Working girl.

I have friends that are stay-at-home moms, friends that are part-time working moms, and friends that are full-time (or more) working moms.  I’ve always just thought we do what we need to do, for our mental health, finances, or to fulfill our passions.  Just a couple years after we got married, I kind of dreamily discussed being a stay-at-home mom with J.  It was more of a “if we win the lottery” discussion than any firm plan.  I wasn’t even ready for kids yet, and didn’t think about it very often after that.  Fast forward 8 or so years, and not only am I a SAHM, I’ve been one for over a year, I quit my job 3 months before my son was even due, and I bake our own hamburger rolls. Yes, you heard that right.  The Murphy’s Law part of the whole thing is that I had just found a job and an industry that I was actually passionate about. 

As much as I liked my job, it didn’t pay a lot.  I ran the beer department for a large grocery store.  I basically did the ordering and talked to customers all day about craft beer.  I was able to meet some industry people, go to beer events in the name of research, and even went on a work trip for a week long class and took a national beer related certification class.  So, you can imagine the benefits outweighed the low pay. That is, until Desmond appeared as some cells in my tummy.  

J and I immediately knew, without even discussing it, that I would be a stay-at-home-mom.  Those lottery dream thoughts came back, only we realized it was really going to happen. And for logical reasons, too.  Day care is expensive, kids.


Last night I had my first paying beer gig in around 15 months.  It was just 2 hours of talking to customers about beer, something I used to do daily.  It was fun.  And I had all the feelings that I expected to.  Am I losing a piece of myself by not doing this more often? Money is good. I miss D. I wonder if dad can get him to bed ok.. I know he’s fine, I’m being ridiculous.  But I miss him.  I’m too shy to do this beer stuff.  But I’m having fun and dude, money.  This feels weird, like an old version of me.  D needs me close. And on and on, the whole night. 

Then something happened that I did not expect.  I picked up a pizza and drove home. Dad had been able to get D to bed, with ease. They had a great night and played cars.  We ate our pizza and watched tv and I had an Oberon.  Dad was tired, had to work early, and went to bed. I went to the kitchen and surveyed the damage.  As I was washing the dishes I had this huge flash of gratitude and appreciation.  I found myself happy to be in the home that I created doing this menial duty.  A quiet house, besides the running water, where I was able to almost secretly help them out, washing their bottles and plates.  

Maybe that’s what working moms get every day.  I mean, I know they also get stress and headaches. And much less sleep than I get.  But that little glance made me look forward to my next gig.  I’m not going back full time, or even part time any time soon, but a couple hours a week to make grocery money, and remember why I’m here would be welcomed and absolutely worth it.

Working girl.

Project: Food Budget (Week 2)

Well, this isn’t going well.


So, this week has been pretty messed up, but in its messed upped-ness, I have figured something out that I think will help me.  First, the nitty gritty:

Menu board:


Yes, as you can see, not too hot.  We are going to visit family near Buffalo this week, and I started to make my menu Sunday night, but then pretty much gave up.  I added the list on the right this morning.  It’s the things I would like to get done today.  Pears and beets are already cooked and pureed for the boy. Dough for hamburger rolls is kneading away in my bread machine.  Laundry was started by J. before he left this morning.  Working on blog post now!  The reason I wanted to get mostly packed today is because I want to re-caulk the tub tomorrow.  We will be gone for 3 days, so it can dry… wait, I got side-tracked.

Here is what I spent on food since we last spoke:


Iced Coffee  3.16

(lunch out)

SUB 14″ COLD 8.49 B
22 OZ COKE AC 1.49 B
TAX 1.33

**** BALANCE 20.30


Iced Coffee  3.16

That’s it.

