How I bought $40 worth of meat for $6

I just got back from what was supposed to be trip to the grocery store for milk, bread, and fruit. But as my ordered tallied up on the register passing the $140 mark, the man behind me looked at me and said, "It adds up quick, doesn't it?" What I felt like saying was mind your own business. But as I slid my club savings card and the price dropped to $107, I simply said to him, "I bought a few gift cards as gifts, as well." What I didn't tell that nosy man, but I am going to share with you, is that I also bought $39.93 worth of meat for a mere $6.  (And just to point out, that wasn't included in the $37 in savings from using my club savings card.)

A few weeks back I noticed this small little "Clearance" sign on a freezer hidden between the ground beef and the frozen chicken nuggets. I took a glance in and was shocked to find the same meat that's in all the other freezers (just with a fast approaching "sell by" date), but these were significantly marked down, plus they had an additional 30% off coupon that would be swiped at the register. I picked up some stuffed pork chops that were originally about $8. I'd never purchased anything like this before, but I figured for $3 they were worth a try especially on a busy night when all I had time to do was throw something in the oven. (Tip: There were no cooking directions on the package, so I asked the butcher and he told me exactly at what temperature and for how long to cook the chops.)  Since my money-saving meat find I've been checking out the clearance meat freezer ever since.

Tonight, I discovered a gold mine....well, at least I thought I had. (More on that in a minute.) The store circular said chicken breasts were buy one get on free, but when I looked in the chicken freezer I found a package originally marked $5 was now selling for "Clearance: $1.50." I swooped them into my cart as fast I could. Then I headed over to my trusty clearance meat freezer. There was a stack of steaks and ribs all of which were marked with the same "Clearance: $1.50" price. Seeing as how I'm no steak expert (all I really know is filet is good!) I went to call my husband to decipher the difference between a porter house, spare ribs, strip, t-bone, etc...but of course I didn't have my cell phone. So I did the next most logical thing.  Thinking that the "best" steaks would likely cost the most, I looked for the highest original prices and I bought those steaks, never mind that I had no idea how to prepare any of them. (That's what AllRecipes.com is for!) I think I got two porter house steaks and pork spare ribs (but to be honest, I'm still not exactly sure). They were marked $11.69, $10.85 and $12.39....but I got all three for a total of $4.50. Take that, nosy-man-behind-me-in-the-check-out-line!!!

When I got home, while we were unpacking the bags I told my husband, "I think I hit the motherload." He looked at me totally confused by my uncertain statement. Then I pulled out the cow (and pig and chicken) that I just bought.   He, who doesn't get excited over deals like I do, actually said out loud "This was $1.50??" And so was this, and this, and this! Yes, my friends, I hit the motherload and you can too if you know how and exactly when to shop your grocer's clearance meat freezer.

As a quick side note, another easy way I've found to save money on quality meat is to buy extremely discounted bulk meat from Omaha Steaks. Yes, their meats are gourmet and without a coupon are higher compared to prices that'd you'd find in the grocery store, but you can land huge discounts this time of year when Omaha Steaks is really trying to push their products as holiday gifts.  So stuck up NOW!


It's Signing Time!

I mean I hate to brag, but I've got one smart kid....at least when she wants to be! Let me explain....

We've been working on about half a dozen ASL signs for several months now.  As I've blogged about in the past I started signing "milk" when Olivia was about 6 months old and I was still nursing her.  She didn't start using the sign until she was close to 11 months and coincidently right around the time I was weaning her to whole milk in a sippy cup. Anyway, she's consistently used the sign since which, let me tell you, has avoided more than a few meltdowns from me not knowing what she wants.  "Milk" may be her most used sign, but she's also used "more," "finished/all done" and "food" since around the same time.

Once she got those down I would occasionally (but not consistently like is recommended) sign the word "thank you" and finally one day she mimicked me. In the past few weeks she's started signing "thank you" without any prompting and at the appropriate time, ie when I hand her her milk.

Every time I go to the library I get a few signing DVDs out. She doesn't watch many videos, but I figured these would at least help me pick up some more signs and then I could start using them with her.  So the other day my husband, popped one of the Signing Time DVDs in for the first time, and was watching it with Olivia. The host was singing the theme song and signing the entire song. The song goes something like "It's signing time with Alex and Leah...There's signing time, and playing time so many words and so little time." As you can see she says the word "time" a lot in a short period of...time.  The song ends on the word "time" and as it ended my husband spotted my daughter signing "time." She wasn't doing it exactly right; instead of pointing at her wrist with her opposite pointer finger, she was using her pointer finger to point at the palm of her other hand. But she did it every time the host said "time" and she's done it every time we ask her "what time is it."

So what am I getting at here? Yes, "time" for a 15 month is rather useless, let's be honest. But the point is how quickly these little sponges of ours can pick up things.  After seeing just how quickly Olivia picked her favorite new sign, I decided I'd work on another sign "play." She copied me immediately. While Olivia's ASL signs aren't exactly correct in technique they are working the way they are supposed to as far as communication. She can't yet say the words "milk, more, play, time," but we can communicate with each other, without meltdowns, because we can understand each other.

