Things have gotten a little off track since the arrival of child #2. Somewhere in the middle of my third trimester I lost the desire to cook a decent meal and as any new mother knows things didn’t exactly get easier after birth.
Last week I set a very small goal to get back in the kitchen. It’s been nearly five months since the new addition joined our family and I have a little more breathing room these days.
So I set a goal for myself: four home cooked meals a week. If I cook three to four meals and produce enough in at least two of those meals for leftovers then dinner will be on the table at least five nights at week. That leaves one night a week for take-out and another night for a hodgepodge of breakfast for dinner or something super simple like grilled cheese.
For the past two weeks I’ve met my goal, although for the life of me I cannot seem to remember what I cooked for dinner each evening. Pregnancy brain, maybe?
Here are a few meals I made. For the record I seem to stick to the same meals over and over again. It’s tough to break routine. Sigh.
- Parmesan Chicken
- Tikka Masala
- Cheese Quesadillas
- Lemon Pasta with Chicken
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
On Tuesday my oldest helped me in the kitchen. I gave him very specific tasks and he set timers and pretended the meals needed to be prepared extra quickly. We don’t watch much television in our house, but every so often he watches Chopped with me and the idea of running out of time seemed to heighten his enjoyment. Over the weekend the little guy also helped me make a custard pie.
On Wednesday morning I prepared dinner after the baby woke up but before his big brother hopped out of bed. I’d love to try this a few days a week. It means waking up a little earlier, but it was so much easier to prepare food while the house was quiet. We sang and danced together in the kitchen and when I needed free hands he sat in his highchair and played with toys.
My drive to cook just happens to coincide with eat down mode; the desire to clean out all of our refrigerators and part of the pantry in preparation for vacation. The goal is to leave the house with nothing but ketchup and mustard in the fridge. That way we don’t have to drag extra food with us or worry about it spoiling while we are away. With the last three meals I was able to empty most of the vegetable bin. I saved a bunch of onions, peppers and a few cloves of garlic from spoiling. I also used a five pound bag of lemons. Yay for keeping food out of the garbage!
I often find it easy to create a goal like this but struggle to follow through with it. To keep myself accountable I am adding the menu to my monthly calendar. Let’s hope it gets easier to bring dinner to the table.
I’m crouching in the consignment store staring at two bikes. I probably look a little bit crazy. I lift one and contemplate it’s weight. I turn the handlebars, left and right, right and left. Does it move too easily? It definitely feels loose. It feels flimsy in my hands. I inspect the first one again. I repeat this process two or three more times with both bikes.
I’m wavering between the two options and eventually walk to the register to inquire about this store’s return policy. The cashier tells me “bikes cannot be returned” so I walk out empty handed. One bike was $29.99, the other $34.99, I can’t argue with those prices, but neither feel right. What if they are too small for my son or don’t feel right when he hops onto the seat?
Being the second born child I never picked out a bicycle I liked. I inherited an old red one after my brother outgrew it. I didn’t care. I was thrilled to have a bike; any bike!
I still remember my dad taking me up to the school parking lot on a warm summer day. On that flat, car-free surface he ran behind me for a second or two and then let go. I’m sure I fell a few times, but I don’t remember those details, I only recall the instant I was pedaling away from him and the way the air felt as I turned my head to look back and it rushed past my ear.
I don’t know where my parents bought that bike, how much it cost or why they chose that particular model. It worked for my brother and now worked for me. That’s all that mattered.
I wish I could say I felt the same way now. As a parent I want to provide the best experience for my child. I want a bike that feels steady and strong under his weight.
For the last two years my son has ridden a balance bike. He started riding around the house and later moved to the streets in our neighborhood. He’s now a pro on that little bike and seems ready for a real bike. So the question becomes what to buy?
Target, Walmart and Amazon all sell bikes that might work, but most of them have mixed reviews. I’ve seen brand new bikes as low as $50, but I don’t particularly want to buy a poorly made piece of junk that might be difficult to ride and won’t last beyond one child. On the other hand the local bike shop recommended a $220 Trek model which seems like an awful lot of money for a bike my son will outgrow within a year or two.
