Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cheap Dinner Idea

Andrew and I had bought some boxed pasta salad when it was on sale. Today, to use it and some leftovers, I decided to make it into a full dinner. I added some chopped hard-boiled eggs, some leftover green onions, and a leftover tomato. Once it's done, I'll top it with some leftover parmesan cheese. We'll get some fresh veggies and some protein, and it's super cheap! Less than $3 for a meal for two :D

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Baby is 5 Months Old

How is Oliver getting so big? I can't believe it! A couple of weeks ago, he measured in at the doctor's office at nearly 27". When he was born, he was 20". He grew more than a third in length! That's crazy. He's also more than doubled his weight.

We finished out Oliver's first full season (winter) and got ready for spring. Oliver's been outside a bit more, including going for walks and very short jogs with me. There've been many other changes and "firsts" this month. Oliver started crawling like a caterpillar, though I have yet to see that myself. Unless he's tired, he now stays awake in the car. Speaking of car, Oliver went on his first roadtrip to Omaha. There, he went to the zoo for the first time and even "swam" for the first time (swimming lessons start in a couple weeks!). Oh, and he got to meet his aunt and uncle for the first time! What else? He's tried new foods: sweet potatoes (didn't like), acorn squash (loved!), and applesauce (really liked). Actually, he's not even that bad at "helping" us with getting the spoon to his mouth. He's mastering rolling over from back to stomach, and although I've seen him roll stomach to back a few more times this month, he's not very good at it yet.

For the first time, I'd say nursing is not his most favorite thing in the world. He often pulls away to look at things or hang upside-down on my lap. The world is getting even more interesting to him, and when he's in a good mood, he'll sit and okay by himself for upwards of ten minutes.

Here's Ollie's monthly list of likes and dislikes:

Baby Gerber oatmeal
Arthur (Aunt Julie's French bulldog)
Acorn squash
Watching TV (We were at a pizza place in Omaha, and Oliver watched it from across the room!)
Ducky (he's now using the teething feet and loves the crunching sound of its wings)
Anything tactile (like the fabric on Julie's dining room chairs)
Wiggle. March! (An indestructible book from Uncle Andy & Aunt Erin)
Sleeping on his belly
Naked time
Playing with his feet
Playing with tupperware
Sucking on cubscout bear on his walker
Paper products
Throwing his toys on the floor so we'll hover him over them to let him pick them up
The ball rattle, mobile, and jungle gym at my parents' house
The light-up swing at Andrew's parents' house
Mommy (He often cries if I'm not there)
Daddy (He starts smiling and "talking" when Andrew comes home)

Being set down for naps
Getting his diaper changed first at night and thus having to wait a minute for milk
Being tired
When he gets moving in the walker
When I don't let him suck on the camera
When I take away something like a magazine when he starts mauling it

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Closet Crawler

My baby can crawl!

Andrew and I are trading off baby shifts by the hour today. He's upstairs with Oliver, who's playing in his jungle gym (that's what I call his play mat with the jungle animals that hang down). Anyway, I was here, at the computer, looking up CHP+ information, when Andrew yelled down the stairs, "Oliver's crawling!"

I sat here for a second thinking, "Crawling? What?" I decided Oliver must have scooted a little on his belly or something, so I ran upstairs to catch it. He was on his back, crying a bit. Andrew was on his feet, super excited.

"He crawled!" Andrew yelled. "He got up on his knees and everything!"

I begged him to tell me what happened in detail. He said Oliver was on his back. He rolled over onto his belly, then he got up on his knees and scooted like a caterpillar! Andrew said he crawled about two feet, but not in a straight line at all. Actually, he said it was kind of in a semi-circle. Then Oliver got mad and collapsed onto his belly.

All I could think of was... How can he be crawling already? And then I remembered how, at 6am, when Oliver got up for some milk, I laid him on his back He flopped instantly over onto his belly. Forty-five minutes later, he cried again to get up for the day. I went into his room, and he was on the other side of the crib, still on his belly. I wasn't sure how he'd gotten there, but it hadn't bothered me too much. Now I know! He's a crawler!

