's outfit. There is elastic at the back of the waist and in the leg openings to ensure a good fit. They are a fitted diaper, which means that you will need a diaper cover with these diapers. Price: $18 each or $100 for all 6

Bambineo/Bambinex Fitted Size 2 (22-25 lbs.) Diapers -
No stains at all! These diapers are oh sooo very soft! They are made of rayon from bamboo (90% bamboo, 10% polyester). Each diaper includes a booster insert to improve absorbency. These diapers attach to baby via hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. This is a high waisted diaper with very generous leg openings; it fits kinda like a Sumo wrestler's outfit. There is elastic at the back of the waist and in the leg openings to ensure a good fit. They are a fitted diaper, which means that you will need a diaper cover with these diapers. Price: $18 each or $100 for all 6

bumGenius One-Size (6-35 lbs.) Pocket Cloth Diapers -
No stains at all! One Grasshopper (green) color, One Butternut (yellow) color, One White color. Includes two microfiber inserts (one longer, one shorter) for stuffing the pocket. Very absorbent. These diapers attach to baby via hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. There is very little pilling in the hooks. There is elastic at the back of the waist and in the leg openings to ensure a good fit. You do not need a diaper cover with these diapers. Thanks to an innovative snaping system, these diapers fit babies from 6 pounds up to 35 pounds. Price: $12 each or $32 for all 3 and, if you buy all 3, I'll throw in a FREE Butternut that I picked up used. Note that the FREE one has significant pilling in the hooks and only one microfiber insert.

bumGenius Medium Size (15-22 lbs.) All-In-One Cloth Diaper -
No stains at all! One Butternut (yellow) color. This diaper attaches to baby via hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. There is very little pilling in the hooks. There is elastic at the back of the waist and in the leg openings to ensure a good fit. You do not need a diaper cover with these diapers. Price: $12

bumGenius Large Size (22-30 lbs.) All-In-One Cloth Diapers -
No stains at all! Three Grasshopper (green) color. These diapers attach to baby via hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. There is very little pilling in the hooks. There is elastic at the back of the waist and in the leg openings to ensure a good fit. You do not need a diaper cover with these diapers. Price: $12 each or $32 for all 3

Fuzzi Bunz Large Size (25-45 lbs.) Pocket Cloth Diaper -
No stains at all! This diaper still looks brand new! Butter (yellow) color. Includes two microfiber inserts (one longer, one shorter) for stuffing the pocket. Very absorbent. This diaper attaches to baby using snaps. There is elastic at the back of the waist and in the leg openings to ensure a good fit. You do not need a diaper cover with this diaper. Price: $15

Kushies Diaper Liners -
Most of these have no stains at all, but there is one that has very light staining. Three layers of 100% cotton flannel. These hourglass-shaped inserts aren't terribly absorbent, but they are great to use if you are using a diaper rash cream. White color. Price: $1 each or $8 for all 10

Kushies Flushable Biodegradable Diaper Liners -
One roll of 100, never used. These are pretty long liners and I used to cut them in half. I bought these as a 2-pack and learned that these aren't recommended for septic systems after I had opened one roll. I also discovered that they come out of the washer & dryer in one piece if they end up in your diaper laundry so I suppose you can reuse these disposable liners at least one extra time before flushing or tossing. Price: $8

Bumkins Size Small (10-15 lbs.) Diaper Covers -
These still look brand new! I have two of the blue bug print. These attach to baby with hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. There is no pilling in the hooks. They have elastic at the back of the waist and at the leg openings for a good fit. They also have leg gussets to contain messes. The backs are vented for air circulation to reduce chance of diaper rash. Price $10 each or $18 for both

Bumkins Size Medium (15-22 lbs.) Diaper Covers -
These still look brand new and two have never been used! I have four Dr. Seuss prints. Cat in the Hat-Blue, One Fish Two Fish-Yellow, Horton Hears a Who-Green, and Green Eggs & Ham-Orange. The One Fish Two Fish and Green Eggs & Ham prints were never used. These attach to baby with hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. There is no pilling in the hooks. They have elastic at the back of the waist and at the leg openings for a good fit. They also have leg gussets to contain messes. The backs are vented for air circulation to reduce chance of diaper rash. I've never had a leak with these covers. Price $10 each or $35 for all 4

Bumkins Size Large (22-28 lbs.) Diaper Covers -
These still look brand new and two have never been used! I have four Dr. Seuss prints. Cat in the Hat-Blue, One Fish Two Fish-Yellow, Horton Hears a Who-Green, and Green Eggs & Ham-Orange. The One Fish Two Fish and Green Eggs & Ham prints were never used. These attach to baby with hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. There is no pilling in the hooks. They have elastic at the back of the waist and at the leg openings for a good fit. They also have leg gussets to contain messes. The backs are vented for air circulation to reduce chance of diaper rash. I've never had a leak with these covers. Price $10 each or $35 for all 4

Bummis Super Whisper Wrap Size Medium (15-30 lbs.) Diaper Covers -
I have two prints; Froggy Pond (frogs on lily pads on light blue background) and Jungle (wild animals on darkish blue-purpleish background). These attach to baby using hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. There is very little pilling in the hooks. They have elastic at the back of the waist and at the leg openings for a good fit. They also have leg gussets to contain messes. Price: $7 each or $12 for both

Thirsties Size Medium (18-28 lbs.) Diaper Covers -
I have two colors; Aqua and Celery. These attach to baby using hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. There is a little pilling in the hooks. They have elastic at the back of the waist and at the leg openings for a good fit. They also have leg gussets to contain messes. Price: $7 each or $12 for both

Thirsties Size Large (28-40 lbs.) Diaper Cover -
I have the Aqua color. These attach to baby using hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. There is a little pilling in the hooks. They have elastic at the back of the waist and at the leg openings to ensure a good fit. They also have leg gussets to contain messes. Price: $7

Proraps Size Medium (13-25 lbs.) Diaper Covers -
Never used! White color. These attach to baby using hook & loop closures (similar to the Velcro brand closure) at the waist. There is (obviously) no pilling in the hooks because they've never been used. They have elastic at the back of the waist and at the leg openings to ensure a good fit. They also have leg gussets to contain messes. Price: $7 each or $12 for both

The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn to Toddler Bathtub -
My son used this bathtub from one month of age until he was a little over one year of age and his legs couldn't fit. Includes the machine washable bath cradle for newborn use. Price $10

