Sunday, March 20, 2016

What We Eat Part 4: In which I'm totally phoning it in

I am going to blame the lateness of this post on the fact that these receipts got buried under some tax documents and not on the fact that I'm lazy. Though the latter is probably closer to the truth.

These groceries and planned meals are for the week of February 24 through March 2.

One of the ways you can tell I was not even trying anymore: We got scones during our first Kroger trip and then a few days later walked over there solely for a free yogurt and a not-free Snickers. I should probably just add snack food into my grocery budget so I don't buy dumb stuff with my last $3 of the month.

Wed: Farfalle
Thu: Chicken/broccoli pasta
Fri: Salmon, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Sat: Spaghetti and meatballs
Sun: Leftovers
Mon: Pork stew
Tue: Chicken rice soup

I think at least 4 of those meals are repeats from earlier in the month. I did summon the energy to make meatballs with the spaghetti in an attempt to inject some variety into our life. (Usually we just have meat sauce.)

Anyway, the total for this boring week was $44.42 plus $4.27 of WIC stuff. This makes the total for the month come to $199.72 from the "food" budget, plus $5.18 "pocket money" and $35.08 in WIC foods. So if you wanted to eat a luxurious diet of not-enough-fresh-veggies just like me, you could probably do it for $250 a month or so.

Anyway, I hope somebody enjoyed this series even though I was terrible at keeping up with it. Maybe I'll try again in another 3 years.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

What We Eat Part Three: But Not The Tomatoes

I am really terrible at keeping up with this series. Oh well. This post covers the week from February 17 to 24.

The "vinegar" on the Meijer receipt was actually cooking sherry. Though I do need some vinegar.

We got the pretzels at Aldi because we were taking Tad to the on-site childcare for our Financial Peace University class and didn't know what the snack situation would be. They had snacks, so Tad had pretzels for breakfast most of the week.

Also, eggs were back in stock but also up to 1.79/doz. Boooooo.

I realized as I was bagging up my groceries at Aldi that I'd somehow forgot to include tomato sauce on the list (I planned to make spaghetti). I thought, "Oh well, they're the same price at Kroger, I'll just get some there." So Tad and I walked over to Kroger before dinner. There are two separate receipts because I wanted to make sure the right fruits and veggies got put on WIC.

And then Scott had to walk back later because I forgot the tomatoes again. 

Altogether it added up to 53.05 in food purchases + 7.61 in WIC.

The menu for the week:

Wednesday: Spaghetti with meat sauce
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Egg salad for lunch; Salmon, mashed potatoes, and cauliflower for dinner. (Side note: Roasting frozen cauliflower doesn't work nearly as well as fresh.)
Saturday: Lemon-chive pork chops, succotash
Sunday: Chicken thighs, rice, green beans (I planned to have leftovers on Sunday and cook this on Monday, but turns out we didn't have enough leftovers)
Monday: Stroganoff
Tuesday: Leftovers

I also baked some awesome whole-wheat bread and cooked a big batch of yogurt.

We did not get any free food except for Tad getting popcorn and cookies at FPU.

See you next week (hopefully!) for the fourth and final installment!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What We Eat Part Two: Soups and Free Lunches

This week's receipts:

We walked over to Kroger last Saturday for an impromptu ice cream and root beer date. This came out of our "pocket money" instead of "food" but I'm counting it anyway since we did eat it.
The "produce" in the upper right was a bag of seconds-quality apples. They were still good.

Not pictured: A Dollar Tree receipt. I got three 12-oz bags of frozen strawberries for (you guessed it!) $3.

I'm finding my groove with the cash envelopes; the biggest snafu this week was that Aldi was OUT OF EGGS. I got WIC eggs and really should have gotten another dozen since I had some cash left but I couldn't bring myself to pay 2.39 for a dozen eggs. We've been eating peanut butter toast and stuff to fill in the breakfast gap.

Anyway, that adds up to 47.13 that actually came out of our "food" envelope and 18.69 of WIC/pocket money stuff.

