Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Add as Friend"

I was recently invited to join Facebook in order to view a friend's photo album. I thought, "Oh, yea, she sent pictures of her new little one". Never did I realize that I would become a new Facebook Addict. Once I created a profile, I was off and running...not only did I view my friend's photo albums, but I found myself looking up friends we just said "good-bye" to two months ago as well as long-lost friends from high school and college, people I haven't talked with in YEARS (anywhere between 5-12 years). Part of me was hesitant to request "friendship" with folks I had lost touch with, but part of me really wanted to reconnect with them and find out what they're up to. And I'm so glad I did....I found my best friend from elementary-middle school friend, my best friend from high school, and my college roommate.

I'm not sure what it is all of a sudden, my need to "connect" with people. Is it that I'm staying at home with my children, in a new town, so I'm just craving familiar conversation (or new conversation with long-lost friends)? A good friend uses her blog to gain a sense of community, a way to connect with old (and new friends) but I've never thought my blog to be more than a way to update friends and family on the "goings on" with the kiddos. So I'm finding Facebook to work in much the same way that Elizabeth uses her blog....and I'm really enjoying it. If you have a FB profile, let me know, I'd love to "Add as Friend".

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Job

My 12 weeks are up!
Today would have been my first day back to work if we'd stayed in VA. I just can't believe how quickly 12 weeks passed. But since we are no longer in VA, my new job is "Stay-at-home-mom" and/or "Household Engineer" as I've seen it noted recently. While I'm a little sad that I won't be in an office environment (contributing to the family finances), I'm shyly excited about this opportunity to raise my children "in the way that they should go". A lot of women have told me to "enjoy this time with them as they are only this age once" and "if I'd had the opportunity to stay at home, I would have". But since I do NOT have a degree in Parenting (then again, who does?) or Early Childhood Education, so I was am fearful that I will not do as good a job as Josiah's beloved Little Saints Teachers.
I've had lots of time to think and talk with other SAHMs about what it means for my children and my family for me to stay at home. There is no better teacher than a "mother" (inclusive of mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc). And while that may be true, I also know that teaching requires a good deal of patience, which is an attribute that I'm with. :-) And even though I won't be bringing home a paycheck, I will be contributing to our family finances by keeping track of our expenses, planning meals and trips to the store to avoid unnecessary purchases (we all know what going to the store hungry can do for your budget), making sure that our loan/credit card repayment plan stays in order.
Additionally, I do not consider myself to be the most creative when it comes to activities for Josiah; however, I'm proud of what I WAS able to think up for him to do, so I thought I would share. Here are a couple of pics from the last couple of weeks.
I had an unused shallow plastic bin, so I thought to buy a bag of play sand to construct an instant sandbox for Josiah to play in on the back porch.

A friend of mine made some banana chips with her 3 year old, so I thought I would try it with Josiah. I cut the bananas and he stirred them in the lemon juice.

Here is the finished product....not too bad considering they were the first thing I'd used the food dehydrator for other than beef jerky.

Another friend had a WONDERFUL recipe for Baked Oatmeal. So I let Josiah mix....he just LOVES to help by "making it" in the kitchen.

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Good Riddens, Dolly!

We need to find a t-shirt that says, "We Survived Dolly". Even though the eye of the Category 2 hurricane "hit" just 20 miles North of us, we didn't experience too much drama. Just as we expected, we lost power for 30 hours and we had a little bit of water inside the house, but other than that we were safe.
Of course, there was A LOT of water the streets, in fields, in creeks, and in some homes. Our backyard looked like a small pond at one point during the storm.

And with all of the rain came humidity. After we lost power, our home quickly reached 80-90% humidity INSIDE. Needless to say, it was pretty miserable.

So what do you use to decorate your front lawn? For the last couple of days, we've used a Port-a-John. Thankfully, the "john" travelled down the street and back before it ended up in our yard, so all of its contents had been emptied. :-) This gives a whole new meaning to having "crap in your yard".

And we thought for sure that we would have rain for at least 1 day following the storm, but on Thursday morning, we woke up to the sun shining.

