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I'm a twenty-nine year old Army wife currently living near a large Army post. I have an unhealthy obsession with Dr. Pepper, the Internet, cloth diapers, and ridiculous TV shows. I'm a stay at home mom to two beautiful daughters, AJ and Amelia. We also have a 6 year old beagle named Abby who is as dumb as a box of rocks.
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Monday, December 31, 2012

So Long, 2012!

I haven't been the best at keeping up with the old blog since I made my triumphant comeback, but I think that is okay.  It means that my real life is taking a front seat, and that is what its all about after all.  It also means that being pregnant with an almost 3-year old is kicking my ass everyday and its taking every ounce of my energy to sit on the couch and watch tv at the end of the day, much less come up with something interesting to write on ye olde blog.

Its been a few weeks since I updated here, so I'll fill you in on what happened during my absence. 

December was busy.  Long days (and sometimes evenings) at work meant that we cherished every free moment we had as a family.  In the middle of the month we hosted a Bears vs. Packers party for the Chicago Bears/Green Bay Packers football game.  I made a ton of food, including a knock-off of Portillo's famous "Chopped Salad," along with heartburn inducing Buffalo Chicken Dip and a bunch of other yummy munchies.

We also attended the holiday party for hubby's unit, which was held at the post ice rink.  AJ was able to ice skate for the first time ever with her daddy, which was the cutest thing ever.  Overall, it was a fun and low-key holiday party, which is always nice.

That same week we pretended it was Christmas at our house and woke up one morning and opened all our gifts that had arrived at the house.  I got a new phone and a case from hubby and AJ and AJ got a lot of books from us.  We didn't go crazy this year because I knew that our families would get her tons of gifts, and I was right!  She definitely made out!  I am planning to put some stuff up again this year to save for the summer when she hits her "present dry spell" after Christmas and birthday time are over!  Haha!

The weekend before Christmas we packed the car and headed south to spend the holiday in sunny Florida with my family.  My parents have a place by the beach and we were lucky to get some nice, warm weather while we were there.  We spent a few days at the beach, went to the zoo, cooked, ate out, swam, built sandcastles, looked for shells and enjoyed the company of family.

We returned home on the 30th and spent New Years Eve unpacking, doing laundry and relaxing.  We put AJ to bed a little later than normal, but still at a reasonable hour.  Hubby and I watched some episodes of the Walking Dead, ate some snacks and caught the countdown and ball dropping at midnight.  By the time we finally got to sleep it was close to 1 am and I was really regretting the late night this morning when AJ woke me up at 6 am.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Meal Planning

I mentioned briefly that we've been following the Dave Ramsey plan to pay off debt and get in control of our finances.  One of the main focuses (foci?) for us has been setting an actual budget and sticking to it.  One of the ways we are able to stick to the budget is because we basically went through our spending and tracked what we had been spending in each category and that was the budget.  Ha!

Basically, we saw that we spend about $400* a month on groceries and set the grocery budget to $400.  Smart, no?  The main way I'm able to stay within budget for food is by meal planning.  I always, always, always go over if I don't make a meal plan.  In fact, I just randomly buy things because I have not been gifted with the ability to know what ingredients are included in the meals we eat.

Another way I go over budget is when I take the husband to the grocery store with me.  Its not that he grabs stuff and puts it in the cart, he doesn't.  I just feel rushed.  I get overwhelmed and don't take the extra 2 seconds to look at the prices and end up spending more.  Also, he tends to think that if something is on the list we should purchase the largest available size, regardless of how much we actually need.

But that problem is neither here nor there.  Moving along.

On a semi-regular basis I sit down and decide what meals we will have based on our calendar.  I plan it this way so that I don't accidentally schedule us to have a full Thanksgiving dinner on a night when I have a 6 pm meeting or D is going out to eat with co-workers.  Our household basically runs from my MacBook/iPhone/iPad calendar, so it works.  Whenever D has something for work he either gives me the dates or plugs it in himself and makes sure to sync it with the Cloud.  Yay Apple!

I also go through any new cooking magazines and pick out any recipes that we want to try and I add those to the mental list of meals we will make.  This is where using the calendar to plan meals comes in super handy, mostly because I have zero ability to remember the foods we typically make and enjoy (partially due to pregnancy brain, but also because I just have a terrible memory as it is).  I can easily go back more than a year if I want to and see what we had for dinner the week of October 12, 2011.  Its fabulous.  I can't tell you the number of times I've looked back and seen something that we loved and completely forgot to ever make again.  Its fun to pull random stuff out and surprise the hubs!

Skirt Steak with Parmesan Polenta*, Salad (I don't like gorgonzola, so we'll use Parm)
Flounder with Spicy Remoulade* and Broccoli
Steak Fajitas with Guacamole** and Tortilla Chips
Pasta e Fagioli Soup** with Salad and Bread (freezer meal)
Spaghetti with Sausage** and Garlic Bread (partial freezer meal)
Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers*, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
Mozzarella Chicken Sandwiches** (Hub's all time fave)
Spicy Tofu and Veggie Curry** over Rice

We also have simple meals like pork tenderloin or chicken breasts fairly often.  Those are usually accompanied by a veggie, rice, and salad or some other easy side dish that we have on hand.  I have a canister of Greek seasoning that makes plain grilled chicken breasts taste gourmet and hubs likes to use a dry BBQ rub on the pork before he grills it up.  When we have these nights I usually make more meat than we need so we can use the leftovers on salads for lunch.

