About Me

My photo
I have two kids - a girl and a boy - and live in north-central Minnesota, land of snow and ice. Well, for 9 months of the year, that is. I work full-time for a local government, and on my "free time" I enjoy cooking, baking, hanging out with my kiddos, and RELAXING.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I love knowledge

I love to know how things work.

Always have, always will. Which is probably why I love Google so much. (You can read about how much I love Google here, here, here, here, and here. Obsess much?) Google has the answer to all my random questions:

-How do noses get "stuffy?"
-What causes thunder?
-How do emergency vehicles change traffic lights?

No joke, I have googled all those things.

Now imagine, if you will, how having a baby has challenged me.

I never know anything.

It's a real dilemma. My love for knowledge has created a real problem here. I need to know what to do, what to try, in any given situation. I need to research and compile. Experiment. It's not enough to just say, "Oh, I guess the traffic lights are just programmed to do that" or "your nose just gets stuffy when you have a cold." I need to know what actually happens. Even though sometimes I can't understand it. (Like you know how much I love Apollo 13? Try googling the phrase "gimbal lock." Good luck with that.)

So how does this play out? It means I read. Voraciously. When Natalie was born we read Baby Wise. So happy we did. And I have spent countless hours on a blog reading about its implementation from one mom's perspective (see here). I read a week-by-week baby book, and the What to Expect version for infants. I'm currently reading The Wonder Weeks and let me tell you, is that ever applicable! (We are in Wonder Week 12 right now, if you've ever read it.)

Mostly this knowledge is beneficial. Why is Natalie so clingy/fussy this week, and why won't she nap? Answer: it's a wonder week. How did Natalie sleep through the night (10 hours) at 8 weeks, and never look back? Answer: Baby Wise.

Sometimes though, it's not. For example, nap time. I have spent hours researching Natalie's 45-minute naps. Hours. I have tried every suggestion out there, and grown more and more frustrated when mother after mother said, "Oh, this worked for me!" and I struck out repeatedly. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. So one day, about two weeks ago now, I decided OH WELL.

I have tried every suggestion with no luck and decided to just give up. I cannot force her to sleep. All I can do is provide opportunities. And as she is generally such a happy baby, and so content even though she barely naps, I've decided to just go with it. Her personality is really coming out: she now knows it's nap time, and she doesn't like it. We'll go into the bedroom and I'll start to swaddle her, and she'll start to scream. And it's not the swaddle. It's the nap. We used to sing "Jesus Loves Me" before nap times (because I read infants thrive on routines) until it got to the point where she'd start crying when I'd start singing, because she knew what was coming.

What a smart little stinker.

So while it seems like knowledge has failed me this round, I would say there are some things I have taken away from my experience. Primarily is that I know my baby better. When she wakes up in the middle of her naps, I can usually tell whether she just needs some help getting back to sleep or whether she's just going to lie in her crib and scream until she gets up. Six weeks of four challenging naps a day will do that to you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

time sure flew

How is it Thanksgiving in three days?

I swear it should still be September. I think having a baby worked a real number on me, because I can't believe there's snow on the ground and Christmas decorations out already.

Usually I love this time of year. I guess I shouldn't say "usually," because I do still love it, it's just that it caught me by surprise. Normally I'm counting down the days to the holidays, and this year they snuck up on me.

It's almost Thanksgiving, for crying out loud! What happened to August and September and October? It's like those three months never happened; like they just passed me by. I feel like I missed out on a beautiful fall while stuck in a never-ending cycle of poopy diapers and bottles of formula.

What happened to Halloween and Columbus Day? I missed them. The one thing about working every day is that you don't lose track of time. You go to work, say, "Oh, today is Tuesday, October 18th" and the next day you go to work and say, "Oh, today is Wednesday, October 19th." There's none of this, "What day is it?" Or even worse, "What day of the week is it?"

