Saturday, March 22, 2014

Life Returns

As you may have noticed, my blog is rarely updated. I may find time to post the random shopping-expedition or monthly update on William's growth, but the rest has fallen through the cracks. I didn't plan to let my blog sit idle. I had big plans of keeping it up - even making it grow - after William was born. How I had planned to fit that in my day, I have no idea, but I did have plans.

William is almost six months old. And I am finally starting to feel like I have some sort of a rhythm in life again. I have moments that feel almost normal. The newness of my newborn hasn't worn off but has become less fragile and scary. I am still in awe that we have a son, that he is here with us and I am a mother. Our days together are mostly pleasant and I no longer hesitate to take him anywhere/everywhere. I do try to fit in my errands between naps/feeding times. But for the most part, its starting to fall into place.

I have been back to work (from home) for almost three months. I cut my hours down from 40 to 30, split up between five days. Fitting in six hours of work started out being really challenging but now, as William is napping better during the day, isn't as hard (but I still don't finish until after he goes to bed!).

Chris started a new job in January, which he enjoys very much. Once again he commutes across the Golden Gate Bridge everyday which makes his days a little longer than before. We've adjusted to the changes and have a schedule that seems to work fairly well. Chris doesn't leave for work until 8 a.m. so he can help me in the mornings, then he'll get home just after 7 p.m. and William has already gone to bed. We have about two hours together before we are off to bed too.

Chris and I try to go out on a date whenever we can find a friend to watch William, which for as often as people offer, seems very rare. The timing is just hard to figure out.

The weekends are filled with chores and errands and Chris and I find ourselves swapping who-does-what-when so William can stay home and keep napping. Rarely do we get to do something all together. But when we do, my heart sings as I feel the bonds of "family" forming.

We usually make it to church, but still spend most of the service in the infant room. And we've started hosting our community group a few times a month. (This way both Chris and I can participate while William sleeps.)

During the week, I try to go for a walk once a day with William. The weather has been so nice, it feels wrong to stay inside all day. I'm not really working out at all so the baby weight remains . . . for now.

I've gotten out my sewing machine a few times and made a card or two. Usually by the time I get my supplies out and ready I'm so tired I just want to take a nap. I'm trying to make myself rest a little and not put to much pressure on getting things done. Unfortunately, my blog falls into the category of "undone."

Which makes me pose the question (please do answer it!): If I have a moment to blog, what should I blog about? Take a moment and let me know what you miss most, what you'd like to hear/know! I would really love to hear from you.

Couponing for Baby Things and more

We needed a few things for William this week: Vitamin D drops and disposable diapers. I meant to get in on a Huggies deal last week but totally forgot about it, so I went with the Pampers deal this week at CVS. I had also been waiting to get the baby Vitamin D until I had a 20% off CVS store coupon which I received in my email this last Thursday, so I was all set to go today. Once again, I had a few transactions and a few extra goodies to make it even better.

#1: 2 packages Stride Gum on sale for $2/2 with $1 Extra Care Buck. Used $1/2 coupon.
      1 Sundown Calcium Vitamin on sale for $7 with $4 ECB. Used $2/1 coupon.
      1 Crest Sensitive with Scope toothpaste on sale for $4.99 with $4 ECB. Used $1/1 coupon.
Paid $9.99 (before tax) and received $9 ECB
*This purchase was totally not necessary, but the deals were just so good and it would help pay for the diapers.

#2: 4 packages of Pampers Diapers (32 ct) on sale for $8.99 each, and $10 ECB when you spend $30
      Used 4 $1.50/1 coupons and the $9 ECB from previous transaction
Paid $20.96 and got $10 ECB (tax was a whopping $3.33 which sticks... )

#3: Baby D-Vi-Sol not on sale at all $11.99
      1 Dozen eggs on sale for $1.79 (so much cheaper than Safeway)
      2 Cans Tuna $.88 each
      Used 20% off coupon for D-Vi-Sol and the $10 ECB from previous purchase
Paid $3.14 (before tax)

Total paid: $34.09 ($39.47 with tax)

*If I had just purchased the diapers (with the same coupons/deal) and the baby vitamin, I would have spent $28.96 before tax. So for an extra $5.13 I got a lot more stuff!

APC Banquet: Crossing the Threshold

Last night I got to go to the Alpha Pregnancy Center's annual fundraising banquet. I will spare you the details of my somewhat stressful afternoon of trying to get ready to go in time, but I am so glad I went.

Not only was it an enjoyable evening out with good friends and a great meal, but I got to hear two amazing stories and catch up with how Alpha is doing. As you know, this ministry is close to my heart and we've been trying to support Alpha in anyway we can for a number of years. I've attended their banquets in the past but this one was, in my opinion, outstanding.

My friend Lauren and I. This is the second banquet we've attended together.

