Thursday, September 30, 2010

Limits and sounds

Lincoln has been exploring his limits these past weeks. How hard can you bang a glass before it breaks? How far can you slide in your seat before you fall out? What happens when you don't stop at the edge? How far can mom's glasses bend before they break? What happens when I write with candles on the tv screen.

He is showing no more signs of penis problems so we are back to cloth, but using disposables at night, which is the longest he goes without being changed. we never did get him fully potty trained, but he sure likes being naked now.

He also knows the sign for music which he uses when he wants the radio on or when he wants to dance or sing. Link is also a fabulous musician. His favorite things to do are play piano, strum guitar, and play the xylophone. He will often match the tones with his voice after strumming the guitar which totally amazes me. He loves picking up sounds though. Before we did animal sounds with him he was already imitating the cats almost exactly. So the traditional "meow" doesn't cut it.

His latest signs are hot and book. He loves to say the word hot too. We think he has it mixed up with food or else everything is too hot, including ice cubes. He also likes to do sounds for elephant, lion, alligator, monkey, cat, and dog.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Multiple Places

This morning I realized I was need to be at three places all at the same time. Artist group, setting up for tomorrow's Fall Festival at church and my shift at the garage sale with Sadie in Guttenberg. I decided to do the garage sale since there were only two of us doing it. I sent Bryce in my place to the Fall Festival, since I am in charge of it I felt there need to be some sort of representation. I skipped artists group, as I have most of the year because I don't enjoy it anymore. Setting up the garage sale was easy since I didn't take off the tags from my last sale and just stored everything in a box marked garage sale. I took home another $40 and only two boxes, rather than 6 when I started.

Tomorrow is the Fall Festival at church. After that I am thinking bell choir and church council until my term is served and I may be done with organized religion. I would like to do an 8 times a year spirituality group. I am not sure how to get this started but I already know of 3 other families that would be great church for us.

Tomorrow we also have to clear out Link's bedroom for our new renter. Alex is moving in on Monday. He is 19 and a little awkward, but very nice. We had thought of having a renter before but we never mentioned it to anyone or advertised. He simply found us through his boss (a townie who knows us and thought of us). He will rent month by month. It's hard to say goodbye to having the whole house to ourselves, but his room will basically be like a studio apartment so he won't be too much a part of the family. It will be nice to say hello to some extra cash coming in to actually put in savings. Even if he is just here until February I will have one college loan paid off. We also feel good to share our space with someone who really needs a place to stay.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jim and Betsy make a stop

Bryce's parents Jim and Betsy are just pulling out the driveway. They have been here all week visiting. Usually they stay with my parents but because we have the room and my parents are harvesting they stayed with us. We were happy to have them. (I always tell Bryce how nice it would be to live near them and have Betsy as a mentor to learn some skills I don't yet have.)
We had a great time with them, of course we also had a few obstacles.
The first being that I was told they would be here all day Monday and Tuesday, but then found out the day before they would be here Monday night through Friday morning. I think this miscommunication lies in the hands of my husband who doesn't remember to tell me anything. (I admit this miscommunication was my fault. - Bryce)
Obstacle two was weather. We had several patchy rainy days. The in-laws mentioned they didn't want to go bowling or see a movie so we had to think of other things to do. Fortunately the rain kept my parents out of the fields on Tuesday and allowed Jim and Betsy to have some time with my parents as well as see progress on my parents' house. On Wednesday Bryce and I had a reunion of our baby group in Decorah so we brought them with us to check out our second favorite place. While Bryce, Link, and I shared a meal with the baby group and talked about our year with the others, Jim and Betsy checked out the co-op and shops along the main drag. After our gathering we joined them for a tour at the Vesterheim Norwegian Museum and Seed Savers. None of us had been to the Vesterheim and I was very impressed with the gorgeous craft work. Embroidery, wood carving, painting, and quilting were all very impressive. Thursday we shared a meal at Schera's and walked Pony Hallow Trail. Then Jim and Betsy watched Link while Bryce worked and I went to a women's spirituality group, back up in Decorah. The rain kept us off the patio at Schera's and out of the woods at my spirituality group. The grnadparents seemed to enjoy watching Link which was good. Sometimes it is hard to enjoy the area in the rain and while others are working, so I am happy they had a good time.
Obstacle three was melding our lifestyles together for the week. We are going pretty strong in the pantry challenge, not just because it saves money, but because it helps us use things that we would never get around to using otherwise. I was really looking forward to cooking for them with what we had, but they were ready to go to the grocery store on day 1. Fortunately they didn't get too many things to distract us from what we already have, a few perishables and cereal (which was nice for Link). I felt slightly mistrusted on my abilities to cook and provide, but I hope by the end of the week they realized the pantry challenge means anything but starving, it is just more creative cooking and correct proportions.
Before Jim and Betsy got here I had checked out 1940s House from the library. It is a PBS show about a modern family in London who is challenged to live the way they would during WWII. We watched a part of it together. In the section on cooking with rations they talked about making honey from parsley. I was super excited to hear that since I had fresh parsley in my fridge for weeks and it needed to be used somehow. I made a batch which looks pretty good. We shall see how it tastes soon.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Anniversary Gift

