Archive for January 2011

Don’t tell me what to do   Leave a comment

Ugh… so I had one of those days. And I’m noticing a trend in things.

First of all let me say that I do not like being told what to do.

I really truely hate it. I would be terrible in the military. I have a strong respect for authority and I understand rules and all but I really hate being told what to do… especially when it’s “because I said so” or “because it’s for your own good.”

Reverse psychology would work great on me except I know what you really want and I thus I don’t want to do it.

I can be a bit contrary and stubborn.

That being said I’m SO sick of these government recalls. I’m sick of all these rules that are supposed to be “for our own good.” If it’s really for our own good then give us the information and let us decide on our own.

These rules are really for people who can’t use products properly or can’t follow directions or do stupid stuff… so the rest of us can’t use them anymore.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s my stubborn independent streak.

Here are a few of the things I’m referring to at the moment.

1. These recalls with baby stuff.

      I don’t meant legitimate ones like toys that are obviously dangerous i.e. bursting into flames or growing arms and slapping babies or anything. I’m talking about ones that are silly.

       We almost took my old drop side crib. I really liked the idea of Lydia sleeping in it, not to mention the saving money aspect. Someone told me, “oh you can’t use that… it’s dangerous… it’s been recalled!” Well, I obviously survived it. So did pretty much every child of my generation.

       If you take care of it and use it properly it’s not a danger.

       Some of these toy recalls are ridiculous. 5 children will be injured and they yank the item off the shelf. Steve and I keep joking that one day they are going to recall swimming pools because way more than 5 children are injured every year in them. Or slinkies…. I used to get my fingers pinched in them.

       Obviously, I want them to be careful with toys and I want to know if there is a danger but these recalls don’t give us the option to judge for ourselves. I have two toys that have been recalled. I was careful and looked into what the item was recalled for and judged that considering how we used it we were not at risk.

2. Privacy acts for medicene- My 83 year old grandmother injured her foot in November. She just also fractured two vertabrae. I spent all day driving her around and trying to get her medical attention.

The ER forgot to put which vertabrae was fractured on her paperwork. When we called to find out we were told they could not tell us because of privacy. Now I’m all for privacy but how could saying L7 or T5 could possibly endanger her.

They said they could fax a form to the Dr’s office, she could sign in, fax it back and they’d fax back the information. Fine. Silly but fine. One problem for them and one for us. Problem for them: How do they know my grandmother is the one signing it? Ridiculous. Problem for us: The fax machine at the acupuncturist (where we were) was not working.

I suggested they fax it to my mother’s office so she could sign it (since my grandmother gave her permission to receive medical information). They stated that they could only fax it to a medical building. Of couse, they wouldn’t have known it wasn’t a medical building if I hadn’t been honest.  So basically this law to protect us only screwed us over unless we were dishonest and then we could have easily gotten around it. And since it’s only dishonest people who don’t mind lying you are only scewing over the honest ones. Now if this was to protect her SSN or address or CC# fine, but which vertabrae was fractured? Come on!

As it was, I had to drive to the ER she was treated at. To be told they had sent me to the wrong place. Luckily if I waited 30 minutes another nurse MIGHT be able to give us the info. So Nana sat in the car with LA (who only started freaking out at being in a non moving vehicle towards the end- we don’t like to be strapped in if we’re not on the go) while I stood in the ER for 30 minutes not touching anything.

Thank goodness we finally got the info… it was her 5th and 7th vertabrae…. look privacy violation!!!!

3. And this is a rant from my pregnancy. I was all about doing the birth natural. Which I did.

But did you know there are two LAWS about how you give birth. The first is that you have to give birth 2 weeks after your due date or you have to be induced.

The second is that once your water breaks you HAVE to be in active labor within 12 hours or have pitocin.

I understand the safety concerns for both. But states don’t agree… in some states you have to be in active labor within 24 hours. In other states you have to give birth within 3 weeks of your due date.

I wanted what was best for my baby and wasn’t going to  be unduely stubborn but come on…. how can they tell me I have no right to refuse drugs for induction or pitocin to speed my labor if I don’t want them? I find it hypocritical to tell me I have the right to my own body when they discuss abortion, but I can’t have the right to my own body to give birth…..

Sigh…. rant… there are way more similar things. But that’s it for now. I’m spent!


