Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thankful Thursday | Focusing on Gratitude and Helping Others

In a search for inner peace and acceptance, I've turned to reading more by The Dalai Lama and have stumbled upon amazing spaces online where there is an understanding of the feelings I sometimes have. It. is. possible to feel lonely in a room full of people.

Reading other's stories, biographies are my favorite, and writing has always helped me feel less lonely in life's journey and optimistic through the challenges. I discovered The Dalai Lama back in high school when my sister had a book by him sitting around and I borrowed (?) it (maybe she knew, maybe she didn't - but don't tell!).

I found his writing calming, easy to understand, and honest - perfect for my teen days. I've read his books from time to time and studied Buddhism, Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and other faiths over the years. Buddhism's natural understanding, compassion, kindness, and peace resonates with me; and I don't have to leave behind any other faith I have in the process of exploring.

A few weeks ago, I was at a bookstore and two of The Dalai Lama's books were right up front as I walked in (on sale!). Maybe it was a sign. I bought them and have tried to read from them daily. Instantly in these short meditations, I feel a sense of peace in all aspects of life; little reminders of the bigger picture.

As I've bounced around the web this past week, I am thankful to have found the beautiful Project 1 in 4.
The illustrations are touching. While I don't relate to every single one, they make sense. Knowing others (friends, roommates) who've battled serious depression and eating disorders in college and thereafter, I've learned a lot about how we all struggle in different ways and how we can cope.
The best thing for me is when I focus on gratitude, helping others and take the thought out of living inside my own worries, fears, and anxieties. I believe that's why I feel such pleasure in my daily work; as my main focus is to be a resource, a support, a help to others in their quest for knowledge, information, or anything else they come to me with.

Helping others is what I'm -here- for.
Oftentimes though, my thoughts do take on a life of their own and I fall into a darkness where I can't seem to climb out for some time. I hide myself away and I block out everything. I overthink, I thrash, I fight, I exhaust myself.

I've learned in those times, to keep making plans with others to force myself back out into the sun.
When you've not felt this way as others have, it's hard to fathom why they just can't "change their mind" and get over it. Unfortunately, if it worked like that, I think we'd have a far more peaceful world. We all struggle, some just a bit deeper than others.

I find the more I work on myself the better I get at facing the challenge ahead and bouncing back quicker each time. Expectations often don't meet reality, and that's hard to let go for a perfectionist and planner like myself. Hormones obviously play a huge role currently, losing the ability to run for many months (my form of therapy - run happy!), and feeling constantly unwell combined makes things far more challenging.

I'm thankful to have had a few signs in the past few weeks to direct me toward a more positive light. While this may be a difficult "season" to make it through as my friend has used that term often to describe struggles, it is just that - a season. Sure, I won't be training for any ultra marathons any time soon, or losing weight, growing my photography business, blogging super awesome content, or achieving any personal goals, I can use this time to plan for the next season and make it the best it can be.
I've spent the past few days planning that next season which has given me a brighter outlook. I've decided on a few goals post-baby to reach for, and even if I fall short I know I'll keep climbing just as I have before. Some goals are personal, some fitness related, and some professional. I'll survive the season that lies ahead. I am tired of hearing it'll be "okay" because it won't - it isn't - okay to me - but it will be what it is and I have to accept and move through it.

Have a nice relaxing weekend with your friends and family,

- kate -

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It's okay... not be okay.

Sometimes you have to accept what is.

(Baby is doing well, just working through some issues of my own.)

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Monday, May 18, 2015

"Healthy" snacks and a surprise for Miles.

It's been a long week and I'm looking forward to updating my Midwives and finding out if I can get back to normal activity. I feel best when I'm resting in bed, but that's not ideal either (see: charlie horses in my legs and sleeping with compression socks!). I definitely miss walking and I'd like to get stronger (squats & upper body strength) for delivery if it's a possibility. I've been drinking tons of liquids and it took several days, but I started to get energy back and less tightness around the belly. We'll see what happens! At least this baby guy is still kicking up a storm in there.

In lighter news, I spent a little time making some "healthier" treats to munch on this week. I've been eating a lot of junk lately, so I figured I'd make my junk choices a bit more wholesome if anything.

I made my favorite cookie dough balls.