Now for what we actually ate:

(On Tuesday I made cupcakes for Mardi Gras, which was not on last week's list. The frosting didn't turn out well at all because I didn't have powdered sugar and the recipe for granulated sugar frosting I found online was apparently not a good one.)
Wednesday: Broccoli cheese soup. Tad happily announced "Yogi!" when he saw it but alas, broccoli soup does not taste like yogurt and he thus refused to eat it.
Thursday: Roast chicken, rice, green beans
Friday: Cheese pizza. Again. We like pizza, okay?
Saturday: Chili and cornbread.
Sunday: We had lunch meat sandwiches at "coffee and donuts" after the TLM. Also leftovers for dinner.
Monday: Zuppa Toscana. Also, we went over to Scott's parents' to sled before the snow melted and Scott's mom gave us a big dish of leftover chili because it had been contaminated with gluten or something like that. Apparently she and I had the same idea about cooking chili. :)
Tuesday: Chicken riffle soup. At this point Scott commented on how much soup we'd been eating lately.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

What We Eat Part 1

I last did a series like this back in 2012, when we had 1 fewer person in our family and I was shocked by eggs costing 1.49/dozen. Those were the days.

I have been meaning to revisit the topic for a while but procrastination got in the way. Then Sheila did a similar post so I am going to jump on the bandwagon.

Normally I would not have 5 different receipts to photograph but this week was SUPER busy so I kind of squeezed grocery shopping in around other things. In fairness, the two trips to Kroger were on foot and the second Aldi trip was a quick stop on the way back from something else so I did not waste as much gas as you might imagine.

This was also my first try at a cash envelope system (thanks a lot, Dave Ramsey), which was a total pain in the butt. I allotted $55 for groceries because that was what we had left after doing boring stuff like paying the rent. I ended up stealing 12 cents out of my toiletries envelope for a total of $55.12 for a week of foodstuffs. The $5.38 chicken package was the smallest one in the cooler, okay?

There was also $9.69 in WIC purchases but I'm not sure that would be a 1:1 conversion for somebody without WIC. For example, I'd probably just buy more oatmeal instead of getting Cheerios.

Now for the menu:

Breakfast: Tad and I have fried eggs and oatmeal/cereal pretty much every day.

Lunch: Grownups eat leftovers and Tad eats either leftovers or peanut butter bread depending on what we have.

Wednesday: Spaghetti with meat sauce
Thursday: This pork stew, more or less
Friday: Cheese pizza
Saturday: Chicken parmesan (with ground-up oatmeal in place of bread crumbs)
Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: TBS
Tuesday: Rosemary pork, mashed potatoes, green beans

I also made a batch of homemade pudding on Wednesday because I felt like it and made a loaf of sandwich bread on Friday. Scott made some stovetop popcorn for us on Friday night.

My main failing this week was not buying nearly enough fruit. If I had tried harder I could have made dinners cheaper and squeezed out an extra few dollars--e.g. having rice or biscuits with the pork instead of mashed potatoes would have allowed me to buy a bag of apples. Oh well. We won't die of scurvy before next Wednesday. (And if we do start losing some teeth I can always use the rest of our WIC fruit/veggie allowance.)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Seven Quick Takes: Coming up to breathe edition

1. It's kind of ridiculous to give blogging excuses when I haven't posted more than once a month in ages, but let's lead off with: Holidays + a week-long head cold of doom + resulting TV detox means that Tad has been even higher-needs than usual. Which is saying something.

By the way, his favorite TV show right now is Phineas and Ferb. For a while he would let me watch Property Brothers with him (from which he learned the phrase "Oh gosh!"--stellar parenting 'round here) but now if I turn that on he wails until I switch it over to his preferred show.

2. He does still love Signing Time, or did when I last showed it to him a while ago (before the Great Screentime Detox of 2016). His latest things from that show are:

- Marching around the house while saying "Maish! Maish!"

- Asking "Yo nammy?" while making the signs for "You name?" I don't know if he actually understands what this question means or if he's just asking it to see what will happen. I need to remind myself how to finger-spell his name so I can teach him that.

3. He can count to 5 reliably and to 10 somewhat unreliably and will say "Dee eee esh!" when he wants me to sing the ABCs.

