Saturday, May 28, 2016

Another Look at Our American Budget

Two months ago I published our budget where we spent around $2,500. We still want to make it consistently $2,000 a month! This month we achieved it!! (Well, about $30 over, but I'll take it!)

Here is a breakdown of what we spent from Feb 17th - March 16 2016. It starts off right where the last budget I posted ends. For reference, at this point we were a household of two with a 7 month old baby who was just starting solids. We have no house or car payments, and we do not count insurance in our monthly budget (we have house and car and health insurance) but we do count any doctor visits or medical bills into the budget. We also do not disclose how much we tithe, and that is not included in the budget.


Bills  ($288.99)
  • Netflix: We still have our $7.99 netflix account
  • Internet: We pay 50.00 for internet a month. It's expensive, but they only offer one service in our area.
  • YMCA: 46.00 for our gym membership
  • Phones: 25.00 a month for two phones with unlimited text and talk, no data.
  • Electric bill: $160 this month.
Bills are fixed points on our budget. We didn't have a water bill this month as it comes every two months, and our electric bill went down this month from last!

Baby Expenses ($17.00)

Last month we spent a lot on Reuben. This month we spent 17.00 at Target on a cute swimsuit set for him, since next month we plan on adding me back to the YMCA account and taking Reuben swimming.

Food

Food was one of our largest items last month. We did considerably better this month when eating out, but worse in our grocery shopping. We still buy all organic produce, if you are wondering about our inflamed grocery shopping budget.
  • Eating Out: 89.56
  • Brian's Lunch at Work: 104.63
  • Grocery Shopping: 904.15
Gas

I didn't get any gas this month. Must not have driven a lot! Brian spent 20.39 in fuel.

Personal Money

Besides the $90 every two weeks that my husband places into a separate account for me to spend as I please (usually online shopping...but this month I purchased a blog consultation with Brita Media) I spent $372.59. I was shocked when I saw this! What did I buy? Well, I bought my first pair of chacos!

I also spent some money shopping at Modcloth and from my Stitchfix box, and I purchased a necklace for my mother for Mother's day from Origami Owl. I also went out to eat with a friend (not my husband so it goes under my personal money).

Brian spent 178.25 in personal money, and I don't know what he bought. Probably electronic things!

Other

I spent 26.00 at the doctors and Brian spent 90. Such is life.

So there is what we spent from Feb 17 - March 16th 2016. I am proud we lowered our expenses in some areas. My personal money still needs a bit of work! We plan on posting our budgets for one year to show what  living in America can look like from our limited, personal experience.

The 2016 budget series:

January 17th - February 16th
Feb 17th - March 16 
March 17-April 16th
April 17th-May 16th 
May 17th-June16th 
June-17th-July 16th

Friday, May 27, 2016

Moms Know Best

I am Reuben's mom. I was there in the intimate moment when he was conceived. I was the one crying through the contractions as he was born. And I am the one to choose how he is raised--or am I?

In this secular world we live in, I feel many professionals expect to take a more active role in raising my child then I think necessary. Our government regulates a lot of things, and child-rearing is no exception. As I lean more and more towards natural choices, I see myself fighting for the right to raise my child, and I simply don't understand it. He's my child. I conceived, carried and bore him. I am his mother. I am the one responsible for him. Professionals, in my opinion, are there to offer guidance in the area of their expertise, not to impose rigid ultimatums and scare tactics.


Today I asked myself: when did this start to become the norm? When did we start telling mothers that they don't know what is best for their children? In a world where the government raises your children through public schools, runs sexual education programs, imposes laws about injections and vaccinations without considering the individual medical history of each child, and even creates rules about what your child can eat for lunch, it's no wonder we as moms think we don't know anything.

I grew up in what would now be labeled "free range". Back then it was just called parenting. My mom allowed me and my sister to have the run of the neighborhood as preteens. We thought nothing of it. I mean, of course we had rules--to check in every few hours, and to tell her what house we were going to... Never once did I feel abandoned by my mother. I frolicked and made friends and played imaginary games about castles and knights up and down my street while my mom did laundry and had a few peaceful kid-free moments by herself. I never felt unsafe, parents were always watching, poking their heads outside and waving at us, making us cookies and giving us water.

I think nothing odd about my childhood. But Reuben's will be very different, sadly. The days of free range kids is over: it's now considered abuse to let your child out of your sight. Sure, the world is a different place. But I know if I allow Reuben a "free range" adolescence I will probably end up needing a lawyer at some point.