When it comes to children’s equipment when do you splurge on quality? Should I buy the cheap model knowing it doesn’t need to last or should I buy the more expensive model to ensure a fun and successful experience?
I’m not 100% sure how to proceed, but I’m leaning towards a used model from a local bike shop. It costs $75 less than a new high quality bike, but twice as much as a cheap one from the big box stores.
The pros: The bike shop claims its easier to ride, will hold up through two children, retain a decent resale value and keep a bike from making its way to the landfill. Plus it doesn’t have any silly characters on it and could easily be used by either gender. Although we have two boys we could eventually pass it on to future nieces or nephews.
The cons: Price.
I know there are a lot of parents who read this blog and I’m hoping someone weighs in on this topic. When do you spend money on quality and when do you focus on price?
Before my first son was born, (sometime around the beginning of my third trimester), I read a blog post about stockpiling diapers. It sounded like such a great idea, of course I wanted to save money on diapers and what better way to save then by taking advantage of promotional sales? I was already making a weekly trip to stores to stock up on household items for free or nearly free, so why not add diapers to the list of items I bought there?
There are all sorts of websites that provide estimates for the number of diapers you might need in the first year of your child’s life.
If you search the Internet you’ll find a ton of diaper approximations that look similar to the list below:
- Newborn: 6 packs (approx. 216 diapers)
- Size 1: 4 packs (approx. 160 diapers)
- Size 2: 16 packs (approx. 640 diapers)
- Size 3: 19 packs (approx. 684 diapers)
I had no idea if these numbers were accurate, but I wanted to buy at least a few packs in advance of our first little bundle of joy. I skipped the newborn sizes, (all ultrasounds estimated my baby would be quite large), and skipped ahead to size 1 and 2. I didn’t go crazy, but I did amass a small mound of packages.
I bought the cheapest diapers I could find through a combination of sales and coupons and built a tiny stockpile in various sizes. I proudly stacked them in the closet feeling quite accomplished with all the money I saved.
Or so I thought…
Unfortunately those stockpiling efforts were a complete waste of time. Despite all of my best efforts my son consistently leaked while wearing the diapers I purchased.
After a few nights of consistently waking up wet, and thereby preventing me from any chance of restful slumber, I gave up on that brand of diapers. I gave them all away for free and promptly replaced them with Pampers. Wouldn’t you know my son didn’t suffer a single leak after switching brands.
I am now a loyal Pampers fan. I’ve tried a few other brands, (received as hand-me-downs and free samples), but none of them were as soft and absorbent.
Pampers isn’t always the cheapest brand, but with coupons and sales I consistently find great prices in drugstores, Walmart and through Amazon Mom. The quality and peace of mind I get make them worth every penny.
When SheSpeaks presented me with the opportunity to participate in the Pampers #MothersPromise program I could not hit the Enroll Now button fast enough!
Pampers just released a new type of diapers called Pampers Premium Care, which contains the following features:
- Absorb Away Liner: Pulls wetness and mess away from baby’s skin
- Breathable Material: To keep air circulating around baby’s skin
- Extra Absorb Channels: Helps distribute wetness evenly for up to 12 hours of protection
- Wetness Indicator: Lets you know when your baby might need a change
- Available for purchase at Walmart later this month
SheSpeaks and Walmart provided me with a box of size 3 diapers to try on my youngest son.
The first thing I noticed about Pampers Premium Care diapers is just how soft the material feels. The texture is silky and smooth not stiff and hard like many similar brands. I’m honestly shocked by the softness. It feels a lot like a fluffy cotton ball.
The material seems to be just as absorbent as any other Pampers we’ve tried. The absorb away liner and extra absorb channels kept my son dry throughout the day and night without any leaks or blow outs.
