Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mommy's Little Helper

I don't have much to say about these photos, other than they are super cute!  I let Maryn get in the basket with the socks as I was doing laundry, and she thought it was just hilarious.  Enjoy!

Grocery Store Misadventures, Part II

Now that yesterday's introduction has been given, I can jump right into my story.  As I was planning for my next grocery trip, I saw that Meijer (our grocery store) was offering a $10 off total purchase e-coupon good for Thursday only.  I had wanted to grocery shop on Wednesday, a day that I have off, but I just couldn't pass up the coupon.  I work on Thursdays from 8-5; it was a long day and I came home with a headache.  Thankfully, Billy already had dinner just about ready.  Now rarely will Maryn and I go to the grocery store without Billy.  We usually have a pretty long list of things to buy so that we don't have to go as often.  But Billy had been with Maryn all day while I was at work, and he really needed to get some school work done.  He asked if I wanted him to go along, but I assured him, I can do this, my list is well organized, I know exactly what I need, you stay here and get some work done.  He took Maryn out to the car for me, got the stroller out of the trunk so I'd have more grocery space, and we said goodbye.

Traffic was bad, but we made it to Meijer.  It had been snowing, and the parking lot was sludgy and gross. Maryn is at an in between phase where she's getting heavy and it's hard to lug her car seat around, but she's not quite big enough to sit in the grocery basket seat.  Plus, the car seat cover keeps her warmer than she'd be if I took her out of the car seat and carried her into the store.  Every time I get the car seat out of the back of the car, my lower back starts to spasm, and then my arms ache as I carry her.  We made our way through the slush and into the store, and I situated her car seat in the front of the cart.

I had a strategy for getting through the store as quickly as possible, and my list was organized accordingly. Pharmacy, home organization, baby, produce, bread, dry goods, dairy, meat, frozen.  I was running low on prenatal vitamins and DHA, and I had an e-coupon; in addition, Meijer was having a buy-one-get-one-free deal on all vitamins.  Score!  The vitamin aisle is huge at Meijer, and only certain brands qualified for the special.  I swear I spent at least 20 minutes on that aisle; I just couldn't find what I needed!  I finally had to ask for help.  Turns out, all of the prenatals were sold out, and DHA was on a separate aisle and did not qualify, not to mention it was way more expensive than at Wal-Mart or Target. What a waste of time!  I left empty handed and moved on.

I made it to the produce section.  I had a lot of produce on my list.  I really like Meijer's produce - they have a much better selection than other stores - you can get just about anything, and they even have a large fresh herb section.  But it's a really big area with lots of aisles.  It took forever to find and individually bag each item I needed.  I had two things left: I was going to try a new recipe that called for fresh ginger and scallions.  I use ground ginger all the time, but I had no idea what it actually looks like in its original state.  And I didn't even know what a scallion was.  I just knew they were in there somewhere!  After spending 20 minutes going up and down the aisles, reading every single tiny label of each item, I finally found a Meijer employee, a big 20ish guy who didn't look like he was enjoying his job much.  "Can you please tell me where to find scallions?"  He looked at me like I was a total idiot.  "Scallions are the same things as green onions.  They're over there," he pointed.  Oh, well I know what a green onion is and I've passed them a dozen times.  Embarrassed, I said, "What about fresh ginger?"  He picked up this weird root looking thing right next to him.  When he saw my look of dismay he said, "We have chopped ginger in a jar right here." Umm, thanks.  I grabbed the onions and the jar and rushed off.

By this time I'm sweating in my down snow boots and my big down coat.  I peeled off my coat and put it in the basket.  Then my cart started acting up; the wheel kept sticking and it felt like I was running in place just to get it moving.  I moved onto the bread aisle.  Meijer was having a special - buy a loaf of bread, get hotdog buns and hamburger buns for free!  This was great because I needed all three.  But guess what?  It took forever to find the brand/varieties that qualified.   Once again, too many choices and too much time spent trying to find the right things so I could get the bargain.  I was starting to get angry, and my head was pounding.  I finally found the right items.