Beefing up a short take with a random photo.
We're trying wrapping again to deal with Velcro Baby.
This picture is grainy and the mirror is dirty
but I love his cheesy face.
4. Somehow Scott and I survived more than 4 years of marriage without owning a broom. The other week Aldi had them on sale and I had some money in my budget so I snatched one up.

Tad LOVES this thing. He immediately started sweeping with it, and recall that we've never owned a broom for as long as he's been alive. I think he picked up that skill due to his obsession with Tom the Maintenance Man. (Seriously, he's a big fan. I mean, the guy wanders around our apartment building sweeping stuff! What's not to adore?)

He's also become quite the stickler for cleaning up dirty dishes and food scraps. Apple cores MUST be thrown in the trash as soon as they are fully eaten. (Side note: He eats apples around the core now instead of straight through from one side to the other like he used to. Sniff, sniff.) Dishes must be taken into the kitchen rather than set down on tables; once in the kitchen they must be thrown in the sink instead of left on the counter. Granted, mostly I think this is an excuse for him to persuade me to let him fill the sink with water and splash around in it.

5. A funny thing about this age is that he learns stuff and I have no idea where he gets it. I guess I'll blame the TV?

A cute one: Instead of just saying "Tada!" (Or in Tad-speak, "Taaa!") he throws his arms out to the sides while saying it. We don't do this. And yet it's a totally appropriate thing to do.

A less cute one: He will periodically wander around quietly chanting "Poopy. Poopy. Poopy." This is completely different from when he walks up to me and announces "Poopy diaper." (Spoiler: Sometimes the diaper is actually just wet.) He's not trying to communicate, he's just making sounds because he likes them.

I try not to be all "Boys will be boys" but seriously, where did he get that? Does it just spontaneously spring from the Y chromosome?

6. There are other things I can tell he does get from us and I just love them. A sampling:

- When he wants to throw a ball he will say "Weady? Weady? Geh it!" and then throw it. If you catch it, he says "Yay!" or "Taaa!" and if you don't he says "Ohmoosh!" (Almost)

- He says "Gih dobbie" (Good job) to everything. When I put a dirty dish in the sink. When he puts a block in the box during clean-up time. When I come get him out of bed in the morning, picking him up in response to his outstretched arms.

There have even been a few times when he will nurse and then upon unlatching say in a satisfied tone, "Gih dobbie."

(It totally makes those early weeks of breastfeeding Purgatory worthwhile.)

7. The things in #6 make me happy because I feel (perhaps unreasonably, given that I disown the "Poopy" chant) that he is repeating what he hears--that the things he hears are affirmation and celebration, over and over again all day long. That when he sees himself through our eyes he sees something so completely wonderful that he can't help talking about it.

It's taken us so, so long to get here. There are still days, 2+ years into this parenting journey, that it all feels like a terrible mistake, like it was the height of folly for me to think that I was capable of being somebody's mother.

And then he tells me, straight up, You're doing a good job. And maybe it's pitiful to be so reliant on affirmation from a 2-year-old but every time he does that it feels like finally taking a breath after years of drowning.

It feels like we're all going to be okay after all.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

An unspecified number of maybe-quick things: 2-year-old edition

I was going to write this on Tad's actual birthday but NaNoWriMo got in the way. Priorities, I haz dem!

Anyway, now I'm going to try to blog a little more to capitalize on the habit of writing thing I've been developing the last month. We'll see what happens.

Brace yourself for bullet points!

- According to the WIC office, he weighs 27 lbs 4 oz and is 34.5" long. (We haven't gotten into the ped for his 24mo well-check yet for boring administrative reasons.) That's a gain of about 2 lbs and 2.5 inches from his 18-month checkup, though of course one must allow margin of error for different scales and different people doing the length measurement.

His weight seems to be leveling off around the 60th percentile, having climbed there from the 25th over the course of about a year. (He dropped from about 70th to 25th in the first month after he was born.)