Premium Care diapers also contain the patented wetness indicator that is ultra helpful for new parents. As a new parent it is often difficult to determine whether or not your baby needs to be changed. Thanks to the wetness indicator you don’t need to guess. You simply look at the yellow stripe down the center of the diaper. If it turns blue you know it’s time to change the baby. This is also helpful when grandparents and other family members babysit. If they aren’t sure if the baby is wet tell them to look for the blue line.
From a purely aesthetic standpoint I think the baby animal designs are absolutely adorable. The package I received contained lots of pastel colored tigers, hippos and elephants in the top center of each diaper, which match our nursery’s jungle theme.
And although neither of my boys struggle with allergic reactions it’s still nice to know the diaper is hypoallergenic. If your little one tends to break out from disposable diapers this may be the brand to try.
These diapers did seem slightly larger than the Pampers Swaddlers my youngest son currently wears. Although the weight range is the same for both packs of diapers there appeared to be more wiggle room between the Premium Care elastic around his legs. You actually get more diapers in the smaller packs. Size 1 contains more diapers than size 2, size 2 more than size 3, etc. So if they do run slightly larger that would be a minor money saving advantage as your child can wear the smaller size for a longer period of time.
I cannot say enough good things about the Pampers brand. In addition to the package of diapers I received a Pampers memento box and book. Inside was a note that read:
Every day with your baby is like a new page in your story together, so use this book to write those promises and keep your memories of every special moment.
Motherhood does feel like one long story just waiting to be told. What will happen along the way? How will our relationship strengthen? Who will my child become? I keep journals for both of my boys and I couldn’t agree more.
It was a true honor to participate in this program. I am a HUGE fan of Pampers. Their leak protection is unlike any other brand we’ve tried and we use their diapers and training pants exclusively.
On a side note: I couldn’t write about Pampers without mentioning their rewards program. If you use Pampers or plan to use them in the future sign up for the Pampers Rewards Program. Each package of diapers contains a code that can easily be entered on the website or through the Pampers Rewards app on your iPhone. It takes mere seconds to enter and you can earn rewards ranging from free photo prints and photo calendars to toy shopping carts, scooters and JCPenney gift cards. I’ve earned hundreds of dollars worth of products in the last three and a half years.
Note: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Pampers.
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I prefer to buy organic or all natural chicken for my family, but it’s so much more expensive than the other stuff our grocery store sells. Every once in a blue moon our grocery store offers buy-one-get-one offers and from time to time the price is dropped to $3.59, but the full retail price is typically $5.99 a pound.
When I received the latest email from Peapod offering chicken for $3.99 I decided to stock up. I wound up purchasing twenty 1.5 pound packs.
The invoice estimates that each pack weighs roughly 1.6 pounds so I was charged $6.38 per pack. Although peeking through the bags I believe most of the packages actually weighed slightly more, which means my money stretched slightly farther than that.
I saved $3.20 per item. Multiply that times twenty and I see a hefty savings of $64.08.
Now what’s a girl to do with thirty-two pounds of chicken? Well my husband and I cleaned it, sliced it, diced it and packed it into freezer bags. We include enough in each bag to feed three of us a meal plus a little extra left over for the next night.
We lay the chicken flat in each bag so it thaws quickly. When preparing meals I simply open the bag and pour the perfectly prepared chicken into the pan; no dicing or extra slicing required. It takes more up front effort but it’s one less thing to do on a busy day.
Do you ever stock up on meat or produce?
Do you complain after receiving poor service or unsatisfactory goods? I don’t make it a habit to point out bad service, but this past week I sent letters to two separate companies asking for a refund of my purchases.
One night my family and I ate dinner at a local restaurant and ordered a few wings to go. The next day I opened the takeout box and found tiny chicken nuggets in place of the plump ones I was expecting. The previous night we ate chicken, (at the very same establishment), that was twice the size.
A day after this incident my husband purchased salad mix from the grocery store that was not only old, (the date was four days past the sell by date), but also completely rotten. When I opened the box it smelled of sour pickles.
On both occasions I was really unhappy with the situation. Dinner time is quite rushed at our house as we spend as much time as possible at the playground in the early evenings. It’s been much too hot here to play outside mid-day.
