Friday, April 29, 2011

Wollen Sie lernen Deutsch?

I have spent the past 90 minutes learning basic conversational German from Deutsche World, which has a very good FREE course available online. I can almost feel my brain stretching. :-) This is certainly more difficult than teaching Peter to speak Spanish, but I appreciate the challenge. I also have native help available for more unusual things I want to learn, like the prayers of the Rosary. A German friend of mine sent me a translation of all the prayers used in the Rosary, including the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. So, if you want to start small, here is the Sign of the Cross, or Kreuzzeichen:

Im Namen des Vaters und des Sohnes und des Heiligen Geistes. Amen.

Sehr gut! :-)

Oh, and today is my Baptism day. 27 years as a Catholic!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Home again

"We pretty much have the best son." So said my husband as I was debating what to write this evening. I agree. We returned today from our trip to Iowa to say goodbye to my Grandpa, which was about 1,750 miles round-trip. Peter was so well-behaved, even when he was tired and just wanted to get out of his car seat. Also, he has a minor cold that makes it difficult for him to sleep soundly or nurse comfortably. When people comment on what a good baby he is, my husband and I often quip, "You know how they say God won't give you more than you can handle? We figure He doesn't have much confidence in us. 'Start them off easy, it's their first one.'"

We are grateful to be home. Peter was so happy to revisit his toys, books, and magnetic letters. I am thankful for my own bed and regular food again. My husband... needs to work 27 hours by Saturday night in order to get to 40 for the week. Such is life.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Christ is risen, shout Hosanna!

"We are an Easter people. Alleluia is our song!" St. Augustine

We had a beautiful Easter weekend. My husband and I attended the Easter Vigil, which is my favorite Mass of the year. I love how the liturgy engages all five senses in the celebration of the Resurrection. Also, both of us sponsored children who were Confirmed and made their First Communion at that Mass. On Easter Sunday we attended morning Mass with my parents and Peter. (He did not attend the Vigil, as I think 2.5 hours is asking a bit much of a 9 month old!) We had a lovely brunch with my parents and my brother with his family. It was a small, informal celebration, but a celebration to be sure. Jesus Christ is risen!

A sad note to this season: My grandpa is dying of liver cancer, so we are in the process of saying our goodbyes. In some ways, this is the "right" season, with such an emphasis on eternal life and the resurrection, but there is never an easy time to let go. Prayers for him and for our family would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It is night.

We have entered the Triduum. I'll be back after Easter. May this holy season fill you with grace.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Organic Easter

Peter got his first Easter basket today from my husband's parents. In addition to three balls, a board book (not pictured), and a picture of Peter with his grandparents, it had some of his favorite foods: avocados, bananas, and organic applesauce. Then, for added excitement, organic teething biscuits and organic banana puffs! I am incredibly grateful.
First Easter basket!
The picture frame matches the jungle theme of Peter's room.
It's not just that my in-laws were thoughtful enough to get age-appropriate gifts, but that they decided to actively support us in our decision to provide Peter with healthy, organic food. They, like my parents, do not buy organic for themselves. To me, that makes this gesture that much more meaningful. "We're not sure why this is important to you, but we know that it is, and we support you." Thank you thank you thank you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bed-sharing and Co-sleeping

Until Peter was a couple months old, I thought these terms were interchangeable. I also felt slightly ashamed that we didn't co-sleep at night, given the benefits this practice provides. Then, while wandering around the internet, I discovered that, in fact, we were co-sleeping! *Phew* Peter has, since his second night home, slept in a travel Pack-n-Play approximately 6 inches from my side of the bed. (This requires some careful maneuvering to get in and out of bed without jostling him.) The first night, he was SO FAR AWAY -- probably 10 feet from my husband's side of the bed. I was not happy. We moved him the next day.

