Saturday, August 28, 2010

Our First Trip to the Zoo

This past weekend, Abbey and I went to the zoo for the very first time. Since Mike was working, my mom decided to come along. Although Abigail didn't have the slightest clue what was going on, I had a blast with her. She even rode the carousel and the train (which gave her the BIGGEST smile!). My mom bought her a stuffed baby elephant from the gift shop as well to remember her first zoo adventure.

PS. It was 90 degrees with about 75% humidity, so please don't mind me in these pictures. I look like a wreck.

We rode in the stationary chariot on the carousel, but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to take some pictures on one of the animals.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our Latest Project

I was just thinking recently that I've failed to post much about the renovations we've been doing to the house. While most of the projects were postponed for several months after Abigail was born, we've once again started tackling them as best we can with a very mobile child in the house.

The latest renovation has involved removing the hideous 70's flooring out of the hallway connecting our kitchen, garage, basement, and back entryway (see photos below for proof of its hideous-ness). We had recently painted this hallway in Cincinattian Hotel Carl Tan by Valspar (which is a color we've used as an accent in several other rooms of our home) to tie into the brown/chocolate color scheme in the adjoining kitchen which made the pale yellow flooring stick out even more.


Completed project:

Now I need to come up with some ideas to decorate the walls in this area and we desperately need to replace the almost non-existant lighting fixture. This just proves that everytime we cross one home project off the list, we add several more.

Ahhh, the joys of homeownership...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Mesh Feeder

If you don't have a mesh feeder for your pre-toddler, I highly recommend getting one. We started using one for the first time this past week and it's been a hit! It works great as a teether with cold fruits, but it also teaches your child how to bite down on foods (even though Abbey is still a gummy bear - no teeth here!).

I started with bananas. Since they are so soft, I thought they would work well to get Abbey used to the feeder. WARNING - they are VERY messy! Lesson learned - never serve her bananas without a bib on.

I then moved on to apples a few days later. They kept her busy for quite some time while Mike and I ate dinner. (Note the appearance of a bib this time. See, I'm a quick learner.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Seven Months Old!

First let me say that {omigosh} I cannot get Abigail to sit still for more than 2 seconds at a time to get a picture of her lately! The entire time I was attempting to take her 7 month pictures, she was either trying to crawl off the glider or stand up on it. After about 10 minutes of this, I flat out just gave up. I apologize in advance for the poor quality pictures (I won't even tell you how many I had of the wall or the floor when I dove like a mad woman to keep her from falling off the darn chair...).

Here's what Abbey's been up to over the past month:
  • She can now army crawl and has just recently started rocking back and forth on her hands and knees.
  • She can pull herself to stand (even though she then falls back over a few seconds later).
  • She can say "momma" but I don't think she grasps that it means me yet.
  • While shopping, she can now sit in the child seat in the shopping cart. No more carrying her around in the infant seat!
  • She has started attempting to form words when she babbles.
  • She has tried just about every Stage One food out there. We've tried avocado, carrots, zucchini, bananas, apples, oatmeal, cucumber, summer squash, and broccoli. We will be starting pears, peaches, and green beans next.
  • At her 6 month appointment, she measured 26" long and weighed in at 16.4 lbs.
  • She is now moving into size 3 diapers - goodbye Swaddlers, hello Cruisers!
  • She is beginning to transition out of size 0-3 clothing and is wearing more 3-6 month outfits.
  • She now bathes in the "big" tub while playing with her tub toys and the bubbles. No more bath seat!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tightening Our Purse Strings

It's official - Mike and I have come to a long-term decision in regards to me being a SAHM.

These past two months have been a trial run of sorts to determine if my staying home to raise Abigail would be financially feasible and we also felt that we needed a period of time in which to assess our level of comfortability with the overall situation. After applying to some odd jobs here and there and receiving many "thanks, but no thanks" letters, we both feel that this is some sort of innate sign that our current situation is meant to be - ultimate kismet. After all, I've been attempting to secure a new job for the past (almost) 2 years now without any success. Although I feel somewhat dismayed to have worked so hard to earn my degree only to find myself not using it, I have made peace with being a SAHM for the forseeable future. Knowing that Mike now feels the same, too, after his initial apprehension back in May, makes me feel even more assured that we are making the right choice for our family.