Why is this? Why can I not make decisions on how I raise my son, and how much freedom I allow him at what age? Why am I treated like I don't know what is best for him? I and my husband are the ones that know Reuben. We, as parents, should know how responsible he is and be able to allow or disallow certain things based on our knowledge of our son. A one size fits all approach to childhood negates not only parental right, but the complexity of individual children.  

What part of this is yours?
I firmly believe mom knows best. I am, after all, the one who (with my husband) loves my child best. I will be spending the next 17-19 years with him in our household. I will diligently research everything if I feel something is wrong. Unlike a doctor who has many patients, I have one son and hours upon hours a day to devote to his care. Sure, I need professional advice sometimes. But that is all it should be: advice. To take it or leave it.

We need to stop making moms feel like they don't know what they are doing. We need to stop with the scare tactics and the manipulation. Instead, we should empower parents to make informed decisions for their kids that they feel is best, and support them throughout the parenting process.

I am my son's mother, and I believe I am best equipped to make decisions regarding his health until he is old enough to make those decisions on his own. Moms know best. End of story.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Palelo Cucumber Apple Bacon Salad

One day I was hungry, but didn't know what to eat. I opened the fridge and saw I had some apples, a few cucumbers and some bacon. Thus the paleo cucumber apple bacon salad was created!


I baked 6 strips of bacon in the oven (20 minutes at 350 degrees f) until they were fairly crispy. I like my bacon crispy!

Then I chopped up two small green apples and a large cucumber (the same amount of apple as cucumber, a 1:1 ratio), shredded the bacon into small pieces, and combined it all with a pinch of salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of chili powder and about a 1/2 cup of paleo mayo. It made enough for three servings, and the combination of sweet green apples and chilled cucumbers and the salty bacon with the spicy powder is divine!

I am sure I am not the first one to think of this, but to me it was an amazing discovery, and an awesome snack for a hot summer day!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Week 38


Just to warn you, I used a new camera this week that does not have optical image stabilizer in it--and thus there are some clips in here that are REALLY shaky! Lesson learned, that camera will have to be stable when used! Also, this will be my last weekly vlog. I'm going to start daily vlogging! I'll still post the vids on the blog, but instead of one video, there will be a post each wednesday with 3-4 videos in it, one for each day depending on how many days I vlog. I just think it will be more streamlined this way and I'll have each day down and not a big mush of content on who-knows-what day. I also created a new channel for daily vlogging so it won't cramp up my knitting and crochet video channel. Go have a look, I'll start posting videos on the 1st of July.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Crazy Daves Crochet Hat Pattern

Crazy Dave has lost his hat. Can you knit him another one before the invasion? This magic hat is the only thing that can save him from a watery death. You see, Crazy Dave hates rivers…


This is an advanced crochet pattern, using cables and two colors at once. Pictures of each round are included in the PDF for this reason! I can't wait to make another one in pink colors.


Would you wear this? If interested, you can buy the crochet pattern here for $1.99 USD. There is also a free video tutorial in case you cannot or do not want to pay for the pattern.


Friday, May 20, 2016

(more) Thoughts on Parenting

I'd like to point out that this is not parenting advice. I've been an active parent for about nine months, so I don't even presume to think I have enough years under my belt to start theorizing about raising children.

This is more of a collection of my thoughts about how I want to parent in the coming years. To gather my ideas on raising Reuben and of course, for you to tell me how you want to raise your kids. And, if you've been a parent for a few years longer than me, please by all means critique this. Even if you are not a parent, I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

My first desire is to raise Reuben in a Christian home. I know most of this will be done by example. I want to show him a mom who reads her bible, who prays and who memorizes scripture. I want to be active in my church and will require him to attend church as well. I know that he may never accept Christ, and I am honestly okay with that. I feel so much peace about it--because I know it is up to God to reveal himself to my son, and my "job" is only to seek after God with all my heart.

I reread my parenting fears post and honestly laughed. I don't have any of those fears anymore! My main fear is that he'll grow up so fast and it will pass in a blink. He's so wonderful.


For the younger years: we have decided not to spank our children. Now, my mom spanked me and I do not feel it was abuse: she did so ethically and not in anger, and quit by the time I was 7 (so it was only when we were very young). I was not afraid of her. I have just decided that spanking is not for me. There are many other ways of disciplining and disciplining; spanking does not have to be a part of it.