A simple chocolate coconut fudge with peanut butter.

A quick 3-ingredient energy bar: raisins, cranberries, dates, walnuts. I added an ingredient!

And I made coconut macaroons (coconut flakes, coconut oil + maple syrup) last week, but never dipped them in chocolate. So, this weekend I found I didn't love the macaroons without chocolate - so I dipped them :)

While I was working, Miles absolutely needed a banana smoothie. He loves my smoothies.

And someone got an upgrade to a big boy bed this weekend! Chris is going to build an actual bed frame out of wood next weekend. I can't wait to see what it turns out to be! We decided to reuse his convertible crib for the next little guy. My nesting instincts have kicked in big time. Not sure if that's a good sign or not...

Oh, and those are his "attic" socks. He and Daddy had some work to do up there.

It was a long weekend. I spent a ton of time resting on Saturday and was finally up for a little food shopping Sunday, though glad it didn't take too long.

It's a short work week this week, and a holiday weekend coming up! I'm no longer counting in months to go, but hoping each week to make it to the next number and keep this guy cooking.

26 weeks down, 11-14 more to go.

- kate -
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

From prodromal concerns to pre-term labor and how I taught Miles the word "ridiculous" this week.

So, I had this whole post yesterday about my body being strange, second pregnancies out to get me, and these contractions which I thought were Braxton Hicks (never had them before with Miles) which were slowing me down and waking me up in the middle of the night since Sunday morning. I was boo-hooing the long road ahead and how I'm going to figure out the time off, insurance, and a whole host of other concerns this go around.

I taught Miles "this is ridiculous" when I was so uncomfortable dropping him off in the mornings. He went on to run away yelling, "ridiculous, reeeediculleeeous" trying to remember the word and laughing at me.

It's supposed to easier with number two...

Yeah, and then this happened.

Turns out... I went to get checked by my midwives at many people's urgings (I have a high pain tolerance [see: natural delivery after 4 days of prodromal] and thought nothing of it) and found I was in pre-term labor contracting 4 minutes apart regularly.

After being monitored by my midwives for 30-45 minutes and a clear pattern of contractions, only backing off slightly with lots of water, I was sent to the hospital to be hydrated via IV fluids, run a bunch of tests, and monitor everything for 6 long, hungry hours. We found peanut butter and crackers in the side snack room we remembered from Miles' birth; take that hospital!

I felt like what most people must feel like in a normal labor and delivery room - - hooked up to monitors, IVs, stuck in bed. I never labored like that with Miles (refused to lay down, was only monitored a few minutes every hour, and no IV), so it was interesting to have that experience. To be honest, I now really have no desire to labor like that again as long as this baby keeps cooking inside another 3 months. Get me up, walking, and in the tub!

It was a long afternoon/evening, and even my big guy fell asleep waiting for things to figure themselves out.

I'll have to be monitored more often now, but it's good I went in to get checked and have been given orders to rest and drink a lot more fluids. I am also trying to eat a bit more during the day as well. I'm just about hitting 26 weeks and it is definitely way too early for a birthday baby guy.

If anything, this experience made me more confident in my midwives and my choice to work with them despite other's concerns at times. When they told me to head to the hospital immediately, I cried, and I wasn't a patient, I was a person. Hugs all around, kind words, assurance, and I even ran into the midwife who remembered the long delivery of Miles. They made me feel better and not like I was "faking" something or calling it "false". I did also get to meet the OB in the practice who would handle delivery via c-section if needed and he was calm as well.

All I can do right now is "Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming..." or laying around. Probably laying around. Yes, definitely laying around. I'm tired. I still don't feel right, but I'm a fighter and so is this little guy. We've got at least another 11 weeks to cook and maybe I'll finally be able to "take it easy" for awhile.

Time for more gatorade and... never ending potty breaks.

- kate -
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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thankful Thursday: A Year's Passed

It was a beautiful sunny morning this day last year. I had taken off sick from work, feeling like I needed a mental health day to refresh and spend time with Miles. We had just walked back from the park and into the house to find my mom on the phone; a deep gasp and crying. I knew immediately someone had passed away.

It felt the same as the day my Dad passed. I stayed home from work, it was an unusual warm sunny day, and then the phone call came. It's almost like God knew I should be home in those moments, there to grieve openly and immediately. Both days, random days taken, just because I felt a deeper need to be home.