I wonder how long he's been able to do that for? Andrew says that crawling two feet followed by crying in exhaustion is probably not the definition of a crawling baby. I think it does. Hurrah!

Is There Anything Better?

Baby laughter makes being a parent worth all the sacrifice. I get up at least once a night, every night, I frequently am unable to shower, and meeting up with friends takes a lot of planning. Being a mom is so hard. Still, the moment Oliver's mouth freezes into an open smile, and I hear the ringing of his laughter, I feel happier than I ever have before.

I read an article in Time the other day (I was perched on the toilet, and Oliver was tearing up another magazine in his infant seat in the hallway as I monitored him by glancing up at the article every 30 seconds or so), and it talked about advertisers. Apparently, more money is going to be spent on sound instead of visual effects in commercials and such. Research has shown sound is underutilized.

Where does this fit in? Well, advertisers' research has also shown that (by far) the most appealing sound to the human ear is the sound of baby laughter.

Before being a mom, there was nothing worse than the sound of a baby shrieking and screaming and crying. Wait. Even after I became a mom, that was the case! I think it must be a very innate feeling to hate the sound of a baby crying. As a mom, it makes me run to my baby and soothe him. Conversely, somehow, we must have evolved to delight in the sound of our babies laughing.

I discovered a couple of days ago that Oliver laughs to the sound of "Gobble, gobble." If you stepped into my home, you'd likely find me holding Oliver above my head (him looking down on me, drooling all over me), saying, "Gobble, gobble, gobble!" just to hear that precious laugh sing out to me.

Alas, I just heard Oliver's cry through the monitor. It's time to start my morning. Get ready for the "gobbles," Ollie!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pinching Pennies

A large part of being a stay home mom (for us, anyway) is learning to save money in as many ways as possible. One of the biggest ways we've done that since having Oliver is rarely going out to eat. We went out to eat last weekend as a treat from Colleen; it was a thank you to Andrew for assembling her toilet (she just redid her bathroom). Before that, I seriously can't remember the last time we went out to eat. Wait, yes I can. It was for 5280, when we met up with friends and spent way too much money (but had a great time) at an Italian restaurant downtown.

At home, cooking, I've been learning to save money, too. Whenever there's a big sale item, I stock up on a lot of it. Last week, for example, there was a big sale on cheese at Safeway (and not because it was going to expire, either). Bags of cheese are normally about $3.50 a pop. They had bags of cheese for $1.49 if you bought at least four. So I did. Whenever there are frozen lunch meals on sale, I buy a bunch of those. That way, even if we're in a hurry in the morning, Andrew has a lunch to take with him to work.

Before, when we had a little extra money, I'd follow recipes exactly, even if that meant going to the store to buy a few extra ingredients. Now, I play with recipes. I use dried herbs instead of fresh. I'll chop the tomatoes I have in the fridge instead of buying a new can (even though canned tomatoes aren't that expensive, it still saves to not go out and buy more!). If I have regular onion in the fridge, I'll use that instead of green (or vise versa). It doesn't matter what kind of cheese a recipe calls for; I use what I have.

I've also been working very hard at not wasting food. Before, I might have half of an avocado left from a recipe. It'd sit in the fridge, unused, until it went bad. Now, I search for recipes by ingredients online. Last night, for example, I made soup because I had an extra bunch of kale in the fridge. The soup recipe I found called for tomatoes and onions and kale, which I had in the fridge. Also, it was mostly water based. To use the kale, I just had to go to the store and buy a can of beans and some vegetable boullion. The soup was good for dinner last night, lunch today, and lunch tomorrow. Each time I do this, I probably save about a dollar or so by not throwing out an item. It adds up, and I feel much better about not throwing out any food, too.