Posted January 26, 2011 by etainl in Life

I’m lovin’ it…. my attempt at Mickey D fries   Leave a comment

So since we have been pinching pennies and doing whatever it takes for me to stay home with the Little Angel (LA) I have been trying to cut down on food costs. It is one of those things that can easily get out of control in a household that likes to cook and eat.

I really hate the idea of having to keep track of which store has chicken at what price… but to save money I think it’s going to come to that. And I suppose it’s worth it. To be home with LA it’s definitely worth it… just so tedious.

However, I can embrace the idea of making things at home or trying lower cost recipes. My mother got me this great book for my birthday called Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy and The Tight Budget Cookbook. They are both really good but I found a lot more useful ideas in the first book. I’ve tried some of the recipes in the second which are great… just need to use it more I think. The first book though is a lifesaver.

One of her suggestions is to make some things yourself that you’d otherwise buy. She has recipes in there for cereal, granola bars, sauces, bisquick type mix, biscuits and all kinds of things. She talks about how kids love McDonalds fries so she tried to make them herself and gives the recipe.

Now, we don’t really eat McDonalds. I stopped eating there when I was about 13 and was made aware of how gross it really is. Steve just isn’t into it. We are planning on keeping LA away from it as long as we can. I know all fast food is bad and we are definitely guilty of Wendy’s and BK but McDonalds just seems the worst.

But I thought I’d give it a try. Who doesn’t love french fries!

So you start by mixing a third of a cup of sugar with two cups of warm water. Then you drop two thinly sliced up potatoes into the mix and let it soak 15-30 minutes.

Next you heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees. Here I had a problem. We do not fry enough to have a fryer so I just put the oil in the pan and heated it on high.

The potatoes have to be completely dried off before dropping it in the oil.

Here I had a problem…. the oil was too hot. I knew the oil was too hot because at this stage it is simply supposed to stay in the oil for a minute to cook the inside of the potatoe. But it immediatley starting browning.

 See way too dark…..That one freaky dark fry you always get in a batch. I didn’t want them all to be like that.

So I turned the heat down to medium and tried again. This time was good… they did not brown and I left them in about a minute before scooping them out.

So they looked like this….

Then you let the oil heat back up to 350 and drop them back in. This time you leave them in until they turn golden brown.

Then I dropped them on a paper towel to get off the grease. Salt heavily. And voila!!

My verdict- they were good. I haven’t had McDonalds fries in about 18 years so I don’t know. But they did taste like fast food fries.  I liked them… I’d do it again. It was a little extra work but if you are craving fries and want them on your own it’s good.

Steve’s verdict- almost like McDonalds. He said they were good… a bit greasy (which is probably bc I had to stop cooking midway through for a call so they were paused). He was impressed.

Honestly I don’t know what made them more like Mickey D fries. Maybe the soaking. Maybe the two process cooking. I don’t know if it saves that much money. Perhaps if you have fries several times a week or are just craving fries it’s good.

For me, I think it will be worth the fact that I know when I make them they are made with real potatoes vs whatever they make theirs with!!!

Next I make cereal!

Here is the offical recipe:

2 cups warm water

1/3 cup sugar

2 large potatoes (sliced thinly)

vegetable oil


1. Mix sugar into water and dissolve.

2. Soak sliced potatoes in water for 15-30 minutes.

3. Dry off potatoes completely. Heat oil to 350 degrees. Drop potatoes in for about a minute to cook the inside.  Remove potatoes.

4. Reheat oil to 350. Drop potatoes in and fry until golden brown.

5. Remove and place on paper towels. Salt. Enjoy!

Posted January 14, 2011 by etainl in Cutting Costs, Food, Stay at Home Mom

Manicotti Dunedin experiment- Success!   Leave a comment

So Steve and I have our favorite restaurant, Bellini’s. Correction. We HAD our favorite restaurant.

Over the summer we learned that they closed. We didn’t even get to have one “last meal” there… it was just gone. Besides being our favorite restaurant it was also the restaurant where we held our wedding reception. So obviously quite a few amazing memories there and it became “our” restaurant for special events like anniversaries and Valentine’s.

So besides the obvious emotional attachment they also had about the best damn Italian food

 I’ve ever had! We are lucky in that the owner has opened another restaurant, Cassanova’s. I am just hoping they have our favorite meal Manicotti Dunedin.

With finances being low- baby. And time being unavailable- baby. I decided one day to try to recreate the meal here at home.

The manicotti at Bellini’s was stuffed with spinach, chicken and cheese in a white sauce. Delicious.

