Monday, January 31, 2011

Caring for Sick Babies

Like any mother, I hate it when my babies are sick. My three-year-old woke from her nap yesterday with a low fever. I should have known something was wrong, because she'd been irritatingly whiny the last day or so. Today she's been just pathetic. Laid out on the couch, paci in the mouth, tv coming on periodically, running a bit of a fever, and trying not to go to sleep. I even put her in her room for a while, and she wouldn't go to sleep, but I can tell she can barely keep her eyes open. Both girls are currently napping.
I love that she is old enough to tell me what is bothering her! Although, when first asked if anything hurt, she replied, "My foot," because her sister was sitting on it. I noticed she wouldn't drink more than two sips of anything before setting her cup aside...this is unusual for her. She chugs anything I put in her cup! So I asked if her throat hurt, and from there she mentioned a few other things.
So is it coincidence that my kids only get sick on Mondays after being in the church nursery on Sunday? Just a thought I've had each time the get sick, because it seems to be the way it goes.
I'm hoping it's nothing like the flu, although she does seem to be pretty achy. Anytime I touch her she whines...okay, correction, anytime her sister touches her--maybe that's not so unusual anyway. :)
I'm currently in transition between pediatricians. I've paid one off and found one I want to switch to, but haven't actually visited the new pediatrician yet. I hope I don't have to meet him so soon! I really hate taking my kids to the doctor. If they were sick when we walked in, they probably will be when we walk out!
One nice thing about her being sick is that she wants to just sit and cuddle. Although, little sister isn't appreciating it so much! My little one is such a cuddle bug, and isn't use to competing for my lap or for being held because my oldest is content to bounce all over the house when she's awake! So, in the end, I've had once sick, cuddle bug, and one whiny, "neglected" cuddle bug.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Partying with Allergies

Well, birthday party season started tonight and will come in full swing in June. Living around a school, everything--including the births of planned children--revolves around the school calendar! June is awful on the wallet when it comes to birthdays. Tonight we attended the first birthday party of the year. Last year I got away with taking an Oreo or something and my daughter not caring because she was too busy playing. Now, she's getting a better understanding of birthdays, presents, and yes, cake. How do you tell a child, "We're going to a birthday party, but you can't eat anything because you're allergic,"? Well, I do, all the time!
To try to make parties more relaxed and comfortable for my daughter, I prepare party-type foods that she can enjoy with her friends without appearing too different. Preschool parties are pretty simple, but add into the equation the older siblings of her preschool aged friends, and my daughter becomes more aware of the fact that her food is different. She knows foods will make her sick, and she'll tell people that, but it's highly frustrating when an older child makes negative and mocking-sounding comments about the fact that my daughter isn't eating the same thing everyone else is eating. It makes me want to find the parent and tell them to correct their child! That kind of negative peer pressure could be the cause of my child trying a food that would make her sick!
Okay, off that horse! Today we went to Toys R Us and picked out every imaginable boy toy under $10 and put it in the cart. When we were done, we lined them all up on the floor, and my daughter picked out one toy for her friend. To her credit, she picked out the cheapest toy of them all (she doesn't get that from me!). Then we put all of the toys back, and I let her pay for the gift.
We came home, and while the girls ate lunch, I made cupcakes for my daughter to take to the party. Well, the weather today was GORGEOUS! (72!) so we played out in the dirt--attempting to dig my garden plot--while the cupcakes baked and then cooled. During nap time I frosted and decorated the cupcake so that looked all nice and party-ish. She was so excited about the party tonight.
We got to the party, and she told several people that she had cupcakes because the other food would make her sick. One of her food-allergy buddies was there tonight. It has helped her understand her allergies to realize that she has friends who can't eat certain foods either. Tonight's party was easy, I only had to supplement cupcakes. Most parties require a full meal! Pizza, chips, crackers, cheese, ranch dressing dip, ice cream, cake, cookies--so many party foods and she can't have any of them! But she's just as satisfied with her pb&j and home made cupcake or similar treat.
I'm looking forward to her birthday, and not needing to worry about a single food item on the menu. I'm also eager to see what people think of the food selection available when you have to eat such a restricted diet!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Family Affair

