Monday, January 30, 2012

Tons of Tiny Clothes

The thing about babies that keeps throwing me for a loop is that in the beginning they need a whole new wardrobe every few months because they grow so fast. Last week, I realized we had exactly 5 items of clothing for a 0-3 month old. None of these items of clothing made an a single outfit. I kept thinking we were all set for baby clothes because our friends had handed down a huge box of clothes to us, but I hadn't really thought about the fact that most of those clothes were 6-9 month size. We have to clothe this baby for six whole months before we even touch the hand me downs. Sigh.

Let's get real. Shopping for baby clothes is probably one of the top ten pleasures in life. (Look how cute. They're so small!) But as fun as shopping for tiny clothes is, the thought of buying 5 wardrobes (newborn, 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12 months) for the first year alone makes me kind of want to throw up because baby clothes can be so expensive and we're a single income family.

Chuk and I had gone thrift store shopping in our area a few times for baby clothes, but we live in such an expensive area that even thrift stores aren't very thrifty. However, over the weekend we drove a few hours south to spend some time with Chuk's family and while we were there we did some more thrift store shopping for baby. (Cheaper real estate = cheaper thrift store prices) We were able to get 27 articles of baby clothes for $31 in sizes ranging from newborn to 0-3 months to 3-6 months. We were both pleased.

We probably still don't have enough clothes in these small sizes, but it turns out we are having a baby shower, so I think other people will probably be getting us some baby clothes too. (See above about how fun shopping for baby clothes is.) I'm certainly less worried about it now than I was before.

Now, to figure out how to organize all the tiny clothes.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Chuk to the cat: "Hi pretty girl. Did you have a nice weekend? We missed you."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

California Club Salad

My favorite sandwich is, and always has been, a club sandwich. I think it's because when I was a kid we weren't allowed to eat white bread and we simply never had bacon; I don't know why. (True story, I think I was in junior high before I ever ate a piece of bacon and I didn't know how to cook it until a few years ago when I moved to DC and had a roommate from South Carolina who literally ate bacon everyday.)

When my parents would ship us kids off to Louisiana to be with our grandparents for six weeks almost every summer, our grandparents allowed us to eat whatever we wanted. Once a week, when my maternal grandpa took us out for lunch, he would get liver and onions; I would get a club sandwich; I have no recollection of what my brother and sister ate. I think that's when I first fell in love with club sandwiches. It was much later when I was introduced to the California club, which is simply a club sandwich with avocado, but I love that too.

When I saw this salad at Real Simple I pinned it right away. Tonight seemed like a salad-for-dinner night* so I used the Real Simple salad as my inspiration and created a salad that mimics so many of the flavors in my believed California club sandwich. Chuk and I both really liked it.

California Club Salad

1 head of romaine lettuce
2 Roma tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
1/2 green bell pepper
some onion (I used green onions because that's what I had but next time I want to try the red onion suggested in the original recipe)
1/2 avocado (Chuk isn't a big avocado fan so I only used it on my salad.)
2 oz. cooked turkey
5 slices of cooked bacon
Balsamic vinaigrette

Chop the first eight ingredients and then toss with the vinaigrette. C'mon, you know how to make a salad.

I will add, if you cook the bacon right before you make the salad, you can use the bacon drippings to make a bacon balsamic dressing. I did it and it made the husband very happy. (It also possibly offset all health benefits of eating salad for dinner.)

*I love salad for dinner night. Not only is it healthy, it's my chance to use up all those odds and ends of veggies that may otherwise be wasted.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Making Burp Cloths

Even though I'm getting darn close to baby's arrival the nesting instinct (unfortunately) hasn't yet kicked in. However, I'm trying to deal with a bad week by being productive so I've been sewing up burp cloths.

Several months ago Chuk and I picked up a pack of prefold diapers at TJ Maxx (or one of those discount stores) for less than $1 per diaper, which is cheaper than I've seen used prefolds selling for online. I washed them up and, since the baby will be using it for burping, embroidered "Excuse Me" on them. I just free-handed the embroidery, which I've never done before and I don't love the result, but for something whose sole purpose is to be barfed on, I can live with it. Then I sewed on some fabric I already had that I had been saving for pillows. It didn't take very much fabric, so I should still be able to make the pillows.