Sadly, he no longer sucks his thumb.
It was cute while it lasted.
For naps, we regularly bed-share (4-5 times a week). Sometimes just Peter sleeps, sometimes both of us. These one to two hour snuggles make me question now and then if we should bed-share at night. We originally ruled it out because our mattress is a pillow-top and my husband was concerned that he would roll over onto Peter. Both of these are still true, so it's not really an open question, but I still think about it.
Nap time!

Then I get a wake-up call. Last night, Peter woke around 2:30 to nurse, which is a little earlier than he has been waking recently. I nursed him back to sleep and tried to put him down. He wouldn't have it. Long story short, he spent the entire night in our bed, nursing sporadically. I was exhausted this morning. I cannot fall soundly asleep when he is in bed with me! Every time he twitches or makes a noise, I wake up. A series of catnaps works fine for an afternoon nap, but not for overnight. I guess my family will stick with just co-sleeping.
I set Peter down while I got ready to go :-)

[ The AAP states, "There is growing evidence that room sharing (infant sleeping in the parent’s room) without bed sharing is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS."]

Monday, April 18, 2011

With a plank in my eye

We went to Mass yesterday, which was Passion Sunday. I would estimate that attendance was two to three times as much as we have on a typical week, which confused me a bit. It's not Christmas or Easter, when people attend to celebrate with family. If you're not a typical Mass-goer, why pick a weekend with a super long Gospel? My husband suggested it was because people get palms to take home. Could be.

The spikes in attendance on Christmas, Easter, and (apparently) Passion Sunday irritated me, until last night. Who are these people? Why are they just wandering in here like it's a tourist attraction? Don't they have any respect for what is sacred? Do they think being here will get them brownie points?

Then it hit me.

The real reason I was irritated had nothing to do with a perceived lack of reverence for God and everything to do with my own ugly pride. I realized last night my actual concern was that "these people" come in and join the community and, just like that, appear to be genuine Christians. Their presence irritated me because I valued being seen as a church-goer and suddenly no one can tell who are the "real" ones. My pride sickens me.

And so, again, I fall and ask for help and try once more to follow Christ. I hope two things come from this post: 1. that if other regular church-goers were passing judgment like I was, they are able to see themselves more clearly through my failure and 2. that if sporadic church-goers were feeling judged, they can accept my apology and know that no one has any right to cast stones.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mistress of the Wardrobe

When I announced that I was pregnant (with Peter, although we didn't know it was him at the time), my cousin offered me her Maternity Clothes Library. It turns out that she and her friends have a big box of medium and large maternity clothes that they rotate among themselves as each person needs it. Such a great idea! Especially since maternity clothes aren't known for fitting a precise body type (unless "round" is a body type). At any rate, with what she loaned me, I only 'needed' to buy a pair of jeans. My parents also bought me a couple dressy tops and a sweatshirt, which I kept. When I returned the Library, I included a few less-loved maternity things that had come my way.
One of many lovely maternity outfits.
(I am trying to put a onesie on a duck. It was a baby shower.)
(And I sunburn easily.)
Now I am in the Nursing Clothes stage. Admittedly, this is mostly my regular clothes plus about 10 designated nursing tops that I wear to church or other dressy places. The only clothes removed from my closet are shirts that did not accommodate my new top-heavy state and dresses that make it impossible to nurse without showing MUCH more than I want to bare (I like to keep my underwear color a personal matter). Still, there is a box in the attic currently with those tops and dresses. I'm not sure what to do with it.
On the one hand, it has been more than a year since I wore these, so I certainly don't need them and likely won't miss them. On the other hand, the day will come when I am neither pregnant nor nursing and they will fit again. If I keep them, it is possible that it will be many years before I wear them. If I donate them, I might find myself with only t-shirts and worn-out nursing tops and need to *gasp* spend money on more clothes in the future.
What have you done with your unwearables?

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's a Party!

I'm joining the fun of the Natural Parenting Blog Party, a great idea put into action by Jenny at The Peaceful Housewife. Join in the fun! Today's post suggestion is answering a few questions about ourselves. I am a sucker for email surveys and the like, so I am enthusiastically on board for this one!

