This Mommy Runs on Caffeine

This Mommy Runs on Caffeine

December 4, 2011

26.2 Again

I'm exhasuted..... life has been a bell-to-bell sprint lately. I guess I should say when is it NOT? That's the life of a working Mommy who doesn't quite know when enough is enough. There is always something going on. And just when I think that I've got that balance mastered, there's another circus ball to juggle. Oh well. I'm good at juggling, it's an adventure.
And sprinting? The only literal kind that I've been doing lately is 2-1/2 blocks in Downtown today to watch some of the 8,000 crazy ass people cross the finish line at the California International Marathon. I had alterior motives- AntiLatte was running in his SIXTH marathon- the first since we've had MiniLatte (we were laughing about it last night that she could possible be his Finisher's Medal- lol).
I'm in awe of all of those people that get up at the asscrack of dawn and lace up their shoes (some weren't wearing any!) and perservere to the end despite cold weather, leg cramps, shin splints and by sheer willpower complete 26.2 miles.
Some were running in honor of their loved ones or wonderful charities, some were running to meet a goal, some were running to run more (like qualify for Boston?!) and then my dear one, runs because he loves it- and he beat his personal best time. 26.2 short miles in just 3:45:09- funny, that's just a hair shorter than my labor (hmmm... maybe I HAVE already run a marathon- but there were some nice meds at the end of mine!). Good job babe. I'm really proud of you.  (By the way, he's not the one in stripes.....)

November 8, 2011

No, Mom, You CAN'T Put Up Your Christmas Tree Today....

... or subtitled, "Let the Freakin' Turkey Have His Day Too.."
Yes, this is an actual conversation that I had with my wonderful Mom this weekend. In all fairness I do have to say that the comment was directed to her very Martha-like boyfriend (but that's a story for another day), yet I'm still shaking my head days later. I'm not bah-humbuging the holidays- I love decorating my house for the holidays, but the earliest that IMHO it should be permissible is mid-November at the earliest.
    Seriously- there is at least a few more celebratory occasions between Day 'o Candy and Christmas that should at least be given a cursory nod before you put up the evergreen tree and toss some tinsel on it.
    I mean the holidays are overly commercialized as it is, but holy moly, to actually have Christmas stuff out in retail stores BEFORE Halloween is just a bit more than I can understand. Yes, really.  I had to take MiniLatte to pick up some sparkles for her Tinker Bell costume and there right next to the giant light-up Jack 'o Lantern were CHRISTMAS trees galore and a display blasting carols. On October 30th. OCTOBER. That's a full 56 days before Christmas. To say something nice about it, MiniLatte did exclaim, "Christmas Tree!," so I can imagine that it's going to be a fun December. Emphasis on December.
    I love, love, love Fall- the colors, the cozy fireside afternoons; baking cookies; pumpkin, vanilla, falling leaves, apples.... I like to celebrate those little things before I jump into full-swing Christmas. Maybe it's the fact that we've only had one week of Fall so far here (70 on Halloween, and then 50 the next day followed by the first storm- seriously, a late Fall) and I'm a bit behind schedule. (Um, yes, carved pumpkins done exactly one doorbell ring into the trick or treaters!) or the fact that I was used to a delayed start on Christmas until after college finals. (It doesn't matter that excuse is losing merit so five years ago!)  I just can't relate to Christmas preparations before Thanksgiving...
    It's like retail is setting the tone for letting us enjoy the holiday season and each store is trying to one-up the other with it's first Christmas sale. It just bugs me.... and don't get me started on Santa. Jolly Old Saint Nickolaus was already sitting court at the mall center court- and it was just November 6th. The mall was already decked out in it's holiday finery (they probably just had Pumpkins and spiders glued to it and ripped it off when the clock chimed midnight on Halloween...) Seriously... Santa... day after Halloween. It just doesn't seem right to me. But it's retail. Now, my mom?
    She has managed to keep the Christmas elf from putting up the tree so far. It might be an argument for her in a week or so, but so far, so good. As for me, I'm digging out the Fall-ish themed decorations and will soon replace the red, white and blue. Just kidding- it's more like bunnies and eggs...

October 3, 2011

Twinkle Widdle Star....

It's obvious from the "last post" date that I'm more of a 'reader' than a writer.... well, I love to write, but it's been more like grocery lists and shit for work;  not an insightful blog post fueled by caffeine. I have writer's envy of those that post regularly. My friend and blogstress extraordinaire Jen even has a schedule of daily post... girl, you are organized! And I'm feeling oh so guilty, so I thought that I would post a video to assuage my guilt.  Crap, I couldn't even post my list of reasons why I'm grateful for Lattes on National Coffee Lover's Day.... (it's surely coming, perhaps on National Deviled Egg Day....) and without further ado.... a too cute for words video of why I love, love, love being a mom:

.... and I'm not sure how Snow White got in the middle of twinkle? As for the "take the buckle off"- I rescued the straps from a defunct booster seat and it's one of her favorite toys.... amongst the 1,023 others.

July 26, 2011

A Blog Identity

LatteLovinMommy (perhaps me?) is suffering from a blog-dentity crisis. Unlike many of the blogs I peruse, I'm just a plain little Mommy-written blog without a specialty topic. I originally started this when I was pregnant and looking for a way to vent or share my experience without feeling like I was boring whomever I was talking to.  I'm a Jill of Many Trades but not a master of anything specific- that's good and bad of course. I could take the time to try to become an expert, but why try and reinvent the wheel when there's so many other blogs out there to capture readers' attention? I'm just me- trying to be the best Mommy I can to my sweet girl while maintaining a certain level of sanity in all the other areas of my life that need attention- work, my business, being a wife, maintaining friendships, being a good steward of our home and money. I'm not a natural-living parent; I love my coupons and saving money, but I'm not about to spend an extra 25 hours on top of my already busy life honing a hobby that others blog so well about already; I'm crafty, but despite my wonderful shelves of raw materials, I can't say that I've broken out the Cricut or beads in a really, really long time, and although mildly funny, I'm not slated for a stand-up show of my own anytime in the near future and thankfully, we are blessed with a healthy family and I don't have to turn to my blog to deal with the pain of having a special needs or angel child. And of course, there's only one toddler- not multiples that make my head spin just thinking about!
    So my point is kind of pointless- I want to have a wonderful blog for devoted followers (all three of you) to read, but I'm not sure where to go from here? Do you take the time to read worthy blogs about nothing in particular other than it's written by the caffeine-driven Mommy of a really cute almost-two-year-old? Is it okay to have a random, diverse blog? I still use this as an outlet and hobby and not a formal 'job;' I fear that it would be even more neglected (sniff, sniff) if I had to work on it and not wanted to. What draws you to a blog?
     I'm going to keep plugging away at my randomness- the writing keeps my mind sharp and is somewhat of a creative outlet until I can actually start MiniLatte's newborn baby book.....
Until Next Time,