I want my kids to be kids. No electronic devices: I want to be outside, or doing an activity inside. No more than 30 min of tv time a day, I want them growing and learning and interacting with their environment. My 11 year old will not have a personal cell phone. He will not have an iPad. He will not have unfettered access to the internet, or a computer or television in his room. I want to make this normal: I don't want him asking for these things or being surly about it (but I can't know for sure how this will be). He will have lots of books. I am sure I will screen his books when he is very young, but eventually I will move away from that and let him choose what he reads. If he is an advanced reader like I was, I don't want him to read about a sex scene or orgy when he is eight. He may not even like books and may prefer legos for hours or something. Who knows?

No sleepovers. This is not negotiable. As for going out alone with friends or on dates (I have a no dating before 16 rule) it would depend on how responsible he is. Can he or his date drive? Do I have to drive him? All those things I would have to take into account. Certainly by 16 I will let him go out in groups and with friends and other families, if he wishes. And get his drivers license.

what parenting looks like now, mostly
I've had lots of thoughts about food. Should he be paleo like me? Or hybrid like daddy? I don't even want to use the words "bad food" or make him think eating is sinful (I mean, eating can be sinful as overeating or indulging, but I don't want my mannerisms and words to lead him in that direction). My thoughts on this is that I will not talk about food much. I'll just cook and offer and let him eat what he wants, and if daddy wants to take him to fast food for a special son/dad date, then that is perfectly fine.

My main parenting mantra, besides wanting a christian foundation, is that of more and more freedom as he grows. For example, I go back with him to the doctor, and probably will until he hits around 15/16, or if he asks to go alone sooner. What I don't want is to shelter him until he is 18 and for him to suddenly have a bunch of freedom--I want to give him bits and pieces of freedom really slowly while I am here to monitor it and pull back if he disobeys or isn't ready. This way it isn't all at once: its gradual. By 18 he should come to me for advice if he wants to (and I hope he does, but it's his own choice) but his choices from then on are that: his choices. I can give council but not ultimatums. At 16 he should be making most of his own choices too, but with me watching and guiding and offering feedback. 16 is making choices in a safe environment (our home) so that 18 he will be ready to make them on his own. I don't really know exactly how this will go but this is my current idea on how to parent.

I want to homeschool, and plan on doing that until high-school age. At that time I will offer to continue homeschooling or put them in a Christian school if they want. They can try it for a year or stay home or go for all four years. Public school is not something I would ever consider for my children.

I think parenting is fluid. As these are just my thoughts about possibilities in the future, they should and could change at any time. The main thing I want to do have a loving home and raise a son in a Christian environment.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Week 37



This was a crazy week! A bird got stuck in my house and I decided to test my blood sugar, much to the amusement of my husband and to myself, since I have a huge phobia of needles. I also was sick. Enjoy this week!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Best Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've searched around for a good paleo chocolate chip cookie. I've tried several recipes--it's either too dense, or too chewy, or flat, or it tastes way to "paleofied" and not like the real thing.

I want real chocolate chip cookies. And I want them to be simple--not requiring any refrigeration of dough or weird, hard to find paleo flours. (I hate the word "blanched") I also want easy--no weird molding to make them appear more like traditional cookies or whatever. Thus these are "drop" cookies.


After a lot of experimentation, reading and recipe searching I've made these.

And I think they are perfect. I make them weekly.

You Will Need
  • (I used blanched) 1 cup Almond Flour  
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 heaping tablespoons Cashew Butter (mine was not raw)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • almost 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or less if you hate chocolate)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees f, and Cover a pan with parchment paper. Mix all above ingredients together in whatever random order you want, stir. Make sure the coconut oil is not in one big lump. Let the dough sit for 5 minutes to "raise" or just cook how it is if you are lazy. Place heaping tablespoons on the parchment paper, spaced about 1 inch apart. I got three rows of 5, so 15 cookies. Cook for 10 minutes or until the top is slightly browned. Cool. Eat.


They are delicious. Let me know if you make them, okay?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Can Breastfeeding be Immodest?

What I often hear when women talk about breastfeeding is: "yeah, I want to do it, but I want to make sure I am modest by using a cover". Or some say "that's great, but I want to be sure I am decent."

I usually reply "I feel completely decent when breastfeeding in _______, (church/store/restaurant/park) why don't you?" This is when the conversation stops and I get some weird comments about modesty and breasts and nipples, and "but my husband could see another woman's breasts if she does so uncovered!".

Most of the statements above I've heard uttered by college students and young married couples with no children. Now in a real world they should have seen women all over the place breastfeeding their kids in public. But they haven't. Think about that. Before I gave birth I'd never seen a women breastfeeding in public either!