Q. How many children do you have, and how old are they?
A.  I have a nine month old son.

Q. Do you have a partner, or are you a single parent?
A. I have been married for about 2.5 years to a wonderful man who shares a LOT of the parenting responsibilities with me.

Q. What are your “hot button” parenting issues?
A.  Breastfeeding: Nursing in public, child-led weaning, cultural support of formula

Q. Have you made any parenting choices that you didn’t think you would make before you were a parent, i.e. cloth diapering a child when you had previously thought it was disgusting?
A. I had never considered not circumcising. Like many parents, I assumed that every boy was circumcised. I left the decision up to my husband, who decided against it. Since then, I have read a lot about the issue and am SO thankful that my son is intact!

Q. Is there one book or person in particular that’s heavily influenced your parenting choices?
A. My mom cloth diapered and breastfed my brothers and me; she is definitely a major influence. My friend Karra is also a role model for me of a Catholic, natural parenting mom.

Q. If you had to describe each of your children using only one word, what word would you use?
A. Sunny! People ask all the time, "Is he always this happy?" Not always, but most of the time, yes.

Q. Is there one parenting decision that you regret more than others and wish you could change?
A. Um, I did accidentally make his finger bleed while trimming his nails when he was about a month old. :-( But he's our first child and only nine months old, so I haven't had much time for regret!

Q. Is there an area of your parenting you wish you were better at?
A. Waking up immediately when he cries at night. I don't know if I'm a sound sleeper or unconsciously think he doesn't need me right away, but it takes me a few minutes to come awake enough to respond.

Q. Now for the fun questions – is there one particular food or type of food that you could eat every day?
A. Chocolate chip cookies

Q. Vanilla ice cream or chocolate?
A. Chocolate, preferably with brownie chunks

Q. What’s your guilty pleasure?
A. Boxed mac n cheese. My husband makes a delicious baked macaroni and cheese, but it's missing something. The cheap noodles? The fake yellow coloring? Who can say... :-)

Q. If you could be part of any television show, which show would it be?
A. I don't really watch TV, so it's hard to say. Maybe the Colbert Report, he's usually pretty funny.

And last but not least, don’t forget to link up!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Biblical Discipline

I just finished reading an excellent post (Sons of Adam, Daughters of Eve) at Dulce de leche. The author criticized the common practice of corporal punishment among Christians, even for very young children. I am firmly in her camp. I urge you to go read her post.

I have always had a good relationship with my parents. I never went through a phase of being embarrassed by my dad, which supposedly all teenage girls experience. I never thought my parents were stupid or trying to make my life miserable. All my friends knew my parents, even in high school. I never drank, smoked, had sex, drove recklessly, or any number of other things that all teens do. I don't consider this to be a reflection on my own merit as much as a testimony to my parents' dedication to raising me well. I was a "good kid" because I wanted to please my parents.

Me, around age two.
Advocates of corporal punishment often state that a child must learn to respect authority. Allowing children to misbehave without immediate and harsh punishment opens the door to rebellion, disrespect, and a wasted life. I disagree. I don't remember ever being spanked. The punishment I remember most clearly happened when I was about seven, I would guess. I had been to a friend's house, eaten a snack although I had been told not to, lied about it, and gotten caught. My mom decided to take away my Blankey for the night -- not for the forbidden snack, but because I lied. At bedtime, however, she returned my Blankey and apologized to me for being angry with me earlier. She told me how Jesus had said we must forgive 70 times seven times and that she needed to forgive me. She emphasized the importance of telling the truth, but said I was forgiven and no further punishment was given.

