Thursday, July 30, 2009

Small Successes Thursday

Once, again, it is Thursday. This whole time thing is a little repetitive, no?
I accomplished a heck of a lot today:

1. Helped my sister M take care of my sister N's new twin girls and her two- and four- year old boys while N is in the hospital recovering from an emergency hysterectomy.
2. Got peed on by a cute puppy while helping M take a picture to help sell the puppy.
3. Played with my nephew Josh and got snuggled ferociously by the babies and my nephew Christian. It was a lot like being snuggled by J but by a way bigger kid. I think Christian is going to be a linebacker. Seriously, this kid is like a friggin wall. Not fat at all, just solid as all get out. But I digress.
4. Cooked a lovely dinner for sister N's family before I came home to my own family. I hope it was lovely, anyway. Hmm. I will have to ask my sister M how it turned out since she stayed for dinner and I didn't.
5. Shampooed the carpet for book club tomorrow. Gotta have a clean house!
6. Snuggled my little J and put him to bed. We read "In a People House." I sure missed him today!
7. Made brownies for book club tomorrow.
8. Took the gimpy PT Cruiser in for it's repairs (new clutch, transmission, and radiator) and found out that it only needs a new clutch and radiator! Yay!
9. Got a rental car for while the Cruiser is in "hospital." Damn those things are expensive. It is a great way to decide what cars we would potentially own or not. Thus far, our rental experience has taught us that we will never own a Hyundai Elantra or a Dodge Caliber (our current rental). I love my PT Cruiser. When it finally dies I will be a sad, sad lady.

Wow, that got pretty ramble-y. Huh. Anyway, Happy Thursday almost Friday!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Grocery Goddess Strikes Again!

I think that has a much better ring to it than Grocery Guru.

This week I went to 4 stores, breakdown as follows.

Sunflower Farmer's Market:
  • 1 green bell pepper, $0.69
  • 1 cantaloupe, on sale for $0.50
  • 4 nectarines, $0.99/lb, total $1.17
  • Red potatoes, $0.50/lb, total $1.55
  • 3 red onions, $0.50/lb, total $0.49
  • Seedless watermelon, 4lbs/$1, total $1.7
Total: $6.19, savings $1.91 (They forgot to give me my BYOB discount. Oh well.)

King Soopers (Kroger affiliate):
  • 2 bottles of Santa Cruz lemonade, on sale for 10/$10, plus two $0.75/1 coupons, doubled to $1 each, total FREE!!
  • Bread, $1.99
  • 5 ears yellow corn, $0.19/each, total $0.95
  • 3 pk Ivory soap (not pictured), on sale for 10/$10, total $1
I also got a BYOB discount of $0.05. Total: $4.68, savings: $6.51! That's a 58% savings, a new personal record for me!

  • Mott's Apple Juice, on sale for $2.49, coupon for $0.99 per gallon, total $0.99
  • Lucerne eggs, 18 ct, on sale for $1.39, coupon for $0.99 per carton, total $0.99
  • Van de Kamp's fish sticks, on sale for $4.99, coupon for $3.99 per box, total $3.99
Total: $6.03, savings $6.20 = 51%! I rock.

  • Goat Milk, $3.99
  • Tillamook medium cheddar (2.5lbs), $6.59
  • Kirkland Bacon 4- 1lb pks, $8.99
Total $19.57

I also went to Target for lightbulbs ($0.77) and Kids N Pets ($4.74).

My totals for the week are:
Groceries: $35.47
Including non-food items purchased: $42.26

Friday, July 24, 2009

18 Months

J had his 18 month checkup today. Aside from hating his shots and being poked and prodded (which, who wouldn't?) he did great!

The Stats:
33" tall, 73 percentile (up from 30.5" at 45 percentile at 15 months)
24 lbs, 10.5 oz, 35 percentile (compared to 23 lbs 9.5 oz and 40 percentile at 15 months)
Head circumference 50cm, 95 percentile. Yep, still got a gigantic head.