Fisher-Price Precious Planet Whale of a Tub -
My son used this bathtub from a little over one year until around 22 months of age. Includes the contoured baby stopper. Price $12

Baby Washcloths -
Washed, but Never Used! White color. Price: $.50 each or $7 for all 18

Hooded Baby Towels -
Washed, but Never Used! Nautical prints on hoods; fish, submarine, & octopus. The fish towel has multi-colored stripes. The submarine towel is white. The octopus towel is light blue and it says I Love Mommy. Price: $2 each or $5 for all 3

Aveeno Baby Lightly Scented Wash & Shampoo -
Never used! Natural oat formula. No tears. 8 fl. oz. size. Price: $4

Breck for Baby Lavender Bedtime Wash -
Never used! Enriched with lavender and vitamins A, B5 & E. 6.8 fl. oz. size. Price: $2

Johnson's Baby Shampoo -
Never used! No more tears formula. 7 fl. oz. size. Price: $2

Johnson's Baby Shampoo -
Never used! No more tears formula. 15 fl. oz. size. Price: $4

Shampoo Rinse Cup -
Blue cup with yellow flexible rubber. This handled cup has a rubber part that rests against child's forehead to prevent shampoo from getting into child's eyes when rinsing their hair. I don't know if this works or not because I only tried to use it a handful of times. My son freaks out whenever he sees it and I have no idea why. Price: $3 Note that the outside of this cup is a little scratched because my son throws it across the room whenever he encounters it.

Coppertone UltraGuard Continuous Spray Sunscreen -
Never used! SPF 50, broad spectrum UVB/UVA protection. Waterproof. Clear, no-rub spray. Sprays at any angle. Expiration date of 9/10. 7.5 fl. oz. size. Price: $5

A & D Original Ointment -
Never Used, still in box! Prevents & treats diaper rash. Helps heal dry, chafed skin. Protects & soothes minor cuts & burns. Active ingredients are lanolin (15.5%) and petroleum (53.4%). 1.5 oz. size. Price $2

Safety 1st Cabinet Slide Lock 3-pack -
Package is opened, but never used because it didn't fit any of my mother's cabinets. Price: $4

Safety 1st Grip 'n Go Cabinet Lock 2-pack -
I have two 2-packs. One is still sealed and one package is opened, but never used because it didn't fit any of my mother's cabinets. Price: $3 or $5 for both packages

Thanks for reading! Want to buy something? Think my prices are too high for your budget? Contact me directly or through this blog so that we can negotiate and work out the details. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

I've always been a cheap little broad, but I've been taking frugality to new heights lately. If you care about such things, producing less waste and using fewer resources is good for the environment. Even if you don't care about the planet, it's good for your wallet. Here's what I've been up to:

Paper Towels - I don't use paper towels. Well, I've used maybe ten paper towels since January 1st. I bought a few microfiber towels from the 99cent Store and I use those to wipe up spills, clean my son's messy face & hands after meals, do light dusting, clean mirrors. Heh, I almost said "clean windows," but who am I trying to kid - I don't do windows.

Paper Napkins - I don't use paper napkins. My son and I use cloth napkins at every meal. I already had a variety of cloth napkins that were never used, so this is a nice way to save a few pennies and use something I like. I think it's adorable that my son knows to place his napkin on his lap when he is sitting at the table.

Toilet Paper - I don't use toilet paper. Just kidding! I wanted to see if you were really reading this or just skimming through. I WILL NOT do a Google search to see if there is such a thing as reusable toilet paper.

Plastic Pump Bottles - I wash and reuse these for things like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, hand soap, etc. I find that I use far less product when I use a pump bottle versus a squeeze bottle.

Plastic Containers - I wash and reuse just about every plastic container. Cottage cheese, whipped topping, you name it and it's somewhere storing something in my house. My sons crayons are kept in a couple whipped topping containers. Our favorite style of chopsticks are kept in a tall cottage cheese container. I keep tiny finger puppets in plastic baby wipes containers.

Glass Containers - I wash and reuse just about every glass container. Those tiny jars of pimientos? I use them to keep salad dressing when I'm out because I hate soggy salad. I rarely fry anything, but I use glass jars to pour grease into in the event that I've been frying.

Plastic Bags - My favorite! I use plastic grocery bags (and produce bags) for all kinds of things. Plastic grocery bags are trash can liners, used to dispose of gross trash, used to pack my lunch, used as dirty clothes bags when we're traveling. Plastic produce bags are used to tote crudites when we're out. I reuse Ziplock bags that have only had dry ingredients - Goldfish, Cheerios, animal cookies, etc.

Cereal Bags - Okay, stop laughing. Yes, I reuse those thick plastic bags that hold cereal. What do I do with them? I put crackers in them, hold them shut, and roll them with a rolling pin whenever I need crumbs. Seriously, those bags are so tough that I've never had one even so much as get a pinhole.

Pickle Juice - Seriously, stop laughing. Yes, I have stuff that I do with pickle juice too. I always add a couple of tablespoons to potato salad, macaroni salad, and chicken salad. I also use it as a marinade for light meats. My favorite thing to do with it though is to make "homemade" pickles by thinly slicing raw peeled cucumbers and packing them in the juice for about three days. So crisp and fresh! Once I've done all I want with the pickle juice, I wash & reuse the jar of course!

Salsa Jars/Ketchup Bottles - I always add a little water to these when they are "empty" and I keep them in the fridge. I add the watered down product to chili, red pasta sauces, soups, stews, you name it.

Mustard Jars/Bottles - A friend taught me this great tip: Add a little chicken stock to the "empty" jar/bottle of mustard. Use this mixture to deglaze a pan. Reduce and you'll have a great sauce for beef, chicken, or pork. I particularly like this sauce when I make roast beef.

Leftover Baby Food - Dry baby cereal was used in place of breadcrumbs for meatloaf and it made an incredibly moist & delicious meatloaf. The baby cereal "crumbs" are also really high in iron! Leftover fruit purees were added to smoothies. Leftover veggie or meal blends were added to casseroles or soups.

Coffee Grounds & Tea Bags - I reuse them. Yeah, I know, the subsequent pots of coffee and cups of tea aren't as strong as the first ones. Whatever. I reuse them. Of course, I don't do this if we have company over.