It is this type of parenting that breeds respectful children. Children who can recognize their mistakes and ask for forgiveness, because that way of life has been modeled for them. Children who see how Christ's teachings were not only for people 2000 years ago, but are relevant every day. I hope I can raise that type of child.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Introverted Advocacy

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

One of the perks of being a certified school psychologist is access to actual assessment tools, rather than the free internet imitations. A couple of years ago, my husband and I each took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® personality assessment. This measures where one falls on the four continua of introvert-extrovert, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceiving. It is rare to be at the extreme end of any of these. My personality type is ISFJ. “I” is for introvert. How introverted? Well, when scoring that tool, there is a raw score for each of the eight characteristics. The highest possible raw scores for Introvert and Extrovert are 28 and 26, respectively. My Introvert raw score was 26. Extrovert? Zero.

I am not usually an outspoken advocate. If I think something must be said and no one else appears willing to say it, I will do so (usually while blushing horribly). However, I would rather be a witness, whether to truths of parenting or the Truth by which I live my life, through my actions or the written word. I use three main tools to advocate.

I find Facebook to be a great way to advocate for gentle parenting practices without being confrontational or judgmental. I have written notes on a variety of topics and frequently post links to articles written by authors more eloquent than I am. I consider Facebook to be a safe way to open the conversation without pressuring people. Most recently, I posted an article opposing circumcision. Even with a fairly passive way of discussing the topic, it took me months to get the nerve to post about such a controversial issue. I was pleasantly surprised by the responses. Some people agreed, some disagreed, and some were undecided – but all did so respectfully. I was thrilled.

Living life thoughtfully
Observable example is a powerful tool. I advocate for breastfeeding, babywearing and cloth diapering simply by doing it, whenever and wherever the need arises. As long as these parenting choices remain uncommon, my actions invite others to ask questions. (I am much more comfortable talking about my decisions if someone else broaches the topic.) I make my choices thoughtfully, so when I am asked, I have information to support my decision and often am able to share resources for people who would like to know more.

My blog
I have only been blogging regularly since early this year. However, I have already found it to be a valuable advocacy tool. My blog is where the Internet and my life collide. I can share personal experiences and decisions while broadcasting to a wider audience and being able to express myself in writing. Like Facebook, there is no pressure for my audience to respond or even to think my comments are addressed to them. Like living out my choices, I can demonstrate how gentle parenting choices can work in real life. I hope I can continue to provide thoughtful, well-written posts from which others can learn and benefit.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • From the Heart — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don't share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don't parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That's The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she's learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the "good news" of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • Compelling without repelling — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people's children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter's senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the "great divide" through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R's of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how "The Three R's" can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she's been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she's doing — and it's a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on "holistic" — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We're great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by "just doing her thing," she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I'm not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don't tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mein Kopf ist Voll.

Last week I went to the library and picked out two German picture dictionaries, a beginner book on the language, and a set of CDs for audio practice. I have been working with these since then, reading the books in the evening and listening to lessons one and two in the car. It is very humbling. I am blessed with the ability to learn languages more easily than many people, but my mind can only absorb so much information at one time. 


I am confident that I will eventually have a decent grasp of German. It helps that it is very similar to English. Oddly enough, having learned Spanish is proving helpful in learning a new language, although the two have almost nothing in common. My years of Spanish in middle and high school have given me a framework into which I can fit this new language. It is fascinating to learn more about how my mind works. That being said, I am grateful that there is no time frame for becoming fluent in German!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Weekly Menu and Grocery Budget

We do 100% of our grocery shopping at Wegmans, which is a regional chain. I've heard from "immigrants" to the area that we are spoiled to have such a great supermarket chain. Here is a basic list of what we eat in a week:

2 boxes of cereal, 1/2 gallon organic soy milk, 2 loaves of bread, 1/2 lb of cheese, 1 can of tuna, 2 lbs pasta, 10 oz can mushroom soup, 1/2 lb organic beef, 2 hamburger rolls, 3c tomato sauce (jar), 15 oz can kidney beans*, 2 cups dry rice, 2 frozen salmon fillets, 3 lbs organic apples, 14 bananas* (so cheap!), 2 lbs clementines*, 14 oz can sauerkraut*, 20 oz can pineapple chunks*, 1 lb organic carrots, 48oz bottle V8 Fusion, 2 avocados*, and 12 oz frozen squash*.
*From what I've read, these have low levels of pesticides and are fairly safe to buy non-organic.