One night I planned to heat up the takeout from the night before, the next night I planned to make salad for dinner. Imagine my frustration when I realized those chicken bites would barely feed my son let alone two of us or that the salad I intended to make was rotten.
I didn’t have a back up plan for dinner in either situation. Yes I should have checked the chicken before we left the restaurant and perhaps I should have inspected the lettuce that morning, but hindsight is always 20/20.
Unfortunately this is not the first time expired lettuce has made its way into our refrigerator. I’ve been burned twice before. Now I always verify the sell by date, but my husband threw the box in the cart and I forgot to check the package on that particular day. The first two times I was willing to let it go, but by the third time I was extremely annoyed. Those boxes of organic lettuce aren’t cheap, you know?
In each situation I snapped a picture and emailed the establishment. I asked for a refund of each purchase and received same-day responses from both companies. The managers could not provide a refund but did offer to compensate me via gift cards, which is just as good.
Do you complain when goods and services are not up to par? Have you received satisfaction from the establishments you contacted?
I used to wonder how someone could get rid of 50, 60 or 70% of their possessions. Now I know. I didn’t calculate the exact number of items we’ve removed over the past six months, but I would bet it’s a minimum of 40 or 50% of our stuff.
Removing clutter can feel quite overwhelming. I often found myself feeling stuck as I cleaned out our basement in preparation for remodeling and decluttered our dining room to make it more kid-friendly. Should I keep this? Should I donate it? Should I move it or buy a new bin to store it?
After months of cleaning out the crap I’ve landed on a solution that worked unbelievably well for me.
I passed through each room multiple times rather than trying to finish the job all at once. I found the first round of decluttering was easy. I am never going to use the 1970s fish platter I inherited from my mom and the unbelievably heavy vase that can’t hold more than four or five flowers no longer needs to take up space on the shelf.
After taking care of the easy stuff I moved on to a different room and repeated the procedure. That dress I never wear, that shirt that’s stretched out, that gown I wore to a wedding over ten years ago…piece of cake.
I dragged everything off to donation and started again a few weeks later. With the easy stuff out of the way I made a second crack at each room. For some reason it was a whole lot easier to get rid of those items I originally questioned. With more free space opening around me I realized I craved clean counters and near-empty dresser drawers more than ever.
Was I really going to wear that shirt I hadn’t worn for six months? Was I really going to eat off that china we haven’t used in ten years?
I didn’t get rid of everything. A few things went into the attic for further consideration. That china is boxed away along with some of the platters, pretty bowls and a cake plate.
One day we might host Christmas dinner for our children. Maybe? If not, it is at least boxed up and moved out of the space we intend to occupy day after day.
As I emptied the contents of drawers and shelves I came to a realization: It is better and easier or me to get rid of something than continually reorganize it.
With that thought in mind I decided to get rid of the majority of items I moved at least once in the past year but never actually used. This includes objects that need to be dusted, but aren’t cherished. No more dusting pretty plates and candle holders. They will be used or they will be donated.
I will no longer hold on to beauty for beauty’s sake. I will not keep a china cabinet full of pretty vases that are never filled with flowers. I will not hold on to 16 wine glasses when I never invite more than five wine drinkers over at the same time.
I love how much more space we have in the rooms we live in. I intend to revisit each room one more time and to do my best not to accumulate any more unnecessary crap.
At only four months of age my little bruiser is already wearing 12-to-18 month clothing. We received a bunch of baby onesies and sleepers shortly after my son was born, but with his long torso and meaty thighs he has already outgrown all of them! I didn’t expect any gifts for our second born child and I am more than grateful for the generosity of friends and family. I gave away the majority of infant clothes long before number two arrived.
Our bassinet has been collecting dust ever since I decided to ditch it in favor of co-sleeping and the mobile above my son’s crib seems to keep him wide-awake rather than helping him reach any state of slumber.
Since this is most likely our last child, (it took us two and a half years to conceive two children), I see no need in keeping infant clothing or baby equipment around. This week I gathered two large bins of unwanted clothing and trucked them off for consignment.
