Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dining Out; the lost treasure

One of the best ways we've sliced and diced our budget was by eliminating our dining out spending. Pat was reviewing our spending habits, and our AMEX bill noted that the past three months we have had $0 spending at restaurants. $0. WOW - that's pretty impressive, especially considering we probably spent well over $300 a month with all the fast food and take out alone. And a FAR, far cry from the days when Pat lived in the Gold Coast, and we could drop $200 on one steak dinner! Part of that is because what little money we do spend dining out (less than $100 a month) is spent in cash. Side Note: {Click here for the Dave Ramsey way to control your spending by using an cash envelope system} I would like add that Dave Ramsey and the Total Money Makeover are awesome :) The other part is that we just don't eat out much any more. It is simply cheaper to eat at home. I don't particularly like cooking....but I've learned to not hate it, and I've cooked some great meals in the process.

The reason I bring this up is because Pat, Liam and I had a fabulous dinner tonight. We cashed in all of our loose change ($58.00! Whoo hooO!) and treated ourselves to a Mexican dinner at Campeche. We went early, around 5PM, and Liam was so well behaved (not that I expect him to be crazy - but you never know), it was so nice!! The service was good, food was good, the kid was good, what more could I have asked for!

At the end of our stay, the waiter gave Liam a blue balloon, which he *LOVES*. We taught him how to say "globo" - which is the Spanish word. It sounds so cute coming out of his mouth...."Ooooh bo" "Gooooohhh bo".

Slashing our budget was such a good thing for us, I think. Not just financially. It makes me appreciate the things we do so much more.....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sleep, why doest thee elude me?

I've been having issues the past week or so falling asleep. As in, not falling asleep until 1:30 - 2:30 in the AM. Very distressing, especially since little peanut gets up without fail at around 6AM. No wonder I've been so cranky in the morning. First night I thought I took my allergy meds too late in the day (those will keep me up for HOURS)....the second night I thought I drank too much coffee too late in the day (which I do, but it usually doesn't have that effect on me). Then I realized its just my mind racing. I don't give it enough decompress time throughout the day, so my thoughts come a racin' at night. So I need to quit the TV & internet about a half hour before bed so I can journal or just think. So far how am I doing? I'm blogging at 10:30 when Pat's already gone to bed.

I've also got a notepad and pen bedside so if I do have a great idea I can jot it down and revisit it in the morning....that way I can let it go at night. That seemed to work OK. Also, practicing some yoga / deep breathing / meditation / relaxation techniques seem to help as well....but I don't have very good control over my mind yet, so it still tends to wander. Of course, if all else fails at 2AM is quickly approaching, I can always wake Pat up to get it on ;o) He's always happy to help cure insomnia that way (sorry Mom - it had to be said).

So what does my mind race about? Mostly the photography business - I've got so many ideas, so many things to do....and yet throughout the course of the day they don't seem to get done. Either because I'm chasing Liam, or because I get stuck in the never ending rut of Facebook (that site is like Crack to me).

Side note: Liam, Pat & I went to the dentist yesterday to get some cleanin' done. Looks like I may have the beginnings of my very first cavity. I have to make an appoinment to get it taken care of in the next couple of months....but just thinking of it makes me want to pass out. I get so anxious about stuff like that. I should be thankful I've gone 31 years avoiding the drill....but instead I'm panicked about getting a filling! Will someone come and hold my hand??

OK - things that are important to do this week:
  • Get brows waxed (they are OUT of control)
  • Movie night with the Momfia crew (yay! I need my girlz!)
  • More photo editing :)
  • Dessert night with the Thursday Playgroup ladies!
  • Get some sleep!
  • Start / finish book 3 of the Twilight Series (thank you, Jamie, for hooking me on this...)
  • Change my blogwear....its way past Christmas now.....
  • Blog about the idea I had last night, then forgot about, then remembered because I wrote it down, but then forgot again and can't write about it because its all the way in the bedroom.

*phew*. OK, I think I'll get off the computer now.....just as soon as I check my facebook newsfeed....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sweet little boy...