July 6, 2011

Things That Make You Go What the Hell???

Years ago, it was the stories about little helpless animals being abused that used to get me, now, it's the stories about kids as well. When you're a mom, there's just something that helps you easily bond with other Moms- it's like a switch is flipped on and a common denominator of the little ones helps you to start a conversation or forge a relationship. It's also the same 'something' that makes you shake your head and wonder what the hell a fellow mom was thinking. Don't get me wrong, I really try not to judge other people in normal everyday situations such as overhearing the toddler screaming "Damn it!" at the top of her lungs in Bath & Bodyworks.... oh, wait- that was me.... my take on competitive parenting still stands; my thoughts are leaning towards moms who just blatantly put their children in harms way, or in this case the woman who is accused of killing her 7 week old daughter in the microwave or me forming my own opinion surrounding the facts about Kaylee Anthony. WHAT. THE. HELL. 
Please note the use of me calling the first instance a woman instead of a mom is completely deliberate- it's challenging for me to group her in a category the same as myself and in the second case, I'd much rather place the emphasis on the angel-baby rather than than the selfish person who bore her.
    In the case of the microwave story, this was one of the first times that I've ever had a queasy stomach while reading an article; and the thought of the poor baby girl just brings tears to my eyes. I know that in the sake of justice, she deserves a fair trial, and I'll grant her that (at the cost of how much to taxpayers...) but her actions are completely reprehensible. How can anyone do harm to their own children in such a horrible manner? I can't fathom it....
   I think back to when MiniLatte was that little and helpless. I was battling PPD but even during a bad moment, my first thought was always putting her safety and well-being first (perhaps the Zoloft helped...) and when I felt like I couldn't handle a certain Mommy-moment, I called in the cavalry. In retrospect, I may not be able to truly relate because she was such an easy-going little baby, but there were those times. Those times called for what we called our "Baby Spa," taking the bouncy seat in the bathroom and turning the shower on for the white noise and steam. It would usually calm her down, but I remember one particular day where I was also crying and thinking to myself if it was always going to be hard. At no time in the most trying of moments did I even come close to thinking that I wanted to harm my infant.
   And Kaylee, oh dear. There is something completely wrong with that family period. Either they went to great lengths to a) cover-up an accidental drowning; or b) cover-up a murder by drowning -or- she just outright murdered her child to return to a party-girl life. What baffles me is that the father is culpable in some manner.... if it were my dad, he would have throttled me and then driven me to jail himself. My friends and family ask about MiniLatte daily, let alone to go 31 days without wondering about her whereabouts... hell, I passed up my annual conference this week for my direct sales business because it would be too hard to be away from her at this point.  And my tattoo would be one honoring my little girls name.... not Bella Vita. Life sure wouldn't be as sweet without my precious girl in it; and I certainly would have a hard time going on with my own life. Yet, she probably didn't have to fight biology to have Kaylee like we did MiniLatte, she also isn't deserving to have another child..... yes, I know I'm judging but it just breaks my heart---- we are supposed to protect the little ones!
   Both of these former moms will have their day eventually. In the meantime, I'm going upstairs to hold my daughter and smother (sorry, perhaps out of context?) her with kisses.... and say a prayer for those little Angel-girls.

May 25, 2011

Just One

One. Child.
Yes, only child. That's my daughter. That's also me.....

      The burning question of the year is either WHEN or ARE you having another child. I'm not planning on it. Our daughter is wonderful, sweet, beautiful, kind, gentle, adorable and perfect. Although I'm sure that efforts may be duplicated, but we I'm quite happy with our little family of three. My husband would certainly like one more. I on the other hand, don't. It's actually quite a nosy and personal question; akin to asking someone why they stopped at just two? Unlike Ruffles, I can have just one and for me there are a multitude of reasons- physical, personal and financial to name a few.
      On the phsyical side: because I don't want to go through pregnancy and labor again. Yes, my pregnancy was nearly text-book despite the fact that getting there wasn't. And labor was shorter than half of an average work day, however, I enjoyed neither. It's a complete crap shoot to say whether a second pregnancy would be the same- or worse. I'm thinking that two years later and closer to the big four-oh increases the chances of problems all around.
      I also was not comfortable with a newborn (and the newborn smell that everyone talks about is not the same one that I'm thinking of....). The comfort level obviously grew on me as I was able to do some on-the-job training but again, not wanting to pile more sleepless nights on top of the ones that we already get. (K slept so muchbetter a year ago than she does now- not quite sure why the return to 4 a.m. feedings?!)  And adding juggling the needs of a tiny newborn along with those of a very smart and active toddler in addition to a career and life just scares me. There are days that I feel stretched too thin as it is.
      I'm also not game for another two plus years of diapers. There is light at the end of this tunnel o' Huggies and I'm really looking forward to it. And speaking of Huggies- the expense of day-to-day care is something that we are really considering. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Child Rearing Calculator, and discount the cost of shelter (we've been here years prior to her!) and daycare, it costs us roughly about $15,000 a year to raise little K. That reflects 2009 numbers- I think it's safe to say it might be inflated a bit higher today in 2011, while our salaries aren't. And believe me, I try to save money in as many areas as possible where it doesn't affect health or safety! The calculator says that having a second child would double that; but even on the low side, I would guesstimate perhaps $22,500 for two children. Did I mention college? Even though hubby and I are proud owners of student loans (ha!), I do not want K to have to worry about that- we're stuffing as much 'extra' money into her college savings account (and our retirement funds as well) to plan for the future. 
     While larger families were very common to help with the division of labor years and year ago, the smaller family is becoming quite common when you consider metropolitan living and costs. Our family is normal! But I often hear the reaction that "you shouldn't do that to your child," when I answer the "Are you having another?" question. I shouldn't do what? I shouldn't provide her with as much love and devotion as possible? I shouldn't work hard to provide the best possible life for her and our family in the long run hopefully demonstrating a good life and work ethic? I get the 'sibling bond' argument, but I've seen that go either way-- while my two step-sisters are thick as theives;  a good friend is absolutely not a fan of her brother. And as far as her being lonely, between her Daddy and I and all of her family members, she is not lonely. Additionally, she knows how to independently play and is developing quite the imagination! K plays well with others and knows how to share- something that we are teaching her, not her learning from a sibling.
      If you are really curious as to why just K, I'm happy to tell you that I'd love to concentrate on creating and molding a selfless, talented, kind, gentle, creative, productive little girl; along with having a happy and relaxed Mommy and Daddy to raise her. But please don't make me have to debate with you why our choice is right for us...........

