2 Months

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Reading back on Ellis’s 2 month update, I was really attuned to her development.  Sadly, I have less to say about Asher this go around.  He smiles.  He “talks.”  He is a huge flirt.  He is a pretty easy-going baby.  He sleeps a lot but for short stretches, unless we are out running around, and then he’ll usually sleep the whole time we’re out.  We put him to bed the same time of night as Ellis, and he’ll usually sleep until somewhere around 1am.  It usuaIMG_1763lly takes me an hour to get him fed, burped, changed, fed again, burped again, and back down.  Then, if I am lucky, he’ll sleep a 2-4 hour stretch, but then after that, around 4am, he wakes every hour.  Not sure what to do about that.  He’s usually gassy, but I’m so tired at that point that I don’t spend the requisite time bouncing, patting his back, and squishing his knee to his elbow to help relieve some of the discomfort.  So he’ll sleep and grunt and fuss and wake up in a continuous cycle until about 6:30, when he fully wakes.  Then I’ll feed him, entertain him, and try to get him to nap a little longer while I take care of feeding Ellis and get us going for the day.  He doesn’t have a regular routine because our days vary based on Ellis’s schedule.  He’s usually ready to sleep after 1-1.5 hours of wake time, and then he sleeps roughly 45 minutes depending.  Thankfully, he takes a pacifier (Ellis didn’t), and I can put him down “drowsy but awake” and he puts himself to sleep.  I used to think that was bs, but he prefers you just lay him down and leave him alone when he’s tired.

Asher’s in Size 2 diapers and 3-6 mos clothes.  He’s the same size Ellis was at 4 months.  His lower half seems to be growing faster than his top half because his head looks tiny on his body, though his head is in the 88th percentile or something like that.  He has long fingers and toes and because he still keeps them clenched most of the time, he keeps a lot of lint in there that I have to force his hands and toes open to clean out.  He hates really any physical exertion:  tummy time, pushing up on his legs, being awake too long.  He’s my kid through and through.

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Loves his big sister!

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His play mat is one of his favorite places to nap.

 

Asher’s One Month Update

10639379_871540274656_327798901379960777_nToday (or round about) is Asher’s 1 month birthday.  Ellis and I celebrated today by singing “Happy Birthday” to everybody in the house and baking Easter bunny cookies.  Life with a newborn is going fairly easy.  (Ha ha.  That was before spring break hit!)  He has to be my son because he loves to sleep and eat.  That’s all he does.  If he’s awake and his eyes are open it’s only because he is hungry or he has gas, and when that’s the case, grunting and fussiness are also present.  He outgrew his newborn clothes by his second week and was 9 lbs 11 oz and 22 in at his 2 week check up.  He wears size 0-3/3 months clothes and size 1 diapers.

He sleeps in either his rocker or bouncy chair during naps and at night, and he sleeps well in his car seat (as long as we’re moving) or the Baby Bjorn.  However, I feel like I’m suffocating him inside the Bjorn, and at the zoo the other week his arm turned purple because somehow he was losing circulation in it.  Scared me to death!

He has sensitive skin like me, and it’s taking some trial and error to figure out how best not to irritate his skin.  He wears sensitive diapers, and we use Water Wipes.  His skin is still red where his diaper is, but he doesn’t have a rash or breakouts anymore.

I am also trying a low/no-dairy diet because he seems unusually fussy after eating, more than I experienced with Ellis.

We have not been hermits.  Asher’s been out of the house just about every day of his life.  He’s been on a play date, to the mall, church, Pump It Up, the zoo, the grocery store and Target on multiple occasions, his sister’s preschool and swim school, to name a few.  Ellis was on lock down the first months of her life (pre-shots), but this time around I would go nuts staying cooped up in the house with two kids all day!

Ellis is on spring break this week, so it has been nearly impossible to try and get a good photo of Asher and update the blog.  but Day 4 is (hopefully) a charm!  Things are definitely more difficult when I have two little ones who need me simultaneously, and I obviously have no time for myself or anything else right now, but they’re beautiful, wonderful kids, so I’m not complaining!

Click here to read Ellis’s 1 Month Update

Asher’s Birth Story

AsherTwo weeks ago, my family and my heart got a little bigger.  We welcomed Asher Liam into the world, and though we are sleep deprived and living in a baby bubble, I can’t remember being any happier than I am now.

