Thursday, May 24, 2012

Frustration

Since birth, Jackson has been a healthy eater.  I have never had problems getting him to take a bottle and he hasn't turned down most of the purees we have tried to feed him.  On the eating front, he has done really well until recently.  He is still eating well as long as we are feeding him the level 2 foods or the basic level 3s.  But if we try to introduce something new, we are meeting with a lot of resistance and issues.  I know a child has to be introduced to a new food numerous times before the accept it but I'm having a hard time figuring out how to proceed from here.

We have reached the point where we need to work on the transition from baby food to table food.  And this is where I am struggling.  I just can't seem to figure out how to make finger foods work.  I don't know what to give him and what little we have tried, has not gone well.  We have been giving him the baby puffs to some success but I know we can't make full meals off of puffs.  We have also tried some of the level 3 meals (the ones with the chunks) with him and I end up wearing more of it than he actually eats.

Truth is, I feel like I'm failing at figuring out how to feed my child right now.  Part of me wonders if Jackson is ready for the transition and part of me wonders if I am being lazy for not trying harder right now.  I'm concerned that I am behind on trying to make this happen even though I know there is no set time schedule for when to do this.  I really just need someone to give me a step-by-step way of handling this so I feel like I have some control over what is going on and I don't continue to feel like I am hurting my child by not giving him what he needs.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Menu Planning

I figured a fitting follow up to my post on grocery shopping would to discuss how I handle menu planning.  I must say this is something I have had a hard time figuring out.  I don't think I ever planned a menu during the entirety of my first marriage.  I would just go to the store and buy things that could make up a meal with no real idea what I was going to make.  And then I would discover that I didn't have all the stuff I needed to make whatever meal I decided on so I would either run to the store again or scrap the meal all together.

Honestly, I have only really heard about menu planning in the last couple of years because several of the bloggers I follow post their menu plans on their blogs.  Seeing these posts got me thinking.  So I decided to try my hand at menu planning.  I don't remember when I started exactly.  Some time before Jackson was born I think.  But I didn't really start being diligent about it till I went back to work from maternity leave.  We needed to watch our budget a little closer and menu planning was a great way to help cut our grocery spending.

At first I would do weekly plans which required a weekly trip to the store and I spend most of my weekend working on my plan, looking at grocery ads, and clipping coupons.  This was super time consuming and I hated going to the store every week.  Some weekends my trip to the store would be the only time I got out of the house and away from the baby all weekend.  It was exhausting.

So I decided to take a stab at another method of menu planning this month.  It has worked pretty well so far although it still needs some tweaking to work perfectly for my family.  What I did was print out a blank calendar and fill in the days of the month.  Then I selected a recipe for every other day of the month.  I alternated crock pot meals and casseroles so we have the dishes available when we needed them.  This plan also allows for a little flexibility.  We can shift recipes around based on our schedule or if we want to go out to eat one night.

I plan to fully implement this method once school starts back in the fall since we won't be cooking for the whole family this summer.  I will be selecting recipes that are easy to feed two during the summer and will start rotating back in our favorite recipes once Sean comes home.  Now I'd love to hear how other people plan their menus to see if there are any other ideas I should try.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Houston, We Have a Problem

When I got divorced 4 1/2 years ago, I was living in Killeen near Fort Hood because that was where my ex had been stationed for the previous 2 years.  I had a house and a job and I could have stayed there if I wanted to.  However, I knew it wasn't the place for me and I began my search to relocate.  A lot of people were surprised that I didn't just pack my bags and head back to Alabama.  Instead, I viewed this as an opportunity to explore a little bit.  I was a 30 year single professional with no commitments to tie me to any one place.  I could spread my wings and fly so to speak.  So I started seeking job opportunities in places I thought it would be fun to live: New York City, Orlando, Dallas, Austin.  I could go anywhere and do anything and I was looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life.

One of the first jobs I applied for was in Austin and was very similar to the job I was working in Killeen.  I figured I could at least leverage the position as a pay increase at my current position that would hold me over until I was ready to make a move at the end of the year.  However, I didn't expect them to make me an offer I couldn't refuse and, the next thing I knew, I was commuting 60 miles from my house in Killeen to my office in Northwest Austin each day.  Six weeks later with a packed moving van, I pulled into my new apartment 10 minutes from my new job.  Life in Austin was starting out great.