Ice Cube Trays - I do a lot with ice cube trays. If I have more lemons than I can use (and I ALWAYS have more lemons than I use, thanks to a very prolific tree), I juice the lemons and freeze the fresh juice in ice cube trays. Once frozen, I store the lemon juice cubes in Ziplock bags in the freezer. I also use ice cube trays to make chicken stock cubes, iced tea cubes, and coffee cubes. I've used them to make wine cubes, but they don't freeze as tightly and start melting really fast as you're transferring them to the Ziplock bags for freezer storage.

Chicken Carcass (bones, joints, skin, whatever isn't eaten) - I make homemade chicken stock with the inedible remains of chicken. If I don't have a whole chicken, I save remains in a plastic bag in the freezer until I have enough to approximate a whole chicken. Toss the carcass in a large crockpot with some onions, carrots, celery, & garlic. Fill with water, cover, cook on LOW for for 8 to 10 hours. Remove solids and strain the rest (I use a colander with a gasp! paper towel!) until the stock is totally clear. Cool and store in fridge. The fat will rise to form a solid sheet that can be discarded or used for other purposes. This stock makes the most tasty soups! I also do this this a few days after Thanksgiving with the turkey carcass so we can have a delicious turkey soup.

Freecycle - I use Freecycle whenever possible. I've picked up a 68-piece set of monogrammed glassware, a Shermag recliner/glider with ottoman, a rider/pusher toy for my son, and a pool float. All for FREE!!!

You all know that I haven't had to purchase any menstrual products since I bought a Diva Cup five months ago. Now that is liberating! I still smirk smugly when I saunter by that aisle in the store.

Are some of these things ridiculous? Perhaps, but I think it's a matter of perspective. I don't work. I haven't earned a salary in two years. I think it's important that I'm a good steward with my husband's salary. I think it's better to spend a less than I can instead of spending more than I should.

King Oscar II of Sweden put it best: "I would rather have my people laugh at my economies than weep for my extravagance."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

If You Can't Say Something Nice. . .

I was reading one of my favorite websites today and I stumbled upon a couple threads that made my head explode. After spending a few hours reflecting on what I had read, I came to a couple of conclusions.

1. The Internet is serious business.
2. Some people have so little going on in their lives that they are compelled to get up in everyone's business.

One thread had a huge fight over how parents choose to corral their children. There were very few participants in the middle. Some people stringently argued against using those child harness/leashes. They went so far as to say that parents who rely upon such devices are lazy and negligent parents. Some even indicated that it was wrong to use slings, strollers, and playpens. The other camp was people who basically said to STFU and mind your own business.

The other thread had a huge fight over breastfeeding. A few very vocal people were totally disgusted by nursing and, it kinda sounded like, children in general. These are the type of people who refer to your offspring by revolting terms like crotchfruit or crotch dropping. A few very vocal people were who I tend to refer to as the "militant breastfeeders." These are the women who will whip out their entire breast and take their sweet time before latching on baby. Oddly enough, they tend to get pissed when men stare at their exposed tits. Everyone else was somewhere in the middle because, let's face it, there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding and most women don't act like total attention whores while feeding their children.

I never weighed in with my opinions because both of these threads devolved into personal attacks from all sides. Ah, Internet denizens, you can be so childish and predictable.

So here are my thoughts on both issues:

I. Don't. Care.

Seriously, I don't care how you choose to raise your own children. I have enough to worry about while raising my own child and I just don't have the time or inclination to sweat what someone else does with their own child. I do voice a lot of opinions here, but I don't use this blog as a passive-aggressive way to slam parenting choices that differ from my opinions on childrearing. There is one notable exception, but I think I was very forthright in stating my thoughts on the matter.

When I give my opinion, I'm basically saying that this is the way I think is best. This is what works for my family. That doesn't mean that it will work for your family and it doesn't mean that I think you're doing a poor job as a parent.

All that said, I'm happy to give my opinion if asked. Otherwise, I try my best to hold my tongue because, at best, I'll sound like a know-it-all. At worst, I'll sound like I'm criticizing.

I didn't always feel this way. I was very much a believer in it being my way or the highway. But as I've grown, I've come to appreciate the advice given by Thumper's mother.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Am I a Nerd Too?

I was a misfit as a kid and I kinda felt that I'd feel better about myself if I was someone else. That changed when I grew up and I realized that I'm a pretty cool person. Thanks to that realization, I've spent much of my adult life feeling very comfortable in my own skin.

One thing I could never admit is that I'm a bit of a sci-fi nerd. I never thought I was all that into sci-fi, but my husband pointed out that I like just about every sci-fi movie and series. So to my way of thinking that meant that liking sci-fi is pretty damn cool!

I was chatting with my husband about someone we both know and I mentioned that I had just found out that this guy was cool. He asked why I thought this dude was so cool. I replied that I initially thought this guy was a bit of a nerd, but I discovered that he was a big Star Wars fan.

At this, my husband started laughing and asked, "And being into Star Wars means he's not a nerd?! Are you kidding me?!"

Um, I'm really into Star Wars. I've never been to a convention because I'm not a virgin loser, but I am a big Star Wars fan. I just told him the name of the actor who played friggin' Chewbacca the Wookiee for crying out loud. I also know that Wookiee is spelled with two e's at the end. I stood in line for hours to watch Return of the Jedi in the theater. My best weekend ever included watching all six movies back-to-back. So I guess my husband probably thinks I'm a nerd too.

By the way, my husband clearly lives in a glass house because he cried when the original Star Trek was cancelled. Uh, who's the nerd? Yeah, I guess you could say that we're very well matched.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Weight Loss - Week 9

I'm in my ninth week with Weight Watchers (WW). In the last two months, I've only indulged in alcohol twice, I've enjoyed very little fast food, and I've pulled my sweet tooth. Uh, I didn't literally have a tooth extracted - I just mean that I've stopped eating sweets each day.

I've been very strict about following the daily Good Health Guidelines from WW. I drink enough water (6), I consume enough fruit/vegetable servings (5), I drink enough non-fat milk (2), I consume enough healthy oil (2 teaspoons), and I take my multi-vitamin every single day. I weigh or measure everything I eat and I weigh or measure while I'm cooking meals so I can correctly calculate the Points value per serving. Though I skipped tracking for the last three days because I was hosting a big celebration, I had been keeping a meticulous food journal and I started tracking again today.