Some argue that using signs delays speech, but I've found it to be totally opposite. Now that Olivia realizes that communication is a cause and effect and that something happens when she signs, she wants more. In other words, she wants to say words so she can get more reaction to her needs and wants. One thing I have noticed is she won't or will rarely sign for a word that she can say. For example she has NEVER signed "mommy" or "daddy" and I believe it's because she has been saying "mama" and "dada" since about the time she started with her first signs.

Have you successfully used baby sign language with your baby or toddler? What's your experience been?

Related Links

Signing Time DVD series
How to teach baby sign language
How I got started teaching Olivia ASL baby sign langauge


Steep Discounts on Photo Gifts (perfect for the grandparents)...but you have to hurry

Every year I scratch my head trying to figure out what to give my grandparents and my husband's grandparents as a Christmas gift. Now that I have Olivia, a framed picture is always a welcome gift. But as I was trying to decide which, of the many adorable pictures I should print and frame, I had a genius idea! I would make a photo calendar and I wouldn't have to have decide!

A few years back I made my in-laws a Snapfish photo calendar using pictures from my brother-in-law's wedding. It came out beautifully and they loved it. I liked that I could pretty much customize everything including putting pictures on specific calendar dates for things such as birthdays and anniversaries.  

So, I headed back to Snapfish a few days ago and started putting together a few more calendars for the great-grandparents. I was so excited when I found this 30% off coupon for of all things...calendars! (I usually find some great Snapfish coupon, but it's for something other than what I'm ordering.) You can use the coupon too! Just go to Snapfish through this link and use the coupon code 30CAL2009 at checkout to get 30% off all photo calendars.

Here are a few other Snapfish coupons I came across as well...if you're ordering something other than a photo calendar!

By using this code Snapfish will also donate $1 from every order to a food bank in your state!!!


Sleep, Oh Sleep...where art thou?

I'm sorry that I have been a bad blogging mommy. But I do have a legit excuse. My usual writing time, aka nap time, has been cut in half the last few weeks. Clearly, loooonnnngggg gone are the days when my sleeping beauty would sleep anywhere...for hours on end!

Olivia is s.l.o.w.l.y. going down to one nap and it has been a painful process...for me, not her. I blogged a few weeks ago with some tips on transitioning from two to one naps, but I think I need to make some amendments to my advice. Some of it, I've realized is flat out wrong (at least for Olivia, maybe not for your child since there seems to be no 'right' or 'wrong' way to do this).  I guess that's what you get since motherhood has proven, to me at least, to be trial and error.

Some days she manages fine on one nap (usually around 11:30am) other days she's ready for a nap at 9:30 in which case I force her to take an afternoon nap. The problem is no matter what time she goes down for a nap she'll only sleep for 90 minutes. That's a problem when she gets up at 11am and is up for the rest of the day because she refuses to take an afternoon nap.  It's still a problem when she gets up at 1pm because she's a miserable mess by 5pm, but it's too late to put her down for a second nap.

You're probably wondering why I'm so worried about the 90 minute nap? If she's sleeping 12-13 hours at night why lose sleep over it (pun intended)? The problem is she wakes up crying from her naps, she's still clearly tired, but she has a huge poop in her diaper and won't go back to sleep even after I change it. I've tried changing it and putting her back down, I've tried leaving her up there for 20-30 minutes hoping she'll realize it's not time to get up and fall back asleep. Nothing works.  I've also tried and tried to put her down for an afternoon nap when she gets up too early, but she resists. I feel like I've tried the nap schedule every which way but nothing works.

  • Early lunch at 11am, nap at 11:30. She wakes up at 1pm with a poop and refuses to go back down. 
  • Early lunch at 11am, play time to encourage poop, nap at 12pm. She's exhausted and can't stay up late enough to poop...wakes up at 1:30pm with a poop and refuses to go back down.
  • Snack at 10am, Nap at 11:30. She wakes up at 1pm hungry and refuses to go back down
  • Nap at 9:30 am, wake up at 11. Lunch at 12pm. Refuses an afternoon nap no matter what I do.
Twice I have been able to keep her up until about 12:30 and both those days she's slept until at least 3pm. Also I've noticed that she's pooped before her nap on those days. So now I'm trying to figure out how to encourage a big ol' poopy diaper before the single early afternoon nap.

Aw, the 'projects' I never imagined I'd have to tackle before I was entered new mamahood!

What's been your strategy for moving your child from two naps to one? 

More Sleep & Nap Help

Why I love my 'J.O.B.'

I've said it before and I'll say it again I never planned to be SAHM, but oh how happy I am it worked out the way it did. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words...so here are my top five reasons why I love being a stay-at-home mom!

And last but not least...a baby free week where I didn't have to get request vaca!


"You need to see a specialist"

Well, those aren't exactly the words you want to hear from your child's pediatrician. But that's just what Olivia's told me yesterday when I went in for of all things her 15 month well-visit.  Little did I know she had her 9th or 10th (I've lost track) ear infection. Poor thing has had three since mid-September.