I considered waiting for the consignment sale this October, but then promptly decided against it for two main reasons. Fist, I didn’t want the stuff in the house any longer. Second, I didn’t want to do more than necessary to get rid of this stuff.
As a consignor I would only earn 55% of the sale price of each item, plus pay a $10 fee. Not to mention the work involved in hanging, tagging, cataloging and delivering items. It just didn’t seem worth the extra effort.
The local consignment store provides cash up front, which probably means I earn less than comparable stores, but on the plus side I don’t have to wait for a check. I dropped off my stuff and waited for the store owner to pick over everything.
I didn’t catalog everything I dropped off, but here is a list of most of the stuff:
- 2 sleepers with hats and booties
- 2 packs of Carter’s onesies (6 in a pack)
- 2 packs of mitts
- 2 Carter’s open bottom sleepers
- 5 onesies
- 2 Old navy maternity dresses
- 1 Old navy maternity shirt
- 1 belly band
- 2 pairs of maternity pants
- 1 maternity sweater
- 1 fleece sleeper
- 2 Gymboree outfits (shirt and pants)
- 4 baby hats
- 5 Carter’s outfits (1 long sleeved onesie, one short sleeved onesie & pants)
- 1 Carter’s security blanket
- 2 packages of baby socks
- 1 Gymboree boy’s sweater
- 1 Polo baby sweater
- 1 boy’s winter coat
- 1 Gymboree winter coat
- 5 long sleeved Gymboree onesies
- 1 Baby Bjorn
- 1 Co-sleeper
Thirty minutes later I was offered $106.71 in cash or $125 in store credit. I took the cash option.
I looked up the pricing guidelines for the consignment sale and I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have made much more selling there. I could have earned more selling the co-sleeper through craigslist, but I feel good enough about the end result.
Once a week I intend to write a few words in either this blog or my children’s journals, but with the introduction of our second child I cannot seem to find the time to focus on either.
My older son gave up napping a few weeks ago, so I have absolutely no quiet time between the time I wake in the morning and the minute I go to sleep at night.
The oldest will return to preschool in the fall and that should give me just a few minutes a day for myself. I say should because some days the baby falls asleep in his crib with a minor tap, tap on the back and other days he struggles to either fall asleep or stay asleep without intervention. I sure hope this settles he gives me at least an hour of quiet time once the school year begins.
I know some families can add another child with very few ripples, but I have found it quite draining to have two children in the house at the same time.
On the money front:
- I finally received a $50 check that should have been mailed on May 19th. It took two months and nine emails to get things straightened out. I had just about given up hope when the check arrived in the mail.
- I am in the process of gathering baby clothes and equipment to sell at consignment. I know I’ll make less selling them at a consignment shop, but I’m not sure I want to go through all the effort of tagging and hanging them for a consignment sale. Can anyone offer advice on this topic? It seems so much easier to take them to a store.
- I desperately want to sell my old dining room furniture. With the addition of my second child we simply don’t have the room to eat in our kitchen anymore and the dining room is now a place for eating, playing and chasing. I’m tired of maneuvering around the furniture. We paid a lot of money for the china cabinet, (probably $2000 or more), so with any luck we can sell that piece for a few hundred dollars. I don’t think anyone would be willing to buy the rest of it.
- In order to get rid of the china cabinet and other furniture we need to move and purge quite a few things. The china, which we used once in ten years, was boxed up and moved to the attic. A few bags were donated and other things were moved. It is amazing how much stuff we owned but never used. I initially felt guilty about the way money was wasted, but as I get rid of it, I feel surprisingly free! Why hold on to things we have no intention of using? I’d rather make more space for the life we truly want to lead then the one we are pretending we might live some day.
- I suggested moving the kitchen table to the dining room, but my husband was pretty hesitant about the idea. Honestly it makes perfect sense to me. We aren’t using the kitchen table in its current location and it’s just another piece of furniture that seems in the way. My husband doesn’t like the look of that table, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to be overruled on this one.