Then I looked down at Maryn, who had been playing with her toy keys and squealing happily this whole time, and she's covered in white string!  She had gotten ahold of the gauze wrapped around her head under the outer bandage, and she was pulling it to shreds!  She had string entwined around all her fingers, and there was string all in her mouth.  I frantically started pulling string from her slobbery mouth, trying to get the bandage situated back on her head.  That was the last straw.  Thank God Maryn wasn't fussy.  If she had started to cry, I think I would have too.  I was going to have to cut this trip short.  As I zipped through the frozen section on my way to check out, I saw that the Meijer brand sundae cones were on sale.  Hmm, I deserve that after this trip.  I grabbed a box and headed to a check out aisle.  As I waited in line, I sent Billy a text that said, "Disaster. Coming home."

Of course, this horrid trip wasn't worth it if I didn't get that $10 discount.  So as the cashier is running everything up, I asked her to please confirm that I did indeed get the discount.  She just stared at me and blinked, like she had no idea what I was talking about.  I start to sweat again.  I explained the e-coupon two times and she said she had no idea how to tell whether or not the discount was applied.  So she called her manager.  Thankfully, the manager was like, "It shows you right here (dummy)!" and I did indeed get the $10 off.  So Maryn and I bundled back up, I pushed my increasingly difficult to manage cart through the slush and snow, and I loaded Maryn and the groceries in the car and went home.

Epilogue: After Billy helped me unload everything, we sat down to relax with our Thursday night TV shows and eat those sundae cones.  They were disgusting.  The bottoms of the cones were broken off, the ice cream tasted cheap, and the cones were soft.  Gross!  And there were only 4 in a box!  I guess they weren't as good of a deal as I had thought.  Billy and I decided they weren't worthy of our freezer, so we needed to go ahead and finish them off.  :)  Then I wanted to look at my receipt to see how much money I had saved, and to plan for my 2nd trip to finish the job on Saturday.  To my dismay, I saw that the cashier had charged me for 11 bunches of those blasted green onions/scallions instead of one!  I think she actually counted how many onions were in one bunch and charged for each!

So today I returned to the store by myself.  I got my money back for the green onion mistake, and I got everything else I needed on my list.  Of course a Saturday afternoon is probably the busiest time to go to the store, but it turned out all right, and with both trips combined I ended up saving $35 (child's play for you expert couponers out there, but pretty good for me).  And thankfully, I shouldn't have to go back for a while.

I think the lesson God wants me to learn in all this is that I am limited.  I'll never be a super-mom, and that's okay.  Next time I'll ask for help.  And maybe try to keep my emotions under control when things don't go the way I had planned.  How do moms do it with multiple children?!  I guess each kid comes with extra grace provided from the Lord.  Makes me thankful for my own mom as I remember many a frazzled grocery store trip with us three kids - we sure didn't make things any easier for her!  :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Grocery Store Misadventures, Part I

Lately I've been trying really hard to be better about planning ahead for meals and groceries.  I've started putting together a monthly meal calendar so we know what we're eating each night in advance, and so I can shop accordingly.  I've also been trying to get on board the coupon craze.  In addition to printed coupons from the newspaper and the internet, the grocery store where we shop also offers e-coupons you can redeem when you check out by entering your phone number.  These are my favorite because they're the easiest, and a lot of times they offer a certain amount of dollars off your grocery total.  I've also been watching the weekly grocery store ads so I can know which items are on sale and I incorporate those things into our meals.

For most of you wives and moms out there, this stuff is nothing new, disciplines you have probably had for years as you take care of your families.  But I'm a rebel when it comes to domesticity - I don't want to be, but I just don't like it.  Several factors are motivating me to change.  First, when working on our budget, I get really discouraged when I see how much money we waste on food, mostly because we don't plan ahead; we make last minute purchases and splurge on eating out.  Second, our grocery bills were just getting ridiculous.  Third, one of my goals for 2011 was for us to really start eating healthy - not a diet, but just a healthier lifestyle, especially now that we have a little one eating food with us.  Fresh fruits and veggies, less meat, whole grains, organic when I think it's worth it.

I've been pleasantly surprised by the results.  It's so nice to have meals planned ahead - no more "what are we going to eat?" every night.  I've been able to incorporate some new, easy recipes that work with my dreadful cooking skills.  We get to eat yummy leftovers for lunches.  Maryn gets to taste a lot of our food.  No more fast food.  We've been saving a lot of money.  And I'm actually kind of enjoying the coupon, bargain-hunting, meal planning thing.  In sum, (and I think Billy would agree) we've been eatin' good!

I explain all of this as an introduction to tell you about my grocery store trip last night.  But this post is already really long.  So I'll finish typing the story tonight and post a part II tomorrow.  Come back if you want to hear me vent.  :)

Here are a couple of things we have eaten lately:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Seven Months Old

I can't believe that seven months have come and gone!  Just yesterday I was looking at Maryn and all of the sudden I realized how big she has gotten - and then I cried!

