July 12, 2012

You Gotta Fight! For Your Right! To POTTY!

Not my kid. Kind of wish it was.

Potty training has begun.

But before we get into that, I know what you're thinking.

Where the HELL has she been?!

Initially I was going to tell you all that I have simply been too busy to post. That, my friends, would be a lie. Turns out no one likes a liar.

So here's the truth: I did not want to post. Nope. Not one bit.

This was actually a very Lucyish thing to do - start a new hobby, jump in with total abandon, convince Ricky that said hobby is clearly life changing and this time I am going to stick with it!

But then I get bored. So bored.

So I move on to another bright and shiny hobby. Sometimes even three or four at a time. I am that good. The past few weeks have included the Whole30, Insanity, and refinishing furniture - details to come in the near future.

As I obsessed over learned about my new interests, ridiculous things kept happening and I found myself thinking about writing a new post... and then I would remember that I had moved on to bigger and better things!

But guess what? It turns out there are people who actually noticed that my absence and started asking me when I was going to blog again. Now, I find this to be quite hilarious because I still don't even know what this blog is about. It's kind of about nothing. Random nothingness. If you are here in search of anything remotely helpful or informational I suggest you go elsewhere.

Be that as it may, I had a change of heart and decided to embrace the random nothingness and return to the blogosphere! At least until I get bored again.

(And for the record - Why would anyone want to start a NEW blog that is actually helpful when we have Pinterest? Beats the hell out of me. I would much rather steal someone else's creative ideas than waste time developing my own crappy recipes and crafts.)

Now potty training.

The idea that little people come out of the womb without any clue how to manage their own P&P (pee and poop) is absolutely beyond me. Poor planning, God. This one's on you, Big Guy. Major design flaw. Just sayin'.

Little Ricky turned two in March, so we decided this summer to teach him how to use the potty. And yes, I also think the word potty sounds absolutely ridiculous, however in an effort to teach my two year old appropriate preschool language (whatever that means) I have said potty about 34 million times over the last four days. It is what it is. Personally, I would rather feel stupid saying potty than have Little Ricky march into preschool this fall and ask to use the pot. Or the pisser. Sick.

A few things you must know about my feelings towards potty training:

1. I refuse to buy a miniature plastic toilet. Call me crazy, but the idea of cleaning out what is essentially a chamber pot is a little too 19th century for me. I also think they look stupid. I'm sorry that I'm not sorry for feeling this way.

2. I did, however, buy a Sesame street toilet insert because I would hate to flush Little Ricky down the toilet if he fell in. Plus it has handles so he can hang on when things get really wild.

3. I am not below giving M&Ms as a reward for makin' it in the toilet. I wish someone would give me candy everytime I successfully used the potty. (Hint, Ricky.)

4. I have absolutely no desire to drag this process out. I have an irrational fear that my house will smell like pee (it doesn't, hence the irrational part) for the duration of potty training so I just want to get it over with. So I decided on the 3 Day Potty Training Method. Git 'er dun.

We started Monday morning by throwing away all of the diapers. Little Ricky has been in Pull Ups for a few months and I have decided they are not any more conducive to potty training than regular diapers. Sorry folks, they are the same thing. Just more expensive. But hey, the designs are fantastic! Throwing away the Pull Ups was infinitely more important for me than Little Ricky. Knowing my house is sans Pull Ups forces me to continue housebreaking potty training the little rascal.

In my excitment to get started, I realized I didn't actually have the supplies I needed so I sent Ricky on a mission to WalMart to purchase the following: baby gate to quarantine LR to the bedroom/bathroom hallway during naps and bedtime, a step stool, 15 pairs of toddler underwear, and positive reinforcers - M&Ms and Oreos to reward Little Ricky along the way. Ricky and I may or may not have rewarded ourselves as parents with the entire package of LR's Oreos since Monday. I know... shameful.

After throwing out the Pull Ups I slapped a pair of Buzz Lightyear underwear and a matching t-shirt on Little Ricky and we were ready to go! But then nothing happened.... for three hours. He drank water and that didn't work. So we made Kool Aid and that didn't work either. Talk about anticlimactic. Good to know my child has a bladder of steel.

And about the time I wondered about the functionality of Little Ricky's plumbing, he had his first accident! I was thrilled that he started to pee his pants (parenthood is really weird) and we dashed to the potty! We were too late. Too bad.

As you can imagine, potty training involves a lot of accidents, dashing, changing, laundry, and M&Ms. Therefore, I have decided to spare you the details of every P&P situation - because that would be gross - so I'll give you the (very) brief overview and focus on the funny.

Day 1, Monday: He didn't get it. It didn't click. He wanted a diaper, I wanted a drink. We created a potty dance. I yelled at Ricky for making fart noises along with an incredibly unbecoming poop pose at the end of the potty dance. Little Ricky proceeded to imitate his daddy. Great.

Day 2, Tuesday: Little Ricky started to show a little understanding, although I think he also began tuning me out after the 300th time I said: "Little Ricky, tell mommy when you need to go pee pee in the potty, ok?!" The enthusiasm in my voice became a little forced by lunchtime.

Day 3, Wednesday: It began to work... he was actually doing the deed in the potty! A few minor mishaps but overall I would say things were looking promising. The highlight of day three was undoubtedly the private conversation he had with his ding-a-ling.

Little Ricky (while sitting on the potty, looking down at his friend): "C'mon, pee pee. Where are you, pee pee? C'mon. Please? PEE PEE!! WHERE ARE YOU?! Ready, set, GO!!"

Day 4, Thursday: Day 4 brings us to today. Funny how the 3 Day Potty Training Method brought us to a fourth day. Huh. Things took a brief downhill turn this morning when, after staying dry all night, Little Ricky stood up during breakfast and screamed, "MOMMYYYYY!!! POTTYYY!!" And then came the flood. Little Ricky was standing straight up on a tall bar stool about eighteen feet in the air, peeing everywhere, and looking at me in sheer horror at his actions. I guess the silver lining here is that at least he realized the error of his ways. I threw placed the Bulldog on the floor, grabbed Little Ricky (holding him two feet out in front of me because I didn't want to get pee on me, oh hell no!) and hightailed it to the bathroom. I'm sure you can infer the rest.

Oddly enough, that was the last accident he had. I guess he decided to go out with a bang. So since 9 am this morning (14 hours, but who's counting?) he has successfully used the potty as intended. I'm sure we're not quite out of the woods yet, but I feel confident in saying Little Ricky is well on his way to potty training stardom. And for whatever reason naptime and bedtime have been signficantly easier than the daytime - other than a small nap accident on day one, he has stayed completely dry. Yes, I'm proud. But not proud enough to post a picture of him sitting on the toilet on Facebook. I will never understand that phenomenon. Feel free to enlighten me if you do.

**FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE: Still no accidents. BOOM.

So join me in a chant, dear friends... "GO Little Ricky, GO!!"

No, seriously. We want you to go.

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May 23, 2012

And They Called Her Pinny

I've got bad news. It's really bad.

No seriously - it's a problem.

I'm addicted. That's right. Addicted.

My drug of choice? Pinterest.

I have turned into a pinning freak. It's gotten so bad that Ricky no longer calls me Lucy. My new nickname is Pinny. Seriously.

How can one website be simultaneously terrific and awful?

Terrific because of the neverending ideas for cooking, baking, sewing, decorating, art projects for children, fashion tips, hairstyle how-tos, and probably even step-by-step spelunking instructions if you dig deep enough. I don't know - I rarely make it past the food.

Awful because it might just be the most incredible time suck ever created. Even more than Facebook. That's right! I can easily spend more time pinning than creeping on the Facebook pages of the people from my past. Don't even pretend you don't do that, too.

(By the way, if I haven't talked to you in a few years and I happen to see you out somewhere I will most likely ask what you're up to and how things are going. Truth is, I already know the answers due to your Facebook status updates and photo albums. Not only would I probably recognize your children if I saw them, I would know their names and ages.)

 So Pinterest.

Ironically, I found this little gem on Pinterest.

I have convinced myself beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am capable of becoming an all-around domestic bad ass because of all of the inspiration I have found on Pinterest!

I have plans. Oh yes, big plans.