I guess she's used to the pain because she doesn't give me any clues she's uncomfortable. No waking up at night, no ear pulling, no fever, no crankieness (well, she did have sum but I chalked that up to the three teeth that popped through this week). Sunday she woke up with a clear snot runny nose and by Tuesday a full-fledged ear infection.

So we're off to see an ENT to find out if she'll need tubes or if there's something else that can be done.  Of course I'll keep you posted, but in the meantime I wanted to post this link to share some FAQ about chronic ear infections for any of you who may be going through the same thing!


Inexpensive playroom decorating ideas

My living room is thanking me right about now.  Our newly finished playroom has provided some much needed relief from the over abundance of toys, stuffed animals, and riding toys that were taking over the family room.

The way our home is set up the main floor is on the second level. The ground level is a large open room that has somewhat of an obvious divide. The front we've always used as a home office, the back...well...that's up for debate. It was a "craft room," a storage facility...okay, I'll admit it: it was wasted space. It was also the perfect spot for a playroom.

Not wanting to spend much money on updating the room, but knowing it needed some fixing up before it was suitable for a toddler, it became my most recent DIY project.  So I started looking for some playroom decorating ideas and here's what I came up with.

Using my daughter's toys brightly colored toys for inspiration I picked a cheery yellow color paint for the walls.

With limited space but still wanting to give my daughter a creative outlet, I opted to paint a chalkboard on the wall, rather than take up floor space with an easel. I have half a can of chalkboard paint leftover, and already have a few ideas how to use it!

We purchased a full size pull-out sleeper sofa off of Craiglist. It's no wonder it was for sale. Not only does the thing weigh what must be 100 pounds, it's ugly as anything.  The addition of the sofa provides seating and a much needed extra bed for overnight guests.

The arms of the sofa are such that I was unable to find a slip cover without getting it custom made. For a play room that was simply not an option for me.  Thus the DIYer in me got inspired by a set of sheets. I searched a online and bought two blue and white striped queen size flat sheets on clearance.  Over the next few weeks I crafted my own slip cover and I must say I'm pretty impressed with myself.

I had enough left over material to make three simple window treatments as well.

Surprisingly, the spare TV still works despite the inch of dust, dog hair and bugs it gathered over the past two years sitting in the corner. But without cable in the room, we moved our DVD player to the playroom (our newly purchased Play Station 3 doubles as a DVD player for the living room...I'd never admit it to my husband who had to have it...but I guess it turned out to be a useful buy) for my daughter to watch movies.

I purchased an inexpensive TV stand with adequate storage for toys, books, DVDs, and whatnot to further organize the space. 

To get even more stuff off the floor and to avoid taking up more floor space, my daughter will be getting a toy hammock to hang on the playroom wall for stuffed animals.

Can of paint: $25 (-$5 mail-in rebate)
Chalk Board Paint: $10
Sofa bed: $100
Sheets for sofa slip cover: $40
TV stand: $130 from Target, $125 on Amazon.com

Playroom Updates: $300

Have you created a designated play room in your home? Share your best playroom decorating ideas with us by leaving a comment below!


Easy Thanksgiving craft project for toddlers

There's no way I'm missing out on the fridge art that comes with having a child in daycare or pre-school. In the six weeks or so that my daughter was in daycare last year (it was around the holidays) my then three month old brought home at least three art projects. Don't ask me how a three month old makes an art project.

Now, while I'm not the artsiest person in the world...I am somewhat crafty.  And of course, as a mom, I want to display my daughter's master pieces.  My girlfriend, a former kindergarten teacher turned SAHM has thank goodness, come to the rescue and helped me spruce up my fridge.

She hosted our playgroup last week and had a little art project planned for six one year olds. Sounds brave, huh? (I just set out all the toys, she got out the paint!) Anyway, the idea was to make hand print turkeys.  It only took a few minutes (ideal for toddlers) and there wasn't much to it (ideal for moms).  They came out so cute. Take a look! 


What "No Candy" Halloween really means

Forgive me for being a week late on this one...but better late than never. Last Saturday, Halloween (as I was in my pirate costume, my daughter in her parrot costume), my husband says to me as casually as if he's telling me his favorite color is green, that the neighbor two doors down has a sign on their door: NO CANDY. I was getting Olivia's dinner ready. She would have to wait, I dropped everything. 

Apparently he didn't realize what "NO CANDY" meant.  Apparently he didn't realize that "NO CANDY" didn't just mean no candy.  But being a former news producer, I did! It was what was required of sex offenders on Halloween. I logged onto the sex offender registry so fast and put in my address. As I'm doing so my husband is doubting there's any concern, pointing out two kids live at the house. I start typing even faster. About a minute later my fears were put to rest. Thank God. They're scrooges not giving out candy, but they're not child molesters.

It did, however, get me curious about if there are any registered sex offenders in my immediate area. I did find one who's registered address is less than a mile from my house. I stared at his picture long enough to burn it on my brain forever. I wanted to make sure if I ever saw that man anywhere....in the grocery store, walking down the street, at the park, I would know...and he would know that I knew! 

Know your neighbors...check the National Sex Offender Registry


Is that two little pink lines I see???