I usually am pretty good about dropping some dough on anniversary gifts, especially if the item is made out of material that is traditional for that anniversary. I have given a paper printing press on paper, a leather recliner on leather, etc. This year is wood. Right away I found a perfect gift, but for some reason this year I am holding back. It is a pac man cutting board, perfect for Bryce's gaming side and he always comments how much he loves wood glued cutting boards and he is a chef. It $125 and it's handmade so I would be supporting an artist. But, because it is going to get somewhat destroyed, doesn't necessarily fit the theme of our kitchen, and not something we need, I just can't get myself to get it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jobs and Deals

I've continued doing yogurt smoothies for breakfast. Still trying to do the pantry challenge as much as possible, I have come up with some interesting fruit combinations which has been half the fun. Yesterday I threw in frozen strawberries and then added some lime juice. Ohh my God, yum! It reminded me of the strawberry limeaide from Sonic that I almost married two months ago.

I interviewed for a part time job yesterday. It is basically design work with the Clayton County Economic Development Office. 19 applicants make me worried, but even if they don't see it, I would be perfect for the job. Two of me passions in life are Design and Community Growth. It is also one of those jobs where you get to dabble in everything (kind of like marketing) and I really like that.

After the interview I scored some awesome deals.

1. I bought 2 bras at Layne Bryant online. They always have buy one get one 1/2 off, but they also had a code that day for an extra $25 off an order of $50 or more. Since bras are around $40 there I basically got one for free and then a little off the other. I had them delivered to the store to avoid shipping cost. (Jumping ahead to later that day). When I picked them up at the store they let me try them on and they were way too big. I seem to have gone down a cup size since nursing. They allowed me to do an even exchange with the bras I like in my size.

2. Office Max had an online deal going that if you spend $150 you could get a free companion airline ticket. Having to pay for just one ticket for the whole family sounds like a great deal. Since we need to replace the Cannon Powershot camera that I had stolen at the wedding last month, we purchased that for almost exactly $150. (Amazon was the same price.)

3. Link and I went with my mom to Cedar Rapids to pick up my order at Layne Bryant and also saw that in the store they were having a pants sale. $30 a pair (usually $50). So I got a pair.

4. Mom and I also picked up two very old and decrepit car seats from one of those "FREE for the taking" giveaways on the side of the road and brought them to Toys R Us. Until Sunday they are having a nationwide Great Trade In event where if you bring in a car seat, high chair, stroller, etc, you get 25% off a new one of something in those categories. They don't care if it is trash, at least it is out of circulation. Mom got herself a new booster car seat for $30. I got a jogging stroller!!! I had wanted a B.O.B. but they were not included in the deal and in fact there was only one jogging stroller there, so it made picking one out really easy. I ended up paying $100 for it. Straight cash from the garage sale money I made. And in the end, I really don't care what brand it is. It has inflatable wheels and glides just as easily as the more expensive ones I tried out in Boston. I love it!!! Add to that stop a $5 off $25 coupon I had and a boy's clothes sales rack where almost everything was a dollar and I super scored!