May 16, 2011

Date Night Makes Me Yearn for Balance

I had a date last night. With the refrigerator. Oh the joys of being a Mommy! Seriously, I felt like I was getting acquainted again with my kitchen today after spending the last month in between vacation, holiday and birthday celebrations, work and family outtings and just being plain too tired or busy. I would say that in the last six weeks, I've probably cooked a home-cooked meal not even a dozen times. Wow.      Fortunately, as a dual-income family, we can eat out (um, IHOP, anyone?) and it doesn't completely kill our budget, but it also doesn't help it. It also doesn't help the diet even though I try to make healthy selections. What bothers me most is the amount of food that I just had to throw into the garbage from cleaning out the fridge. A bag full, and I'm talking trashcan size, not a grocery bag. I'm mad at having to throw money away for no reason other than lack of preparation..... so irritated.
     I really do try to meal plan, but then the best laid plans..... it takes a lot of time to be prepared, and I feel like that is seriously lacking right now. I'd much rather spend those four hours (if that) every evening with my daughter playing, reading or cuddling and not cooking or cleaning. Unfortunately, a maid is not in the budget and reality sets in. I have to find a better balance between all of the domestic things, the work stuff, parenting (like that ever stops) and having extra time to do other activities that I enjoy, or even fit some sleep into the equation. I'm envious of those moms that can balance all kinds of shit with one eye closed and on bedrest; or those that have multiples plus- how do they make it look so easy? By no means am I comparing myself- I'm just coveting perception!
     Fortunately for our household, I'm not in this alone as my wonderful husband puts in his fair share- especially with the laundry (he runs out of underwear first!) but I would really like to get a better grip on the things that I personally handle.... I have a few ideas in mind, so I'm going to do a little 'workstudy' over the next few weeks.... and I'll definately keep you posted, but in the meantime, I'm open to suggestions!

Love, Laughs and Caffeine,

May 8, 2011

A Day Worth the Wait

Unlike most little girls my childhood wasn't spent playing with baby-dolls or planning a princess wedding. I was quite the Tom boy. I grew up an only child in a very, very small minuscule community in the Eastern Sierras ripe with lots of outdoorsy things to do. My two male cousins were my closest playmates and I could out-fish the both of them and my pet lizards were often bigger too! I ditched my first day of Kindergarten to go trout fishin' with great gran Hazel; you couldn't keep a pair of shoes on me to save my life and I even herded sheep once. It's pretty safe to say that other than dressing my faithful companion Bootsie up in a dress and wheeling him around in a stroller, I didn't particularly have a natural maternal streak.
     I'm sure that it wasn't a surprise to most of my close friends and family that I wasn't in a rush to become a mother. Someday, but it had to be with the right partner and not just for genetics sake- the PARTNER part of the equation was the kicker.
     Fast forward to my mid-20's when I began dating my husband and 'family talk.' Although he was definitely qualified as what I thought a partner would be, we agreed that a family was in our future just not the immediate one. It was important to have time just for 'us' prior to bringing a child into the relationship and enjoying life together first. And we did- and then building a family was taking more time than we had planned. I was longing to finally discover that materialistic instinct that I skipped over during childhood. I also started to resent Mother's Day (although I did try to compensate by celebrating with my beloved fur-baby and try to get away with not poop-scoopin' for the day... But those were the only presents she ever left for me! (How I miss that dog... Really. Really. Much.) The same went for Baby Showers and all things miniature. Not because I didn't want to be a mom but because getting to that point was so damn difficult.
      Friends and family were lucky to 'accidentally' get pregnant but for us it was so much planning and waiting. Pure joy when we had a positive test only to find that joy usurped by disappointment weeks later with a miscarriage- four times over. Nearly four long years later and after medical intervention and the hardest three hours and 56 minutes of my life, I was finally a Mom.
Today is my second official Mother's Day; I now get to enjoy the day with my family. I am so looking forward to celebrating all of the milestones and memories that I've been blessed with over the last 21 months. My life will undoubtedly never be the same- the dirty diapers, sleep deprivation, bottle washing, sippy cup retrieving, tear wiping and lullaby singing are all honorable tasks for my precious sweet daughter- and of course I wouldn't have it any other way. It was worth the wait......

Happy Mother's Day Fellow Mombloggers- I appreciate you reading and sticking with me!

Love, Laughs and Caffeine,

April 28, 2011

Complete mommy failure yesterday morning....

