Friday, July 29, 2011

Couponing Craziness

Couponing...I'm a little obsessed. Have you guys seen that crazy reality TV show on TLC Extreme Couponing? LOVE! This show makes me coupon crazy! I look at these people and think, "Get all my groceries for free? Sounds great! I can do that!" It made me really jealous at first and then really thinking about it. I had been talking it over with Steve for a while and he finally said, "Why don't you just do it!?"

So I am going to try it out. I don't plan to get 250 copies of the newspaper or pay to have coupons clipped and sent to my door so it won't exactly be "extreme couponing". Thanks to the policies of our local supermarkets in St. Louis (their doubling policy sucks!), I doubt I will ever be able to do any of the crazy grocery trips you see on that show where you save 90% off your bill. But I mean, it is reality TV right? That's not realistic to save that much I don't think. But I think I should be able to save my family some money and learn more about this crazy hobby. So here we go...
Now, I'm not going to lie, at first I was super intimidated. I thought how the heck do they do that!?! But thanks to the glory of the internet you can really look up anything. So I researched couponing and found tons and tons of sites to help me. My two favorite are The Krazy Coupon Lady and Couponing 101. They both have user friendly tutorials for how to get started located Here Here and Here. I studied up on the basics of couponing by reading their tutorials and tips and just generally clicking around on their websites. They have really great how to's and FAQ sections that break it down so it wasn't hard to understand the basics pretty quickly.

But since the ladies running these websites aren't local, I needed to find a resource to our local grocery stores. Luckily the internet saved me again. Actually Couponing 101 has a list of couponing websites by state. There are a few on there for Missouri. By far my favorite is Clippin' With Carie. She is so quick on posting updates and deals with the current store ads. Its really great. Plus, like I said, she is local so you know she will have the best deals that are happening in St. Louis.

Using Carie's website it really is super easy to coupon. She breaks down the ads for your favorite stores this week and matches them up to coupons from your newspaper. She also finds internet coupons that match too. How easy is that!? (Side note, I LOVE internet coupons. They are so easy to use, just click and print. And you can often print several copies of one coupon! Sweet!) I mean that is really the gist of this couponing thing: Find a good deal, match it up with a coupon or two and go to town.

So even though I am just getting into this couponing thing, it is really addictive! I have done a trip to Target and one to Schnucks so far and have been really proud of some of the deals I was able to find! Of course, since I am just starting I wasn't able to save beaucoup bucks...yet! Plus we don't have anything on hand at home so I had to buy some things that we absolutely needed at (gasp) full price! But I did get about a 30% savings at Target on my first try (about $23 bucks) and a 15% savings at Schnucks this week (about $14 bucks). So, not too bad in my book! I'll let you know how it goes in the future!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My First Day Back

First day back to work after maternity leave and....I survived! I'm not gonna lie, it was kind of rough. Who would want to leave this face?

The worst part was the morning.  I was cuddling that sweet baby boy all morning because I knew I had to leave him. It felt like I didn't get any time with him at all and then he was gone to Grandma's. Handing him over really, really sucked. I felt really sad, but I didn't cry! (Kind of proud of myself, there). Getting to work wasn't super fun either because, well, who likes to work!?! But once I was there and my coworkers started showing up it wasn't so bad. Some of the people I work with are really awesome. Its nice to have people you actually like to be around to work with. A lot of them stopped in to say "hi" and "welcome back" so that was really sweet. I even got a few hugs!

My officemate, Kim, made me a welcome back sign and some cupcakes! Isn't she so sweet?!

My coworkers even ordered pizza for me for lunch. So that was super sweet and made me feel very welcomed. It also helped me forget about missing Steven.

But at the end of the day when I got Steven back, it was awesome! I missed that sweet, baby boy! I was worried about how he would do because I had only left him for short spurts and he was always really fussy. But of course, he was fine. And in the end I was fine too. So here's to hoping it continues to improve. Onto day 2...

