7.31.2011

Bike Ridin' Fool


It's official - Noah has become a bike ridin' fool, just in time for the heat wave of 2011! On Saturday, July 17th, Ryan and I found ourselves doing what most married people with children our age are doing on a Saturday night. Yep, we were grocery shopping! WOO-HOO! I can see how you are all turning green with envy. Anyway, while Liam hung out with me in his Baby Bjorn carrier, Ryan took Noah to the bike section at Meijer to see how well he could ride a bike. About 15 minutes later, they returned, and Noah sat down on the floor, putting his head down in defeat (yep, we were that family!). Apparently, he had a really hard time maneuvering the pedals, so Ryan decided he was still too young to get a bike.


After we got home that night, Ryan began looking on Craigslist for a bike for Noah, just in case he found a good deal. Turns out that a guy in Fishers was selling his son's bike for $25 because it was too small for him. Ryan drove to Fishers the following Monday and realized that the bike was practically brand new. He bought the bike and grabbed a Lightning McQueen helmet and bell at Target. When Noah woke up from his nap that day, Ryan had the bike waiting for him in the kitchen. At first, Noah really didn't want to put on the helmet, let alone snap the fastener together. We told him that if he wanted to ride his new bike, he had to wear his helmet. Reluctantly, he put it on, and before we knew it, Noah was FLYING around the kitchen. Round and around and around he went for the rest of the night. When he woke up the next morning, the first words out of his mouth were, "May I ride my bike?" The timing was perfect for such a fun gift because it was at that time that we began dealing with the heat wave of 2011. My goodness! 95-100 degree weather is just TOO much for all of us, especially Liam.


From that morning on for several days, Noah wore his helmet at all times of the day except to take a nap or go to bed. He even wore it during potty breaks! When he woke up from his nap at 3:30, he rode it for 2 hours straight - I'm not even kidding! Round and around and around he went. He continued to ride each day and into the next week. Whenever there was a slight dip in temperature, Ryan would take him outside to ride his new bike. Then, a couple Saturdays ago, we took Noah to Northwest Park thanks to the recommendation of my friend, Jill, who had recently taken her little boy there to ride. It was the perfect trail! Once again, Liam found himself in the Baby Bjorn carrier, and we walked the trail 3 times. Noah did great and only fell off once! Since that time, he has discovered standing up while pedaling, coasting down hills (or as Noah says, "coastering"), and braking hard when going too fast.


It's like he grew up overnight. My once chubby cheeked, unsteady-walking, toddler is now a little boy in the making. I get flashes of what I imagine he'll look like in the future. It makes me shake my head. Where has the time gone? While Noah can test boundaries and my patience, he is a beautifully sweet, compassionate, joyful little boy....and a bike ridin' fool.

7.27.2011

Cost to Have a Baby

Let me start out by saying how amazed I am by the cost to have a baby, completely natural and without complications (Click for Liam's birth story)! Back in August 2008, I wrote about how much we were charged for Noah's birth. Surprisingly, the charges were more when we had Noah than having Liam. I really thought everything would be more expensive three years later, but for some reason, Liam's birth cost less. Because I am working part time now, my short term disability check was about $1,000 less than last time. So, in the end, we did have to pay money out of pocket whereas with Noah's birth, it was completely covered by our short term disability check. You can see the breakdown of Liam's birth below.

Amy’s Hospital Charges:
Room and Board (36 hours): $1,332.25
Labor and Delivery Services: $5,590.00 (BLOWS MY MIND!)
Laboratory Services: $575.75
Pharmacy Services: $168.60
TOTAL CHARGES: $ 7666.60 After Insurance: $1,508.03


Liam’s Hospital Charges:
Newborn care for 2 days at the hospital: $865.00
Operating Room: $371.50 (used for a short time for his circumcision)
Laboratory Services: $839.75
Pharmacy Services: $132.00
Therapy Services: $102.50
TOTAL CHARGES: $ 2,310.75 After Insurance: $462.15


Initial Hospital Evaluation/Management of Newborn: $292.00
Discharge Day Management (30 minutes maximum): $216.00
After Insurance: $64.96

Liam Circumcision: $400

After Insurance: $45.86

OB Care and Delivery: $2,300
After Insurance: $440.00

GRAND TOTAL: $13,185.35 (Noah's was $14,028.39)

AFTER INSURANCE, WE OWED: $2,521.00 (Noah's was $1,930.60)

SHORT TERM DISABILITY CHECK: $1,300 (Noah's was $2,216.67)

OUT OF POCKET EXPENSES: $1,221 (We pocketed $286.07 with Noah's birth)

I am so thankful that we have insurance! If it costs $13,000-$14,000 to have a natural birth now, how much will it cost for Noah and Liam to have kids someday! I think the hospital charges were like $2,000 when I was born. I can't even imagine!

