Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tomorrow we walk ...

Tomorrow, Casey, Beatrice Kate and I will join nearly 5,000 others at the 2011 Triangle March for Babies. We are honored and humbled at the response and support that we've received from our friends and family; even from complete strangers. Together, we'll form a team of nearly 60 and we'll proudly  be wearing our Bea Team T-shirts.

Tomorrow we will walk so that someday, no other family has to have their baby's first picture include wires, monitor tape and a bubble CPAP machine:

Tomorrow we will walk so that someday, babies are measured in pounds instead of "sub-kilos" and a doubled birth weight is way more than only 4 pounds:

Tomorrow we will walk so that someday, mothers are mothers, with full rights and privileges, from Minute One and holding your new baby happens minutes after birth, not 24 hours later:

Tomorrow we will walk so that someday, new parents won't have to learn medical terms like bilirubin, surfactant, apnea, PICC, CPAP, ROP, EBM, NPO, or desats:

Tomorrow we will walk so that someday, a first family photo doesn't have to happen within the walls of a NICU:

Tomorrow, we will walk so that someday, every family's journey includes a happy ending:

March of Dimes funded the research that played a major part in keeping Beatrice Kate alive during her first few days. They were our lifeline for information about prematurity, survival rates and information about what we could expect during our NICU stay. They were our shoulder to lean on and someone to comfort us when we just needed to cry. They became the friendly face who reminded us, "Hang in there, it gets better." And it did.

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart" Jeremiah 1:5
We cannot possibly repay March of Dimes back for everything they've given us, but tomorrow, we will walk. And, in that moment, I will know that we are repaying March of Dimes only a very small portion of the debt we owe for saving our daughter's life.

If you know a preemie, or any baby at all, I ask you to consider supporting March of Dimes. Your support enables them to keep up their efforts to someday find the causes of prematurity and eliminate them. 

Bringing Home Baby ...

One year ago today, we became a "traditional family". One that included our baby, living in our home, without the constant supervision of doctors and nurses. Without the intrusion (or the security) of alarms and monitors. It was one of the scariest days of our lives and yet, to this day, remains one of my proudest.

We had waited for six, long weeks for that moment. Each day we watched jealously as other families said their goodbyes to the NICU Staff; taking pictures, giving out hugs to their favorite nurses. I watched as the empty beds were wheeled away for cleaning and monitor cords were wound up and put away for another patient.

On April 28, it was finally our turn. We were one of those families. We didn't take a lot of pictures or say a lot of goodbyes. We were ready to break into a sprint towards the exit signs, just in case they had made a mistake and wanted her back.
Just barely meeting the 4lb. weight minimum of the carseat

They couldn't have gotten our discharge papers finalized fast enough for me. I wanted our baby home, and one year ago today, it was happening.

Inspection by the Family Safety Officer
The first night home was SO LONG. I think I checked her pulse and breathing every 15 minutes. Woke up and turned on lights for every little grunt and gurgle. The next morning, over a much needed cup of coffee, Casey and I looked at each other and said, "We did it". We were so proud of ourselves for getting through the first night- with just each other. Little did we know it was the start of a long stretch of sleepless nights.

Beatrice Kate's arrival home was such a surprise, even to us, that we didn't have time to plan for grandparents' assistance or to get pink ribbons on the mailbox. There was no stork in our yard announcing her homecoming. Just the sounds of two weary and tired, but incredibly happy, new parents snuggling and loving our sweet baby girl. I know I say it all the time now, but it's amazing how far we've all come in just one year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Random Flow of Thoughts ...

I have a lot to catch everyone up on, but with the March for Babies walk only a few days away, my head is in a million places right now (oh, and this fun little sinus infection hasn't helped a bit), so instead of writing a well-thought, well-written decently written blog post, I'll just do it in bullet points.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Meal Plan Monday: Sliding into the home stretch ...

We're counting down days until the Dollar Diet is over Thank God and my freezer stock is showing it. We're down to a lot of chicken, left over Easter ham and maybe some spaghetti. But, like the good housewife that I am, I will try to somehow find unique and yummy dinners for my husband and I to last the final few days. Here's what I'm planning so far...

Easter Sunday: Can I get an Amen? Holiday cooking can be frugal and to prove it, here's what we had:
It doesn't take a lot to feed 2.3 people

Friday, April 22, 2011

Last Easter ...