So for one, we are dealing with a whole society of women who don't know what breastfeeding in public looks like. The majority of them feel anxiety when thinking about it. They have only been shown that breasts are sexual objects, so they associate their own breasts and the breasts of others as sexual objects. They are afraid of their husbands and fathers seeing other women breastfeed in public, and view those who nurse in public as either flaunting or indecently exposing themselves to men. Some have even expressed nervously that their own husbands will have lustful thoughts if they happen to catch a glimpse of a woman feeding her infant or child in public.


I can't even begin to change a whole foundation of wrong thinking. And that is why it makes me sad when other women say breastfeeding in public is immodest or indecent, because there is nothing wrong with feeding your baby in public. Let me say it again. There is nothing wrong with feeding. Your Baby. In Public.

I am not trying to reverse shame women who choose to wear a cover. But don't wear one because you feel everyone else expects you to, or because you feel you are doing something so indecent and revealing that you have to cover up. Wear one because you want to, because it works for you and your baby, because it makes you feel more comfortable. Don't wear one because you've been told all your life that breasts are for men and sex and society forbids even a peak of one "in public".

I've seen women nervously trying to breastfeed a fussy baby under a cover, their eyes darting around to make sure no one is watching and their hands holding the edges down over a kicking, bucking, unhappy baby.

Just relax. Take a deep breath. Breastfeed.

Some of us are told by our husbands that we can't breastfeed in public. I was. It took a long conversation about breasts, bodies and hungry babies to help my husband understand. He too was raised in a world where breasts are only sexual objects. Now I am happy to say he is 100% fine with me feeding Reuben wherever. He's even been around other women breastfeeding and you know what-- most of the time he does not even notice. It's become normal to him. As it should be to all of us.

I think that's the first issue. We don't see it anymore, so it's not normal. It's abnormal. And who wants to be or do something against perceived social and moral grain? 


I think the next issue is in regards to modesty. There are a lot of misconceptions about modesty, like it being a specific style of dress or inches of fabric. Modesty is not pointing fingers at others. Modesty is not wearing a long skirt or making sure all of your back is covered. Modesty in Christianity is done for the glory of God, not others and not for yourself. I think that is what a lot of people get wrong about modesty--it's not about me and what I think is decent or about others and trying to adhere to what they think. It's about God, and what he says. God made my body and I don't think he ever wants me to feel ashamed of it. He made my breasts to make milk for my baby and I don't think I should be ashamed of that either. He made me Reuben's mother and it would be abusive to ignore my child when he is hungry just for the sake of what others think about "modesty" or "decency".

And you know, the women I see on facebook who post about how gross breastfeeding in public is and how immodest--those same women have pictures of themselves wearing bikinis. And I've never seen those same women make posts against lingerie stores or highly sexualized ads. They still drink their Starbucks from Barns and Nobles, too (you know, the company who sells Maxim and the Kama Sutra right on their bookshelves.) You'd think these same women would be advocating for every girl with a sweetheart neckline to wear a bib or something--or at least for a paper bag to be draped over said sexy magazines at the store. Nope. It's only breastfeeding that offends them for some reason. Probably has to do with the fact that we've all been taught boobs are only for sexual purposes and seeing them used for something else is what causes the discomfort.

Also, lets not discount the many paintings of mother Mary openly breastfeeding baby Jesus. There are so many, and they are so beautiful, and are mostly on display in orthodox churches (whom are usually considered very conservative churches). If mother Mary can do it in plain site of people worshiping God, why can't I?

In short, breastfeeding is about feeding babies. It is not immodest or indecent and should be performed in a fashion that both mother and baby feel comfortable with, wheresoever they feel comfortable doing so. Breasts can be used sexually, but they are by themselves not sexual objects. They can also be used in art, and in feeding babies, and other non sexual things.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have absolutely no issue with a mom who wants to use a cover or desires to be more modest in her daily life. But I do have an issue with shame. And with legalism. And I also think breastfeeding needs to be more of a part of our daily lives, done openly and for one reason: that of feeding babies.

In another post, I gave my reasoning as to why personally I breastfeed in public. What do you think?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Is Blogging "Over Sharing"?

When I first started blogging about my life I noticed something odd. Some of my friends, family, and even church members used the term "over sharing" when talking about and referencing my writing. At first I felt conflicted. Was I oversharing? Was this a bad thing? Should I feel less inclined to share intimate details about my own life?