So I attempted to recreate it. I made a filling of chunks of white meat (that was leftover from another dinner- our aim is also to be frugal here), ricotta cheese, mozarella cheese, spinach (cooked and drained), one egg, some bread crumbs, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.

I did not cook the manicotti noodles. Just in case you don’t already know this here is a pasta tip. If you are going to bake a pasta dish you do not have to pre cook the noodles and you don’t have to buy those special noodles they sell. Any noodle will cook while you bake it as long as it is covered with sauce or cheese… you may have to cook it a bit longer but no biggie.

Not cooking them made them easier to stuff. I stuffed them with the filling and laid them out in my lasagna pan. I then covered them with alfredo sauce. If I was being full on fancy I would have made the alfredo from scratch or spiced up the pre made kind… but with the Little Angel (LA) around I did not have time. So I used the Bertinelli’s and went from there.

I had a container of Publix’s Spinach Artichoke Dip in the fridge. I decided to take a risk and use it. It would either be the best idea ever or the worst. I took a few spoonfulls of it and put it on top of the manicotti and kinda mixed it with the alfredo.

Then I topped the whole thing off with mozarella and paremsan and tossed it in the oven (after covering it with aluminum foil). I baked it at 350 for about an hour. Once I checked to see that the noodles were cooked I left the foil off for about 10 minutes to brown it and served.

I tasted it… my verdit- good but not Bellini’s.

I held my breath as Steve took a bite. I got an immediate reaction.

First of all let me say that when Steve and I started dating he raved and ooooh’d and awwww’d over pretty much everything I cook. Apparently he thinks I’m very good. Which is very nice for me and made me cook more … ultimately resulting in us both gaining a few extra pounds lol. As we’ve been together longer he has pretty much grown accustomed to the fact that I cook. He has his favorites but I don’t quite get the same response as in those early days.

But I did for this! He ooh’d and awww’d and said it was joining the Tortellini and Chicken Ring that I make as his favorites. He said it was different than Bellini’s but just as good. He loved it…. I don’t think I got any leftovers as he took it to lunch and even had it for breakfast one day.

The filling I made was too much for one pan of manicotti so I froze some of it. A few weeks ago I unfroze it and made it again…. it was still excellent. So it was nice to know the filling froze so well.

I wish I had kept the exact measurements but I didn’t.  I hope I will be able to recreate this… and if I do I will take measurements.

I also wish I had taken a picture… but it pretty much looked like white covered noodles. Nothing fancy presentation wise.

I’m hoping tonight to try one of the recipes from my Miserly Mom’s book. The writer claims she has a recipe that is as good as McDonald’s fries….. we’ll see!

Posted January 12, 2011 by etainl in Food

Nightmares   Leave a comment

So I was awakened tonight by another nightmare. In this one I dreampt that my Daddy died. I had just spoken to him on the phone in the dream but couldn’t really talk. Then when I went to call him back I was told he was gone. Not only was I upset but I had massive guilt that I missed the opportunity for that last conversation.

This is the third such dream I’ve head in the last week.

I know exactly why this is.

My father and step mother came to visit the week after Christmas. I was ridiculously excited. My father was here when the Little Angel (LA)was born (actually arrived at the birth center just in time for her big reveal) and stayed for the first week of her life but he hasn’t seen her since. LA is so much bigger and more interactive since then and I couldn’t wait. Plus my step mother hadn’t gotten to meet her at all. Excitement.

It was hard because they were arriving on Christmas and actually had the option to come in on Christmas Eve. Hard because I was torn. Normally I drop everything and spend as much time as I can with my Dad when he’s here. But it didn’t seem fair to change traditions and drop things with my mom and Mark (plus rest of family who has traditions with us). So the next option became trying to fit everything in with everyone which didn’t seem feasible with new baby. We had no idea how LA would react to all of the madness that is Christmas. And unfortunately (but understandably and naturally) it wasn’t going to work to have everyone in one place.

So I figured we would see them Christmas evening and pretend it was Christmas Eve and have our own Christmas the next day. Fresh baby and undivided time. And two Christmas’s! But lines were crossed and he was trying not to put pressure on me so we all got together the day after Christmas, which meant I missed the opportunity to see him on Christmas (and idea which made me very happy). Which seemed fine when I thought I had a whole week but they ended up having to leave Wednesday morning early. Which means I only got three days and one of those days they were at the outlet malls shopping so I only got two days.