Thanks to my efforts, I've lost just over 20 pounds. Actually, I lost it in the first four weeks and I've been hovering at just about the same weight for the last four weeks. I know the program works and I'm not tempted to blow it off because the scale is stuck. If I somewhat work the program, it will somewhat work. If I really work the program, it will really work!

The number on the scale isn't a great motivator to me though. The scale can reflect a different number from one hour to the next. Plenty of things can influence the scale upward or downward: sodium, fiber, fluid retention, hormones, toileting, inflammation, etc. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather lose weight than gain it, but I'm disgusted to report that I don't even notice this 20 pound weight loss and all that tells me is that I have a lot more weight to lose. That depresses the sh*t out of me. Who in the heck doesn't notice when they've lost 20 friggin' pounds?! Fat people. :(

I do feel motivated, however, by my measurements. I have lost several inches in the last two months: 1" off each arm, 2" off my chest, 5.5" off my waist, 4" off my hips, and 3.5" off my thighs. That kind of progress makes me excited because it's a number that I can see and trust.

My husband has also been following Weight Watchers since I'm on the program. I don't know how much he's lost, but I can tell that he has dropped some pounds. An added benefit is that his snoring isn't quite so obnoxious and I've been sleeping pretty well for a couple of weeks now.

I like that we are modeling healthy eating behavior to our son. Since starting WW, we don't eat junk food and we haven't been overeating at meals. I want him to grow up and think it's perfectly normal to snack on fresh carrots, celery sticks, and fruit. I want chips, cookies, and snack crackers to be the exception rather than the rule.

I like that we are eating a very healthy diet because that means that our son has been eating a very healthy diet. He eats whatever we eat so he has been getting plenty of fruit, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. We still eat stuff like french fries & burgers, but it is rare.

I like that we are taking responsibility for our son's diet. Would it be easier to just feed him standard toddler-fare like chicken nuggets, tater tots, processed meals, cookies, and crackers? Sure! But I know that's not the healthiest choice for my boy. Again, this doesn't meant that he doesn't eat stuff like that because he sure does. It just isn't the cornerstone of his daily diet.

I think it's pretty cute that my son wanted my carrots instead of his Goldfish crackers at snacktime this afternoon. Who says that parents aren't the best role models for their children?

I didn't gain this weight overnight and I know that it won't come off overnight. After two months, I am pleased with my progress. I'm eager to see what the next couple of months will bring!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Always Share that You Care

Today is a special day in my household. A couple of years this family was on Cloud Nine. We were completely blissed out on May 17, 2008.

A Facebook status reminded me that this same date holds an entirely different meaning for some friends. On May 17, 2008, their family was plunged into the worst pain I can ever imagine. While we were celebrating, they were grieving.

It's sobering to think how quickly life can change, for better or for worse. One knock on the door, one phone call, one e-mail. . .they all can hold the power to change everything. You can't predict when your life will turn upside down and you generally can't stop it from happening.

Today is a special day. Every day is a special day. Let your loved ones know you care by your actions and words. You don't know if you'll be able to do it tomorrow, so please take the time to do it today and every day.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Long Weekend is Finally Finished

MrsHashBrown had an impossibly busy weekend. I love entertaining, but it can be exhausting if you do it properly. I'm so tired that I asked my husband to make dinner. I even snoozed on the couch - and I NEVER sleep anywhere besides my bed. My brain can't focus and I can barely construct a sentence so I'm going to prematurely end this post so I can catch a few ZZZs.

The little Tater Tot didn't have a single accident this weekend!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

To Sell, or Not to Sell: That is the Question

I guess my son is potty trained. He hasn't worn a diaper in over 1 1/2 weeks. He typically wakes up dry in the morning and he has zero to one accident each day. He generally does a good job telling us that he has to use the potty. He's gone potty in unfamiliar places on unfamiliar toilets. He's also gone potty for people other than his parents.

Though I'm eager to expand our family, I'm excited that diapers are a thing of the past for the time being. I'm glad that I don't have to wash any cloth diapers and I don't have to purchase any disposable overnight diapers. I'm reluctantly happy to see that my baby is maturing and becoming such a big boy. Other parents can no doubt understand why my happiness is reluctant.

My son's recent potty training leaves me with a dilemma. What do I do with the remaining disposable diapers that he used for overnights? I could never get the cloth wipes down and I also have package upon package of wipes - what do I do with these? Most importantly, what do I do with the cloth diaper stash that I built over the last two years?

I think I'll definitely try to sell the disposable diapers and wipes that I have leftover. I know I won't get what I paid for them, but at least I'll get something and gain some closet space to boot!

The cloth diapers are more tricky. I can probably sell the diapers for darn near what I paid. Let that sink in for a moment. I can sell my son's used cloth diapers for nearly the same amount I paid for them in the first place! If anyone is on the fence about using cloth diapers, this should be all the encouragement needed to give it a try!

The problem is that I don't want to sell all my fluff and it's not just the diapers that I inexplicably want to keep because I can't bear with the thought of parting with certain covers. I don't care one way or another about some of his diapers, they're just diapers after all. But I LOVE other diapers in the stash. I can't bring myself to consider selling some coveted diapers that I finally was able to purchase at impossibly good prices. Certain diapers always brought a smile to my face when I changed my son and I can't even think of selling them.

I know that it will be at least one year before I have another child in diapers. And that's assuming that I'll ever have another child in diapers. I know that elastic isn't fine wine and it doesn't get better with age. I know that I don't have the room to store over 50 diapers. I know that I have a great stash (no stains, no excessive wear, no need to strip) and it would fetch a good price. I know that every little bit of cash helps these days. It's logical to sell the entire stash. What can I say? I'm an illogical female on this point.

I'm torn about what to do. Does anyone reading this post have any advice? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Food Prep Sucks

I spent the entire day washing, slicing, chopping, and dicing. We're having family over tomorrow and my mother came over for a few hours today to help me do a little food prep. We made two huge containers of potato salad, prepped the veggies to make two loaves of meat, made three tubs of dip, and assembled a few veggie trays.

In the middle of the work, my son thought it would be a good idea to throw granulated garlic all over the kitchen floor. He also thought it would be helpful to claim that he had to go "poo-poo" whenever he was bored or wanted attention. Thankfully Grandma was amused by his antics and she willingly took him to the potty whenever he asked for help.