As much as I dreaded having no power and our fridge/freezer contents perishing (I was able to "save" the breastmilk once again), we were blessed. Our fence did not fall, our street did not flood, our house stayed relatively dry (minus the windblown rain coming in through the windows and roof), and we had enough food. There are still sections of town that still have no power--meaning no A/C, which down here is ESSENTIAL. Some people had their roof literally peeled off their home/business and/or water up to their waist. It's amazing to see Emergency Command Centers operate....with as much as I was involved in Emergency Preparedness, I never had the opportunity to see the EOC resolve/work a "real life" disaster.

The Lord also used Dolly to help me "connect" with the other ladies in the program as well as a couple mommies from our local MOPS group. For a while, I was feeling a little disconnected...for a number of reasons: getting TWO kiddos ready is a time intensive process, we live in a different subdivision than the other residents, and I'm constantly having to consider nap and feeding times into my day--which makes leaving the house sometimes impossible. But with the storm, I refused to stay inside my powerless home--nursing in the heat is nothing short of miserable. So we headed to one of the Faculty Physician's home--they never lost power. We, along with about 20 others, spent almost 2 full days with the Pattersons. They were very gracious hosts. So I used that time to talk with the other resident was a lot of fun and look forward to when we will all get together next.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hello, Dolly!

We expected to see some hurricane activity this year. After all, we did move to the Gulf Coast. I just didn't expect to have to prepare to "see" one so soon into the Hurricane Season.

It was just brought to my attention YESTERDAY, by a friend's mom (not by folks living here or by our local news), that Tropical Storm Dolly was headed our way. You see, since we have little people in our home, the TV is automatically set to the Disney Channel, Noggin or PBS, and then by the end of the day when the little people are asleep, the last thing I want on is the TV. So I thought it was kind of funny that someone, who doesn't live here, had to tell me about a weather phenomenon that was headed our direction.

So, I decided to take the kids to the store this morning to purchase a few items. Nothing is worse than having to run to the store last minute--in the rain--with 2 small children. We didn't purchase anything too exciting, just enough to keep our bellies full (crackers, water, nuts), the kids' bottoms dry (diapers and wipes), and Josiah occupied (I thought a few puzzles would be fun--he's never done them before).

Dolly is expected to make landfall as at least a Category 1 Hurricane sometime tomorrow and somewhere south of Brownsville. No mandate to evacuate has been that's good news. Just pray that all we experience is moderate winds and lots of flooding, no power outtage, no water ban.

I'll let you know how it was once the "right" side passes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"He Works Hard for the Money"

We've waited 4 LONG years to take this picture...Randy's FIRST paycheck! Woo Hoo!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

MPM-July 21

Another week is here, and that means yet another meal plan. I am excited to report that we ate ALL of the leftovers from last week, which is rare because I have a "I will not eat anything that's been in the fridge for longer than 3 days" rule. But I decided made an effort to overcome my fear of eating 3-4 day old leftovers for the good of our family budget. :-) And we Randy only ate out ONCE during the week...and that was to take Josiah to Peter Piper Pizza (kind of like Chuck E. Cheese) with the guys while I attended "Ladies Coffee".

Here's what on the menu for this week:

Monday-Pork Chop Casserole (see recipe below)
Tuesday-Leftover Hobo Beans (Sunday night's dinner)
Wednesday- Lasagna & Spinach Salad
Thursday-Leftover Pork Chop Casserole
Friday-Leftover Lasagna
Saturday- Chili w/Homemade Cornbread
Sunday-Leftover Chili

And because I'm always looking for a new recipe, I thought I would share one (a good friend brought this dish after Alayna was born and we LOVED it--Thanks, Susannah).

Pork Chop Casserole

4-6 Pork Chops
1 1/2 c. uncooked rice
1 can beef consomme soup
1 can French onion soup
1 green bell pepper, sliced

Preheat oven to 350. Brown pork chops on each side. Grease 9x13 casserole dish. Pour uncooked rice into dish, place pork chops on top of rice, pour both cans of soup over pork chops. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place sliced bell pepper on top. Cover with foil, bake for 1 hour.

For more menu inspiration, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Slowly Becoming Green

After two years of dragging my heels, my good friend, Gina, at Little Lions finally convinced me to try cloth diapers with Alayna. Two years ago, I gave up trying to use cloth as Josiah absolutely HATED to have his diaper changed and I was never fast enough to fold, fasten, and cover before we had a full blown scream going. Plus, with him in day care, "sposies" were my only option.