- I want to spend a ridiculous amount of money to renovate our sun-room. We’ve already spent $164,000 on maintenance and renovations, so I know spending another $20,000 sound crazy. Unfortunately, without these changes the room cannot really be used year round and right now it is a great place for the kids to play. My husband thinks we should definitely proceed. It will make us more comfortable in the short term and may ultimately help us sell the house one day.
The children are calling so it seems those are all my updates for now!
Far too many people in contemporary culture feel they don’t have enough time to “get it all done.” The stress of this chronic overwhelm creates a disorganized mind that leads to a chaotic life. Based on her highly acclaimed “Energy Management” workshops, and drawn from over 25 years of counseling and coaching experience, professional trainer and speaker Jackie Woodside shares her breakthrough methods that lead to becoming the least stressed, most productive person you know!
In Calming the Chaos, you will learn the step-by-step skills and thought processes that lead to increased productivity and peace of mind. Jackie’s approach stems from the new frontier of human performance called energetic consciousness. Part philosophy, part psychology, fully practical application, you will learn:
- Why there is no such thing as time management and what to do instead.
- How to manage your energy instead of your time and stress.
- The three-step formula for managing every component of your life for the rest of your life!
- Why “to-do lists” are a set up for failure and what really works.
- “The Three Strikes Rule” that will end procrastination for good!
- How to always know that you have the time for what you want and need to do!
Many books promise to change your life. Applying these principles will make this a reality!
This quote is a perfect summation of this book:
“Calming the chaos means you recognize the sacredness of this life here and now, not living in the hope that life will get better ‘someday.’ It means being and doing the things that align with your highest sense of self, with your deepest desires and passions.”
So how does one go about recognizing the sacredness of life? According to the author the journey begins by taking note of the way you manage your energy. How do you interact with your environment, well-being, relationships and finances? The author begins by guiding readers through an energy drain inventory.
Here are the types of questions you must ask yourself.
- Do you live in a clutter filled home or workplace?
- Do you have stacks of mail and paperwork that you haven’t managed?
- Do you misplace things?
- Do you fail to get enough rest or feel fatigued?
- Do you work long hours without adequate periods to rest and recharge?
- Do you procrastinate on daily tasks?
- Do you worry about money?
- Are your bills late or overdue?
- Do you have difficulty letting go of upsets and sometimes blame others for circumstances?
- Do your relationships feel more draining than fulfilling?
Based on your answers to these questions and fifteen others you can determine how well you are managing your energy. Are you enjoying the full life benefits of peach of mind, vitality and well-being or are you experiencing negative life outcomes as a result of the chaos around you.
If you fall into the second category, if your life feels difficult and draining, this book will guide you through a series of steps to find more peace and tranquility.
I connected quite deeply to this paragraph:
“what happens when you actually have a couple of hours with no meetings or no place you have to go? Do you sit down and become wildly productive ticking things off that you know you want to accomplish?” No, you don’t, do you? Do you know what happens when you have that open space in your schedule and there is so much in your head? Your mind goes into a blur or what I call “the dumb air” and you can’t think straight. So you do busy work, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a few emails, check your Facebook page, read the news online… and then at the end of all that busy work you only have a half hour left before your next meeting so you can’t start anything too involved in such a short period of time! And it is not your fault. It is not because you are lazy, disorganized or inefficient; you are simply not trained in managing your Self in time.
Does this sound familiar? How are you spending your time? Do you think you are wasting the valuable minutes you have here on earth? Would you like to learn how to harness your energy towards the things that truly matter? If so, buy a copy of this book or pick up a version from your local library. Readers will find very sound advice for creating a more meaningful, better balanced life.
I already follow much of the advice in this book, but it still opened my eyes to a new way of perceiving my life and improving upon it.
Jackie Woodside, CPC, LICSW is a psychotherapist, coach, speaker and author, specializing in the power of managing personal energy, rather than time or stress. An Amazon bestselling author of ‘What If It’s Time for a Change?’ and highly sought-after speaker on leadership and empowerment topics, Jackie conducts training programs for public, private and government sectors nationwide.