All of the above recipes are either ones that we are excited to try (*) or tried and true family favorites (**).  If there is a recipe available online, I've linked it up for you, so go ahead and click away and start trying some of the stuff we eat and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

25 Weeks

So I'm a little behind on posting in general, which means that my ever-so-exciting pregnancy updates have fallen by the wayside a bit.

This past weekend I turned 25 weeks pregnant with this second baby girl.


Not only am I exhausted (what happened to second trimester energy?) but I'm physically hurting.  I don't know if its because I'm so much busier this time around, but by the end of the day I can only manage to lay on the couch for about 30 minutes before I have to go get in bed and lay down.  At least my sleep has been pretty good.  I keep thinking that any day now I'm going to start waking up to pee and toss and turn like I did with AJ, but so far nothing.  I'll consider myself lucky there!

I did have to break down and buy some Pepcid for the heartburn this week.  I had it really bad with AJ and so far it hasn't been as bad as before, but I'm just hoping that the intensity doesn't increase too much in the next few months.


Its hard to imagine having a different baby.  By that I mean, I can imagine having a baby around the house, but I always seem to picture AJ when I think about it.  Just recently I've started subconsciously realizing that it will be different, but still familiar when she arrives.  I am excited to see if she looks like AJ did as a baby or maybe she'll be the opposite!


We're pretty prepared as far as gear and stuff goes, clothes are the only items we really need as of now. Having another same-sex baby helps with that aspect.  If only I'd held onto all those newborn and 0-3 clothes!  Ha!  I'm really focused on a bunch of other stuff right now, so I wouldn't say that mentally I'm prepared.  Once I get through the holidays, then I will start to focus on baby time.  I think that if we can ever decide on a name that will help, too.

What I'm Looking Forward To:

Last time I posted it was painting the room and getting stuff ready for baby, and we did that a few weeks ago!  D painted and I really like the way the room turned out.  Now I think I'm starting to look forward to stuff that means baby will be here soon, like ordering newborn cloth diapers and washing clothes.  I am also looking forward to her being here so we will be forced to name her!  Haha!

That's it for now.  Hopefully I'll be back here more regularly in the new few weeks, because then I'll most likely be taking a little break for Christmas and New Years while we travel.

Monday, December 3, 2012

November: The Month of the Car Repair?

Remember back at the beginning of November when I said that it was going to be the month of the freezer meal?  Well, it turns out that was a good thing I have a stocked freezer since we had several hundred dollars in unplanned car maintenance and repairs over the past month.

Without going into too much detail, it all started when D's car failed the yearly state inspection, which is required for renewing the registration.  We followed that with a flat tire repair on my car which resulted in a "sidewall failure"* a few days later and us needing to buy a whole new tire for my SUV.   If you've ever bought tires for an SUV, you know those babies ain't cheap!  Did I mention that we were 200 miles into the drive back to Hometown, USA when this all went down?  Oh, I also forgot to mention that AJ decided she was ready to potty train a mere 5 days before we embarked on the 16 hour road trip.  Sound like fun yet?

Just when I thought we were done with all the car shenanigans, on November 30, I spent the early morning hours preparing myself and a toddler for an outing to the post office, grocery store and lunch only to walk out to a car with a completely dead battery (or so I thought).  Two roadside assistance claims, a tow truck and the weekend later, we are replacing the starter as well as the power steering hose.

Now, things could be much, much worse.  Like thousands of dollars worse.  But still.  I wasn't planning to drop a G on repairing our cars this month.

All in all, I am feeling very woe-is-me today, and am attempting to rectify this by bringing you all down with me, obviously.  I think its the combination of everything hitting all at once that is really getting to me.  With Christmas fast approaching and a baby on the horizon in 2013, I feel that there is way more month than money right now, and I hate feeling that way.

On a more serious note, I want to explain that at the beginning of 2012, we committed to living the Dave Ramsey method of money management and debt reduction.  Up until now its gone really, really well.  We have paid a lot of debt off and still managed to have a bit of fun.  We've been able to manage a few emergencies (Murphies) without touching our actual "emergency fund" until now.  I can't express enough how glad I am that we decided to follow this plan.  If we hadn't we'd be up a creek without a paddle right now.  Just the fact that we'll be able to pay cash for the necessary repairs without putting anything on credit this holiday season is a complete and total win for me.

So anyway, that is my little soapbox for today.  If you're interested in hearing more about our journey to becoming debt-free or the Dave Ramsey plan in general, please email me.  If you have any extra cash laying around that you want to donate to the "This American Wife" Car Repair fund, let me know, I'll gladly accept any and all donations.  ;)

*"sidewall failure" is the technical term that the super-professional mechanic/dairy queen worker at the gas station in VA gave us to describe the problem before informing us that he couldn't fix the problem (thank God!) and we'd need a new tire, which we could buy at Firestone, just down the road a few miles.