November 25, 2010


Stacking manufacturer coupon with Target coupon got me the first cookie dough roll for 96 cent, then I got a Catalina and was able to stack that with a manufacturer coupon to get the 2nd for free.  Then I got another Catalina so hopefully there will be some more free cookie dough for me soon!
FREE with my ExtraCare bucks at CVS!

November 24, 2010

Telling Yourself the Truth

This past week I took a day to declutter in anticipation of a visit from my mother-in-law and just simply because I've begun to get very frustrated with anything in excess.  I think having a baby has made me want to simplify my own life and belongings as much as possible.  I can't really control, nor does it bother me, that Olivia has a million things all over the place at home but me and my husband's clutter is stomping on my last remaining nerve!

So, I started in our office.  As I've mentioned before I am learning to sew.  Our house is a small starter home so there are not many choices for a sewing area.  We decided to donate the PC that was on my desk to someone in need and give the monitor to my brother since it is nicer than what he has but looking around the room I knew there was no space for a new hobby without some major purging. 

Up until having Olivia I have always been an AVID reader.  When we got married I sold most of my beloved books in yard sales since we were merging our homes.  However, I kept a full bookcase of those I couldn't part with.  But, on this day I realized it was time to let go of old things if I wanted to have some new things.  So, I parted with things I NEVER thought I would!  Specifically, I shredded all of my personal journals and my written-in bible studies.  Even just typing that out is making me have slight heart palpitations! 

When I was single I journaled like a mad woman....I had stacks and stacks of notebooks filled with my thoughts, dreams, prayers and of course all my hurts and disappointments as well.  In an instant I just knew it was time to get rid of them....and the bible studies too.  I have done more Beth Moore bible studies than anyone I know, some I've done two and three times!  I had them all on my bookshelf...reminding me of what a wonderful spiritual person I used to be.  Truth be told, since getting married, I have really forsaken my relationship with God.  I haven't become a heathen or anything like that but I just have stopped making time for Him in lieu of all the other stuff that seems more pressing.  In some ways I think that holding onto those bible studies somehow still made me feel like I was the same person who made time for God first.  But the truth is that I am not and I need to come to grips with where I am now, let go of the past and make a new present and future.  I need to truly start putting God first, then my husband and then my child.

November 23, 2010

The little booger is sick....

So many things about being a mom are hard but I think the top two must be not knowing why your baby is crying and seeing your baby sick.  Olivia has been just beside herself for the last several days.  She is always a fussy baby but even she has her limits!  This past weekend was extremely traumatizing.  She screamed, screamed and screamed some more.  She wouldn't eat and then would be starving.  She was incredibly congested but wouldn't let anyone come near her nose.  And the worst of all, she was totally exhausted and would barely sleep.  I knew something was wrong with my baby and not knowing what was hard.

PPD runs the gamut in terms of how it manifests in each person.  For me alot of it is feeling like I'm not good enough, not a good mom.  Feeling like she would be better off without me.  Some of this stems back to issues I've battled for many years thanks to an ex, some of it comes from being a new mom and not knowing any better and some of it is just plain hormones or lack thereof.  Either way, for someone fighting off irrational thoughts it is really hard to have days on end when you can't seem to comfort your baby.

So, today was finally the time to go see the pediatrician.  I knew something was wrong several days ago but without getting into all the details I knew we needed to see a specific pediatrician in our practice so I delayed the visit until he was available.  As usual Olivia was just flirting away with the pediatrician - she is such a funny little girl - and my feelings of failure as a mom were put to bed when he informed us she had an ear infection.  I had begun to suspect that towards the end of our wait but up until the point an actual illness was confirmed the voice in my head was telling me not-so-nice things about my abilities as a mom.  So, the little booger is sick and is starting on antibiotics for 10 days.  Poor baby - but at least now we know what the problem is and can fix it!  And, once again I am reminded that I am a perfectly good mom.

I'm really glad that we got in to see someone today so we can nip this in the bud before Thanksgiving and also because my sweet baby girl is starting daycare next Monday and I'd hate to have to delay her due to illness.  I am so excited about the place we have chosen.  There is a much longer story here but being that this is a public blog I'm just going to skip that part.  The new place will have lots of stimulation for her and lots of communication for me.  I will even be able to watch her live online if I want to!  The location is in our neighborhood and right next to our gym which will also make it convenient to start working out again.  I am really looking forward to a more structured environment for her and one in which I can be more involved.