Gotcha didn't I? No, Olivia isn't going to have a little brother or sister anytime soon...but a conversation with a friend of me got me thinking. I was lucky when my husband and I went to "work"...we got pregnant right away. Four pregnancy tests later I realized something: to hell with the two little pink lines; God bless the digital "pregnant." I had somehow forgotten about that "aha" moment until today when I talked to one of my best girlfriends.

She lives 3,000 miles away and between her busy job, my busy life and the three time zones in between, it seems like every time we talk more time has passed since the time between the last conversation. So yesterday I sent her a quick email just to say I was thinking of her. At the very end I nudged: did she have any news for me yet??? I found a cryptic email in my inbox this morning saying that perhaps after yesterday, she may. That peaked my interest and I knew instantly what she had to tell me.

Once I finally got to talk to her...she made me wait WAYYYY too long..she confirmed the news. She told me she'd taken 5 pregnancy tests b/c those damn pink lines were playing tricks on her eyes. Were there a pair or was she just seeing something? Did she hold the stick in her pee stream for 7 seconds instead of 5...could that produce two lines? But five tests later the answer was clear! YAY!
In the middle of our conversation, as I watched my own 14 month old play "kitchen" next to me, I realized something. I was more excited for my girlfriend than I was when I first saw my own two pink lines. Of course I was over the moon when all those prego tests (including the last which I took in the bathroom stall of my former employer at midnight...) confirmed I had a bun in the oven. (Quick side story...thank God my girlfriend lives on the west coast, she was the only person I could call at that hour of the night to share my news. I hate to admit it, but I told her before anyone besides my partner in crime. She later admitted her husband told her she NEEDED to call me ASAP to share their two-line news! But I digress...)

I started thinking about my excitement for her later in the day and I realized why. I know now, what I wish I had known then and what I know she doesn't yet realize. The love she will feel for her child is so great and so wonderful it will change her life forever. She still doesn't realize, as I didn't, that you could love a person so much and so completely. I can't wait for her to hold that little baby and just feel what those two little pink lines really mean! Don't you just love that overpowering feeling of love you get when your toddler is giggling out of control or calling "dada" on a play cell phone or just sitting there concentrating with pure innocence in her eyes. Ah...new mamahood is wonderful and I can't wait until my friend experiences it!


Hey, savings account, remember me???

Write for Examiner and Be Known

"We're baaaaaack!" You have no idea how excited I am to report that that's exactly what I said to my savings account the other day. Yes, we've missed each other for the last 11 months. It's been that long...basically since I stopped working to become a SAHM...that my husband and I have actually been able to put money into the savings. Last month though, my online writing earnings (which totaled $604 and change) provided us with a surplus...and therefore "We're back!" The best part is, it isn't a small surplus it's several hundred dollars...$300 to be exact!

Let me explain how it all works out b/c this is possible for all stay-at-home moms to achieve. By looking at my monthly earnings you'll see it takes time (and all I have is nap time)...but a year isn't much, if you think about it. While I never thought I'd be where I am, less than year after leaving the workforce,  I'm so happy I've put the dedication in to give my family several online revenue streams.

The only two websites I write for are Examiner.com and eHow.com, each a little different, but each a great gig in its own right.

The last eHow article I wrote was on 9/3/09, the last one before that was on 7/31/09.  In other words: I've been on hiatis from eHow for awhile. However, I've continued to earn, and increase my monthly income, each month as you can see from screen grabs of my eHow earnings reports.  And this, my friends is the beauty of passive residual income!

So why I haven't I written for eHow lately if I continue to see such dramatic monthly earning increases? Well, I heard about this great little start-up writing site called Examiner.com. Perhaps you've heard of it. Perhaps you even write for it. I have to admit, when I first started on Examiner I wasn't too impressed with the earnings. The site pays what usually equals out to a little less than a penny a page view.   Doesn't sound like much, does it? Well, that's where a penny/page view can be deceiving.
 I have two "spots" on Examiner.  My original spot was as the Baltimore SAHMs Examiner. I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed in the payoff considering the time and effort I put into writing daily articles.  Since the site only lets you see earnings for the current and previous months, I'll just have to tell you that in July (my first month) I earned $33.95. In August, I did slightly better earning $44.24. And in September Examiner deposted $299.67 into my PayPal account.
So what happened in October? A few things:
  • Started second spot as the Celebrity Kids Examiner (earning $160.00 from September 16-30)
  • Two Examiner referrals at $50 each
So in actuality I made $199.67 for my writing efforts. (Clearly, the majority was from my new gig.) But look what happened in October with strictly writing and NO referrals. (Since I have two spots, I have two earnings reports.)

If you do the math you'll see that in just my third full month on Examiner I made almost $500! Combined with my monthly earnings from eHow, in October my grand total is just about $825!!!! And you know what that means..."Hey savings, we'll be back again, real soon!"

When I started this little thing I now call freelance writing my goal was to pay off one bill. I was so excited when I was able to do that with an ehow deposit of $26.75. Granted, it was a small bill. Now my goal is to pay the entire monthly credit card bill (which ranges between $1000-$1300 in a typical month) with just my freelance writing earnings. I hope to do it by March 2010.

I'll keep you posted!