I remember thinking about it a lot, puzzling over how I felt. I wrote a post called why I blog and about how I love to share experiences to help others know they are not alone. (note: I tried to find this old post so I could link it here, but either google is having an off day or I've forgotten what I titled it...) I also blog for myself, it's cathartic. And I don't have many inhibitions about sharing my own life. Life is life, it's messy and I won't pretend it's all smiles and rainbows. I don't mind showing the world this fact. In short, I love sharing, and that's okay.

But since coming to the above revelation, I've had more thoughts.

I've come to realize that the term "over sharing" is one people use when they are uncomfortable with what they are hearing and want to misplace blame. They read my blog, and see how much of my personal life I share. It makes them feel uncomfortable. But instead of realizing they should either avoid my blog or realize I only write about my own life, they misplace blame from themselves to me and tell me I am oversharing. So, it's all my fault. Except it isn't.


It would be different if I was gossiping about others, (as I should get others permission) but I try to write only about my own experiences, about my own self. 

After blogging for years (6 now) and hearing this "over sharing" comment, it's what I've come to realize. I am not over sharing. As long as I am comfortable with what I share about myself, and as long as I get permission when I share about others--I'm not "over sharing". I'm sharing. And if my sharing makes you uncomfortable, I am sorry.

This is my blog. And I share here.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Knit Fox Leggings Pattern

I am starting a new goal of designing a pattern a month! This month boasts these cute knitted fox leggings for Reuben. I use them when babywearing in my foxy tula to keep his little legs warm.


You can download the pattern here on Ravelry! It is a full PDF pattern with a picture tutorial, charts, and written instructions. I would consider this pattern advanced due to using colorwork, a minor cable of one stitch, and three colors at once. It costs 1.99 to download, less than a coffee at Starbucks. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Week 35


This week was nice and slow, just a normal week in our lives. Reuben is growing and thriving and so am I! I also am releasing my new crochet pattern in this video, you can check it out here if you are interested!

s

Monday, May 2, 2016

3 months paleo

Three months. It feels like such a short time, actually. A lot has happened this month! For one, my husband stopped being paleo. That's been hard, as its difficult for me not to cheat and just eat gluten, soy and dairy free... But he is still basically paleo for dinner, since I cook dinner and I really don't have time to create separate things. He still supports me on my paleo journey, too. He just wants a cheeseburger from Burger King once in a while, and there is nothing wrong with that. His body does not react to gluten or dairy, and he honestly struggles with hunger when following a paleo diet. I want my husband to listen to his own body, as I listen to mine--this means he buys his own snacks and even has been making his own breakfast.

I also tried to reintroduce dairy into my diet this month. I still want to be low carb, high fat--and dairy falls into that category (but is more then a keto thing). Grass fed butter is also a paleo staple and I've been missing it.


Let's just say my body does not like dairy. I looked 6 months pregnant and had miserable stomach cramps the entire time. As soon as I removed cow products from my diet my bloating and pain went away. I am happier dairy free, and I will probably try dairy again--but in a year or two, to see if my gut just needs more time to heal.

I tried some new paleo food as well. I made this raspberry cheesecake--to be honest, it was just too rich for me to enjoy it much. I didn't like it. I have found my staple chocolate chip cookie recipe: it's a (very) modified version of this recipe. My favorite paleo snack happens to be roasted cauliflower. It's so easy and just like french fries.

A photo posted by Carolynn M (@moonofsilver) on

I'm still eating peanut butter, and I sometimes will eat organic corn. I also wanted to measure myself this month. I measured myself on my four week paleo update here, and I wanted to see how things had changed. I took these measurements on the 25th of April, so four days before I actually hit 3 months.

I was delighted to see that my weight is down! I have been trying to exercise at least every other day. I am now 170--the same weight I was when I gave birth to Reuben (I lost 30 pounds when I gave birth, gained 10ish back before beginning to exercise again) but this still leaves me 20 pounds over my prepregnancy weight. My goal weight is 150--it's where I personally feel the most comfortable.

Current measurements:

Thigh: 25 inches (previously 22 inches, how did I gain 3 inches?!)
Bust: 38 inches (same)
Underbust: 32 inches (1 inch lost)
Hips: 44 inches (2 inches lost!)
Belly: 35 inches (2 inches lost!)
Upper Arm: 11 inches (2 inches lost)

I am really excited to see results. Having my clothes fit better and seeing these numbers is helping my self-esteem. As a result I have been feeling overall more body positive. That has helped my mood swings so much! And it's also helped my sex life--I really am not interested in showing my body to my husband when I feel bloated, fat, and horrible.

That's three months paleo. I wonder what four months will bring? Maybe a little brother or sister for Reuben!

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