Last week, Andrew and I had date night at home. I spent a little extra and bought stuff to make a nice torte for dessert. Today, I'm meeting up with a friend for tea. I decided to bake a treat here to bring with me rather than spending a couple dollars on a single cookie (Yes, I'll be spending a couople of dollars on tea, which you can easily argue is expensive. However, I say spending $2 on an evening out with a friend is relatively cheap). A quick survey of my pantry showed me that I had flour, sugar and cocoa. I also decided to use up the extra semi-sweet baking chocolate I'd purchased for the torte. I found a recipe for brownies at, and I halved it because I only had two eggs instead of four. It's OK if it doesn't turn out perfect. I chopped the semi-sweet chocolate and used that instead of chocolate chips. And, you know what? It smells wonderful. Once they're cool, I'll cut them and package them for lunch treats, and I'll take one with me tonight to enjoy with my tea.

I'll be sure to update my blog on occassion to include the various ways we work to save our money. I might not be able to stay home with Oliver forever, but the more I penny pinch, the longer I can be here with the little man. Besides, I've come to enjoy penny pinching. I see it as a challenge.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our Little Steam Roller

Oliver is officially sleeping on his belly every night. I lay him down on his back, and he flips over almost immediately. Most of the time, it's actually helping him sleep longer! Last night, for example, he slept from 8pm to 7am, getting up only once at 2am. Hurray!

Sometimes, though, he rolls and scoots too much. He'll get his face pressed up against the bars and start crying for us to come rescue him. He'll get better at it, though!

I get a little nervous with him sleeping on his belly because of SIDS. I read that a baby can choose his/her sleeping position once he's strong enough to roll over, but it still makes me nervous. I'm sure he'll be fine. I mean, he's a strong baby! But, still, I'll feel better when he's six months old and really out of the risky age for SIDS.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Goodbye to our dear friend, Bailey

I wasn't ready to discuss what happened to Bailey, but I'm feeling stronger now and am able to open up a bit. I love Bailey, and I miss her so much. She was a gift from my parents for my 14th birthday in 1996, and I was a very good pet mommy. I read books on how to train her, and I used nothing but love and patience to instruct her. She learned to sit her first day at home, and she was housebroken within two days. She loved to play fetch and to leap off of stairs. Mostly, she just wanted to please. She was very easy to train. Bailey was always a bit neurotic. She shook nonstop for the first week she was home, and she continued to tremble whenever she heard a loud noise or felt a storm coming. She wouldn't walk over manhole covers or other grates in the sidewalk. She liked to be invited up on the bed, even though she was always allowed up. Her favorite thing in the world was a belly rub. Also, she loved to sleep in the crook of my knees or balled up behind the small of my back. She guarded me in my sleep, too, barking at anyone who came near my room while I slept. She was my best friend.

This is the story of her final weeks.

Bailey had been staying with my parents for the last two months because it was difficult for me to try to care for her while caring for Oliver. I'd be holding Oliver while he was crying, and Bailey would cry for loving. When she had to go out, I'd leave Oliver in the house (often crying) to take her pee. At night, when I'd try to calm Oliver down enough to put him in his crib, Bailey would whine to be pet. It was a struggle for me, so I asked my mom and dad for help. They love her, too, so they said yes.

I still saw Bailey every Sunday when I went to visit my parents, and I saw her biweekly when I came over to work (I'm their cleaning lady). She was always excited to see me, but she was also happy living with my parents. I missed her terribly, but I felt a lot better knowing she wasn't being neglected.

About a month ago, she started coughing. It was a Saturday, and my parents took her to the vet. Bailey wouldn't cough for the vet (of course). My parents described the sound to him, and they insisted it couldn't be kennel cough (she's never around other dogs and is never boarded). He gave her a shot of a steroid. Bailey was like a puppy again! Her joints felt better, and she was prancing. She stopped coughing. Her hearing even came back a little bit! I came over the next day to visit with my parents, and I was greeted by a barking Bailey. That hadn't happened in about a year (since she'd gone completely deaf). It was so cute!

Unfortunately, the steroids also made her have to pee a lot. She peed in the house on Monday for one of the first times in her life (there was one other time in her life when she peed in the house, and that was when she'd had a bladder infection). I came over to clean on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I was able to let her out enough to keep her from messing in the house.