February 21st at midnight, I woke up and jumped out of bed.  I ran to the restroom as I felt my water break.  There was no denying what was happening.  It was gushing everywhere and just kept coming.  I woke up Trav and told him it was go time.  As I worked on changing and finishing packing, we called the Ob, our babysitter, and my mom.  Once we were packed and Chelsea arrived, we headed out.  Mom was still in Daytona, so it would take her a couple hours to get to our house to relieve Chelsea.  Ellis slept on with no clue.

We checked in through the ER and were escorted up to L&D.  Apparently about 5 women came in just before I did, so I was placed in the “spill over” room while they took my stats and swabbed for amniotic fluid.  I was then admitted and given a room.  I was told later that the other women had been sent home, so I had my nurse all to myself for the evening.  Another nurse was called in to place my IV.  I could tell she was rushing, and I wanted to tell her to slow down and do it right but I kept quiet.  My nurse checked on it later and I was bleeding all over my arm because the other nurse hadn’t inserted it correctly.  I hate blood and needles, so I was not happy about them having to mess with the IV again.

When I first came in, I had been having contractions but they weren’t very strong, and I only felt them after the monitor already picked them up, so my nurse didn’t believe me when I said I was ready for an epidural as soon as I could get one.  Because of her, I decided to hold off as long as I could because I didn’t want to seem like a wimp, but the contractions were coming every 5-6 minutes and getting more and more painful.  The positive was that they didn’t last that long, but I wasn’t getting any rest, and I knew this could be a long labor.  Around 4:30-5am, I said, screw this, and ordered an epidural.  I was a little dehydrated, so my nurse made me wait until I had emptied my IV bag.  By 5:30, the epidural was in place and starting to take effect. Before I could rest, though, one of the monitors started buzzing and I began feeling light headed and nauseated.  My blood pressure was low, so I was given another drug (don’t remember the name right now), and they had to monitor my blood pressure every five minutes until it started to stabilize.  Finally, I was able to get some sleep around 7, but I was awake around 8 and anxious to get this labor going.

I had been progressing about 1-1.5 cm an hour, so I was only at a 5 when my new nurse came to check on me.  She asked if I wanted to kick things in gear with Pitocin, and I said yes, please.  With Ellis, they had given it to me almost immediately, but my first nurse had chosen to hold off because I was making some progression (however slow).  I got to say, I liked Nurse #2 a whole lot better.  I told Travase to go home, shower, and check on Ellis, because I assumed it was going to be a while since it took so long with Ellis.  About 20-30 minutes after getting Pitocin, the nurse checked me, and I was dilated at 8.5.  I called Travase but he was in the shower, so I called my mom and told her to tell Travase to get back ASAP.  I was a bit worried he might miss the birth of his son!  Soon after, I could feel pressure down below, like possibly a head getting ready to come out.  I called my nurse to come check me again, and she in turn called the doctor who was about to head into the OR for a c-section.  Sorry to that mom who had to wait, but this baby wasn’t waiting any longer.

Trav made it just in time to get my legs in the stirrups and help me push.  It took 3 contractions (3 pushes each), and Asher was here!  I got to hold him immediately and kept him in my arms while they worked on him (and me).  And the rest is history!

Asher came four days early.  He was 8 lbs. 10 oz. and 21 inches long.  He was born at 10:21 am, which also happens to be Trav’s and my anniversary (10/21).

The One and Only Pregnancy Update

Well, today marks exactly one month until my due date, so I guess I should write something about my pregnancy.  I realize my first time around I wrote an update every couple of weeks and included belly bump pics, but this pregnancy has been different for me in just about every way possible.  This pregnancy has been no fun from the very beginning; it’s just been rough – not in a medical, “you’re on bed rest til the baby comes” way (man, I wish) because all of my “ailments” are typical pregnancy symptoms according to my 7ish? doctors.  So, I’ll just list out all the ways this pregnancy has been a big ball of suck compared to my first. (Sorry, Baby #2).

