Monday, May 31, 2010

Baby Food - Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Gerber has a can of Spaghetti with Meat Sauce in their 3rd Foods line that Isaiah really liked.  I remember he would eat it up in no time flat.  Yup, once it came time to add in chunks of meat, pasta, and things of that nature, I got a little lazy when it came to homemade baby food.  I'm going to try really hard to avoid reverting back to that with Micah.

When I made spaghetti for dinner the other night, I figured I would give it a try with Micah too!  When it comes to baby food, it always helps to try to work in whatever you're already eating so you don't feel like a short-order cook all the time.  Here's how I turned our dinner into some age-appropriate grub for Micah.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
  • Brown hamburger (or ground turkey would be even better!) in a pan, drain off fat
  • Stir in pasta sauce (I'm lazy and use jarred stuff) and however many cubes of sneaky ingredients you can get away with (I used three cubes of frozen sweet potatoes and two cubes of broccoli from my baby food stash)
  • Put a scoop or so of your meat sauce into the food processor.  Add some additional pasta sauce and a cube or two of sweet potatoes.

  • Blend the sauce together.  Add more pasta sauce if you need to thin it some.  Here's how mine looked:

  • When your spaghetti is cooked well (whole wheat, please and thank you) add a small handful to your food processor and blend again!  You can add more pasta sauce again if needed.  Here's how the finished product came out for me:

Of course, be careful if you end up with a stray whole noodle in there like I did.  Either avoid it or cut it up smaller before feeding it to baby.  I was a bit aprehensive to see how Micah would handle meat for the first time, but then I remembered that my baby is a professional eater.

No problem.  Take that, Gerber!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Retail Therapy

**Sorry, all.  Something goofed up in Blogger and this posted before I meant it to.  I don't actually have a time machine to make it Saturday while it's still Friday.  That would be cool, though.

After the disasterous interview Wednesday morning, I came home to try to gather myself a bit.  I also went through my coupons, poured over the ads and circulars from the Sunday paper, and scoured my coupon blogs for the hot deals and last minute coupons to print.  When I was finally prepared, I loaded up my coupon envelopes, grabbed my shopping list, and headed out the door.

First stop:  Walgreens
Armed with some killer diaper coupons and a couple BOGO deals, I was looking forward to this visit.
Here's what I purchased at Walgreens.
2 Boxes of Cheerios, 2 Boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios - On sale for $1.99 each
2 Head & Shoulders 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner - On sale for $3.99 each
2 packs of Huggies Little Movers diapers - On sale 2 for $18 plus earn a $2 Register Reward
1 pack of  Huggies Little Swimmers swim diapers - On sale for $6.99
1 Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-a-Clean Starter Bottle - On sale for $7.99 plus earn a $2 Register Reward
1 Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-a-Clean refill - $5.49
2 Blue Diamon Almonds - $3.29, BOGO free
1 Colgate Total Toothpaste - $2.99 plus earn a $2 Register Reward
1 50 ct. Aleve - $7.29

Using the stack of coupons pictured above, I was able to save a total of $55.51 and I earned $7.00 in Register Rewards !!  Some of my coupon highlights are listed below: 
  • Huggies Little Swimmers - Used a $2 Walgreens coupon from the May booklet plus a $1.50 manufacturer coupon to score these for $3.49!
  • Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-a-Clean - Used a $5 coupon from the Scrubbing Bubbles website to get this item for $2.99 plus I earned a $2.00 Register Reward.  I also had a coupon to earn the refill for free (up to $3.99) with the purchase of the starter kit, so I also got the refill for a total of $1.50!
  • Huggies Diapers - In addition to the sale price of $9.00 per pack, I used two coupons for $3.00 off Huggies.  This purchase also earned me a $2 Register Reward!  I paid only $12 for two packs of Huggies, plus have $2 in RR to spend on my next visit.
  •  Cheerios - $1.99 is already a good price for this cereal, but add on my $.55 coupon for each box and it becomes a great price!
  • Colgate Toothpaste - The price of $2.99 came down to $2.24 after my $.75 coupon and the $2 Register Reward I earned on this one got me a tube of toothpast for less than 25 cents!
  • Aleve - I used a Walgreens coupon for $3 plus a manufacturer coupon for $1 to bring the price of this 50 ct. bottle down to $3.29.  Not too shabby!
Second Stop: Target
Oh, Target.  I do love you so.  I didn't have time to snap a photo of my haul, but the number printed on the bottom of my receipt said I saved $46.83!!  I'll admit it.  I felt a little better when I was able to show off my reciepts to Evan.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Star Fest! (Photo and Video Heavy)