A year ago today, my cousin passed away and it still stings a bit like it was yesterday. We didn't see each other as often as I'm sure we'd all have liked, but she was someone I admired and looked up to. Someone I was thankful to have had in my life, even if from afar. Her emails always a comfort when they popped up. Sometimes I feel like she's still here, and it's only a matter of weeks before we'll see each other at a pool day again this summer. Similar to feeling at times my Dad may just be on a trip, but he'll return home any day now to share his adventures.

Grief is a long process that unfolds for each person very differently. I feel like there are deeper connections in the world than we often consider. When my Dad passed, I knew that I was going to have a son when we decided to have children. Often times I see a lot of my Dad's personality in Miles. His quirks, his humor, his vibrance all remind me of my Dad's enormous personality.

What surprised me about having another boy this time was that I felt, after my cousin had passed, that the next would surely be a girl. It felt like there was a connection to the other side. I felt it from the moment that Bambi lay on my stomach (unknowingly pregnant at the moment) the few hours before she traveled to the rainbow bridge. And still, sometimes I wonder, maybe it might still be a girl (the ultrasound wasn't exactly conclusive from my point of view like Miles' was so so obvious).

I know I'm being silly. With such updated technology, how can a tech get the parts wrong, but one never knows until such little lives arrive. I won't have anymore ultrasounds to check, so I'll just plan for a boy, but be open for a surprise (now wouldn't that be fun!). We already have names picked out for both; we had a girl name picked out for months prior to finding out.

Sometimes being a deep thinker is a curse. It gets me into trouble, causes me a lot of stress, and I often question existence far more than the average person. On the other hand, I'm thankful for thinking deeply about our connections here and beyond, as it helps me find solace and faith in daily living when it sometimes seems pointless or too much to bear.

I'm thankful for the events in the past year, as each moment unfolded it shaped and turned our direction in a different way. Some subtle, some more abrupt. There are reasons beyond our understanding and having faith and trust are the only way to process these moments for me.

With what lies ahead this year for me, I'm struggling to have faith it will all work out okay, but I am reminded of the trials of years past and how we've gotten through; sometimes just one day at a time. I'm back to taking it all one day at a time, as the long view is too much to ponder. Very little is ideal or how I planned it out, but we all know God laughs at our plans.

Take some time today to be thankful. Gratitude has been a huge help in getting through the trials that bubble up in my mind, as well as what I see coming in the near future. I'm grateful to be in this stress, as I know one day it'll bloom into strength for the next trial ahead. Let's just hope that trial is quite a bit in the future; I need a little break :)

Maybe just a few seriously good nights of sleep...

- kate -
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I am able.

My resolve is being tested yet again with lack of sleep, poor Ruby being sick keeping me up all night, Miles doing his three year old thing, tons of spring projects, and being unable to do all that I normally do this time of year. Some days I'm not sure I'm strong enough to "do it all" anymore. I'd just like to sleep for the next six months and wake up when it's all over. On a positive note, I do love going to work every day now; the people are awesome and I get to do what I enjoy.

In addition, I've come to learn this week that when you have prodromal labor once, it's most likely to happen for subsequent births as it's "just how your body does it" - oh man, if I am an unhappy pregnant person as it is, this news surely is sending me over the edge. When I found that out, I couldn't help but shed a few tears. Nothing like knowing that prodromal is a likely future to make one say - yep, our family is complete.

If you haven't heard of prodromal labor, basically it's when the real pains of labor start and stop (mine never seemed to fully stop) for days, even weeks on end. The pain is intense as if in active labor, but the timing never sets up to progress to the end with delivery. Most people who end up having prodromal labor finalize with a c-section, for after days of no rest and constant stress, one can no longer take the pain or have energy to deliver. If they get an epidural, they are more likely to get surgery.

For my previous experience, I labored for 4 days (yes, literally) with contractions anywhere from 5-20 minutes apart continually even if I walked. I never could sit down or sleep. I was threatened with a c-section and barely made it happen in time to avoid one since I did not get an epidural.