Well, I'm back at work now, so I suppose that won't happen to me anymore. And as much as I love my little pumpkin, it's nice to be back out in the world.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

time for another plug

It's been a while since I did a plug on my bank's Christmas Club savings account, and with Christmas right around the corner, it's probably about time I do another one.

Who: Darren and Alaina
What: A check for a little over $1,300
When: This week
Where: In the mail
Why: To buy Christmas presents
How: By taking advantage of the Christmas Club savings account

Reminds you of elementary school, no?

So this week I got my annual disbursement of our Christmas Club savings account. We have set up an automatic transfer from our checking account of $25 every Monday. Who misses $25 a week?

Not me. (Although now it's $50 a week because we set up a savings account for Natalie's college fund, too. And it's a lot easier to miss $50 a week than $25. But that's another story.)

Thirteen hundred dollars is a lot of money. No, we do not spend that much on Christmas. In fact, our budget is almost a thousand dollars less. But I swear somehow every year there's hardly any left. Hopefully this year we will save more of it, since Darren and I have decided not to buy presents for each other, or for Natalie. We all will get enough as it is.

But even still, it's nice to have that little nest egg around this time of the year. Whatever we don't spend we throw back in our savings. We're always buying something; I'm sure we'll find a use for it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How I saved $228.83

I went to Target today with the most massive list ever, and the biggest stack of coupons ever.

And boy did I save. Remember how I told you about my Target REDcard and my pharmacy rewards here? Well I knew I wanted to take advantage of my extra 5% off so I planned a huge shopping trip. And also, since it's now way harder to get to Target than it used to be, I try to limit my trips.

I saved $228.83 today at Target. That's a lot of money. Here's how it broke down:

-I had $93.24 in coupons (the majority of which were for formula)
-I got $5.43 in free products by taking advantage of Target promotions
-I saved $30.16 by using my REDcard (5% pharmacy rewards, 5% regular REDcard discount)
-And I had two $50 prepaid Visa gift cards. One I got from taking a USBank survey about our USBank credit card. (I thought it was only $20, so I was SUPER excited when it rang up at $50 at the register.) The other I got from participating in BlueCross BlueShield's pregnancy program. All I had to do was talk to a nurse every couple weeks, and fill out a survey at the end. Plus I got a free pregnancy book out of the deal, valued at about $40.

Some of the best deals:

Pampers wipes, regular price $2.39
-$1 Target coupon
-$0.50 manufacturer coupon
Final price: $0.89

Gerber Good Start formula, 23.2 oz, regular price $23.39
-$9.50 Gerber rebate check (I just get these in the mail; I have no idea where they come from. I suppose I signed up for something somewhere along the line.)
Final price: $13.89

Similac formula, 12.4 oz, regular price $14.69
-$5 Similac rebate check (Also just randomly come in the mail. And I get a lot of them. I used 6 of them this time, which made up $30 of my coupon savings. Also, the best part is that the checks are a form of payment and not considered coupons, so I could theoretically also use a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon for even more savings. Unfortunately I didn't have any.)
Final price: $9.69 each

Playtex tampons, 36 ct, sale price $6.99 (bought two)
-(2) $1/1 manufacturer's coupons
-Plus I took advantage of an unadvertised deal where if you bought two Playtex products you could get a pack of Carefree liners (36 ct) for free, value $3.09
Final price: $11.98 for all three, or $3.99 each

Schick Quattro razors, 3 ct, regular price $6.09 (bought two)
-Used B1G1 Free coupon
-Plus I took advantage of an unadvertised deal where if you bought two Schick Quattro razors you got a free Skintimate shave gel, value $2.34
Final price: $6.09 for all three, or $2.03 each

Idahoan scalloped potatoes, sale price $1.04
-Used $1/2 manufacturer's coupon
Final price: $0.54 each

Archer Farms Simply Balanced bread, $2.59
-Used $1 Target coupon
Final price: $1.59

Nestle chocolate chips, sale price $2.34 each
-Used $1.25/3 manufacturer coupon
Final price: $1.92 each