I was fortunate enough to score free VIP passes to John and Tammy's Star Fest from 96.3 STAR Country.  I asked Lori to be my date and we got to hang out in the special tent before the show and rub elbows (and eat dinner) with most of the artists we would be seeing perform that night!  It was such a treat to go with Lori because she's been friends with John Flint and Tammy Lee (the morning show hosts), as well as most of the rest of the Star Country staff, for quite some time now.  We got to eat some amazing food from Pedro's and then sat down to eat under the tent when Danelle from The Jane Dear Girls sat with us and just started chatting!  Eventually the other member of their duo, Susie, joined us as well and we got to talk to them over fajitas and tacos!

When it was time for them to go mingle some more, we wished them a good show and they gave us hugs.  Here we are with The Jane Dear Girls:

Next, we started making the rounds to chat with and meet some of the radio personalities and more artists.  Since Lori was already buddy-buddy with most everyone at the radio station, she hooked me up with photos with John Flint....
....and Tammy Lee!
Shut the front door.  Brian Olson!!  He's my favorite meteorologist!!  (Yup, Jenn.  I dig him too!)
We didn't get photos with Steve Azar, Martin Ramey, or Ash Bowers.  I did, however, get a photo of Ash Bowers' butt.
Hallelujah.  I was a happy girl.  VIP Tent rocks.


I'm sorry.  Where was I?

Next we met The McClymonts, a trio of sisters from Australia.  These three got way more than their fair dose of the pretty gene. 

They were super-nice and their performance later was killer.

When we did head into the Barrymore Theater itself, we quickly discovered we were in for a real treat!  Get a small taste of the awesome music we got to hear below. 

After the McClymonts were finished with their set, I got the phone call from the principal at the school I interviewed at.  He informed me they had offered the position to someone else.  I knew it was coming, but I was still bummed.  Thank God for Spotted Cow.
I didn't get to take any video of any of the acts after The Jane Dear Girls because my camera battery was running low.  It died just before Justin Moore came on!!  I did manage to get this shot of Justin before it died completely, but I was out of luck when it came time for his set.
I was standing literally 2 feet from the stage, directly in front of him.  I could see sweat droplets on his forehead.  Lord, have mercy.

Lori's going to hook me up with a disc of her photos and videos though.

Thank you, STAR Country, for a really fun evening! 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Epic Fail

Oh Mylanta, I sound just like the high school kids right now, but that phrase is just perfect for how I feel about my job interview yesterday morning.  I didn't even write on the blog about it until this morning because I was so disgusted with myself all day. 

I bombed it, people.  All that preparation still did not help be sound even remotely competent.  I stuttered and sputtered over my words.  My hands shook so badly I could barely return a paper into it's page protector.  My mind shut down entirely and I couldn't even come up with titles of books I had read and enjoyed. 

I cried.

Yup, I actually cried during my interview for a teaching job.  How awful is that?  While giving a response about why I should be hired over someone else (yeah right....) I actually teared up like a blubbering fool. 

I'm so incredibly disappointed in myself and embarrassed.  I know I could have done so much better.  Even partaking in some retail therapy (don't worry, I used coupons.  More on that later when I've left my own pity party) didn't appease my pain. 