According to the doctor, he's VERY smart (which we knew, but it's nice to hear from a non-related person) and very cute (which we also knew!).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Random Bit Of Cuteness

James whines, pointing and whimpering rather than using his words to tell me what he wants. He gets closer to crying every moment, and I don't know what's wrong. I finally just ask him, "Baby, what's wrong? Tell Mommy what you want!"

The whining stops. He looks up with his big blue eyes, reaches up to me, and says "Love you!"
He gives me a big hug and cuddles on me until dinner time.

Small Successes Thursday

Yep, it's Thursday again! Sometimes I think the main point of this is to keep me blogging at least once a week ;-).

Today I accomplished the following:
1. Finished The Time Traveler's Wife. Wow. What an incredible book. The end brought tears to my eyes.
2. Started re-reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
3. Started setting up Microsoft Money to manage our finances.

Hey, look at that. I did do 3 things today!

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Grocery Awesomeness Continues

I'm going to have to come up with a better name for this. Perhaps I will just stick with Grocery Guru. Anyway, this week's grocery shopping (everything, not just food):

King Soopers (Kroger):
  • Bread - $1.99
  • Colorado Proud Milk - $1.48
  • Kroger Distilled Vinegar (not pictured, for laundry) - $2.99, on sale for $2.49
  • Kuner's canned veggies - reg. $1.09, on sale 4/$3
  • Fage greek yogurt (individual cup) - reg $1.99, on sale for $1.49, plus $1/1 coupon, final price $0.50!
  • Oikos greek yogurt (individual cup) - $1.99, plus $1/1 coupon, final price $0.99
  • Kroger CanJel (pectin) - $1.79
  • Cheerios - $3.08, plus $0.55/1 coupon doubled to $1, final price $2.08
  • MultiGrain Cheerios - $3.19, plus $0.75/1 coupon doubled to $1, final price $2.19
  • Kellogg's Special K Blueberry - $3.49, plus $1/1 coupon, final price $2.49
Tax was $0.22, and I got $0.05 off (whooptie doo...) for bringing my own bag. Grand total at Kings? $19.27, with $7.25 in savings. Pretty good, if I do say so myself.

I already mentioned this before, but whatever:
  • Blueberries - reg $3.99 per pkg, on sale for 5 lbs for $5 (almost half what King's has theirs on special for...)
I got 5 1-lb containers, and with tax, spent all of $5.05, and saved almost $15 (though really, that's debatable, because had they been $3.99 each I would not have gotten them at all). These will be made into jelly/jam and syrup. Yum!

Here's where I got kind of spendy, but that's mainly because we splurged this week so I could make lots of enchiladas:
  • 3 green bell peppers - reg $0.69 ea, on sale for 2/$1, total $1.50
  • 1 anaheim pepper - $0.48
  • 1 package of 3 dozen corn tortillas - $2.19
  • Nanita's Enchilada Sauce (local and YUMMY) - $3.99
  • Dreyer's Ice Cream - reg $5.99, on sale for $3.99
  • 0.9 lb Sunflower brand organic coffee (not pictured)- $6.29
  • 1 large sweet onion - $0.77
  • 5 Fuji apples - $0.99/lb, total $1.48
  • 6 nectarines - $0.88/lb, total $1.47
  • 4 pork Polish Sausages (surprise for C, not pictured) - on sale for $1.97/lb, total $2.17
In all at Sunflower, I spent $24.23, and saved $5.67 by shopping for sale items and bringing my own bag ($0.10 here per bag). Not so good for budget, and the ice cream wasn't necessary, but the enchiladas I made using the more expensive ingredients will be good for lunches for me all week, plus a meal in the freezer, plus were dinner for J and I tonight. They were a hit, too.

I also made a trip to Whole Foods because I heard a rumor I could get Santa Cruz Lemonade for $0.24 (on sale for $0.99, plus the $0.75/1 coupon). Well, they were on sale, but for $1.50. In all the lemonade ended up being $0.80. Not too shabby!