We celebrated as a family in the NICU, with our very special Easter treat:

Gettin' her hair did ...

Bea has a new method of relaxation. We jokingly brushed her hair down one night after bath, thinking it would be funny to see a baby comb-over (and it was). As it turns out, Beatrice Kate is just like her Daddy- she loves to have her hair brushed. Specifically, she loves to get her hair brushed with an old (really old) boar bristle brush from Casey's Grandpa. Here is she mid-treatment:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cloth Wipes: Frugally Cleaning Baby Bottoms

I think I've made it quite clear how much I love cloth diapering. It's cheap(er) than using a ton of disposables (remember the $3000 estimate?) and it's SO much better for the environment. Plus, who could resist this cloth diapered tush??:
Junk in the trunk

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wild Weather Weekend and more ...

Today's post was going to be about our March for Babies Team Yard Sale, which we held on Saturday morning. I was going to tell you that we raised another $300.75 for The Bea Team. I was going to thank every one of the moms from Stroller Strides of MidTown Raleigh who generously donated their old baby clothes and toys. Thank the moms who came out before 7 a.m. to help barter like gypsies for our belongings; literally nickel and diming our customers to a major profit for Preemies. Instead, you'll have to settle for a picture of it and take my word for it that we had a great time and raised a lot of money for our team:

Instead, I'll be telling you about why are are offically the worse parents in the world. This weekend, as I'm sure you've already heard about from credible news sources like CNN, Raleigh, NC experienced a major weather event on Saturday evening. Tornadoes to be exact. Apparently, somewhere in the neighborhood of 62 of them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Meal Plan Monday: It's getting rough around here ...

We're over halfway through the Dollar Diet and things so far have gone relatively smoothly. Note that "relatively smoothly" is defined as having at least something to eat besides ketchup every night of the week. We didn't adhere as strictly to last week's meal plan as we did the week before, but still managed not to eat out anywhere and had (most) meals from the ingredients in our kitchen. I say most because Casey's Dad bought him dinner on Friday night and my friend Rebecca kindly invited Bea and I over for lunch on Friday afternoon. She made stir-fy and it was delish.

I won't lie though, it was hard to want to cook food every night of the week. Especially when two nights, we were up late cleaning or baking for March for Babies fundraisers (more on that later). I would have given anything for a slice of Lily's pizza on Thursday night. And when we ran out of cereal on Wednesday, I really, really wanted to stop in for a bagel before Stroller Strides. But, of course, I didn't. My will to rise to the challenge prevailed and we made it another full week without spending money.

Alas, now we're down to the third week and things could start to get a little interesting. We're slowly running out of meats to dine on so we may have more vegetarian meals than we planned. But, it's all part of the challenge right? Here's what we're facing this week:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why this is a big deal to me ...

Yesterday, I sent out the following video to my family and our close friends:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

9 Things I Love: Frugal Favorites

In the spirit of The Dollar Diet, I thought it may be relevant to do a post about my nine favorite frugal-friendly things right now. Being limited by our budget freeze has added a few things to this list that may have otherwise been left out. And if you're looking for this week's giveaway, click here.

So without further ado, here we go:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

**GIVEAWAY ALERT** This time it's really awesome ...

Remember how last year I did a list of my nine favorite things, and #5 was "buybuyBaby"? Now you have the chance out why it made my list! This week, our March for Babies Giveaway is a $20 gift card to any buybuyBaby store! I'm half-tempted to never let this baby see the light of day because I love this store so much.

Well, if we're really being honest here ...

We've made it through our first two weekends on the Dollar Diet and are heading into our second full week. I'll admit it has been easier than I expected, but we're only twelve days into the month. In surveying our freezer inventory last night, I'm honestly getting a little worried about what we'll be eating around April 20 or so.

I think we'll have enough food, but honestly, I just don't know. It got me thinking: What if we really had to live like this? What if we couldn't afford to purchase healthy, fresh ingredients for every meal like we're accustomed to doing? I went to the grocery store last Thursday and I was shocked at just how little $10 buys in produce.

Monday, April 11, 2011

She blinded me with SCIENCE ...

Yesterday after church, Casey and I found ourselves with a few hours and an awake baby on our hands. In keeping with our Dollar Diet challenge, we tried to think of things to do that were free and would be "baby friendly".