2009-01-10 Random 05, originally uploaded by karintobrien.

When he's not whining my ears off, he's actually kind of cute. Today, he woke up whining, and hasn't stopped. I suppose I'm posting this picture to remind myself that he is an adorable little thing.....even if it does feel like blood is dripping out of my ears at the moment.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sleep, little bear...

Man-o-geez. Liam is having quite the change of bedtime behavior these past few days. First off, he's only taking one nap...but its only an hour long (instead of 2+). Second, he's exhausted by bed time, and he JUST. doesn't. want. to sleep. We do our normal routine (books, prayers, milk = sleepy), and after this he used to go down like a champ. He has for quite a while now. No fuss, no nothin.

Now, he just screams and screams and makes himself gag from crying so hard. Totally breaks my heart. We don't want to go the whole "cry-it-out" route because it just doesn't seem to work for him (remember - different methods work for different kids - no one size fits all answer!). So, after a few minutes, I'll go back in, pick him up, head out to the living room and grab another book to read. After that, he seems to be calmed down enough to go to bed. I can't stay IN the bedroom because he won't calm down. Its frustrating!! I don't know if he's afraid of something, or what the heck it is......any suggestions??

I just want my poor little bear to sleep :(

::::::::::::::::::::::::: NEWS FLASH :::::::::::::::::::::::::

Its gonna be cold tomorrow, if you haven't heard. Makes me feel like I should have gone out on all those 15 degree days. 15 degrees feels like a heat wave compared to -30. You know its going to really be cold when the networks start shoving reporters out in the street to freeze their asses off, just to verify "Yes, it IS cold". Pat and I like to laugh at them :) We're such nice people!

Liam and I have are supposed to have our music class tomorrow at Merry Music Makers....we'll have to wait and see if we can actually make it there. I don't think I want to wait for the bus with lil' man in artic temps. Quite the bummer, because its actually pretty close, but just far enough away, and Liam's not a fan of keeping completely covered up...we'll have to see if it all pans out.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fun Evening!

After quite a steady, heavy 10 inches of snowfall - I jumped in the car and headed to Wicker Park to pick up Gina and head to the airport. Her hubby and little nugget were flying back home from Cali. She had a bit of car trouble, and we did NOT want her preggo butt stranded in snowy madness while her family waited after a long day of travel. I took the opportunity to snap away and get some practice in :)

Here's Gina, waiting not so patiently for her peeps to show up....

Awww - the little nug :) Audrey's soooo sweet!

Some shots of Midway

On the way home, it was so snowy and pretty! As I was walking home I shot some scenes around the 'hood. Nighttime snowy shots make me happy! The first is a self portrait :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thank goodness for Thrift Stores

Yesterday morning didn't really start off that great, seeing as how I was slightly hung over. Just slightly though. I'm beginning to invent new ways to be hung over - I'm not sure if that's just a Karin thing or a gettin' older thing. I woke up at 5:30AM no headache or anything; I was feeling woozy and dizzy and numb. I convinced myself that I was having a bad interaction with the sangria I consumed and the medication I've been taking for my ear, and that I was approaching certain death. I fought that for a couple of hours, trying to not have a panic attack (because that's how I roll), and then finally the regular ol' nausea and headache hang over set in and I felt better. I know, strange, right?

The afternoon brought a trip to the Hair Cuttery to see if they could do a better job with Liam's hair than we can. I hate paying $13 to get it done, but I figured I would give it a second shot. The first time we took him there a few months ago they really didn't have any more success than we did. I'm not sure why I thought it would be different now. I suppose I was just so fed up with chasing him around the bathtub with clippers and having baby hairs all over the bathroom, that I was hoping it would be better. It really wasn't. Turns out though, they did give us a good idea. If we let him play with the clippers a bit maybe he'll be desensititzed and let us do it without wiggling around. I think that will probably work - he enjoyed playing with them after we got home and I touched up his less shaggy mop. Yeah, I'm a good mom like that - I let my kid play with hair clippers :) Don't worry, the big guard will be on!