November 18, 2010

Organizational Tools

I want to share some things I've been finding online to help me get my home/personal life better organized.  I have just recently come across these materials so I cannot yet comment on how user friendly or useful I find them but I plan to post in the future and share my thoughts on them.  I just love sweet folks I only encounter online who create these routines and forms and then make them available for free.  I believe that is an example of focusing on your gifts and sharing them with others.
  • is helping me to build routines into my daily life that keep my house going (we have also decided to hire someone to help clean our home until we get it under control and I can manage it myself again!).  I am signed up for her daily digest email which contains all of the emails for the day in one.  The emails include basic plans for each day, special challenges and testimonials.
  • Awesome free printables for planning everything from Christmas gifts to weekly menus to instructions for babysitters to birthday lists and on and on
  • Free Thanksgiving Your Way 2010 eBook which contains recipes, traditions, craft projects, decorating suggestions and has links to free printable planning sheets at the end
  • Free Christmas Your Way eBook which contains tips for organizing and simplifying Christmas with links to free printables planning sheets at the end 
And, lastly a resource that is not free but that I have purchased and am exploring - Organizing life as Mom eBook.  I found this about a week before I stumbled onto all these freebies.  Had I found those first I doubt I would have paid the $9 for the eBook.  However, I am glad it worked out that way because this resource has more written content and the printable forms are actually modifiable so that you can change them to fit you and your family specfically so in the end I may find that this was the best find of all. Stay tuned!

November 17, 2010

A few memories from Labor Day vacation

Olivia's first time for toes in the ocean water!

The gorgeous view of the sound from the back of our rental house

Daddy feeds the munchkin outside the aquarium

Olivia's favorite activity on vacation - laying on the couch!  She takes after Mommy!

November 16, 2010

FLYing projects - beware!

Here are a couple of FLYing projects I am working on - truth be told I've been working on them for weeks and haven't made much progress but I thought if I blogged about them it might help me get embarrassed motivated enough to work on them again!

So, here is a corner of my kitchen.  Can you see why I need help????  I am a hopeless clutter-holic!  I hate clutter yet I cannot seem to keep it out of my home and often I am as much the culprit as Mark.  I should add that Olivia's things also seem to be contributing heavily towards the clutter ratio as well.

And here is a cabinet where we store Buddy's stuff (our dog).
 And the top of the cabinet where all sorts of stuff seems to gravitate.

The only thing I've made progress on so far is the inside of the cabinet - below is the AFTER photo.  I'm going to make it my goal to post an updated photo of the other areas by the end of the month.....stay tuned!

Deals, deals and more deals!

Harris Teeter - Super Doubles Trip #1  $8.57

Harris Teeter - Super Doubles Trip #2 $2.49

Target - $0.15

Kroger $16.93

And lastly, my favorite deal, which I do not have a picture of, was at Walgreens - 1 toothbrush, 2 flosses and 1 hydrogen peroxide for $0.57

Where in the world is Shannon?

I've not been posting much lately and I thought I'd share some of the reasons why with you today:

-I cannot seem to find time to download the photos I want to include in my blogs but I don't want to write a blog and leave out the photo(s) either so today I have downloaded all the photos/videos and hope to catch up quickly on the happenings of the past few weeks.

-I am exhausted!  Olivia has been going through the "4 month sleep regression".  This is a term given to the period of time somewhere between 4 and 5 months when there are so many developmental changes occurring that a baby actually regresses in their sleep patterns.  She went from regularly sleeping 10 hrs per night in her crib to maybe 1 or 2 hours at a time.  Towards the latter part of this experience I figured out that if I moved her to our bed and cuddled close to her she would go back to sleep and stay that way til morning.  The other change I noticed was how upset she would be in the morning when she woke up - prior to this she would normally be happy and giggly in the morning.  So, this regression has been going on for the last week or so but last night, the 10th night, she returned to her normal sleep pattern - woo hoo!  I have to admit that as tired as it has made me I kind of missed our snuggle time last night but when I saw my giggly girl this morning I was so so very happy!