I plan to bake a delicious chocolate fat free cake from scratch while wearing a homemade wrap dress and a 10-minute chignon in my hair. While my dessert is baking, I will cut fruit for a beach scene snack for Little Ricky as he paints the kitchen walls with colored shaving cream and rolls homemade playdough on the tile floor. My dogs will snack on treats baked from scratch, and I will clean up their mess with my organic, baby-friendly cleaning supplies I created from only three simple household ingredients. After strapping the Bulldog to my chest in a handsewn baby carrier (which according to the directions is super easy to make) we will head to the garage where I will strip an old piece of furniture and re-upholster matching bar stools. Follow up this project with some crafty wall hangings made from contact paper and Modge Podge and perhaps a quick reorganization of my spice collection using printed labels and Ikea shelves. Dinner will consist of chicken enchilada crockpot casserole with a side of oven-baked sweet potato fries and roasted cauliflower. Because on Pinterest the cauliflower is always roasted.

Whew! I feel exhausted just planning my day 'o Pinterest and this only covers about 7 of my 532,000 pins (on 481 boards, no less). Furthermore, I don't actually have the time to follow through with any of my Pinterest ideas because I'm busy, well... pinning.

So herein lies the Pinterest dilemma. How can one person possibly create/bake/build all of the fabulous ideas that are found on Pinterest?! Turns out, one can't. But for some reason that doesn't stop me from pinning everything that looks even remotely fun/tasty/trendy!

I forgot to mention the fitness pictures of super fit, tan, ripped chicks wearing lingerie and boxing gloves. Yeah. 'Cause that's gonna happen.

And then comes the guilt.

The guilt of knowing that realistically I will never attempt, much less complete, at least 90% of the crap that I pin.

I feel guilty for letting Little Ricky watch Caillou when we could be making handprint flowers and footprint butterflies instead! And for the record, I kind of hate Caillou. He's whiny and annoying, and I think Sid the Science Kid could kick his ass any day.

I feel guilty for not having a house that looks like it came from a Martha Stewart magazine that I created for less than $200 in only 4 days or less.

I feel guilty that I didn't leave cutesy notes on the bathroom mirror for Ricky,  not to mention following through on the other 17 ideas for How To Flirt With Your Husband!

Most of all I feel guilty when I spend $25 at Hobby Lobby buying supplies for a new Pinterest craft and then I get home and remember that I am not crafty. Not even a little bit.

Enough! I've had about enough of the guilt!

So instead of feeling guilty about all of the things I will never actually do, I have decided on a different approach to Pinterest. My new focus? Dessert.

Any dessert that looks even a little bit delicious gets pinned. I have decided that before I die I will attempt to make all of them. Because honestly, I don't love sewing. I don't love scrapbooking. I most definitely don't love making furniture out of vegetable crates and Gorilla Glue. But I do love to eat dessert. Not only do I love it - I'm damn good at it.

So bring on the cookies, cakes, pies, pastries... and don't forget all 300 recipes for Nutella desserts! Because this gal is ready to do some baking.

For the record, I have attempted exactly three pins. That's right... three. Stop pretending you have done more. One might say, though, that the three I have tried have been revolutionary. Truly.

Hard boiled eggs in the oven? Brilliant.

The best fruit dip ever? Delicious.

THE SOCK BUN?! Game changer.

And there you have it, folks. While I would love to keep writing about my love/hate relationship with Pinterest, it's time for me to go. Go pin, that is.

"Walk softly and carry a big pin." -President Theodore Roosevelt

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May 18, 2012

Dang! Look At All That Sweat.

Today I'm feeling very full. Either I have a lot of things to be thankful for in my life, or I just had a really big lunch.

Truth? Both.

So yeah, full. As the school year draws to a close - could Ricky BE  more excited there are only two weeks left? - I feel like taking the opportunity to reflect on how much our lives have changed in a year. This time last year I was counting down the days that I would no longer be teaching and I would officially be a bonafide, full-time stay-at-home mom. This had nothing to do with not liking my job. In fact, I loved teaching and the people I worked with. It takes a certain sense of humor and personality, if you will, to teach special education, so between ARD meetings and behavior plans I often found myself laughing hysterically with the women that I worked with. I absolutely miss that; no doubt about it.

But for me, I know I will find that again one day when I return to the world of teaching. When  I decided to stay home, Mother Ethel gave me the following insight: "There will always be special children to teach when you are ready to go back; there will not always be tiny children at home to take care of." Hmm.

Be that as it may, I was nervous about making the leap for two reasons. The first one is obvious - who can possibly afford to live on one salary? The second reason was somewhat selfish - will I be lonely?

Something stay-at-home moms don't talk about very often is the fact that staying home with your children all day every day can sometimes feel lonely and even isolating. Now this is not a woe-is-me post, but the truth of the matter is that there is a lot of down time between play dates, birthday parties, and all of the standard first moments - you know, eating solids, walking, talking...

(On a side note: I couldn't wait for Little Ricky to start walking! My grandmother - yes, she is Grand Ethel - told me early on that as soon as he starts to walk just push him down. WHAT?! Of course I want him to walk! It's so exciting! I was wrong, folks. Tiny walking people throw you into a whole new ballgame. And as soon as the Bulldog starts walking - or even acting like she wants to - I have every intention of pushing her down. Truth.)

You may be thinking to yourself, Hey Lucy! Maybe you should spend some of your down time organizing your closets or working on baby books instead of blogging.

Oh yeah? Eat my shorts.

In an effort to combat the potential loneliness of staying home, I decided last summer to join a moms' group. I didn't actually know anybody in a moms' group, but who needs to know somebody when you're really great at walking into an unfamiliar situation meeting people on your own? Oh wait, I'm not. Boooo.

So my boyfriend Google led me to the national MOPS website. MOPS is not a group for people who love to mop, which is actually great because I hate to mop. MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. Initially I was a little confused because at that time Little Ricky was not attending prechool, per se, but technically he was pre-school because he didn't go to school yet... right?

Turns out the only requirement is that your kid(s) are ages 0-kindergarten. Perfect! Little Ricky fell into that range, and once the Bulldog was born she would be zero.

By the way, I think from this point forward if anyone asks how old she is I'm going to say she's zero. Forget the months or weeks crap. She's not one, so she must be zero.

MOPS promised me a delicious brunch and a few hours of childcare for Little Ricky. I. Am. In.

I walked into the first meeting and didn't know a soul. I was nervous. I was intimidated. I was sweaty.

Can you blame me? It was HOT! And there I was, hugely pregnant, with women I didn't know and I kept thinking to myself: Why am I here? No one wants to be friends with the pregnant sweaty woman who may or may not have pushed down her firstborn child in the parking lot so he would STOP walking!

(Kidding. I didn't push him down that day.)

But here's the funny thing. They did want to be my friend! Even though many of the women in the group obviously knew each other - some have been in the group for years - they were so nice and welcoming! I literally have had the same three friends for basically my entire life, so when I say I'm not very good at making new ones I'm being serious. Yet, somehow I have managed over the course of this year to make friends with many of these fabulous moms.

So after attending MOPS  meetings twice a month since September, the opportunity to join the leadership team presented itself and I decided to apply for a position. Ladies and Gentlemen, you find me here today as the Publicity Chairman (Chairwomen? Leader? Master? Queen?) of our group.

Which brings me to this morning. Our first official leadership team meeting. This is why I feel full today. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I am so excited to be apart of a group of women whose main purpose is to help other women be great mothers! I feel very blessed to be apart of something so wonderful. It's amazing what can happen in your life when you're willing to take a risk and put yourself out there.

I honestly didn't know how things would go when I joined MOPS, but I can honestly say it has been one of the best decisions I have made in the past year. I am thrilled to see what this next year has to offer. And when our first meeting rolls around this fall, I hope there's a sweaty, pregnant newbie that needs a friend. Because I now know that being awkward and sweaty does not mean you can't make friends.

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May 4, 2012

Girl, Look At That Body... I Work Out!

Oh, LMFAO... when I can't find the words I need to describe how I'm feeling, I simply look to the lyrics of I'm Sexy and I Know It and alas, I always seem to find what I need.

Who doesn't agree with me that "Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, YEAH!" will immediately bring you out of a sad funk or angry mood? Just try it. Next time you're feeling down, wiggle your butt and sing this song. I swear it will make your day better.

And if you're feeling really brave, check out the accompanying music video - it is hilarous for all of the wrong reasons. If you are easily offended don't watch it. Just don't. Also if you're my parent or grandparent, you probably shouldn't watch it either. It may be difficult to look you in the eye the next time I see you (except maybe Mother Ethel; oddly enough, I think it was she that first showed it to me).

