Friday, October 21, 2011

Just the Facts, Mam... A Non-Bias Answer to Amendment 26 Questions

I've noticed an exciting trend of Facebook over the past few days. People are asking for facts. They are turning away from the propaganda and looking for unbiased research on proposed MS Amendment 26. AWESOME. I respect that so much that I took the time to do find some non-biased links for some people to help them answer their own question. As long as I've put in the effort to get the links, I thought I'd share. My personal opinion is nowhere in this, these are resources I found to answer specific questions I've seen from individuals by using third part non-biased websites.

1. The big question - What does proposed Amendment 26 actually SAY? The text direct from the Secretary of State:

Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Mississippi: SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hereby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ: Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, "The term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof." This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.

*Just a note, the term fertilization in the amendment is key in to the rest of the links.

2. Why is birth control being brought into this debate? The pill stops an egg from fertilizing in the first place.

From this page, which is the fact sheet on for Ortho-Cyclen, one of the most commonly used birth control pills on the market, describing how it actually works:
It works by increasing levels of estrogen and progesterone, which inhibits ovulation, changes the cervical mucus (which makes it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus), and changes the endometrium (which reduces the likelihood of implantation by the fertilized egg).
 The fact sheet for Minera IUD states the same basic use.

3. Why are people talking about IVF?

This one is hard to find a good resource for, since most of the good resources about IVF go into way more detail than necessary to explain how it's linked to this bill. Here's the link to an information sheet from the MS IVF Clinic, which explains the process. It's actually a better link than the one I originally offered, as it's less complex. The bottom line, not all eggs fertilized in the lab will be used, they fertilize more than one or two in case the first round of treatment isn't successful and they need to try again.

4. What is an ectopic pregnancy, anyway?

A couple of resources - from Wikipedia and for those that dislike the Wiki, one from  medicinenet.  From the Wiki article (imbedded links are theirs, not mine):
 An ectopic pregnancy, or eccysis , is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside the uterine cavity.[1] With rare exceptions, ectopic pregnancies are not viable. Furthermore, they are dangerous for the parent, since internal haemorrhage is a life threatening complication. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tube (so-called tubal pregnancies), but implantation can also occur in the cervix, ovaries, and abdomen. An ectopic pregnancy is a potential medical emergency, and, if not treated properly, can lead to death.

5. Are there other proposed amendments on the ballot in Mississippi this year?

Yes indeed. Two more, and they deserve your attention as well. One is Voter ID and the other involves Eminent Domain. Both links are to the Secretary of State website and has a ballot summary for each as well as links to the brochures that have the full text of the law.

 I hope this helps somebody understand what we're voting on before they cast a ballot. And if anybody has better NON-BIASED information they'd like to share, please do.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sleep Training

One thing I've read over and over again about raising little people is that sleep training is a process. It doesn't end when they start sleeping through the night as infants; they regress, they change schedules, you have to retrain them over and over again...

Last night I put Kaycie to bed at 7.  Her normal bedtime has been 8 for a while now, but for the past few nights we've bumped it back to give her a little more rest. A week or so ago her internal alarm reset itself for 5am. My internal alarm is set for something closer to 8:30 or 9. This is a problem. Five in the morning is not a reasonable time for anybody in my household. Even the dog is asleep at 5am. But not my little doodle bug. No, she's taken to climbing out of bed, sneaking quietly into our room, climbing into our bed, and bouncing up and down yelling, "Mickey Mouse!"

Um, no.

Going to bed at 8 and getting up at 5 was leaving her a bit... Grumpy. Eight to nine hours of sleep wasn't cutting it for this little almost-two-year-old, she needs at least 10-12 to be a happy camper. She hasn't been a very happy camper lately. We tried keeping her up later in hopes she'd wear out and sleep later. No dice, just got less sleep overall. Thus, pushing her bedtime up to 7, giving her an extra hour of rest.

