Weaning Worries

As happy as it makes me to have been able to breastfeed my son for 10 months and hopefully a year, I am not prepared to nurse a toddler or older child.  Not that I would judge any mother who wants to, or doesn’t want to. I think breastfeeding is great, for Ike and me (for now), but maybe not everyone (for any amount of time).  I wanted to breastfeed him to help he stay healthy and to keep him as close to me as I could, I wasn’t trying to start any movements or uprisings.  Honestly, some breastfeeding mothers and alum are a bit too pushy on the subject in my opinion.  Nothing is for everyone after all.  I wouldn’t judge any mother for choosing not to breastfeed, it’s hard!  And there is a lot of things that could get in the way.

Ahem

Excuse me as I step off of my ‘nonjudgmental soap box’ and back to my actual problem.

I am still nursing Ike.  I am also still pumping diligently for his main nutritional needs.  It is definitely still exhausting.  We are 10 months in, and to be honest, I never thought we’d make it this far.  But with Ike’s first birthday rapidly approaching, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, a light that is not clouded by formula just yet.  After all of this work, effort, exhaustion, tears, and anxiety, I would very much like to continue without formula until Ike can obtain all of his nutrition from food and cow’s milk.

There are still lots of times when I worry about my supply and his needs.  Is he getting enough? Is he still hungry?  Why won’t he eat more solid food? Should I let him have another bottle from the freezer? How much is left in the freezer? Is it enough to last us until November?

So many questions, so much uncertainty.  I didn’ t know this would be so hard.  But it is hard.  And it’s a commitment like none I have ever made.

Then I look at Ike snoozing in my arms at night before bed and I think, this is the best feeling ever.  And it’s worth all of the worry and troubles and anxiety.

Ike’s an “older baby” now in breastfeeding speak.  Which means he is capable of asking for milk when he needs it, and capable of waiting (for a short time) to be fed.  And can be distracted until it is convenient for nursing.

When he’s hungry or feeling anxious and wants to nurse, Ike taps my chest as if knocking on a door.  “Hello? Mommy’s boobies? I thirsty”

When I do nurse him, he occupies his busy mind and hands by playing in my hair and fiddling with the clasp on my nursing bra or playing peek a boo with my shirt.  He still gets distracted occasionally with loud  noises or televisions or people talking, but he’s more or less past the latch on/latch off phase thank goodness!

Nevertheless, I think I want to wean him, pretty soon after his first birthday.  That general desire is as far as I’ve gotten.  Beyond that, there is no real exit strategy.  Do I just take the bottles away and give him cow’s milk in a sippy cup on November 23rd?  Do I start putting breast milk in sippy cups earlier?  Even though I know he spits the stuff out?  Can I bear to see even a drop of my precious liquid gold dribble down his onesie?  Do I still want to nurse him at night before bed? Will he magically start sleeping through the night at one year eliminating the need for the 3am feeding?  Doubtful.  If I do manage to transition him to cow’s milk in a sippy cup during the day will my boobs know that they are only needing to produce milk in the evenings?

There are countless resources out there for new mothers just learning to breastfeed, but I have come across very few on how to transition to toddlers and wean and partially wean.  Will this all just sort of work itself out?

I think maybe it’s time to put some serious thought and planning into this transition period.  Maybe next month.  Or maybe at the end of the year.  Maybe I’m not quite as ready to wean as I thought.  We are good right now.

 

*This post has been linked to One Project at A Time.

Nola Visit

We went to New Orleans this weekend.  We haven’t been to visit in quite a while, and I missed my family and we all missed the food.  And we are out of blackened seasoning.

We only stayed on day, but we managed to cram all the important stuff in.  We didn’t make it up to Hammond to see my nieces and nephews because they were sick with strep throat, so I’ll have to wait again to see little Selena (pout).

I did however, finally catch up with my cousin Delina and her family this trip.  They had us over to the house and we chatted and ate some phenomenal barbecue from her husband Web.  I ate too much.  Then we went to dinner at Dragos.  Because, well, New Orleans.