7.24.2011

Thinking...


This break from work has been so wonderful! I've been home for 11 weeks and 3 days, and in a few more weeks, I'll be returning to my job as a school psychologist for my 4th year, post internship. I love my job and am very grateful for my part time position. It gives me such perfect balance between my work life and my home life. I have enjoyed so many adventures this summer with Ryan and our boys, which makes me so excited to see what next summer holds. Will we sell our house? Will we move somewhere new? Noah will turn 4, and Liam will celebrate his first birthday. Will they be good buddies? What new exciting adventures will we take? Vacation with Ryan's family to Hilton Head is on the list. I can hardly wait! Time will tell what the future holds. I can't wait to find out what happens next, and at the same time, I don't want time to go too fast. I don't want the boys to grow up too quickly, you know? One thing is for sure - I trust the Lord to help us open the right doors and close the wrong ones. It's the only thing any of us can count on when looking toward the future!

7.22.2011

A Few of My Favorite Things...to Eat

So I recently wrote about how much easier my life has become since adopting a new way of meal planning. It continues to work really well for our family, and I am trying lots of new recipes, as well as making some of my old favorites. I know in the past we have quickly gotten into a rut with our meals, and since some of you might be feeling the same way, I wanted to post some of my favorite recipes - both old and new.

Dalia's Pot Roast
1 packet Lipton Onion Soup
1 cup A1 sauce
3 lb. Chuck Roast
Baby Carrots
Potatoes
Olive Oil
1/8 cup water
pepper

1. Add olive oil to a large pan and heat on medium high. Sear both sides of roast in pan and remove.
2. Add water to the bottom of a crock pot
3. Add chuck roast to crock pot. Place onion soup mix to the top of the roast, as well as A1 and some pepper.
4. Cook in crock pot for 3 hours. Add veggies (we left out onion, but feel free to use it!), and cook for an additional 3 hours.

This is easily my favorite pot roast ever! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Gloria's Sloppy Joes
1 lb. Hamburger
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 tsp celery salt
2 heapting Tablespoons of brown sugar (we even use a little more than that)
1/3-1/2 bottle of ketchup
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp prepared mustard
salt and pepper

1. Brown hamburger, onion, and celery salt
2. Drain off excess fat
3. Reduce heat to simmer
4. Add brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir.
5. Simmer together, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

This is a great recipe to make in bulk and freeze in portions for future use!

Sausage and Egg Casserole (a great addition to breakfast for dinner night!)
1 lb. ground pork sausage
6 eggs
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground mustard
6 slices white bread
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used mild)

1. In a skillet, brown and crumble sausage; drain and set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs; add milk, salt and mustard. Stir in bread cubes, cheese and sausage. Pour into a greased 11-in. x 7-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

I LOVE this recipe!! I have been eating leftovers everyday for breakfast. I found it very convenient for making breakfast burritos when on the run, too.

Honey Barbequed Spare Ribs

3 lbs. pork spare ribs
3 T lemon juice
2 T honey
2 T vegetable oil
1 T soy sauce
1 T minced onion
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp garlic powder

1. Cut spare ribs into serving-size pieces. Place ribs, bone side down, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Cover and roast at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Drain. Combine all the remaining ingredients in a bowl; brush some of glaze on ribs. Roast, uncovered, 30-45 minutes longer or until meat is tender, brushing occasionally with remaining glaze.

What I really liked about these ribs is that they were heavily doused with BBQ sauce. I do like BBQ ribs, but these had more of a light, Asian flavor due to the soy sauce, honey, and lemon. They were DELICIOUS!

Chicken Tetrazinni
2 cups spaghetti, cooked and drained
2 cups diced chicken, cooked
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup red pepper
1/4 cup yellow pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

Saute onions and peppers in oil
Arrange all ingrediants in a baking dish
Bake on 350 for 20-30 minutes

This is one of my all-time favorite pasta dishes! It's colorful, cheesy, and full of flavor!

Feel free to share any of your favorite recipes in the comments. I am always wanting to try new things!!

7.11.2011

Making Life Easier

I love my family beyond anything I ever could have imagined! I mean, can you blame me? Look how cute they are!