This actually started a few weeks ago with her getting up at 7. Then 6:30. Then 6. I was tolerant, just because I like to sleep late doesn't mean my kid does, and if she is going to be an earlier riser then I'll have to adjust. But not to 5am. I started putting her back to bed and telling her she had to stay in bed until she could see the sunshine coming through her window. That should be around 6:30 or 7, which is reasonable. I thought we had worked that out, but this morning I ended up putting her back in bed 4 times before she finally fell back asleep. That extra hour or so she gets after falling back asleep helps a lot, too. Unfortunately, the falling back asleep part hasn't been so easy for me.

Shocking as it may sound, I haven't been sleeping well anyway. Pregnancy and all. Having a 30lb jumping bean on my head well before dawn hasn't helped any. This week I've been tired like I haven't been since Kaycie was a newborn. Exhausted. Last night I had planned to run to the store for some emergency groceries (we're one sippy cup away from out of milk!) but no sooner than I put her to bed at 7 I laid down on the couch and fell asleep. I woke up a little later and took myself to bed. I slept until she woke me up at 5:15. Today has been a much better day! Unfortunately, going to bed at 7 every night isn't really feasible. I'd like to see my husband at some point, and I had things I needed to do last night. But for right now, getting 10 hours of sleep was exactly what I needed. Now if I can just figure out how to get my kid to sleep until 7 or 8, life will be excellent.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mash Up - Of All The Things I've Lost Edition

Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most...

This morning I had a plan. Take Kaycie to school, come home to wash the pup, then put myself in the shower before running a handful of errands across town and having lunch with my hubby.  Instead, this morning I took Kaycie to school, came home and put on a load of laundry, sat on the couch sucked into Pinterest for 45 minutes, got in the shower nearly an hour later than planned, then looked at the dog and though, "Dangit."

I forgot bread at the grocery store. Bread. Yes. One of the staples that everybody buys every time they go. I forgot this two days ago, and just got around to realizing it this morning. I then forgot to get it while I was in Walmart on one of my errands. So instead of going back to the store with Kaycie for one loaf of bread, I broke out the bread machine. It really seemed easier, and took less time than going anywhere with Kaycie this afternoon. Except as soon as I pressed the start button I couldn't remember if I'd used warm water to kick start the yeast. I still don't know if I did, I'm waiting for it to finish cooking and see how it turns out.  (Update: Turned out perfectly. Whew.)

Speaking of bread, the reason I desperately needed bread was because yesterday I made apple butter in my slow cooker as part of my attempt to make gifts for a semi-homemade Christmas. (Along with vanilla extract. And a couple of other things I have in mind if I can make them work.) The problem is I've never had authentic apple butter. I don't know what it's supposed to taste like! Luckily, my in-laws are apple butter experts. I'm planning to take them a jar and have them taste it to see if it's close to right. If not, I have a dozen other recipes I can try. Then I have to figure out how to actually can them. There's a reason I'm starting this early... Anyway, once I get it finalized I'll post the recipe (mostly for myself, so I don't lose it!)

A series of texts with my husband this afternoon (paraphrased):
Me: Why is Kaycie outside with my swiffer? And why do I ask these questions?
Me: And why is the back door rug in the hallway?
Me: There are two piles of grass in the dining room! I was only in the potty 45 seconds!
Greg: 44 seconds too long...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Menus - Because Allison Asked!

I'm a posting fool this week. But this time it's because Allison commented that she was amazed that I could plan 4 weeks of menus at a time and when I tried to respond it became way too long for a comment, so I thought I'd make it a post! Let's start with my new meal plan center:

I set this up Sunday for about $8. The board - a combo cork/dry erase/magnetic board was $7 at Walmart and the yellow folder was like 68 cents. I could have spent twice that on the fancy plastic or cloth organizer doohickeys, but my goal here was to spend less money, not more, and the folder worked just fine once I cut it into two pieces! It's not exactly beautiful, but it's functional for me.