Thanks for all the well-wishes and prayers you sent my way prior to the interview.  It was so great to know so many people were pulling for me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

I'll admit it.  My interest in this book was first sparked by the creepy trailers for the movie I saw on TV.  Since I'm not one for scary movies, I figured it was not going to be for me.  It wasn't until my mother in law read the book and recommended it to me that I decided to give it a go.  I even made my husband read it first to make sure it wasn't going to freak me out so much I wouldn't be able to sleep.  I'm that much of a wuss.  When he gave it the "Safe for Sarah" stamp of approval, I busted out the Kindle and dove in.  Bonus - this book was only $4.99 on Kindle!!

Shutter Island is about a pair of U.S. Marshalls who travel to a psychological treatment center for the criminally insane.  It's not the tame wackos who head to this joint.  They get the real crazies, the ones who murder their entire family, skin them, and make lampshades to decorate their house with.  (Yup, I'm from Wisconsin)  One of these prisoners patients has gone missing and Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner, Chuck, have been called in to investigate how she could have disappeared from her locked cell, through the guarded compound, and off the treacherous island.  In somewhat predictable fashion, nothing is as it seems at Ashecliffe Hospital.

Before too long, the investigation becomes less about Rachel Solando and more about Teddy Daniels himself.  There are freaky, drug-induced dream sequences that are written in creepy detail.  Lehane creates a terrifying world inside Teddy's subconscious, one that draws you in to the madness of Ashecliffe. 

I'm not sure how to really classify this book.  Sci Fi?  Mystery?  Thriller?  It's got a bit of all of that.  Between the supposed experimental surgeries taking place at Ashecliffe to the questions surrounding the staff, Lehane leaves the reader guessing right up until the massive twist at the end of the novel.  It turns out to be one of those books you want to re-read because you know the second time will be a completely different experience.

The characters were a bit on the stereotypical side - the war-affected Marshall with a tragic past and a consipiracy theory, the creepy yet brilliant mad scientist, the good-cop sidekick, the prisoner patient with a personal vendetta against the protagonist, the good-natured orderly with a knack for racial humor.  Be that as it may, Lehane still writes a good one that kept me hooked right up to the end. 

And I didn't even have nightmares.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Swagger Wagon

Thank you, Ashley, for sharing this with me.  All I could think the whole time was, "WHY NOT ME??!!!"

Someday, my friends.  Someday it will be mine.

I'm out.

Project Life Tuesday - May Week Two

I'm thinking I am going to need to really challenge myself to take photos of a wider variety of subjects next month.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore taking photos of my baby boys, but it's also important to include a better array of photos.  I'll try to work on that in June!

Sunday, May 16th - I have no idea how this whole licking thing started with Isaiah and Evan, but Isaiah thought it was just hilarious!

Monday, May 17th - The best day of Micah's life so far was when he graduated to the big boy tub.  He slaps at that water and splashes like crazy.  The only thing that makes a bath better is when big brother joins the party!

Tuesday, May 18th - Dear 4:00 PM sunlight....I love you. 

Wednesday, May 19th - Nothing can stop a little boy on the hunt for bugs.  He emerged triumphantly about 20 seconds later with an ant in his grasp!  (Don't worry.  The car was off and in park.  No chance of getting run over or anything.)

Thursday, May 20th - Today is my baby sister's 23rd birthday!  Evan and the boys got to join her, my parents, and grandparents for a birthday dinner in her honor, but I was stuck at work.  Here's the gorgeous birthday girl with her two nephews, Micah and ADD Boy.

Friday, May 21st - Evan brought the boys to the restaurant to visit me at work.  I'm happy Micah was enjoying eating his peas, but cleaning it up was a nightmare!

Saturday, May 22nd - The weather today was PERFECT!!  All four of us spent the entire afternoon outside and Isaiah even helped me water the flowers.  Of course, he would shoot the water directly at the blossoms, but he was trying!  It's supposed to be around 90 degrees for the next two days.  Whoah.