     I had the occasional pre-work responsibility for Little Miss K- Mr. Anti-Latte usually leaves much earlier than I do and drops her off at Grandma's for the day. The routine works out well- he goes to work earlier than I do and is much more of a morning person efficient than I am in the a.m., especially if I've not had my caffeine! I was nearly ready to get K dressed and on our way and began hunting for a shoe mate and within 10 seconds of turning around, my little daredeviless had sprinted to the stairs... as soon as I realized it and could see her over the half-wall, I also saw her just starting to roll down the stairs. OMG. CRAP. Sh!t…. I hate it when this crap happens on my watch… but it’s easy to understand how. There’s just so many Mommy/ work/ wife things to do/ remember/…. Sometimes it’s amazing that I can even leave the house unscathed myself.
       In the rush of getting ready and trying to remember everything else that needed to be done in five minutes...I just wasn't thinking that the baby gate was down. The good thing about toddlers is that they are incredibly FLEXIBLE- the roll down 12 stairs was about as slow as an unwatchful mommy could hope for (perhaps my fall UP them a few days ago was more painful!?) and a box caught her at the bottom. I don't think I've ever descended those stairs as fast as trying to pick her up to console her and check for any injuries. Fortunately, the only injury was to her pride- not one little bruise or scratch and she even landed still grasping my necklace in her chubby little paw. (K is to necklaces is like squirrels to nuts). And she was distracted by Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the television and the tears dried.... hers. I somehow maintained my composure- which I think probably resulted in a short lived cry on her part. I've learned quickly that many little ones base their reactions on that of their parents. A little scratch turns into a monumental booboo if the caretaker makes it a huge ordeal.
      K is a really good kid, but she definitely is super energetic and wants to investigate and try everything. Which means that you cannot take your eyes off of her for a second when she's running loose! And as you can see, I did. I'm relieved that she isn't any worse for the wear (maybe developing a measure of respect for the stairs) but this was a good reminder that I need to be overly cautious at all times. And as embarrassed as I am about this, when telling a few close friends they've had similar episodes happen with their healthy, thriving beautiful children of their own.... but I still feel horrible! I think I might assuage it with a bottle glass of wine and some Peep’s…..

April 22, 2011

I am so egg-cited for Easter this year! First of all, the weather here is going to be wonderful-
mid- 70's and perfect for K's pretty little dress. Second, K is finally old enough to really start understanding the holidays. And last, I'm excited to start our own family traditions..... when I was a little girl we did the egg hunts complete with the golden egg and special prize, dyed eggs, and my mom even made these beautiful sugar eggs. Some of them I want to start again (trust me, trying to convince your husband to hunt for eggs solo pre-child days is not fun....) and put our own touches on others so that they are truly ours. 

I think we might go on a wabbit hunt to get photos- maybe- when you see some of the character photos from WDW, you'll see why I'm a bit hesitant.  I know that an egg hunt is absolute- K loves those little plastic eggs- her grams has a box full at her house to play with when she is watching her. She definately knows what eggs are and will probably play along picking up at least five or six!

In budget style, I did pick her up a cute second-hand Dora basket and have some trinkets bought last year on clearance- I think I blew the budget with the "Bickey Bouse" Playhouse book though- couldn't pass it up! (Let's see how long it lasts until Mommy has had it with the Hot Diggity Dog song.....)

We have a full day of church and family outtings planned! I hope that all of my readers have a wonderful holiday and I'd love it if you'd share your holiday traditions with me too!

April 19, 2011

Terrific Tuesday: A Dilema of Sorts

Fresh off a family vacation (the first in over two years!) to Disney World and being bombarded at every turn by opportunities to purchase souvenirs of all sorts, we ran into yet another display at one of my favorite stores Target. By this time Little Miss K had mastered the names of most of the classic Disney characters and this is the result....

She did get to take home two of the lovely toys: "Nonalds" and "Miiinie Mousssse." And Mommy is excited because the two combined still cost less than one from the theme park!

March 23, 2011

Kitchen Adventures: Dried Beans (18 Bean Soup Recipe)

On a recent trip to the dollar store (why do they call it that- I can never get out for under $20 Dollar$!), I purchased a few bags of dried beans and put them in my pantry- just in case. Monday was the case- either fueled by torrential downpour here in sunny CA or I wanted to dust off the crock pot.... the plan was to make chili, but I decided to experiment.  I actually read the instructions on the bag (imagine!) and was instantly transported to when I was little and my mom used to make a huge pot of beans or chili. I remember helping her 'sort' out the beans looking for any non-edible items that might have made its way into the mix (ie: a little pebble) and then washing the beans. So nostalgic. And a challenge: I've never cooked with dried beans before, just the canned variety. It was not an instantaneous process for dinner on the table in 30 minutes, but it was very simple and versatile. And wait until you see the cost! I concocted up a delish recipe that I wanted to pass along to you!

1 Bag (dried) 18 Bean Mix- sort through the beans and place into a colander and wash with hot water
1 Bag navy beans (I used white)
 1 package of ground turkey- browned with onions, garlic, salt and pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 bouillon cubes- your preferred flavor
2 pressed garlic cloves\
1 Can Green Chilies (mild)
Seasonings to taste: (I'm a 'dasher' meaning that I use a dash of this, and that while I cook)
I used: Salt, pepper, dried onion (I'm not a fan of the onion), 2 garlic cloves, Worcester sauce, balsamic vinegar, Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute and parsley

Soak the beans in about 8 cups of water overnight. Drain and rinse and put into the crock pot with 6 cups of water, the turkey and the rest of the ingredients. Turn on desired setting and wait for dinner! Serve with desired toppings such as cheese, sour cream and with a loaf of crusty french bread! Since I was making "noondles" (noodles) for Miss K, I also added some to a serving- yumm!

This recipe feeds an army- we had dinner for two nights, I'm taking for lunch one more day and I froze a large bag of the soup as well. I also added some sauteed beet greens to mine tonight and it was yummy (but that's for another post!) Another benefit- the cost of the entire crock pot including the bread was under $8- budget gourmet! I hope that you enjoy this recipe!

March 20, 2011

It's Sunday- COUPONS are here!

