Today was a day of milestones…

Well, at least we’ll never forget what day they happened seeing as how it’s Valentine’s Day.  Squish hit three big milestones unassisted today:  getting to a sitting position from lying down, getting on her hands and knees and rocking like a skier getting ready to leap out of the gate, and starting to pull herself up on things… namely my shirt when we’re sitting on the floor together.

She’s been able to do this stuff for a long time, but I suspect she just didn’t feel like it.  Today she really turned on the juice and surprised the crap out of us.  I wouldn’t be shocked if we came downstairs tomorrow morning and she had a pot of coffee on.  Every day is a day of wonder and amusement.

I’m still doing ok with the no sugar thing.  It’s hard, but manageable.  Squish and I took a 2 hour trip to the grocery store and refilled our pantry and fridge with healthy things.  Out went the white rice, in came the brown rice, quinoa (can someone PLEASE tell me how to pronounce that?!), and barley.  Got rid of anything that had a lot of saturated or transfats and empty carbs and replaced it with a ton of fruit & veggies.  My produce part of the list was a mile long!  Cooked with wheat flour for the first time this weekend too – I made pizza calzones.  To make it healthy I snuck in a whole shredded zucchini into the ground turkey filling.  It was awesome.  I made 6 more – they’re frozen and ready to go in my lunch this week.  Pair ’em up with a salad and it’s perfectly balanced.

Saved a ton at the grocery store with The Grocery Game. I even spread the word about it to another family who was neck deep in coupons like me.  All told, I saved roughly $40 grocery shopping by matching up what was on sale with the matching coupon.  I got Soft Soap (the hand dispenser for the bathroom) and Lipton Onion Soup Mix for FREE!  I like free.  It’s my favorite four letter word.

Back to work tomorrow – bleh~!  Ben has the day off for Presidents Day.  Plus, it’s his birthday so he’s kinda psyched about that.  I’m taking Squish to the babysitter so he can have an entire day to play Bioshock 2.  Aw crap!  I gotta get him a card.  *gulp*.

Oh yeah.  Did I mention we’re forecast to get another 5″ – 9″ between now and tomorrow night?  I think Mother Nature took a wrong turn at Albuquerque – where does she think I live, Buffalo!?  At least a lot of people have the day off so they won’t be clogging the roads.


Weekend Fun

Well, it seems like Mallory is over her little gastro virus so hallelujah for that.  She’s still snotty from the cold virus she had at the same time; we’ll be wiping her nose for the next few days, I’m sure.  There’s nothing like sprinting for a Kleenex every time she sneezes because of the twin fountains of slimy expectorant she brings up.  Yum!  Yesterday I saw the largest snot bubble I’ve ever seen in my life.  It was half the size of her head, I kid you not.

Today she was well enough to venture out to the library for a Valentine’s Day event that featured book reading, crafts, and rhymes/ songs.  We met up with my friend Claire, her daughter Emily, her friend Andrea, and her son Drew.  Mallory had a blast!  I don’t think she’s been around that many kids before 🙂  While she wasn’t able to really follow along, she was content to sit there in her mama’s lap and listen while playing with some stuff.  At least she wasn’t howling the whole time.

Afterwards, we hit up Max & Erma’s for lunch.  Our poor waiter…  having to deal with two 2 and a half year olds and a baby.  Mallory was just enamored with him.  She did fairly well sitting in the high chair until I let her play with one of the paper things that wrap the napkins and silverware.  She ended up getting a piece, it triggered her gag reflex, and I got to play clean-up.  Luckily, disaster averted and it was just a quick wipe up.  The whole thing got her tuckered out and she was fast asleep before I pulled into the driveway even though it’s less than a 5 minute drive home.  All in all, I’m glad we got out and hope Claire invites us to more Mommy stuff. I tell you, that girl knows everything mommy-related going on in town.

So she’s still sleeping and then we’re going to hit the grocery store.  I had to clean out a lot of the goodies in there yesterday because Ben got diagnosed with diabetes.  I figured the Ghiradelli Brownie Mix and Frosted Flakes were just too cruel to leave in the pantry.  Plus, I need to make room for all the healthy stuff we’re going to be putting in there… barley, brown rice, and quinoa.  High cholesterol and diabetes… ai yai yai.  As a  bonus, Mallory and I will be eating healthy as well.  I’m not about to cook two dinners, yanno.

I think it was the wake up call that he needed to get his life straight.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to get his major causes of heart disease under control.  Of the five risk factors, he has 4: smoking, high blood sugar (diabetes), high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  Amazingly, all of them are controllable.  The doctor wants him to quit smoking right away and told him a minor weight gain (5-10lbs) would be acceptable by his next appointment in 12 weeks if he quit smoking immediately.  The major thing I see us having problems achieving is getting in 200 minutes of aerobic exercise a week.  Seriously, going from basically ZERO to 200 minutes / week is a big jump.  That’s 40 minutes five times a week or about half an hour every day.