PS. If you're wondering why I haven't been making as many blog posts as of late...now you know!

Related Links:
Earn Passive Residual Income on eHow.com (by a SAHM making $1300 a month...it's how I cracked the code)
Make real money writing for Examiner.com (part of my Make Money Monday series)


If it's not swine flu it's....

Thank goodness poor baby doesn't have swine flu. Not that anyone really thought she did. But the coughing and runny nose took us back to her pediatrician for about the 8th time this month.  I swear my daughter sees him more than she sees her grandparents. And everytime she welcomes him with her signature wave and "Bye-bye." 
This time it wasn't the throat. It's her ear...again. And it's bronchitis
Oh, and the best part is she finished antibiotic for a sinus infection on Friday, she woke up with the cough on Saturday. It's like her little body knows, "Haha, nothing is protecting me now...let me see what other ailment I can pick up."  
I did want to warn you all about what my pediatrician said...and please remember, this his advice not mine (although b/c of Olivia's history I'm going to follow it):
  • Get your child the seasonal flu shot
  • Get your child the H1N1 vaccine (he called it the worst "epidemic" he's seen)
  • Wash their hands often with wipes or soap and water. Limit the anti bacterial gel since it has alcohol in it 
  • Wash down toys often
While I refuse to force Olivia (and, quite frankly, myself) to live in a bubble called "home" I am going to try to limit the number of public places we go that could be infested with sick kids. I like taking her to indoor play areas, the library, and other places she can interact with children, but I'm going to cut back a little while this flu season. Although I think it's important to realize my daughter, and yours, can get sick anywhere...bringing a book home from the library, a restaurant high chair, a grocery cart, a dirt shoe that goes from the mall floor to your child's hands...on and on and on.

Have your kids been healthy so far this season? What's their/your best line of defense? Leave a comment below! 


Transitioning to One Nap (is tiring for mommy)

I've been sailing by since early spring enjoying two consistent and predictable 90 minute naps a day. I use nap time to write, to blog, to just have mommy-time. But about two weeks ago I put Olivia for her afternoon nap and she just wouldn't fall asleep. I blamed it on a fluke until the next day and the next day it happened again. You can see...she'll do anything to avoid her second nap, even brush her six seven teeth with two big-girl toothbrushes. 

 The weird thing was she was getting up from her first nap around 11 or 11:30am and not going back to sleep until 7pm.  I would, however, always put her in the crib, but she refused to fall asleep.  One day I was determined she would sleep. After two poops, a snack and two hours, she finally fell asleep.

After talking to a few friends I admitted I was in denial about what I knew all along....Olivia was trying to tell me she was ready to transition to one nap. But mommy wasn't ready...not at 14 months! According to all the books I had until at least 15 months and maybe, if I was lucky, which apparently I'm not, until 18 months.
So I reluctantly stopped fighting it and decided instead of putting her down at 9:30 am I'd keep her up as long as possible, trying to merge the two naps. My predicament, however, was when to feed her lunch. I decided I'd have to move it up temporarily until she got the hang of one nap...then I could push lunch and her nap back until around 12:30 or 1pm.  I also knew I had to keep her active...which meant being out of the house. The first day she stayed up until 11:30am but only slept an hour...thank you Verizon for making as much noise as possible outside her window. The next day she was up until 12:30pm and slept until 2:15pm and the same with day three.
Here's what I've noticed : she's getting tired earlier at night and sleeping longer at night. (Last night from 6:45pm to 7:45 am.) From everything I've read this is normal until her body gets into the swing of things. She also still does her normal tired signs around her former morning nap time. She's not cranky though, she just rubs her eyes and maybe yawns, but then it passes and she keeps on playing as normal.  While today was a tough day, she was cranky early...like 4:30 pm early...I debated putting her back down, but fought the urge. I don't want to flip flop going from one nap to two depending on the day. If after a week of one nap it seems like she's not ready for one afternoon siesta, I will move her back to the two nap schedule. But I have a feeling it's going to all work out.
What's your experience been dropping a nap - be it from 3 to 2 or 2 to 1? Leave a comment below and share your tips, insight and advice! 


Olivia's first make-over

Much to the dismay of both my daughter's grandmothers, I took her to get her hair trimmed last week. You can hardly notice a difference except that the strand that was 3 inches longer than the rest (see it there in the picture below??) has now been clipped and the neck line is now semi-straight. Her "bangs" are no longer covering her eye brows.
I thought taking her to get her hair cut was going to be a nightmare.  Moms of little boys I know say they dread it. But Olivia was a perfect little angel, in facts she was the star of the salon for the hour we were there. She just sat on my lap, soaked up all the attention, and got her hair trimmed like a little princess. When we went to leave all the girls said "Bye Olivia." Giving up her usually "Bye-Bye" in her best and sweetest little voice she responded, "Byyyyye!"


The Rainy Day Blues

Uh, I knew there was a reason I loved spring and summer more this year than ever before. The funny thing is I didn't realize it until just now.
I'm sitting here in my sweats, the rain's coming down, and I have my heat on. Oh, yeah and I've broken out the footie pj's for my daughter. You can see how bad it is for her: she's got her winter hat on, reading a picture-free book, and trying to figure this whole toddler thing out, too! Let's just say we have the rainy day blues.