Oh, I do get excited about more things than this, but it's always so fun to linger over the Sunday paper, ads and coupon inserts ("inserts") with a LATTE and a rerun of Law & Order or CSI on! If only that were every Sunday- in most cases the ads are piled on the counter and the paper goes out to recycle! And perhaps I might have already previewed all of the above on the net, but regardless a girl can dream.....
What happens to those coupons once I've pursued them? The get filled in my SaveALatte$ Bin for a rainy day. Seriously, I'm not an extreme couponer, but I love to save a buck so I had to find an easy way to organize my priceless coupons. It wasn't by clipping and filing a huge binder full- I tried that route and as portable as it was, it was just a nightmare for me to keep up to date. I got a few kudos on trips with those but the thumb calluses from the scissors and hours that it took just wasn't worth the time/ money effort for my family. If it works for you- awesome; it just didn't for me. You could go the envelope route; or the binder route or a hybrid of the two, but so far, what I've done is a "no clip" system and have filed them in a very large plastic storage file/crate organized by date and source. I also print out a quick list of what (supposedly! as each insert varies with coupons and savings) is in each folder and staple it on. It's very low maintenance and user friendly. Not so much portable, but if in doubt, then I'll throw the whole thing in my trunk if I feel like a shopping trip will be unusually fruitful.
    So what to do now? When I get ready to go shopping to one of my favorite stores (CVS/Walgreens/Target/Safeway) then I'll pull up one of my favorite on-line sources to tell me what's the best of savings for that store. If you think that I do this all on my own, then you are super crazy! I certainly don't have the time to complete all of the 'match-ups' (that's what you get when there is an item on sale with a particular valid coupon) so I just let my favorite sites do that for me. There are tons of them out there including hundreds of fellow mom-blogs. I am quite particular to a few because they work for my $avings $tyle:  (The store is self explanatory!)  (I love this site because I can actually pull up a printable list to take with me- and I use this for CVS and Walgreens) (Safeway is my favorite Northern California grocery store)
I then build my list and refer to their match-ups and then clip them out of my files or in many cases even "printable" coupons. Those coupons then go into a "portable" file (a blue poly expandable envelope) to take to the store along with my list. (I also store any 'clipped' coupons in this little file.) The list helps me to stay on track to save time and money. Note that the list is made based upon what I need for that particular week's meal ideas and what needs to be restocked. If there is a score of a deal on something that we regularly use, like pasta or cereal, then I'll stock up but my goal isn't to purchase enough stock for a fall-out shelter, just what we'll consume. Then off we go to the store to save! I really should track how much I save over the course of the year, but just knowing that by combining the store deals with coupons, I'm keeping more money in my pocket for my Lattes is priceless!

Here's a quick overview of coupon terms from a prior post that I did in 2009 on coupon terms:
• Manufacturer’s- these are the ones found in newspaper inserts, but also in magazines, from “blinkies” on the store shelves, and now, on the Internet, printed either from a manufacturer’s website or a merchant’s website.
• Store coupons- these are found in store circulars or on the stores’ websites. The good news about these is that they can be used in conjunction (“stacked”) with a manufacturer’s coupon to increase your savings.

• BOGO- these are “Buy One, Get One” coupons where you either get something free or at a drastically reduced price. (You can also use up to FIVE coupons on a BOGO purchase- one for the BOGO and then two manufacturer’s coupons for each item. If there is a matching store coupon- even better!)

• WYB- these are “When You Buy…., You Get….” Coupons. A popular one that most everyone sees is like a save $10 off your $30 purchase at Bath & Body Works.

• $$ Off- simply stated, they are a $ off a certain amount of purchase, mostly connected to a certain store. We religiously use the $5/ off $15 purchase at CVS! They usually print from Catalinas at checkout, or in the case of CVS, they have a special printer when you walk in the store when you scan your frequent buyers card.

• Store Member- when you sign up for a free rewards program, your prices are usually the lower price in advertised sales. (We have CVS and Safeway… and at free obviously worth the weight in gold!)

• Rebates/ Checks- Rebates are usually something that you receive after the fact, but are worth looking into as they are higher dollar amounts.

I hope that you find this helpful and can save a latte money with coupons. And also, don't be afraid of what people think- it's YOUR money! ( :

March 18, 2011

Friends: With Kids/ Without Kids- Random Thoughts

While driving into work this morning, I experienced one of those rare occasions where I listened to 'regular radio' as opposed to my XM (love it!) and the morning people from one of the local stations were discussing friends. Particularly having friends of the opposite familial status (childless with parental friends and vice versa) and why it is so difficult to maintain relationships and hang out with them. The discussion got me thinking- even though I turned off the station after they interrupted the debate with a stupid song by Kesha. She bugs me. But I digress....
    I started thinking about my friends that I hang out on a regular basis and came to the conclusion that I don't. Hang out that is, I have lots of friends, but for various reasons. "Hanging out" is just much harder to do when you add motherhood to the other obligations in your life.
    I have 'work' friends. I have longtime friends- near and far- that I can call on anytime day or night to vent, bitch to, complain and can count on in a pinch. And then I have friends who came into my life because I have Little Miss K. I've met them through my local consignment sales that I volunteer for- wouldn't have met them if I was kid-less; same goes with the mom's group that I used to belong to. I have a handful of friends from high school and college, some from my direct sales business and some from random places that we met and struck up a conversation.
    The point is that I shared something in common with each friend at the certain time that we met and fostered a friendship. It may or may not have been because of children, but because of school, work, a hobby or..... whatever.  There was a common denominator in the relationship.  Am I still friends with everyone that I've ever met? Not so much, but not because I have kids. They may or may not, but we've lost touch for a host of random reasons- but I can't think of one friendship that has faded because I have a child. I can however, think of the many more that I have made because of my child.
    At this point in my life I prefer to have low maintenance friends- I've always tried to avoid drama, but even more so now that I don't want to involve Little K in said drama. I also don't have time for bullshit. I also may not have time to talk to you for weeks on end, but that doesn't mean I don't adore you. I work full time, I'm a business owner, I enjoy a small number of hobbies, I'm a wife, I'm a... you get the picture? It's hard enough to find time to have dinner with my dad, get a mani/pedi or to even just sleep, so to go out clubbin' with single, childless friends is just at the bottom of my list. Not the person, but the activity. If you want to come over and have something that resembles dinner with my family, c'mon over we're happy to have you and I may even serve you an overpriced drink in the process (cover charge will be waived).
     Now will I befriend you if you are kid-less? Maybe, maybe not. I'm not judging you but I think it will just be harder for you to understand what my life is like and I, in turn, will always think- 'just wait!' If we have enough in common outside of K, we'll probably be fast friends.  I made the decision to have K, and she is my life- friends or no friends. It's a package deal now, and most activities will be centered around her unless it's a very rare Mommy night out... hopefully! Happy Friday!