For the last few days, my mother has been in town along with my 7-year-old brother. I never know how to respond or react to my mother. We never got along when I was growing up, and even once I became an adult. Our relationship has greatly improved since I had children. I've always heard that grandchildren will do amazing thing to the attitude of one's parents, and this is true. My brother adds an extra level of required patience when my mother visits. He is a poorly disciplined boy being raised in a home of much strife and conflict. I pity him, but somehow still fail to have the necessary patience sometimes to demonstrate the love he so desperately craves. I did better with him until my own children came along, and I became concerned about the influence that both he and my mother were having on my children. While trying to love and guide my brother, I am trying to protect my children from following his poor example of open disrespect, disobedience, and dislike of my mother. These are behaviors that my father has instilled in him, and my mother has been left to endure and take care of. On the reverse side, my mother has never had the real patience or temperament for handling children, and as she's gotten older, her patience has thinned even more. Due to a lack of love, respect, and care being shown to her by the "men" in her life, she has lost the desire to love, respect, and care for them. It is a very sad and devastating circle to watch cycle. My home growing up was rarely a happy one, and for my brother those happy memories will be even more scarce. I long so frequently to make life better for him. I fear what he will be as a teenager, an adult, a husband, and a father. He has been taught that he can behave however he wants, treat people however he wants, and do whatever he wants, and that this is his right because he is male. He has been taught that violent behavior is acceptable and even expected because he is a boy. He has been trained to treat my mother like dirt on the floor who is there to wait on him hand and foot. He has been taught to tell my mother to shut-up and that he doesn't have to listen to her if he doesn't want to. If only my father would stop, understand, and care about what he was doing to the future women in my brother's life--that this behavior is just not extended to the wife that my father seemingly detests. I have had to closely monitor my brother with my own daughter because of this, in fear that he may (intentionally or not) harm her in some way.
I pity my mother. I am not trying to say that my father is the only bad person here. As the saying goes, "It takes two to tango." I'm not going to sit here and try to decide who started what and who's to blame, but I do know that my mother once loved my dad and did try to do what he wants, and now she dislikes and disrespects him as much as he does her. My mother grew up in an emotionally unstable atmosphere without the love of a man. She grew up being abused, both physically and emotionally, by the men in her life. When my dad said he loved her and asked her to marry him, she was so excited that she said, "Yes!" I have tried to come up with a way for my mother to get away from my dad, if even for a short time. Sadly, she has found her own escape. She has become addicted to Korean dramas online. She's obsessed. Her whole existance now revolves around her obsession with these dramas, and more with the men in these drama. She doesn't seem to really recognize how deep she is sinking into this obsession, but everyone else around her is concerned. The last two times she has been here to visit, we couldn't even carry on a conversation with her because she was so engrossed with these dramas. The grandbabies that she desperately wants to see and spend time with become a nuisance to her because they are interrupting her tweets, dramas, music videos, and whatever else she is involved in. These men have become a fantasy to her. My heart absolute breaks for my mother. All she's ever wanted was a man to truly love her.
It's scary how history could repeat itself. I sought the same thing when I chose to get married. My sisters and I grew up without the love of a man in our lives. All we have wanted is a man to love us. I know my husband really does love me, but that is by the grace of God that I met and married the right man. My youngest sister is now in a dating relationship, and as with each of us, her biggest fear is that she will marry a man like her father and will live the rest of her life in the same misery that we grew up surrounded by.
So all of this weight and burdened shared just for the sake of sharing, but also to ask for prayer for my family if and when anyone should think of it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tasty Tuesday

I LOVE to be in my kitchen....well, until it's time to clean it up! I love to cook and bake, and I'm more of an experimental cook/baker. I take recipes as suggestions, and rarely do I follow a recipe exactly as it is written.

My friend, Brandi, over at Raising Arrows will periodically have a segment called "Tasty Tuesday." It just like the sound of having an alliterated title, so I decided to carry it over with my recipe posts...though I won't allow this to restrict me to only posting recipes on Tuesdays!

Today I'm going to share one of my favorite recipes that I discovered, and my family enjoyed, this past winter. I have a daughter with multiple food allergies, so most recipes I post will have been adjusted to suit her needs. When applicable, I will include a link to the original recipe.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon almond milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (may be omitted if using vanilla-flavored milk)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, and vegetable oil. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
  2. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.
Note: The original recipe calls for 1 cup pumpkin and one egg. I use an extra 1/4 c pumpkin in place of the egg. You can use 1/4 c of any pureed fruit or veggie. You can also use a marketed egg replacer. My preference is Ener-G egg replacer.