But I digress.

While I'm sure we can all agree that LMFAO is musically gifted - or just really stupid, I don't actually know which - I'm not here to talk about the nuances of pop culture. I actually just wanted to update you all on my weight loss challenge.

After two incredibly boring weeks of minimal effort, and as a result minimal weight loss, I finally decided to actually try and make some progress this week. Drum roll please...


Now that's what I call progress, people! Everyone keeps telling me that 1-2 pounds a week is the healthy way to lose weight, so I guess I'm on track.So what did I do differently this week?

Weight Watchers: I actually tracked my points and stayed within my target for the week. We've been eating a lot of fruits and veggies, lean meats, and drinking protein shakes. Exciting stuff, I know.

Couch to 5K: I have convinced the Ethels to run a 5K with me on July 4th. We are following the 3-day-a-week training program and I did both of the workouts so far this week. Again, exiting.

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred: This DVD is the hardest 20 minute workout I have done at home. If you want to try it, the entire workout (divided into three levels, 20 minutes each) are on YouTube. How's that for convenient? Not to mention, Jillian is friends with Bob Harper, who you know I love dearly, and I think this is the closest I will ever get to being apart of The Biggest Loser. My goal is to do the shred 5 days a week in addition to the C25K training.

Did you know that eating healthy and working out really does work? It's shocking, I know.

So here's the breakdown:
I've lost a total of 2.7 pounds in the last 3 weeks, or 0.9 pounds average per week.

That weight is in addition to the 15 I lost during my first health kick earlier this year, so it's actually 17.7 pounds since January 1st.

So while this information may seem boring to you, this is kind of my way of holding myself accountable for losing weight.

And yes, I'm sexy and I know it.

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May 3, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch

I've always aspired to be apart of the Ladies Who Lunch. I see myself sleeping in, working out with a trainer, and going to lunch with my girlfriends while Mary Poppins raises my children.

Let me be clear - even though I stay home now, I couldn't be further from the elusive ladies who lunch.

Since becoming a stay-at-home mom, I have gotten a lot of questions about the logistics of going from a two income family to only one. I certainly don't claim to be an expert on the topic, but I have learned a lot in the past year about what works and what doesn't, for us anyway. Recently a college friend messaged me with a few questions about the how-tos of transitioning from working to staying home, so I decided to take some of the information I gave to her and share it with all of you. So whether you want to stay home or you are just curious about if we can even afford to eat anything more substantial than Ramen Noodles (yes, we can) then read on.

As a firm believer that a family's financial situation is private (Father Fred, the accountant, imparted this on me at a very early age) I will not divulge a whole lot of specific numbers; rather I will stick to broader tips and ideas that have worked well for us. That being said, a teacher's salary is public information, so Google if you must.

As for the initial the decision to stay home, it was 100% my idea and it took a lot of convincing on my part. I worked on Ricky for a good six months before he finally agreed, and it took me getting pregnant with the Bulldog to solidify the decision. You don't even want to know what childcare for two children costs, but let's just say it would have been more than our house payment.

He was (understandably) very skeptical, especially because his job wasn't changing at all and he kind of felt like why should things have to change for him just so that I could do what I wanted to do? I tried to stress the benefits of me being home - having a clean house, grocery shopping, making dinner, doing laundry - all things that honestly weren't getting done very well when I was working full time and he had to do half of it, too.

Funnily enough, my house at this moment is not clean, and guess who cooked dinner last night? Ricky. But I did manage to keep the kids fed and alive for the entire day, so I think that counts for something.

Ricky tends to focus on the practical rather than the emotional side of any given issue (unlike myself) so naturally he wanted to know first and foremost how we were going to financially handle living solely on his teaching/coaching salary. After researching medical transcription (seriously) and deciding that was a terrible idea, I tried to convince him (and myself) that I could easily make extra money with a direct consultant business. So I immediately paid my $99 start up fee and became a Scentsy consultant!

This is kind of hilarious because I don't have a single business-minded bone in my entire body. Furthermore, direct sales practically require two things: competent (read, un-awkward) social skills and a passion for meeting and talking to strangers. I have neither. I should've learned my lesson after my brief stint of selling Mary Kay in college. Seriously, that happened.

So anyway, I started selling Scentsy to supplement our income while still working full time. That was during the fall of 2010, and Little Ricky was still an infant. Although it helped a little (okay, a very little) I found that to make enough money to really make a difference for us I needed to put in a lot more time. No thank you.

(By the way, I actually do still sell Scentsy and I swear this will be my one and only plug for the duration of writing this blog. I absolutely love the products, and have turned a few of the Ethels into Scentsy addicts as well. So if you need a warmer or a little wax you can visit my website: ashleyejones.scentsy.us - I know, I'm shameless.)

I am not saying that working for a direct sales company can't work. It works for a lot of people - I have met many very successful Scentsy consultants - but I highly doubt that I will ever make the big bucks selling anything.

Okay, so back to becoming a SAHM. At the risk of sounding incredibly old-fashioned, I have taken the perspective that staying home is my new job. Of course Ricky still helps out at night and on the weekends with the kids, but I don't expect him to maintain things around the house because now that's my job. Honestly though, staying on top of things at home can be tough! Since there are no deadlines and now I'm my own boss, if you will, it's easy to put things off or say "oh, I will just do that later!" I have found that being organized and even delegating certain tasks to specific days keeps me on top of everything. This does not always pan out, but I really am trying. I think Ricky appreciates the things I'm able to take care of now, and hopefully he sees benefits for himself, too.

So how do we manage? Here goes...

We treated my first year at home as a trial year. I convinced Ricky to just give me one year of staying home to see if it would work. I promised him that if things were too tough financially, I would go back to work the following August and at least I would have had that one year at home with LR and the Bulldog. I am coming up on the end of the trial year, and I feel lucky that I am going to be able to stay home a little longer. Again though, we are taking it one school year at a time, and this time next year we will reevaluate the situation. I would like to think I could stay home until all the kidlets go to kindergarten (DO NOT tell Ricky I said that -it will freak him out) but realistically that may not happen.

Before making any big decisions, we took a long, hard look at our income and budget. It was amazing how much extra money we were spending on things we don't really need! We have reduced eating out, shopping trips, and other various extras. Don't worry too much; we still have cable, so I think we're okay.

Other cuts were small but added up quick - we downsized the cable TV package to save about $50 a month, we make coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks, Ricky packs his lunch, yada yada yada.

I also started couponing like a madwoman, and I save tons of money that way. My goal is to save at least 45% each week, and we've had a couple weeks that we've saved up to 65% off our groceries. That includes the expensive stuff we all hate buying - detergent, body wash, cleaning supplies, and even razors. Ugh - razors are the worst. Another perk of couponing: I look really cool with my giant 3-ring binder (with a zipper) that holds my coupons divided into 17 categories. Fabulous, I know! In fact, I was hit on by a 17-year-old cashier at Kroger just this week. Seriously. I make couponing look good!

This is not a couponing post - although I'm obsessed with it - but here are my favorite websites if you are interested:

www.krazycouponlady.com - Start here for beginner tips, the rules, yada yada yada.
www.thegrocerygame.com - This site has a membership fee, but it's relatively small compared to what you save. It's my favorite!

Couponing can take a lot of time, but since I stay home I consider that part of my job. And - nerd alert - it's really fun.

Moving on. Consignment stores and sales are perfect for kids' toys and basic everyday play clothes. You wouldn't believe how often clothes still have the tags on them! Typically, I save new outfits for special occasions or events. And if you're kids are anything like mine, they would rather play with Tupperware or paper plates than actual toys, so I enjoy spending less money on toys through consignment. I don't know why this was hard for me to accept, but they really are the exact same toys you can buy at the store. I promise. Just wash everything you buy - even the stuff with the tags - so it smells like your stuff.

Consignment is like finding a husband  - you have to go through a lot of crap to find the good stuff. But if you look hard enough, it's there.

We still try to do fun things with each other and the kids, but we find cheaper ways to do them. We go to the park (free), go to the movies during the day rather than at night (cheaper), yada yada yada. And in a weird way, we almost have more fun doing those things now because we see things like eating out as a splurge and we enjoy it more than we used to. There are certain things we won't give up - for example, our annual anniversary dinner at III Forks - so we literally keep an envelope in our safe specifically for this event and add to it throughout the year. That way when our anniversary rolls around the money is ready to go!

