Mangoes, Soap, and the Dirty Dozen

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeelllllllllllllllllllllllll... I've pretty much decided that blogging is NOT going to be in my future job positions. I just can't seem to stay on top of it! I really WANT to, but then I just forget and don't do it and run out of stuff to talk about - especially since I don't have any fun nanny kid stories anymore. But a dear friend of mine reminded me on our last coffee date that she missed reading my blogs and I should write more... so here's another attempt at writing.
I am now twenty-three weeks pregnant! It seems surreal that there's a living breathing (well.. not really breathing in the same way I breath but definitely oxygenating) human being growing inside of me. My baby journal says that this week, the baby is the size of a large mango and a little over 1 pound!
I am REALLY craving a mango right now. I wish I had picked up a couple the other night when I was grabbing fruit!!

Oh my goodness, I LOVE mangoes!
I've also been feeling baby move since about 17 weeks, but every week Baby gets stronger and can kick harder and is more active. I LOVE feeling Baby move around, unless I'm trying to go to sleep and all of a sudden Baby decides to do some karate - that's a bit uncomfortable, but I'm so thankful for a healthy active baby!
I also love watching my tummy move around as Baby moves around. It is absolutely amazing to me that I have a baby growing inside me! OH MY GOODNESS! It's so much more real now that I can feel the movement but also SEE it! So can Michael! CRAAAAZY! We're going to be parents! oh.. we already are, I guess.
Do we LOOK like parents? This was our first attempt at announcing our kid to the world..

This past mother's day was a bit weird. Michael wished me a happy mothers day first thing in the morning, which I said thank you to, but then asked him if I really was supposed to be wished a happy mothers day yet. He said, "It's debatable." So, whatever. I guess technically I'm a mother already, and we're parents already but we aren't actually able to hold the baby. Well, Michael isn't. I hold the baby 24/7, but not in my arms. Well, sometimes I put my arms underneath my belly to help support the weight.. but I'm still not REALLY holding my baby. ANYWAYS.....
This was three weeks ago, when I was 20 weeks, so I've grown a bit since then..

It's finally spring in Minnesota! Hurray! That winter dragged on and on and on....... So depressing! But it's spring, and with spring come all the new adventures and chores and stuff life brings up. Like - moving. We're moving out of our house we've been renting for the past two years into somewhere else.. 
I've also been spending LOTS of time at home since I don't have a job anymore. I've filled my time with all kinds of interesting things including watching Netflix, doing squats, walking around the block, eating all day, and dusting off our budget worksheets and getting those going again. We also only have one car right now since Michael's trusty car of 22 years finally went kaput. We sold it to a junk yard and are looking for a new car, well new for us, but not brand new. Cars are EXPENSIVE!!!
So, he takes my little bug to work and I stay at home and figure out how to entertain myself.
I've also been working on switching all our "un-green" and "un-environmentally-friendly" products out. One of the first things I did was make soap! I'll talk more about that another time..
Finished 100% coconut oil soap scented with tea tree oil and rose oil (actually its curing still in this picture). The tea tree soap (it's the green one) is colored with a dried "super greens" herb mix, so when we use it, it's a bit rough but is a nice exfoliator - is that a word??
I've also recently came into posession of a beautiful old but sturdy Sears sewing machine and have begun trying to teach myself to sew. It's a long slow process but I LOVE it! So far, I've only been making reusable diaper wipes, but eventually I'd love to make reusable diapers, baby clothes, and who knows what else!

We've also made a decision to eat as much as we can organically, but not increase our food budget per month. We've been eating about 30-60 percent organic each week but not really in the areas that really matter. For example, we always buy organic milk, but I hardly ever bought organic (or grass fed or hormone free) meat. I would buy organic apples, but buy conventional grapes and strawberries. As I've learned strawberries and grapes are two of the highest sprayed fruits EVER. So I've been doing TONS of research on organic foods and what are the most important things to buy organic and which things I can get away with buying conventional. Ideally, we'd love to buy EVERYTHING organic, but that's a dream.  I love the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists - so helpful!
This is the visual I made up of these two different food groups. The Dirty Dozen is BLACK because its got gross PESTICIDES On it and the Clean Fifteen is WHITE because is clean and great to eat JUST AS IS!