We inhaled these cookies! I would usually make a triple batch and put some up in the freezer, but they still didn't last very long!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Food Allergies

My oldest daughter has multiple food allergies: dairy, eggs, and bananas. It was quite a challenge as I learned to deal with these allergies. We discovered her dairy allergy when she was only three weeks old. I was breastfeeding her, and she was having horrible constipation issues, had a horrible rash all over her body, and was having acid reflux. The first thing the lactation consultants suggested was to remove dairy from my diet. I did, and with a few days she was pooping more easily and had no acid reflux issues. It took a little over a week for the rash to clear up. After a while, I slowly worked dairy back into my diet. As long as I didn't eat large amounts, it didn't seem to phase her--unless I ate cream cheese. I don't know what's in cream cheese that's so different from other dairy, but if I only had a little bit, she broke out and became fitful.
Banana we noticed when she was around eight months old. You know how you mix fruits into their cereals when they're babies? Well, I put a little banana into her cereal, and as I moved the spoon toward her she became instantly congested. I didn't really notice it then, but it was something I realized upon reflection. When she took a bite she started gagging and it seemed she couldn't swallow--as if her throat had swollen shut. So, I scooped it out of her mouth and I didn't feed her any more. I asked her pediatrician about it at her next appointment. The pediatrician said it was highly unlikely that she was allergic to bananas, but if it seemed to happen again, then just don't feed her bananas anymore. So, I tried again and we had the same reaction. Thankfully, removing the bananas from her seemed to be enough to clear her up. We did not have to make an ER visit.
We discovered her egg allergy just before her first birthday. I was making some cookies and let her lick the beater. I have a Kitchen Aid mixer, so I have that funny, mushroom shaped beater. Well, anywhere that the beater touch her face her skin broke out in hives. So along with her routine twelve-month blood work, we also had blood drawn to test her sensitivities to the dairy and egg.
Needless to say, I now always have Benedryl with me as well as an EpiPen.
I have learned that many people do not truly understand what a dairy allergy is, and what it is like to cook for someone with a dairy allergy. When you mention to someone that your child is allergic to dairy, the first thing they think of is milk. Some people go beyond that and think cheese and yogurt. But for those of you who haven't really had to think about this, let me add in some things that, to me, were essentials in the kitchen that I have had to learn to live without: cream cheese, butter, sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup (and any other cream soup). And no, Lactaid can not be served to someone with a dairy allergy. It is still milk.
I have found numerous recipes through the blogs of other mothers trying to help their children eat a balanced and healthy diet while trying to work around allergies and the natural tendency of children to have picky eating habits. I wanted to join the ranks and share recipes that I have found or come up with to help other mothers. I will do my best to site where I have found the recipe, but some may be recipes that I wrote down, but don't remember where it came from.

Monday Market

A review of my last few shopping trips. Today and yesterday was incredible! I'm blessed to live in the land of Publix! This past weekend we enjoyed all of Kellogg's cereals and Pop-Tarts at 50% off. Though this is not much different from a BOGO sale, it was beneficial if you only had an odd number of coupons. My husband is a cereal hound--he could seriously eat a box of cereal in one sitting. I find this incredible because I can't really stand cereal, so I don't understand someone eating a whole box in one sitting! So, anytime we can get cereal for cheap (or free) we stock up as much as we can!

So, yesterday we ran to Publix (just the hubs and me!) to take advantage of the Kellogg's sale. (Sad when your idea of a date night is a quick grocery store trip!) We got 8 boxes of Special K, a bag of kettle chips, some dried pineapple (both of these items were splurges because DH went with me), and a bottle of coffee creamer for my mom who is staying with us for a few days (hence the reason we were able to go out with no kids). One box of Special K is regularly $3.99. For all of the items I just listed, we paid $6.80! According to the receipt, that's a savings of $27.51!
I did my real shopping trip today. Since my mother has been in town, I've been a little slower about getting my list and coupons together. But I've been trying to convince her that all of this coupon-stuff is worth the effort. So I dragged her to Publix with me this morning and proved it. We got 30 items, two of which were Poise pads for my mom (and for the Kimberly-Clark rebate). Each of these packages are over $13. My complete transaction total came to $23.29! That's about $3 less than just the two packs of pads for my mom! I was so thrilled to get to show her this incredible savings! And I'll still be getting back a $10 Publix gift card (or rather, my mom will be). So, in reality, today's trip will have cost $13.29! My receipt says savings of $91.30, but when we consider the rebate, it will be savings of $101.30. Wow!