We like to do lots of fun things together like....


...go to the Strawberry Festival and eat delicious ribeye steak sandwiches and corn on the cob!


...go to PBS Kids at the Park downtown to meet Wyatt from Super Why!


...make silly faces!


...make cheeser faces!


...go to Vacation Bible School with grandparents and swim in their pool!


...snuggle with each other!


...go to Poison/Motley Crue concerts!

Natalie, Lila, Jude, Daisy, Dominic, and Liam
...and go to my parents 4th of July party and introduce the 6 newest cousins to each other!

With that said, I am always trying to find ways to make the "must do" things more efficient in order to have more time to enjoy the "want to do" things! Here is my latest and greatest idea that has literally changed my life.

Everyday, I found myself asking the question, "What should we eat for dinner?" My mind would quickly become overwhelmed with the million items in my freezer, fridge, and pantry, as well as all the options of things to make. Did I have the right ingrediants? How much time do I have to actually cook? I know a lot of people have found success with a weekly menu, but I still felt overwhelmed by making a plan like that for the week. There are just too many options! I asked myself how we could have a plan while still not being overwhelmed by the options.

I had a HUGE aha moment a few weeks ago. I decided the best way to approach our meals is to have each night have a different theme. Here are our themes:

Sunday: Meat and veggie
Monday: Breakfast for dinner
Tuesday: Meat and veggie
Wednesday: Pasta night
Thursday: Sandwich, salad, soup, or wrap night
Friday: Go out to eat/leftovers
Saturday: Go out to eat/leftovers

I have stuck to this plan for three weeks, and it has made choosing dinner SO much easier! We still have a lot of variety in our meals - more than we've ever had. I just have to look at what I have around the house and/or grab a few things at the store to have everything I need. Everyone asks me, "What about Mexican night?" We aren't huge Mexican food people, but it would be easy to incorporate that into your meal planning. I love that when I ask myself, "What should we have for dinner?" all I have to do is remember what day of the week it is and think of meals related to that theme. It's MUCH easier for me to plan that way!

Now I have much more time to do all the fun things we try to squeeze into a day with Ryan and the boys!

7.08.2011

Carpet Cleaning

I meant to write about this sooner, but we had our carpets cleaned in April, just a few weeks before Liam was born. The guy who did it was recommended by some friends who have worked with him in the past. They said he was really reasonable in price and did an awesome job! Well, I can attest to both of those things. Randy cleaned our carpets in 6 rooms, a stairway, and a hallway for only $130 and did a fabulous job! Here is his website and contact information:

Randy Carter 317-538-0020
http://ecocarpetcleaningllc.com/

Here is some information from his website:

Today, there are industrial carpet cleaning chemicals that are widely believed to be toxic. And this is why we offer natural and organic carpet cleaning methods. This is great news for those with allergies or asthma. Our carpet cleaning solutions are 100% biodegradable and are plant & vegetable based; they naturally deodorize your carpets. As a family owned company, we understand that you want to protect your family, and we promise never to use any carpet cleaning substance in your home that we wouldn't use in ours.

Clean carpets at a good price without toxins - who doesn't want that?!

7.07.2011

My Blue Eyed Boys

No matter what life throws at me, I have these two beautiful boys who bring me more joy than I can describe! When I think about things from that perspective, all life's worries wash away...



I love you boys!  - Mommy

Fireworks - Part 2

Well, I have some good news and some bad news. Which do you want first? Let's start with the good. The good news is that an opportunity did present itself last night to talk to my neighbors AND my kids (and my friend's little boy) got to sleep without being scared or woken up by fireworks. The bad news is that it happened after two mortars (I learned that's what they are called and are similar to a stick of dynamite - they are strickly created to make a huge BOOM sound rather than to have bright lights) went off, and I completely and totally lost my temper. It was horrible.

My friend Sara was putting her nearly 2 year old son, Nash, to bed when I heard the second mortar go off, and I grabbed Liam and Noah - who mind you, was only wearing a shirt because he had just gone to the bathroom. I almost dragged him out of the house without wearing pants or underwear, which should have told me that I crossed the crazy line, but it didn't stop me. I threw some shorts on him, and we were out the door. I couldn't leave them behind because Ryan wasn't home, and I couldn't have Sara dealing with 3 kids under 3 years old on her own. So, out the door we went.