I had him fill a prescription while I was there and then he looked at my chart and noticed that I hadn’t had a physical and bloodwork done EVER.  Needless to say, I have an appointment in 12 weeks to have mine done.  Doh!  I think it’s for the best though.  After we left Ben said that he got read the riot act even after he had lost 12 lbs… LOL.  Looks like we’ll both have to try harder.  Expect to see more posts in the future about our journey to get healthy.

Oh!  Just as a ‘shiny monkey moment’ – have you tried  You can search for recipes based on ingredients.  I think I’m going to actually pay the $24.95/year fee and join because it’s a lot easier to manipulate stuff.  Plus, it allows me to have multiple cookbooks and I can take advantage of the menu planning / add to grocery list options.  I’ll share our cookbooks and meal planners when they’re active so you can see what we’re eating.  The most interesting recipe I’m trying this week is “Low carb shrimp with ‘grits.'”  Instead of grits, they make a neat concoction with cauliflower.  I figure we’ll have something New Orleans-ish for Fat Tuesday.

So how’s your weekend treating you so far?

I’m a Grocery Store Saving Super Star!

I’m on a mission to save money in any way we can.  We’ve already eliminated our monthly gym membership ($106) and said ‘sayonara’ to our cable ($86).  Looking at the last few months of our spending trends on I came to the realization that we were spending a TON of money on food – both groceries and eating out.  Mint is pretty cool in the aspect that I can define custom categories to help me track spending in a way that makes sense to me.

I’m using their standard ‘Grocery’ category but have also added three custom categories under their Food & Dining umbrella to further help us track spending:  F&D – Kris, F&D – Ben, and F&D – Us.  In March we spent $853 in our Food & Dining category.  Only $427 (50%) was spent on grocery items.  The rest was made up from us eating out.  That was the first category to get worked on.  I didn’t budget us $400+ a month to eat out – where is it coming from??

We’re trying to make dinners that are conducive to being packed as lunches (enchiladas, cabbage roll casserole, you get the idea).  That allows us to have a pretty good dinner on a weekend AND have at least 2 days worth of lunches to boot.  I’ve been making pudding and packaging it in to-go containers so that’s working out well, too.  I’m tricking Ben by sneaking in a serving of calcium, reducing the waste we put in the environment by skipping the puddin’ cups, and  saving a crapload of money on that kinda stuff.

The second part I wanted to whack down was our actual grocery spending.  Ben and I are two people – how are we consuming $427 in groceries a  month in addition to the $427 we’re eating out?  I’ve made it my mission to see just how low I can get our grocery bill while building up a stockpile of items that we can live off while I’m out on maternity leave and my paychecks are a little leaner than usual. Last week I saved $44.17, or 30% of the total bill.  This week I saved $34.15, or 33% of our total bill.  It’s become something of a game to see how big of a percentage off our bill I can save.

So, how am I doing it?

  1. I picked the right store – Meijer – over its local competition.  Meijer doubles coupons up to 99 cents, has low overall prices, and they also price match what other stores show in their weekly ads.
  2. I peruse the weekly ads on Friday night / Saturday morning to prepare for a Saturday afternoon trip.  I grab a piece of notebook paper and quickly jot down what’s on sale where (ie – Kroger has Wheat Thins for $1/box, Giant Eagle has cereal on sale for $1.99/box) making sure that I only write down stuff we’ll actually eat/use.
  3. I go through my stack of coupons to see if I can save any additional money on what I’m already buying.  I don’t cut out the coupons until I actually am going to use them – it’s much easier than carrying around a box or envelope of slippery loose coupons.
  4. I figure out what we’re going to have for meals for the week based on what’s on sale, what’s in the freezer / pantry, and oddly enough – what the weather will be.  It’s tough to schedule a grill night when it’s going to rain all week.
  5. When I’m at the store I grab a cart *and* one of the small shopping baskets.  I put the basket on the bottom of the cart – my price match items go in there so I can easily separate them from the rest of my purchases.  Believe me, the cashier LOVES me for this.
  6. I also make sure to have the coupons that I’m going to use all ready before I get in line to make things go faster.

Believe it or not, but it actually takes me only 20 minutes to half an hour more to get all this done over what I was doing before.  I’m hoping to save over 40% this week at the store 🙂

Let me know if you decide to try any of these tips and how much you save.  You’d be surprised how quickly it adds up.