That was about the time I decided that Oliver was doing better. He was crying much less frequently, and he was willing to be put down for longer periods of time. I took Bailey home, and we did pretty well. It wasn't long, though, until she started her breathing problems again. I gave her the oral steroids (mixed with an antihistamine) the vet had provided for us in case the cough came back. After a dose of the steroids, I noticed she seemed dizzy. The following day, she started falling over (literally). She would be standing still, and then she'd fall to the side. I called the vet and asked him if it could be a side effect of the steroid/antihistamine. He told me it wasn't likely, but it was possible. He told me to discontinue the pill and to call him back the next day to report her progress. She continued to decline. As she walked down the hallway, she'd veer into one wall and then the opposite wall. She tipped over when she was standing still, and she face-planted when she walked. I hoped it was just a side effect, and so I decided to wait until the morning to see if she was better. That was Tuesday, March 9.

That night, I woke up to Bailey trembling and yelping. I drew her near me and pet her for a long while. At about 3am, I decided she couldn't wait until the morning, and it wasn't fair for me to let her be in pain. I woke Andrew up and asked her if he could take her to a pet hospital. He drove her to one near 285 & Santa Fe. There, they listened to her lungs (they sounded clear), and they did a blood panel and chest X-ray. Her lungs were perfectly clear, and her blood panel was perfect. She'd had surgeries in the past, and I've always been told her blood levels were perfect and that she's a very, very healthy dog.

Because she seemed otherwise healthy, they decided Bailey needed to see the neurologist. However, the neurologist kept regular hours, and Bailey wouldn't be able to see him until later that day. They kept Bailey, and Andrew came home. His boss let him have the day to spend with me, and I sat on edge all day.

It wasn't until 3pm that I heard from the neurologist. He explained that Bailey had a tendency to fall to the right more than the left, and she was slower to respond to stimuli from the right than she was the left. Based on that information and other tests, he said it's likely she either had a stroke or a brain tumor. Because of her history of breast cancer, he thought it was most likely a brain tumor. He told me the problem was in the occipital region of her brain, but he couldn't tell me exactly what it was or how bad it was or what could be done unless he could take an image of it. An MRI with sedation would cost $1800, and a spinal tap would cost an extra $500. We couldn't afford those tests. I told him I wouldn't do drastic treatment for cancer because of Bailey's age. He told me that they would then just treat a tumor with steroids to shrink it for as long as possible to increase her quality of life. He said that treatment would also be used for a stroke. I decided to take her home and start the steroid treatment. Bailey came home that night (Wednesday, March 10).

Bailey showed no signs of improvement at all the next day. She continued to fall down (about 3 times a minute), and she wasn't able to sit down or lay down herself. Also, when she tried to lower her head to eat or drink, it would cause her to fall over, so she had difficulty eating and drinking. I laid her in her bed so she could rest, and I put food and treats near her head so she could eat. We did OK. I told my mom that I understood I was keeping her alive for me and not for her. She wasn't in pain, and she was doing OK. And I wasn't ready to say goodbye. That night, when Andrew took her to the bathroom, she couldn't stand for a long while. Then she finally stood, peed, and took off running. Andrew jogged with her, directing her and keeping her off the streets, for about half an hour. He said she seemed to have a good time, and he took her back home.

The next morning, she threw up. It was the most vile, stinkiest vomit of all time, and she wasn't able to lift her head out of it. It covered her paws, her muzzle, and under her chin. It stunk. I didn't think it was safe to put her in the tub, so Andrew rinsed her over the sink. He told me later that he thought there was blood in her vomit.