Do Not Adjust Your Television Set

Anybody remember that intro to the Outer Limits? Am I the only nerdy one....Anyways, don't be alarmed ye 'ole blog has a new look today. You like? :)

When I first started this blog I wasn't sure what it was going to be about so I just went with the first thing that came to my mind which was to write about our dogs. Well, it turns out there's not much happening in doggy world lately since we, um...had a baby! But this blog is not just all about our cute, wonderful and adorable little boy (insert gratuitous baby picture cute!)

Its also about my life as an individual, as a mother, a daughter, a friend, etc. Its also about my interests in TV, music, art, etc. Its also about my developing craftiness and DIY projects I (try to) tackle. Its also about my life together with my wonderful husband, Steve. So really its just about my/our life in general. Thus, the name change...Live to Dare.

I have really always liked that quote by Helen Keller "Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing." So I thought how appropriate for my daring adventure into viola! A new blog name and a new blog look, although the same URL...for now. At least until I figure out how to change it. I've also messed with the format and a few other things including adding an option for open commenting. That  means anyone can comment on my blog now. So, feel free to comment away! Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cloth Diapering Update

So we've been doing the cloth diapering thing for month or so and its been going really well. I feel like we have really gotten into a groove with it and its become part of our routine. We haven't really had any problems thus far and have found cloth diapering to be relatively easy. When I talk about this however, I still get tons of confused looks and questions from people so I thought I would give some insight into how we do it and why we love it.

First of all there are a ton (and I mean a ton!) of options as far as what kind of cloth diapers to use. We chose to  go with the BumGenius 4.0 One Size diapers. What that basically means is that these diapers have a plasticy outer shell stitched to cotton inside. They have a pocket where you stuff in an insert into the diaper for more absorbency. You can find the specifics on our diapers here. We chose this kind because I had used them before and they are easy to use and easy to clean. The one size refers to the 3 rows of snaps on the front of the diaper so they can expand as our baby gets bigger. (That way as he grows, we don't need to buy more, pretty awesome.)

These diapers are awesome so far. I mean just look at how cute our little man is in them!

We haven't had any leaks or blowouts like we have with disposables. He also has had way less diaper rash in these guys than when he was exclusively in disposables. (Side note: I have nothing against families that choose to use disposables, I'm just letting you know what is working for our family :) Another thing we absolutely love about these diapers is that you only have to buy them once. We haven't bought a pack of diapers in almost 2 months. LOVE! Now these suckers aren't cheap but we were lucky enough to receive all our cloth diapers at our baby showers from our super generous family so we didn't have to worry about fronting the cost.

Ok, enough gushing about these diapers, how do you work these things? Well they are super easy as far as actually changing the baby, really similar to a disposable. Just slap it on, do the velcro and viola! As long as the diapers are pre-stuffed (meaning the clean inserts are put in the clean covers after they are all washed/dry) its a no-brainer. So how do we take care of the dirty ones? Its pretty easy too. We just us a regular trash can from Target with a diaper pail liner and throw them in there.

You do have to separate out the inserts from the cover for washing but that's not really too gross...yet. Since baby Steven is exclusively breastfed we don't have to worry about cleaning off the dirty diapers just yet. That's right, you can throw the dirty diaper with the, um...mess, on it and everything right into the washer. Some people probably think that's gross but I assure you it is totally fine. So we throw all the dirty diapers (inserts and covers separate) into the washer and wash on hot with the detergent and an extra rinse. Then we dry the inserts in the dryer and line dry the covers and viola, time to stuff diapers again. See, pretty easy! And really not that much work if you think about it. I do one load of laundry a day and save about $20 to $30 a week by not buying a pack of disposables. I say its worth it.

When Steven gets older and eats solids we will have to start cleaning out the messy diapers. But don't worry! Steve has installed a diaper sprayer like this one on our toilet to make that easy peasy too. Thus you just spray the mess into the toilet before throwing the diaper in the bin. So we will just add that one extra step to our routine, shouldn't be a big deal.