I bought other stuff at Target on Saturday, but I’m not including anything non-food.  I did make everything on my menu from last week except the burgers on Friday.  We had chicken salad sandwiches and watermelon instead.  Also, for Meatless Monday, I made one pot pasta with whole grain rotini, spinach, mushrooms, onions, cream cheese and olive oil and some spices instead of the chili stuffed peppers.  (Meal that takes 20 minutes vs meal that takes over an hour to prepare.)  (I need to keep more quick recipes handy.  I was trying to think of things I could put in the freezer for days that just get away from me, like yesterday.  I wonder if you could actually make a pizza, freeze it, and then just cook it like a DiGiorno? What else could I put in the freezer that I could cook without having to thaw ahead of time?  I need convenience here, people.)  I’m making the cheese burgers with roasted potatoes from Friday tonight.  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we will be at my parents house.. no need to grocery shop for that.  I did want to make something for the 4 hour trip there because we traditionally stop for fast food.  It’s the only time we do it any more, but I seriously want to just cut it out completely now that the boy is here and sees EVERYTHING.  But, I think I’m gonna let it go.  If I decide I have time tomorrow, I might make some oatmeal cookies or something, I don’t know.  Saturday when we get back, it will be late, we will probably order something. Then on SUNDAY I will go grocery shopping again.  Which works out to our benefit because J. gets paid on Saturday, so we have the current bank balance for gas and junk along the way for our trip.  Phew.


(Friday’s watermelon extravaganza)

Which brings me to my first What I’ve Learned:

I’m going to do our food budget based on two weeks instead of one.  Since J. gets paid every 2 weeks, it makes more sense.  I tend to get enough formula for two weeks, plus I usually do a bigger shopping trip, that first week out of the two.

I’ve also decided to do a much bigger budget than I originally intended, and to include formula.  The boy won’t be on formula for too much longer.  In fact, at his next appointment we are going to talk about when we can ditch it completely.  I want that money to go right back into the food budget, so it just makes sense to include it.  SO here is what I’m thinking for our New and Improved Budget:

60 – formula

50/week – groceries

50 – going out to eat and/or grocery overflow

Total: 210 over 2 weeks.

It’s a huge jump from my previous 50 dollar a week thinking, but it is way more realistic.  Truth is, this should be our Max No Matter What food spending.  At least until I start to make some money to contribute.. But am I ready to do that yet? Yes, if it doesn’t involve babysitters.  (That’s a post for another day)  Even then, we need to increase our savings.  So, very optimistically, it’s 210 with any extra at the end of the 2 weeks (savings from coupons, not going out to eat) going into our savings account.

So, even though we did come under budget over the last two weeks,  I’m not counting it.  I had a stocked freezer. Aside from some puree ice cubes for the little one, and some random stuff, my freezer is pretty bare.  Now I will really see what I’m spending.

How do you guys deal with travel and eating?  I have organic pouches for the boy, and will probably just end up getting drive-through for the grown-ups.  It’s only a 4 hour drive this time, but we did a 20 hour drive to Florida a couple months ago the same way.  There has to be a healthier (and maybe cheaper?) way, that’s for darn sure.

Project: Food Budgeters:

Emily Levenson
McGinnis and Bean
Red Pen Mama
Erra Creations
Eryn Says…
Seeking White Space
Gardening in High Heels
Melissa Firman
Copy & Post
Rachel Olive Miller

Project: Food Budget (Week 2)

My eyes, my eyes.

My phone has been really bugging me lately.  This gleaming iPhone 6 happily encased in an expensive pink Otter Box with a shatterproof glass protective screen shield is ruining my life.  Well, maybe not ruining it, but certainly stealing some of it.  My brain is constantly craving that little glowing screen.

I can’t be the only one that this happens to.  I sit on the floor to play with my little one, and five minutes later, I’m sitting there, phone in hand, eyes glued to it, and Des is playing by himself.  Granted, that’s ok (I think) at this age.  He’s figuring out how books work, and pulling the stacking bowls apart, and pretty much happy. But I’m not.  I only get so much time with this ten month old, why do I feel the need to look at stupid things on Instagram instead?  I was worried, when I gave up breastfeeding for pumping, that I would lose all of that precious bonding time, so I made a rule then and there that I would not be on my phone or iPad when I was feeding my baby a bottle.  I was really determined to make bottle feeding and rocking a bonding and important time for us, and it has been.  I think it’s time to make some more rules like that.

I don’t want him to remember a mom that was always paying attention to something else.  That would stop whatever she was doing with him to look at a little device because it made a vibrating noise. It’s bad. Sometimes my phone isn’t even in my pocket and my pants vibrate and I have to pat myself down before I realize it was nothing.  If I’m not specifically paying attention to what I’m doing, I will pick up my phone and start playing a game or reading Twitter before I even realize what I’m doing.  I’m sure it’s a symptom of the larger problem, too.  Are we all doing this?  Are none of us paying attention to anything any more?  I know I’m not the first person to point this out, and I know there are a million good things about having a computer more powerful than the one I took to college in my pocket, but there has to be a way to fix it.  If you’re wondering if I have the balls to get rid of my phone, the answer is no.