Join us next week for Project Life for more exciting photos from our world.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Trying to prepare for a teaching job interview when you aren't already a full time teacher is kind of like that recurring nightmare I have where I show up to take a final exam in college, but suddenly realize I haven't studied or ever even gone to class.  The panic, the horror, the stress.....all currently part of my reality. 

If you need me, I'll be in my basement.  Look under the piles of lesson plans and listen for the sound of hair follicles being yanked from a scalp.

Maybe I'll wear a wig to my interview.

I'm out of Baby Food! Now what?

My baby eats a LOT.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Micah is plowing through about 3/4 of an ice cube tray of pureed food every single day.  I enjoy making my own homemade baby food, but there have been many times when I have opened the freezer to realize that I am practically out of food, but I don't have the time or the groceries to have a full on cooking session to prepare more.  I realized I needed to have a backup plan in place to make sure I could make some food quickly if I found myself in a pinch. 

Enter the amazing world of frozen fruit.

Make sure you have the following things in stock at all times:
  • Frozen blueberries, strawberries, or other frozen fruit.  (You can also use fresh fruit!)
  • Bananas
  • Plain yogurt (the full fat kind)
  • Baby Oatmeal
The first time I attempted this, I was able to whip up quick bowl of baby food in about 5 minutes and Micah ate every last bite! 

1.  Defrost a handful of frozen fruit in the microwave.  (Use the defrost setting for about a minute or so.)
2.  Chop up about half a banana.
3.  Toss the fruit into a food processor or blender with a couple nice heaping spoonfuls of yogurt and blend!
4.  Mix your fruit/yogurt blend with the baby oatmeal, adding more oatmeal gradually until it's the thickness you're looking for (thicker & chunkier for older babies, thinner & smoother for younger).

There are so many variations to do on this.  My first batch was fresh strawberries & bananas with the oatmeal.  The next time I used fresh strawberries and frozen blueberries.  You could also use frozen peaches, mangos, raspberries or blackberries!

Quick note - You probably want to wait until at least 7 months or so to bust out this recipe since it's got the dairy in the yogurt and strawberries are one of those things you need to watch out for allergies with.  Talk to your pediatrician if you have questions, but mine is of the "they can eat pretty much everything you can eat" camp (except for honey, peanuts, eggs, and straight up cow's milk).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

God Just Cracked a Window

You know the old saying, "When God closes a door, he opens a window?"  I've always liked that one because it reminds us that when something we want so badly is denied us, or when something happens that we can't understand, or when things just don't turn out the way we expected them to, it's nice to know that it happened for a reason and that God is purposeful in the opportunities he presents to us.  If a door is closed, he will provide another opportunity for you to shine, thrive, and love elsewhere.  The window. 

If you've been following along, you know my frustrations with trying to find a summer job.  I applied at Cracker Barrel, thinking I could stick it out in my own personal version of Dante's Inferno if it were just for a summer.  That fell through.  (And good riddance too!)  Another restaurant I applied to won't even be reviewing their applications until June and a bank teller position I discovered was unfortunately only available to previous bank employees.  I'm frustrated.  I know I need a summer job for when substitute teaching ends, but so far I am striking out and I can feel that door shutting quickly.

God just cracked a window.

I have an interview on Wednesday morning at River Valley Middle School for a full-time position as a Language Arts teacher. 

Yes, I realize I haven't even talked about applying for a teaching position.  Yes, I know that we said I wouldn't look for a teaching job until the boys were in school unless the perfect opportunity came up

Middle School.  Language Arts.  10 minutes from my house.

God doesn't close a door without opening a window.

Please pray for me.

Ant Hunt

It was like something straight off the Discovery Channel.
Isaiah spied the little ants scurrying around the driveway and suddenly the hunt was on!
He would not be denied!  No obstacle could interfere with him obtaining his target, not even a car!
Closing in now!
Got 'em!!
"Oh no, baby please don't put that ant in your mouth!!"