As I walked closer to their house, I noticed that there were at least 4-5 people hanging out in their driveway. Awesome. A scene...just what I was hoping to create (note sarcasm). I started out screaming and pleading with my friend to stop because I couldn't take it anymore. Then, her husband came out front and told me that if he'd talk to me but only if I'd calmed down. YIKES, I had really crossed the temper line. I looked down to see their 6 year old daughter looking scared with tears in her eyes, and my heart broke. I apologized to her for yelling at her mommy and daddy and told her that I felt embarrassed to act that way in front of her. I explained that I was really upset because my kids were scared and crying from their fireworks but that I shouldn't have lost my temper. No matter how angry I felt, I definitely didn't want to upset their daughter. Like I said, they have great kids!

I told the husband that maybe we should go talk in my yard to get away from all the people watching. One guy started yelling some really hurtful things about Ryan and me, which was total icing on the cake, and saying that I was really responsible for bringing my kids with me outside. Trust me, I didn't want to bring them, but it wasn't really an option to have my 3 year old babysit my 8 week old baby. Regardless, we walked away from everyone and started talking more calmly. The guy shared that he has really tried to be respectful of our feelings by not sending them off on the 4th of July. I told him that I'd rather he have one day like that where he goes crazy with fireworks and mortars than a couple here and more there and another batch there. I can get my kids through one night of that. He also shared that they were trying to set them off earlier in the night so that it didn't wake up the kids. His intentions were good, but 8:00-8:30 is the time when we are putting Noah to bed, so it turns into a huge event. Last, he was setting them off down the street from us so that they didn't go right over our roof. Again, super considerate that he was trying to find a compromise. Unfortunately, they still shook my windows and terrified my kids.

Then, as we were talking, another guy about my age walked up and said, "Hey, do you guys know who is setting off fireworks? They keep waking up my 10 month old daughter." At that moment, I felt like God was saying, "Amy, I know you're by yourself with your two kids, but I'm right here. You are not alone." The guy was super nice and explained that he, too, didn't mind some fireworks, but the mortars were shaking his windows and scaring his kid. My neighbor explained that he wasn't trying to hurt my kids or disrespect us. He had been trying to find a way to compromise. I shared that Ryan talked to a realtor, who happens to be the mother of one of his best friends (she helped us purchase our house) that day to find out what we needed to do to sell our home. We just couldn't live like this anymore. I told them that we really care about their family, and it really hurt us that we've been dealing with the issue for three years. He said that they would hold off on the fireworks until the last day in July when they have family coming into town. That night they would be setting them off. He said he would leave us a note with the date and times. I really appreciate that effort because we can plan ahead. It's still not ideal to have them going off, but I'll take it over what we've had in the past. I apologized to my friend several times for yelling at her like that, especially in front of her daughter, which of course made me cry. She kept reassuring me not to worry about it and that it was ok. All I wanted was for them to stop hurting my kids, even though that was obviously not their intention. Bleh...what an ordeal!

I really went back and forth about writing today. I just wanted to follow up to put closure to the situation. Hopefully that will be the last time we have to deal with the issue. The last thing I want is conflict with our neighbors. Like I said, they are really nice people. We just have a major conflict of interest when it comes to their fireworks. Hopefully we can move forward without dealing with this issue ever again. Fingers crossed...

7.06.2011

Fireworks Suck

Forgive me because this isn't going to be a typical post filled with fun stories or cute pictures of my kids. No, today I am feeling a good mix of sadness, disappointment, disrespect, and fury. This issue has been brewing for three years, and despite our best efforts, we're dealing with the same problem still today.

Every year as summer draws near, I begin to get excited for sunshine, time at the park, swimming at the pool, and extra time with friends and family. Then, very quickly, I remember that it is also firework season. Yes, I use the word season because three years ago, our neighbors began setting off fireworks during the weeks preceding Independence Day, on the actual holiday, and then again after the holiday has ended. Mind you, we live in a residential community not in the middle of farm land with lots of acreage.

The first year, Noah was an infant, and for anyone who is a parent, you can understand the fury you feel when your baby is finally fast asleep only to be woken up crying by fireworks. Oh and by fireworks I don't mean the ones that make a little noise or even the ones that just crack in the sky when you shoot them off. I'm talking about the ones that make a HUGE LOUD BOOM launching off the ground and then sound like a freaking bomb went off over your house. I'm talking about the ones that make my whole body jump when they launch into the air and then just completely infuriate me when they explode.