Ok, I’m about to admit something pretty embarrassing and possibly bad.  I use my phone to help my son fall asleep. I can’t stop doing it because it works like a charm.  He has a bottle and we cuddle, then he sits on my lap, leaning back against me with my right arm around him, and with my left hand I play a game on my phone, he watches me play for a few minutes and falls asleep.  I don’t know what to do. I feel like it’s a crutch and it’s bad for him and I’m setting him up to always need a screen to fall asleep (not unlike his mom).  But it works, so I keep doing it.  Help. 

My phone is like being at the beck and call of every person in the world.  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email, text messages, phone calls and god knows what else send vibrating notifications to my hip, demanding that I do something about them.  Remember when the only time your phone would ring was when someone was calling you with their real voice? And it was usually your mom?  Hell, remember not having a cell phone?  Everyone in the world does not deserve my beck and call, not at the expense of being with my son.  Or my husband.  Or my friends.  Or any real life human being.  Or, jeez, even myself.  When I have a porch beer after getting the little one to bed and it’s 80 degrees out and breezy and it’s ten o’clock at night, and kinda quiet, and lovely outside, and I’m by myself, WHY DO I STARE AT MY PHONE? 

There has to be a fix. No, I can’t give up my phone.  I like talking to people on Twitter.  I like reading blog posts, and being able to look up stuff instantly.  Shopping with my grocery list app, bar codes for coupons, store club card bar codes, is so nice.  It’s quaint when I see other shoppers with a list and a pencil.  I could name a million reasons why I won’t give up my phone. But how can I learn to just put it down?  Seriously.  The only idea I can think of for now is leave it in the other room more often.  I can even leave the ringer up so if actual human voices call me I can go get it.  And turn off almost all my notifications. And practice, I suppose.  Lots and lots of practice.  But I really need to get this monkey off my back. If it gets any worse, I might go back to the idea of getting rid of it.  I’d save a lot of money.

My eyes, my eyes.

Project: Food Budget (Week numero 1)

So, here’s the thing.  I’m a new stay-at-home mom.  New in every sense of the word.  (I really grew a human inside me, birthed him, and for the past ten months have cared for him like I’m a real grown up? WUT?) Part of being a stay-at-home mom means I never have to worry about the costs of child care, both mentally and monetarily. It also means I have to budget carefully.  I am grateful for my husband’s job like you wouldn’t believe, but that money goes fast in a one income household with a mortgage, 2 cars, and a little one.

I’ve gotten pretty good at budgeting, meal planning, and spending less on food in general, but I would love to get better.  That’s where Project: Food Budget (by the always delightful Emily Levenson) comes in.


The way my budget usually goes is this:  I decide I’m only spending 50 dollars a week on food.  I make a menu.  I go grocery shopping and spend about 65 bucks.  I stop at a store a couple more times that week for 5 or 10 dollars worth of food here or there.  I spend 10 or 20 bucks on beer.  We end up out to the new brewery in town for lunch on Thursday.  And, as you can see, by the end of the week my food budget has at least doubled, if not tripled.

So for the summer, myself (a brand new blogger) and some other (much more experienced) bloggers are going to really look at what we are spending on food.  Some immediate things come to mind.  What’s the cost of eating healthy? The cost of the baby food I make for my son.  How important is eating out to us as a family?  Formula… oh how expensive you are. The world of couponing (Those people are crazy.) And other stuff, too.  I hope to really deal with these things in the coming weeks, and more stuff, too.  Fifty dollars a week is probably unreasonable.  It doesn’t even include formula, dog food, paper towels and the like.  What should my actual food budget be?  This is already hurting my brain.