1. I blew up like a whale from the very beginning, and my bladder completely failed me from the start.

I was so hungry my first trimester.  I could not eat enough or sleep enough.  I ate everything in sight, and at night, I ate even more.  So I gained a lot of weight very quickly, and it didn’t take long before I had outgrown my clothes and was already pulling out my maternity bins.  My leaky bladder also got worse and made it basically impossible to teach my Sh’bam classes anymore, so I had to give those up which did not help with the weight gain.  My first few Ob appointments I was given warnings about too much weight gain, and I wanted to punch the Ob in the face and cry at the same time.  I tried switching to yoga/pilates/flow types of classes to maintain my physical health as I could no longer do any of my high-cardio classes, but there are no prenatal classes in my area, and I grew tired of having to make up my own options for half the class.  It didn’t take long before I was wearing my 3rd trimester clothes (and underwear – hello, giant ass), and by the start of my 3rd trimester I practically weighed the same as I did at the end of my first.  In fact, I think I have now surpassed that number, and I still have a month to go.  I never had the cute bump profile because I gained weight everywhere, not just in my belly.  Now that my bump is so large, I look more proportionate, but I’m to the point that I can’t imagine how I ever fit into my regular clothes and doubt I’ll ever return to fitting in them again.

2.  I changed doctors and have been less than enthusiastic about their care.

I decided to switch doctors because we moved last year, and I wanted to be able to deliver at a closer hospital.  My old ob has an office a block away from my house, but in order to have a sonogram, I’d have to drive to their downtown office, and to deliver, I’d have to go downtown as well.  So, I asked around and decided to see a practice that was in the same group as my other Ob but would allow me to deliver at a closer hospital, and their offices are next door to it.  I went from having four doctors that I saw regularly to more than I could count.  I’m 36 weeks and still haven’t seen every one, have never seen one doctor more than once, and have seen the RNP at least 4x more than them.  I don’t know any of their names, and I wouldn’t recognize them if I passed them on the street, especially since my typical meetings with each lasted on average less than 2 minutes, and most of them had dud personalities from what I could tell.  With my first pregnancy, my Ob appointments made the whole pregnancy seem more real and special.  We had a sonogram done nearly every visit (hence, not wanting to drive downtown for every visit this time around) and a good amount of time with the ob who monitored the heart and measured the belly.  Usually my husband attended, too, so it was an event.

This time, my husband has come with me to exactly one appointment – the anatomy scan where we learned of the baby’s gender (another underwhelming experience because the sonographer spent most of the time trying to capture all 4 heart chambers and zero time showing us all ten tiny fingers and toes.  The pictures she took sucked, too).  I know it’s most common to only have two sonograms, but I was used to having them done at almost every visit, that this was a huge change.  I know basically nothing about the baby growing inside of me, and with Ellis, I knew she was going to have a head full of hair and the cutest nose.  Additionally, it’s the nurse who monitors the heart at the appointments, and the doctor basically takes a two second measurement of the belly, asks if I have any questions or concerns, and then says, “Okay, peace out.”  There has been nothing magical or special about this pregnancy, and I leave every appointment disappointed.  Sure, I could have found a new practice or gone back to my old doctors, but I am so lazy busy and tired, that I just didn’t want to have to deal with either finding someone who delivers at my hospital of choice or dealing with hassle of the downtown hospital for all of my visits (hard to find parking and a train that passes right by adding to the congestion and travel time).

3.  I have a toddler.  And stairs.

Ellis weighs around 25+ pounds now, and she still wants to be carried everywhere.  She is also obviously very high energy, so there is no time to relax during the day, with the exception of sweet, sweet nap time.  We also have stairs in our house where we didn’t with my first pregnancy.  My trips up and down are strategically planned to avoid any extra ascents.  I’m to the point now that I don’t carry anything up with me.  It all is placed at the bottom of the stairs waiting for my husband to carry it up for me.  And I try to get Ellis to hold my hand as much as possible on the stairs because she often prefers I carry her.  Every time I go down the stairs, I have to be careful because I always have a moment where I feel off-balance and get the feeling that I’m going to topple forward.  Thankfully, I’ve avoided tripping or falling down or up the stairs.