My husband has toasted cheese sandwiches and a glass of V8 Fusion. I have some pineapple and a bowl of cereal with soy milk. On Saturdays, I sometimes make French toast.

Peanut butter sandwiches with a banana for both of us. I usually have some homemade applesauce (shared with Peter) and my husband has a clementine. If there are leftovers from dinner (which there almost always are if we had beans & rice or tuna casserole), one of us will have those instead.

Beans and Rice
Tuna Casserole
Pasta w/ Tomato Sauce (x2)
Salmon with Rice
My husband has sauerkraut every night as his vegetable. I have two servings of vegetables, generally from whatever I prepared for Peter (carrots, avocado, squash).

We buy chili powder, garlic, cinnamon, cranberry juice (to flavor the tomato sauce), condiments, butter and eggs as needed. We keep our kitchen stocked with ingredients necessary to do simple baking (flour, sugar, baking soda, etc.). Our grocery budget also includes cleaning supplies and toiletries, but we only need to buy these a couple times a year, so they're not a significant percentage.

Conspicuous in their Absence
Desserts, snack food, frozen meals, prepackaged/processed food, alcohol, soda pop, candy, beverages other than milk and V8 juice (after breakfast, we drink water). I won't say we never buy these (except alcohol), but we generally buy them for our guests, not ourselves.

Eating mostly whole foods not only means we are eating more healthily, it also means our food takes up less space at our house! No more sorting through multiple boxes and packages to find what we want. I suspect this will become increasingly important if God sends us more children and we need to buy more food.

I must confess that we rarely use grocery coupons. We look every week, but we mostly purchase Wegmans store brand, so there aren't many coupons for things we buy. Silk Soy Milk, Monks Bread, Mario's Pasta Sauce, V8 Fusion, and Goya beans are the only things that are not store brand. Monks Bread and Mario's are local, so we support them even though they are more expensive. Silk and Goya are actually cheaper than Wegmans. Currently, there is no generic alternative to V8 Fusion where we shop.

Once or twice a month, my husband (who does all the cooking) will try a new recipe. We try to choose recipes that are based on what we already buy so we only need a few new ingredients. Every Sunday night we have dinner with my parents, so that saves a little bit too. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) Our menu is not widely varied or particularly exciting, but it is healthy and affordable.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Exit Music

Today was my last day of paid employment. I made a few phone calls to formally say goodbye to my clients and their families, returned the company property I had (cell phone, first aid kit, etc.), and signed the last of my paperwork. I also said goodbye to some coworkers whose company I will miss, but overall I am a very happy woman. On the way home, I was listening to the radio and my favorite song from childhood (Old Time Rock n' Roll by Bob Seger) was playing! An excellent ending to a good job.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Minimalism: A Crusade Against Stuff

I enjoy cleaning and getting rid of things. I leave my husband's things alone, although I am definitely guilty of nagging now and then. After reading do books make the reader? on Minimalist Mom, I was inspired to overhaul our library. My husband and I ended up with 182 books to sell or donate, which I think is about one third of our collection. It's a good feeling. We kept books that we like to read on a regular basis, books with sentimental value, and almost all of our Christian books (as these are harder to find in public libraries).

A few of our stacks waiting to go on their way.
Tonight I sorted through my four filing cabinet drawers and pulled out papers to be recycled, a stack which measured about three feet high when I was done. Many of these were hard copies of papers I wrote in college or handouts from seminars and workshops I attended. I had saved them, thinking I would need them in the future. Wrong. I also found some useful professional resources, which I will be donating to my employer when I have my exit interview tomorrow.