I am exhausted and my feet are killing me. Tomorrow I have to wake early so I can get the house cleaned up before our families arrive to celebrate. I'm hoping that I fall asleep at a decent hour tonight.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why I Listen to Howard Stern Instead of Music

I like music a lot. One of my great regrets is that I never was able to take lessons to learn to play a few instruments. Yes, I wanted to play specific instruments. My parents said no so I have to satisfy my music lust by listening.

Generally speaking, I prefer to listen to Howard Stern if I'm in the car because I'm becoming a terribly sappy cry-baby these days. A song on the radio moved me to tears this afternoon. A freaking song had me sobbing like I had just watched a Humane Society commercial. You know the ones. They feature a bunch of filthy and pathetic-looking animals, quivering with fear in their eyes, while a sad song plays in the background and the voiceover implies that they will kill these animals if you don't donate today.

Anyway, I wasn't boohooing over a touching song like Dance with My Father by Luther Vandross or The Rose by Bette Midler. It wasn't an achingly painful song like That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be by Carly Simon or You Don't Bring Me Flowers by Neil Diamond & Barbara Streisand. It wasn't even a special song from either of my weddings: Unforgettable by Nat King Cole from my first or I Can't Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley from my second.

The song that moved me to tears? It was Beth by KISS. Um, yeah, I'm embarrassed to admit that you read that correctly.

The longest sentence in history straight ahead: I guess the song made me sad because I had a difficult time trying to get a cake & some cupcakes ordered today and my kid woke early but wouldn't nap so I was exhausted and I bit my husband's head off when he walked in the door this afternoon. Then I stomped out to deal with the order. What I really wanted was to hug & snuggle because I was so frustrated with this cake business.

I know you're probably wondering what baked goods have to do with a KISS song. Well, nothing actually. But the lyrics made me think about how there is something special missing from our home when my husband is gone. He works so hard and he's gone a lot, leaving me alone with our little boy. Don't get me wrong, I adore my son - but I ache for my husband and I miss him terribly when he's at work.

Who knew that KISS could be so deep? These are the same, ah, sensitive souls who brought Western Civilization tender lyrical gems such as Let's Put the X in Sex, Love Gun, Calling Dr. Love, and Lick It Up. If you aren't a KISS fan, you probably think I'm making up the titles of those songs. I am not.

Perhaps I was just feeling mopey and the song brought my melancholy to the surface. Perhaps Peter Criss just co-wrote a sensitive song. Perhaps I should lay off the music until Aunt Flo returns from whence she came. At least I know what to expect with Howard Stern - outstanding interviews, unusual people, and the occasional Sybian ride. The best part is that the only tears I shed are from laughing so hard.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Aunt Flo Visits for FREE

WARNING - WARNING - WARNING: Yep, this is another post about my vagina. Stop reading if you aren't interested in menstrual cups or my period.

I have my period right now and that makes me very excited and very sad. I'm sad for obvious reasons - I'm not pregnant. I'm excited because I'm on my fifth cycle with the Diva Cup. That means that Aunt Flo visits me for FREE from here on out. I'm really happy with the short ROI for the Diva Cup and I wish that I had tried it years ago.

I don't have to buy tampons to deal with my period. I'm ecstatic that I won't have to search the ever-expanding feminine aisle for the specific tampons that I use. I'm thrilled that I won't have to buy a box of tampons each month. I have a septic system and I can't flush tampons, so I'm glad that I won't have to deal with tampon disposal any longer.

I'm handling removal and insertion of the Cup like an old pro these days. I find it hard to believe that I used to have such problems with it because it is so easy to me now. I love the Cup and I'll never use anything else to handle my period again.

If anyone reading this is considering using a menstrual cup, keep in mind that it can take a few months to use it comfortably and feel free to contact me with any questions.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm a Believer!


It has been exactly one week since my son started potty training. We were out for most of the day and he peed in two unfamiliar toilets without a toilet ring. I'm so proud of my little boy and incredibly pleased with his potty training success.

I mostly followed Lora Jensen's 3-Day Potty Training method. Per her instructions, I had my son help get rid of his diapers and I put him in underpants. No pull-up diapers, no night-time diapers, just underpants at all times.

I'll admit it. I was skeptical that the 3-Day Potty Training method would work at all. I figured that, at less than two-years old, my son would not be trainable. I believed that he'd be on a long & messy semi-diapered road for months to come. Seasoned parents told me that such a young child can't be trained in such a short amount of time.

I'm so glad that I tried this method before doing any other potty training. Weaning from breastfeeding was what I dreaded most about my son growing older and potty training was a close second. I have found potty training to be a relatively easy process and my son seems like he's having a good time learning.

I still frequently remind my son to let me know if he has to go to the bathroom, but he does a good job letting me know when he has to go potty. How does he let me know? He holds his wiener and says, "Poo-poo!" I guess we still have a little more training to go!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Belated Mother's Day

My son only had one accident today, so I'll take a break from chronicling his potty training progress. I'll focus on my motherhood journey since I didn't acknowledge Mother's Day yesterday.

I always wanted kids. I used to love playing with baby dolls. I wished that my parents would have a baby so that I wouldn't be the youngest. I adored spending as much time as possible with my nieces & nephews. I thought kids were about the coolest little people on the planet. Um, that's not meant as a slam against midgets or dwarfs, but I thought kids were cooler.

My attitude shifted around my early twenties and children were nowhere near being on my radar. Kids became annoying and whiny in my eyes. Instead of considering children to be blessings, they appeared to be a hindrance to personal happiness. I had goals and, frankly, children would have stopped my progress for a long time. So I delayed motherhood.

I didn't want children at all when I was married to my ex-husband. I used to tell him that I'd rather cut my (expletive deleted) throat than have a child with him. Before you think I'm a mega-b*tch for saying such a thing, let's just say that he had it coming. It's shocking that we ended up divorced, huh? Honestly, procreating with him would have been the absolute worst decision in history. Well, in my history anyway. So I delayed motherhood.

Children can cost a lot of money and they absolutely do take a lot of effort. For much of my life I either didn't have the money to raise kids or wasn't willing to spend it. I sure as heck wasn't willing to give much effort. I knew that it would be wrong to have a child that I wasn't willing or able to take care of properly. So I delayed motherhood.

I have made a lot of stupid decisions in my life, but delaying motherhood was one of the best decisions I ever made. I had conditions that I wanted to meet prior to procreating. I wanted to be in a solid marriage. I wanted to be financially comfortable. I wanted to be mature enough to handle the immense responsibility.