Not many new things to report with Maryn these days.  Her ear continues to heal.  Hopefully she will only have to wear her big bandage around her head for another week.  Everything is starting to itch - both her ear as it heals, but also her whole head from being covered all the time.  Poor baby is always trying to scratch her head or get the bandages off.  But she loves getting her head shampooed when we change the dressing.

She still loves sitting up and playing with her toys.  She recently discovered she can bang two toys together and make lots of noise!  Still not very enthusiastic about solid foods.  She tried oatmeal this morning and seemed to like it; she usually only takes three to five bites of whatever we give her.  But that's okay, she still gets all the nutrition she needs from breastmilk.  She is also teething - one incisor has come in on top, and I think she's simultaneously working on the other three, so lots of drool and occasional fussiness these days.

As always, Maryn is such a joy and we are thankful for another month with her!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Billy's Birthday

Friday was Billy's 26th birthday.  With Maryn's surgery, it has been a hectic week, and we are both tired. We spent the day celebrating the ordinary.  We bathed Maryn, then took her to the doctor together.  Ate lunch at home (Billy had hotdogs by request).  Billy did school work in the afternoon, while Maryn napped and I tried to catch up on some laundry and dishes.  We had homemade beef soft tacos for dinner, and we enjoyed watching Maryn take her first bites of avocado.  We clapped and celebrated when she liked them.  We sang happy birthday and ate a store bought cake, and Billy opened a gift that never got wrapped.  Because it was his birthday, I told him he was exempt from any diaper changing, dog potty duty, and dishes; but I think he sneaked a few of those into his day.  We ended the day with bedtime songs, snuggles and prayers with Maryn, followed by cuddles on the couch while we watched a rented movie of Billy's choosing.  One that he had to go out and get himself.

Our day was not that different than most, but Billy never complained.  And I realized that's why I love him.  He is the one with whom I want to spend every ordinary moment of every day.  A birthday is a special occasion to celebrate that we have been able to have another year of these moments together.  We've definitely had our extraordinary moments together over the years - the terrible and the fantastically exhilarating good.  But it's the ordinary - amidst the messy house, the blowout diapers, the school stress, the short prayers whispered together before falling asleep - that makes me fall more deeply in love with the extraordinary man God has given me.  He is the best husband and father in the whole world.  I adore him.  And I'm pretty sure Maryn does too.

"Happy Birthday, Da-da!"

She put her hand in the cake right after this.  :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Surgery Update

We wanted to let you all know that Maryn's surgery went very well and we are home recuperating.  Every specific prayer request we had about the surgery was answered abundantly.  A big concern was whether or not she would have to have a skin graft, which would have meant a longer, more serious procedure, and a trickier recovery.  Thank the Lord, no skin graft was required; the surgeon was able to close up the skin beautifully without it!  Maryn's surgeon was very pleased with the outcome; he expects a very speedy and simple healing process.  She did so great with everything; she wasn't even fussy before the surgery, even though she wasn't able to eat.  She was all smiles.  Anesthesia and all that entails went smoothly as well.  Wow, was it hard to say good bye before they took her to the operating room, but what a joy 3 hours later when we got to hold & kiss our sweet sleepy (i.e. drugged, haha) girl after hearing such great news about the procedure.  And then we all got to go home a few hours later!

Today we had an appointment with her pediatrician for a post-op follow up.  It was really our first time to completely see her ear.  Everything looked good!  There is still some swelling, which is to be expected, but things seem to be healing well.  We go back again in one week; it will be easier to tell at that time exactly what her "new" ear is going to look like.  I may post a pic of her ear after that.  It is just amazing what the surgeon was able to accomplish!

Continued prayer requests would be for a smooth healing process, that the swelling around her ear would subside, that there would be no infection, and that her discomfort would be minimal.  And that we could continue to find creative ways to keep curious hands away from the large dressing wrapped around her head!  :)

Pre-Op, in her little hospital gown

The first moments we got to see her

So sleepy!

Feeling better at home!

Crazy post-op hair!

We have to get creative to avoid her from removing the bandages - which she has done!  The mittens worked for a while...we had to upgrade to big tube socks.  :)

Through all of this, the Lord has been so very good to Maryn and to us.  To him be the glory!