4.  I’m not getting any younger.

Really, I’m not.  My body hurts in more ways than I thought imaginable.  Sitting hurts.  Standing is exhausting.  Laying down is uncomfortable.  Walking is painful.  My pelvis feels crushed every time I stand up.  I always feel like I have to pee.  It’s even worse when I have to carry a toddler around.  My last pregnancy, I had some round ligament pain and some discomfort with my sciatic nerve, but the pain this time around is on a whole new level.  About 2 months ago, I moved to our guest bedroom because it has a much firmer mattress.  I wake up less often with round ligament pain on it, and when I do, it’s easier to get up and massage it out than our pillowy-soft mattress that I sink into and struggle to get out of.  But the farther along I’ve gotten, it gets harder to lay comfortably without pain, and I still have to get up every couple of hours to pee.  I always have to have a pillow behind my back when I sit down or else I have to sit straight up on the edge.  The other day we went shopping for a new recliner, and I left the store wobbling in pain from all the sitting and pulling myself out of the chairs.  I think if I had stuck with yoga and pilates I would be in much less pain, but I just can’t make myself get back to the gym.

5.  We still don’t have name for this kid.

We had Ellis’s name picked out not even a full week after we found out we were having a girl.  This time around, we are still trying to come up with a list of possible considerations.  I have favorites.  Trav has favorites.  Our favorites don’t mesh, and neither of us loves the other’s choices.  It’s possible we’ll just end up letting the nurses name him.

Goals for 2016

NYE 2016 Sassafras Mountains

So long 2015. Looking ahead to a year with great potential.

2015 was a year full of great changes for my family.  We moved to a bigger house in a better, more family-friendly neighborhood.  That in itself changed our lives dramatically and for the positive.  With the move, we also had to tighten our purse strings as our cost of living increased.  My mom, and for a short time my grandmother, moved to be close to us; so, for the first time in over a decade, I finally had family living in the same town state part of the country as me.  I spent over two-thirds of the year pregnant and had to give up teaching Sh’bam, for now at least.  Ellis gave up some activities and started new ones (swimming and preschool).    We also found a new church that we’ve been going to regularly, took a Dave Ramsey course over the summer, and started attending marriage classes.

With all the wonderful things that happened in 2015, I’m looking forward to what this new year has in store for us.  Obviously the biggest change will be a new baby, and he is sure to rock our world.  We’ve gotten into a rhythm; things have been easy for the most part, and in a few short weeks that’s all going to change.  Hopefully we will have a better handle on things and more realistic expectations on what bringing home a newborn entails.  My first goal is to chill (to the best of my capabilities).  I read all the books and listened to all the advice, and I was a ball of stress for at least the first six months of my daughter’s life.  This time, I plan to TRY to be more easy-going (especially about sleep – I’m just going to assume this one is never going to sleep either.  That way, I’ll be pleasantly surprised when he does.)  Though there will still be things that I will be a stickler about (wash your friggin hands before holding the baby – better yet, just don’t touch him until he’s had his first set of vaccs).

My second goal is to stress less.  I know.  Basically the same thing as chilling.  Stress is obviously a huge problem in my life right now (and for the longest time).  I tend to lose my sh*t when things don’t go as planned.  I make a list of to-dos and things I want to accomplish every day, and nine out of ten times I can barely make a dent in my plans.  Lately, I focus on what I’ve been able to accomplish for the day instead of what I wasn’t able to get done, and I feel more satisfied with myself.  So instead of focusing on the fact that, for the fifth day in a row, I’ve still not been able to make it to the bank, I look at what I was able to do even if it was just I took a shower and fed my kid today; yay, me!

One thing that stresses me out more than anything is being disorganized, so my third goal is to get organized.  I’ve had this problem long before having a baby.  It was one of the hardest things about teaching because if I wasn’t organized, I couldn’t do my job well.  I am one of those people who takes in so many ideas and wants to do it all that I just over-complicate things that should be very simple.  I do that in my own home and personal life, too.  I blame Pinterest for a lot of it these days.  I waste so much time on trying to perfect a system that I forget the point of the system in the first place – to make life easier and become more efficient with daily tasks.  I feel like I can’t get anything accomplished until my house is completely functional.  I am slowly attacking every area of our house, simplifying, decluttering, and organizing little by little.