5. After a great meal at Olive Garden where we had the soup, salad, and bread sticks, we finished our day at Walmart. This time I couldn't find all the brands I had coupons for but I did find a majority. I ended up saving $12 and paying $18 for all the stuff in my cart. So almost half off everything.

6. Back home, online again, I noticed was giving away a free audiobook for signing up, no purchase necessary. I went to my Amazon wish list and looked at the books I wouldn't mind listening to instead of paging through and signed up with 5 different e-mail addresses. So I have 5 free books. They also have a pretty easy cancel to the membership, so I canceled all my memberships after getting the books to avoid any fees in the future. This is right at the line for ethical frugalness for me. (I am not illegally downloading the books.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Goals In the Attic

Cleaning out the attic for the garage sale this weekend I went through some old high school stuff and found a list of goals I had made for myself. Needless to say many I still want to accomplish, some I already have accomplished, some I am unsure about and others I do not want to do anymore at all. The most awesome part is that the stuff I have already accomplished is the largest list.

Here are the list of things I still want to accomplish:
1. Preform music in a concert (although now my wish is in a small park rather than a large stage)
2. Record an album (although now my goal is not for sale, but for my children)
3. Make my own set of stationary/greeting cards
4. Sell artwork
5. Go to Africa
6. Publish a Book
7. Create an Art, Music, Cooking, Writing, or Theater Event
8. Home school
9. Break dance

Here is what I am on the fence about wanting to do:
1. Be a clothing designer
2. Produce a film
3. Adopt a child
4. Live in a commune (Now that I've visited one, I have more appreciation for small towns communities.)
5. Be an EMT
6. Be in mentor at school
7. Own a horse

Here is what I have already accomplished:
1. Design cd covers
2. Design t-shirts
3. Live in an apartment
4. Road trip
5. Be in a community theater
6. Go to Seattle
7. Write Short Stories and Poems
8. Go to a Broadway production
9. Be a mother
10. Be a religion teacher
11. Visit famous museums all over the world (a bit broad, but I've done some)
12. Run for office (I'm sure I was thinking bigger, but hey City Council is as big as I would go now.)
13. Be a photographer

Things I no longer want to do at all:
1. Write songs (toooo hard, I'll watch my friends instead.)
2. Be homeless for a month or more and chronicle experience (I think my time has passed for this, but I went to see a speaker who did this.)
3. Marry Gary (that one went back to sea, but I got myself an even better catch in my eyes.)
4. Protest at an abortion clinic (my view have changed a little, I'm not pro choice, but today I would not be caught dead doing this.)
5. Be a councilor at jail (I am still an advocate for no death penalty, but my desire to be involved in prisons is not as much anymore.)
6. Be a nun if I survive my husband (organized religion no longer appeals to me.)
7. Be a sign language interpreter (tooooo hard, I'll watch my friends instead.)
8. Own a restaurant or coffee shop (tooooo hard, I'll watch my friends instead.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Self Made Man

Lincoln met another Lincoln this month. This man is in his 30s, maybe 40s, and bought a restaurant nearby, which he will be running from his home in South East New Hampshire. This man confirmed the reason why we use Lincoln and Link interchangeably. "When you introduce yourself as Link, people just don't hear it or can't comprehend it the first time, so you say Lincoln and they get it. After that you use Link."

More updates since our return: I was worried about Lincoln's cup grasping skills since he never tips and rarely wants to hold onto a cup, due to very few bottles (I think). My sister found the solution. She bought him some sippy cups with straws built in the lid that don't leak. Link now grabs his cup all the time. We will work on tipping later. Although he loves to pretend he is tipping all the way back when he sees someone finish a canned beverage.