I came home with rain checks for a few items, one of which is the Kraft Homestyle Mac n Cheese. I have a child with dairy allergies, so I never get mac n cheese anymore, but I love it! So I'm excited for this opportunity to try it for free. :)
I love coupons and Publix. And I'm ever so thankful for the people who patiently helped me learn this coupons system!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Two Little Pets

I have two of the most adorable little girls EVER!

Emma is almost three, and she's my little monkey. Since she was about five months old, she was pulling up on stuff and trying to climb. If she got a good grip on something...your shirt, the car door as you were putting her in, could let go, and she would hold on tight and hang there for forever! She is such a joy. She is easily trainable, very sweet and loving, and very thoughtful of the needs and feelings of others. She is very inquisitive (aren't all 2.5 year olds!), and, in my opinion, very smart for for an almost-three-year-old. She is a great big helper, although a little too eager to help sometimes. :)
Edith is my little froggy...or salamander. I still haven't decided which. She loves to jump and bounce, and is just as happy (if not more so) in water as she is on "dry land." So, I've always called her my little froggy. But as a crawler, she always looked like a little salamander crawling around. But, typically, I always call her my little froggy. She's a spitfire, and definitely the stereo-typical bratty little sister! She know exactly how to push her big sister's buttons, and is very good a drawing out those oh-so-dramatic reactions out of her sister. She was a rather difficult baby, but as a result I was introduced to the wonderful world of baby wearing. But now, a year later, you would never believe that this sweet, smiling, bubbly little girl was once the fussiest baby I had come across in a long time! She is such a unique personality (I know, we all are). She is a thinker, and very mechanically minded. From a very early age (before she could even crawl) she has enjoyed pulling toys apart and attempting to put them back together. She studies what we do and imitates everything. I know babies do this to a certain extent, but her study is more of her personality rather than just a baby characteristic.

My girls are the joy of my life, and I can't imagine life without them. I am SO thankful for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom so that I don't have to miss one bit of their lives, but also so that I am aware of every influence in their lives. God has given me such a great responsibility with these two blessings (and any others that He gives us in the future), and shame on me if I shirk that responsibility and hand it over to someone else.

Hello World of Mommy Bloggers!

About a year ago I started another blog just to see what I thought of blogging, and primarily to enter giveaways. I've enjoyed what I've seen of the mommy-blogger world, and would love to be more involved. I still don't know where some mommies find the time to blog, or where I'll find the time, but I want to do this!
For anyone who would like to visit my other blog, it is I've since decided on a much more fitting blog title (and a more catchy one, too!), and the title is the primary reason I'm starting this second blog. I just didn't fully like the name of my original blog. I already have a design in mind for my blog, once I get to that point!
The title for this blog comes from one of my daughter's books about a kangaroo with her pouch full of several different pets who hopped into her pouch to be cuddled when they were sleepy. At the end of the story, she finds her baby kangaroo (whom she's been searching for through the whole story) and all of the other animals get out so her baby can get in. I just like the story, and I like the title. My design idea is to have a "picture" of me with all of my "pets" (i.e. kids) in a sling or wrap "pouch" on the front of me. I can't wait til I get the actual design on my blog. It may be a while, though.

A little bit more about me. I'm a SAHM of two girls (so far), currently ages 2.5 years and 1 year. I have many things I've become passionate about since becoming a mother, and one of the many purposes of this blog will be to share (and sometimes vent) about these passions. I'm a MAJOR pro-life, pro-natural birth, pro-breastfeeding, pro-baby wearing advocate. I'm also a serious couponer (I won't say extreme, because I'm nothing near as good as some of the people on the new TLC show.). I've been couponing for about a year, and enjoying bragging about some of my finds. I have yet to decide whether I will keep my deals posts on my old blog, or keep all of my stuff on this blog. I'm into crafting and sewing, when I have time for it. I LOVE to cook and bake. I have one child with food allergies which has forced an extra measure of creativity to my kitchen creations. I like so many different things and have so many different interests, that I may seem confusing at some points with so many varying posts. But the primary purpose of my blog is to journal and share who I am and what I do. I'm not a person with many "real life" friends. Most of my friends are people I've connected with on the internet via Facebook and blogs. I look forward to finding new friends and comrades as I grow my blog.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jesus Love Me, THIS I know!

A little over a year ago, I delivered my third child (my second live birth), and fell almost instantly into the abyss of post partum depression. I'd hear of this horrible, dark, emotional valley where women were "emotionally unstable," and even some couldn't stand to be around the precious baby that they had just delivered. I couldn't fathom not whole-heartedly loving that precious little life and feeling giddy over the baby's presence. But then, one day, I woke up in that same dark valley...only I didn't realize it until months later.