We needed someplace to go that would keep Bea's interest peaked, be age-appropriate and not mind if she let out a few wails here and there; all the while be free for admission! Is there such a place in Raleigh? Yes, there is. It's the motherland of all things nerdy and educational and one of my favorite all-time places to visit. It's the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Meal Plan Monday: Dollar Diet Los Dos

This cost more than $10. Trust me.
Hooray! We did it! We survived an entire week without spending money without spending unnecessary money. Remember, the new car? Well, that was it (as if that wasn't enough). Honest. We ate every, single meal out of our kitchen otherwise.

We didn't just break the rules, we steamrolled over them ...

Ahhh, I planned to write a post today about how little $10 buys at the grocery store these days (FYI: I got a green bell pepper, two oranges, 3 zucchinis and a bunch of bananas and was over by $1.28). But alas, I need to fess up to breaking our Dollar Diet in a very, very major way.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

So far, so good and a little lesson learned...

We're a full seven days (a week!) into our now infamous Dollar Diet. A lot of our friends have asked, "No really, how's it going." Well...

It's going great! We've managed not to spend a single penny on anything (well, besides bills). No, really. We've eating the meals I've planned for on Sunday. We've eat lunches from our leftovers. I've even baked a fresh loaf of bread (which of course, was eaten in one night thanks to my husband). See:
I'm a regular Betty Crocker, I tell you!

Continued prayers requested ...

Remember this family? The Hardys are currently in the midst of the battle of their lifetimes. A battle in which their daughter, Clara, only 13 days old, is leading the fight. Very bravely, I might add.

Clara had surgery to repair the hole in her diaphragm last week at Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC. The surgery was a success. The recovery, however, has been slow going and lately they have experienced a series of setbacks and complications.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's in the box? Version 1.0

Yay! It's Wednesday morning and that means that we received our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box last night. It's kind of like waiting to see what Santa will bring. All week, Casey and I rack our brains trying to guess what'll be in our box on Tuesday. This year we sprung for the all organic box so I didn't have to worry about scrubbing pesticides off Bea's berries and spinach.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mommy Confessionals: Not spending money does not equal a cleaner house ...

If you've ever been to my house, chances are that it looked like this:
Ignore the balloons and concentrate on the vacuumed carpets

Monday, April 4, 2011

Meal Plan Monday: Dollar Diet Week One

Luckily for my husband, I'm pretty handy in the kitchen ...
We've survived the first three days without spending any money, now comes our first real challenge: a week's menu. Yep, a full week of grocery-less meals. Can it be done? Truthfully, I expect this week to go by reasonably easily. It's weeks three and four where I fear that Casey and I may find ourselves eating ketchup and Mandarin oranges for meals because our cupboards are bare.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Frugal Gift Giving, the whole year long ...

I love to give gifts. No seriously, I love to individually select special items for people for their birthdays, holidays, and sometimes for no reason at all. I think the challenge of finding "the perfect gift" is a lot of fun.

The problem comes with the fact that I have a really, really big family. Three sisters, one of which has a family of her own now, and four sets of divorced-and-remarried parents between Casey and I make gift-giving a budgetary challenge. We just have a lot of people to buy for!

That's why a couple of years ago, I instituted the "Gift Bin" system; a giant plastic bin of small-ish things I've purchased throughout the year:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Frugal Tip for eating healhy on a budget ...

We survived Day One. Of course, who couldn't go only one day without spending money? I imagine everyone in the universe; except maybe Donald Trump or probably Oprah. I imagine that Oprah probably spends money just opening her eyes every morning. She probably pays someone to open her blinds for her. Anyway... back on topic....

As I mentioned on Monday, I did our usual weekly grocery trip on Thursday night. Meaning that we had plenty of fresh things on hand for dinner last night and Casey and I both ate leftovers from Dos Taquitos for lunches. See, no money spent for 24 entire hours!

Friday, April 1, 2011

And so it begins...

Today's the day. Day One of our month-long commitment to no spending. I felt it was only fitting to showcase an area of our home that we lovingly call "The Store". It's my stockpile of household goods and things that I can't cram into the pantry. We'll do a follow-up picture after the month is over for comparison's sake. So without further ado, here it is (and the first person who recommends me to TLC's Hoarders will receive a swift kick to the shins):
I have a problem, I know.