I can't get around talking about money - it's a necessary evil. We started by looking at our debt. I went through a Dave Ramsey phase in college, and while I'm not a strict devotee I agree with most of what he has to say.

Ricky and I are incredibly lucky to have family in our lives who not only encouraged us to attend college, but who supported us in various ways - not just financially but emotionally as well.

To the Freds and Ethels who contributed to our college educations: Please know that your support, financial and otherwise, does not go unnoticed. We KNOW how lucky we are, and living free of college loan debt is truly making a huge difference in our lives as we raise our own family.

 And thank you, TCU, for the academic scholarship and FREE graduate school. I always knew I was a bad ass, and apparently you knew it, too.

We eliminated all credit card debt as soon as we got married. That may or may not have been mine. Now we only use our debit cards, and if we don't have the money for something already in our bank account we don't buy it. I think that is worth repeating - IF WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY FOR SOMETHING ALREADY IN OUR BANK ACCOUNT WE DO NOT BUY IT!

Our house and car payments are our only debt, and most of our other bills are fixed so we know what's going out each month. After the bills are paid, that's when the real fun begins - compromise! We work together to figure our when/where/how/if to spend whatever is left over.

Building a savings account for our family was very important, as we did not want to feel like we were living paycheck to paycheck. I guess we are doing that, but without worry because our savings is there just in case. Last January we decided to practice living on one income to see if it would work or not. From January through August (my last paycheck) we lived off of Ricky's salary and tried to put most of my paycheck into our savings account. It was great because we were able to learn how to live on less without having to stress when when we made mistakes (and we made plenty of them).

Building our savings was twofold - it gave us a chance to practice our new lifestyle as well as bulk up our savings account. Now when something unexpected comes up that's not in the budget, we have our savings to fall back on. For example, we recently spent $500 to fix Ricky's truck, and yes it sucked to spend the money, but we had it in our savings and we were able to take care of it. Similarly, we were able to set aside money for the Bulldog's hospital bills, so after she was born we were able to pay those medical bills outright. And trust me, now that we've reached our deductible and out-of-pocket maximum, I'm taking full advantage of our "free" healthcare - foot surgery, anyone?

So we did all of this, and things were still a challenge. But then something happened - I think Oprah would call it a God thing. Our nephew needed childcare, and I just happened to be staying home. Since they live only 10 minutes away, he stays with me Monday through Friday, and the extra money from watching him is enough to keep us from having to rely on our savings unless it's an emergency. And I'm already doing kid things all day long, so why not take care of a third?

Want to hear God thing part two? My nephew doesn't need childcare anymore starting in a few weeks, but the newest Ethel - my precious niece - does! Another bonus: Ricky thinks that having a young(er) baby in the house will cure my baby fever.

Why does my baby fever never go away, even when I give birth? I just really love the tiny ones. But don't get any crazy ideas, we aren't adding another Ricardo anytime soon.

Are there days that I still worry about money? Of course. I think about college, and retirement, and all of those other adult-like things and it stresses me out if I let it. But then I think about the benefits of staying home for me, right now, where I am at in my life, and I know everything will turn out okay.

Disclaimer: There are many days when I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing and I question if I'm up for the challenge of staying home and raising children. Who decided I was competent enough to even have them to begin with?! I don't have all of the answers and I make a lot of mistakes, but maybe there's a little something in this post that can help you or someone you know who is thinking about staying home.

And furthermore, I am just as in awe of working mothers as I am of stay-at-home mothers. Being a mother is damn hard. It's also damn worth it. So keep on keepin' on, mamas. I think you are all fantastic.

And I can still dream about becoming a lady who lunches... right?

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April 26, 2012

Losing Weight Without Actually Losing Weight

That about sums up the last week for me. My God, why do I have no self control? Oh that's right. Because I'm a blast. I'll try not to forget that again.

So as you've probably already guessed, my weight loss challenge has suffered yet another somewhat stagnant week. Except there's nothing somewhat about it, it's more like completely stagnant.

No weight loss. Boooo.

But also no weight gain. Yay!

I have decided that I would prefer to lose no weight at all rather than only like a tenth of a pound. That would feel more like taunting, and I do not appreciate being taunted. Take that, you piece of crap scale.

So even though I lost no weight, I am going to chalk this week up to a success. How is that a success, you ask? Because I say it is! Hooray! Cake for everyone!

The silver lining is that all of my big girl clothes still fit perfectly, which means I don't have to spend money on new small girl clothes, and in turn there is more money left to buy delicious food. How's that for logic?

I promise one of these weeks I will actually give it my 100% effort. I can't imagine that reading about weight loss is particularly exciting when the writer never actually loses any weight.

So here's the breakdown: 0.7 pounds lost in two weeks, or an average 0.35 pounds per week.

I'll take it!

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April 24, 2012

Nap Time Is The New Happy Hour

As a coach's wife I learned pretty quickly how to fill my alone time, especially during football season. Three and a half years of dating long distance taught me how to stay busy when Ricky wasn't around, so when we got married I wasn't intimidated by those long, husband-less Friday nights. In fact, I embraced them... happy hour, anyone?

It's no secret that I love happy hour.

Pre-motherhood, happy hour meant sitting on a patio at a Mexican restaurant, margarita in hand (rocks with salt), snacking on (okay, inhaling) chips and salsa, and giggling with my girlfriends. We would talk about our jobs, meaningless gossip, our husbands - don't worry, Ricky, only the good! - and anything else that happened to be on our minds.

And then I had children. Suddenly, my carefree Friday happy hours turned into nights at home alone with a baby... and then a baby and a toddler... and I would think to myself how I did not sign up for this. Oh but wait, yes I did.

Having just put my three munchkins down for their afternoon nap - and no, I did not spontaneously give birth overnight, I watch my nephew on weekdays along with my two - I have a few moments to reflect on my new happy hour.

Motherhood happy hour includes sitting in the recliner around 1 pm with the TV off (ahhh... silence), reheated coffee from this morning in hand, snacking on (okay, inhaling) Little Ricky's unfinished peanut butter sandwich from lunch, and giggling to myself because I've gone half crazy due to my lack of adult interaction.

(Did you know I speak two-year-old jibberish fluently? I also know all of the words to the stupid cookie song on Barney: "Looky, looky... it's a... cookie, cookie!" I hate that song.)

Please don't misunderstand this comparison as a complaint. I actually enjoy this new happy hour, and I see it as merely a season in my life. The patios will always be there, and I know there will come a day that I will be sitting at happy hour, margarita in hand, wishing for the days when my kids were still tiny and our days were filled with bubbles and diapers, Sesame Street and peanut butter.

And naps. Oh, how I wish someone would force me to get in my bed and sleep every afternoon. Nap time is usually when  you'll find me furiously cleaning house, doing laundry, blogging, and watching The View on my DVR. All of this while making sure the kidlets take a nice, long nap.

What's up? Multitasking, that's what's up.

So in these moments that are so gloriously uninterrupted by tiny people, I have the opportunity to get in a little me time. What do I do with that time? I learn how to become a better parent, of course! Go figure.

I am constantly seeing parenting articles and mommy blogs swirl around the internet. It seems they are pinned and liked and posted everywhere I turn. Confession: I read them all; I can't help it. I'm fascinated by what others think are the DOs and DON'Ts of parenting. Unfortunately, I sometimes find myself questioning my own parenting practices because of the all-knowing, sometimes accusatory tone many writers take. As a response, I  have decided to use today's nap time to share a few of my own D&D's about parenting. So without further ado...

1. DO feed your child.

That's it. It really is that simple. Do you want to breastfeed? Shake your ta-tas and go for it. Prefer formula? I recommend buying it at Sam's Club. Bulk = cheap.

There is a lot - seriously, a lot - of pressure on new mothers to breastfeed. Personally, I think if you can breastfeed and you want to do it that's great. I also think that if you can't or don't want to, that is perfectly okay, too. After growing another person in your body for 9 months and miraculously pushing the little angel out (I give equal credit to the old-fashioned way as well as the zipper), I believe you've already conquered the unimaginable as a new mother! Don't let someone else make you feel guilty or uncomfortable for however you decide to feed your child.

I've done it both ways. Breastfeeding Little Ricky landed me in the hospital for four days with mastitis when he was less than a month old. That sucked. I mean, really sucked. So I said to hell with it and gave him formula. I cried about it and felt guilty for awhile, but guess what? He's fine.

