Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pinchin' Pennies

We're almost 5 months into the year, only 1 month away from taking a small family vacation, 2 months away from buying THREE plane tickets for my sister's wedding in IL, and 7 months away from buying THREE more plane tickets to travel back to IL for the holidays....so I thought it would be a good time to re-evaluate our current budget and try to save a few pennies.

My first "cut"....the cable TV. Knowing that I could save $50/month just by eliminating HGTV (and Co.) was eating me up. We survived all 4 years of med school without cable, so I guess in our minds, we felt like we deserved this small luxury...even though NONE of our fellow Residents have it. It was nice to enjoy the dozens of channels for the past 10 months...but we really don't need it, we need the $50/month, however.

The next "cut"....the gym membership. Since March, I've barely stepped foot into the gym.....whether it was due to Randy's schedule or my lack of motivation. The early AMs or the late PMs were just no longer working for me, and since the gym's child care rule is "2 AND potty trained", working out during the day is so not an option. While I know that my gym time during the past year is what has helped me stay sane, I'm willing to sacrifice it in exchange for $40/month and find something else (I bought Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred).

Next....the monthly allowance for diapers. I have been cloth diapering Laney for the last 9 months, so I've been doing a pretty good job at keeping her diaper purchase minimal (still need to buy 'sposies' for when we leave her in the nursery for church, MOPS, babysitters, etc). However, Josiah has always been in 'sposies'. A fellow Resident wife shared that she puts her 2YO daughter in undies in the afternoon just to "save" a diaper or two (1 diaper = $0.25). I thought this was brilliant!!!! But because I was too afraid of cleaning up messes (I was no where near ready to start the potty training process, or so I thought), I just put him in a cloth diaper along with his sister. He loved it, he loved matching his sissy. But then the more I thought of it....Josiah is just 4 months shy of turning 3 (the supposed "magic age" for boys when they finally get the whole potty training thing), why not see if he's ready....that would drastically save our monthly diaper purchase. Operation Potty Train is a completely different post, so I'll save all of the specifics, but he's doing pretty well (with #1 anyway--he's still not sure about using the potty to catch the #2 business). We might use 3-4 diapers/day now instead of our normal 6-7 (3 diapers saved = $0.75).

Now that Laney is just 2 weeks shy of her first birthday, I will no longer have to spend $50/month in formula. I tried EVERYTHING I could to keep the nursing going (after all it is best for baby--AND it's free)...but alas, my body said "ENOUGH!". Thankfully, we only had to buy 6 months of formula, but each can adds up....and before you know it, you've spent over $300 on milk. YIKES!

And lastly, since I'm constantly doing laundry (adding another little person sure does impact how quickly the laundry hamper fills up), we're using an amazing amount of laundry detergent. In my quest to find recipes for more natural cleaning products, I came across a recipe for homemade laundry soap. I made my first batch this afternoon. And as soon as it cools, I'll be washing my first load tonight. A friend of mine makes her own, too, and enjoys it....so we'll see. If we do end up liking it, it could potentially save me $20/month.

And there you have what I've done to squeeze a few more dollars from our budget so that we can enjoy a small family vacation and buy 6 plane tickets in the next few months without gasping for air. If I add up the aforementioned "cuts", we should save around $180/month. Whoa!

What am I missing? What have you done to your family's budget to make your hard-earned dollar stretch a little bit further?

On Top of Spaghetti

Last week I made my most favorite meal in the whole-wide-world-- Spaghetti with meat sauce, toasted bread, side salad, and a big ol' glass of milk (I absolutely CANNOT eat spaghetti without milk--weird, I know). It just so happens to be something that Josiah enjoys, too...and since we are so hit or miss these days about what he'll eat, it was the perfect meal (and it made for great leftovers).

Laney also enjoyed it...it was her first experience with noodles. And the second day when I just gave her meat from the sauce (the noodles were just SUPER messy), she got mad because everyone else was eating noodles.

And thanks to Cindi, who reminded me of the long-lost "On Top of Spaghetti" song we learned waaaaay back when...it was fun to listen to it again.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

We ARE Virginia Tech

2 years ago today, I remember driving back to work from the Christiansburg Recreation Center and seeing multiple Sheriff's office vehicles speeding towards Blacksburg, Home of Virginia Tech. I had no idea what I was about to hear and see on the television once I stepped foot into my office.....there had been a tragic shooting on campus. I can't even describe to you the atmosphere...it was pure sadness, pure disbelief, pure anger, pure fear.
While this event had occurred just miles from my backyard, it was brought even closer when I found out that one of my very good cubicle buddy's husband was in that building. Fortunately, he and some others barricaded themselves in a small office just a couple of doors down from those classrooms. She was so scared...and I was so scared for her.
Even though we have moved over a thousand of miles away from Blacksburg/Virginia Tech, we have not forgotten what happened 2 years ago....the Hokies are forever in our hearts.
Days after this tragic event, a song was created by The Season, "Forever Changed". I was able to find a memorial tribute using the song....

We are Virginia Tech.

We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

We are Virginia Tech.

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

We are Virginia Tech.

The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.

We are the Hokies.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We are Virginia Tech.

-- Nikki Giovanni

Randy and Josiah on Orange & Marroon Effect Day

Please keep the town of Blacksburg, VA and the entire Hokie Nation in your thoughts and prayers today.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

T-minus 1 Month

Here we are, already at Month 11. Princess Laney sure is growing quickly...and we're enjoying most every second of it.

Laney participated in her first Easter Egg Hunt this evening.

Walking around the pool with Dr. Chaylah

Here are some of Laney's latest accomplishments:

  • She now associates "Mama", "Dada", and "Brother" with a person, and will turn correctly each time we ask her, "Where is __?"
  • She will walk while pushing something, whether that be a walking toy or Brother's step stool.
  • She likes to test how long she can stand alone (just about every time she pulls herself to a standing position)...and will clap while standing (she's so proud of herself...and so are we).
  • She will now crawl UP steps/stairs....we're still working on the DOWN part, but thankfully, we don't have stairs in our house.
  • She is down to about 3-4 bottles a day....last month of formula, YAY (well, unless she just hates whole milk--but who could blame her--YUCK)!
  • She blows kisses when we tell her to say "Goodbye" and "Goodnight, Brother".
  • She obtusely signs "more", "all done" and "eat".
  • She prefers to feed herself; although, she will still accept some oatmeal and applesauce from a spoon in the morning...and will eat just about anything (we gave her edamame last night for the first time and she LOVED it).
  • And she still thinks her brother is the funniest person in the world (they've started handing things to each other while in their car seats--it's SO sweet).
Happy 11 Month Birthday, Laney!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Complete Randomness

Many things have been keeping me from the computer this past week....on-the-go days, naps (for everyone), Randy studying for Boards, after-the-kids-go-to-bed cleaning and reading, and going to bed early. But since my family specifically requested that I post more pics of the kids, I thought I would spend a few minutes this morning sharing completely random pics taken during the last couple of weeks.
Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show:
Josiah LOVES carnivals....he went strong until 10PM.

Josiah also got to pet this calf while she was eating.
He thought it was great when she stopped eating to give him a kiss--right on his face.
Bathtime for Princess:
Visit from Rocco:
These kids just love it when Rocco comes for a visit...
and, truthfully, I don't mind either--he helps pick up crumbs.

Brownsville Children's Museum:
Laney's first balloon...she wasn't sure what to think of it.