2013 was an exciting year for Alpha. And "Crossing the Threshold"was the perfect theme. They've been working so hard to raise funds to be able to offer ultrasounds to their clients and this last year it happened! They purchased the equipment, hired an RN and a doctor to oversee the program. And since they've been able to offer the service, every woman who has opted for the ultrasound has chosen life for her baby. Prior to offering ultrasounds, they had an 85% success rate* of women choosing to keep their babies. Now, it's 100%. That just gives me goosebumps! Talk about life saving work - this is it!

The first story we heard was from a woman who had found Alpha in her time of need. When she found out she was pregnant, her life was a in a very rough spot. Living in a rough part of town, without work or permanent housing she attempted to abort her baby twice, but both times something got in the way. First it was the protesters outside the clinic; the second time it was being put on hold for too long to make the appointment. Eventually she found Alpha and they offered an ultrasound. She decided to keep the baby when she saw how much help she could get from Alpha. In her interview she shares that  Alpha gave her hope and her baby gave her life.  She also shared that she found a real relationship with God! She was in a bad place when she got pregnant but she said her life was better because of her son and she couldn't imagine life without him now. Her little boy was the first baby born from the clients who received an ultrasound.

The second story was from the main speaker, the Director of APC. Chastidy and her husband Matthew have been friends of ours since we met them shortly after moving to the city. They are a part of the church we belong to and Chris actually works Matthew.  I had heard bits and peaces of her story before but never in the detail she shared with us last night. Throughout her life she has experienced hurt, tragedy, and betrayal from those who should have protected and loved her more than anyone. As she shared each account, I could see that God really did protect her and preserve her life so she could do what she does today. He had and still has a purpose for her life. She came out of those events a strong, compassionate, and courageous woman. (Read this account for more proof.)

She has a strong conviction that every cry for help should be answered, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable that may be. I would agree in theory but often find myself being a coward to stand up for those in need. She is no coward. I sat there listening to my friend share things I have never known or experienced and was in awe of who she is.

I can't remember her scripture reference, but the call to help and save those being led to the slaughter is a call extended to every one of us.

Abortion is a real issue nationwide and worldwide. And the city of San Francisco is no exception. Across the nation, 1 in 3 women have an abortion during their lifetime*, but in San Francisco, the rate is 1 in 2. Half of the women in this city experience this.  Last year, there were 16,000 babies born in San Francisco, my son was one of them! But there were 18,000 that were not allowed to live.* I feel like I see babies everywhere I go, but to think that I should be seeing twice as many is very troubling.

I am so thankful that Alpha does what they do and that we can come along side them in prayer and support. Alpha is one of two pregnancy resource centers that offer alternatives to abortion in the city. They don't receive any government funding and operate on donations alone. They can't reach 18,000 women without more help! If you'd like to support Alpha Pregnancy Center, please donate online here.

* The statistics mentioned here are from my memory of what was shared during the banquet. If I have gotten the numbers wrong, I apologize. But really, it's the life behind the numbers that matter, not the numbers!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Me Time: Couponing

This weekend I had a few hours to myself and you know what I did . . . clipped coupons, studied the coupon sites and went shopping . . . for toilet paper. I do wish my life were a little more exciting than that honestly, but I got a great deal and felt good doing something I enjoyed pre-baby-life.

I actually hit up three stores and did quite a few separate transactions. Here's how it worked out:

#1: 12 oz bag of jelly beans on sale for $.99 with $.99 Extra Care Bucks
      Reese's Peanut Butter Easter Egg on sale for $.74 with $.74 ECB
     18 pack Playtex Tampons on sale for $5.99 with $3 ECB, also had $1 coupon
      Used 20% off total purchase coupon ($1.20)
      Paid: $5.52 and received $4.73 ECB (before tax)

#2: Charmin toilet paper 16 rolls with bonus 4 rolls on sale for $9.88*;
      had $1 store coupon and $.25 manufacturer coupon.
      Used $4.73 EBC from first transaction
      Paid $3.90 (before tax)

Total CVS: $9.42 before tax
*I don't like paying more than $.50 per roll for toilet paper. The ad had advertised the 16 rolls for $9.88 which is $.62 each. With the coupons I had it brought it down to $.53 each but when I saw the package with the bonus 4 rolls I knew it was going to be a great deal. And it was. It was just $.43 per roll! And if I go one step further to say that I only spent $3.90 for it, well then it was only $.20 a roll. That just makes me smile and want to say "Yippy!" :)

#1: Kellogg's To-Go Shake on sale for $1.49 with $1.49 in Register Rewards
      Paid $1.49 before tax and received $1.49 RR

#2: Kellogg's To-Go Shake on sale for $1.49 with $1.49 in Register Rewards
      Paid $1.49 before tax and received $1.49 RR

#3: Two Pantene Pro-V Shampoo and 1 Conditioner on sale for $3/10
      and receive 1,000 Balance points
      Had one manufacturer coupon for $5 off 3
      Used both RR from previous transactions ($2.98)
      Paid $2.02 (before tax) and received 1,000 Balance Reward Points (equal to $1 on future purchase)