-I have taken two sewing classes in the past week.  My Christmas gift from Mark is a beautiful Brother SE400 sewing and embroidery machine.  He was kind enough to get it for me early so I could learn to actually use it before Christmas.  So far I have taken a 2 hour basic machine class, a 6 hour garment sewing class and I am scheduled for a 2 hour sewing fundamentals class in a couple weeks.  I have already bought the patterns, fabric and other materials for the first few projects I want to do.  The biggest question is WHEN will I have time to sew?!  LOL!

November 12, 2010

Meal Planning and Recipes

Me and a group of moms I have developed friendships with online are all contributing together to a Meal Planning and Recipe blog.  I hope you'll check it out HERE!

November 10, 2010


I will have to admit that I have not had very many surprises in my life. Ranging from Christmas to Birthdays the majority of the time I knew what gifts to expect and as in my adult life I have even purchased my own gifts on the behalf of family members!

Being a deal hound I can't stand the thought of paying too much for something. Probably something instilled in me from a very young age. Christmas and my Birthday were so close that my Father would often combine the two which meant waiting till after Christmas to get a bigger gift for half off instead of smaller gifts at regular price. So growing up it was always cash was king in our family as Christmas presents. So other than a few small things I was given cash to spend post Christmas when I could get more for my money. There are some advantages and disadvantages to this but the most obvious disadvantage is the surprise factor or rather the lack of it. But by waiting I always got what I wanted and more because the money went further.

Flash forward to my married life where my wife for some reason doesn't seem to ever know what to get me (I like RC Planes/Helicopters and Kites - any will do) so I make it simple on her by buying my own gifts at the best price and then tell her it is for "insert holiday here". She hates this so much that it has been a point of contention in our marriage thus far. Last year for Valentines we tried something different and she picked out a surprise gift and I must say although not something I was expecting it was a very nice furniture grade Watch Box to keep my small collection of watches in and on display instead of just my sock drawer. I enjoyed the little experiment and the surprise but I still needed some kind of bigger surprise to make up for all those years of always knowing. That opportunity presented itself in several big ways last year.

The first big surprise was how quickly God blessed us in our attempts to conceive. With both of us being in our mid thirties, Shannon and I had imagined several months of trying. This thought became even greater when we found out at the start of our attempts that I would unexpectedly have to attend an out of state training session for 6 weeks. But fortunately, after just one month of trying and on the day before I was due to leave for my trip we found out that Shannon was pregnant - a wonderful surprise and relief for both of us. That surprise really helped me get through 6 weeks of being away from my wife and also help strengthened our marriage while we were apart when the distance would have taken a toll on some.

The second surprise and the greatest of my adult life was deciding to wait till our baby was born to know the gender. As impatient as I am, I was determined to have one major surprise in my life and this was the perfect opportunity and thankfully Shannon agreed with my decision. For me I had no doubt about the fact that I didn't want to know but then after about 2 weeks of making the decision I got worried that I may have forced Shannon into it. I realized I sort of just stated the fact that we would not find out the gender till the baby would be born but I never really asked for any deep thoughts or concerns about it from Shannon. So I addressed the issue again with her and she assured me that she too didn't want to know. I realized that waiting till you actually have your baby to determine the gender is a thing of the past and very few people do it but to us it was very important to NOT know. I can't even put into words how it actually really felt to know all at the same moment that my wife was OK, my baby was OK, and that I was the father of a baby girl. The feelings of each thing just compounded upon itself exponentially. To hear "it's a girl" come out of the Doctor's mouth and to have the feelings I did was just beyond belief. It was so pure and so wonderful. We both enjoyed it so much that I am pretty sure that although impractical that we would once again wait till find out the gender should we chose to have another child.

The last big surprise was just how hard being a parent really is. It is nothing like what they say in books or training seminars. With Olivia being such a "high needs" baby, she really has just brought out so much in us that we both didn't even know we had. I have now seen my wife blossom into the most wonderful mother, full of strength and tenderness and myself love another person so wholeheartedly. I will have to openly admit that Shannon has really felt the lion share of the struggles with raising our child. She was the one at home the most during those fist months, the one who always got up in the middle of the night to feed Olivia or soother her. I really was shielded from a lot of the bigger struggles of caring for a new born because she so willing and actively took on those chores as loving mother. I could not have been blessed with a better wife and mother for my child.