I brought my second daughter home from the hospital ready to take on the challenge of parenting a toddler and caring for my newborn babe. However, this emotional high seemed to catch the tail wind of a storm, and was blown far, far away from me. Two days after I was released from the hospital, my mother (who had been at my house for three weeks because my stubborn little girl didn't want to come out) had to return home. My husband had already returned to work, and I found myself home alone with a four day old baby and a almost two-year-old who went from being Madame Independence to Madame Dependence. An my new baby was not as easy going as her big sister had been! On top of this, I had four absessed wisdom teeth that were causing extreme pain, and all I could focus on was my own misery. I hated changing diapers, I hated fixing meals, I hated caring for my family, and the one thing I would have never believe possible--I felt I hated my children. I almost cringe just thinking those words. At my two week check up with my midwife I shared with her the truth of how I was feeling, hoping that by confessing these emotions, they would go away. She "lectured" me on finding time for myself (something mommies definitely don't get, especially mommies of such young children!), and she told me to find time alone for just me and my husband. Following this appointment, I went over to the dentist to have all four wisdom teeth extracted (kids in tow!). Now I had even more reason to be miserable.
I praise the Lord that I have always been a level-headed person who has been able to act outside of my emotions. Not to say that I always do. But through this time of depression, I was able to talk to myself with logic and keep myself going. Otherwise, I'm afraid I would have caused myself or my children harm just by being neglectful.
My eldest longed for Mommy to be the same, attentive Mommy that she'd always known, and my youngest nursed and cried all the time. Neither one of them were good sleepers. It didn't help here, that I didn't care to make meals for myself, so I was eating a proper diet for breastfeeding around the clock. So that just added to my exhaustion.
There were many days, during nap times and even at bed time, that I would be holding both of my girls in my arms, each screaming because she did not want to go to sleep, and me crying because I was SO tired and stressed, and I just wanted someone to care for me. (Not that my husband didn't, but remember I was in a well of self-pity, I didn't think he cared.) As I had always done, I one day started to sing "Jesus Loves Me" to comfort and calm my girls. But this time it was different. This time I couldn't finish the song. How could I sing these words when I felt so unloved and abandoned. My thoughts and emotions ran the gamut. "Jesus doesn't love me. If He cared even a little, He wouldn't make me go through this torture. He'd help them go to sleep. He'd let me go to sleep. He'd keep the baby from being so fussy all the time. Jesus doesn't love me!" And thus started a long road of anger and bitterness.
The postpartum depression phase subsided somewhere between 12 and 14 weeks postpartum. I remember thinking how thankful I was that I didn't have to go back to work like so many around me since I was just starting to find my footing and settle in to my new phase of motherhood. But I still struggled, and every time I felt tension between me and my kids, or between me and my husband, I blamed God. Through this, I felt SO alone. No one knew except my mother. I had no friends to talk it out with. The few adults that I did talk to, I wasn't comfortable enough with to tell them the truth. There were a few times where, in desperation for someone to help me, I dropped hints to people hoping they would catch on, but no one ever did. I know it's my fault for not just asking out right.
Well, a few months ago, I started getting my spiritual life back on track. I'm definitely still not where I should be, but I'm not angry and bitter anymore either.
God has been SO good to our family over the last year. He's taught us some hard lessons, but I think we're learning from them. The other night I was singing "Jesus Loves Me" to my youngest daughter just before laying her down for the night. As I sang, she rubbed my face with her tiny little hands, cuddled herself up against me, and kissed me about ever five seconds. My heart was ready to burst with love for her and how precious she is. She definitely wasn't an easy baby, but she is such an easy-going and joyous baby now. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I sang to her and thought, "Just her sweetness, and the two beautiful blessings I have is proof that Jesus loves me." As I thought that, I remembered back to the wretched thoughts I had a year ago while singing the same song. What a wonderful, and forgiving God I have! Jesus DOES love me, and the Bible tells me so. That should have been enough to comfort me last year, but I chose to ignore that fact. But God, in His graciousness, has shown me His love through my children. I can now sing, "Jesus me, this I know." My prayer is that, should I ever experience again the same emotional roller coaster that I did last year, that I will remember this lesson, and remember that no matter what, Jesus loves me!


Clueless_Mama said...