I've been price checking at Aldi and Trader Joe's and have Whole Foods, Cub Foods and Target left. Just by going to Aldi and Trader Joe's I've discovered a LOT! Trader Joe's actually sells quite a few things CHEAPER than Aldi organic brands - I had NO IDEA. I just assumed Aldi was the cheapest all around. For example, Aldi's organic baby spinach sells $2.49 for 5 oz but Trader Joe's sells their organic baby spinach 1.99 for 6oz! Who would have known! I also found that Aldi truly is the cheapest for some things - like pineapple, which I don't plan on buying organic because its skin is thick enough that any of the pesticides sprayed on it won't get through to the fruit part, and it's not sprayed that much in the beginning. Anyways, a conventional pineapple at Trader Joe's costs 2.99 and at Aldi costs 1.99. Guess where I'll be buying my pineapples?I've also completely changed the way I'm doing meal planning. I used to meal plan, make a list, and then go grocery shopping. I'd take a look at the sales and if anything on my list was on sale, GREAT, but if not, no big deal. Now, I take a look at ALL THE SALES and see whats on sale and whats the cheapest at each store and what coupons I can get to make things even cheaper and then BASED ON THOSE SALES AND COUPONS make my meal plan. So - this is all a work in progress and I'll keep ya updated on how it goes. By the way, price checking is NO FUN and takes LOADS of time - which I actually DO have, but its still a LONG process. I spent about 3 and a half hours at Trader Joe's and about an hour and a half at Aldi. Aldi took much shorter because I knew generally the price of everything and i didn't even price check the majority of the store because it wasn't organic and I would only buy that product organic (like strawberries and cherry tomatoes.)
In addition to working out all our grocery dreams, I've been dehydrating a LOT. Michael found out he is IN LOVE with applesauce leather.

I've been buying the cheap Aldi all natural apple sauce containers and dumping them into our dehydrator. When I was doing organic food research, I came across an article that talked about ALWAYS buying applesauce organic because it was literally SWIMMING with pesticides. That's pretty gross - so I won't be buying conventional applesauce anymore. The last bag of organic apples I got from Aldi are pretty gross. Well - they're fine, but the apples are just soft and kind of mealy so I might just turn that whole batch into applesauce and buy a fresh bag of apples. Aldi used to sell organic gala apples, but now they've been selling Red Delicious which always are softer and I don't like as well - so I might just need to buy organic apples at Trader Joe's from now on. When I checked at Trader Joe's they didnt' sell any bagged organic apples, just organic Granny Smith Apples for .89 each - which could add up. Maybe they'll start selling organic apples by the pound at some point.. who knows. In addition to applesauce leather, I've been drying bananas and pineapple. I LOVE dried pineapple and eat it like no one's business.
These are actually pineapple slices from a can which I really don't like doing but I was feeling pretty sick at the time I picked these up and I didn't feel like cutting up a fresh pineapple.

I also tried drying kiwi and tangerines. The kiwi turned out ok, but was SUPER sour. I think I might puree it with some honey or banana or something to make it a bit sweeter and make a fruit leather out of it. The tangerines were just gross - I WON'T be drying those again.
I've also been doing some reading. Right now, I'm working through the book, "Baby Sign Language Basics."

When I nannied, I always used a few of the ASL words I had learned growing up (like eat, please, more, and thank you)but this little book has MANY more words and good information about how and when to introduce signs to your kid. I've also been reading the book, "To Train up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl.

I highly respect both of them, and Debi Pearl completely changed the way I see my role in marriage. Reading their book about child training has been so helpful as well. I know its a book I'll return to over and over, just like I've returned to Debi Pearl's marriage book, "Created to be his Helpmeet," over and over again.

I've also been working on an inventory. I found an application, "Out of Milk," on my phone that helps you keep track of every food item in your house. I can scan my items in using my phone and then tell the app how much of the product is left and how many bottles/bags/boxes/etc of it I have. As I use things up, I will update the app and in that way, I'll always know what I have on hand and won't be buying more old fashioned oats if I already have a quarter of a tin stuffed in the back of the pantry. I'll also be able to see what all I have to cook with and use up pantry items instead of just buying new stuff every week. I'm about halfway done with getting everything into the program. I also LOVE this app because it has a grocery list and to do list, and also tells me the sales of about 15 different stores. (I only pay attention to a few - Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Cub and Target)

Seeing the sales for the stores in one place is so helpful. In addition to this app, I also use the following websites for coupon stacking and general saving tips.

http://www.healthylifedeals.com/
http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/coupons
http://www.mambosprouts.com/coupon-gallery
http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/
www.coupons.com
http://www.healthesavers.com/HealthESavers/Coupons.aspx
http://www.commonkindness.com/

I also have accounts at many of the organic brand name companies we buy with (Applegate, Organic Valley, Horizon, and Back to Nature to name a few). Whenever they offer a coupon, I am one of the first to know about it! Between Out of Milk, the websites and my brain, I am working out a pretty good plan (I hope!) for buying organic and staying within our budget!
So... that's what we've been up to. Michael has been a brick and goes to work EVERY DAY. I so admire him getting up every day without complaining, brushing his teeth, combing his hair, putting on dress pants, a dress shirt, and tie and heading off to work. It makes me want to make dinners, keep a clean house and be a fantastic wife even more! I love him SO MUCH!
Sooo. that about sums it up. Life is busy but great and we're going to be holding a baby in a few months. CRAAAAAZY! :)