We had much more success accomplishing our second mission, which was to find Liam a new winter coat. The zipper broke on his current coat, and the snowpants were also way too small. He has grown so much in the past couple of months! We bought the set at a Second Hand Store for $25, which is still kinda I'm dissapointed the zipper busted completely off. I suppose if I was handy enough I could try to fix it, but I don't have the energy to direct towards that right now.

I didn't really feel very good about our choices, since they haven't had any coats at our Target for a month or two - and honestly, GAP and Old Navy are usually good choices, but the kids coats are pricey. We decided to try our hand at two thrift stores down the street from the hair cut joint. They are hit or miss, and the last time I checked them out there was nothing but slim pickins. This time, though, we totally hit the jackpot! Not only did I find an adorable, practically new coat from Gymboree for $3, I also found two cute cable knit sweaters, a rain coat for the spring, a scarf and a pair of snowpants for $10 total.

I'm so very thankful, too....we all know money is tight, and I really didn't want to have to drop $40 for a coat he's only going to wear for half a season. I need to make a habit of dropping into those stores on a regular basis; one of my Momfia friends is a Thrift Store Queen - she always finds awesome stuff!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ups and downs.

I suppose Parenthood is way too similar to a violent, thrashing, exciting, scary, super fun roller coaster. In order to get those high highs, you've got to come crashing down at some point too. Yesterday I had quite possibly the most perfect of days - Liam was happy, not too whiney, interactive but not clingy. He indulged me and my camera, and we had a great time playing lots of different games. But, he was content to play by himself too. We managed to get out of the house without too much drama, and had a nice time playing at the Swedish American Museum again.

Today is the polar opposite. I didn't get to shower. It took a lot of brute strength I had to wrangle Liam into his too small snowpants and get us bundled up to walk in the 15 degree cold. Liam did NOT want to cover his face with a scarf - the zipper of his coat (which has been on the fritz for the past week) officially gave out and I had to rig it (using pliers and a screwdriver) to get it to stay closed. We *had* to get out of the house to go to a music class that I was sooo very much looking forward to attending. Had I not been so excited for this class I would have totally given up and stayed inside.

It was much colder than I expected outside. The bus was no where to be seen and the wind was whipping straight into our faces.

We get to class. Liam was velcroed to me the entire time, and completely freaked out every time the teacher broke out the guitar. I had to use every ounce of my being to not loose it and start crying in the middle of class. I probably would have if the teacher hadn't been so great and the mood of the class so welcoming and warm. I really enjoyed myself when Liam wasn't crying, even if he wasn't participating much. Liam did really dig the drum sticks and the instrument play. At the end of class the teacher (Madame Julie) reassured me that some kids just need a little time to adjust, and he'll get acclimated as he gets used to the routine. I knew that, but it was still nice to hear as well.

Really, it was mostly my fault. Class time (9:30) is just about snack time, and I didn't feed him before we went. Lesson learned. Hopefully next week will be better.

Besides all this every diaper change has been like a limb amputation.....I have to miss Thursday Playgroup yet again because of his one nap schedule....and every time I get NEAR the computer he runs toward me and turns the whine up to 11. And, my friends, its not even noon yet. But, alas, after a yogurt and banana snack, now the babe sleeps.

I've used a lot of coping skills today. Mostly stepping back, taking a deep breath or two, and counting to three. Those are good skills to have and to practice, right? And rest assured, the roller coaster will go up again, and I will continue to enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Liam - 15.5 months old - January 2009

Some shots from our casual session this morning. For me, these photos exemplify why is a great reason to bring your child's favorite toy to a photo shoot. Liam LOVES playing with these Tonka Trucks & Trains right now. He always seems to have two with him at all times, one in each hand. Double fisted, if you will :). Sometimes its the train and caboose, sometimes its the concrete truck and the firetruck. He drives them up and down the couches, up and down our heads and arms, on the cats' back and head. He'll lay on his belly and drive them around, sit on his heels (just like in the 4th and 5th photo) and drive them around. They are definitely his favorite toy right now.