My final purchase tonight was Country Save laundry detergent. The only place that sells it in my area is Vitamin Cottage, but it is well worth the special trip, plus it's on the way to King Soopers. We don't buy anything else there because we can get better deals elsewhere and we don't buy supplements, but the detergent is about the same price as the cheap stuff at the grocery store (per load) and it cleans cloth diapers like wow. All Free and Clear is worse than just washing the damn things with water. Never use it on diapers. It sucks ass. Ok, enough of that rant. I love my Country Save, and I will never try to use anything else on diapers again. Never. NEVER. I am washing J's diapers now, actually, with the nice wonderful best detergent ever. Anyway, the detergent was $8.36 after tax.

My grand total? (Honestly, I'm kind of scared to add this all up...) $57.71. Yikes. Not awful, especially considering that last week we were under budget by $11. Also, if I drop the non-food items the total goes down to $46.86, which is really quite good! Sweet. We won't need to buy quite as much next week, but we will need to make a trip later this week to Costco for goat milk for J (since they have it for $6 or less per half gallon, versus close to $8 per half gallon at grocery stores).

My grocery trips this week also contributed to my Things to Do list, since I brought my own bags which is both "green" and helping reduce our dependence on plastic bags! Yay!

Whew. That was a long post!

Giveaway and Bargain!

BabyAge is giving away the ultimate backyard set! Click here for the entry form and details. There will be one prize awarded that includes all of the following, valued at over $14oo! The Ultimate Backyard Prize includes Picnic on the Patio Playhouse ($254),Clubhouse Swing set ($684), Patio Playhouse ($306), Sand and Sea Play Table ($118), Easy Store Large Picnic Table and Umbrella ($90), Adventure Wagon ($83), Cozy Coupe 30th Anniversary ($67), Mulching Mower ($31), 2-in-1 snug and secure swing ($16).

Also, on a totally unrelated note, Albertsons LLC stores have blueberries on sale through Tuesday (so, tomorrow) for 5/$5, 11-16 ounce packages. So yesterday I went and got 5 pounds of blueberries for a whopping $5! I think I will be making some syrup and some jam, probably one jar of each, but who knows? I will update on my weekend domestic projects later.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Toddlers are Amusing

J likes to give people "respect" by bumping knuckles with them. It's the cool thing to do. Tonight he was sitting there bumping his own knuckles together saying "pect! pect!" He then very enthusiastically gave Mommy respect.

He also says "ass" when he is trying to say "thanks." Yep, my kid says ass in everyday conversation. Sweet.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's a Jungle Out There!

I may have planted too many tomato plants.

I think next year one Early girl will suffice.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Small Successes Thursday

Ok, so this SST is a little different from previous ones. I honestly had one of the worst days ever, and don't feel like I accomplished shit. I spent most of the day trying not to cry. So I am going to try my best to come up with three positive things that I accomplished.

1. Watered my garden.
2. Read some of my book, The Time Traveler's Wife.
3. Washed diapers.

Well look at that. I did do 3 positive things today. Now I am going to go take something for my back, because it hurts.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm a Grocery Guru!

Well, ok, maybe not exactly a guru, but I am pretty proud of my grocery shopping for the week. We have decided to take out $40 in cash each week for groceries, and when it's gone, it's gone. I did pretty darn well this week.

I got the following from the stores listed below:

  • Cheerios, on sale for $1.99, with this coupon for $0.55 off, total after tax $1.46 (you need to have a Coupon Surfer login to get the coupon)

King Soopers (Colorado's Kroger affiliate):
  • Swiffer Wetjet pads refill (not on sale, contrary to what the ad indicated) $6.49, plus $0.50/1 coupon (from the Home Made Simple mailer) doubled to $1, total $5.49.
  • 4 Bartlett pears, $0.99/lb, total $1.69
  • 1 Crenshaw melon, $0.99/lb, total $4.79
  • 4lbs strawberries, $4.77/package
  • Wallaby Organic yogurt, $3.29/pint
  • Santa Cruz Limeade and Strawberry Lemonade, $2.89 each, BOGO plus $0.75/1 coupon doubled to $1, total $0.95 each!
  • Kroger Value sugar, on sale for $1.88 for a 4 lb bag
Sunflower Farmers Market:
  • 1 package chicken stir fry breast meat, on sale, $3.31 total
Sunflower was having a great sale on whole chickens, for $0.99/lb, but they were out. Boo!