His height has gotten up to right around the 50th percentile after being in the 10-15th range up until about 18 months! (At the hospital he was something like 90th percentile for height but I'm not sure how accurate that is; he lost an inch and a half between then and the ped at 5 days old and I think the latter measurement would have put him about 50th percentile.) I will be curious to see if it levels off after this or keeps climbing and levels off later. For reference, Scott is about 50th percentile for adult height whereas I'm more like 85-90th. (Which is weird because I don't think of myself as THAT tall, but I guess that top 10% covers a pretty broad range of heights.)

I am probably way too obsessed with percentiles but I guess this is what happens when a statistics geek meets a mom whose baby was *almost* diagnosed Failure To Thrive.

- He slept through the night for the first time ever around 22 months and has done so maybe three more times since. It gives me some hope for the future.

Around the same time, he started having days where he'd really cut back on breastfeeding. He's vacillating wildly right now between days when he nurses 3-4 times and days when he nurses 8-10. I really wouldn't mind having a toddler who consistently sleeps through the night and nurses 3 times a day, but Tad's always been uniquely high-needs so we'll see how things go.

- He still has a hearty appetite but is starting to show signs of pickyness, especially with new foods. I am patting myself on the back for having done baby-led weaning, because for the most part he will reliably eat foods that were introduced regularly before he was a year old. Which is about 95% of the foods we eat regularly now. (To give an example: I recently discovered roasted broccoli and we've been having that once a week or so lately and he's having none of it. But he eats green beans and peas like they're going out of style and will grudgingly accept spinach, so I figure he's okay for green veggies.)

(Side note: I attribute all his "good" qualities, like his appetite, to my superior parenting, and his "bad" qualities, like not sleeping, to fate and genetics. Because I can, that's why.)

- He's kept adding words to his vocabulary rapidly since hitting the 100-word mark a couple of months ago, so I'd say it's somewhere in the 150-200 range now. 2-word phrases are commonplace now and most days he manages 3- and 4-word phrases.

- He continues to identify nouns in books and has started to get into verbs as well--that baby is "eat! eat!", those balls are "fall down!", etc. ("ing" forms are beyond him, of course) It is really amusing to see him "reading" books to himself.

However, he does this identification only when he feels like it, not when you ask him. "What is this called?" while pointing to a beep-beep car just gets you a major side-eye. Asking, "Where is the car?" produces a similarly obstinate result.

- He has started occasionally using personal pronouns. "My" and "mine" are of course the favorites, but he's also used "me" and "I".

He will occasionally say "you" but seems unclear on what it's supposed to mean. Because he is an only child and thinks he's the only person in the universe. ;)

- He recently mastered jumping with both feet off the ground and is ridiculously proud of himself. He will sometimes just jump back and forth around the apartment saying "Wow! Amazing bounce!" with every hop. ("Wow! Amazing!" is one of his favorite descriptors. He learned it from the TV.)

- He has learned how to announce "Poopy diaper!" and "Wet diaper!" at appropriate times, and knows that if his diaper is wet he should "Go potty." (His little potty is sitting next to the changing mat and diaper bin, so when I want him to go over there I just say "Go to the potty!" for simplicity's sake.)

He's completely disinterested in actually peeing or pooping in the potty, though. I'm not too concerned, considering he's barely two and has already obviously made big strides in the bodily awareness department.

- His playdate party trick is drinking out of an open cup without spilling a drop. Seriously, he spills less than I do. Unless he's intentionally knocking over the cup, like a cat.

He can also use spoons expertly and is working on forks. I am planning to introduce him to butter knives soon so he can learn how to cut without risk to his fingers, but I'm out of practice giving him close supervision while eating because he is so good at feeding himself, so I am going to have to work on that habit in myself.

- His new favorite thing is to climb on overturned boxes et al and flip light switches on and off. He also knows how to climb on the dresser in our bedroom (via an overturned clothes hamper) and turn the music on my CD player/alarm clock on and off. There were a few days when he kept turning the volume up and I was worried I was going to have to bar him from the bedroom for fear of his ears, but then one time he accidentally turned it up to 5 times the usual volume while it was off and then turned the music on and scared himself because it was so loud. He hasn't tried to adjust the volume since. So I guess natural consequences saved the day there.