It was then that Mommy had to put the camera down and fish the nasty ant out of her boy's mouth as his scrunched up face yelled, "Yucky!!!!"


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Predator and Prey

Ah, the thrill of the hunt.  The predator stalks its prey, waiting for the ideal moment to strike.  Sometimes it is necessary to use a little bait, lure the unsuspecting victim into the clutches of the hunter.  And once that poor, innocent soul has let their guard up just the tiniest little bit.....

It's amazing how you look at credit card offers differently when you're undergoing a Total Money Makeover.  I used to open every envelope that came my way, especially if there was an enticing offer displayed on the front. 
I would often transfer my balances around from one credit card to another, feeling pretty smug that I had beaten the system and moved my money from a 10.99% APR account to one with.....wait for it...0.00%!  Sure, the offer only lasted 6 months before the APR would leap up to 12.99%, but I was so good I was going to have it totally paid off by then anyway, so what did it matter? 

We haven't started the Total Money Makeover because we beat the system.  I inevitably would run out of time on the promotion without making too much of a major dent in the balance or charge something to the account at the much higher purchase APR.  Of course, what always killed me was the lurking balance transfer fee.  Varying from 3-5%, I would end up charging an additional $60 and up just to move my debt from one card to another.  Once I think it even cost me $130!!  But I was still winning at this game, right? 

Wrong.  All I ended up doing was sending more of our money to the likes of Citibank, Bank of America, and Capital One.  Just one more past mistake I won't be repeating any more.  Now I am looking forward to being able to call each and every one of them in turn and close my account.  And no bait, no lure, no deal is going to tempt me to do otherwise this time.

Tell me I'm not alone here.  What credit card offers have you fallen victim to?  Have you ever convinced yourself you were beating them at their own game? 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Scoring the Deals at Walgreens!

I have a lot to learn yet when it comes to using coupons, but even just knowing the basics is really starting to save me a TON of money!  And you can do this too.  Sure, it takes a bit more planning and effort than just walking into a store and buying whatever, but the savings are totally worth it!

For instance, I give you Exhibit A.  Walgreens shopping trip from May 19th.

Here's what I bought along with their advertised sales:
2 boxes of Hefty One-Zip bags - Buy one at $3.29, get one FREE!
2 Gillette Body Washes - Buy one at $4.49, receive a RR (Register Reward) for $4.50
1 OFF! bug spray - On sale for $3.99
1 package of Splenda packets - On sale for $2.99
3 boxes of LIFE cereal - On sale for $1.75 per box  (NICE!!!)
2 Lysol toilet bowl cleaner - Buy one at $2.99, get one FREE!
1 bag of Kingsford charcoal - On sale for $4.99
1 Pantene Shampoo - Buy any 2 Pantene products for $7.00, receive a RR for $2
1 Pantene Conditioner - same as above
1 Pantene hair gel - same as above
1 Pantene hair mousse - same as above

All these sales were published in the Walgreens ad in the Sunday paper.  I went through and found things that I also had coupon matchups for and was really able to cash in big.  The key is to find things that have BOGO deals or offer the RRs and double up with a manufacturer coupon to save big bucks or even get things for free.

For instance, the Gillette body wash was a great score.  I bought two at $4.49 each.  I used a coupon for Buy One Get One FREE I had clipped from the paper and then Walgreens printed me out a RR for $4.50 to use on my next purchase!  It's like I just got them both for FREE!

I did the same thing on the Lysol toilet cleaners and the Hefty Bags.  By using manufacturer coupons on top of the Walgreens deals, I got the two bottles of Lysol for $1.99 total and the two boxes of Hefty bags for a total of $2.29!  I also had manufacturer coupons for the Pantene products and the OFF! spray.  The cereal I bought because $1.75 is a super price on cereal, so I bought three!  I also did not have coupons for the charcoal or the Splenda.