My mother used to say that I'll never get around to having children if I put motherhood off until everything is just right. My conditions were finally met to my satisfaction and my son is nearly two, so clearly she was wrong. I'm glad that I waited.

I would have had far more energy if I had children in my 20s. The days of easily handling life on less than four hours of sleep are long gone. What I lost in energy I gained in patience, selflessness, and appreciation. The path I chose isn't for everyone, but it was just right for this family.

Motherhood has been a joy and a blessing to me. I knew that I'd love my child, but I never could have guessed the depth and breadth of that love. I wept with joy the first time I saw my darling precious boy. I had been begging to see him for two hours and I finally was moved to my hospital room. Holding my son was like holding my own heart in my hands.

Generally speaking, I'm emotionally cold when people cry, but my son's tears can move me to tears. I feel like I'm going to burst with pride when he masters a new skill. I delight in his silly toddler absurdities.

I do miss earning a salary. I do miss that money. I miss being independent financially. But that money wasn't buying this kind of happiness. We laugh together several times each day and I adore spending my time with my kiddo - even if I don't earn one red cent.

Every day is a special "mother's day" for me. I don't need any special gifts on Mother's Day. Being a mother has been gift enough.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Only One Accident Today!!

My son still wore diapers last Monday. He has been wearing underpants since mid-morning on Tuesday. It has been less than one week since we have started potty training. And. . .

He had only one accident all day today!

I'm happy that my son had so much success with making it to the toilet today. He sure beams whenever I mention how impressed I am with his clean & dry underpants. He seems so proud when we wave bye-bye to his pee-pee and flush it away. He loves being a big kid and washing his hands after he goes on the potty.

He peed in his potty chair. He peed in a regular toilet at a restaurant - without his toilet ring. He had us pull over so he could pee in his potty chair in the back of the car. He peed in our toilet with his toilet ring. I suspect he also peed in the bathtub (eye roll).

His accident came right after his nap. I find it odd that he wet his bed because he has never had an accident during nap time. He was very distressed when he woke up wet. I find that odd too since I've been impossibly understanding and patient whenever he's had an accident. I suppose that he's already starting to like being clean & dry and it bothered him to be wet.

I'm excited about the 3-day potty training method. It didn't work in only three days, but a lot of progress has been made in what I consider to be a very short period of time. I hope that he continues to enjoy great success with potty training.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Potty Training in Public

The big news: He pooped in the potty!

He didn't want to do it, but he did it. He likes a little privacy when he poops (who doesn't?) so I took his pants off and I took a shower. He sat on his potty chair and did his business as soon as I was busy washing my hair. Of course, we celebrated his big success before I resumed my shower.

We were away from the house for nearly twelve hours today. My son did not wear diapers or pull-ups because I dressed him in his big boy underpants. I packed extra clothes and extra underpants, but I was very nervous.

He didn't pee in the carseat and he peed in an unfamiliar house on a regular toilet without a toilet ring. He also kept his underpants clean & dry all day until around 7:00 or so. He caught himself mid-accident once and called for me to take him to the potty. He had two accidents later in the evening, but it was well beyond his normal bedtime and I think he had forgotten that he was a big boy now.

All in all, I'd say that potty training is still going well. I hope tomorrow continues this trend.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 4 of the 3-Day Potty Training

I stayed home one more day and spent a fourth day on the 3-day potty training. I didn't want to - indeed, I'm dying to get out of this house, - but the kiddo woke up with a runny nose.

He rose fairly early this morning and was a little damp when I took him out of the crib. I figure that it's not that big of a deal. I mean, I wet the bed until I was kinda old (by my standards anyway) and he's not yet two years old. He immediately sat on his potty chair and made a lot of pee, so I think he stopped himself from voiding once he realized he was in his bed.

We played quietly and snuggled on my bed for about two hours after he woke up. He did not wet my bed. We finally moved to the front room and, within minutes, he peed on the floor. ARGH! I thought we were in for a repeat of yesterday morning. I'm relieved (heh!) that I was wrong.

He was still in diapers on Monday. He began wearing underpants around mid-morning on Tuesday. He always wears underpants now - even at naptime and bedtime. And he only had three total accidents today!

Four days ago he was still wearing diapers and he only had three accidents today! I am very impressed with this progress. I am totally exhausted, but impressed nonetheless.

We have a very busy weekend: funeral, family plans, church, family plans. I am undecided about how I should handle toileting away from home. I didn't realize that travel toilet rings exist so I don't have one. I have the toddler urinal, a potty chair, and a regular toilet ring. I'm considering bringing his own potty chair to the family gatherings and bringing the regular toilet ring to the funeral and church.

I'm sure that he will have accidents at least a couple of times while we're out, but I have resolved not to send him a mixed message by putting him back in a diaper. You have no idea how tough this is going to be for me. I don't relish the thought of dealing with potty messes, but accidents are valuable learning experiences and I want him to continue learning.

In order to deal with messy situations, I'll be packing his bag (guess I can't call it a diaper bag anymore!) with several pair of underpants, pants/shorts, and socks. I'll also bring several waterproof pads and my two travel-sized wetbags to hold soiled items. I've noted that he doesn't go potty when he's being held, so I've decided to pack my ring sling and my pouch to keep him close. I chose those two carriers instead of any others because they seem like they'd be the easiest to clean if he happens to have an accident.

Wish us luck! And, to all Mamas who are reading this post, Happy Mother's Day!!


One nice thing about the last four days is that I have finally started to use my ring sling. I could not stand it when I first received it because I felt the rings were soooo heavy and I couldn't get the positioning correct. No more. I've worn my son for hours in the ring sling over the last four days and, though I still have trouble adjusting the rails when the kiddo is in it (does anyone reading this have a special technique they can share?), I am very comfortable using it now. Wearing him often has made this stressful potty learning time so much more enjoyable!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Day 3 of the 3-Day Potty Training

Um, I think we need a fourth day.

I was exhausted from the start, but the day started awesome. My son slept twelve hours last night and HE WOKE UP DRY!!!! He immediately peed on the big toilet (not his potty chair) and we made over him being such a big boy. He ultimately kept his underpants clean and dry for over fifteen hours!

Then he peed on the floor. And then he did it again.