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Oh, also before we went to eat barbecue, we went to eat Beignets.  It was Ike’s first taste.  I do believe he is now hooked, like the rest of us.

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After Beignets, Barbecue, and seafood, everyone was pretty beat, stuffed, in food comas.  We crashed at my dad’s and got up early to go to church.  Gabby was a little upset, I forgot to tell her we were going to church, and she only had a t-shirt to wear the next day.  I told her it was fine, that it was game day and everyone would be wearing jerseys anyway.  I was right.  I miss my Nola.

When I was a kid, 11am mass would always be cut short on Sundays that the Saints played at noon.  Because if the priest wasn’t done by 11:45, pretty much everyone left.

After church we went to our favorite breakfast spot.  And had the most phenomenal breakfast as always.  And also, libations.  The one with the straw is Ike’s.

 

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Short trip, but splendid to see everyone. I hope we can find the time to visit again soon, and finally meet baby Selena!

 

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Ike on the way home.  Well, until people came and took away our spare seats.

Would you please sit your butt down?

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Um no thank you.

Ike is a very busy baby.  Like constantly, even when he’s dead tired and his eyes are drooping, he is still on the move.

I can sit Ike down in the middle of the floor with no less than 4 toys to play with, and by the time I stand up he is off! Towards, crumbs on the floor, the nearest piece of furniture to pull up on, pretty much anything that is not a toy is appealing. Especially including, but not limited to, the dishwasher, the stove (only when turned on), shoes, purse straps, window blinds, phones, remotes, and at least 3 day old super puffs hiding conspicously out of reach of the vacuum cleaner, but not out of reach of tiny 9-month old popeye arms.

The other day I was attempting to take Ike’s monthly photo.  You know the sickeningly cute ones that every mommy takes with the adorable sticker that says “X months” and is decorated with trucks, bunnies, princess crowns, bow ties, etc?  Yeah we do that.  And we fill in stats on a chalkboard.  Our stickers have mustaches on them, fyi.

Anyway, Ike was all dressed in his plain white onesie and I was trying to stick the sticker on his belly.  But he did not want the sticker on his belly.  He wanted the sticker in his mouth.  His motor skills are improving rapidly, because before I could get the sticker smoothed down, he could lift up the loose corner and rip the whole thing off.

With the sticker finally attached, I put Ike on the floor and setup the little chalkboard next to him.  I walked THREE WHOLE STEPS to the table to grab the camera and Ike was on his belly with the chalkboard in his mouth.  About 2 seconds later, on his back with the chalkboard above his head.  Another second, the chalkboard goes gliding across the floor and Ike is floor swimming/scooting furiously behind it.

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After these attempts at taking the photo.  I moved the sticker, laid the board on the floor and got this.

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and then

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Ike, this is how you will be remembered at 9 months old.  Incredibly stubborn and unable to sit still!  Wow this kid may have his father’s face but he acts just like his mother.  Stop it already!  And sit your butt down!

September Savings Challenge Week 3

This week’s challenge was to trim the grocery shopping budget.  I used to be (pre-baby Ike) pretty good at going to several stores to catch the sales on items.  We have fallen into a sort of slump where I go do major shopping once a week at where ever is close by, then hitting Publix on the way home 2-3 times a week.

Average grocery bill:  $200 a week!

Average amount of food wasted:  Way too much!

I’ve been practicing for this week’s challenge since the beginning of the month, since to me, this one has been the most difficult behavior to change.  We aren’t great at planning, and sometimes we have extras at the house, and sometimes we just want to go out.  So and so is in town, the food trucks are here and it’s beautiful, OMG I want pizza!  Things come up.  I don’t know who is going to be all about the watermelon or salad, and who is going to be on a straight carb loading diet lest all the produce will go to waste.