Grand total spent = $29.05

I am feeling so very awesome right now. We have a ton of stuff in the freezer/fridge left from last week, so we didn't need very much, but still. I am very proud of myself. I have money left to ride the bus tomorrow and Wednesday now! Go me!

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Today, 10 years ago, C and I started dating. Today, 5 years ago, we got married. Our actual wedding was the 18th, but we always celebrate the 13th (we actually signed the marriage license that day). Happy anniversary, my love, and may we have many, many more to come!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Small Successes Thursday

It's that time again! Every Thursday (ideally) I will post three small things that I have done either that day or that week. The purpose of this is to remind myself, and women/moms in general, that the little things we do can and do add up to big things. Here goes!

1. Bought the remaining stuff we needed for camping this weekend.
2. Went to see my sister N and her two new baby girls this morning!
3. Got 2 loads of laundry done.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Novella on The Fertility Awareness Method and the Female Reproductive Cycle

I realized that I have whined about my 10 day luteal phase (or LP), and never really said anything about what a luteal phase is (in case any of you reading this don't know), and why it would be bad to have one only last 10 days. Well, here is all you need to know, and then some.

First of all, there are some basic things about the female reproductive cycle that everyone with a uterus really should know, but most people don't because, well, where would they learn these things? You'd actually be surprised at how little your doctor may know about these things as well. I got the bare minimum in sex ed, but I have two degrees in biology so I thought I was well-versed in female reproduction. Until I read a wonderful book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler I had absolutely no idea how little I knew. also has a good tutorial, but I will summarize. One huge basic thing that not everyone realizes: a 28-day cycle isn't the norm! I have 32ish day cycles. Some women have 24 day cycles. Another thing is that many women assume that they have 28 day cycles, because they have been on the pill for a long time. If you are on the pill, you will always have 28 day cycles, but those are annovulatory (no ovulation= no babies, which is how pills work to keep you from getting pregnant). This is not necessarily so. Whatever length your cycle is, make no assumptions about when you ovulate. Online ovulation predictors are absolutely not accurate, do not use them! Most women do not ovulate on cycle day 14. You may ovulate on CD 20 and have an 8 day LP, which is problematic. Maybe you ovulate on CD12 and have a 16 day LP. Alternately, you may ovulate on CD 10 of a 24 day cycle, and if you waited to CD28 to take a HPT (home pregnancy test) you would already be 4 days "late." If you have a 32 day cycle, ovulated at CD 20, and took a HPT at CD 28, it would be too early to really get a reliable result. Without charting (using FAM) or otherwise tracking ovulation, there is really no way to know when or even if you ovulated in a given cycle.

On to the science! A menstrual cycle has essentially two parts: the follicular phase (FP) and the LP, which I mentioned earlier, and they add up to any number of cycle lengths. Here is a basic breakdown.

Follicular Phase:
This phase takes up the first part of your cycle, from the first day of red menstrual flow through the day you ovulate. Some women ovulate super early (like cycle day, or CD, 8) and some ovulate super late (anything after 25 days is generally considered late). During this phase, your uterus is chilling, making lining for a potential embryo to implant. Your ovaries are working on making your eggs mature so that they can be released at ovulation. Progesterone level is pretty much nil, and your estrogen is having it's own party. FAM (the Fertility Awareness Method) keeps track of this part of the cycle by having you take your temperature first thing every morning to establish a baseline, and also checking your cervical fluid and your cervical position. Yes, this does mean sticking your (clean) fingers in your vagina, get over it. It isn't any ickier than picking your nose, and honestly I think it's cleaner than that. Your basal body temperature (BBT) is at the lowest during this part of your cycle. During the early part of your FP, your cervix will be low in the vagina and firm to the touch, like your nose. Cervical fluid may be non-noticeable, or sticky, or lotiony. In the days leading up to ovulation your cervix moves higher up and becomes very soft (like your lips). Cervical fluid takes on watery or eggwhite characteristics. If you notice in the graph below there are two hormones that peak just before ovulation. These are Lutenizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). Their job is to spike 24-48 hours before ovulation, which tells your ovaries that they'd better get their butts in gear and spit out an egg (ovum), which is ovulation. This same spike also causes estrogen (or estrodiol) to cease and desist. Sometimes there is a slight temperature drop on the day of ovulation, but this is not a reliable indicator of impending ovulation. Anyway, once ovulation happens, we move on to the Luteal Phase!