On the right is my envelope of coupons. I used an envelope from a box we already had, but return envelopes out of junk mail work great for these types of things, too. :) Above that is a magnetic note pad I picked up for 25 cents when Fred's had their clearance. I bought a bunch of them. Below the envelope is half of my folder, held up with magnets, which contains my list of go-to meals I know my family will eat once or twice a month and in front of that is a stack of new recipes I want to try out in coming weeks. On the left side is my 4 weeks of menu sheets tacked up on the cork board (I use one of the printable templates from this post, but there are a million of them online). Under that is my other folder pocket with the recipes I need to reference for this week. I keep my grocery list on ColorNotes on my phone, but I can use the note pad or dry erase board for that if I need to.

That said, here are my suggestions on menu planning - start small. Do two weeks. Make a list of go-to meals your family likes and start with those. Or make a list of what you actually cook each night over the next two weeks. Then grab a stack of recipes you've been wanting to try and sprinkle in a couple of those. Then fill in with simple things like sandwiches and breakfast and tacos. And plan for leftovers when it's feasible. For example, this weekend I'm making lasagna Sunday night. I know that with only 2 of us we can eat on that for 3 nights, so I scheduled it Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. Figured I'd skip Tuesday so we wouldn't be totally tired of it. Boom. That's nearly a full week. I do have a backup plan for Wednesday if we just can't eat it again. :)  I don't bother planning breakfast or lunch, since those don't tend to be bigger family meals, I just worry about dinner.

Frankly, if I'm going to sit down and write out menus, I'd rather do four weeks than two so that it's done and I don't have to think about it again for four weeks. And I can start looking for sales on the groceries I'm going to need down the road. One thing that's helped is keeping my handwritten menus from past months. Doing 4 weeks at a time is easier when you have 6-8 weeks worth of past menus to pull from. When we change the plan at the last minute I try to write it in so I can spot trends if something isn't working. I also use my freezer. Anything I can make a double batch of and freeze, I do, then that becomes part of future menus. And I tend to be super easy and super flexible with the weekends. We plan to eat out on Fridays and I pencil in any days I know we'll be gone out of town or whatever. This weekend we're having rotel and chips for lunch on Saturday and possibly Sunday, if we're in town (we may be helping my in-laws move!). Last weekend we mostly ate leftovers at lunch then I made pizza for dinner one night and we were out with my in-laws the other night. 

I was thinking I'd post a list of samples menus I've used, but now that I'm all organized I can't seem to find my big stack of past menus. Figures. But here's a made up list of what we might eat over 4 weeks, starting with  my plan for this upcoming week, including the new things in my new recipes pocket:
Week 1:
Sunday - Lasagna  with salad and cheesy bread (sauce in freezer from last double batch)
Monday - Leftover lasagna
Tuesday - Rotisserie chicken or roasted chicken with salad (or, chicken salad!)
Wednesday - Last of the lasagna
Thursday - Sloppy joes (already in the freezer from last time I made them) and chips/fries
Friday - eat out
Saturday - Rotel/leftovers?

Week 2:
Sunday - Pizza
Monday - Saucy Chops with green beans, brown rice and bread
Tuesday - Cajun chicken pasta (New, using leftover chicken from last Tues, in freezer)
Wednesday - Steak fingers, fruit salad/green beans or corn
Thursday - Breakfast
Friday - eat out
Saturday - leftovers/brats on grill

Week 3:
Sunday - leftovers/Tacos
Monday - Hamburger steak with gravy, green beans, rolls, brown rice
Tuesday - Catfish nuggets with hush puppies, fries, maybe some extra shrimp from freezer
Wednesday - Slow Cooker Whiskey Steak (New) with ???
Thursday - Spaghetti with salad, bread
Friday - eat out
Saturday - Breaded pork chops with mac and cheese, bread

Week 4:
Sunday - Pork steaks on grill with potatoes and veggie
Monday - Enchilladas  (in freezer from last time I made a double batch), chips and salsa
Tuesday - Stuffed shells with salad and bread
Wednesday - Crock Pot Ravioli (New)
Thursday - Pulled pork sandwiches (in freezer) with baked beans, veggie
Friday - eat out
Saturday - Pizza

There you have it. Four weeks worth of food (and flexibility) for a household with a really picky adult eater. If I had a less picky eater you'd see more things like Taco Soup and casseroles and fun pasta dishes. This time of year you can also get away with using things like soup and stews and chili as your lasagna of the month, cook once and eat on it for three days! I wouldn't try to pull that off more than once a month, or else the other people in your household might get grumpy.