Anyway, blah blah blah Woe is me.  Boo hoo.  To the plan! My goal is to cut the weekly bill in half.  Which seems extreme, but I mean $200 a week in groceries for a family of 3.25 is a bit excessive.  $100 should more than cover it.

I pulled the sale ads for both Kroger and Publix via Southernsavers.com and used the handy coupon matchup tool.  Then I did some research on Costco pricing.  I go back and forth on warehouse club shopping.  It seems like everything is a great deal, until I have a doubled coupon with a B1G1 sale and then I end up with free things.  But, research has shown (both mine and around the web) that organic meat and produce from Costco is usually the best deal, provided you can eat all of it.

That said, I found this out about a week and half ago and rushed over to Costco to buy organic chicken breasts and some organic blueberries.  $142 later, I had a watermelon, chicken, mexican coke, a pallet of LaCroix, prepared chicken wings, and wine and I don’t even remember what else.  So yes, I had saved about $4 on the chicken and $1 on the watermelon.  Then then spent another $100 so my net savings for that visit was -$95.

Take 2 this weekend.

Costco Visit Saturday

Spent $48

Bought:

  • 4 lbs Organic Ground Beef
  • 4 lbs kiwifruit
  • 2 lbs strawberries
  • gogo squeeze organic applesauces
  • dozen 15 oz cans of organic tomato sauce

The strawberries are already gone.  I used 1lb of beef to make chili, and froze the rest.  We use tomato sauce in Spanish rice, soups, spaghetti, et al so 12 cans will be used pretty quickly.  The cost worked out to be $0.56 per can.  For some perspective, Walgreens is running a special this week with an in-ad coupon for 2/$1 8oz cans of tomato sauce.  I think Costco is winning.

Then there was our regular grocery shopping.  I made a list, I clipped, printed, and electronically added coupons.  I made careful notes on what size of what to buy.  Here’s how we did. (Ike helped of course, by taking a nap in the carrier so I could focus).

Publix Visit Sunday

Spent: $54

Bought:

  • beans – pinto, kidney, and refried
  • hominy
  • onions
  • taco seasoning – three packages with a coupon
  • gallon of organic milk
  • ranch mix
  • herbs – mint and cilantro
  • Super Puffs – Ike’s favorite snack with B1G1 coupon
  • lemons
  • yogurt
  • cantaloupe
  • canned tomatoes
  • dish soap

With all of that, I made:

Chicken Tikka Masala via Skinny Taste

We had – rice, chicken, spices, sour cream on hand

Chili via an old Weight Watchers book

We had – nothing on hand but I really wanted chili and canned beans and tomatoes are pretty inexpensive

Will make later this week:

Salmon and roasted vegetables

We have – Salmon, Potatoes, Vegetables on hand already

Three multiple serving meals plus a little stock piling and fresh produce for snacking.  Our grocery total for the week was $103.  Pretty close to my target!  We are still eating leftovers and I will make fish tomorrow to switch things up.

 

Nine Months Old

Ike is nine months old.  That means that I have officially had to share him for as long as I had him to myself in my belly.  What a milestone to have reached.

He’s a very independent nine months too.  That makes it just a little bit sadder I think.  He will play on his own in his crib or playpen when he wakes up from a nap.  As soon as he can get himself to his feet at whatever piece of furniture is closeby, he takes off away from his supervisors.  He loves to feed himself, even though half of the food ends up on the floor (or in his diaper or in his neck rolls).

Ike’s nine month Stats (via A Kid’s World Peds)

Weight: 20lbs 3oz
Height: 29 and 3/4 inches
Hair Length: Requiring a headband for hot days.
Clothing Size: 6-12mos, or 9mos

Ike can do:

  1. Pull up to standing on the couch, crib, playpen, chair, kitchen cabinets, dresser, and tub.
  2. Feed himself (pancakes, chicken, puffs, rice, avocado, banana, popcicles, smashed beans, smashed peas, sweet potato, etc).
  3. Give super awesome slobbery open mouth kisses, to people and also people inside of electronic devices (the picture of the baby in my phone, grandma facetimed on the computer) and also stuffed animals.
  4. Army scoot/land swim but not crawl.  He’s gotten quite effient at arm only, legs partially helpful, belly scooting lately.  Mostly this mode of transportation is only used to reach a chair or other ledge to stand up.
  5. Walk with one handed assistance.  Last month Ike really needed two hands on someone or something to balance.  This month he can take numerous steps holding only one’s finger.
  6. Open cabinets.  Um hello amazon.com  I need to place an order for door latches (and gates).  Prime eligible two day shipping please. thanks.