March 14, 2011

Is Parenting a Competitive Sport?

Why do people think that because they do said "insert blah blah" here that they are better parents that you? Can you tell me exactly when "Parenting" became a competitive sport? I'm sure that you've been the object of (dis)approval at one time or another from a observing spectator, er, parent.  And with the amount of skill, finesse and even teamwork required to raise a child, it really should be considered a sport.
  The competition started when I first began announcing that I was pregnant (wow, over two years ago!) with random questions ranging from if I was going to breastfeed to how long I was planning to stay at home.  I didn't consider those questions to be judgemental then, but in retrospect, the rebuttal from the interviewee is what tweaked me. Was I irked because I had no confidence as a new mom? Perhaps. But now as a veteran (ha!) mom of a busy 18 month old, I see those same questions as judgement or a way to rack up points for their 'team.'  Just because I was doing something that was different than what they did, it was wrong. Does everyone on the planet take their coffee the same? Of course not- there is not one cookie-cutter choice for everyone.
  "Oh, you're not going to breastfeed? Your baby *needs* breast milk to thrive!" Actually, she needed nourishment and milk period to thrive. Where it comes from was purely my choice. There are all kinds of organizations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA) and even the World Health Organization (WHO) that recommend breastfeeding, but also recognize- and don't chastise- that this isn't going to work for every Mommy for a multitude of reasons. Mine was because of a personal comfort level, I was going to return to work and didn't want to have to pump and I wanted to be able to eat and drink the same as I did pre-pregnancy. (Go ahead, call me selfish, or whatever you want.... I'm so over it.) Formula would be a black market item if it were a required part of parenting. As far as thriving, Little K just had her 18-month check up with glowing remarks; the same as all of her well-baby visits where she was above the 70th percentile with her measurements. I'm also aware that studies have shown that breastfed babies have better immune systems, but aside from a minor cold every once in awhile; she is the picture of health.
  "Good moms breastfeed. It will be harder to bond with your child if you don't." I am a good mom; I know that because Little K shouts my name with excitement and glee every time she sees me. I was also able to share bonding with Jason; and her grandparents and our wonderful extended family also had prime opportunity at feedings to build a relationship with her. Furthermore, I feel that these opportunities have helped with separation anxiety issues and she knows that our family can provide for her needs whether it's from Mommy, Daddy, "Mammas" or BopPop or her many Aunties.
  "Are you going to return to work?" This was the interesting one and divides a nation. In fact, I remember even seeing an Oprah episode on it a loooong time ago about the two camps. I was always planning on returning to work- I love my job; we need two incomes and for me, working outside the home is what makes me feel fulfilled and complete.  I feel that I am a better mom because of it. This choice works very well for our family. We are also so very fortunate that our daycare situation is primarily K's grandparents or a very close family friend; I know that she is in great hands while I'm off at work. Can you believe that I was even shunned from a "Mom's Group" because of this? Yes, those judgemental beyotches were quite appalled that I was planning on being a 'working mom'- please note the dramatic air quotes that accompany this stereotype. Like crack mom, only worse....
   And now there are lots of questions about how Jason and I actually parent her. I take most of these with a grain of salt and do consider the source. Or turn around and ask why they want to know- if it is from a soon-to-be parent, I know it's curiosity; if it's from an 'outsider looking in,' I know it's probably well-meaning but I don't feel like explaining and instead let them do all the talking as that's what they wanted in the first place- to tell you what their experiences were like. She's clean, healthy and well fed; furthermore, she is also sweet, affectionate and extraordinarily happy- and in the game of parenting that's worth more that a World Series pennant, the Super Bowl Trophy,  a Stanley Cup or a gold medal.

March 1, 2011

Terrific Tuesday: 3/1/11 (Resolutions, Twitter and a Sister Blog)

Happy Tuesday!  Why? Because it's not Monday and we're one day closer to Friday! I do like Tuesday's for some reason: it's my grocery shopping day, and it seems to be one of the more mellow days of the week work and family-wise.
  I had a super-productive weekend and feel in control of things (a great improvement over last week!); I'm almost at 400 Twitter followers; and am just generally happy this week!
    Today is also a Resolution Day. I find that making resolutions on the 1st of every month is far more productive than keeping resolutions from January 1st, and stressing over what went wrong.  For example, I made a resolution to "lose weight" on January 1st and it was already out the window by the 5th! Instead of beating myself up over it, I found an App on my iPhone (my 'world!') that would help me track my calories and in turn help me lose weight with a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goal: which is to lose 22lbs in about 15 weeks. The app is very user-friendly and has an on-line version with a community and is social as well... the social (seeing how much my 'friends' were going to the gym) is what made me finally get my butt back into the gym!  I'm actually hoping to hit that goal in about six weeks for a special occassion, but I have to step it up a bit, so I'm cutting back my calories and resolving to hit the gym (or be active) at least four times per week- which is four times more than I've been doing! So, my resolutions
  • Continue being active 4x or more per week
  • Continue with Family Green Plan   (just my little attempt to be more green-ish. We've actively done cans/bottles for the money, but now we have a big box next to the trash and all recyclables that can go curbside go in there. I'm happy to say that our trash bin went from overflowing to just half full, while the 'blue' bin is now very, very full!)
  • Ramp up my direct sales business to produce $500 in income/ month
  • Get home decluttered and organized
In other news- BabyK is now 18 months old!  Where has the time gone? There's so much that I've missed sharing on here but oh, the memories! It's amazing to know that she's gone from an infant to a walking running, chattering little individual in such a short time. And I love her more and more and more every minute!
   My dear friend Jenn also has her own blog now (she was one of my first, dedicated readers) and it is so quickly eclipsing mine in the amount of posting.  Additionally, her parenting style is much more natural mine (she breast feeds and cloth diapers) so if you are looking for advice on those topics, that is the place to go: check out Hybrid Rasta Mama and tell her I sent ya!
    And last but not least, a photo to show you how cold it's been- a one cat night perhaps?