This was a very beautiful post. I know first hand that it can sometimes be hard to keep positive and remember that Jesus loves us no matter what. I am so glad that you are in a good place. I will pray that you continue to have joy in your life. Have a terrific week.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

No Turning Back

Well, what is a New Year for but to cause us to reflect on the past, see our mistakes, see what we can do to fix them, and make goals for the upcoming year. Along with most of the world around me, I have made some goals for next year.

I've written before about the nice, big hole of debt that we dug for ourselves over the first four years we were married. Our biggest goal for this coming year is to be completely debt-free by the next New Year. DH and I sat down last night and drew up a skeleton budget of our income and expenses for this next year, and our debt-free plan seems to be very do-able! I am SO excited! Every time I think of the fact that we can be debt-free in a year--not in ten years--I almost do a dance!

On top of becoming debt free, another goal is to have money in our savings account by the end of the year. We aimed a little high, but that was my point. I told DH to pick a realistic amount, but to aim a little high so that we had something to work towards.

Another goal is to have a smaller savings set aside for car and home maintenance--that "rainy day account" that the teacher at our home-owners class told us to make sure we have. We've already had those nice home-owner expenses pop up on us, but at that time we still had credit cards. Well, that's not an option anymore! So, unless we set up an account for this money, we'll be taking food out of our mouths to pay for these unexpected expenses. Not something I really want to do! I like my food!

My next goal is to get an upright freezer. I believe that once I have a freezer, I'll be able to cut our overall grocery spending by at least 25%, if not more. Oh, to be able to stock up on turkey (even though it's not my favorite) and hams when they're on sale, along with other meats. To be able to stock tons of fresh-picked fruits and veggies. To be able to stock up on waffles and other goodies when the go on sale for super cheap. One day!

Another goal I have for myself, but perhaps the hardest of all to achieve, is to plant and raise a garden. We have fire ants really bad where we live, and I am literally deathly allergic to fire ants. So that alone is a major deterrent to planting a garden. Another con is that I've never been successful at keeping plants alive, but I've never actually planted anything. I don't have a clue where to start or how to go about planting and caring for a garden. But I'm going to try anyway. I'd like to get a pot for our back porch to raise an herb garden. My Christmas gift this year was a dehydrator, so I'd like to be able to dry my own herbs along with other foods. Another problem with a garden is that it seems most of the easy plants to grow are something we wouldn't eat much of, such as peppers. But part of the reason I want a garden is so we can have more produce in our diet, so I guess we'll just have to learn to eat new things!

Some other small goals for myself include keeping up with my blog, keeping better track of my grocery/household spending/savings, and keeping track of our menu and things we eat. I started my blog because I love to write, and writing is the best way I express myself. But then I got so caught up in my life and happenings around me, that I could never find time to sit down and write. I am always amazed at how frequently some bloggers update, and wonder how they do it! I have to lock myself in a room away from my kids just to get five minutes on the computer! (Maybe next year I'll add a laptop to my list of goals!) I frequently start "writing" blog posts in my head, but never make it to the computer to actually "put it on paper." I would also like to keep better track of my spendings and savings. I've set up an excel spreadsheet for myself that seems to be working alright, but could probably use a bit of tweaking. But I want to know at the end of the year exactly how much I spent, how much I saved according to the receipt, how much I saved according to the bank account, and how many ECB, RR, rebates, gift cards, and other perks I received. If only my husband weren't so busy, maybe he could design a program to keep track of all of that, and I could market it! ;) I would also like to keep track of the foods we eat as a family. Not necessarily a plan-ahead menu, but when we eat something, write it down with comments as to whether or not we liked it, etc.

Another personal goal, one that didn't land on our "goals" paper, is to set aside money for a baby. We don't have maternity insurance, so we pay all expenses out of pocket for a baby. At this point we would end up in a hole if we got pregnant. I hate the feeling of dreading pregnancy just for financial reasons. When, honestly, I can't wait to get pregnant again! But there's always that lurking shadow of finances hanging his gloomy head over our bed. :( I hate thinking that we need to try to avoid pregnancy for at least another year. I know that God will provide and take care of us, which is our entire philosophy toward birth control anyway. God know what we can handle and will give us children when He sees fit. I'm just impatient!

So here's to a new year. I can't turn back the hands of time to un-do our many mistakes--how I wish I could. But I can put my trust in my great God to guide us through this next year, and to help us avoid making similar mistakes. I will have my list of goals posted in different areas of the house where we will see them any time we consider spending money, to me stay focused and not to make any unnecessary purchases. So, may this year be the best financial year we've had so far!

Happy New Year!