And now it appears I have next month's menus ready to go... I also have to say this makes me look at the overall picture of what we're eating from a health standpoint. We need to do better. It's kinda hard when salad and green beans and the occasional potato are the only veggies I can get my husband to eat. I can sneak nutrients into other foods from time to time but we're eating too much bread and meat and pasta. That's something I need to put some thought into.

All Signs Point North

You may recall that on Sept 22 we left for our fabulous 9 day beach vacation to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary on Sept 30. You may also recall that that vacation was cut short when I got word that my grandmother had died about 5 hours after we arrived at our beach house. Our 9 day vacation was more like 18 hours.

If I'm to be honest, there were half a dozen (or more?) things that happened in the weeks since we booked the trip that made us think maybe we should not have booked the trip. Like the stream of medical bills and the discovery that we'd be paying our insurance deductible twice, thanks to the planned January birth of MicroTot. Maybe we shouldn't have spent the extra money on the vacation...

Then Grandma fell. But that was a full month before we were supposed to leave. Then her rehab didn't go well and she got discharged to the nursing home unwilling to even try to walk. Then the night before we're supposed to leave she is taken to ICU with more heart problems. I won't lie, I freaked out that night, not knowing what to do. By morning she was better and Mom told us to go ahead. They would still try to come to the beach house on Saturday. We'd invited both sets of parents to stay with us for the weekend, since we had 3 bedrooms anyway. So we went.

We should have known. There were other minor things... We were all sick the week before and Kaycie was still a bit sick when we left. We joked that the salty air had 9 days to get us all well. Ironically we ended up at the doc with Kaycie on Tuesday anyway. Guess it's good we weren't at the beach. And my BFF Sharonda's baby, who I had forbidden to arrive during that week, arrived on Tuesday morning. I didn't make it back from Mom's house in time for the birth, but I did get to visit with him in the hospital Tuesday and Wednesday.

Did I mention that this time around we did something we almost never do? We took out travel insurance when we booked the house. We were thinking that with me being pregnant and having a toddler our chances of using it were probably higher than usual. That insurance also happened to cover vacation interruption due to the death of a family member. We should be getting the entire amount of our beach house rental back. Just in time to pay the hospital for MicroTot. Sigh.

Eating Away At The Budget

October 1. A new start. For our budget, anyway.


The most immediate problem with me getting pregnant again has been money. No, not because I feel the need to go out and spend a pile on new baby gear and stuff. I've spend a total of less than $140, and $100 of that was on the new car seat we had to get. Is it the pile of medical bills we're now getting to pay in advance? In truth, that doesn't help. Especially since the little guy is due in January. We'll get to top off this year's insurance deductible but then the actual delivery will fall on next year's deductible, so basically we get to pay it twice. Ask me if that makes me happy... BUT, that all comes out of savings, not our month to month budget, so that's not really the issue.

The monthly budget issue is the same one we had when I was preggers with Kaycie. And, to be honest, before. And after. It's food. We eat out too much. I spend too much at the grocery store without a good plan. And while I'm in the first half (or more, this time) of pregnancy, I can't muster up the energy to cook much. So we eat out even more. And I don't have the mental capacity to pay a lot of attention to what I need vs what I actually buy at Walmart. We end up using the debit card more and more often. And the budget spirals out of control. Cash really is key to our household budget.