February 20, 2011

Dog, Meet Hydrant; Hydrant, Meet Murphy

Do you ever have one of those weeks where you think you're the hydrant instead of the dog? This past week was exactly that for me. I just felt like everything that I had to deal just plain sucked a big dog biscuit. It wasn't horribly traumatic, but just one darn thing going sideways right after the another!
  My week was insanely busy at work- I say that in a good way- but sometimes it just makes my head spin! As a project manager, I am constantly switching gears and in the middle of many things at one time.  It's fun, exciting and above all is mentally taxing.  At the end of the day after a long commute, I very much appreciate some needed downtime to debrief when I get home; and not being able to sometimes causes additional stress.  Take for example when I get home from a long day and have to deal with something like, oh, our central heat going out during a very rainy and cold week!! I don't do cold well. 
    Sometime in the middle of the night on Tuesday, the motor of our HVAC unit in our six-year old home went out. Unfortunately, it took a full day to realize that there was a bigger issue than a dirty filter or new batteries in the thermostats. And seeing the dollar signs adding up to fix whatever is wrong definitely is making life a bit colder, no pun intended. 
  On top of the heater freezing (ha ha), mini-us came down with a bug and has been sick for over a week.  Wednesday and Thursday were the worst of the days.  Keeping her warm in a cold house led to lots of improvising with blankets, space heaters and steamy showers.  We managed to get the master bedroom to a balmy 67 degrees, while the rest of the house is forming icicles......
   Come Thursday, another long day, I finally talked myself into going to the gym (actually it was my BFF who wanted some company) for the first time in eons and not even 15 minutes into my workout I get a panicked call from hubby telling me I have to come home now. Click.  Uh, okay.  Thank goodness I remembered to shut off the treadmill prior to dismounting..... I hurry home to K crying and Jason freaking out.  Apparently he was taking her temperature and she moved and resulted in a big ol' boo boo with her screaming and bleeding out of her ear.  And a trip to the E.R.
  She was okay, but blood coming out of an ear is never good.  And poor Jason was beside himself with guilt.  With some ear drops and a little TLC, she'll be as good as new in about a week.  Adding injury to the little cold, and the literal cold- we're certainly batting 1000! 
   I was certainly looking forward to a three-day weekend and capped off my Friday evening with a hot bath, a glass of wine and sugar cookies for dinner. 
I wake up on Saturday with a disposition much chillier than broken-heater-room-temperature and decide to build a fire.  Apparently there was something blocking the flue and our house quickly fills with smoke, the fire alarms go off and alas, another freakin' problem to deal with.  I prop open the doors, open the windows, turn on all of the fans and it completely defeats the purpose of a warm house.... crap!  I snapped- called my dad crying wanting him to fix it, like now. 
  The rest of my morning is spent trying to remove the smoky smell from the house, a trip to the gym and a mani.  Oh, and discovering that there was some chicken in the fridge that dripped everywhere and contaminated everything below.  Issue five.  Fun.    And I do even remember at some point cooking dinner during the week, I burned it- difficult to do in my trusty Pampered Chef pans.... but that's the life of a hydrant.
My saving grace came in the form of dad showing up with a cord of wood and two really stiff drinks at dinner while celebrating my lil' sis' 21st birthday.         
  This morning I've bid Mr. Murphy adios and I'm enjoying a toasty fire, fresh blueberry pancakes, nothing on the agenda and my little girl acting almost her usual sweet self again.  I'm still shaking my head over the events of the week.  And appreciating that while shit does happen, it could be worse, and am thankful for the things that we do have- a home (although a bit faulty), family and health (even if at the current moment it does have a runny nose).  I try to see the glass as half-full, but there's just those times where the problems pile up, that Susie Sunshine isn't quite so. It could be worse... of course, but personal issues feel very large when you are in the middle of them no matter the magnitude. It also takes the support of the right people to help with your little problems- a good friend who's ex-husband owns an HVAC company; a dad who is a Don-of-All-Trades; friends who listen to your problems and leave a bottle of wine at your door; and interest in your new-to-you Keurig and lots of caffeine to get you over the hump.
We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging after this wine, er, whine.....

February 14, 2011

Will You Be My Anti-Valentine?