The Austin move made a lot of sense for me.  It was close enough that I could still easily monitor my house in Killeen while it was on the market but still far enough away that I wasn't part of the military life anymore.  Also, my brother had moved to Austin with his wife, a native Austinite, earlier in the year after his return from his second tour in Iraq.  In that sense, it was really a no brainer since I had family here and my parents would only have to travel to one place to visit us both.  Now my brother and I both have little boys that are 6 months apart and I was really excited about cousins getting to grow up so close in age and location.  What fun for them!

I got news a couple of weeks ago that my brother accepted a job in Houston and they will be moving some time this summer.  To say I am sad is an understatement.  My brother and I haven't always gotten along the best but it was always nice to know I had someone here if I really needed them.  Houston is close but it isn't as close as they are now so family visits and watching our boys grow up together isn't going to happen like I thought it would.

Their move also has me rethinking our situation.  With Mom's illness, I am really wanting to be closer to home.  I am having a really hard time being away from her right now when I feel like she needs me the most.  I also know I would love having Jackson closer to my parents so he can grow up knowing them.  However, moving isn't in the cards for us with Chris still on probation for patrol.  He would have to completely start over with a new department if we moved and I don't want to ask him to do that.  I guess we will just have to take this an opportunity to find a new place to visit.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grocery Shopping

Yes, I'm writing a post about grocery shopping.  I've become one of *those* bloggers.  Sorry.  No, I am not going to tell you the right way to do it. I'm just going to talk about how I've been handling it recently and gripe about my frustrations with it.

When I moved into my house, I quickly realized that there were 5 grocery options within a 5 mile radius of my house: 2 HEBs, 1 HEB Plus, 1 Randall's, and a Super Walmart.  Shortly thereafter, a Super Target (not included in that original count of 5) opened up within a reasonable distance.  Why someone needs that many options so close together, I will never know.  But that's what I have to work with.  I will say right that I never go to the 2 regular HEBs or the Super Walmart because they just aren't convenient.  Plus I have a strong dislike for grocery shopping at Walmart.  I have found that they have a heavy stock of one type of product but no variety to brands.  So I am going to focus on the 3 stores I typically frequent.

I initially did most of my shopping at Randall's since it was the closest to my house and on my way home.  However, over time I realized that their selection was lacking and they were typically more expensive.  They do offer good deals on soft drinks every couple of weeks so we still shop there for smaller shopping trips and to get some of their store brands that we really like (ie potato chips and spreadable butter).  They also have a gas station which, up until about 6 months ago, was the only one between my house and the toll road on my way to work.

HEB Plus was my next option because it was the 2nd closest to my house and the prices were typically better than Randall's.  Plus their store brands are by far the best when compared to the name brands.  I think I shop here mostly for the store brands.  So does everyone else.  And that is my main gripe with HEB Plus.  It is always crowded no matter when I go.  Considering that the easiest time for me to shop is on the weekends, I am almost always going to be there with everyone else.  My other frustration with HEB is their policy against new products.  They wait at least a year after a product has been released onto the market before they will carry it in their stores.  This is aggravating when I am looking for a specific new product that I have seen advertised (and probably have a coupon for) and they don't carry which means I have to go somewhere else to locate it.  A friend suggested today that I go to the closest normal HEB to stock up on my store brands and I am seriously considering doing that since I know it's less crowded (and on my way to the Super Target).

That brings me to my new love: Super Target.  I have always been a big Target fan and that love has only increased recently thanks to the introduction of the Target Red Card Debit Card.  This thing is a lifesaver to me.  Five percent off purchases and free shipping on all online purchases and not a credit card!  With a baby at home who is on formula and in diapers, this thing is just a no-brainer.  Anyway I can save money makes sense to me.  Plus I have compared and most of the prices are comparable.  They do tend to be a tad higher on some stuff so my total trip might cost more but the Red Card savings help to offset that.  They also carried the new on the market items I am looking for which saves me a trip to another store.  I think what really sealed the transition from HEB Plus to Super Target for me was the Sunday we went to do our shopping at Super Target after church and it was peaceful and calm and I wasn't stressed out and sweating when I left.  I just can't take the crowd at HEB Plus anymore.  

So there you have it.  My opinion on grocery shopping based on what matters the most to me.  I don't know that there was really a point to this post other than my blog was looking lonely and this has been on my mind.