Philadelphia cooking creme, $3.14
-Used $1 manufacturer coupon
-Used $1 Target coupon
Final price: $1.14

Wedding/Birthday cards, $2.99, $2.99, and $2.69
-Used $2/3 Target coupon
Final price: $2.22 each

Ocean Spray juice, 64 oz, sale $1.99 each
-Used $1/2 coupon
Final price: $1.49 each

I used 36 coupons and those 7 formula rebate checks, plus had three methods of payment, so I think the checkout lady was glad to see me go. And I KNOW the woman in line behind me was annoyed. Did I mention we needed two carts? But all in all, even though it was a lot of work, took some time, and was slightly embarrassing, it was worth it to save almost $230.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Target REDcard

Ya'll know I love Target.

A lot.

I loved them even more when I got a "5% off a shopping day at Target" coupon in the mail this week, earned through the Pharmacy Rewards program. This is earned by using your REDcard to pay for five (new or transferred) prescriptions at Target pharmacy. This coupon can be combined with my 5% automatic REDcard discount (something I get every time I use my REDcard at Target or Target.com) for even greater savings.

And if this doesn't convince you, how about free shipping? Recently Target added another benefit to the Target REDcard, free shipping from Target.com when you use your REDcard, no minimum purchase required.

Now all that was just a plug for the Target REDcard. The real reason I decided to write this post, is that I have been remiss.

See, I knew that Target donates to schools. And I knew that my purchases could have a direct impact. But somehow I always kept forgetting to look into it, until today. You can enroll in the Take Charge of Education program (click here) to select a school for donation. Target will donate 1% of your REDcard purchases to a school of your choice (so long as they are enrolled in the program). And while 1% seems pretty minuscule at first, when I think of the thousands of dollars I spend at Target every year it really can add up. By selecting a school I am able to see the total amount donated to that school, and the number of cardholders who have selected it. I'm proud to say I am the 56th person who has selected Pine River-Backus High School. Well, proud might be stretching it, but I did have a great high school experience, and want to give something back. And the best part is it won't cost me a thing!

So get yourself a REDcard, and get saving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

back in the saddle again

Today was my first day back to work from maternity leave. I actually had a really great day, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I know without a doubt that's mostly because Natalie stayed home with Darren instead of going to a daycare. Wow, that would have been hard.

In a way, it felt almost like I never left work. Almost like I picked up where I left off. Even down to the fact that I'm working on the same audit I left, although then I was wrapping it up, and now I'm just starting it again for another year.

But at the same time, so much had changed. I was gone for three months. I became a mother. I didn't just get to go home and sit on the couch like I did all summer when Darren was gone. I got to come home to my husband and my beautiful baby girl. And there is nothing better after a long day at the office than coming home to a smiling baby.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin's nuk

I never knew why a pacifier was referred to as a nuk. As a kid, I thought it was "nook" and I never understood it.

It wasn't until I had a kid, and she loved her pacifier (nuk brand), that I understood where the name came from. It only took 24 years.

Pumpkin loves her nuk. LOVES it.

I alternate between love and hatred, myself. On one hand, I wish she didn't need it so much, but on the other hand, I love that she hardly ever cries, because she has it. Sometimes I get worried she'll get too dependent on it, or that I'll have a hard time taking it away when the time comes. It's a fine line.

Right now, for example, she uses it when she sleeps, but not all the time. She starts her naps without it and can put herself to sleep (unless she's been awake too long and is overtired, but that's another story). However, with her whole wake-up-every-45-minutes-of-a-nap deal, we use the pacifier to get her back to sleep. She can get herself to sleep initially without it, but those middle-of-the-nap times she usually needs it to go back to sleep. Sometimes she'll make it through, but those times are rare. And sometimes I let her cry for a while, just to see if she'll go back to sleep eventually, but usually what happens is that she gets so worked up and upset it takes both the nuk and me holding her to calm her down enough to go to sleep.