Link also likes to stand on his own a lot. Before he would laugh and fall forward like it is a game. Now he stands stationary for almost a minute at a time. When he wants to take a step he puts his hand on the ground and does a bear crawl.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sept 11, A Great Day

For as much as August nearly killed me, September has been going extremely well. Cross my fingers as we are not even half way through yet. Yesterday was the best so far. My mom woke me up bright and early for a garage sale we had at my house. By the end of the day I had made $150 and reduced a lot of clutter. The remaining quality clothes I had went into boxes for Thread Up. Link was great all day and every nap he went to sleep right away without crying. We found a battery for the scale in all our junk and when I weighed myself I was 5 lbs less than last time. At noon Sister Cities had a concert in the park and Maritza, a band from Decorah, played. The group was awesome. The played traditional Jewish and Balkan music on accordion, violin and upright bass. Bryce and I enjoyed the concert while eating a meal of 2 Mit Burgers from the local stand that closes up shop this week until next summer. After Bryce went to work, Link and I went on a date and saw Ramona and Beezus at the local theater. I would highly recommend taking anyone of any age. It was really great. When we got home, Link once again fell right asleep. With Bryce home I was able to go out with my friend Dani to sing karaoke. We had gone to the event two weeks ago and been blown away by the amazing singers. We were so nervous we were practicing for weeks. I was scared to death because I have always sang karaoke in groups, never solo. However, when we walked into the place it was nearly empty. We competed with 5 people tops and were able to sing as many songs as we wanted, allowing us a great time to see what songs worked for us and which did not. By the end of the night Dani and I both won t-shirts from the drawing and Dani won 1st place $35 and I won $15.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My body is telling me, but I'm scared

I recently read something that said if you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome you are at greater risk for heart attack. This if the first time I read something that actually made me do a double take and think about my health, especially my weight. I have PCOS, which is the reason I had a hard time getting pregnant. The doctors gave me drugs, but also said that if I lost some weight I might increase my chances of conceiving without drugs. I didn't lose a thing. I did get pregnant however and I loved it. I loved it so much, I am looking into being a surrogate for women who cannot carry. I have interviewed two women who have been surrogates that I know personally. After researching I found that you have to be under 36, so my time is a little limited, and you have to be under 190 lbs. To my knowledge I am 35 pounds over that. (I haven't weighed myself in 5 months). So thus provides another reason to lose weight. Then there are the hip pops, the feeling in my knees that I need to be oiled like the tin man, the psoriasis on my elbows which can lead to arthritis, the nerves in my back pinching to point where I feel like I need to throw up, all of these problems list excess weight as a negative factor. When you're young you don't think about it too much, but at some point you hit a wall where you start listening to your body and it scares you a little. So infertility, heart attack, arthritis, knee surgery, hip surgery, back surgery, seeing a dream pass away. Everything is telling me to lose weight.
So what is stopping me? Fear. After struggling for years to overcome anorexia, gain back the 70 lbs I starved off me, love my body and see it as beautiful in all forms, I am afraid of losing weight. Just like alcoholic anonymous, I feel like I will instantly start being preoccupied with food, grams of fat and calories, number, jean sizes, how many days it will take. I am afraid that I will start hating the body I love so much now. I am afraid because there is no support network out there where women are not complaining about flabby rolls they hate or other negative talk. Why is there nothing out there about how women with eating disorders can effectively lose weight without having to enter themselves back into the scary world of weight loss.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Diaper Free is getting better. Lincoln knows the signs for peeing and pooping and the sounds we put with them. He says them when he is going doing them and he signs them when he sees the bathroom. He does not however join them together, as in going to the bathroom in the potty and signing them. We got him a seat insert which seems to help tremendously. He doesn't like the potty seat and he is terrified of being held above the toilet. He has peed 3 times in the toilet and today when #2 for the first time. We started using disposable diapers at night as the morning seems to be the most sore part of the day. The disposables wick moisture away which helps. It is hard admitting that the results of two decisions we made, not circumcising and using cloth diapers, is most likely the cause of his pain. It seems like just another thing to add to the list of failures right alongside having a successful home birth and having confidence in nursing.