Luteal Phase:
Ovaries are made up of numerous follicles (hence, follicular phase) and each of these contains an ovum. Once the ovum is released, the follicle actually swells up and takes on a yellowish hue, and becomes a Corpus Luteum- a "Yellow Body", hence, Luteal Phase. This corpus luteum is very important to fertility. It produces progesterone, which is essential to sustaining an early pregnancy. Within 24 hours of ovulation, this progesterone spike causes your body temperature to increase by several tenths of a degree. This is how ovulation can be confirmed. By the time you can confirm ovulation based on temperatures, however, the fertile window has passed, so this is not an appropriate way to time conception sex. However, if you are trying to avoid conception, 3 days after ovulation is perfectly safe to have unprotected sex, because your little eggie has shriveled up and died. The progesterone that floods your system during the LP causes your cervical fluid (CF, or CM for cervical mucus) to dry up again, and your cervix will come back down and become more firm once more. Most of the time, the corpus luteum hangs out and does its thing long enough to create a 12-14 day LP. Variations within a day of this are perfectly normal, but if you get under 10 days for a LP, fertility issues arise. If there were sperm waiting for your happy little ovum, then there may be an embryo developing that is waiting to implant. Implantation happens about 7-10 days post ovulation, during which time your little embie is floating down your fallopian tube. If your LP is only 8 or 9 days, there is not sufficient time for the embryo to implant before your menstrual flow begins. The corpus luteum degrades at the end of your LP, which is evidenced by a plummet in BBT and the onslaught of AF (Aunt Flo, every womans *favorite* visitor) within 24 hours of the temperature drop, and you begin your next cycle. As an example of what a chart looks like, here is my prettiest one ever (click for a bigger view of it):

Ah, a normal fertile period, a 16 day LP, ovulation on CD 18...

I hope that made sense, I tried to keep it at about an introductory biology level, but please ask for clarification if something doesn't make sense!

Now, on to me personally. Since I have been having 10 day LPs, this presents a potential problem for when C and I are TTC (trying to conceive) in the not-super-distant future. We have plenty of time to address any issues, but we still need to address them. I did some googling around, and found out that there is a link between breastfeeding (the only info I found was from women still nursing their toddlers, just like me!) and cycles like mine: extended fertile periods, short LPs, like my chart from last cycle (I had to add the crosshairs manually because Fertility Friend wouldn't do it):

Prolactin, which is involved in milk production, can apparently interfere with the happy cycle depicted in the first graph above. If I had to guess, I would say that it causes the estrogen dropoff to be more gradual and therefore keep fertile CF around longer, and also causes the corpus luteum to be underdeveloped, generating less progesterone and degrading more quickly than in the absence of prolactin. That is my educated guess, I could very well be wrong.

My options are pretty much to wean J before TTC, which I planned to do anyway, but perhaps a couple cycles before TTC rather than the same cycle we planned to start TTC. I can also take vitamin B6 supplements before TTC to see if that makes a difference. If that doesn't work, I may be prescribed to take progesterone supplements. I strongly suspect that simply weaning J will solve my problem, since I had no issues whatsoever before having him.

I hope this was informative to anyone curious about FAM and/or how the female reproductive cycle works!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day, USA!