In other words: we're bored out of our minds. Well, I can't speak for her, but I think that's what she's trying to tell me as she bangs on the sliding glass door and whines "ma-ma, ma-ma" over and over again. "Yeah, I know honey, I want to go out there too, but it's raining." She doesn't get it, she just looks at me and says "ba!"
Normally, I'd have a few tricks up my sleeve for a good ol' rainy day: the library, the indoor playground at the mall, the grocery store...knock out a chore at the same time, but the poor thing is sick too. I don't want to risk getting some other poor mom's child sick by selfishly taking her out of the house, just so I can get out of this boredom rut. So we're basically on home confinement for the next few days.
I mean how many times can I try to entice the girl to play with her babies, her bears, her balls? How many forts can you build with a 14 month old? How many Baby Einsteins can she watch (I normally have a limit of 1 per day)? How many times can she chase the dog around the coffee table? How many decks of cards can she play 52 pick up with?
So...it's official, we've got the rainy day blues.
I think I have it worse!
Please share your ideas with me for how I can entertain a runny-nosed 14 month old all day when it's rainy and cold outside!


Me and My Sewing Machine: New BFFs

I've spent more time with my sewing machine in the last few days than I have with my husband. It's partly his fault, he bought $12 suit pants and a $30 matching jacket at Target that need to be hemmed. For $12.99, I'll hem anything. But I've also had a date with the new playroom couch and a baby parrot.

A few weeks back while trying to figure out what my daughter would be for Halloween, I had the brilliant idea that we'd dress as a mom-baby duo...we opted to let dad in on the fun, too. I've seen lots of Halloween costume ideas for moms and babies, but when I remembered that my mom had a man and woman's pirate customs I settled on a parrot for my daughter.
If you've ever looked for a baby parrot costume you can stop...they're all pretty much lame-o. Sorry to be so blunt. So, I decided I'd make one. My mom made every single Halloween costume my sister and I ever wore so I thought I'd just follow in her tradition. (We'll see how long this lasts!) I looked online and found a homemade Halloween costume site that actually had about a dozen different versions of a parrot. I got some great ideas and went from there.
At first I started looking for a red fleece one piece to be the body, but I couldn't find what I was looking for. During a quick trip to the dollar store I spotted a red fleece shirt...for $1 that was right up my alley. But, no pants. I went across the street to Goodwill and what did I find but a .50 pair of red sweatpants...the only pair and they happen to be in Olivia's size! Then I went to Joann Fabrics and bought half a yard of half price fleece in red, blue, yellow and green. That's right I paid $7.53 for the entire costume. While I've been busy sewing my parrot, I informed my husband his job was to teach our 13 month old how to flap her wings...to which she picked up in about 5 minutes. (He always gets the easy jobs!) Here are a few pictures from a recent unfinished-costume fitting! The second one, you can see, features "The Flap."

The parrot project actually put a halt on a previous project...which I was happy to abandon, at least for the time being. Being thrifty, we bought a used sleeper couch off Craigslist for the playroom. Every intention was to cover it with a slip cover...it's U.G.L.Y. But silly me I didn't pay close enough attention to the arms and through my search for a slipcover only now realize I'd need a custom cover. Doesn't that defeat the purchase a thrifty purchase? So I went on my way making a cover out of two queen-size flat sheets that I bought for a total of $40...I was able to make three curtains out of extra material too. So while that project is about 80% done, the couch is now only half ugly and must wait for my little parrot!

Gee, I love my sewing machine...at least it's no longer covered with dust!


Where's your toes, your nose, you?

My kid is the smartest. No, seriously she is the smartest. She always turns her books right-side-up. She stabs the food with the fork (ok, so then she takes it off with the other hand and then feeds herself) and she even feeds the dog. She knew her tongue before any other body part. I like to quiz her non-stop just so I can see her stick it out as far as she can. But today she made me proudest for her hilarious answer to one simple question.

Where are your toes? Tickles her feet.
Where are your knees? Pats those chubby knees.
Where is your hair? Scratches her hair right above her ear.
Where is your nose? Points with one finger as if to say "shhh."
Where is Olivia? Turns both palms up, bends her elbows, and looks around the room looking for this Olivia person.

And that's why I'm a stay-at-home mom!


Moms: Stop Helping Other Moms

As a SAHM, a once-working mom, and a mom with no family closer than an hour away sometimes I have to rely on a friend to help me out on the babysitting front. Is that so horrible? Am I a bad mom for that? If I lived in Michigan, my babysitting friend might just be breaking the law for the favor!

I posted this on my Baltimore SAHMs Examiner site, but the ridiculousness of it is more than I can take so I'm re-posting it here...to see what you all think. I hope you get a good laugh because it's actually quite comical (and sad all at the same time!)

SAHMs: Stop Helping Other SAHMs

That's the message from Michigan officials to a mom who's helping a neighbor by watching her kids for an hour a day between the time she needs to leave for work and when the school bus picks up her children.