Of course I'm worried about one hitting my house and setting it on fire. I fear that one will hit Noah's bedroom and explode. I know the chance is probably not huge, but the fear is there. However, what really hurts the most is how scared Noah gets when they explode over his room. He and Liam were both crying last night, and I was furious! I'm not sure there is anything else in the world that can hurt/upset parents like someone else hurting their kids.

You're probably wondering if we've ever approached our neighbors, and the answer is yes. The first time was three years ago after they had been going off all night and were still going off at 1:30 a.m. Yet another firework woke me up, and I couldn't take it anymore. I walked down and asked them to please stop, and they did. Each summer since, we have talked to them about how it wakes up Noah, but it continues to be a problem. Now this summer, Ryan has tried to talk with them, and even Noah has told them how it hurts his ears and scares him. Can you imagine a 3 year old telling you that what you're doing scares him and still doing it anyway? I can't. Each time we talk to them, they are very nice, apologize, and stop. However, for whatever reason, they continue to set off bombs over our house. This year on Independence Day, we were expecting the mother load. And you know what? That would have been at least understandable. I can handle one day of fireworks where my kid has to be up late because he can't sleep and is scared. It would suck, but at least it would be one day. I can plan ahead for that and have a movie ready or something. BUT - when it's weeks before the holiday and still after the 4th, it has gone too far. It's inconsiderate and hurtful. They're scaring my EIGHT WEEK old baby and my THREE year old son. My kids are crying, and I am furious!

I have never felt so disrespected in my adult life. I don't think anyone has slapped me in the face like this in years. If someone told me that something I did was hurting them and heaven forbid, hurting their kids, I can't imagine doing it anyway without caring. The real kicker is that we are friends with these people. Ryan has taken the guy to a Colt's game, and I get along well with his wife. They have great kids...sweet kids. It would make more sense if we didn't get along. I'm left feeling confused, sad, and really angry.

I'm praying for the opportunity to talk with them and let them know how hurt I am and how disrespected I feel. My window to have that conversation is very small until tomorrow night. My friend, Sara, and her nearly 2 year old son are visiting overnight. If they set them off tonight, I can't imagine how angry I'm going to be. Pray for my kids that they get to sleep tonight without being scared and woken up, and pray that when the opportunity presents itself that I can share how I feel without losing my temper. I just want to say, "I hope it was worth it...every year making my kid(s) cry and waking them up. I hope fireworks are worth infuriating your neighbors. I hope the bright colors and huge BOOMS make giving up a good relationship with friends worth it." To me, nothing would be worth it.

7.01.2011

Must. Have. Sleep. - Part 2

So apparently all I needed to do to get Liam to sleep all night was blog about it! That night he went 8 hours between feedings, giving me 7 full hours of consecutive sleep. I ran into his room feeling rested and rejuvenated and kissed him a hundred times while saying "thank you, thank you, thank you" over and over again. The only thing I did differently that day was make sure I drank a full glass of water between each feeding. I'm not sure if that is what made the difference, but either way, I'm continuing to drink water to that degree. The only other "method" we use is Babywise's recommendation to follow an eat, awake, sleep routine. When Liam first wakes up, I feed him right away. Then, he has awake time for an additional 30-60 minutes. Once he starts fussing, I know he is tired, so I put him down for a nap. He will sleep anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. I never let more than 3 hours pass by between feedings in order to make sure he's eating a lot during the day so that he won't need to wake up at night to eat.

Like I said in my last post, something like 96% of boys who follow this routine start sleeping all night between 7-9 weeks old. Tuesday night he went 9 hours between feedings, which meant 8 hours of sleep for me! I was dancing with excitement that morning! Wednesday night, he went 7 hours between feedings, and I got several things accomplished between 5:45 and 8:00 a.m. while the boys finished sleeping. For the first time, I understood why so many parents get up really early. You have some quiet time and can be productive if you'd ilke without several interruptions! Thursday night, Liam went 8 hours between feedings, which again meant 7 hours of sleep or me. I am hopeful that this might be our new pattern but realize that we will have our "off" nights.

Of course, I know I'm doing everything I can to help Liam sleep at night, but really God gets all the credit! He's the one who answered my prayers. Along with my own prayers, I know my friend Dalia, my mother-in-law, and Jennie Byers (an awesome woman from our church!)...maybe even others...were also praying with me. The Bible says that "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:16), and I know that God heard the prayers of these righteous women. Thank you!!

Liam, I want to thank you for being such a good sleeper! I know I can be an even better mommy to you now that I am better rested. I love seeing you grow and cannot wait to get to know you more and more as the days, the weeks, the months, and the years go by. I love you!!!
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