Last week, I ransacked our house for unused or duplicate items and donated about twelve cubic feet of stuff to Matthew's Closet, where my mom volunteers. What is amazing is that our house looks largely the same. There are no gaping holes or suddenly vacant cupboards. There are a few shelves that hold photos instead of books. It is easier to find serving utensils in the kitchen drawer. I have more room in my filing cabinet. That's all. It is mind-boggling to consider how many things we own when filling a small car doesn't make a dent in our possessions.

What do you do to keep your home from becoming a storage facility?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Baby's First Shoes

Stylish little boy with his Faded Glory shoes. For the record, it took him approximately one minute to get them both off his feet and into his mouth. The only time he leaves his shoes and socks on for any length of time is when I'm wearing him, so he can't reach his feet. :-)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Becoming a Stay-At-Home-Mom, Part III

Part I and Part II of this series looked at my reasons to stay home and how we can afford it. In the final post in this series, I want to explore briefly what I will be doing with all this "free time" I will have.

Raising Peter.

OK, yes, but that is a huge over-simplification. :-) Some projects, activities, and general stuff I will be doing:

Learning German
My husband and I have read about the benefits of raising a bilingual child. Both of us know very basic Spanish and I have a loose grasp on American Sign Language (if all else fails, finger-spell!). We decided that I will teach Peter German because it is widely spoken in Europe, it is a root language for English, both of us have some German in our ethnic make-up, and I am more excited about learning German than re-learning Spanish. :-) I will be posting periodically about our success in this venture.

Planting a Vegetable Garden
The ground has thawed, although I expect more snow flurries before we move completely into spring. The first step in making my vision of a vegetable garden a reality is to dig up the ground-cover that is currently where we plan to have our food. I am hopeful that Peter will be old enough to enjoy playing in the dirt while I attempt to grow things. Here's what it looked like last summer:

Hanging out the Laundry
We have a nice clothesline in our back yard that I routinely used over the summer last year. I don't like getting cold, so I haven't been using it since September. As long as it is not raining or snowing, though, there is not a good excuse to avoid using the clothesline year-round.

I currently volunteer at Angel Care, a ministry of our church that provides items for mothers in need. I also help my mom occasionally at the thrift store where she volunteers, which gives away clothing and housewares (and sells to the general public). A friend at church has asked if I would like to get involved with a pro-life group where she volunteers. I am not positive what choices I will make about volunteer work, but I know I want to do it and only at places where Peter is welcome. I suppose teaching Sunday School falls into this category; I will continue doing that, too. I love those kids.

Using the Library
Our public library is only three miles away. I want to make good use of it, both for me and for Peter. I am hoping to get him involved in a Story Time program. Just bringing him to the library will help teach him about sharing, reading, and what behaviors are acceptable in different places.

Cooking applesauce, baking biscuits and Irish soda bread, sewing pillowcases, making curtains, changing our decorations with the seasons, keeping the house clean, making grocery lists and all the little things that go with maintaining a home and family.

What was that about free time? :-)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Going Natural

Peter spent much of today with no diaper. Since most of our house is carpeted, I spent much of today trying to entertain him while keeping him on a towel. Neither of us was thrilled about this arrangement.

Saturday morning, we noticed that he had a little diaper rash. By Sunday morning, it was so bad that he was bleeding a little. Poor little boy! The only new food introduced was oatmeal, which seems an unlikely culprit, although possible. My best guess is that he soiled his diaper just as we put him to bed for the night and being in a messy diaper overnight aggravated what would have been a minor case of diaper rash.

We went out and bought some organic diaper cream and some 6-ply (pretty thin) prefolds. When he must have a diaper on, I am using a prefold in our SoftBum covers, to avoid getting diaper cream on our regular diapers. When possible, I'm letting him go diaper-free, hoping that this will help the healing process. Thankfully, it got up to 65 today, which is the temperature at which we keep our thermostat anyway. Peter and I took advantage of this to spend a little time outside. Much better than trying to keep him in one place when he wants to work on crawling. Besides, I got some cute pictures. :-)