She stopped eating that day. We bought expensive wet dog food, but she wasn't enticed. I offered her treats and mixed her food with rice, but she'd have nothing to do with it. She wouldn't even eat peanut butter. I sat on the floor all morning, offering her spoonfuls of various foods, crying, trying to get her to eat. Oliver cried, too. It was then I realized that Bailey wasn't OK, and it was no longer good for me to keep her with me. She still kept falling. The steroids made her have to pee all the time (every hour), and I wasn't able to get her outside frequently enough. She peed by the door. I held her and cried. I called Andrew, and I told him I knew it was time. I also told him I couldn't bear to make any more decisions in the matter and asked him to please handle everything. He's a wonderful person, and he did. My parents came to my house to say goodbye to Bailey and take her to the vet. I pet her for hours and cried. I couldn't imagine life without her, without hearing her jingle bells as she came prancing by. I couldn't imagine not hearing her bark anymore, or not having her sleep on my feet. There'd be no more games of fetch, no more jogs along the trail. She'd no longer help me finish my meals, no longer beg for scraps of food. This special dog, the dog I grew up with, wouldn't be by my side anymore.

I tried to be as happy as I could. I was very happy she got to know and love Andrew. I was happy she got to meet Oliver and know I was going to be OK. I said my goodbyes to her. I told her I'd be OK. I told her I'd miss her, and I told her I wish she could see me grow old. I told her about the first time I saw her and how I picked her out. I told her about training her and moving across the country with her. I described all the important events of her life. I told her how much she meant to me, of how I spent half of my entire life with her by my side. I could barely remember life before her, and now I was going to have a life after her. It was very, very hard.

My parents took her to the vet. He gave her the injection, and he said she didn't fight it at all. He told them she was ready to go. I knew it, but it was important for me to hear from them. She didn't yelp, didn't cry out, didn't struggle. She just went to sleep.

I kept her jingle bell collar. Bailey wore that collar year round. When she was going deaf, she couldn't hear much, but she could hear her jingle bells. If I'd take her collar off, she'd sit near where I placed it, and she'd cry at it. And so it came that Bailey wore her Christmas-y jingle bell collar all the time.

I haven't been able to think much about my loss. As soon as I start to think about it, I think of something else. I keep myself busy, cleaning, always working. I just can't hold on to the thought that she's gone.

Really, though, I'm doing OK. I have a loving family who is here supporting me, and I've heard from so many of my friends and family. I really am OK. I've got Oliver here to take care of, and I know if Bailey could think it and say it, she'd tell me to take care of him and be happy.

It breaks my heart that she was otherwise healthy, though. If it hadn't been for that stupid tumor or stroke, she'd be here. Right now, she'd probably be sleeping in her fuzzy pink dog bed, or she'd be at my feet, whining to remind me that it's bed time. I tell myself that she didn't suffer. She was sick for only a short while, and it wasn't drawn out. She was a happy and very loved dog.

Life goes on. I'll deal with the pain at some point, and the pain will eventually get easier. I'm glad Bailey got to watch me grow up and see my new family. She's a dear friend to me, and I'll love her always.

Here are a few photos of us saying goodbye.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Life's challenging at times. Bailey isn't OK, which is why I haven't been updating my blog. I don't feel like addressing that issue yet. In other news, Oliver went to his 4th month appointment today. He's in the 90th percentile for height, the 48th percentile for weight (I figure that all his weight is in his cheeks), and the 30th percentile for head circumference.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It's Official...

...Oliver is rolling over! I came into his bedroom at 5am this morning to nurse him, and I discovered him on his tummy. He'd flopped over sometime between 2am and 5am! As you might recall, on the Friday before last, Ollie rolled over from tummy to back twice (he hasn't done that since). He's going to be a rolling fool before I know it!

In other news, his teeth STILL haven't popped through. He goes through periods where the tooth buds don't bother him at all and other times where he gnaws on everything. Yesterday, I thought I could finally feel the tooth on his bottom left. I'm thinking it shouldn't be long now, but I've thought that many times before. I can't wait to see those teeth!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Freezing Time

I am loving being a mom. This new stage Oliver in is my favorite. He's in awe over everything he sees. He loves to examine everything from my hand to his feet from his toys to a bottle of vinegar. He doesn't stop smiling and making cute sounds (including laughter). He also can't sit still. He's always doing something, like pedaling his feet like a bike. I love this. I wish I could freeze time and bottle him up like this forever. Don't get me wrong; I want to see him grow and become his own person, but, dang, I just love this.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Oliver is Four Months Old!