While Baltimore stay-at-home moms obviously don't need to go to work, don't we all need a little babysitting help once in a while? A trip to the grocery store made easier without the toddler tagging along, a quick child-free haircut, a doctor's appointment without kids running around the office.

As stay-at-home moms our children aren't in daycare. Often times, our only source of childcare is other moms or a helpful neighbor. In Michigan, apparently that's against the law. The state recently sent Lisa Snyder a letter telling her she's operating an unlicensed daycare by caring for her neighbor's children - even if it is only 5 hours a week. Under the state's law no one can watch unrelated children for more than four weeks throughout the year. While the law is set up to prevent people, including Ms. Snyder, from acting as a daycare and to protect children, this is going a bit far. Would it be worse if the children's mother got to work late, got fired from her job, and couldn't clothe, feed, or provide shelter for her children? Would it be worse if she left them home alone for an hour until the school bus came to pick them up?

So from a stay at home mom in Baltimore to the hard working moms with office jobs in Michigan (and elsewhere) we're all in this together because if anyone is going to help us out in a time of need, it's another mom. And a message to the Michigan's Department of Human Services: thanks for caring about the children, but don't you have bigger fish to fry?

It should be noted that this case has (finally) prompted Michigan's governor to request the head of the Human Services agency to work with legislators to get the state law changed.

As for now, it's unclear who will watch the children so their mother can get to work on time.

Who do you get to watch your children when you need an hour or so of mommy-time during the day? To weigh, in click here and leave a comment in the comment box.

Read more from the Baltimore SAHM Examiner (yours truly)

Read more from the Celebrity Kids Examiner (also yours truly) and please take note of the nifty new widget on the side of this blog... and finally, if you enjoy celebrity kids news, gossip, and alerts become a fan on Facebook. (PUH-LEAZZZEE I need fans!)


This can't be my child!

Of course, she's my child...by the number of strangers who comment on my mini-me I'm pretty sure I took home the right kid. But I have to admit, from her eating habits lately, I've been starting to doubt she can really be either of ours!

Both my husband and I come from large Italian families. If you know anything about Italians it's that we like to eat (and we have a little more hair than others). My daughter did get that trait (from my husband) she was even born with a small little patch of hair above her cute little butt crack. It's about as cute as a patch of hair in that lovely spot can be....I should report most of it has fallen out over the past 13 months. THANK GOD.

Anyway, back on track...her eating habits. They've been off lately and I'm not sure what's up. It used to be that she would eat anything I put in front of her...green, orange, brown whatever! But within the last few weeks her appetite has slowly waned. Today we went to a family birthday party and between 1-3:30 she had some pizza, a cup cake (please don't judge me...she had a banana and yogurt for breakfast, if that counts for anything), cheerios and part of a roll. When we got home I offered her some dinner around 5:30. She refused. I let her play for awhile thinking maybe she needed to work up an appetite. I offered dinner a few more times and she refused every time. She went to bed without eating much more than a few noodles, a couple of pieces of an orange and a sippy cup of milk. Worried sick over her lack of a dinner my husband was trying to help by doing a google search. What he found did give me a little reassurance. From what he found young toddlers between 12-16 months often times start getting very picky at mealtime. Several articles suggested looking not at what a child eats in a day, but more at what they consume over the course of the week. Some meals will be more than normal, others may be non existent. This is the point in time when kids are so interested in exploring their world they don't want to stop to eat. So, we shall see if she makes it through the night and what kind of breakfast she eats.

Have you had any trouble getting your baby to eat? Have they suddenly become picky? What did you do? Did it seem to be a phase that they outgrew and when???? Please help me and all the other moms who are facing this stomach turning trouble by leaving a comment!


The poor dog, horse snot, and Meetup.com

My daughter and my dog have had what I'd call an on-again-off-again relationship since she was born 13 months ago. At first my dog loved her..couldn't get enough...as is evident from this early picture. But once my dog figured out this little thing could get around, she realized the baby's not quite as cool any more! So at the moment they're taking a break...more like my dog keeps walking away, and my daughter is chasing after her.

So the other day I figured I'd have some mercy on the poor dog by giving her a (much deserved) break. I took my daughter to meet some new animals at a local farm and petting zoo. Now she wants a horse!

Seriously though Olivia had a ball at the farm. There was a pig which she couldn't really get a good look at because of the position of the fence. There were a half dozen or so billy goats which she thought were the best thing since...breastmilk and nilla wafers, and there were the horses. Which she adored, so much so that she put her little hand right up one of their nostrils. I guess she figured she had enough of her own snot, why not get some of his. Whatever, she loved it, giggled the entire time so it was totally worth it!

The farm is only a few minutes from my house and I never even realized it was there. I joined a mom and kids group on Meetup.com and this was one of the events. Joining the group is hands down the best thing I've done since staying home full time. Not only does my daughter get to meet and play with other kids, I've met lots of other local moms, all the activities are planned for us (I just RSVP) and most of them are free! There are meetup groups all over the country, so if you've over-done the library, the local park, and the playground at the local elementary school join a meetup group (and maybe you'll find yourself some horse slobber!).