Total Walgreens: $5 and have 1,000 points

#1: 4 DiGiorno Frozen Pizzas on sale for 2/$10
      -   Used Target CartWheel for the first time ever for 5% off ($1.00)
      - coupons $2/2 (had two)
    Seventh Generation Baby Wipes 256 ct. on sale for $7.99
     - Target CartWheel offer 10% off ($.80)

Target Total: $22

It was nice to get out of the house and get some things we needed at a good price (and a few treats too!) But I was surprised by how it all zapped my energy for the rest of the day. I'll have to remember that next time!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Our 2nd Annual Oscar Party

On Sunday (March 2) we hosted our second Oscar Party! The first one (two years ago) was a big hit and we were so bummed out that we had to miss it last year I wanted to make sure we did it this year.  I didn't have time or energy to recreate the wheel so I reused a lot of the same decorations or ideas I had before. I did update the photo booth and ballots. I think we maxed out the capacity of our little apartment this year but had a great time!

I made cocktail meatballs, put out some cheese and crackers, a veggie tray, fruit cups and had Chris make is famous guacamole. Friends brought wine, wine and more wine . . . and a few other delicious snacks and dishes. 

We started the night out filling out ballots, snacking on food and catching up with friends. We rarely get time to be with them anymore! Then once the show got going, we cheered and/or discussed the academy's choice of winner. Toward the end of the night, we had people count up how many movies they had seen that were nominated and the winner took home a goodie bag of popcorn and candy.  And when the last award was announced, everyone tallied how many categories they got right and that winner took home a Fandango gift card. The last prize (a Redbox gift card) went to the person who correctly answered Chris's trivia questions. 

The photo booth turned out well enough. I added a few mustaches-on-a-stick props that people got a kick out of. And of course, my paper-cut-out Oscar! 

William also got dressed up for the event, although after refusing to take a nap all afternoon had to turn in early. He actually slept through the whole thing and woke up as our last guest closed the door (of course). Maybe next year he'll get in on the action. (The vintage photo is actually due to a flash mishap . . . but it was the only photo that William actually smiled in!)

I haven't had a chance to blog about this girl - Sarah. She is my cousin. She and her husband moved out here after Thanksgiving last year. I've only gotten to see her a few times, but it turns out we are sort of neighbors! It's s great having family in the city! And I was so glad she could come to our party.

The evening was a lot of fun. Looking forward to doing it again next year! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Baby B: Five Months Old

Another month has flown by and William continues to grow and change on an almost daily basis. His newest discovery has been his toes! So cute and fun.

I have failed to keep the larger sizes of white onsies on hand so his 
photos will now be in whatever fits! And may or may not be covered in drool.

He's really into handling his toys now and was recently promoted from his activity mat to an exersaucer. He is a squirmy little guy; we've discovered that we have to buckle him into his swing now as he likes to wiggle his way out of it and no matter how tight we swaddle him, he can escape in seconds.

We've enjoyed a few outings in the stroller this month and had an impromptu picnic under a tree in the park. He loved looking at the things around him: trees, grass, rocks, the blue sky, etc. Everything but his bottle.

He definitely recognizes mom and dad and will usually give us a big smile for giving him the attention he so loves.

We started working on creating a routine and sleep training this past month. You may have read my rant here. After Chris spoke with a friend (and father of two darling children) we were encouraged not to give up and given some pointers in the "cry-it-out" method that seemed so awful and frightening for us all.

After just two days of practicing a modified cry-it-out method (checking up on William every 10 minutes or so if he was crying and not picking him up) he slept through the night! Well, he didn't sleep the whole time, but he didn't cry! He has not done it a second time, but at least he encouraged us to keep going. We needed a glimpse of hope in this department.

Our bed time routine goes like this: bath, brief massage, put on the disposable diaper and onsie, sleep sack/swaddle. Rock while singing "10 in the bed." When the little one says "good night" I put him in his crib and tell him I'll see him in the morning. And usually, five nights out of seven, he will fall asleep within minutes and not wake up for three to four hours. Success!

Nap times took a lot longer for me to get the hang of. But now, they are getting better. He will nap for about an hour three times a day. Sometimes they last longer, and sometimes we can sneak in a fourth, but I think three is good. There is still some crying going on with naps, but much less than when we started.

As nap times improve so does my energy and ability to get my work done. My routines of meal planning, grocery shopping and spending time with Chris in the evenings are all falling back into place. Now, if I could just get to the gym!

Speaking of gyms, twice a month, William and I go to a baby/mom yoga class offered at my hospital. It's a nice walk there and back and an hour of stretching does my body good. Its nice to have something that William is actually "invited" to attend so I don't have to worry about getting someone to watch him. And it's free!

William is a lot of fun at this age. I really love hanging out with him and watching his eyes take in the world (or our apartment).