- In other fine motor news, he knows how to string big beads on yarn, but doesn't have much opportunity to practice this skill because he can just barely fit the beads in his mouth so I of course have to supervise him closely when he's playing with them. Are we noticing a theme of me not liking to give him things that require close supervision? I also don't let him draw and color nearly as much as I should. He has a magnadoodle and some "magic" watercolor coloring books on his Christmas list to help compensate for my inattentiveness.

- He has thoroughly mastered peg puzzles (the ones that are barely more complex than shape sorters) and while at my parents' house over Thanksgiving was doing pretty well with puzzles like this one. I am not sure if I should get him some puzzles like that or move on to simple jigsaw puzzles to challenge him a bit.

- Imaginative play is in full swing. Mostly he just pretends things are beep-beep cars and phones. Just about anything can be a beep-beep car or a phone if you put your mind to it.

He does also have a couple of favorite toys (not to the level of "lovies", but there's a slight preference)--a little naked baby doll that he commandeered from my younger siblings, and a stuffed tiger that I got for Scott as a birthday present several years ago. The dolly and the tiger both frequently get "hug, hug!" and get fed frozen peas and offered sips of water.

- He has started to thoroughly enjoy the clean-up game--he will throw his blocks, toys, and books back into their bins while saying "Yay! Yay!" and clapping for himself after every item. And then once they're picked up he will promptly dump them back out again and scatter them around the room, the better to pick them up next time!

When he's a little older we'll work on the "only one thing strewn across the living room at a time" rule.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Also, kid, sorry, but you're going to have to pay for it yourself

There is a thing that happens sometimes, when moms are talking to each other--yes, Scott, it is a thing that happens in meatspace and not just a fake trend from the internet, and I know this because I have done it myself--where they will make a joking reference to their kids' future therapy as a sort of preemptive acknowledgement of their flaws.

Have you heard this sort of thing?

"Oh, my kid always wears his older brother's hand-me-down Halloween costume. Guess he'll have something to talk about in therapy, ha ha."

"Oh, yes, we never bought her a Tickle-Me-Elmo doll, guess we should take the money we saved and put it aside for therapy, tee hee."

(Considering I am a mom I should know about some kind of modern trend to substitute for Tickle-Me-Elmo--side note, I never got one of those and that's okay because I found them vaguely terrifying--but I do not. Maybe I should complain about my lack of pop culture awareness in therapy.)

And I totally get why this is a thing. It's the same impulse as "My kid fell off the table and bust open his lip, please mail me my Mother Of The Year trophy." We're preemptively and a little sarcastically criticizing ourselves so that other people don't jump on our Facebook status or casual comment with, "ACTUALLY have you thought about not being such a sucky mom?"

(Pro tip: If you regularly feel compelled to begin sentences with the word "Actually," you are probably kind of pretentious. Maybe dial it down a bit.)

But it makes me wonder: Why is therapy a thing we invoke like the boogeyman of motherhood, where only the bad moms who suck at everything have kids who go to therapy, LOL? Is that really the standard I aspire to, to have kids who don't go to therapy?

Given my genes, sorry, current kid and future kids, you're probably doomed to some kind of chronic mood disorder. Sorry 'bout that chromosome. But even aside from that--if I have a kid who's totally neurotypical and totally healthy and still goes to therapy, I think I will have actually done a really good job as a mom.

Because you know what going to therapy means? Going to therapy means that you have the self-awareness to realize you're struggling. (And we all struggle, thought some more than others, like Animal Farm.) It means you have the humility and good sense to know when to call it and say, "Hey, this is more struggle than I can handle on my own." And if they talk about me in therapy, well, I already knew I'm human, and it seems better for them to talk that out with a therapist than to just let it fester, or to hide it from the world because they think we need to maintain a perfect shiny family image even in front of therapists so we can't ever say, "Yeah, my mom was awesome most of the time but a few times she wrote blog posts about how I'm too much work."

If I can't be the perfect mom, then I'll consider second best (and good enough) to be "mom who gives her kids the tools to deal with all the mistakes she made."