The Bulldog is six months old and we're still going strong with breastfeeding. It has been a wonderful experience, and guess what? She is also fine.

Just like everything else in parenting, there are pros and cons to both. I say do what is best for you and your child, and as long as your child gets to eat I'm happy.

2. DO let your child sleep.

I have a confession to make: "Hello, my name is Lucy, and I am a Nap Nazi."

It's true. If there's one thing I take very seriously about raising my children it's nap time and bedtime. I don't know why I'm so obsessed with my children's sleeping patterns, but I have always had very strong opinions about what healthy sleep looks like for my children.

But that's not the point of this DO. The point is that what healthy sleep looks like for my children may not be what it looks like for your children. And really, that is okay! Don't let someone else make you feel guilty or uncomfortable for however you decide to sleep your child.

Want to co-sleep? Great! Would you rather your baby sleep in a crib? Perfect! Again, I say do what is best for you and your child, and as long as your child gets to sleep I'm happy.

3. DO work hard.

Do I think staying home with your children is better than going to work? Not necessarily. It just depends on the situation. I think some mothers are fabulous at staying home all day and others are fabulous at working full time.

I've done both, and they are both hard. When Little Ricky was born I was teaching full-time. With the arrival of the Bulldog (and consequently the astronomical price of daycare for two children) I decided that staying home was right for me. They have both  been the right option for me, just at different times in my life. The bottom line: Don't let someone else make you feel guilty or uncomfortable about your decision to go back to work or stay at home.

4. DO love your child.

No explanation needed here. I'm positive you are doing this already. All day, every day, unconditionally. On the good days, the bad days, and the days that feel impossible. Make your decisions out of love, and you won't go wrong. I promise. And when you do make mistakes -we all do, it's inevitable - just think about the great stories your child will have as a dysfunctional adult. Because aren't we all dysfunctional, really?

5. DON'T judge.

This one is really hard, so at least try not to judge. We are all guilty of judging other parents. Yes, even me. I think making snap judgements about parents who do things differently is our way of justifying our own ideas. Justifying to who, though? Mainly ourselves. So rather than judging, let's practice thinking this simple mantra: To each their own. There are literally thousands of ways to parent! Your way, my way, and his way can all be the right way - even when they're different. And when you do have a judge-y thought, keep that negative juju to yourself. I promise to try harder if you will.

6. DO I really need to continue? I think you get the idea.

I hope you weren't looking for actual advice, because I haven't even really scratched the surface of how to parent. Oh yes, there are plenty more decisions left to negotiate. There are diapers, and discipline, and circumcision, oh my! And my oldest child is only two. I can't wait to see what parents of school-aged children are debating about.

While this post may come across as wishy washy, I want to be clear about something. I absolutely have strong opinions and ideas about the best ways to parent my children, however I will not sit here and write about how what I do as a mother is unquestionably right. That would seem to imply that if you don't do it my way you are inherently wrong. Sadly, that seems to be a common theme of many parenting blogs and articles lately, and I think we're all perfectly capable of making ourselves feel like shit without the help of the internet. I can feel inadequate all by myself if I so choose, thankyouverymuch.

And for what it's worth, you are doing a fabulous job, mama. Hang in there.

So will I continue to read these blogs and articles? Of course. Sometimes they make me think and give me ideas, and other times they are so ridiculous or judgmental that I laugh and move on. My last piece of advice is this: read the books and articles and listen to other mothers, but take it all in with a grain of salt. Preferably margarita salt.

And since I'm right and you're right, let's have a margarita and call it a day.

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April 23, 2012

Mac or Harry: A Love Story

Mac came into my life during the summer of 2007.

After spending four years committed to another, I needed a change. Something that made me feel young and excited again. That something was Mac.

Together we did it all. Our courtship began with watching movies late into the night. Then Mac introduced me to some of his favorite music. We even traveled around Europe together. I fondly recall riding the train together through Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, and yes, even France! What a magical time that was.

But a few months ago, something happened. I can't quite put my finger on where things went wrong, but Mac suddenly stopped responding to me. After turning Mac on hundreds (hell, thousands) of times over the course of almost five years, I suddenly couldn't do it anymore.

I tried to give Mac time and space. I would give Mac hours, sometimes days, to recover from this new state of unreliability. I tried to connect. I tried to be patient. But Mac simply wasn't having it.

To say I was crushed was an understatement. How can you rely so heavily on another for so long, only to wake up one day to find that everything you know to be true has changed? The old adage is true... you really don't know what you have until it's gone.

Mac acted as though our past together was nothing. Those pictures of happier times? Mac refused to even look at them anymore.

One sad, lonely day I finally gave up. I had truly had enough. Don't toy with my emotions, Mac! Are you in or are you out? Apparently, Mac was out.

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Mac.

So slender and smooth, seemingly perfect in every way.

And here is the unfortunate screen Mac greeted me with every time I tried to turn my old buddy on...

You only need to know that this is bad. Very bad.

When it comes to personal relationships, I'm no fool. I've been burned in the past, so yes... I backed up.

Thank God I backed up.

The last time this happened to me I had not backed up, and as a result I lost two years worth of pictures from college. Although I was upset at the time, hindsight tells me it was probably for the best as many of those pictures would undoubtedly be incriminating today. Ohhh college, you were fun. I love you.

Now as luck would have it, Mac had a twin.

Around the time that Mac came into my life, Mother Ethel also found companionship in a Mac.

In an exciting turn of events, she recently upgraded to Mac's faster, shinier cousin - Mac Pro. So when my dear Mac betrayed me, she offered to share his twin (let's call him Mac 2 for clarity) with me until my heart fully healed and I was ready to commit again.

So Mac 2 entered my life, and for a brief time things were beautiful. Mac 2 was just like Mac! Unfortunately, it wasn't long before Mac 2 also decided I wasn't worth the time, just like Mac. And lo and behold, one day last week my unsuspecting, ever trusting self tried to turn on Mac 2 and here's what I got...

Yes, again.

It was time to move on... start anew... find a new love...

But there was a problem. As you can imagine, cash flow for a stay-at-home mama is limited, and the entire Apple family is a pretentious member of the nouveau riche. So I went to work on Ricky.

I begged. I pleaded. After an incredibly large tax return from 2011 (thank you, U.S. government, for that if nothing else) I tried to convince Ricky that I needed Mac's cousin in my life and financially we could handle it! No dice.

Ricky, along with the Brother Freds three, insisted I could find a PC with the same capabilities as Mac for significantly less dinero. Blasphemy! Or was it?

I was hesitant. You know what they say... once you go Mac, you never go back. That might be a slight variation of what they say.

Could it happen? Would I find compatibility with a PC?

Not wanting to make any rash decisions, I tried one last ditch effort. I resurrected my original computer boyfriend and desperately tried to rekindle the flame.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Dell.

It was Dell that I left when I met Mac in 2007. Could it be that Dell would be the answer to my problems? After spending 30 minutes looking for an ethernet cord (remember those?) I decided no, Dell was definitely not the answer. Dell's inability to connect to our network wirelessly in conjunction with that bulky, unattractive body reminded me why I left Dell in the first place.

Furthermore, Dell is slow. I lack a kinder word.

For the record, I did eventually find the damn ethernet cord. It had been haphazardly thrown into a box labeled CORDS. I think I threw that puppy together one day in a fit of organization. I was probably watching Hoarders - that show always makes me want to clean.

So back to the drawing board went I. And then it happened. After throwing my hands in the air, proclaiming I would never love again... Ricky found it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Harry Potter.

Not only does Harry do everything I could possibly want, Harry was on sale. If you know Ricky and I, you know how we feel about sales. It felt like Christmas in April!

Harry Potter and I spent the weekend getting acquainted. We shared pictures and music, and I even transferred all of my beloved memories to Harry (followed by a back up, of course).

I can't deny it. I love Harry. That's right, I said it!

Have I done the unthinkable and converted back to PC? Yes, folks, I think I have.

And for the record, Harry Potter is kicking Mac's ass. Well played, Harry. Well played.

April 18, 2012

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

"Lucy Ricardo... Come on doooowwwn!"

On weigh-in days I like to imagine myself running down the aisle towards Bob Barker. Can't you just see it? Everyone is clapping as I reach The Price is Right podium wearing my giant yellow name tag and homemade family reunion shirt (because let's be honest, I'm not going on that show without a homemade t-shirt).