However, now that we are on a new family budget where there is no student loan supplementing our one salary household, I thought I would give cloth a try would save us nearly $50/month, and that's not using the more expensive brand of disposable.

During the last week and a half that I've been using cloth (I wanted to wait until after we got situated in our new place before I started using them), I have noticed a few "not so great" things....

1. Cloth diapers, across the board, make Laney's bottom look twice as large, every girl's worst nightmare.
2. There is an extra load of laundry to be washed every other day.
3. Cloth diapers result in even more hesitation from Randy to change them. However, he DID change her diapers on Sunday while I took a nap (I just made sure that the diaper was stuffed and ready to go).
4. Once Laney starts eating solids, I'll need to spray/rinse the poopy diapers prior to wash (this is the negative that I'm really not looking forward to).

On the flip side, though, there are positives to using cloth.

1. Using cloth will save us ~ $50/month on diapers (I'm still using disposable with Josiah).
2. I love not having to run out to the store "last minute" because I realize all of a sudden that I had used the last diaper in the previous diaper change.
3. I just LOVE how the sun bleaches the breastmilk poop stains out of the diapers, leaving white/crisp diapers behind. :-)
4. Using cloth helps the environment by reducing the amount of "it will take years to decompose" trash.

While I've had my reasons for not wanting to "go cloth" sooner, I'm really glad I decided to give it another try.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday-July 14

Wow, I can't even remember the last time I participated in a Menu Plan Monday. Things have been so crazy around here that planning one meal let alone a full week's worth was the last chore on my mind. However, with me staying at home now, there is no extra money to support our terrible habit of eating out. Therefore, I hope to stay on top of these MPMs each week to help us stay within our new family budget.
Monday-Turkey Meatloaf, green beans, mashed potatoes
Friday-1st Year Resident Get-Together: Lasagna, garlic bread, salad
Saturday-Sloppy Joes
You may say, "wow, that's a lot of leftovers". Well, until I get the hang of this "stay at home mom" thing, I'm choosing meals that make more than 2 servings so that I'm not having to cook every night.
For more menu inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Blessing of Family

For the past 2.5 months (since Alayna's birth), we have been surrounded by family. This past Wednesday, we said "good-bye" to our last visitor, Randy's mom. She came to stay with us for 2 weeks while I attempted to get our house unpacked and in order. It was such a blessing for her to be here....Josiah just LOVED having "MaGa" around (see how smart he is--speaking pig latin already and he's not even 2). Not a lot of wives can say this about their in-laws, but I just love mine. They took me in and loved me right away (or at least I think they did). :-)

I was able to get quite a bit done during Irma's visit.....organized ALL of the kid's clothes, unpacked all but 10 or so boxes (just full of decorative items that will be put up later), purchased new living room furniture, and registered both the car and myself as Texans.

Thank you, Irma, for your willingness to come and stay with us. It's such a blessing to me to have such a wonderful and loving MIL.....and I'm thankful that we are within driving distance again.

Friday, July 11, 2008

What Do You Do in the Middle of the Night?

Most normal people would answer with "sleep, of course". Me, I decided that I wanted to play around with the blog template settings last night after nursing Alayna. While I'm not finished, I thought I would change things up a bit, a little piece at a time. I'm just excited to have something different.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"You want how much?"

After a couple of weeks of unburying ourselves from our moving boxes, I finally had a chance to sit down and organize all of our receipts and make them ready to submit for reimbursement. I still cannot get over how much it costs to I just thought I would share a little bit about what we've spent.

Moving truck rental (with tow dolly for the car): $1500
Gas to fuel rental truck from VA to TX: $1000
Auto transport company to move our truck: $1700
Airfare (so that we didn't have to spend 3 days on the road with two small kiddos): $1000

Today, I officially became a Texan again. I was successfully able to obtain car insurance (which doubled due to our close proximity to the border and the high number of uninsured motorists), state inspection, license plates, AND a driver's license (which because we'd lived here 4 years ago, I was still in the system and all DPS needed to do was renew my DL# and retake my picture). By the end of the day, I had accrued more moving expenses:

Car insurance for August: $120
State Inspection: $16
Car Registration: $180 (half of this charge was just because I was a new resident--what?)
Driver's License: $24

Tomorrow, I'm taking the truck in to get inspected and registered....and I can only anticipate saying goodbye to another $200.