Stick to our budget.  Since completing the Dave Ramsey course last July, we’ve been struggling to stick to the budget we set for ourselves every month.  Old habits die hard I guess.  I’ve been trying different methods from tracking our spending and receipts both manually and using budgeting apps, to using cash only, and everything in between, but we haven’t found a system that works for us yet.  It’s a work in progress, but we’re at least talking about our spending and are more conscious of it.  So my goal is to find a system that really works for us and helps us stay on track to pinch those pennies without feeling oppressed.

I want to become more of a positive force in my family.  I feel like I’m doing a good job as a mom, but I have room for improvement.  I want to say yes more often (like 99% of the time) when Ellis asks if I’ll play with her.  As a wife, I need to really raise my game.  I want to be more conscious of showing my husband love and appreciation using his love language.  We spent last fall discussing Andy Stanley’s iMarriage in our marriage class, and I am working on doing more for Trav and looking at him as the gift that he is to my life as opposed to taking him for granted.  I always want to find joy in the small things of every day and not treat my responsibilities as a burden.  I have a pretty good life, but sometimes I act like my problems are so huge when really I’m the problem.

Finally, I want to get chairs for our kitchen table.  About two years ago, we bought a new kitchen table.  It’s a high top, and we bought two chairs to go with it.  When Ellis came along, she scooted up in her high chair.  Now we have a larger kitchen, and the two bar chairs are cozied up to the kitchen island.  Our kitchen table has been reduced to a dump for all our clutter.  When we have meals, we eat at the island, and someone is left standing because Ellis hasn’t used her high chair in almost a year.  Once in a while we sit together at the dining table, but that’s usually reserved for when we have guests.

And that’s that.  My goals for 2016.  Of course, once baby gets here, I’m going to scratch all this, and my new goal will be:  survive.

 

 

Toddler Activity Calendar

Pinterest is great for finding lots of ideas for things to do with your tots.  I have a board dedicated to it.  My problem is that I hardly go back and look at the ideas I’ve pinned, and every afternoon I am scrambling for something to do with my toddler.  Our mornings are usually packed, but after nap time, we tend to hang out at home.   I try to take care of all my errands and chores in the morning and before she gets up from her nap, so that I can give her my undivided attention for a few hours before starting dinner or heading out for whatever evening plans we may have that day.  I decided to create a monthly calendar that plans out one special activity to do with Ellis every day.  Then I can see what’s coming up, prep all the materials I need, and have a fun surprise for Ellis when she gets up!

It was fairly easy to set up.  I found an editable calendar from www.sarahtitus.com, scrolled through my pins, made a list of the activities I wanted to do this month, and then chose the best day to add it to my calendar.  I think the hardest and most time-consuming part was figuring out which day to do what.  I had to look at what we have going on in the month to determine when we had time to do what.  I chose days that she had off from school to do “field trips” and days where I knew someone would be babysitting Ellis, I didn’t add an activity.

I tried to include a variety of activities including special outings, cooking/baking, learning fun, and crafts.  I also went ahead and included the letter of the week that we’d be working on to hold myself accountable.  I used to have a checklist of everything I wanted to do every day with Ellis including story time, puzzle time, crafts, imaginative play, etc. but I could never make it work, and I ended up just feeling like a failure.  Now, I’m only holding myself accountable for one thing, and everything above and beyond that is icing on the cake.

We just started this week, so there is nothing listed the first week of November.  I have big plans for December with lots of Christmas activities!  Find me on Pinterest if you want to see where I got a lot of these ideas.

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Ellis painted the mat of a picture frame for my grandmother using cotton ball paint brushes.  The picture above explains it all:  paint, cotton balls, and clothespins.  Boom.

Download my November Activity Planner here: Toddler Activities November 2015.

What I Made: October’s Meals

With our new, strict budget, I have had to cut back on

  • trips to the grocery story,
  • willy nilly meal plans in which I buy all the ingredients and then let the food expire in the fridge before I get around to making it,
  • giving in to temptations and grabbing whatever sounds good at the moment,
  • forgetting coupons at home,
  • and not paying attention to the prices I’m paying on items, among other things.

We’ve always been spur-of-the-moment people, so planning always seems like such a commitment.  After overspending in August and September, we broke down and started implementing the cash envelope system.  This really puts us in check, and I have to be a lot smarter about where our money goes and how to make it last.