How do you meet other SAHMs? Share your tips by leaving a comment below. But before you do...here are a few pictures from our farm adventure. Enjoy!


Move Over, Honey...There's a New Breadwinner

Write for Examiner and Be Known
Well, not exactly...at least not yet. But yes, I'm taking on even more freelance writing work (but hopefully not more than I can chew). After a few months as the Baltimore SAHMs Examiner for Examiner.com I've learned a few inside secrets. Armed with that knowledge I applied for a new spot...National Celebrity Kids Examiner.

Well, I'm three hours in and let me tell you my little plan is working out very nicely. I wanted to tell you all first, but my husband came home early today so I spilled the beans to him first (sorry, ladies!). But here it is...becoming a National Examiner is the way to go. At least that's my experience in my first few hours on the job. Why? you ask. Well for one, there's clearly a bigger audience. Second, my topic lends itself nicely to topical (or timely, if you will) events and headlines, and thirdly what I'm writing about appears to be highly searched. What's nice about that is since Examiner pays by the page view, I'm getting lots and lots of hits and my paycheck is going up, up, up. I've always thought Examiner.com was a great gig for SAHMs who want to earn extra money or just keep their hand in freelance writing, but it's actually turning into a very lucrative freelance writing gig. Who knows "Breadwinner" may be in my near future!

Interested in becoming an Examiner so you can make money writing what you know? Sign up!

Write for Examiner and Be Known

Don't want to write just want to read Celebrity Kids News? Subscribe to my email feed or follow me on Twitter


Step Away From the Wipes

CRASH! That's all I heard over the monitor when my daughter was supposed to be sleeping. Well, that's what I heard when the 10 minutes of babbling, giggling, and what I realized later was pure one-year-old-joy, suddenly stopped. What I realized later was that crash was the exclamation mark at the end of the "Now, look who's laughing Mommy!"

I ran up the steps followed by two or three others only to find my daughter reaching desperately over the side of her pack 'n play for the plastic wipe container now sitting squarely on the floor. We were staying at my in-law's beach house and like I always do I set the pack 'n play up right next to the bed. Apparently it was a little too close as she was able to somehow reach the wipes container. I threw the container (feeling lighter than normal) on the far side of the bed and then went to lay my sweet girl back down. Only then did I realize she'd ripped every last wipe out of the container and they now created a nice top sheet, if you will. The fitted sheet was soaked with wipe juice. I looked at her "Olivia Marie!" I said through the worst serious face I could muster. She looked up at me and just smiled. Afterall...she knows the rule for the wipe container: only one. I guess she got the last laugh that time. I went back down stairs laughing to myself and thinking about how much enjoyment she must have gotten out of pulling every last wipe out.

First it was the diapers, this time it was the wipes. I hope it's not the diapers' contents next!


Extreme Play Date

Well I survived...and so did my poor dog! I don't think she quite knew what she was getting into when we adopted her only four months before my daughter was born. But I remind her, she picked us licking, jumping, even peeing and yes, pooping at our feet on the floor of the shelter. We took her anyway...25 pounds over weight and all. But I digress...because both of us survived our first extreme play date.

Technically, it was our first play group. Six one year olds, six moms, two baby pools, a water and sand table, lunch, and a lack of bathing suits. I have to admit it was pretty stinkin' fun (pun intended...at least three of the babies pooped during the two hour ordeal).

We've only lived in our city for two years and when we moved here we didn't know a soul. Since then we've grown to love it meeting lots of friends, many, I'm sure will be lifelong friends. Some have kids, some don't. Perhaps my dearest friend, Christie, lives just up the block. Olivia and I are so blessed to see them at least once at day. Christie and I have always said it's nice we have each other, and the kids have each other, but we'd like to form a play group. Quite frankly two kids isn't a play group, that's a play date. We've invited other moms we meet to get together, but for one reason or another it never works out. Then about two weeks ago I heard about meetup.com. Turns out it's a great place to meet people with similar interests. I joined a mom and kids group for toddlers. I took Olivia to our first meet up and she had a blast. So did I! We met lots of other moms and babies. Two of the moms expressed interest in starting a play group since our children were all born in the summer of 2008. One of them also knew a few other moms who might be interested and I invited Christie and her son. We planned our first weekly play group for yesterday and I volunteered to host it.

The beauty of it was all the kids are within about 3 months of each other (4 within 2 weeks), all are on the same nap schedule (making planning a time easier), all are walking (that was part of the criteria), three live on my side of town, three on the other side (we'll rotate week to week), most of the moms are SAHMs, one or two work from home part time, none of the moms knew all of the other moms, but everyone knew at least one other mom.

We had two baby pools set up, Olivia's sand and water table, and every toy imaginable displayed in the living room. The kids had a blast and the moms did too! I think we all felt great when we left knowing the kids were all going to take wonderful afternoon naps and being assured that yes, green chunky poop is normal and so is not being able to say "mama and daddy plus 3 words by 13 months" as some baby books set as a milestone.

As for the dog, I put her on crumb clean up duty and she was in her glory...

More Tips on Starting a Play Group
Meetup.com Helps Local Moms Meet
Easy Places to Meet Other SAHMs

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

New Mama's Store