Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Taking 2 Under 2 to the Doctor Together

Today I finally took Peanut and Snowflake to the doctor for their well-visits. Peanut is 3 months behind and Snowflake is already 1 month behind! Chalk it up to a newborn in the house, juggling schedules and laundry! We finally found a local doctor to take them to, so at least I did not have to drive 1 hour away for it!

It seems no matter how much you might prepare to go out with 2 little ones, something always slows you down! Almost upon entering the doctor's office, Peanut started on her little charade of not wanting anything to do with the items I had brought with me to occupy her. Filling out double the amount of paperwork while rocking a starting-to-fuss baby in her carseat, and also trying to keep a toddler from taking away your pen and throwing a full-on fit does not usually bode well for the visit!

Peanut is also deathly afraid of anything to do with doctors and doctor visits, including simple procedures such as standing on a scale or up against a wall for height checks. Try to get near her with a stethoscope or other routine medical device and you might as well be torturing her!

I was at least happy to get both of their visits done at once (and they both checked out very healthy!), but it was not the most fun of times. I think in the future, I will have Daddy C come with us or arrange to only take one at a time. It was hard to give much focus on either one while the doctor was examining them.

Thankfully, towards the end when Peanut had all about had it, and Snowflake was starting her demands for a feeding, I quickly spotted a bowl of suckers on the checkout counter. Although I don't normally give Peanut sweets, this was one of those instances where you all but shout a praise to God that they appeared! I was able to get them both out without incident and buckled back into their carseats. On the ride home, Snowflake promptly fell asleep, completely worn out from the event, and Peanut proceeded to cover herself in a sticky mess in her attempt to chew the sucker rather than suck it... which is another story for another day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Saving that Grocery Money

Over the past couple of years, I have got quite good at feeding my family on a low grocery budget. However, dealing with rising food costs means that low budget just got even lower. Because we are working hard to pay off the last chunk of our student loans so we can live like no one else, it's important to me to try and keep costs down in the kitchen while still providing healthy, hearty and satisfying meals for our growing family.

Angela Coffman, the Grocery Shrink, has been fundamental in helping me do this. I bought her ebook last summer and have since completely changed the way I shop and cook. She teaches a certain method to grocery shopping and planning that enables one to stay within her recommended budget guidelines. For us, that is around $250 a month for our family of 4 (nursing infant, toddler, 2 adults).

Last week, she came out with a brand new feature, Grocery Shrink Plus - a menu planning service that not only plans your dinners, but your breakfasts, lunches and snacks too - all for just $5 a month! Her plans are remarkably thorough and detailed to help make it as easy as possible for you to implement the meals. She gives step by step instructions to help plan the different meal tasks out ahead of time so that you don't forget. She also focuses on healthy from-scratch meals rather than relying on boxed or processed food items.

This service is so helpful for me, since I have been struggling to do all the planning and prep work that is necessary to keep a low budget. I had been coming close to the guidelines, but still had plenty of room for improvement, so that's one of the reasons I bought her service. I also needed help in planning more balanced and nutritious meals that include lots of vegetables. So far, I am completely impressed with how much it has helped! Our family loves the meals too - they are simple yet delicious!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March Flowers

Here's a look at some of the flowers and plants currently blooming at the Campbell Castle:

Daffodils are everywhere! These happy flowers are excited about the warmer weather:

Color along the driveway flowerbed:

Close up of our front flower bed:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

4 Items Not Worth Splurging On and 2 That Are

I came across an interesting article on the Dave Ramsey website entitled, "7 Items Worth Splurging On" and thought I would share my thoughts on it.

Firstly, you should know that I am a very frugal person by nature, but I like quality items just the same as the rest of you. However, there are some things that are just not worth the extra cost to me. Below is a list of some items that I think are NOT worth splurging on:

  1. Toilet Paper - I get the cheapest toilet paper I can find with sales/coupons (I go by price per roll and aim for under 40 cents per roll). We get the nice stuff occasionally through this method, but it is not worth the extra money to use it on a regular basis. It’s going on your butt, people. I think many people are just wiping too hard, and that, rather than the actual toilet paper, is what causes irritation.
  2. Trash Bags - We use Aldi trashbags for our kitchen, the cheapest kind they have. Just don’t put 5 gallons of liquid in them and they hold just fine. Every trash bag is prone to breaking at some point or another, and what exactly are people putting in them that would make them break so easily anyway? We use grocery bags for trash cans around the house, so those are free. Take your trash out regularly, whiling working on reducing the amount of trash you actually have, and you will no longer need those industrial strength bags!
  3. Running Shoes - This is something I do agree partially on, but you needn’t go overboard unless you are a hardcore runner. Unless you are training for a marathon, $50 will get you a decent pair that will last a while. Shoes sales are pretty common, so you could even score that $50 pair for around $30.
  4. Food - I'm not sure why the above mentioned article mentions fast food as being cheap, because it most certainly is NOT. You can eat very well for much much less. In my experience, once you go past a certain point, if you are spending more on food you are generally getting LESS healthy stuff (packaged/processed/frozen entrees/fast food/eating out). So cutting the food budget almost always means you will eat more healthy by cooking at home and from scratch more.
And here are a few items I do believe are worth splurging on:

  1. Silverware - If you eat at home as much as we do, you will want good silverware that will stand up to constant use and abuse and dishwashing machines. I've seen cheap sets sold at places like Walmart, and they are generally made of cheap metals like Aluminum, which break down very easily and leave a metallic taste in your mouth. If you can afford a nice set, I believe it is worth is, especially if it lasts your entire lifetime. You don't have to spend a lot though - look at garage sales and thrift stores long enough and you will find some nicer silverware for cheap.
  2. Cookware - Back when my husband and I were engaged, we attended a cookware presentation and bought the over-priced but extremely high quality cookware set. Despite over-paying, we are very happy we have this set - it stands up to constant use, day in and day out. After 4 years, it still looks brand new, despite incidents with boiling pasta being forgotten and melting chocolate left unchecked. The set also has a copper lining inside and heats up fast and stays hot long after the burner has been turned off. We paid an exuberant amount for ours, but similar sets can be had for much less. You will still be paying much more than those $50 sets though, and I think it is worth the extra money.

So there you have it - 4 items I am NOT willing to pay extra for, and 2 that I will. I know many people will have differing opinions on this, so leave a comment and let me know why if you do!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

10 Weeks Postpartum

Here's some recent photos of my growing little snowflake!

First smiles! These are the best :)

Floor time - she is already trying to roll over!
Life with two has been interesting and busy. It's all I can do to stay on top of the laundry everyday. I am working on streamlining all of our wardrobes because of it! Less clothes equals less chaos! Right now, Snowflake is nursing about every 2 -3 hours during the day and 2 -3 times during the night. She has such a calm and happy temperament, which is such a blessing since Peanut had terrible colic! I am really able to enjoy these first months with her, which I couldn't do with Peanut, so it's really been wonderful. She is growing so fast, already in size 2 diapers and size 3 month clothing!

I feel pretty much back to my old self, although I am still not able to exercise quite as much as I want. I get very sore and have some pains if I try to push myself too much. I think this is because I may have pushed a bit too hard during delivery. So, I am taking it slow and trying to remind myself that I am only 10 weeks out and it takes a long time for my body to be completely recovered from childbirth!