It's a quick and satisfying project that will hopefully be useful in a few months. Now I'm off to make a few more.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Maternity Clothes on the Cheap

I'm in my third trimester of pregnancy and I've spent less than $100 on maternity clothes. I've had a hard time finding national averages for how much women spend on maternity clothes, but I've seen estimates ranging from $400 on a bargain website to $1200 on MSN money. One of my favorite frugal bloggers, Penny Saver, who is a never-ending source of inspiration for me, spent almost twice as much as I did on her maternity wardrobe, so I think I'm doing pretty well.

The first thing I did was evaluate my existing wardrobe to see what would still fit my growing belly. I was surprised how much still works for me. I had two empire waisted tops, two turtlenecks, a long sleeved tee, two polo shirts, two sweaters, and five dresses that fit me. Serendipitously, I prefer shift and wrap dresses; both styles work well as maternity dresses. I also had one sweater dress and the knit simply stretches over my bump. Cardigans, scarves, jewelry and other accessories should not be overlooked either as all of these pieces will fit you throughout pregnancy. (Simply don't button the cardigan.)

I think one of the reasons I was successful at finding so many pieces in my own closet that work for me is that I was very careful in how I thought about things. I spent a lot of time going through everything and trying things on. Have you heard that saying that you wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time? Your potential maternity clothes are probably in the 80% of clothes you don't wear very often/have forgotten about. Seriously, take an afternoon and try a bunch of stuff on.

Though I already had a lot of stuff I could wear during my pregnancy, I had to buy a few things to fill in the gaps. I bought:
1) a maternity band, which helped me wear my regular jeans into the second trimester. This is the one I have. I don't know if it is better or worse than other types, I bought it because it was cheaper than others I saw.

2) maternity jeans. All of my pre-pregnancy pants are mid-rise, which are not very forgiving with a swelling abdomen. If you typically wear low rise pants, you may be able to get away with not buying maternity pants. I bought these maternity jeans when they were on sale. I had to get them hemmed (at my dry cleaner's) which added to the cost, but even with the cost of hemming they were WAY cheaper than any jeans I saw at specialty maternity stores.

3) two pairs of leggings. (In retrospect, I wish I had only bought one pair. I haven't needed two.) I knew I had a lot of dresses already in my wardrobe, so my plan was to pair them with leggings to get me through the winter. I bought these online from JC Penney when I bought the jeans.

4) a pair of pajama pants. (In retrospect, I wish I had bought two pair because I live in these.) I bought these from Old Navy. They are regular (non-maternity) PJ pants. I bought them two sizes bigger than my normal size and they are glorious. Hands down, my favorite outfit is one of my husband's undershirts and these oversized PJ pants. It is a personal tragedy for me that I can't wear it out of the house. I wear it to bed and for lounging, too.

5) extra undies. Some women, including me, develop a problem during pregnancy where it feels like your crotch is bruised. It's simply a result of increased blood flow to the region, the baby putting pressure down there, and your body loosening up. I heard going commando or wearing bigger panties can help. I bought new panties two sizes larger than what I usually wear. They are the granniest of granny panties, and you know what, I don't care one bit. They're comfy.

6) a caftan. I was given a caftan from this etsy store for Christmas. (I'm not counting its cost in my total since it was a gift.) It is incredibly comfy and though I just use it for lounging, theoretically I could wear it out too. I'm thinking about wearing it as my post-delivery coming home outfit since I think it will be easy to nurse in. I am also thinking about buying another one for post-pregnancy.

The reason I listed my sources for things (none of the links are affiliate links) is because I want you to notice that I didn't buy anything from a maternity store. Maternity stores are a rip off. You're going to pay a ton of money for poor quality clothes. I'd rather spend that money on cute baby clothes or on decorating the baby's room.

In summary, to save money on maternity clothes I would suggest you try to reuse as much of what you already have as you can. You should consider buying regular, non-maternity clothes two sizes bigger than what you normally wear because simply being labeled "maternity" carries with it a premium price. If you do need specific maternity clothes, shop sales and clearance at department stores rather than specialty maternity stores.

Maternity clothes are not investment pieces for the rest of your life; you're only going to wear them for a few months, so you might as well save some money on them. Although my maternity wardrobe is small (it all fits in one dresser drawer) I have more than enough to last me the whole pregnancy, spanning three seasons, and I don't feel like I'm wearing the same thing everyday. And even though I am a housewife, I daresay that my maternity wardrobe would work just as well if I worked in an office.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

An Open Letter to the Naysayers

My dad had a favorite expression, which I'm only going to minimally censor here. "Opinions are like a--holes; everybody's got one." The implication being, of course, keep yours to yourself because I've already got one. I can't tell you how many times a week this colorful turn of phrase pops into my mind as I progress through this pregnancy.

The truth is I often feel attacked, criticized and belittled about the choices I'm making for myself and my baby. And while that alone is hard, it is made more bitter because it seems the most biting comments come from well-meaning family and friends. Furthermore, despite the fact that Chuk and I have made every pregnancy-related decision together, he has not been subject to these types of remarks. Why do we subject mothers to a level of criticism and scrutiny that would never be tolerated in any other sphere of life?

This is where I plead my case that we, as a society, simply butt out and let parents, for better or worse, make their own decisions. I contend that these unsolicited opinions are rarely useful and mostly serve to alienate people and damage relationships.

You Can't Do That

"You'll never be able to give birth without drugs."
"Cloth diapers? Good luck with that because it's never going to happen."

We all have different capabilities. Maybe you can name all 50 state capitals and do computer coding. I can't, but I can do the quadratic equation and translate Camus from French to English. Just because natural child birth or cloth diapers or whatever didn't work out for you doesn't mean I can't do it.

When you act like parenting is a competition and you smack talk me, it hurts my feelings. Don't tell me what I can and can't do because you have no idea. I have no idea either, but I want to try. Just encourage me instead.

You're Reckless

"I'm just not the type of person who would risk my child's life to give birth outside of a hospital."
"You need bumpers or else the baby will hurt itself on the crib."

Trust me. I'm not going to do anything to endanger my child. Believe it or not, I have a vested interest in keeping this baby alive. I've done my research. You have either 1) not done your research and have no idea what you're talking about, 2) your information is out of date, or 3) are referring to something upon which there is divided expert opinion. In the case of one and two, I'm dismissing what you're saying out of hand. In the case of three, let's just agree to disagree. Look, you may let your toddler drink soda and watch TV. I've got opinions about that, but I'm keeping my mouth shut because I believe that as long as it's not illegal, parents have the right to make decisions based on what is right for their family.

Be Like Me

"We have the best sleep technique."
"You have to get this wipes warmer."

I'm not going to lie, your kid seems like (s)he's turning out ok, but this other kid I know is turning out ok too and its parents are doing things the exact opposite way you are. I interpret this to mean 1) all kids are different, and 2) the minutia probably doesn't matter.

I live in a tiny apartment. While I'm glad that giant gizmo you bought made your child happy, I am not neglecting my child if I choose not to buy it. Don't try to guilt me into a purchase. I will never believe that not having "hot item of the year" is going to turn my child into a juvenile delinquent in 15 years.

You may know the best technique for your child, but there's a 100% chance that I'm not going to give birth to your child. I'll try a bunch of things out with my baby (just like you did with yours) to try and figure out what works best for us. If that doesn't work out, I'll call you when I'm sleep deprived and stressed out and you can save the day by showing me your never-fail burping/sleeping/latching technique.

I'm Nosy

"Was this a planned pregnancy?"
"Are you having a lot of changes in your breasts?"

Doctor patient confidentiality exists for a reason. Just because you're curious about something, doesn't mean you have a right to know. If I don't volunteer the information on my own, chances are I don't want you to know. Don't put me in the awkward position of (nicely) telling you "none of your business." You're embarrassing us both.

True story:
My friend's boss's wife asked her what sexual position she was in when she conceived her baby.


I've had these thoughts in my head for a long time, and it feels very cathartic to write them out. But I also wanted to write about it because there are a lot of other posts floating around in my head about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting but before I write about them I want to make it clear from the outset that just because I made a different decision from you doesn't mean I'm judging you. While any decision made is a repudiation of all the decisions not made, decisions are not made in a vacuum. The choices my husband and I make reflect our circumstances and priorities, just as I'm sure the choices your family make reflect your circumstances and priorities. To quote the president, "I think we can disagree without being disagreeable."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Really Random

1. I've started using Instagram. We should follow each other. My account name is TeamLift. What's your's?

2. I spent almost five hours on Saturday listing things on Craig's List and I haven't gotten any nibbles. It is incredibly discouraging.

3. When I first told my friends I was pregnant, one of them offered to have a baby shower for me. (I threw a baby shower for her a year ago.) She's only brought it up once since then when we talked about having it in mid-February. Since then, she hasn't said anything about it but other people keep asking me when my baby shower is going to be. (My sister-in-law literally asks me or Chuk EVERY week and has even emailed my mom and sister, who live in California and wouldn't be coming to a D.C. baby shower, about it.)

First of all, if I'm not really confident my friend is even going to come through with the shower. Second of all, if she does come through, it is my impression that she's just thinking about a small, casual little thing with just the few mutual friends we share (because she's got a little baby and works full time), which means all these other people who are asking me about it would not be invited. This is hugely stressing me out. Why do people keep harrassing ME about it? I have nothing to do with it. And if they're so interested in coming to a baby shower, then why don't they offer to have one for me? I can only tell people so many times, "I don't know anything about a baby shower" so many times before my hormones take over and I rip someone's head off.

4. Is anyone else having problems with blogger? Sometimes, when I click on the post of someone I'm following I can't get to their page at all. And I can't make comments on anyone's posts, including my own. (For the record, in my last post, when I mentioned the drive-thru daiquiris, we do not drink and drive. We just like the thrill of knowing we could drink and drive. We buy our daiquiris at the drive-thru, but enjoy them at home. I think drinking and driving is stupid and dangerous.)

5. Are you watching Pioneer Woman on Food Network? Does it weird you out when she calls her husband Ladd instead of Marlboro Man?

6. Today was my last day of my water exercise class, which I affectionately call "swimming lessons". It was a fun class, but I'll mostly miss it because there was a really odd woman in the class who I am almost 100% sure is a pathological liar but who kept me immensely entertained. I have no idea what I'm going to talk to Chuk about at dinner anymore, because she has made up the bulk of my anecdotes for months now.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been

During the holidays, Chuk and I drove over 3,100 miles through eight states. Almost half of those miles were driven hauling a nine foot trailer behind Chuk's minivan. Over the course of ten days, we slept in seven different beds. I was (and have continued to be) physically and emotionally exhausted from our "vacation".

Most of our trip was focused on spending Christmas with my extended family at my aunt's in Austin, TX and clearing the last of my late father's things from storage in southwest Louisiana. I'm going to skip the stories about having to call a tow truck from AAA and the family drama and focus on some of the highlights.

There's good eating to be had in Texas and Louisiana.

We did our part to "keep Austin weird."

We were able to go to Lance Armstrong's bike shop and see all seven of the yellow jerseys he won in the Tour de France.

The highlights of family time were decorating sugar cookies and playing board games.

There were so many gifts to be thankful for on Christmas day.

One of our favorite things about Louisiana is legal fireworks. You better believe we took advantage of our opportunity; they have all the good (dangerous) ones.

Another cherished Louisiana tradition is getting drive-thru daiquris. This is legal. Seriously. There's a menu of all different kinds of blended drinks (yes, with booze) and you order what you want and drive around to a little window where you are handed your cocktail like it was a burger at McDonalds.

The drink comes like this. The lid is taped on, so that it's not an open container, but they are always careful not to tape over the straw hole. Chuk ordered a "Ragin' Cajun". I didn't order a drink, but I'll admit, I did have some sips of his.

I think things are finally getting back to normal around here, so hopefully I'll be back to posting more regularly soon.