I had to purchase the four Pantene products in two transactions to be able to get both RRs, but here's how my savings came out at the end of my shopping trip.
Receipt for just the gel and the mousse.

Receipt for everything else!

Total Savings - $36.73!!

But don't forget about these beauties:

Now, who wants to tell me that clipping those dinky coupons isn't worth it?

Do you have a coupon success story to share?  I'd love to hear about it!  We're all in this together, people.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Progression of a Tantrum

Step 1 - Toddler spies something he wants that isn't currently in his possession.  He sticks out the pout lip and Mom goes to grab the camera.

Step 2 - Pout lip is replaced by furrowed brow and whining.
Step 3 - Whining is replaced by wailing.

Step 4 - Wailing continues and toddler adds in the desperate repetitive plea, "Meeeee......Meeeee...."
Step 5 - Toddler decides it's time to amp up the theatrics and throws himself prostrate on the couch.
Step 6 - Toddler is finally able to articulate what he wants and calms down enough to ask for it appropriately.  Mommy obliges.
Step 7 - Tantrum is starting to near its end as the demon relinquishes its hold on Toddler.
Step 8 - Toddler suddenly realizes Mommy has been photographing his tantrum.  This could go horribly wrong at any moment if Toddler decides to yell, "Momma, no picture!"
Step 9 - All is right and good with the world.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Micah - 8 Months

Yes, I realize I'm over a week late with the 8 month post, but it kind of snuck up on me!  This past month has been very eventful for Micah as far as milestones, so I can only imagine what he'll have in store for us by 9 months!

Micah at 8 months old:
  • Crawling!!  It's not a full out, stomach off the ground crawl yet.  Let's face's going to take some serious strength to get that big ole belly up off the floor!  However, that kid can army crawl like nobody's business.  We've had to install the gate between the living room and the kitchen because that sucker can get away from you quickly.
  • Has two teeth!  The front two bottom teeth have officially emerged and he really didn't get too cranky during this round of teething.  Lots of drool though.
  • He is eating so much that I can barely keep up.  I love making my own baby food, but when your baby is eating 3/4 of a full ice cube tray of food every single day, it gets to be a bit daunting to keep up.  Stay tuned for a baby food post dedicated to how I'm figuring out how to make "filler food" for when I'm running low on baby food, but don't have the time (or the groceries) to make a full batch!
  • Micah insists on eating finger foods now at meals.  No longer content to hang out in the pack & play while Isaiah eats breakfast, Micah has to go in his highchair and cram fistfulls of puffs in his mouth.  At lunch and dinner, I give him small hunks of cooked veggies, small pieces of toast, puffs (those canisters you can get at Target or Walmart), teeny pieces of fruit, or just little bites of whatever we're eating.
  • Still huge.  I don't even want to know how much this kid weighs.  He'll get weighed again at his 9 month checkup.
  • He's exceptionally happy in the morning when he first wakes up.  And also in the late morning.  And also in the afternoon.  And evening.  Heck, that kid is just plain happy 24/7.
  • Playing has really started to get fun because Micah has started to appreciate how fun it can be to have Daddy toss him up in the air or to hang him upside down.  Nothing like a little rough-housing to get a little boy squealing with joy.
  • Bald.  I expect he will be for a good long time.  Isaiah didn't get his first haircut until he was a year and half! 
  • His curiosity has kicked in.  He's interested in exploring the world around him and seeing what he can get his hands on....and if it will fit in his mouth.
Micah is still a couple steps behind where his big brother was at this point in development.  Isaiah's 8 month scrapbook page shows him standing up in his crib!  Of course, it isn't fair to compare brother to brother, but Micah has been pretty consistent in being just slightly behind on pretty much everything.  I'm certainly not concerned because Micah is happy, healthy, and doing what he should be doing!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin