Sunday, February 21, 2010

Carr's skin condition

I have mentioned in previous posts that my son suffers from excema and has some strange allergic reactions.  This has been something that has worried Chip and I to death.  We have tried everything when it comes to combating his excema with no success.  As a result of our concern we requested that our pediatrician test Carr for allergies. This is about the time we discovered that he was allergic to egg whites.  After the first "overreaction" we settled into a routine and had successfully eliminated all egg from his diet except for one thing: Carr's eggos.  Our little monster refused to have any breakfast at all if he didn't have his waffle (he was about 1 year old).  We didn't stop giving him this and we did not see any improvement or worsening of his condition.  As time went by, fast forward a year, birthday parties, get togethers and playdates made it harder and harder for me to inspect any and all food my son was cramming into his mouth.  Unfortunately, I have to admit that he was probably eating eggs in one manner or another, in cakes, sweets, etc.  I did not observe a worsening of his skin condition at all, which made me suspicious.
I never stopped looking researching and talking to other parents.  About a month ago, while talking to a co-worker about Carr, we got on the excema subject and he told me what his pediatrician recommended.
My co-workers pediatrician told him to bathe his son with Dove deep moisturizing body-wash and afterwards apply Aquaphor healing ointment.  Well, it works like a charm!  My son enjoys now healthy skin, no itching  and no scaring.  I wish I had before and after photos but I wrestled with appropriateness of posting these personal photos of my son.  I kept thinking of what my son would say 10 years, 15 years and 30 years from now to me, if this would embarrass him or not.  I choose to play it safe and only describe to you his condition, out of respect for Carr.  For my friends and family that have seen his outbreaks, you know how bad it was and how miserable he was.  I wanted to share this with you, just in case you know someone out there that is going thorough the same dilemma.  No child should have to suffer from something so uncomfortable.  You won't lose anything by trying! I hope this helps you as it has us.

disclosure:  I have not received any products or money for naming the Dove or Aquaphor.

Menu Planner - Redux

I am going to share with you a secret, my success in cutting our grocery bills in half has everything to do with "menu planning".  It is also the tool that keeps me grounded and balanced at home.  Believe it or not, once you do some ground work and prep, this method takes care of itself.
Before I start posting links and leave you to your own devices, I would like to send your way some useful tips:

1. Start simple: I know obvious advice. But let me tell you that the first time I started planning our family menus, I totally went overboard.  I thought I was some sort of chef and started cooking very complicated meals.  Remember the reason why you want to menu plan!  You want to simplify your life and save money.  Well, cooking gourmet meals that take all afternoon to make does not acheive this goal whatsoever.
Make a list of meals that you normally cook at home.  By doing this you avoid wastefulness, stress and unknown outcomes. 

2. Make yourself a master menu for the week. An example of this would be:
Monday:        Chicken
Tuesday:        Spanish
Wednesday:   Stirfry / Asian cuisine
Thursday:       Slowcooker
Friday:           Sandwiches & Pizza
Saturday:       Complicated meals (steaks, roasts, etc.)
Sunday:         Fish

This method helps you sort through recipes.  It allows you to prep if neccessary before hand so you don't spend all your evening slaving in the kitchen.  It allows me to plan my son's activities, once I know how long I will take making dinner, I can decide which activity do with my son.  Thursdays  are the days when I can count on having all my afternoon so I plan more involved activities with Carr.  I can take him out for a long walk or tackle a new finger painting project, etc.  I can do this because I know for a fact how long I will be in the kitchen.

3. Once you have your master menu, you can use your family recipes or you can look for new recipes on the internet.  I would like to recommend a few, for several reasons, easy to find recipes, very healthy, and original.
  • Smitten Kitchen:
  • 101 cookbooks:
  • The Food Allergy Blog :
4. You can write your menu however you please.  This is the template I use: 
I also highly recommend that you read Laura's site. It is one of my favorites and there is so much useful information that can help you start your path to simplicity and frugality. 

5. Save past Menues!  You can reuse them as often as you want. 

6.  Some people like to menu plan a month in advance.  I did not find that monthly menu planning helped me at all!  It made me over buy groceries and waste food.  I like the weekly method because I buy only what I need for the week, spend less time at the grocery store and do not throw away rotted food.

Good luck with your menu planning and I am posting my menu for next week so you can see it at work.  Please keep in mind that I do not cook lunches during the week, they are not included.

Menu for February 22nd thru March 1st
Monday:       Baked turkey breast with mash potatoes and gravy
Tuesday:      Mexican tacos and spanish rice, avocado salad and chips & salsa
Wednesday: Teriyaki sausage Stir Fry
Thursday:      Royal roundsteak with egg noodles
Friday:          Grilled cheese sandwiches with homemade chicken veggie noodle soup
Saturday:       Lunch - ham and cheese croissants
                     Dinner - Roasted pork tenderlion w/apricot glaze
Sunday:         Lunch - waffles & hash
                     Dinner - shrimp fried rice

Have a great week!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

And Life happens...

I don't know about you but when I read some other blogs, I feel inadequate because they seem to have their life so together.  Well, I don't, my life is sometimes disorganized, messy and quite frankly frustrating.  It seems that I take one step forward only to take two back!
This past week it has been a royal mess.  Because of external agents that frankly depressed me and got me very nervous, I lost my way.  I succumbed to external stress and bought over my limit for the week on snacks, didn't follow my menu and did not pre-plan for the coming week. Hey! Stuff happens, and we tend to go back to the rutines that we feel comfortable in.  This means that old habits die hard, for everyone.
What needs to happen is that you should not beat yourself up, you just have to keep at it and be cognoscent that from time to time this will happen until you make this routine a habit and that might take a while.
Have a great weekend and enjoy the little things that make your life happy, messy and unique!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I feel so blessed on a day like today.  I having a loving husband and an awesome son.  Today, I wanted to celebrate the loves of my life...

Valentine's Day Activities and Menu
Crafts with Carr: Finger painting and gift wrapping
French Toast and Mimosas for the adults and Cranberry juice for the child
Bake Valentine's Day Cookies
Carr's Nap
Spa naptime for Mommy
London Broil, peas and carrots and Wild rice with wine
Thank you notes and blogging

It was a great day!  Special thanks to my husband Chip that took Carr to beddiebye and gave mommy some "me" time.



Sunday, February 14, 2010

Carr's Development: Leaps and Bounds!!!

My little man has grown so much in these past months.  I can't pin point when it happened or how.  He carries himself like a little boy not a baby.  Carr runs towards me, hugs me and all of a sudden the whole world shines, he makes everything alright.
My son is also the sweetest child I know.  Yes, I know what you're thinking, bias, true.  But he really is, I can sit and watch the Wiggles with him and he sits on my lap and lets me kiss him and hug on him as much as I want. WOW!  This is new, he has been always on the run and such a busy child that I really didn't get to cuddle much with him but now I am in total bliss.
A new development is Story Time.  I have always read to my son but at his speed, soon it became clear that it would be impossible to read to him before bedtime the way I wanted to.  So i switch gears and bought picture books and Carr and I practiced his words during the evening.  But bedtime stories were not done.  All of a sudden my son starts taking books to our bed at night and wanting me to read to him.  You cannot imagine how I felt!  So now, every night, Carr and I read "Goodnight Moon" before we go to bed.
I am a very happy mother!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Success with Groceries and room for improvement.

In a previous post, I explained my plan to control our spending...especially grocery shopping.  It is my opinion that in order to change a habit or behavior, you must first understand it.  You must understand the "invisible drivers" that set off certain behaviors.  I'll give you an example:
My grandmother was raised during the depression and then after she had her only child she became a single mom (my Grand-Dad died early on).  Her behavior towards food was "eat everything you have on your plate and save as much as you can!"  My mom is the direct opposite, she complains of all her "have nots", so of course she was more about spending and having "good stuff".  I have always thought I was a good in between.  Once I had my child, I started observing changes in my behavior.  I started recognizing my mom in my spending habits towards Carr.  It was like I defined myself as a mom on the "Good" things I gave my son.  Well, I was wrong.  And I can prove it easy!
You see my child, as do all children of two, wants my time not $50 dollar pair of sneakers.  Those are buying habits that lead towards disaster, if you really want to live simply and encourage your child to have saving habits.  Indulge me a little and make a list of things that you want your child to learn from you, then make a list of characteristics that you feel you need to encourage for your child to grow up well rounded and happy, successful yada, yada, yada.  If in any of those lists you put loose spending, no future planning, centered on labels, brand names, and accumulation of stuff.  Then read no more, I have nothing to offer you.  If you want directly the opposite, please read on.
Back to my original subject, once you decide that you need to change certain behaviors, you need to observe what in actuality is going on.  If you have a checking account go back two months and get to work.  Add you expenses by category.  This will give you a true picture of your spending habits.  Then, here comes the hard part. Start logging in your groceries and expenses.  Yes, talk about tedious but that is the only way I found to get a clear picture.  Stop all grocery shopping that is not an emergency other than when you normally plan to go grocery shopping.  I go on weekends because I work and would rather come straight home and have time with Carr than grocery shop during the week. Never go to the grocery store without a list and you must stick to it.  NO Impulse Buying! Something that I do, is that I menu plan and make my list according to the menu and I stick to it!
My husband and I also decided what our non-negotiables were. Example: Carr does not eat processed food. He only eats organic.  We decided that this is what we did not want to skimp on, we want to give him a good head start.
Believe me, once you do this for a month, it becomes a habit and its easy.  You can recycle menues, which helps you with the time factor.  I used to make up a month worth of menus, which lead me to buy too many groceries, which lead to spoiled food.  Another behavior I changed was dealing with left overs.  My husband hates them and I used to throw away food if we did have them.  Not good.  Two weeks ago, I made a three bean and veggie soup in the slow-cooker.  We had tons left over.  I put it in the freezer and used it this week, I added pork cubes to it and it was a completely different dish.  Chip didn't even notice it.
Most women have a propensity to multitask and most of us, stay at home or working moms, deal with home management.  This puts us in the drivers seat, we decide how to manage home funds.  It's time to take reponsibility and make life easier for ourselves and our children.
I used to spend approximately $250 to $300 on groceries, eating out and impulse buying.  In the past month I have effectively lowered our bills to an average of $143 a week!  Yes, this works, it just takes some work at the begining but when you start seeing the results, it makes it all worth while.
I am posting links to what I think is the best weekly menu and grocery list I have encountered in the blogger sphere.

"I am an organizing Junkie"
 I love this site!  I suggest if you have the time and the will, you should read through it.  This blog has so much useful information that I still am going through it and getting new ideas.

  • Menu Planner
  • Grocery List

Disclaimer:  I have not received any incentives to post "I'm an organizing Junkie" blog or post any ideas other than mine.