The nausea part of this pregnancy eased up greatly about a month ago. My energy level hasn't gone up much this time, but I'm having to chase a toddler this time around. Still, it's time to get things back on track. A few weeks ago we sat down and reevaluated the budget to come up with a new plan starting October 1. Last week I sat down and made out 4 weeks worth of menus (including some leeway for eating out once a week or so for dinner and a few times each week for lunch) and the equivalent grocery list. So far so good. Granted, it's only the 4rd of the month, but we only ate out once over the weekend (while we were out of town visiting Greg's parents) and I have something planned every night this week. I feel like I have some control over our food spending, which is a good thing since next week we cut our weekly cash withdrawal for food and household stuff by $50. Gulp. BUT, I should have $50 left over this week, so maybe that's no so beyond reasonable.

I had gotten really good at doing  this before I got pregnant, so  hopefully I stay on track. At least for a while. Until MicroTot arrives, then it'll all spiral again for a few months while we enjoy sleep deprivation and a lot of fast food. But at least I've come to accept this in advance, so we can prepare for it! Maybe I should take the extra $50 from this week and start a "Food Fund" for January...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Funny Things We've (Inadvertantly) Taught Our Kid

I have at least 3 other long posts I need to write, but for right now I'm taking the easy route. It's a gorgeous day and I'm sitting on my back patio watching Kaycie chase Casper (or Capber, as she calls him) around the yard and creating messes with the water from her water table. It's just too pleasant to write about serious things...

So, on to my list. First, new things Kaycie is saying that we find hilarious:

"Hi, everybody!" She started this randomly Saturday night while visiting with my in-laws. It took me a few minutes to realize it's the opening to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She says it with much enthusiasm, and at totally random times. Like while we're riding in the van.

"OH NO! Train tracks!" This started with a particularly rough crossing near our house that's on the way to school, but has expanded to refer to any bump on the road.

"Red Line bus! AAAHHHHH!" This one she learned today, and it's in reference to the new shuttle system at UMC. The Red Line bus goes through the traffic circle at the School of Nursing and is a little scary if you're in front of it about to get run over. She said it over and over all the way home, with much enthusiasm.

"Applenuts!" No idea what that means, but she's said it several times this weekend. It's not apple juice, she says that clear enough.

"Ta Da!" Greg taught her this during the few hours we were at the beach. She's clung to it mercilessly and it has kinda become her motto.  She pokes the pup with a stick, "Ta da!" She throws dirt on something I told her not to, "Ta da!" She climbs up on something that she will inevitably fall off of and bust her head, "Ta da!"

I had to go back and edit this post because I left out her favorite word of the moment - "BLOCKBUSTER!" It's also her favorite place. Don't even ask. But Saturday when I went to put her down for naps and told her we'd go on an adventure when she woke up her first response was, "BLOCKBUSTER!" (No, dear, we're going to see your grandparents...) And any time we leave the house as soon as we pull out of the driveway she yells, "BLOCKBUSTER!" Sigh.

She will also randomly break into song. She can sing the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme, which sounds something like, "Mick Mouse... house! (mumble mumble) side! (mumble mumble) side!" as well as the Elmo's World song. She can also sing her version of MMC's Hotdog Dance song, but it's totally incomprehensible unless you recognize the tune.

She's also found much use for the word "no" of late, but that's not nearly as funny.

She's recently developed a great love for rocks. Not fancy rocks, plain ordinary gravel. Or asphalt chunks. She's started hiding them in her carseat and around the house. I can't tell you how much driveway gravel I've thrown away lately.

She's also discovered a love for the crane games at Walmart. I totally blame her father for this, as he's been obsessed with them for much longer than I've known him. Together they are 100% when it comes to getting little plastic balls out of the ball machine. He'll line up the claw and she'll push the button. This didn't work so well for me this morning, and she pushed the button as soon as I put the money in. But thanks to her dad, she expected a prize to appear!

I'm sure there are half a dozen more things I'm not thinking of at the moment, like her love of hopping instead of walking, but my kid is now soaking wet from the water table and covered in dirt after finding my bag of potting soil and deciding to refill (by hand) the pots of now-dead petunias we planted in the spring.  It's all good. My kid's adorable.