Not including the costs associated with replenishing our pantry, cleaning supplies, and a few restaurant meals because our kitchen took a couple of days to get "up and running", our moving expenses total close to $6000.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Paging Dr. Martinez

We knew the time was going to come that Randy was going to have to be a real doctor, not just a student doctor...and today is the day. Randy is on-call today from 7A-7A. He arrived at the hospital this morning at 8A in order to be briefed on the condition of their "in-house" patients. When he got home about an hour later, he hadn't been home 30 minutes and his beeper sounded for the first time. I'll tell you that it sure was weird to hear him say "This is Dr. Martinez. I was just paged from this number." The good thing about this program is that he can field most of the calls from home since he has online access to the medical record system.

By the time 11A rolled around, he'd been paged 4 times...this consisted of approving orders for soft restraints, Rx's for 800mg Motrin and Lexapro, and a run to the ER.

It's now 4:30PM and he's still not home from the hospital. I hope he's enjoying himself and learning a lot. Randy, I know that you were very nervous for this day come, but I know that you're doing a great job!

Randy showed up this evening just in time for dinner, around 7:30P. In his first 12 hours that he'd been on-call, he'd been paged 8 times and admitted 2 patients. Quite a busy first day! Now, we're just praying that the next 12 hours stay quiet. Shhhhh.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sumo Wrestler?

We had our very first doctor's appointment/visit at Randy's clinic today for Alayna's 2 month well-baby check up. I'm proud to say that she is growing well. Here are her latest statistics:

2 Months
Weight: 13 lbs. 8 oz. (wearing a lightweight onesie and lightly sprinkled diaper)
Length: 23"
Head circumference: 16"

1 Month
Weight: 11 lbs. 1 oz.
Length: 23"
Head circumference: no measurement taken

So accounting for the onesie and diaper, our little girl probably weighs 13 lbs....this is a weight gain of around 2 lbs during the last month (on a diet of breastmilk only). I'm not really sure how/why the length stayed the same from last month's measurements. I think an error occurred somewhere, either with today's measurements or last month, but I know that she's gained length...we've now graduated to just about all 3-6 month clothes because the 0-3 month sizes are too short.

Alayna is cooing a lot and is just all smiles, especially right after a feeding. The initial nighttime sleep is lasting anywhere from 5-7 hours and then every 3-4 hours after we're getting decent sleep. I'm really enjoying this time of her development....she is constantly entertained with watching Josiah (and he likes it, too, knowing that she's watching him). I'm looking forward to hearing giggles.

**Oh, and just a side note....her eyes are still blue/brown**

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Just a Few Observations

Moving to South Texas is definitely different than SW I thought I would share just a few observations.

1. It is so humid and hot outside that after being in an air conditioned building/car that my glasses fog up once I step back outside. I'm going to have to reconsider wearing my contacts more often.

2. I love listening to the radio in the car; however, now that there is only one Christian, one country, and one rock music station and the rest of the stations are in spanish, I may have to put iTunes in my budget.

3. Many Texas interstates are followed along by Frontage roads. So if you happen to miss an exit, you can get off on the Frontage road and follow the "turnaround lane" (it's a lane specific to making a U-turn without having to sit at a couple of traffic lights to turn around--and you don't have to get back on the interstate, you just follow the Frontage road).

4. Instead of a gas station or pharmacy (Walgreens, CVS, Eckard) on every corner, there is a panaderia (Mexican bakery). I'm trying to avoid Randy showing me where the good ones are so that I don't make unnecessary trips to buy empanadas de calabasa (pumpkin). This would not help me in successfully starting/completing half marathon training.

So far, so good. While I do miss seeing the mountains of SW VA, I'm enjoying seeing palm trees and visiting the beach (just 30 minutes away).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Birthday at the Beach

For Laney's 2 month birthday, we took the family to the beach. Josiah loved playing in the waves, even though they knocked him down, and Laney enjoyed feeling the water and sand inbetween her toes.