So all these surprises combined have really made for a wonderful year and have made up quite a bit for what I have been lacking all my life in the surprise department.

November 07, 2010

How's it FLYing?

It has now been several weeks or more since I began intentionally trying to create new routines and patterns of doing things in order to keep my home from imploding!  Some new things are working and some are not.  In fact I learned one day last week that sometimes you just have to leave your house in shambles and not worry about it because you did the best you could. 

New routine #1: 
I wanted to experiment with making a weekly calendar for household chores, appointment reminders, etc.  The format and items included have evolved several times over but I think I am finally happy with the version I am trying out for next week.  Essentially it's just a table created in Microsoft Word that lists all the appointments for the week, the household chores that are needed (a rolling list so if something doesn't get done I just carry it over to make sure I don't forget) and a place to write my dinner plans in so I know what to thaw/buy at the grocery store.  I also make notes of any special household projects I want to tackle.

New routine #2: 
Doing a load of laundry a day is working well.  I no longer find myself with multiple loads of laundry to do over the weekend which is wonderful.  The folding is another thing though.  My goal is to wash and fold one load per day but on occasion the folding gets put off til the next day.  This week that happened a few times and tonight I realized I had three loads to fold.  It took a long time - waaah!

New routine #3:
Meal planning is the "November Focus" on and it came at a perfect time.  I had just gotten to the point where it was either start meal planning or start working two jobs to eat out all the time!  Last week I made a complete plan for dinners for the whole week AND put the needed items on the grocery list BEFORE we went to the store.  That might be the first time that has happened in 3.5 years of marriage!  It felt really good to have a plan and work my plan so I will continue to work on this.

New routine #4:
Using my time wisely is working though it does make me resentful at times so I know I need to find a balance.  What I mostly mean when I say "using my time wisely" is that I don't spend time watching TV regularly anymore.  I used to be a huge TV watcher, huge.  I easily spent 10 or more hours per week watching TV shows.  I do still watch TV but it is probably more like 3 hours a week and rarely on the same day the show airs.  Instead I now take every opportunity to get my "To Do" list done.  The downside to this is that I am very unbalanced right now in "taking care of myself".  I need to work on finding the balance but overall I am happy with my progress in this area.

On my next FLYing update I hope to post some pictures that just might make your hair curl!

November 04, 2010

Sweet moments...

Here are a few of my favorite recent Olivia moments...

Sweet sleepy girl (during the day)....a RARE moment!

Olivia is LOVING bath time these days and
she is finally noticing her rubber duck! 
She smiles, giggles and kicks at him - it's so cute!

November 03, 2010

New Adventure: Baby Food!

I was so excited to see these baby food freezer trays on my doorstep today!  I bought some sweet potatoes earlier in the week and have been dying to try my hand at making my own baby food.  So far I've tried Gerber rice cereal and mashed avocado with Olivia and she has not seemed too impressed with either.  I am hoping that sweet potatoes will have a better reception. 

I have been reading books and online articles for weeks about making your own baby food and decided it was something I'd like to do.  I had a rather devastating failure with breastfeeding so I feel strongly about making the time investment to do this for my daughter.  I don't have anything against jarred food and I'm sure we will use it occasionally so don't be offended!

So tonight while I was getting Olivia to bed Mark was baking the sweet potatoes in the oven.  When I came downstairs they were ready to be peeled and pureed.  I used our KitchenAid mixer and then pushed the sweet potatoes through a mesh screen colander to make sure all the fibrous strands were removed.  It was a little more work than I thought but I ended up with 32 squares of sweet potatoes which will last a LONG time at the rate she is going!

Here is one of my trays - a little messy but fun!

HT Super Doubles

Super Doubles at Harris Teeter can yield lots of free or significantly reduced items!  A lot of what I went for was already gone but I got 3 cans of cream of mushroom soup (which I need for a recipe next week), 2 lbs of spaghetti, 10 oz bottle of soy sauce, 3 pack of popcorn, tic tacs, advil (had coupon for free bottle), scrubbing bubbles toilet gel discs and frozen pierogies and refrigerated creamer (which I left at work) for $7.10 (would have been $30 at regular price).  Yay for deals!