Reasons I haven’t been cooking in a while:

  • I hate cooking.
  • Nobody eats it.

Ellis is on a food strike.  She hates just about everything except cereal bars and frozen waffles.  There’s no point in trying to prepare a nutritionally mapped out, wholesome meal for her because it’ll just end up in the garbage or on the floor.  Travase is often not home for dinner, and he’s been on a rice and beans kick lately, so even if I cook something, he’ll come home and make a pot of rice and beans for himself.  So what’s the point of cooking?  Well, me, dammit!  I’m still hungry and eating Ellis’s leftovers or whatever I scrounge in the kitchen just encourages me to either snack on junk or order out.  I hope that by making a habit out of cooking dinners again, my family will come back around to eating with me.

1st step was creating our budget for October and then pulling out the cash for our grocery funds.

2nd step was a trip to Trader Joe’s with no plan and no list.  (Not recommended, but I’m still learning this store and what is worthwhile to buy there.)

3rd:  I high-fived myself for spending only $50 on my trip, then I came home, put away groceries, examined my fridge and pantry, looked at recipes on Pinterest, and came up with a list of meals and grocery list.  I tried to use as much of what was already in my kitchen so that my grocery list was fairly minimal.

4th:  Look for coupons (somehow they no longer exist when you actually look for them).  Found none.  Oh well, I’m not perfect.  Head to store and buy ONLY what’s on the list!  I still ended up spending $71.00 at Publix, but it’s better than what I normally end up dropping there.  I am, afterall, still a work in progress.

I’m also keeping track of grocery prices on items we most frequently buy in a Price Book.  This is a new concept to me, so we’ll see how it goes.

I then created a fancy list of dinners for the month of October.  It’s not exactly a meal plan, because I don’t like to be tied down as I’ve said, so it just reminds me what I can make with what we’ve got.  I also try to remember to cook the things that will go bad first so that nothing’s wasted.

Meals for the Month

Final Thoughts to Recap The Month

I’ll try to share recipes and pictures next month.  As it stands, my computer’s hard drive crashed last week, and the repair shop I took it to did nothing to try to save or recover my files.  They are all kaput.  And it’s looking like I’m going to be needing a new laptop soon.  Sigh.

Nevertheless, the meal plan worked up until the last week of the month when I was back to being tired of cleaning up mess after mess in the kitchen, and we had so much going on that it was necessary on several occasions to eat out.  Also, this list of meals was for the second half of the month.  I never ended up making the quiche.  The broccoli went bad.  The steak and chicken thawed at the same time, so I decided to prepare both meals the same night, having the steak for dinner and saving the honey garlic for the next.  Bad idea.  I overcooked the steak, and with my uber-craving for meat this pregnancy, this made me very sad.  The honey garlic chicken was delicious the first night, but did not taste good heated up.  I think it had too much soy sauce and not enough honey, and it needed a vegetable, which I never got around to making.  I will retry it in the future.  And last thought, Trader Joe fish nuggets are delicious.  Those will be a staple.

Toddler Must Have: Puzzles

1-27 Months - Aug-Sep 2015Ellis started preschool in September, but I am still doing my part at home to help her with learning her ABCs, 123s, fine/gross motor skills, etc.  I’ve been calling these activities I do with her “learning fun,” but some parents on the internet are calling it Tot School, so you pick how you want to refer to it.  I know my daughter is learning something at school, but I think it’s more social and listening skills.  I just had a conference with her teacher last week.  On the evaluation, the teacher checked Never under the category Uses a Spoon on Her Own.  She said she checks Never only because she has never seen it.  Um, I pack a spoon with her yogurt for almost every lunch.  When I reminded her of this, she replied, “Oh, that’s right!”  So, I understand she’s got a lot of little ones to look after, and I just need to do my part at home as Ellis’s main teacher.  Because really, everything else is just supplemental, including preschool, at this point.

One great fun learning tool that we have a large supply of in our house is puzzles.  Her very first puzzle was a Melissa & Doug that has cut outs of three large animals – a giraffe, elephant, and lion.  She got the puzzle sometime in the summer after she had turned one, and she didn’t really seem to grasp the idea of it at the time.  So I waited until Christmas last year, and she got another Melissa & Doug puzzle with farm animals that make their animals sounds when you put them in place.  Initially it was challenging, but after about a week, she was a pro.  That’s when I realized maybe she was ready for more puzzles.  Today, she does a pretty good job of putting up to 24 pieces together by herself.