This is very weird for me. I don't understand how she can put herself to sleep without it at the beginning of naps but almost always need it in the middle. Hopefully someday we'll move past it. I think when (IF) the day comes that she stops waking so frequently in the middle of her naps it will help a lot.She hardly ever uses it at night. Every once in a while when we put her down for the night, if she's been awake too long or took exceptionally bad afternoon naps, she'll need her nuk to go to sleep. Otherwise it's a rare occasion that she uses it at night, which I guess is why I'm okay with her using it so much during the day.

But who knows. Maybe someday in the not-so-distant future I will greatly regret letting Pumpkin use her nuk so often. Or maybe not. Time will tell.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

the new normal

I keep waiting for life to get back to normal.

Newsflash: It's not going to happen. Because this is my new normal.

My new normal is not having enough time for anything, is no more sleeping in or staying up late, is no more quick runs to the store, is no more watching a movie from beginning to end without interruptions.

It is hard to get used to this. Definitely harder than I thought. But all new things are at first. Until one day, who knows how long from now, one day things will seem...normal.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank a Veteran

Today is Veterans Day. I am so thankful for the veterans in my life. It's so amazing to witness that kind of sacrifice firsthand. So inspirational.

A special thank you to all the veterans out there, past, present, and future. May God bless you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

the end of an era

I have to go back to work on Monday. Maternity leave is over. Not happy about it.

Right around week eight, I was like, "I can't wait to go back to work!" Well that lasted about three days, and since then I've been dreading it.

Maybe dreading isn't the right word. As much as I love my little Pumpkin, there are some days where I would love to go away for a couple hours, and be more productive than just sitting on the couch, waiting for the next feeding to come and the baby to wake up. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom. But it's hard. Way harder than working. Although once I go back to work I'll probably think it's hard to be away from my baby all day long.

And at least I'm only going back part-time. And Natalie will be home with Darren while I am gone. So that's something. I can't imagine putting her in daycare. I think my heart would break into a million pieces to leave her with strangers all day.

Ah well, it is what it is. Maternity leave, I will miss you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


STTN. Mommy shorthand for Sleeping Through The Night.

Last night I was in bed, trying to fall asleep, thinking about how I was going to write a post about how Natalie has been sleeping through the night pretty consistently for two weeks now.

And then she woke up at 4:10 this morning. Although, to be fair, I'm not sure if she was hungry or if something else really woke her and she decided she should eat. Darren and I had shut the vent in the living room because it was getting so warm, and we forgot to open it back up before we went to bed, so when I got her at 4 her poor little hands (which she frequently works outside her swaddle) were freezing.

Poor baby. So maybe she was just cold.

And yes, she sleeps in the living room in her bassinet. I would never get a full night's rest otherwise. That girl is noisy. I think I'm the lightest sleeper in the world. The living room is a perfect solution: I can hear her cry, but not much else.

Anyway, I only gave her a couple ounces, put her back down, and back to sleep she went. Such a good baby.

In any case, since Natalie started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks on the dot, and this was only the third time she's woken in the middle of the night, I consider us to be STTN on a regular basis.

It. Is. Awesome. She goes down about 7:10 after her bath, we do a dreamfeed at 9:30, and then she usually wakes herself up between 7:10-7:20. I'm loving it. She won't nap well to save her life, but it's a work in process. Gotta say, I'm jealous of those moms who say, "Oh, Georgie takes good two-hour naps three times a day, and a little catnap in the evening."

Not this one. She regularly sleeps like a rock the first 45 minutes, and then we do a little off-and-on battle until it's time to eat again. Apparently this whole 45 minute thing is common. I've spent hours reading about it, and tried every solution: down earlier, down later, more stimulation, less stimulation, white noise, no noise, nuk, no nuk. Nothing works regularly. Some say it's just a phase. I say I hope it ends soon.

But I suppose, if I had to pick between good naps, or sleeping through the night, STTN would win every time.