So here’s what I did this week:

My little menu board that’s on the wall in my kitchen:


This is pretty typical.  Simple menu.  We always do tacos on Tuesdays, pizza on Sundays, and meatless on Mondays, which makes the planning easier.  Something you should know about me; I rarely buy bread and rolls.  I bake most everything from scratch because the cost of bread makes me stabby.  Although, I will buy it when there’s a sale or if I’m just lazy or busy that week.  You can see we are having friends over on Friday and I totally didn’t buy any snacks or drinks, so I can already tell how my budget will be messed up this week.

I almost always grocery shop on Tuesdays.  I can’t stand the two local discount grocery stores with a furious passion.  I know other people swear by them, my local ones just stink.  I usually go to Giant Eagle Market District or Trader Joes or the local farmer’s market or all 3.  Here’s how I did today:


TAX 0.21

**** BALANCE 3.16

3LB B SZ RED 3.49 F
3.31 lb @ 1.79 /lb
WT YAMS 5.92 F
BEETS 2.99 F
3.83 lb @ 0.54 /lb
1 @ 5/5.00
2.03 lb @ 1.99 /lb
0.54 lb @ 0.99 /lb
2.17 lb @ 2.49 /lb
SC NB RASP LEM (2.50) 0.79-B
SC GE PASTA SA (1.00) 0.69-F
SC GE PASTA SA (1.00) 0.69-F
SC GE WW ROTIN (1.00) 0.19-F
SC GE WW ELBOW (1.00) 0.19-F
TAX 0.17

**** BALANCE 41.09

SC SDLS.WATERM (3.99) 3.00-F
TAX 0.00

**** BALANCE 3.99

(thank you Iggle for my email receipts which means I just copy and pasted that) (should probably do a better job of making that readable in future posts)

Total: 48.24

Under budget! woo! Except wait, there are no proteins in there.  I buy meat on sale whenever I can and freeze, then I make my menu based on my freezer.  We didn’t need any this week.  (Future topic: we may buy a half a cow!)  Also, I totally went to Target earlier this week and bought some food.  Also, if you look at my menu, you will see we are having friends over on Friday.  I totally didn’t buy any snacks or drinks for that so we will be going shopping again.  But I was close!  Ack.  You can see why I need this project.

Here are my fellow Project: Food Budgeters.  Click around.  They are awesome.

Emily Levenson
McGinnis and Bean
Red Pen Mama
Erra Creations
Eryn Says…
Seeking White Space
Gardening in High Heels
Melissa Firman
Copy & Post
Rachel Olive Miller

Project: Food Budget (Week numero 1)

The anxiety and nausea of being us.

I’m sitting here watching my 10 month old play, filled with worry and anxiety for him. I wonder if I would be a better mother if I was not always worried. Worried about the next milestone, the bump in his mouth, the way he crawls, if I gave him baby food that had been sitting too long, just worried. It’s so hard to just be present sometimes.
For some reason I started thinking about myself as a little kid and all of the moments that ate away at my self esteem and that grew this mountain of anxiety inside me. Like when my teacher gave me a dirty look in second grade because I was staring at her. The sad part is, I was staring at her because I liked her. I thought she was a cool teacher. And when she gave me a dirty look, I didn’t just assume she wasn’t the cool teacher I thought she was, I took the position of there must be something wrong with me. And there’s lots of little moments like that. Why do we have imprints of the terrible moments of our lives while we barely remember the happy moments? And all of this makes me think, Desmond’s imprints are starting now. How can I make his memories about getting stronger and feeling happy? What a grand responsibility that is.
I have good memories, too. I remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books way past my bedtime, secretly in my room, and starting Big Woods again as soon as I finished the First Four Years. I remember riding to Florida in the back seat of the van and playing with our bears that had different outfits. I remember having Unbirthday Parties, and playing with some kind of computer game in our best friends’ living room. Climbing in the corn crib, picking peaches at the neighbors, wars with the other neighbors, telling our dog to take us home when we were lost in the woods. It took me a minute to find them, but good memories are there.
I don’t really know how to make sure Desmond has more good imprints than bad. I’m not even sure it’s possible. It’s so hard to stop worrying. My new saying is, “I will cross that bridge if I come to it.” I repeat it often in my head. The best I can do, I suppose, is try my hardest to be present, love him as best as I can, and build him up when others make him feel shitty. I’m sure I will screw him up in some ways, may they be mild and easy ways, and may we both learn from my mountain of anxiety.

The anxiety and nausea of being us.