I mainly get her puzzles at exactly two places: the dollar store for cheap, cardboard puzzles, and Tuesday Morning for wooden puzzles, including Melissa & Doug.  Retail, Melissa & Doug is expensive, but at Tuesday Morning, I can get those puzzles at least 50% off.  I normally pay between $2-$8 for wooden puzzles at Tuesday Morning.

There is good and bad to buying puzzles at the Dollar Tree.  Good:  They’re cheap and have all the Disney characters and designs that Ellis loves.  Bad:  They warp very easily, so they can be played with only so many times before they end up in the trash.  But puzzles get easy for Ellis after a while, so it’s nice to be able to get her new ones to challenge her after she’s mastered the old ones.

Here are some of our favorites.  (There aren’t too many cardboard puzzles to share because they get thrown away frequently.)

How To Buy a Lot without Spending a Lot: Toddler Clothes

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My girl doesn’t pose for pictures. She gets her stubbornness from her mama. Bow: Target Shirt: Target  Shorts: H&M (found at a consignment store) Shoes: Stride Rites (We don’t skimp on shoes. Ellis has thick feet so regular, cute cheap-o shoes don’t seem to fit.

Much to my husband’s dismay, our daughter continues to grow out of her clothes about every six months.  Add to that she’s a fairly messy girl who easily stains her outfits, and where we are in Florida, we still experience 3 seasons:  cool, 2 weeks of nice, and unbearably hot.  When we had a couple of 80 degree days in the end of February, I realized I had no summer clothes for her that fit.  She looked a little goofy at the park in some booty shorts and non-matching Jaguars jersey because that was the best I could do.  Also, family and friends don’t like to buy your kid clothes once he or she has exited your womb.  Sure, they will load you up with fancy little onesies and newborn boutique outfits that your kid will ruin within seconds of wearing, but pretty much after baby reaches the 3-6 month size chart, you are on your own.  Basically, I have to buy my child an entire new wardrobe 2-3 times a year to accommodate for her growth and the changing seasons.  This can get expensive if you don’t shop smart.

My general rule of thumb is I don’t spend more than $5 on an item of clothing unless it’s a dress or pajamas.  Pajamas are usually in sets and even on clearance or on sale, the best deal I can usually find is $11.  I initially looked at consignment sales to find clothes but quickly realized that I could buy brand new for the same price and actually get what I want.

Carter’s and Osh Kosh B’Gosh are great places to find deals.  They always have items on sale, clearance, and what they call doorbusters.  The only downside is that you can’t use coupons on already discounted items, so sometimes you have to play with the numbers to get the best discount, and I only buy when there is free shipping.

Target also has a rack of clearance items as well as a table and rack of affordable mix and match play clothes.  Even still, I prefer to wait until those clothes also go on sale before I pick anything up.

Old Navy can sometimes be a good place to get good deals, but their sizing isn’t very reliable (much like all of their clothes), and items tend to be cheaply made and ill-fitting.  I prefer to shop in store as opposed to online for this reason, otherwise I end up having to return a lot of my purchases.

H&M‘s children’s section is adorable, but their sizes are all over the place, too.  I have to eye the size and guess whether it’ll fit Ellis.  (I rarely take her shopping at the mall because I will get nothing accomplished except spending $$$ on light up rides and mall food.) The prices and styles more than make up for it, though, and you are much less likely to run into other tots with the same threads like you do with Target and Carter’s clothes.

Children’s consignment stores are yet another option (even though I discounted it early on in this post).  This requires a bit more work scouting the racks and multiple trips, but I have found some adorable dresses there (2 if I’m being honest) and other items for about $4 each.

 

Hello Again, Old Friends!

IMG_2873Hi!  It’s been a while.  My name is Bethany for those who have forgotten, or didn’t know in the first place.  I have a two-year-old, and she basically is my life right now.  We were out of town for a month-long vacation (okay, 2 weeks and change) in August, and by the time we got back, there was no slowing down.  September was fast and furious  (with a few changes), but we are getting into a rhythm, and life is starting to settle down a bit.