November 01, 2010

Weekend Wonders

Is this the sweetest little cow or what?   Olivia had her first Halloween party on Sunday afternoon, hosted and attended by church friends who have babies around the same age.  We dressed her as a cow since Mark loves cows and also in attendence were adorable monkey girl complete with cute tail and VERY sleepy dragon boy!   Dragon boy was born on the same day as Olivia and in the same hospital.  They both have jungle themed nurseries and Daddies with Jeeps!  Monkey girl has beautiful blue eyes and LOVES her carseat!  (Wish she would teach Olivia the joys of the carseat!)

On Saturday morning I noticed that her SECOND tooth had made its appearance!  They are the sweetest little teeth just barely poking out of the gumline.  It's so exciting to see her changing and growing!  What a sweet blessing from God!

Now to switch gears  I want to talk about something more serious.  One of the primary reasons I started blogging was to share my journey through postpartum depression (PPD) in hopes that I might help someone else....a friend or family member who reads this blog or a stranger that just stumbles across it.  I have many embarrassing things in my past and current life but I've always been an "open book" to others because I believe that God uses the 'weak' things to show His strength.  So, with that being explained I'd like to share a little with you today. 

It is so embarrassing to have PPD!  No one talks about it for that very reason.  What mother wants anyone to know she is not blissfully happy about her newborn?  It is devastating to realize that one of the most wonderful things God has ever allowed you to experience is also causing you to become inexplicably saddened, filled with anxiety and thinking completely irrational thoughts.  It is equally embarrassing to have to be put on medication for 6 months to a year in order to deal with those feelings productively.  It's just embarrassing, embarrassing, embarrassing - there is no way around that but in order to get "better" I need to be open about my journey so that I can get the help I need and do what is best for my family.

So, how do you know when you are getting "better"?  I think it is when you are willing to try "new things" you were too afraid to do before.  For me, one of those things is taking my daughter out for an entire day including being in the car alone with her beyond the 5 minutes it takes to get her to and from her nanny.  Why would that be such a big deal you wonder?  Well, for me it is huge deal because in the early months of Olivia's life I was terrified to go anywhere with her.  She was sooo unhappy and cried all the time.  I could not handle it emotionally so eventually I just stopped trying and stayed at home all day everyday while I was on leave and even since returning to work have not been able to be out with her. 

This weekend I knew that Mark would be busy all day and most of Saturday so I decided it was time to try a "new thing".  In truth I felt afraid to be with my daughter alone all day (that's a "new thing" yet to be accomplished) so I decided I needed reinforcements.  My mom will not drive to Raleigh because she hates traffic so I knew I would have to go to her instead.  First I confirmed that she would be home and then I called my sister-in-law who is wonderful with my baby girl.  She said she could come - yay! - but then I started thinking that two extra people might not be enough so I asked her to bring her mother too!  I was getting an army together to help me with my first "new thing" because I did not want to fail! 

So, Saturday I fed Olivia her first morning bottle, managed to keep her happy until the next bottle and after that we set out on our adventure.  During the one hour drive she did exactly what strikes terror in my heart - screamed the entire way - I thought I was going to die.  But somehow we made it to Rocky Mount and she promptly fell asleep until we pulled up in the driveway.  Whew!  Made it through the first leg of my "new thing"!  There were 4 adults and 1 child total in addition to my girl when we set out to enjoy lunch.  Between all of us we managed to keep her from screaming for a few hours.  We went back home afterwards and my brother also joined our army and we kept her relatively happy for another few hours and then it was time for me to head back to Raleigh.  I climbed in the car knowing the trip home might put me right over the edge and I was right, she screamed for 40 minutes straight (while I tried every music station and noise I could think to make) before she conked out.  My nerves were in pieces but I made it home, got her ready for bed, fed and put her to sleep.  It was rough but I did it - I tried a "new thing" and saw it through to the bitter end!  I'm making progress people....slow as molasses but progress all the same!