I had to send a very important e-mail this morning and my son took that opportunity to run away and poop. In his underpants. I'm used to dealing with poop, courtesy of cloth diapers, but this kinda ticked me off. I was sort of glad that he finally pooed, but I was pretty annoyed at how he did it. He knew he had to poop and, instead of telling me, he hid to do it in his underpants. I had him help me throw the poop in the toilet, rinse his underpants in the toilet, spritz them with Bac-Out, and toss them in the underpants pail. The underpants pail was formerly known as the diaper pail.

He had a stretch of always making it to the potty. We snuggled on my bed for about an hour. We snuggled in the glider rocker for another couple of hours. He even woke up dry from his nap for the third day in a row! Things were going great.

Then he bolted away and, before I could reach him, he pooped in his underpants AGAIN! I just wanted to cry. Instead, I let him know that we all have accidents and that he needs to tell Mama when he has to go potty.

He didn't want to wear any underpants after his second poopy accident. He kept shaking his head and refusing to put on his underpants - he's actually getting really good at putting them on! So I let him sit bare-bottomed on my lap. He hasn't peed while on my lap yet so I was confident that he wouldn't start now.

He had another good stretch of always making it to the potty. That stretch ended as soon as Daddy arrived home and the little one peed twice on the floor. Honestly, I was just glad that someone else could experience the joy of cleaning up pee.

As I cuddled with him and hummed his bedtime song tonight, he sat up on my lap and said he had to go poo-poo. He jumped off my lap and ran to the bathroom. All he did was toot, but he eventually peed too so I was pretty happy about that.


Is he totally potty trained? No, I don't think so. However, he is well on his way. I should also add that he's gone through fewer pair of underpants than diapers so I guess it's a good trade off.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 2 of 3-Day Potty Training

I'm happy to report that I'm two-thirds of the way finished with the 3-Day Potty Training. Heh, that kind of sounds like I'm an inmate, counting down the time until I get paroled! I am exhausted from shadowing an impossibly active toddler all day. It probably doesn't sound all that tough, but it sure is when you are completely focused on whether or not there is anything leaking from your toddler's crotch. I'm tired of repeating myself all day and I am particularly sick of the following four sentences: Do you have to go potty? + You need to let Mama know when you need to go potty. + Run, run to the potty so you can go pee. + Are you sure you don't have to go poo-poo?

I don't think it's going to be completely finished (which, to me, means always using the potty) by tomorrow evening, but I'm sticking with the plan because I'm seeing solid progress. However, depending on tomorrow's progress, I may completely change my mind.

The day didn't begin very well and, in some ways, this morning was worse than the entire day yesterday. I heard him say, "Mama," this morning and hustled to his room so I could put him on the potty. By the time I reached him, around five seconds later, he had already peed so much that his sheet, blanket, and waterproof mattress cover (thank goodness such things exist!) were SOAKED! I don't mean they were simply wet, I mean that I could have wrung the pee out - they were that drenched. And he didn't pee at all on the potty. I gave him a hug and told him bed-wetting sometimes happens.

Not ten minutes later, he walked out of my reach and began to pee on the floor. I grabbed him and ran to the bathroom, pulled down his underpants, and sat him on the potty chair. He wouldn't go. I cleaned up the mess and helped him put on a new pair of underpants. I gave him a cuddle while telling him that we all have accidents sometimes.

As we were eating breakfast together, I kept asking him if he had to go potty because I was sure he was holding a little more pee in that bladder of his. He kept eating his egg and shaking his head that he did not have to go potty. I was suspicious, but I decided to let him decide when he has to go rather than arbitrarily putting him on the toilet. We finished breakfast so I let him down and he ran off. He ran off and peed on the floor. Once again, I ran him to the bathroom, pulled down his underpants, and sat him on the potty chair.

He. Would. Not. Go. GAH!

Right about now I was feeling a bit discouraged. I wanted to scream and cry and put my head through a wall. Rather than do any of that, I chose to say a quick prayer while he sat on the potty. My son, bless his little heart, clasped his hands together as though he was joining me in prayer. I didn't ask for my baby to just grow up already. I didn't ask for him to at least squeeze out one little pee-tear. I just asked for patience and understanding. My frustration was not showing him love or giving him encouragement. So I took a step back and figured that it would be a really messy day.

You know what? Once I got my head straight, the rest of the day was fairly pleasant. Yeah, it was somewhat messy. Yeah, he went through a lot of underpants today. But we had a really fun day together. We made up a foot-stampin' & hand clappin' dance to the 1 through 10 song. We colored some more on his Elmo stickers & puzzle. We played Peek-a-Boo with this silly little plastic horse. We two-stepped around the living room. We cuddled and talked about learning new things and growing up. We put stickers on ourselves and took stickers off ourselves. I put him in the ring sling and held him close while I prepared dinner.

My son only peed on the floor a few times today and he peed in the potty chair around ten times. He caught himself having an accident and ran to the bathroom on his own at least four times. I feel so encouraged and am tentatively looking forward to seeing what tomorrow holds.


I'm concerned that he still has not gone poo-poo. This kid is normally so regular that I could set my watch by his bowels, but it has been two days with no activity. I've been giving him juice, fruit, and vegetables in effort to move things along. He tooted as I was putting him to bed tonight and I asked if he had to go poo-poo and he said he did. I put him on the potty and he pushed out some more toots, but nothing else. I'm very tempted to put him in a diaper just so he'll poop. . .I'll give it another day and see what happens.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day 1 of 3-Day Potty Training

I guess it's fair to say that I generally don't do things in moderation. The 3-Day Potty Training method appealed because it's a nice, clean (I don't mean that it isn't messy though!) transition from diapers to underpants. I decided to begin potty training my son today and I had him help me pack up cloth diapers and "throw away" disposable diapers. Once I changed him out of his last diaper, I put him in underpants and that was that. I even put him down for his nap sans diaper and I put him to bed tonight without a diaper. Yeah, I told you I was hardcore - haha!

Why did I decide to start potty training today? Mainly because I had a three-day window of time, he's nearly two years old, and he seems somewhat interested. By interested, I don't mean that he takes any initiative at all in going to the toilet by himself. I mean that he will bring me a diaper if he is dirty, he will pee-pee on his potty chair first thing in the morning, and he's fond of yelling that he has gone "Poo-POOO!!" Of course, "poo-poo" seems to be his favorite word and he's fond of saying it anytime he can't come up with something else to say. . .my boy is quite the conversationalist!