We had a week from getting back from vacation to Ellis starting preschool.  Let me tell you, I couldn’t have been more excited.  The transition to school couldn’t have been more smooth and easy.  Unlike other classmates who would kick and scream all the way to the classroom door and then scream and fight to run back out the door, Ellis completely dismissed me the moment she walked through the door.  And the only reason she gets excited to see me at pick up time is because my arrival means she can go play on the playground.  The playground is right outside the classroom, so there is no avoiding it. Ever.  Rain or shine, she demands to play before agreeing to leave.  I’ve done the whole dragging her kicking and screaming to the car, but it’s not fun for either of us, so I just schedule it into our pick up routine.  She was initially going two mornings a week, but we switched to three mornings halfway through the month.  It’s so nice to have those couple of hours in the morning to run errands and get housework done when I’m at my most productive.

In addition to preschool, Ellis was promoted to Sunday school at church.  Now she gets to learn a little Bible lesson and do crafts in her own classroom instead of going to the nursery on Sundays.  She’s in the same room as her classroom for preschool, so she’s very comfortable being dropped off.  I’ve signed up as a helper, so I’m excited to see what they do in there.

We “graduated” from Financial Peace University in July, and at the start of September began a new Wednesday night study.  We were going back and forth between the marriage study and the membership class.  We decided to put membership on hold and focus on the more important issue of our marriage.  We also wanted a place to meet other couples and find new outlets for fun and socializing – something we’ve been lacking lately.  This is a really fun, caring group of people, and I’ve already grown and changed my perspective on marriage to Travase in a positive way.

Let’s see… I’ve put teaching Sh’bam on the back burner for obvious (or not so obvious) reasons.  Did you even know I taught Sh’bam?  Do you even know what Sh’bam is?  I’m going to guess not, so I’ll fill you in.  It’s a 45 minute dance workout set around “popular” songs and simple moves that anyone can pick up.  If you like to dance, you’ll like this class.  If you claim you have two left feet, well, you’re harder to convince.  The majority of my Tuesday morning class is made up of  AOAs (active older adults), so I had been teaching low impact to them for a while, but I still had to give that class up because it’s a 30 minute drive (hour round trip) for a 45 min class, and with Ellis starting preschool, I didn’t want to be unavailable if the school were to call and need me to get there ASAP.  Also, my endurance was slowing down, and my bladder was holding me back, so I had been asking other instructors to team teach with me.  We’re paid so little as it is, that it wasn’t worth the gas money.  I miss it, but I can always get back to it next year.  I’ve been doing yoga/pilates/bodyflow and bodyvive to keep up with my fitness regimen.

And finally (I think), Ellis started swim lessons.  We started out taking a “Mommy and me”-type class at our Y, but having me with her made her unreceptive to the swim instructor and all the skills she was supposed to be practicing.  Though we are still doing that, I also signed her up at a swim school that has gotten a lot of positive reviews from other families.  It’s a bit of a drive, but it’s 30 minutes once a week, and Trader Joe’s is only 10 minutes away, so I have an excuse to get some shopping done there before we head to her lesson.  She’s only had two lessons so far.  Her first one, they did a ton.  It was just her and another girl her age, so they each had their own instructor.  She was dunked more times in that half hour than in her entire life.  The second class was a far less pleasant experience.  There was only one instructor to 3 girls, and one of the girls looked at least twice the age of Ellis and the other girl.  They basically sat on the edge the entire class, and then five minutes till the end of class, Ellis’s swim diaper leaked, and there was a major poop catastrophe.

Oh, I didn’t even mention potty training!  That’s happening.  She’s been out of diapers and in glorified diapers (pull ups and training pants) for a couple of weeks now.  That deserves its own post!  And we’ve been listening to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat.  I practically know all the lyrics now, and by gosh if those songs don’t grow on you!  You think it’s annoying until you hear your two-year old singing it and realize that’s reason enough to have kids.  It’s the most adorable thing ever.

 

The weather is starting to cool off a bit, and it’s October, my favorite month, so I am looking forward to all the new memories we’ll be making in the coming weeks.  For now, you’re basically caught up to speed.  Hope all is good in your world.  ‘Til next time!