After last week's public declaration of my weight loss goals, I really felt the pressure as I walked to the scale this morning. Pressure is good, pressure is good, pressure is good...

And then I remembered how I celebrated this week. Sure, let's call it a celebration.

We went to a wedding in San Antonio over the weekend, so I decided to celebrate basically the entire weekend. Our celebration started on Friday with snacks at the gas station (God forbid we starve during the 4 hour car ride). We continued to celebrate with fast food for dinner... and a giant hotel breakfast on Saturday morning... you get the idea.

I will say, however, that our lunch celebration on Saturday at Mi Tierra in the San Antonio marketplace was well worth it. I enjoyed each and every calorie in that jumbo margarita.... I think it had at least a million of 'em and I don't even care.

Ever been to Joe T's? Because Mi Tierra margaritas taste exactly like the Joe T's margaritas that I may or may not have drank by the pitcher when I was in college. Stop judging.

Don't worry, the celebration continued at the wedding. How could it not? It was the actual celebration. And truly, is there anything I love more than an open bar and wedding cake? No. The answer is no.

Ricky and I are typically a blast at weddings. Now that we have children we have toned down our act quite a bit, much to my chagrin. I recall one wedding where I insisted on swing dancing the entire reception after celebrating the open bar first. When Ricky told me he needed a break, I ignored the sweat pouring down his face and vehemently insisted, "The people want to see us dance!"

Really? Do they?

Like I said - we're a blast. 

You know who was not a blast at the wedding on Saturday? Little Ricky. Suffice to say, he made an early exit after having a public meltdown over glow-in-the-dark necklaces.

Can you blame him? I mean, who doesn't love those necklaces?!

So I made a deal with Ricky. I would put the kidlets to bed and he could stay at the reception as long as he had a giant slice of wedding cake in hand upon his return. Yes, the celebration continued...

A quick note on wedding cake: part of the reason I married Ricky is because he doesn't eat wedding cake. As a result, I always get two pieces and pretend one is for him. And then I eat them both.

This behavior seemed a little more acceptable when I was pregnant - I was at a wedding two days before Little Ricky was born - but now that I am sans pregnant belly, you may find it questionable. Whatever. I told you stop judging.

 The celebration continued on Sunday....

And then I remembered that I was supposed to be tracking my Weight Watchers points and actually losing weight. Oops.

But then we had girls' night on Monday and I think I ate half a bag of Market Street seasoned tortilla chips. They are like crack; I dare you not to eat them. It's impossible.

You can think all day long that I lack will power and motivation, but the truth of the matter is I just love to celebrate. I'm a blast, and don't ever forget it. And stop judging.

 So considering my overabundance of celebratory opportunities this past week, I was a little nervous (or maybe a lot nervous) about jumping on the scale this morning.

So are you ready for it?

 I lost 0.7 pounds! HOORAY!!  

A loss is a loss is a loss... even if it's less than a pound. And logic tells me that I probably should have gained weight this week. I'm attributing the loss solely to breastfeeding and the craptillion calories it burns every day.

 So now I only have 14.3 pounds to go... let's hope my celebratory attitude subsides a little this week. But really, what can I say? I'm a blast.

 And for the record, if I ever go on The Price Is Right I will totally bid only $1 in the hopes that everyone else over bid. It's the only proven strategy.

 This could be me.

April 11, 2012

The Challenge. Ugh.

 I'm going to start out by saying that I  am not excited about this post. Not even a little bit.

Up to this point I have looked forward to writing new posts and I find myself thinking about the next one periodically throughout the day. In fact, I even have an ongoing note in my iPhone committed solely to potential blog ideas. You don't have to tell me that is really cool. I already know.

This is actually a post that I've thought about many times, and the only reason I'm writing it now is because I need a little outside motivation, i.e. pressure. I actually work really well under pressure. Por exemplo, when I was college I got into the habit of waiting until the very last minute to start working on assignments and papers.

Here's how it usually went down. At about 8 pm the night before something important was due, my roommate and I would head to Frog Bytes (if you went to TCU you know where this is going) to stock up on study snacks. More importantly than the study snacks, however, was the Red Bull. Lots and lots of Red Bull. Later on in my college career, study snacks may or may not have included Eskimo Hut. No judgement, please.

On a side note, I would like to give a shout out to the TCU athletic department for equipping my talented athletic friends with the most expensive meal plan available, which included purchases at Frog Bytes. My best friend and college roommate played soccer, therefore I became somewhat of a soccer groupie and benefited from the fabulous school-sponsored athletic meal plan quite often.

By the way, I don't think I've given a shout out since probably the 8th grade. And let me just say, it feels good.

Random thought: I used to pretend I was a soccer player at parties in college. Alternatively, I would tell people I hadn't met before that my official job was Soccer Stats and Video. Funny at the time, but now it sounds kind of sad. Furthermore, I would refuse to go to class when the soccer team was traveling. If they didn't have to go to class, why should I? Maybe because I wasn't on the team... but I digress.

(Don't worry, Dad. I only skipped class sometimes during the first semester of my freshman year. After the banner GPA I got as a result of that semester, I decided to take advantage of my incredibly reasonably priced private school education from that point forward and always go to class.)

So after loading up on snacks and energy drinks, we would head to the library. After spending time socializing (because that's why we really went to the library) I would crack the books and get started on my assignment. I would stay up all night, convincing myself I would never finish, and then somehow, miraculously, I would finish about 15 minutes before class started. I may have shown up to class all strung out on Red Bull and Corn Nuts, but I was always there, finished assignment in hand.

And herein lies the problem: After waiting until the very last minute, my professors would give me A's and tell me how great my work was! Thus, reinforcing my pressure-driven, procrastinating ways.

And for the record, I am not necessarily condoning procrastination. It is not necessarily a good idea... Unless you are really good at it like me. And if you are  like me, well, I salute you.

Once I even made up my own final exam. I studied all night for a History Before 1877 final comprised of three essays. That's right... no scantron, just that damn blue book that I could never remember to buy before the test. So I sat down to write my essays and I dominated the first two. And then I came to the third and I had absolutely no idea what the question was asking. I did not study that one! The pressure was on - what should I do?! I decided that instead of half assing a terrible response I would write my own essay question about something I did know about. At the end of the essay I wrote this note to my professor:

"I did not study this particular subject, so I have decided to write my own essay question instead. I hope you will take my revised question into consideration. And please... have mercy on me."

Guess what that professor gave me on that particular final exam? 100. Again, the reinforcement. Boo. Freaking. Yah.

So here's the deal. My creativity and ability to work under pressure has served me well in the past, so now I am hoping to apply these skills to my current endeavor.

I need to lose a few pounds. And I need some pressure, your pressure, to do it.

Ugh. I know. Losing weight sucks.

The only thing that sucks more than losing weight is listening to someone else talk about losing weight and then watching that person never actually lose it. As a result, you have to listen to this person talk about the same 15 pounds for years. And the weight never budges. That person is me.

I'm not going to lie and tell you I've tried everything. My problem is I have tried a lot of different things, and although I get off to a great start I usually get bored about two-and-a-half weeks in and quit. Sound familiar?

So on January 1st I set out to lose 30 pounds. Now I know what you're thinking: "But she is so tiny! Someone as waif-like as she couldn't possibly have 30 pounds to lose! She can't weigh more than 110 pounds soaking wet!" Right.

I settled on Weight Watchers, and somehow managed to lose the first 15 pounds in about 6 weeks. Jenny Hudson would be so proud. But then I got comfortable. I haven't gained it back (hooray!) but I've been stuck for the last few weeks.

I would not consider this a plateau, because that would imply that I was actually working out and tracking my points. Let's be clear - I have not been doing those things. I will say that foot surgery threw a wrench into my workout plans, but three weeks later I'm ready to get back on the horse. Or elliptical.

So why Weight Watchers? Because it's easy.

Not to mention I get 14 extra points a day while I'm nursing the Bulldog. 14! That's a lot of food. So much, in fact, that I'm considering breastfeeding until she's 12. Okay, not really, but it really does burn a lot of extra calories! Just saying.

Plus, creeping on the Weight Watchers message boards on a Wednesday night is nothing if not pure entertainment.

So here's the challenge. I want to finish losing the weight before the end of the school semester. And yes, as a 26-year-old woman I still measure time by the local school district calendar. I will forever be a product of public school.