Since our return of the long trip Link has been getting up earlier. He used to be content with playing in bed while we finished sleeping but now that he is mobile not so much. We also use to put him to bed later and he woke up later. When my sister-in-law told me that it didn't matter what time she put my nephew to bed he still woke up at the same time, I didn't quite buy it, but now I see what she means. If Link goes to sleep at 7 pm or 12 pm he is up between 7-8 everyday. Not early for you 9-5ers, but we spend most of our working time from 9-12pm.

My friend Sadie has been watching Link once a week. In turn I am suppose to watch her Stella, but so far my only trade has been print products as Stella's grandma is right around the corner and loves having her over. To make it easier on Sadie I stopped nursing Link to go to sleep for naps. He still cries for about 3-5 min when you put him down, but he adjusted rather quickly. However, now he wants to nurse more when he is awake.

Language is still developing well. He knows monkey, elephant, dog, cat, book, tired, nose, mom, dad, bye, hi, pee, poo, and loves to repeat as many words as he can, even if he doesn't commit them to memory. He also really likes to help in the kitchen.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Kitchen adventures

So it's the beginning of a new month but we are still going with the pantry challenge. We have not bought any groceries except farmer's market produce and items for once a month cooking which I will touch on later. The pantry challenge is proving itself very interesting, especially as items whittle down. However, I am so happy we are doing this because I would have never thought about making items I have due to random ingredients we have left. Yesterday I made coconut shrimp and hand made cole slaw. I have also been very happy with rutabaga au gratin and okre patties.
Today I tried out once a month cooking for the first time. I bought a cookbook at a garage sale that I am following. It is pretty helpful. I did find that I misread two ingredients (I got tomato sauce rather than crushed tomatoes and was short once box of stuffing but otherwise it went pretty well. I got through the all the chicken entrees in about an hour with 1 hour of prep time and 1 hour of clean up. I am going to do the beef and vegetarian dishes tomorrow. All in all I think it will take 5 hours total. I hope to do it with a group in the church basement once a month. I need more large pots if I want to do it at home and not wash dishes between. Just doing a 2 week plan is good for our family of 3. All entrees could feed 5. Besides these frozen meals, we will continue with the pantry challenge until we are down to scooping tablespoons of cornstarch in each others mouth. Just kidding.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Another trial day for the frugalista. I went to Aldi's. My mom has come back from Aldi's often with weirdly packaged items, like canned green beans with an image of green beans riding a fork together on it. I was never amused.

Here is what I learned:

1. You must have a quarter to get a cart. You get the quarter back when you are done.
2. You must bring your own bags. These days it is pretty common to do so, but people at Aldi's have been doing it forever. Lots of people tend to swipe empty pallet boxes as their "bag."
3. It is by far the cheapest option. I suppose by not having to pay someone to corral carts or bag groceries you are cutting out labor.
4. Aldi's is owned by the same parent company as Trader Joes. This makes me a little less skeptical that they are cutting prices by below income labor, but who knows.
5. You must have cash or debit. There will be no credit card purchases at Aldis.
6. Sometimes, if you are the last customer in the store for the night they will give you food they might otherwise throw away for pennies. I was given two coffee cakes.
7. Closing time is 9 pm, but that means through the door. They will still let you shop until you are finished. (I assume within reason).
8. You can buy all your groceries for a month for around $100. After purchasing everything on my "once a month cooking" list I ended up spending a little over $80 and was only needing to go to another grocery store for 5 more items. Parsley, Waterchestnuts, French Bread, Wild Rice, and Linguine.