Ike is probably just weeks away from full fledged walking (maybe even less!).  I am told that after the first steps are taken, there is a snowball effect from babyhood into toddler in rapid succession.  I want to document the delightful smushy, chunky, pinch-worthy baby Ike for just a little bit.  Before he becomes a lean mean toddler machine.

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hese thighs!

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Popeye arms

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hubby little feet that won’t fit into baby shoes

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All the hairs

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These cheeks!

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Diaper butt

Dear Ike,

What a joy you have been this nine months, not just to me, but to everyone you meet.  Although sharing you with the world is hard for me, you just love everyone so much I cannot keep you all to myself as much as I’d like to.  You melt hearts left and right.  Your family adores you and they travel far and wide to spend time with you.  Your grandmothers miss you greatly when they are away.  Your daddy hurries home from even his most favorite past times to see you.  You are ever so special to every Salinas, Thompson, Spearman, and Harrison out there.  We love you dearly.

Love mama.

September Savings Challenge Week 2

Just a little off the top.

So we have a budget now.  And it’s pretty easy to see where we are throwing some money away.  This week I hit the low-hanging fruit of the budget.  Utilities mostly.

1. Direct TV

I noticed when I was inputting previous billing amounts for our new budget that our Direct TV bill had jumped, twice in the last six months.  Our one year “trial” package increased in price and Direct TV began charging us for NFL Sunday ticket that was supposed to be free for this year according to our negotiations at this time last year.  I had Isaac call to complain.

Result.  They credited us the two payments made for NFL sunday ticket and lowered our package by about $40 a month.

Savings for September. Since the credit will be on this bill the total is $82, down from $235, so a net savings for the month of $153.  Woohoo!

2.  Comcast

We use Comcast for internet, because AT&T was much slower at the time we switched to Direct TV for satellite.  I’m not sure if that is still the case.  Also at the time, it was cheaper to bundle internet and phone service ($45/month) that to just subscribe to internet alone ($60/month) so we bundled.  Even though we do not have a home phone.  Apparently the bundle expired, a while ago, and the bill has crept up to over $100 a month.  For internet.  What?  I called comcast, to just subsribe to internet.

Result. They bundled me again, this time with basic cable for the rate of $40 per month.  I’ve set a reminder in my calendar to call them again next September to rebundle so hopefully we don’t see a steady increase in the bill.  We do have a television in the spare room that has no satellite box, so we could I guess hook it up to the cable now.  Eventually.  This is “save money month”, not “home improvement month”.

Savings for September.  The bill was reduced from $111 to $55.  A net savings for this month and months going foward of $56.

3. Georgia Power

We waste a lot of power.  I am mostly the cuplrit here.  I leave lights on all the time. I  leave devices plugged in all the time.  Chargers not connected, curling irons, blow dryers, etc.  Then there’s the matter of the OMG HOT SUMMER IN THE SOUTH thermostat running on overdrive.  Our A/C unit is getting close to it’s life limit I think (quick knock on some wood it’s still 90 degrees out!) and it’s full of homemade bandages.  Thank heaven my husband is an electrical engineer.  Anyway.  We now have the thermostat set to a comprimising 74 degrees, which is really more like 72 once it’s dark.  It’s comfortable in the house usually, maybe a little warm in the afternoon when the sun is at its peak.  Tolerable though.  And there’s fans everywhere that can be run in case it gets too warm in a particular room.