What about when we go places? What do we do then? Well turns out these cloth diapers are pretty portable. I just take along a wet bag in the diaper bag like this one and we are good to go. I just put the dirty diapers in there when we are out and sort them when we get home. Granted, the cloth diapers do take up more room in the diaper bag but that's about the only downside.

So overall we love our cloth diapers and they seem pretty happy to be a part of our family too. The best part is we should be able to use these for years to come...yippee! So yes, I am crazy about cloth diapering...or maybe just crazy in general. But there you go. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or just ask me!

Oh and here's a really cute picture of the baby :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Last Week

We are nearing my last week of maternity leave and it seems that once again time has moved faster than I could have imagined or anticipated. I was so lucky to be able to take an extended maternity leave and spend the first 12 weeks of my son's life taking care of him full time. What a blessing it has been to be able to hold, cuddle and love on that sweet boy 24/7 for the past 3 months. I have cherished our time together, baby boy!

It will be sort of sad not being able to be there with him everyday like I have been. If we could figure out how to make it work financially for us, I would stay home in a heartbeat. I have discovered that there is really no greater blessing than being able to spend time with my son, watching him grow and discover the world around him. I am envious of all the other moms who are able to stay home and enjoy that time with their children everyday. I wish we had that option right now, but we just don't. Hopefully someday in the future we will.

So I'm trying very hard not to be sad its my last week home with the baby, but its very hard. I am not looking forward to going back to work full time and being away from him for 11 hours everyday. Of course I am worrying about the transition, probably way more than I need to. I'm sure he will probably be fine. He is going to be in the best hands possible, with his grandparents. We are so blessed to have that support from our parents and we couldn't be more grateful. But that doesn't mean a mommy won't worry. Hopefully everything will go fine, but I'm sure there will be some tears (mine and his) on the first few days back to work. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy Fourth of July

Happy Independence Day! I hope everyone had a great 4th! We got a chance to spend some family time this year on the fourth so that was really nice. It was fun to just hang out and eat some yummy food with family. It was good everyone got to see the baby too!

As you can tell Baby Steven was pretty psyched to see everyone! Happy Fourth of July!

Baby Steven's First Year...Two Months

Only two months and you've already grown so much, big boy! You are now much bigger than you were at birth, you weigh 12lbs 10oz (75th%) and are 25 inches long (95th%)! You are looking a lot like a bigger boy now with your face getting rounder and your little budda belly sticking out. You are out of newborn size clothes for sure and fitting pretty well 0-3 months clothes and even some 3 months sizes!

You are holding your neck up a ton now and love to be held up straight so you can look around at the world. You turn your head all around to see whats going on around you. You can recognize your mommy's voice and will turn your head when you hear her now. 

You are smiling all the time now and even cooing and giggling a lot too! It is so cute! You do this a lot first thing in the morning. When you wake up you are such a happy guy. I got a few pictures and a video of you at this time. You are so adorable! Just smiling away first thing in the morning.

You are "talking" a ton now; making all sorts of noises all the time. If we sing to you, sometimes you will "sing" back by making little noises right along with us. You are really finding your voice now. Which also means when you want something you can really belt out a big cry!

We broke out the activity gym for you this month and that has opened up a whole new world for you. You love to lay under there and look at all the toys and colors. You will be content under there for almost 30 mins by yourself! I even catch you smiling and making little noises to yourself when you are under there. Sometimes you look so concentrated like you are really using a lot of brain power looking at the things around there. You love the mirror and look at that all the time.

We are now cloth diapering full time and so far so good. You didn't seem to mind the switch at all and its been helping a ton with that nasty diaper rash those disposables were giving you. And look at how cute you are in the cloth!

You started taking baths in the regular tub now. Such a big boy! You love bath time. You will just sit there and laugh and laugh. We play in the tub now with the toys you have and its pretty cute.

We have been working on getting comfortable in the Moby Wrap more this month. You hate it sometimes and sometimes you don't mind at all. If you are getting sleepy its the best time. You look pretty darn cute in there though and mommy sort of loves that time with you so close to her!
Baby boy we are so lucky to have you in our lives and it is so much fun to watch you grow! Happy 2 Months!!