That's 15 pounds in about 7 weeks. Definitely achievable, but only if I feel the pressure. I will be reporting here, on this blog, weekly to let you know about my progress. I hope that if I do well you will write nice comments complete with smiley emoticons and maybe even a heartfelt "Way to go!"

If I'm not successful, I invite you to put the pressure on. Perhaps the fear of a heckling blog audience (all three of you) will force me to get off my ass and go to the gym. Perhaps.

Yes, I want to lose weight to be healthier, have more energy, blah blah blah. I'm also honest enough to say that my vanity has taken over and I want to look good in a bathing suit this summer, damn it.

If only I was big enough to go on The Biggest Loser. That would be ideal. I love you, Bob Harper.

March 28, 2012

Our Precious Little You

I remember July 29, 2009 as if it were yesterday. 

After four months of marriage I had a feeling

I didn't even tell your daddy that I bought the test. I waited until he was in the shower to take it. I remember waiting those three very long minutes, and in that time I got down on my knees right there on the kitchen floor and I prayed. I've never told anyone that before.

I asked God for a baby - for you. In that moment, with a racing heart, I begged him to bless us with the missing piece. You.

And three minutes later... it was positive.

The moment I found I was going to be a mother - your mother - was one of the happiest moments of my life. I always knew I wanted children - wanted you - and there I stood at 23 years old, newly married, and all my dreams were coming true.

To say your daddy was surprised is an understatement. I bombarded him a few minutes later and screamed, "I'm pregnant!" In that very moment our "two year plan" flew right out the window, and we haven't look back since.

I will never forget that day. We sat in the empty living room waiting for our new furniture to arrive. We bought new furniture to fill up our new house, and coincidentally it was scheduled for delivery the same day I found out about you. Honestly, I panicked. I thought, "We can't afford new furniture! We're having a baby! Do you think they will take it back?!"

Your daddy promised me we could afford the furniture and you.

This is how we broke the news...

You see, my sweet boy, you were loved by so many people before they even met you.

Do you want to know a secret? I thought you were a girl. I kept having dreams about a baby girl, and when the sonogram technician said, "It's a boy!" my response was, "Wait. What? I think you should check again." I'm glad I was wrong. It gave me you.

(As it turns out, my pregnancy dreams were not to be trusted. A few weeks before you were born I dreamed that you popped out of my belly with a mouth full of teeth and a giant afro. You looked right at me and said, "Hi, Mommy!" Yes, you were black. Yes, that was an actual dream.)

We spent nine months waiting for you. I felt you kick for the first time on Halloween. I loved feeling you kick inside my tummy. Anytime you would start kicking I would grab daddy's hand so he could feel, but you stopped kicking every time! It wasn't until you had the hiccups that he felt you move, too. And for awhile it was all hiccups and cramped ribs and heartburn... but none of that compared to the anticipation of meeting our precious little you.

Did you know you were born on your due date? March 29, 2010 was a Monday. After 40 long weeks it was time for us to meet you.

When you were in my tummy you had extra fluid in your kidneys. The doctor wanted to make sure everything was okay, so he decided to induce me early that Monday morning. Daddy and I checked into the hospital the night before, and I remember thinking that it was the last night we would ever spend without you.

Your entrance into this world was different than what I expected. Once labor started things happened so fast... so fast that some of the details are still a blur to me. I remember the doctor saying you were in distress and we couldn't wait. You needed to come out immediately. 

At 10:19 am, you were born.

I remember lying on the operating table during the cesarean section and I found myself praying to God again. I prayed for your health, for a safe delivery, for you.

I will never forget the first time I heard you cry. It was the sweetest sound I ever heard. You were perfect. All 7 pounds, 6 ounces of you. All 19 and a half inches of you. Our precious little you.

Was that really two years ago? Are you really going to be two years old tomorrow? I don't know where the time went.

Let me tell you what I do know. The last two years have been full of love. Everyday I look at you and I think that I must have done something right in my life to deserve you as my child.

At two years old you already have such a big personality! You are incredibly funny and you love to make people laugh. And you're so smart! You know your letters and your colors and you count to 13. You are so curious and you love to learn new things. 

You love all things Toy Story, especially Buzz Lightyear. You love to read books and color and play outside. Most of all, you want to be just like your daddy. 

You love to chase the dogs around the house and making your baby sister smile. You love Elmo and goldfish and snuggling with mommy.

You have your daddy's bright blue eyes and your mommy's temper.

I could write about you all day and all night and still not scratch the surface of how much I love you. You are more than I ever could have hoped for, and I feel incredibly blessed to watch you learn and grow every day. You are my heart.

All I want in life is for you to be happy. Whatever that means, whatever you do, be happy. And as you grow, don't ever forget that your daddy and I will always be here when you need us. Always.

Happy 2nd birthday, my precious little you. 


March 26, 2012


It has taken me 3 days to recover from what I consider to be the worst tantrum Little Ricky has thrown to date. I'm talking Linda-Blair-as-Reagan-in-The-Exorcist tantrum. When I think about it, I literally cringe.

Let's back up.

I woke up early Friday morning with a text from Fred-in-law... It's GO TIME!! Sister Ethel - remember, she's the cutest pregnant woman in the history of mankind - was in labor! I spent the next 10 minutes jumping on the bed yelling, "IT'S BABY DAY!!" Ricky did not appreciate my enthusiasm; he was still asleep.

Now Sister Ethel has been there for the birth of both of my children, so obviously I had to be there for her. The thought briefly crossed my mind that taking two small children to wait at the hospital might be a challenge, but that's what grandparents are for, right? To entertain my children! Thank you for your help, Father Fred, Mother Ethel, and Step Fred. Couldn't have done it without you.

All in all, we were at the hospital for about nine hours and Little Ricky was perfect. PERFECT! I could not have asked for a better-behaved, sweeter child. And that, my friends, is when I made my first mistake (okay, second mistake... letting him skip his nap may have been the first). My mistake was to loudly declare for all to hear how great Little Ricky was all day long! When Ricky joined us at the hospital I gushed (gushed!) about how funny and charming and entertaining and yes, even well-mannered, our firstborn child was all day long!

As I basked in the glow of the the birth of the newest Ethel (and let me just say, she is precious) and the great day we had, Ricky and I decided to have a celebratory dinner. I ignored the fact that it was already past Little Ricky's bedtime (my third mistake) and we took the kidlets to Chick-Fil-A. I know... we fancy.

So there we went on our merry way, with a napless Little Ricky who was awake on borrowed time alone. He even managed to fall asleep on the short ride from the hospital to Chick-Fil-A, which as any parent knows is a dead giveaway that it's probably time for bed. I ignored this sign. Fourth mistake.

As we walked into the restaurant (is Chick-Fila-A a restaurant? Oh, we so fancy) Little Ricky's eyes grew wide. There it was in all of it's glory... the indoor playground. And I thought, what's the harm in a few minutes of playtime while Ricky orders our dinner? Fifth mistake.

In hindsight, at least I can say that Little Ricky had fun playing for a few minutes before the tantrum ensued. He was fearless. Climbing, running, sliding... all with a big smile on his cherubic little face. Another parent even mentioned how adventurous my little guy is! Oh, I was proud. A little too proud, and a little too soon.

You see, the problem with all day long great behavior in an almost-two-year-old is eventually the other shoe will drop. The shit will hit the fan. And it did... shoes and shit and all.

Because then it was time to eat. Play was finished. That's right. Finished.

Guess what word Little Ricky did not want to hear at that moment? Finished.

All of the chicken nuggets and waffle fries in the entire world would not have convinced him that eating his dinner was more important than crawling through the giant plastic tubes (clean ones, too, I'm sure) of the playground.

And I found myself in the ultimate mama dilemma... let him cry or let him play? I'm a glutton for punishment, so I chose to let him cry. My inner school teacher reminded me that once I make a decision, I need to stick to it. Don't forget who the adult is, here! He's only (almost) two years old and what mom says goes. And God forbid that other parents in the restaurant think that I am a terrible mother for giving in and letting him play to stop the crying! So I chose to let them think how terrible of a mother I actually was by forcing my child to stop playing and eat his dinner. See how that works? You can't win.

Honestly, tantrums do not bother me. I can ignore screaming, crying, and flopping on the floor for an indefinite amount of time. My years of teaching special education and very young children has taught me to ignore bad behavior (or sad choices; thank you Love & Logic) and praise the positive behavior. Unfortunately, the practice of ignoring tantruming behavior is infinitely more difficult in public.