Result.  TBD the Georgia power bill usually comes towards the end of the month.

4. The Westin

We stayed the Westin back in July for a friends’ wedding and did not have the best experience.  I complained to the hotel and detailed our disappointements.  As remuneration, they comped $98 from our bill.  I intend to argue an airfare we purchased last month as well.  We bought a last-minute/one-way fare ($$$$!!) for a flight that had already been cancelled.

September Savings.  $98 credit.

The total for the week is $307!  I have booked our condo in Tybee Island with these savings.  Next week, I’ll tackle our variable expenses (re: food, gas, random spending, etc).

See more on the challenge at southernsavers.com and say hi to Jenny!

September Savings Challenge (Southern Savers)

Once upon a time, there was a crazy coupon girl who lived in my house.  The crazy coupon girl then met her soul mate and added men’s razors and old spice and real butter to her lists, but stayed true to her couponing roots.  Then the little crazy couponing baby was born and the coupons all immediately expired, or were unintentionally recycled, or were discarded unremoved from the Sunday paper.

When I was pregnant with Ike I was all like “oh yeah, I’m gonna coupon diapers and stuff and it won’t add that much costs to our monthly budget having a baby, I got this, I’ve been couponing since before couponing was cool!” What? Couponing still isn’t cool? Oh.

Fast forward a year or so and there is totally a Costco sized box of wipes in Ike’s closet that weren’t even on sale when I purchased them!  Why? Because I cannot seem to get my coupons together when I finally have the time to notice that someone is having a good sale on wipes.  And even if I do get both the coupons and the sales in line, by the time I haul my ass to the store they are out of the sale sized wipes because, thank you TLCs extreme couponing!  Now everyone knows how to do this! And we have to go to Costco anyways because, wine.

I want to coupon again, I just started paying a tiny bit of attention to our grocery/Costco/Target spending and HOLY CRAZINESS BATMAN!  Time to reel it in, nobody should be spending $160 in Target when the only things on the list are milk and baby oatmeal.

I came across this article on Southernsavers.com the other day (cause I was perusing the sale ads I had no intention of going to the stores to get the deals) and I felt like this was something we could use right now.  With a kid in college and two car notes and Ike getting ready to start some daytime school-type activity soon, we probably need to pull together some mad money to stash away for unexpected (but sort of expected) expenses.  We had a pretty nice emergency slush fund just before summer started, I’m not entirely sure what happened but it’s grown a little thin.

Right so the challenge, is to save $1000 from your budget in the month of September.  That is no peanuts!  Jenny over at Southernsavers gives us a lot of tips for shaving money off several different categories.  We are indulging quite a lot in most of these, so I think it would make a pretty big difference if we corraled some of these things at least for a month.  Let’s do this, then I can pay for our trip to the beach with the money we save!

Some of Jenny’s suggestions:

Dining Out
Clothing and Miscellaneous Expenses
Grocery Budget
Meal Planning
Eat off the Pantry
Carpooling
Packing Lunches

In order to skim money from a budget, it’s probably a good idea for one to have a budget in which to skim.  This was probably one of our biggest problems.  We had a hypothetical budget that drew from a lot of projections about family life and living expenses with a college student and an infant.  That was put together before college started and before the infant arrived.  It was never properly updated to reflect, you know, real life!  Until now.

I tried YNAB during a free trial and also read up on Quicken software, but in the end, I think that good old Excel works best for us.  And it’s also free (or rather already paid for).  Here’s how our budget is setup, minus the actual dollar amounts because, boundaries!  See I am learning, sort of.

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Each month I will copy over and adjust as needed the projected amounts, and then populate the payments as they are made.  This way I can see what I have already paid as well as how close we came to our target.  And it’s color coded for my personal enjoyment.  I also have a thing for colored ink pens and highlighters.

In the coming weeks I will add some posts about what we are doing to squeeze this new fangled budget to save up for our trip to Tybee Island.  Yay!