I admit it, I cried. For some reason stuff with my parents still often has the ability to reduce me to a disappointed little girl and I wanted that time with my Dad. That was the night of the first nightmare.

The nightmares about him dying stem from two things.

The first is that my father moved to Texas. A fact that I hate. If he’s reading this then some of what I’m about to say is news to him because it’s hard for me to admit any of this.  I’m someone who when you say something scary or hard it becomes more real so sometimes I don’t. I get teary telling Steve, I can’t imagine telling my Dad.

I hate that he’s moved away and I get to see him anywhere from once a year to a few times. I know to a lot of people this is normal or even preferred but I truly hate it. I like my family and friends close. I’m a person of strong attachments and if I like you I want to be with you as much as possible and this is my DAD for goodness sake so obviously I’d like him closer! Plus, it makes me jealous often of my step family who gets to have my dad more than I do. I know they love him and that’s great, I understand because I adore my step father too. I get that he’s also a dad to them and I understand that too because my step father truly is also a father to me. But I still hate it. I’m glad his step children love him… that’s what I want for him and I’m glad he’s happy… but jealous nonetheless. Still Daddy’s little girl who would like to have more time with him.

It’s worse that LA is here because I want her to have a relationship with him. And I want memories of the two of them together.

Plus, and here’s the worst part… and I’m literally tearing up writing this. Every time I see my Dad I’m afraid it will be the last time I do. He’s had some health scares. Heart issues, a stroke. My step mother blessidly flew my brother and I out to Texas one time when he had to have open heart surgery. I know if something bad happened to him here there would be nothing I could do. But the idea of it happening so far away when it would take me so long to get there just makes me sick to my stomach.

Ok now I have tears running down my face. 

So every time I see him and he leaves it crosses my mind, “Will this be the last time I see my Daddy?” And I hate it. So this past visit was very hard because it was cut so short.

To compound matters my paternal grandmother died before I was born so I never knew her and my paternal grandfather died when I was eight so I have few memories. I want LA to have more. I want more.

In my world parents rarely die but grandparents do. By making my father a grandfather I feel like I’ve made the possibility of losing him all too real.

Ok… I think I’m going to stop writing now. I had more to say about grandparents and new roles and all some philosophic stuff I’ve been thinking. But I’m crying and I’m tired and I think I’m going back to bed to cuddle my daughter and pick this up another time when it’s not so fresh.

I thought writing might make me feel better but it’s actually making it worse. Perhaps I’m being too honest lol

So sorry if this is raw or unedited. I am just hitting publish because I don’t know if I’ll feel like cleaning it up. If I did, I might just hit delete….

Posted January 7, 2011 by etainl in Life

Crunch Time   Leave a comment

So I dragged myself out of my cozy bed on this rainy, dreary morning with two things on my mind. One of which is our sleeping situation and the other I’ll save for another day.

It was hard to get out of bed. The Little Angel was all nestled against me with her hand on my chest and her head resting on my breast. We were all warm and cozy.

As I moved away her little arm shot out looking for me and her eyes opened a bit. Once my weight left the bed her eyes popped open and she was up.

So I grabbed the computer and now we are laying in bed. Luckily, she is fairly fascinated with the keyboard sound so maybe I can finish this post, maybe not. We’ll see.

LA doesn’t sleep with us now. The first two weeks or so of her life she slept in a little co sleeper thing-a-ma-bob that was in bed between us. It just made the most sense. She was nursing every 2-3 hours. We were jumping at every bump and sniff from her, it felt good to have her close. But when it was time for Daddy to go back to work we moved the co sleeper and baby into her bassinet which is right up against my side of the bed.

Steve offered to get up with me in the night but since I was nursing it just made more sense for it to be just me rather than for both of us to lose sleep. LA was a champ, she would whimper a bit or kick the side of the bassinet to indicate she was hungry and I would swoop her up nurse her and put her back in the bassinet where she’d promptly go back to sleep. If necessary I’d change her diaper, nurse her a bit more and she’d go right back to bed. No crying, no begging baby to sleep… 10-20 minutes top and I was back in bed. We have been very blessed.

Around six when Steve gets up he would change her again and bring her to me to nurse. At this point I would nurse her in bed with me and we would both fall back to sleep. I am SO lucky in that she would then sleep until 10 or 11 or even 12. Often, I can quietly slide out of bed and get things done in the bedroom or bathroom while she sleeps (I don’t like to leave her there on her own). I’m not much of a morning person so I might get up at 9 or 10 (or I admit it 11 or 12 with her lol).