I made a big deal out of his big boy underpants (four pair had Elmo!) and explained that big boys keep their underpants clean and dry by running to the bathroom whenever they need to go potty. I often asked him if he needed to go potty throughout the day. I plied him with juice (something he nearly never gets), milk, water, fruit, beans, cereal, & veggies because I wanted him to have plenty of opportunities to go potty.

Prior to his nap, he peed in the potty twice and he had six accidents on the floor. I caught him as each accident happened and had him sit on the potty to finish peeing. I gave him lots of love, encouragement, understanding, and patience. I made sure to tell him that I'm proud of him and that everyone has accidents when they're learning about the potty. As per the 3-Day Potty Training guidelines, there was no television today, but lots of hugs and cuddles. My Secret Mommy dropped off some surprises for me and an Elmo puzzle and Elmo stickers that my son could color. We had great fun coloring together today.

I hustled him to the potty when he woke from his 2-hour nap. He was dry, by the way, when he woke up! He was too shy to pee right away, so he stood up to pull up his underpants (he can sort of do it by himself) and began to pee on the floor. I guided him back down to the potty chair and he finished up there.

I'm puzzled that he is not interested at all in his special toddler urinal. The Peter Potty stands, lonely and unused, in our hall bathroom. But I like focusing on the positive. He peed three times on the potty chair today. He sat on the toilet ring on the big toilet, even though he didn't actually use it. I'm very impressed that he remained dry for nearly 4 1/2 hours today!! Tomorrow may be a messy, pee-soaked day, but I think today went pretty darn well!


The day isn't quite over yet. . .we still need to get through the night. My son typically sleeps a minimum of twelve hours each night and he wakes with a super-heavy diaper. I was seriously tempted to put him in a disposable pull-up diaper, but I wondered if that would be sending a mixed message. I thought about just putting him down wearing his underpants, but I chickened out and put him in his underpants with a Gerber plastic pull-up style diaper cover. He's never worn that type of diaper cover, so I figured that he wouldn't make the connection that they are for covering cloth diapers.

I let him know that he can call me any time during the night if he has to go potty and he called for me about an hour after he went to bed. I hurried to his side and put him on his potty chair, but he wouldn't go. I asked if he was testing to see if Mama would come to take him to the potty and he said, "yes," so I pulled up his underpants and put him back in his pajama pants. I told him he was a good boy for calling Mama to take him to the potty and he can call for me any time no matter what. We'll see what the rest of the evening holds. . .wish us luck!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Living Well is the Best Revenge

I've been idly following the Phoebe Prince case. For those not in the know, Phoebe Prince was a young girl who was bullied by a group of vile kids from her high school. The harassment was so unbearable to her that she took her life at only 15-years of age.

A group of six teens have been indicted on various charges related to the case. I'm doubtful that any convictions will be reached, but I'm glad that her tormentors are being held accountable for their vicious behavior toward a fellow human being. And I hope that they are forever tormented by the tragic result of their despicable actions.

Tone doesn't come across very well with the written word and in case you didn't pick up on it, I was a major misfit in school. I wasn't well-liked by many kids and I never really fit in with any clique. I didn't have many friends or acquaintances. I was called all sorts of ugly names by nasty kids who seemed intent to make me pretty f*cking miserable in school.

It's sad that a group of kids bullied another kid so severely that she felt suicide was the only way out. It's even sadder that a 15-year old child was so miserable that suicide seemed to be the only way out of her torment. The saddest thing of all though is that this petty high school bullsh*t probably wouldn't have mattered at all to this girl in a few more years.

Generally speaking, the only people who really give a rip about high school once they hit true adulthood are life's losers who peaked in high school. Not everyone can make it in the real world and some precious little snowflakes melt when the heat gets too intense. Sucks to be them.

Being hassled in school inspired me to succeed at life. I accomplished some pretty impressive things at a relatively young age because I was intent to prove that I was better than my tormentors. I look back with a tiny bit of gratitude toward those who were so cruel toward me because they pushed me to be one of life's winners. Living well has been the best revenge.

What could Phoebe Price have accomplished had she been able to hang in there for a few more years? I hope Massachusetts throws the book at her tormentors.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Snuggling with My Sweet Boy

Family Guy is hella boring and sucky tonight, so I figured that I might as well write my post for today.

We enjoyed spending time with friends at a barbecue this afternoon. My son was having so much fun that he didn't want to leave. It was around 4:30 when we arrived home and I didn't think that my son would nap. I should add that my son typically naps from around 2:00 or 3:00 until 4:00 or 5:00.

We still tried to get him to rest for a bit and it didn't go very well at all. The kiddo screamed and wailed for fifteen minutes. I broke down and took him out of his crib because I didn't have the heart to let him cry by himself.

I figured that I'd snuggle with him and see if he'd at least have a little quiet time. I decided to relax with the boy in the living room because my husband was napping in our bedroom. I reclined the back of the glider rocker and put my feet up on the gliding ottoman. I knew he was tired because he nuzzled his face next to my bosom and he curled his legs up under his special Elmo blanket. His left thumb was firmly stuck in his mouth and his right hand held his burpie. Within minutes, his eyelids dropped shut and he was in the Land of Nod. My mind was awash in fond memories - he napped on my chest until he was around nine months old - as I gazed at his sweet face.

My son rarely wants to sit on my lap these days and I had a lot of things that I wanted to get accomplished this afternoon, but cuddling with my little one made all those matters fade away. This is one of those little things that I wrote about yesterday. . .something so random and probably forgotten within a week, but such a beautiful moment in time. I love that little guy and I'm so glad that we shared this cuddly naptime today.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Savor Life's Moments

A friend posted an interesting story on Facebook today. The moral of the story is that we miss many delightful experiences because we are too busy rushing through life. Isn't that the way it is though? We spend our childhood wishing to grow and we spend our adulthood trying to reclaim that youthful spirit. We never seem content with our current stage.

I've been pondering this all day and I wonder what I've been missing. There is very little that is fresh to my eyes and ears, but many experiences are still new and novel to my son. If my son wants to explore a park, I'll let him enjoy the beauty of nature. If my son wants to cuddle, I'll make the time to cuddle. If he wants to inspect a flower, I'll let him check it out. If he wants to dance to some music, I'll let him dance.

The joy of life isn't just found in big events, it's in the small and typically forgettable moments. I don't know what I've been missing as I go about my day, but I think it's time to take it easy and enjoy the beauty that surrounds me every day.

What are you missing by rushing though life?