The photos aren't all of him smiling lovingly directly at the camera. But, I feel like I captured perfectly this moment in his life. These tiny details that I may or may not remember when he's 18 and the top of his pants are no longer rolled over and the tag does not stick out. That is what its all about :)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things

I love when Pat returns from a trip. Even a short one. It feels good to snuggle him, give kisses, and smell his sweet cologne. Yum. Can you tell I missed him? LOL. He was only gone for a night. AND, I wasn't even missing him just because of the fact that he helps out with Liam so much. I just missed him. *sigh* He's my dream boat. Definitely one of my favorite things.

Some of my other favorite things are reading, and taking baths. Preferably at the same time. I could soak in a warm, deep tub for HOURS if I'm engrossed in a good book. Or at least in a trashy, mindless book ;) I even have one of those tub caddy things, to hold my pages open and the book above so it doesn't get wet (this was a purchase after I had dropped one too many books in the tub). I haven't taken advantage of our large fabulous tub in a long time. I'm not sure why, but I think its because I haven't had the urge to read. That is, until I got hooked on the Twilight series. Yes, I'm indeed hooked on Kid Lit (or teen lit, whatev). I think that's worse than Chic Lit, don't you?

Anyway, the recent discovery of these books has lead to many, long, luxurious soaks in the tub. I had to ask Pat to get me out after a measly one hour and forty-five minutes. I surely could have stayed an hour longer. Its like rediscovering an old friend - and being nice, warm and relaxed as a side benefit. Happy reading!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Arroz con Leche - the ultimate comfort food

When I was nearing the end of my time in Mexico, Keith and I had dinner with friends Rocio (from Peru) married to Cheesehead Tom (from Cheese-landia, also known as Wisconsin) who lived near us in Toluca. She made an amazing dinner, with a fabulous dessert of Arroz con Leche. I can't believe I had not eaten this dish during my stay in Mexico. It was decedent, delicious, and comforting all in its warm gooey goodness.

I fell in love at once, and made it frequently during the beginning of my pregnancy with Liam. I really didn't crave many things, but this, this I craved OFTEN. I just made it again last was delicious smelling the cinnamon and orange fill the house :) I love this dessert!

Liam had his first taste tonight - to a loud resounding "MMMMmmmMMMmmmmm!".

Arroz con leche
3 cups water
1 cup white rice
1 cinnamon stick
1 piece of orange skin
a pinch of salt
1 can of evaporated milk
1 can of Eagle sweeted milk (La Lechera)
-sugar (just add as much as you'd like to make it sweeter, usually between 1/2 - 1 cup...I like it less sweet so I add just shy of 1/2 cup)
powder cinnamon (for top of rice pudding)

Boil water with orange skin, cinnamon and salt. When it is boiling add washed rice and cover pan. Let boil with low heat until it is dry. Remove cinnamon and orange peel. Add milks, vanilla and sugar and stir until it thickens. Put in a container and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Pissy pissy pants

No, not Liam. Me. I've been in a bit of a pissy mood lately, and I'm not exactly sure why. I'd love to blame it on good ol' female hormone-ality, but who knows if that's misplaced or not. At any rate, pissy Karin = not in the mood to blog, so that pretty much sums up my absence.

Grrr....right now, as I'm backing up files on my 1 Terabyte external hard drive, Liam is trying to climb under the desk to poke at all the cords and other various electrical outlets. The boy has a heat seeking internal radar for all things dangerous. I suppose most 15 month olds don't sit still, but man, is it tiring.

Maybe I'm cranky in anticipation of Pat returning to work, and me having to Liam wrangle and deal with all his antics
all by myself again.


Maybe I'm in need of a Mommy break.

*sigh* Despite my moodiness right now, I wouldn't have any other way, really. Every night before I slip into bed I sneak in Liam's room, cover him up and brush his soft, warm cheek....and I can't wait to see his sweet face again in the morning.

At least, until he starts sticking forks in electrical sockets.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009!

May this year be your best ever!