When she wakes up I crawl back in bed with her and we nurse and play until it’s time to get up and get the day going. i love our quiet time in the morning before the world intrudes 🙂 It’s even better when Daddy is home with us.

This hasn’t changed much in the past four months except for the fact that we change her diapers less as she’s not quite the pooping machine she was at birth.

But we knew it would change.

We talked about co-sleeping and room sharing and all of that. For us co-sleeping doesn’t really work because Steve takes up a good chunk of the bed. Plus we are both pillow sleepers, so the bed has “stuff” in it. I tend to change sides frequently in my sleep. The few times she has shared a bed with us through the night (like when she was sick) I hardly slept at all because I was super conscious of her being there and I would wake up with my body cramped from being in one position for so long. On top of that, I appreciate the values and pros of co sleeping but I do tend to believe that she needs to have her own space and I think it’s best she get at least slightly accustomed to it when she’s younger rather than when she’s older and afraid of the dark etc. Also, I know some people are ok with their children sleeping with them until they are 4, 5, or even 7+ but for us that just doesn’t seem like a great idea. We’d like to have some time in the day that is just for us, not to mention the privacy to possibly have another child in the future!

So our decision was that around 3-4 months of age she’d move to the crib and continue getting in bed with us in the mornings. She would also be fine to sleep with us if she was scared or there was a storm or bad dream… mommy and daddy’s bed would always be available.

We figured she’d move to the crib when she started flipping and the bassinet was no longer safe.

So on New Years Eve she flipped for the first time from her tummy to her back. I know many children who did this earlier but we’ve not been vigilant about doing tummy time because she hated it so much and my pediatrician said as long as she was active she’d build up the strength other ways- which she did, she fully props herself up and all of that but we never did tummy time more than once a week. My point is she didn’t have the opportunity to do this flip earlier.

So I watched her on New Years Eve excited and proud and scared.

Scared because I knew the other flip was coming. The one that would take her out of the bassinet. And for all of my plans and our opinions and rationale I did not like the idea of my baby moving out of our room! I laid in bed last night and just watched her sleep…. it just feels so natural to have her right there, safe, where I can see her.

So we’ve been talking about it. And now that I’ve filled you in on the extensive back story I can get to the heart of the matter.

Besides my gut emotional response to the issue (“You can’t take my baby!” kind of thing) there are two “logical” reasons for this move to be a problem.

1. We have a split level plan- which I don’t like. Her room seems MILES away from ours. We do not yet have a monitor. Naturally, we will get one but still she will have to make quite a bit more noise than she currently does to get my attention through it. And by the time I wake up and get over there I feel there is a good chance she may be quite awake and upset. Which will possibly mean a more difficult time going back to sleep. It may throw off her whole sleep system and instead of having “the baby who never cries at night” we may have a problem that leaves me sleep deprived. Whereas now I don’t feel sleep deprived at all. Problem. BIG problem.

2. It’s still cold. I know for northerners this is nothing. But it’s cold here until late February or early March. We don’t generally turn on the heat because we enjoy the cold and we’re all bundled up. We have turned it on more than we used to because of her but we’d need to turn it up.  I guess we can but I won’t be able to check on her as often during the night and anyone who has lived in Florida knows the weather changes frequently. I can’t put blankets on her for safety sake and I’m worried. Either I won’t sleep because I’ll be checking on her all night or I will sleep and we’ll wake up to a frozen or overheated baby.

So now I’m thinking she should sleep in our room another couple of months until it’s warmer and she’s sleeping longer.

My mom suggested that we use the pack and play to keep her in there a bit longer. Steve thinks we should just move the crib into our room, which has the benefit of keeping her in our room and getting her used to her crib. But we would not be able to move around our room with the crib in there.

It’s hard. I feel like we have to choose between keeping her in our room until she’s much older OR going with the “she has to sleep in her own bed and cry it out” method. And I’m not happy with either extreme. Neither seems to be right for her or for us. So we’re trying to find a middle ground.

At least we’ve decided that she is staying in our room for at least another two months… we have to decide how soon… and we’ll have to take it from there.

Anyone have any solutions?

LA in her first nap in the crib at 10 days old…she looks so tiny!

LA in her bassinet at 10 days old.

So big… letting her new seahorse toy sing her to sleep in bassinet

Posted January 6, 2011 by etainl in Mommy-hood, New Mom