So there I sat, holding a writhing Little Ricky in my lap. He's wasn't just crying or screaming. He was cry-screaming. You know what I'm talking about. Cry-screaming is when a child gets so distraught that the crying and screaming turns into warbled noises that sound like a tortured, dying cat. A very loud dying cat.

And in the already limited vocabulary of your typical (almost) two-year-old, there is only one word Little Ricky can find amidst his pain and suffering:


It took all of my strength to keep him in my lap without looking like I was using all of my strength to keep him in my lap. I tried to stay calm and ignore the behavior. Ricky looked on in horror at our own mini Linda Blair. Throughout the entire episode he said only three words: "I. Am. Mortified."

I naively thought that after a few minutes the cry-screaming would die down. Sixth mistake.

At this point, Little Ricky turns tomato red, crocodile tears are streaming down his not-so-cherubic cheeks, he is sweating profusely, and to top it all off he's barefoot. Does he care that the entire restaurant is starting at us? Of course not. He just keeps cry-screaming the dreaded four letter word. PLAAAAYYY!!!

And the people just kept staring. And judging. Oh, how they judged.

In my attempt to try and ignore the behavior (right) and simultaneously find the humor in the situation, I sat there in the booth with a goofy grin on my face and absolutely no idea what to do next. Thank God for Ricky. By this point, he had had enough.

Ricky grabbed Linda Blair and threw him over his shoulder. Seconds later, out the door they went. I decided to stay and enjoy the rest of my dinner.

And two bites later, the Bulldog started to cry. Okay, I'm done.

Hastily I grabbed our food, retrieved Linda B's shoes, and the Bulldog and I hightailed it out of there without so much as a backwards glance. Lucy, OUT.

Both Little Ricky and the Bulldog fell asleep in the car on the way home. The silence was glorious.

Please, parents, learn from my mistake(s). And when it does happen to you - and I promise it will - know that you are not alone. And as my sweet Aunt Ethel pointed out to me... any parent who says it has never happened to them is a LIAR.

March 18, 2012

Everyday I'm Shufflin'

Disregard any previous posts about how hilarious foot surgery is. 2 days later? Not so hilarious.

When I woke up Friday morning I was actually excited it was surgery day! I have been waiting what seems like forever to have this surgery, and I dreamed about hopping off the operating table and running barefoot through the forest. Or something like that.

Since I wasn't able to drive myself, Mother Ethel kindly agreed to chauffer me to and from surgery while Ricky stayed home with the kidlets. About 20 minutes after we left the house, Ricky texted me to let me know that The Bulldog wouldn't drink her  morning bottle. Now, I've heard of babies going on strike before, but I couldn't believe my little chunker was refusing to eat! That never happens. I was a little nervous considering that I can't nurse her while taking prescription pain medication, but eventually she got hungry enough and give in to the bottle. Let's just hope she goes back to nursing without any problems when the time comes!

My surgery was scheduled first thing in the morning which worked out well because I didn't have to wait too long once we got there. It was at an outpatient surgery center, as opposed to a hospital, and there was only one other patient there when we arrived. After changing into the gown and getting my IV going, Mother Ethel joined me in my "room" (it was a sliding curtain) to wait with me. She took this picture of me while we waited...

I was told not to wear any make up or jewelry, so this is me
au naturale.

And yes, I know I look really pretty. You don't have to tell me.

I think it took me getting to this point to realize that I was actually having a real surgery. I have been joking about it for a few weeks, but the hospital gown, cap, and IV kind of put things into perspective. I did find it amusing however when the nurse asked me to initial the surgery site. Huh? I asked for clarification, and she literally wanted me to initial each of my toes being operated on to make sure the doctor operated on the right body part. I can only imagine what kind of lawsuit went down that made initialing the surgery site a mandatory part of surgery. Yikes.

Once Medallion arrived he also initialed each toe. Glad we were in agreement. I guess you can't be too careful.

After all of the preparations were made, the anesthesiologist came to give me the IV sedation. He assured me it would only take a few seconds for the drug to kick in. Here is what I remember of the conversation we had during those few seconds:

Anesthesiologist: "So you went to TCU? I saw the big scandal in the news recently."
Me: "Yep. I was one of the drug dealers. Police didn't catch me, though."

And then I was out.

Why did I say that?! 

A simple yes would have sufficed. The sad part is I am almost positive I would have made that very same comment even if I wasn't on my way to la la land.

Coming out of surgery I felt two things - woozy and numb. When Medallion came to check on me he said that my bone spurs turned out to be the worst case he has seen in 12 years of practicing podiatry. In a strange way this made me proud. Not only did it give me validation that yes, I did need to have the surgery, but if there had been a bone spur competition I would have won! Winning.

Mother Ethel drove me home and thus, the recovery began.

The best part of Friday was definitely lunch. We went to III Forks on Thursday night for our anniversary dinner, so I had leftover filet mignon, leftover chocolate cake, strawberries, pretzels, and a Diet Coke. This may have been the most delicious lunch I have ever eaten. Don't think I didn't eat every bite.

Late Friday afternoon the pain started to kick in. I started feeling a deep, throbbing pain in my right toe only. After convincing myself something was seriously wrong - I had taken the maximum pain killers allowed and still had intense pain but only in one foot - I called Medallion. He reassured me that the nerve block given during surgery can wear off at different times in each foot and it was just a matter of time before my left toe began to throb deeply as well. Perfect.

When I said, "But I took the pain killers and it still hurts so bad!" he asked me to imagine what it would be like without any pain killers at all. Apparently pain killers can't always block all of the pain depending how intense the pain really is. All I could think was how that would have been good to know yesterday!

It was around this time that I seriously started doubting my decision to have the surgery. Yes, it was considered medically necessary, but bone spurs aren't exactly life threatening so maybe I should've waited because this hurts.

I make these look good.

So now I will paint a picture of what things have been like since I got home. Basically, I have spent the last two-and-a-half days camped out in our bedroom with my feet propped up in the air. I ice my toes intermittently, and I only get out of bed if absolutely necessary. Little Ricky likes when I shuffle around the house. He thinks it's funny that I hobble so slowly, and he walks directly behind me while we have our own little parade.

On Saturday Ricky headed out to the St. Patrick's Day parade, so I was on my own with the littles. Even though I was in some pain, we actually had a really fun day playing and watching movies in bed all day! I think we watched Toy Story 4 times. Seriously. Every couple hours I would load up a cookie sheet with necessary supplies...

Only the essentials: Gatorade, peanut butter, a bottle for the Bulldog, a banana, not one but two Buzz Lightyear action figures, etc.

We also ate our meals in bed so I could keep my feet up.

Little Ricky's breakfast picnic

Little Ricky's lunch picnic

The Bulldog did this almost the entire day.
She loves sleep just like her mama!

Ricky picked up dinner for us and guess where we ate? Yep. In the bed. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the biggest, best picnic of the day. Booooo.

All in all, Saturday wasn't too bad. Yes there was pain, but I was relieved that it was less pain than Friday.

And then I woke up today.

Oh. Dear. Lord. The pain was 10 times worse. WHY did my toes hurt so badly?! I thought the pain would only get better as time went on but I was obviously wrong. So I did what I always do when I need legit medical advice... I hit up Google. Bad idea.

After thoroughly freaking myself out about all of the possible things that could be wrong, I decided to pop a few pain killers, suck it up, and deal with it. Luckily the pain subsided as the day went on, and I even felt up to taking a shower. Here was my solution for keeping my feet dry...

Masking tape and trash bags. I'm cool.

So here I sit... in bed... feet propped up...

And hopefully tomorrow I will be able to move around a little more. More importantly, I am ready to switch from the prescription pain medication to Tylenol so I can get back to nursing. I am having to pump 5 times a day to maintain my milk supply for the Bulldog, and sadly I have to dump it all out because of the pain meds. 

So am I glad I had the surgery done? I think so. Do I want to do it again? Hell to the no.

On a side note, I was really looking forward to our anniversary this year because it was the first anniversary we've had that I wasn't pregnant! I think that's funny considering we said we didn't want kids right away. HA! So anyway, I was looking forward to having an adult beverage with dinner to celebrate... and then I remembered I wasn't supposed to drink any alcohol for 24 hours prior to surgery. That's right, folks. Three anniversaries later and I still haven't had a real drink to celebrate. Go figure.

Dinner at III Forks

So with a non-alcoholic drink in hand, I say cheers to a speedy recovery!