Today we celebrate the founding of our country. We celebrate the rights we have because our Founding Fathers set up the changeable constitution the way they did. We celebrate our freedoms, be it freedom of speech, freedom of expression, or the freedom and right to keep and bear arms.Of course, we celebrate this holiday and these freedoms in a rather amusing way: we blow up a small piece of our beloved country with Chinese fireworks while eating German potato salad, frankfurters, hamburgers, and drinking Americanized German and/or English beers, and playing the 1812 Overture (which was written about the defense of Moscow from Napoleon). It's grand to be a citizen of this hodge-podge country!

We had a fantastic BBQ (in the rain!) at my friend Sarah's house, where we made some new friends and J met his first "girlfriend." Well, she is 6 months older but exactly his size, and they had a great time running around, sampling the soda cans in the bucket (J seems to like licking Pepsi cans more than Sierra Mist cans, and no, he didn't get the actual soda). J is still a bit freaked out by people his size hugging him, but he got accustomed to his new buddy and ended up having a great time. He even gave her "respect" (bumped knuckles) which was super cute. They had a whole conversation that consisted of "Hi" back and forth, though the little girl threw in "hi baby" for variety. Those toddler conversations sure keep you on the edge of your seat!

I made a watermelon jello thing (recipe in it's own post) that was a hit, everyone thought it was really cute and there were only 3 little slices left by the end of the party, so it was actually more popular than the real watermelon sitting next to it! The little kids loved it, and the adults were impressed with it. Here's the picture of the finished product:

"Watermelon" Jello

Ok, so I'm not really sure what to call this, but there you go. I got this recipe from a fellow Nestie (thanks Safy!) and thought I would try it. I think this would work better with a teensy "personal" sized watermelon, but I used half of a small one and it worked okay. Safy used chocolate chips and I used candy coated sunflower seeds ("Sunbursts") from Sunflower Markets. I think that the plain chocolate things would work better, simply because the color oozed off of the seeds. It was still pretty tasty though!

Halve a (small) watermelon and scoop out the flesh till you get to the rind. I tried to make the rind about 1/3" thick, with varying success.

C took this picture of me, he said it was a good one, so here you go. I think I look hot and sweaty because I was standing by the stove which was on because I was rendering fat. More on that another time...

Make red Jello (or you can use different colors if you want to get creative and funky) roughly according to the Jigglers recipe. You want the Jello thick so it holds its shape. I used 4 big 6oz packs of Jello with 5 cups of water since I was using a smallish watermelon, use more for larger watermelons. (4 3oz packages should work for a tiny melon.)

Pour the Jello into the watermelon bowl. I sat mine in a bowl to catch any spillage and also for support. I trimmed the extra rind off after the jello was set.

Pop in the fridge until almost set (3 hours was a bit too long, maybe 2 or 2 1/2 hours?), then shove the "seeds" into it with a stick (chopstick works well or you can use several toothpicks) to make the seeds. Add additional "seeds" as desired and chill til ready to serve.
If you do use candy-coated seeds, then don't put them all on at once like I did, or you get something that looks like a toddler tried to fingerpaint on your jello.

Slice the Jello melon to serve, and make margaritas with the rest! Or not. ;-)

Jello is shiny and hard to photograph.

Just for giggles, here's a picture of my massive amounts of pumpkin bread that I baked that night. I think the muffins on the right got slightly more baked than the other ones, but they all taste good. All the pumpkin-y goodness is currently frozen for later enjoyment.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Small Successes Thursday

It's that time again! Every Thursday (ideally) I will post three small things that I have done either that day or that week. The purpose of this is to remind myself, and women/moms in general, that the little things we do can and do add up to big things. Here goes! I was super productive today, so you get 5 things. Whee!

1. Took the recycling to the collection center (#55).
2. Made banana bread and banana muffins.
3. Spent some quality time with my family!
4. Started fat rendering from the beef brisket we barbecued for an upcoming camping trip.
5. Sliced and froze the brisket and a turkey breast barbecued for the aforementioned trip.