I can't hardly believe it! I know, I know, all parents say this, but he's growing up so quickly. Perhaps it's the sleep deprivation or the fact there's just not enough time in the day to do everything, but I truly can't believe that I've been a mommy for four months. We're a third of the way through his first year!

Oliver has changed so much this month, and I'm loving these changes. First, he let's us sit down with him for 5, sometimes 10 minutes. He'll sit on our laps, facing outwards, and won't throw a fit. Amazing! He's also started joining us at the dinner table. We put him in his high chair, and we eat dinner as a family. Before, we had to alternate who got to eat and who got to hold Ollie. Now, it's family time. I love it.

Oliver is also very, very interested in his environment. His new favorite toys are household items like the hairbrush. He also loves playing with his aspirator. When I'm holding him and walking around, he'll see something that interests him. He'll spin his arms like a pinwheel towards whatever it is that interests him and bounce up and down. I'll take him over to explore the fascinating object. Sometimes it's the DVD tower. Sometimes, it's Andrew's coat. He's been interested in the plants, in the bottle of vinegar upstairs. He loves looking at our vanity (especially at the toothbrushes). His favorite item to explore is the vacuum cleaner (and not because of the sound. He likes it off).

Also, he's a thumb sucker! He loves sucking his thumbs, and they're often sucked raw. When his thumbs hurt, he moves on to his fingers. Sometimes, he just sucks his tongue.

Oliver had his first solid foods this month. We started with rice cereal, but that made him constipated. We moved on to Gerber oatmeal cereal, and he loved that (really, really loved that).

Perhaps the biggest change is that Oliver's sleeping unswaddled at night. He's getting up twice at night now, but he's also sleeping until 6am more frequently than he did last month. This morning, he actually slept until 6:45am!

His personality is becoming more apparent. He gets frustrated when he can't do something or get to something. He still hates being alone and yells when I turn my back on him. Which reminds me; Oliver shrieks. That's special, haha. Oh well. He also laughs, which just makes everything worth it. When he laughs, his smile lights up the room, and Andrew and I giggle right back. Grandma Judy is the best at making him laugh; Ollie gets the hiccoughs from all the laughing he does around her. It's cute.

Oliver's also getting better at the car seat. We removed the infant supports, and that seems to have made him happier. He doesn't cry when I set him in, and we've been able to take him to public places without him freaking out. Which reminds me; Ollie went on his first trip this month to Texas!

One of Oliver's favorite ways to pass the time is to play roll over. I just need to gently pull on his hand, and he flips from his back to his stomach. He's going to be doing that on his own in no time. Twice last week, he rolled from front to back, but he hasn't done it since. He wasn't flat on his stomach when he accomplished the feat; he had his head and shoulders upright and flung himself over. Super cute.

In other news, Oliver got a walker this month. He loves playing with the toys on it, but his toes only barely touch the ground right now. He's only moved it once.

Andrew and Oliver seemed to have bonded a lot this month, too. Oliver worships Andrew and gets super smiley when he gets home from work. He loves to sit on his knee and watch him at the computer. He also loves listening to Andrew read to him and playing roll over and exploring with him. They're best buds.

I'm amazed at how much Oliver has changed this month, and I love seeing him grow and get more independent. He's still snuggly and loves to cuddle, so I have absolutely nothing to complain about. As we enter into his fifth month of life, I'm getting very excited to see all the changes he's going to go through.


*Infant oatmeal! Mixed with breast milk, of course.

*The vacuum cleaner
*The vinegar bottle
*Playing with the spice rack
*Watching clothes in the washer and dryer
*Smiling at himself in the mirror
*Playing roll over
*Watching TV (that's so bad!)
*Being surprised (BOO!)
*Shouting people down (like the stewardess on the airplane)
*Naked time!


*Vaccines (though he only cried a little)
*Delays between spoons of food (hurry up!)
*Red stop lights (but he's getting better!)

*Being alone in the room (don't you leave to get the laundry, Mom!)