I'm going to freely admit that today is not one of my favorite 'holidays' of the year. And by holiday I mean that in the sense that it has earned its own printed day on the calendar, not a day free from work. It has weaseled it's way into our lives commercially, setting up false expectations forcing people to purchase gifts simply because the masses do and it's socially unacceptable to buck the trend. In this case, you’ll be a cheap, forgetful bastard/ beyotch sleeping in the other room if you boycott February 14th and forget to bring ‘everybody’ else in on the plan.
   I'm not a hater of all things red and heart shaped, I just take slight to commercialism (now as for pink and heart-shaped, that's an entirely different story!).  Take for example; my poor mom was in a fit because she couldn't afford to get K something for Valentine's Day. (Now Mom, you've seen her playroom and nursery- do you really think that she wants for much?) So she baked us cute little cookies with fluffy sugary frosting- yummy and quite perfect. Those are going to be one of the best presents ever. Besides I bought her a boose (K's word for balloon) and said it was from Mammas BB.
    My dislike of the V-Day goes way back to even grade school. Third, fourth and fifth grade kids are just plain mean- and even more so if you happen to be smart and have red hair. I despised the parties and knowing that I was going to get less stupid cartoon cards..... my mommy was smart and instilled in me values of acceptance and fairness and made me give one to all of the little kids- even the ones that picked their noses. To this day I shudder when I see boxes of kiddie Valentines! (Hope that passes before K hits preschool!)  More so, I also always hated seeing my mom unhappy because her then-husband was selfish and never showered her with flowers and fluffy animals or candy. The lack of effort was appalling- not even a card. (The bare minimum!)
    In high school my dislike grew- not because I didn’t have boyfriends to bestow upon me the commercial treats, but because I hated all of the catty one-upmanship of the next day. Um, yeah, I know that you got two dozen roses and I just got three single roses but your boyfriend also was seen getting friendly with Olga just two days ago- yep, that’s true love! I know a handful of people who are still originally together since high school (the rest have swapped!) and I give them props- Valentine’s Day or not! I just found that instead of it making you all lovey and sentimental, it instead made you feel quite the opposite.
     And in college…. I wrote an editorial for my Junior College paper about how wrong it is for the commercial world to make you feel like crap because you’re single. At the time I was newly separated and my beloved Dalmatian was my Valentine- we dined on McD’s cheeseburgers and Boone’s Farm- obviously memorable even that long ago. Fifteen years ago that was progressive- now it’s just called anti-valentinism and is a great reason to go to the bar with your friends and celebrate Sex-in-the-City style.
     It's just a date on the calendar, much like January or June 14th- the world doesn't stop because cupid is amongst us.  Trust me, he wasn't at either of the funerals that I've been to in recent years on....yep, February 14th.....
     Consider if Hallmark created cards in the true origination of the day: A Roman priest- Saint Valentine- whom secretly married couples despite Claudius II’s outlawing marriage (Hmm… sounds like a current event) was condemned and beaten to death with clubs and beheaded. He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February, 270AD. Those would be lovely graphics, wouldn’t they?
     Our family isn’t entirely boycotting the day- I received a sweet text message this morning and we purchased together a beautiful dozen roses partly because they were part of a Safeway promotion; little Miss K got two Valentine- hemed boose’s from the $ store and there will be cards exchanged but no over-the-top gifts. I’d rather have those for no reason at all. We usually don’t do dinner out either as pricey boring menus with sub par service isn't worth celbrating (thanks anyways Leah for the offer to watch K- much appreciated!) but there’s an IHOP BOGO coupon out today that is mighty appealing. But I’m actually looking forward a Valentine’s family-style: cooking the cranberry pork chops together from the cookbook that J gave to me as a special, heartfelt Christmas present and enjoying a glass of red wine with a chick-flick after our very best forever-Valentine goes to bed.

February 8, 2011

A Lucky Charm.....

THIS is why the Packers won the Superbowl:

(my step-mom is originally from Wisconsin and they are huuuuge Green Bay fans; a good friend who shares the same surname with the MVP happened to get this jersey while in Green Bay during his rookie season..... must have been fate!!)

(Just a note that BabyK was only on loan for the big game, she has now since returned to being a Rams fan.....)

January 8, 2011

Say What?!?

If anyone ever tells you that toddlers are not smart; you better challenge them as to why they think that. Just because they are little and compact and have been on the earth for such a short time doesn’t mean a thing. Take Kiera (of course… you’re reading this blog, it’s got to be about her!!)- at a mere 16 months is probably a tad smarter than most people that I have to deal with on a regular basis, and her comedic timing is priceless. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t make my head spin with the things that she picks up (even the *S* word that Mommy accidentally spurted out when burning her hand on the cookie sheet). She is talking up a storm- I can’t believe how fast that she is learning and WHAT she is learning.
   Just last night she had Jason and I cracking up in the car. I love to play “Boo” with her when I’m driving- I turn around and say boo in a funny voice and enjoy watching her giggle. Over the holidays I decided to let her Daddy in on our secret little game since we were all together quite frequently. And last night on the way home from dinner I turned around to see if the lack of noise from the back seat meant that she had fallen asleep (fingers crossed) and in the cutest little voice she said, “BOO!” I wish that I would have had it on video- it was priceless. 
   There are then a few times where she even outsmarts me with her logic: the other night she accidentally scratched me. I said, “Ouch baby you scratched Mommy- time to cut your claws!” She looked at me and said, “Danta!” (which is toddler speak for the round man in the red velvet suit). “Santa,” I said puzzled. And then lightbulb- CLAUS is what she thought I meant- as in Santa Claus. That logic was amazing. And speaking of Santa, although his blow-up replica has been taken down from our front yard over a week, she ran out front on Thursday looking for him. Mind you that the lawn d├ęcor was not up for more than 10 days but she still remembered!  Like I said, just amazing!  I love it.
   And since we're on the subject of Pooh.... she was sitting in her high chair a few days ago and was in the process of starting to go... well pooh- but not as in Winnie- and she looked at us and said, "poo poo."  Although I do think that she is still a bit too young for potty training, the fact that she knows what that is will likely make our jobs somewhat easier. 
   Kiera has also learned several animals and their sounds- cow- mooo; dog- woof (she says it wa-ooof- love it!); owl- who; cat- meow and horse- heeee; as well as parts of her face- eyes, mouth, ears, and nose- which sound like ice, mouf, ers and nuh-nuh.  The latter she particularly likes to practice when she is trying not to fall asleep or just wakes up; she also is fascinated with pointing out when Mommy has a blemish on her nuh-nuh.....  so honest, I tell ya!
   I need to do some research on the learning curve of a toddler- or maybe not; for now I'll just be biased and think that she's a little prodigy.  I think this means that I also have my work cut out for me in trying to keep her stimulated; and we need to pad her college account just a teeny bit more for out-of-state tution to an Ivy League school.....

January 7, 2011

Help BabyK Win a Photo Shoot! Vote Before 8 p.m. Tonight Please!

It's a stretch- we're currently in 3rd place, but I'm feeling competitive!  Please click on the link and "LIKE"
her photo!  You have to be a Facebook User to 'play.' Thank you so much.  ( :

Cheers- Carol