Once we had discussed our long-term plans for our family, it was then time to review our budget to see where we stood in terms of meeting our financial goals for the year. Although we had planned them around my unpaid maternity leave earlier in the year, we had not forseen that we would lose my income only a few short months later. As a result, it's fair to say that we will fall significantly short of meeting each of these goals. Almost halfway through the year, the only two goals that we have successfully completed are opening a 529 Plan for Abbey and increasing our life insurance policies. Saving for Christmas, retirement, our next home downpayment, and rebuilding our e-fund from the portion used on maternity leave will all fall short of our projected goals. Our debt repayment plan has also suffered.

It's time to get serious if we want this to work for the long run. Again, the last two months were a trial run in every sense of the word. While we cut our budget slightly, we didn't make any drastic changes in order to see exactly how our finances would be impacted and how much of a sacrifice my staying home would actually be. It's certainly been a learning process for the two of us. Starting today, we've entirely revamped the old budget and we've decided to enact a "spending freeze" of sorts. If a purchase can't be worked into the budget - like the new tires for my Explorer that we so desperately needed - then we can't (and won't) buy it.

I'm interested to see how it will go for the first few months. I am convinced, however, that this will pay off (pardon the pun) in more ways than we can imagine. If we want to continue to add to our family soon, it's going to become a necessity that we stash away as much cash as possible.

It's our family's own version of the Great Recession of 2010!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Homemade Baby Food = Success!

As you may recall from some of my previous posts, Mike and I were waiting until after Abigail's 6 month pediatrician appointment to start her on solids. After her appointment on July 21st, we got the go-ahead from her doctor and started her on organic oatmeal the very next morning (she's been getting organic rice cereal in her bottle for reflux since 4 months so I decided to skip it as a solid).

Turns out, she loved it! She learned to open her mouth for the spoon very quickly. I was pretty darn impressed by my little monkey.

Since she always seems the hungriest first thing in the morning, I decided that breakfast was an ideal time to start her on solids. I kept her on oatmeal only as a breakfast meal for the obligatory 3 day period. She didn't seem to have any issues with it so it has now become our regular breakfast food along with her bottle. Once we hit the 7 month mark and she has tried just about every fruit there is, I'll begin to mix various fruits with her oatmeal in the morning as well.

In the meantime, I made a trip to Whole Foods to pick up some quality organic fruits and veggies to begin making meals for my freezer stash. Abbey's pediatrician had mentioned that there is no longer a reason to start babies on vegetables only and he gave us the freedom to start with any type of food we wanted. Basically, his only recommendation was to just have fun experimenting with her meals.

From my first shopping trip to Whole Foods, I was able to pick up all of this for a grand total of $5.50:

Since I personally love avacados, I decided that I would start there as Abbey's first fruit - yes, avacados are fruit, not a veggie.

I then moved on to pureeing the squash.

And lastly, the bananas.

Abigail's favorite out of the three was definitely the bananas!

About a week later, I decided to run to Whole Foods again to pick up some more food to increase my freezer stash. I got the following for $13.30:

I bought the baby carrots instead of regular carrots with the thought that it will take less time to chop them up since they are already pre-cut. Eh. I think it would have been much easier to just chop up an entire carrot and there would have been significantly less waste as a bag of baby carrots takes about 1.5 batches to make. By the time I got around to the second batch, the carrots were visually less fresh. I would have preferred to buy just enough carrots as needed so that I could make them in one batch right away and be done with it.

All-in-all, I've found making my own baby food to be very enjoyable and extremely cost effective. Aside from the start-up costs, I'm able to purchase low cost organic fruits and veggies that I feel good about serving to Abigail. I will never have to agonize over the label on a can of baby food trying to determine what exactly is in the food that my daughter will consume. Even though I've incurred around $110 in start-up costs for this endeavor, the fact that I'll plan to make my own food for our next two hypothetical children will more than make up for those costs. I'd also really like to branch out from Whole Foods and hit up some local farmers markets before the summer ends. That way, not only will I be feeding Abbey food that I can feel good about, but I'll also help to support the local economy as well!

It's totally win-win.

Enjoying the Pool

The best part about being a SAHM this summer is that we've gotten to spend a lot of time swimming at my MIL's pool (as have all the rest of her grandkids).

Abigail's been having a blast! I've been considering enrolling her for baby swim lessons as she seems to love water and isn't afraid of splashing herself in the face.

Here's a few pictures of Abbey and Grandma M. from this past week: