Sunday, June 29, 2008

Each Day Gets Easier.

I'm in week #3 of the Buy No Crap Challenge and things are going fairly well. Jennifer and I were chatting about it last week, and we both agree that after the initial jonesing to buy everything under the sun, it gets easier. Really, it does. I have found a way around the need to buy crap, and that is by focusing my purchasing on buying food. Healthy food at that. So, I still get my fix, and my family benefits. Good deal.

Since I haven't met up with the giver of gifts who has my stainless steel water bottles and messages have been left unreturned (tisk, tisk), I went ahead and used my once a month allowable purchase that Jennifer and I agreed on for buying some Klean Kanteens for me and Scott. I also got two BPA free Nalgene sippy cups for Max. I like that the water stays cool for a fairly lengthy period of time, and it tastes good. I have been trying to do a better job at staying hydrated, so it helps to have the bottle around while I'm breastfeeding. The only problem is that Max seems fascinated with it. While it took Scott showing me how the sport cap worked (he had been completely unscrewing the entire top all week), Max figured it out in about 5 seconds, dumping the contents onto the floor. Ah 2 year olds, can't live with him, can't sell them on ebay, and the gypsies won't take 'em.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Attempt #1: Buying Locally.

I have been attempting to read my new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but having a two year old and an 8 week old have made that rather difficult. You see, when I get a spare moment, I'm too tired to string a sentence together, let alone read one. When I do have the a quiet moment, it is usually because I am breastfeeding Cameron, so I don't have a spare hand. In lieu of being able to read more than two pages per day, I have been thinking a lot about the food we eat. I am once again going cold turkey on my diet coke addiction (I have replaced it with homemade ice tea), and I have been looking at my food labels not only for what is in them, but where they come from. Imagine my surprise when I got home after buying strawberries only to discover they were a product of the USA! I live in Ontario - where some of the best berries on earth are grown, and it's prime berry season. This pissed me off a bit. There is no good reason to be eating berries from the USA this time of year!

So, after doing a bit of research, I found out that there is a local organic market in Oakville every Saturday. Max was being a beast this morning, so brilliant me, I thought, I'll take him out to this market - that will get him out of the house, and I'll do some grocery shopping at the same time. You can only imagine how successful this outing was. Max embraced his terrible 2's, which resulted in a quick outing to say the least. The market had fairly slim pickings, but I did get some honey from Bees Universe, some greens from Whole Circle Farm, and some asparagus from Everdale farm. I also found out about another market in Milton that is a bit larger, so I may try this (sans Max) next weekend. I have also been thinking about setting up a weekly delivery of organic produce from Green Earth Organics. I think this may be the best choice for me right now, given the fact that Max and Cameron are just not that into anything that doesn't involve climbing on things and booby.

Now excuse me while I enjoy my glass of white wine (from France, not locally made...). Yes, that's how challenging this outing was this morning. I got home, unpacked my items, and declared "it's happy hour somewhere".

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 2: Asking the Tough Questions.

The toughest part about being so conscious of what I eat, is that I'm no longer letting myself eat out of boredom. When I walk into the kitchen, looking for something to snack on, I am now asking myself - "are you really hungry?". More often than not, the answer is "no". Damnit that makes me cranky. I can't shop for crap I don't need, I can't eat crap I don't need, what's a girl to do? Just kidding, but seriously - it's hard to ask yourself the tough questions. Another thing I do is eat to make up for lack of sleep. As if somehow the fuel of food will help me feel energized, which it doesn't. Coffee, on the otherhand, that's good stuff.

Yesterday was a pretty good WLC day. Still did not get out for a walk, but I once again skipped the carbs at dinner. I know that for me, skipping carbs in the evening is a huge component to weight loss. The other thing I did was make a big jug of decaf ice tea for myself. Water seems unappealing to me these days and I need to do a better job of staying hydrated, what with the breastfeeding and all.

In other positive news, I just checked my Visa card balance, and I am on track to have cut my monthly expenditures by 50%. Since last month included the not-so-nice surprise of new tires for my car, I am hoping I can cut my bill by 50% again this coming month. That would get me to 25% of my original spend - not bad, eh?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day 1: Weight Loss Challenge.

How did the first day of my Weight Loss Challenge go, you ask? It went okay. I was not perfect, but I think I did fairly well. For breakfast I had coffee, coffee, and more coffee, and some Go Lean Kashi with berries. Lunch was a salmon sandwich on multigrain bread (from yummy Cobs Bakery). Dinner was a chicken breast and steamed veggies. Where did I fall down? Perhaps the glass of wine after dinner was not so great, and the 2 pieces of chocolate may have been a bit anti-WLC...but hey - it was my first day!

I didn't get out for that walk I had such good intentions about, and I didn't drink enough water either. Those will be my goals for today. I did however make it to the evil Walmart for assorted baby and cleaning products. Jennifer will be happy to know that I brought a list and stuck to it! No spur of the moment purchases (even though the Gilmore Girls DVDs were on sale). Funny how quickly diapers, wipes, and bug spray add up. The only thing I bought myself was underwear - very exciting, I know.

The book I ordered from Amazon also arrived yesterday. This was the purchase I made in the middle of the night (chalk it up to feeling sorry for myself and being a bit bored). I am looking forward to reading it, assuming my attention span lasts longer than 2 paragraphs. I'm also trying to read Mists of Avalon right now, with minimal success. I think I get tired just trying to lift it, mammoth volume that it is. ;-)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Time to Get Off My Ass and Get Movin'.

I stepped on the scale this morning and boy did I ever not like what I saw. In theory, breastfeeding is supposed to help you lose weight. The only problem is that it also increases your appetite ten-fold, so you have to be careful about what you eat. I have somehow managed to gain two pounds over the last two weeks. Argh!! I am clearly not eating the right things (I refuse to believe I am eating too much). Cameron will be eight weeks old on Wednesday, so it is officially time to get movin'!

If you have been a long time reader (by the way, thanks for sticking with me through my hiatus), you may recall that I participated in a weight loss challenge before I went back to work after having Max. What's funny is that I still have people finding my blog from searching on "How to Lose 10 Pounds". Well, I don't have the support of a personal trainer and nutritionist this time, but I figure their sage advice worked well last time, so I'm going to give it a go on my own. To stay motivated I'll write about it here. Heck, I may even 'fess up and tell you how much I weigh (but not yet - I'm not ready to be that honest). Today I'm going to go back and reread my articles to give myself a bit of a kick start. And I think I'll take Cameron for a long walk, maybe to Crappy Tire to pick up that spray to zap wasp nests (we have one growing on our back fence). Then I can blog about Scott zapping said wasp nest for our entertainment.

I think I'm going to wrangle my friend Christine into this challenge. Not that she needs to lose any weight, (she is breakup thin in my opinion). Having a friend to stay motivated should help get me through the tough times. Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Most Loathed Tree in the World.

From afar, one might think this tree is pretty, nice, a provider of shade and all things cool in the summer. In fact, most people who see this tree between the months of July through May have no clue that this tree is the most loathed tree in the world. Really - it is cursed up and down and the recipient of constant glares, jeers and four letter words. I am pretty sure my neighbour Michael has even fashioned a voodoo tree that he pokes with copper nails. I'm surprised the damn thing hasn't fallen down dead from all the negative energy being sent its way.

The main gripe about this tree is that every year when June rolls around, it starts dropping these pulp like pods all over the place. This pulp blows across the neighbourhood - at times it actually appears to be snowing - in June no less. The tree is a Poplar tree, and it is now towers over my home. Its roots are taking over my backyard and coming too close for comfort to the foundation of my house. Michael, an avid gardener is limited in what he can plant in his backyard because he gets no sun as a result of the tree. Pete and Pat have had to replace at least one pool pump, nobody can bbq because the pulp will stick to your food, and those with allergies are forced to stay indoors or perish. Max's brand new jungle gym is caked with white fluff, and my eyes water at even the thought of sitting on my back deck.
The challenge is that the tree is now so big that it will be quite expensive to have taken down. Scott and I try to have some perspective about it (it is just a tree, and in the big picture, there are much more important things going on in our world than this abomination of nature). Do I dislike the tree? Absolutely. Am I willing to get in a pissing match with the lovely single mom with whom my home is physically linked? Nope. I mean, she inherited this problem from the previous owner of the house who refused to consider taking the tree down (he spent the summer at his cottage so what did he care if we were all being forced indoors during the most beautiful days of summer?).

My neighbour is amenable to having the tree taken down (she is not a big fan either). As we do every summer, the neighbours are banding together, getting quotes to see just how much it will cost to remove this blight of nature, and hoping and praying that this problem gets dealt with once and for all. Sigh. I'll let you know how it goes. Otherwise, my next tree post will be about the fifty bags of leaves I'll have to rake come the fall.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The mad quilter.

It struck me that in all my blogging about stuff that I want that I don't have, I haven't done much blogging about being thankful for what I already have, which is a lot. So, I think I'll institute a weekly "What I'm Thankful For" post to remind me about how lucky I am.

So, who is this Mad Quilter I speak of? The Mad Quilter is my mom, Cameron's grandmother (the middle name Elizabeth is an homage to my mom and my great grandmother). My mom has many incredible attributes (she is wicked smart, incredibly kind, has a huge heart), but what I want to talk about today is her mad quilting skillz. She is far too modest in this respect, so someone has to sing her praises.
My home is a testament to her wonderful quilting. Over the years she has made me and Scott many quilts. Max has three quilts, and Cameron has two (so far). In fact, Cameron's nursery was decked out by my mom. All I did was purchase the rug, roman blinds and lamp from Pottery Barn Kids. My mom sewed two quilts (the one Cameron is laying on and the heart quilt on the wall), window valances, and a crib bed skirt. She also gave us the flowers/butterfly/hearts/letters for the wall. Lucky baby! If it weren't for my mom, Cameron's room would be very boring.

In addition to pretty quilts, my mom has ventured into more complex functional quilts. The latest quilt she made for Max is weighted with plastic pellets (the hope is that the weighted quilt will help him sleep better). Each block had to be made individually, with the pellets sewn in and separated into quarters to keep them from bunching up. The end result is a very snugly quilt which Max seems to like a lot. Fingers crossed that it helps him catch some more zzzzz's at daycare.

If you think these quilts are incredible, you should see the cat quilt that my mom is working on for my bedroom, and the big boy quilt she has planned for Max, and the big girl quilt she has planned for Cameron...seriously, when does this woman rest?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Is that a wallet in your pocket?

I'm in week #2 of the Buy No Crap Challenge, and so far so good. My big win yesterday was not purchasing the In Style magazine staring longingly at me from the checkout stand at the grocery store. For some people the impulse buys are batteries and candybars - for me it is pretty girls in print.

After looking at my last Visa bill, I discovered that what kills me is the $20 purchases. They really add up fast and can have devastating effects at the end of the month. I decided that for any purchase that is $20 or less, I will pay with cash. Seems to sink in a bit more that way. Paying with plastic is just too easy, and makes it seem like said item is free. But it isn't - it really, really isn't. There's something about pulling cash out of my wallet that stings a bit. It seems to be keeping me honest about my spending, so I'm going to continue.

Jennifer (who has decided to join me for the next three months of this challenge) and I have been discussing a "good behaviour clause". The deal would be, each month, if you behave and don't cheat, you get to purchase something off your wish list (mine is in the top right column of this page). I was thinking I would like to buy a glass pitcher. I might take a look at Pier 1 as well - they have much prettier pitchers there (I like the blue Mexican glass). I have also been lusting after these terra cotta water purifiers for a long time now. I think that I may add a clause for a "bigger" purchase if I make it through the entire summer without caving. We'll see...might be a bit much. Perhaps if I add a bonus month on at the end? I guess we'll just have to see!

In kid news: Cameron decided that the middle of the night partying could take a rest last night and decided to only wake up to eat. Then it was back to sleep (blessed angel!). Max on the other hand had a very hard time getting to bed last night (after six nights of doing great). Poor little guy was very sad, so dad went in to hang out with him until he calmed down. It seemed to do the trick, and Max finally went to sleep about two hours past his bedtime. I am guessing he'll be a bit testy at daycare today!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Not enough coffee in the world.

It's 8am and I have no business being awake. After being rudely awoken by my darling baby Cameron at 2am, and staying up until 4:30am, I figure I've earned some more sleep. Apparently Cameron does not agree - she is of the opinion that it's time to start our week. Thanks kid.
We had a nice weekend. It started out a little bit rough when on Friday night, Scott, using a damp towel to take my brownies out of the oven, burned his hands and dumped them on the floor (face down of course). With what must have been male logic at work, he thought using a damp towel to take the glass dish out of the oven was just as good, if not better than an oven mitt because the "water would absorb the heat". Hmmmm...not so much. Because he is Scott, he felt so badly for ruining my brownies that he walked over to the grocery store (in the rain no less) to buy another box of mix to make me another batch of brownies. Then, while making the second batch, he dropped what I'm guessing was a half dozen organic eggs on the floor. Expensive brownies! But very tasty - made with frustration and love.
On Saturday we celebrated Father's Day over at Scott's parent's house. Being the class act that I am, I fell asleep on the couch for what must have been a good hour on their couch, leaving the Max wrangling to others. Feel free to invite me to your home so I can sleep through our visit - I get some of my best sleep on unfamiliar furniture.
Since Cameron and I were up partying for most of Saturday night, we had a late start on Sunday. At my wit's end, I headed over to the dreaded BabiesRUs to buy a Swaddle Me Blanket (the equivalent of a baby straight jacket that is supposed to help with sleep). I don't see this as a frivolous purchase because sleep really is a necessity, and I wasn't about to wait until the end of the three month Buy No Crap challenge to see if this baby straight jacket would work. Baby Houdini here managed to get her arms out of it in record time, but she did sleep for about an hour in her bassinette. Since she usually needs to sleep next to me or on me to stay asleep, I count this as progress. We'll keep working on it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A moment of weakness.

Turns out I cannot be trusted not to find a way to shop when left to my own bleary eyed devices. That's right, not even a week into the Buy No Crap Challenge, and I have broken down and made a purchase. Sigh. You see, everyone was asleep, except me and Cameron (we didn't go to bed until 7am). I think it was at about 6am, I was feeling super tired, and not quite of sound mind. I remembered I needed to order a book for Scott for Father's Day (yes, I know, I'm a little late with that). I went to the checkout page and there it was - the Free Shipping Offer. I caved like a rented mule. The good news is the damage is minimal - I only bought a $10 Farzzle's World DVD and a book for myself. Seemed only fair, if Scott and Max were getting gifts, I should get something too! I bought "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" because Jennifer suggested it as reading, and I'm a sucker for any book she suggests to me. I think I'll read it for her as part of her upcoming birthday present.

On a positive note, Night #3 of the Big Boy Bed Challenge went well. Max stayed in his bed and did not fall out. We smartened up and put pillows at the end of his bed which seemed to keep him from scooting down to the bottom of his bed in his sleep. He still prefers to keep his feet at the head of his bed, but who am I to judge? Now if I could just get Cameron to tone down the partying, maybe I won't be such a risk for further drive by shopping in the middle of the night.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is that a smile I see?

When you get as little sleep as I do, you need to get excited about the little things. Like little smiles. At least, I think that's a smile? And don't tell me it's just gas! What's she smiling about you ask? Could it be that she stayed up until 3:30am? Possibly. This girl likes to party. We stayed up and watched "The Other Boleyn Girl" (Scott headed for the hills when I pulled the dvd out). If you liked the book (which I did), I don't recommend this movie. In fact, if you like good movies, I don't recommend this movie. There's a reason it only got a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes! I liked the Tudors much better, which doesn't take itself so seriously and embraces its soft core/campy elements. Hey, I have to get my excitement where I can these days!
In other news, Night #2 of Max in his big boy bed went not nearly as well as Night #1. He somehow managed to fall off the end of his bed which resulted in about an hour of crying. Once he settled back down he did sleep through the night, with his feet at the head of his bed, curled up in a little ball. Kind of heartbreaking for me - seems like just yesterday he was Cameron's size.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A night sans kids avec Sloan et hipsters.

Scott and I went out on our first date since Cameron was born tonight. It was lovely. Truly. I felt light as a feather as I walked from the car to the GO train. No baby, no car seat, no diaper bag. Only my purse and me. I almost felt naked. Naked, and carefree. It only took me three days of pumping milk after feedings to get here.

We met up at Scott's work and went for dinner at Il Fornello. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the perfect weather and gazed at Lake Ontario. I didn't even mind that there was a family with four kids sitting only a few feet away from us. After all, those were somebody else's kids, not my problem if one of them throws a fit, throws up or throws a toy. They were actually very well behaved, my kids would never show that well in public.

After my first dinner without a baby on my lap in six weeks, we went over to the Orange Music Lounge to watch Sloan. They played a short set, but hey, the tickets were free, and George Stroumboulopoulos stood in front of us for the entire show, eating a tuna sub in one hand and draping his arm around one of Scott's coworkers with the other. Slick. The guy has eating, flirting, and networking down to a science - mad respect.

The band sounded great - I liked the songs they played from their new album. I also enjoyed watching all the hipsters at the show. I'm not sure what made my want to laugh more - their super tight jeans or their ability to listen to Sloan rock out without moving a collective muscle. Seriously, the hipsters could be identified strictly by their lack of movement and love of form fitting apparel.

One last note - we got home to find out that Max has figured out how to escape his crib. We have a twin bed set up for him, so this isn't really that big of a deal. But I was hoping we'd have a bit longer (like until September) before we would have to transition him into his big boy bed. Guess we now have no choice. Good times!

The "Buy No Crap Resolution" Status Update - Week 1.

So far so good. I have made it three days without buying any crap. Impressive, no? I think I'm still in the honeymoon phase of this resolution though (think new year's work out resolution - the first few days of hitting the gym are pretty easy, it's week 2 where you scratch your head and question just how drunk you were when you made this wacky get-in-shape promise to yourself).

I will say that this "buy no crap" diet has many similarities to an "eat no crap" diet in that the moment I told myself I was not allowed to buy something, I thought of many, many things I would like to purchase. Like a glass pitcher for ice tea, really good double bed sheets for my guest room, all the Pyrex food storage containers I can carry...see what I mean? I am updating the list in the right margin daily, in case you are interested in my passion for consuming.

I may have slightly cheated in that I have been coveting some stainless steel water bottles (we are attempting to rid ourselves of the Evil Plastic touching food/beverages we ingest). Instead of buying these myself, I asked my father to get us some for my birthday. I think that this doesn't count, but perhaps you can weigh in? I know it appears that I am adding rules as I go along, but we're only three days in, so I figure there is still some wiggle room.

One last note - I think I am going to have to unsubscribe to a bunch of email newsletters that land in my inbox on a daily basis offering me great deals on all sorts of tempting crap. It's just too easy to surf and shop to get my fix. For now I'll have to fill the void by shopping for groceries (oooo....avocado!) and sunscreen (oooo....coconut scented!). Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Because my baby doesn't really need a purple ostrich.

Being on maternity leave has its benefits. Namely, I get to stay home with my baby for a whole year. The challenge, is that with me not working, we have significantly less money coming in the door. My maternity leave benefits and Stephen Harper beer and popcorn money are basically enough to cover our mortgage, property taxes and insurance, after that, Scott is left carrying the ball for everything else.

We don't live an extravagant lifestyle, but I am a woman who likes to shop. I don't even have fancy taste or like expensive shoes. Well, I like them, I just don't buy them. My point is, I've been thinking lately that I really need to rein the spending in. I'm sure my husband will read this and breathe a sigh of relief.

In her ever timely-reading my mind fashion, Jennifer posted about this very subject matter. She was inspired by Crazy Aunt Purl. I am going to see if I can take on the challenge for at least the summer months. Realistically, I should commit to this for the next year, but I want to see how hard it is before I get all crazy and stuff.

So, for the months of June, July and August, I will not buy anything that isn't essential (ie - food, drink, crucial toiletries, things the kids really need). The only caveat is that if Scott and I actually line up a babysitter, we will spend money on entertainment - we get out so rarely, that will hardly break the bank.

I'm going to keep a running tally of items I did not purchase, and a list of things that I would like that I will not purchase at this time. Hey - maybe by this Christmas I'll actually be able to think of things for people to get me instead of the last few years where I just scratched my head and racked my brain for gift suggestions for spoiled spoiled me. Bonus!

Items Not Purchased:
Purple Gund Ostrich (for Cameron)

Items I Would Like (But will not purchase)
Subscription to "In Style" magazine