I didn't know I had prodromal labor until right after Miles' birth, when the midwife said, "You had prodromal labor honey. If you had an epidural, you would've had a c-section hours ago." I never heard of it, but I knew what I was feeling was not Braxton Hicks. Now, I'm trying to learn more about it, so if/when it does setup shop in my body I'll have some understanding and ideas to try to help get through it. Oh man, the dread.

- - -

On Sunday, while running around getting a billion things done before Miles arrived home, I stopped at Walmart to pickup groceries. I hadn't eaten in a few hours, was hungry, and tried my best to do a supermarket sweep zipping as quickly as a huge pregnant lady could. I was just about finished when I turned a corner and a woman yelled to me for help. Sigh.

She was in an electric shopping cart, unable to reach her juice in the very back of the bottom shelf. I stopped, said hello and asked what she needed. My initial reaction was, "God, please, I am starving, I want to go home, and the last thing in the world I want to do is bend over or get on the floor and dig around a lower shelf." Bending over is such a chore right now.

I got down, dug around the whole bottom shelf which was practically empty, calling out the few juice names that were hidden in the back and none of them were what she was looking for. I got up, winded, and suggested she check with a clerk in the back. That's when she asked me what sport I play.

I was wearing a softball sweatshirt (I hate to play softball) and I responded, "oh, I just run." Thinking to myself, "I'm huge right now, how can you even think I play a sport? Don't you see this gigantic thing in my way? Do you not hear my breath from bending over? You're too kind to think I play any sports right now."

She was very nice, and went on to tell me she used to run before getting MS and now can't do much at all. She told me about her therapy dog (which I didn't even see sitting on her cart at first) and then asked if I would run a race for MS one day. I said I would and then a clerk came by and we stopped him to get her some help. We said goodbye and I was back on my way running to the checkout to get home.

On the ride home, I started to think, while I feel disabled, I am able. I was able. I could still bend over to reach the bottom shelf, still carry 1/2 cord of wood with Chris to the backyard (and carry it again to move it when the whole pile fell over yesterday), still walk and do for myself and my family. This disability is temporary with a beautiful result.

I am able.

It hit me like a ton of bricks after our brief encounter. Maybe I'm too deep of a thinker, but I love moments when God points out a reminder - - "you are able" - - is all I kept thinking. And so, I'll continue on to push through this season, and focusing on the time period after when I'll not have to experience this disability and can take control over my body and mind once more. I'll focus on that future race for MS, where I can prove to myself the strength that lies within to keep going no matter how dark the days may be.

"You are able."

I am able.

- kate -
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Monday, May 4, 2015

What a child free weekend looks like these days.

It's rare we get a long weekend without parenting duties, but when we do you'd think we'd take advantage by laying around on the couch, relaxing, and going out to fancy dinners or dates. Not even close to reality... we try to cram as much in as we can so get things done since we won't have to stop for naps, mealtimes, or little hands getting into trouble.

Our weekend started with Miles leaving to go visit his grandparents for a few days on Friday evening. As usual, he requested a red pepper for a snack when we went to the store together earlier. Eats these things like apples.

I took a photo on Friday morning, six months along. I feel ginormous and everyone is noticing now. I think the white shirt makes it pop out a bit! 6am does not look good on me.

Saturday morning, we stood in a long line and took Ruby for her rabies shot, then we decided to grab a nice breakfast since Miles was away. We ended up heading into Ocean Grove, where there happened to be a street fair to walk through. We were on a mission for the day, so no browsing really happened.

The Starving Artist was our destination, as the Barbaric Bean was out of business! I was going to take Chris there for a BattleAxe sandwich, oh man. Those were good.

Chris, the artist.

I ordered what was the best tasting pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich I've had in a long time. It's a nice treat time and again that reminds me of breakfasts with my Dad who loved pork roll!

Chris did a little #pancakepd with a Starving Artist special.

I asked Chris to take a photo of me on the street. Fat or pregnant? One never knows.

We went to Lowe's to get home improvement things, including ordering a small freezer. Our top fridge/bottom freezer is awesome, but the freezer bins leave much to be desired when you have oddly shaped goods. We also never were able to have a freezer in our townhouse, so it's nice to open up some more options for ordering larger quantities of meats, or storing more from the farm pickings.

Chris took me for lunch. I'm a cheap date. We had a coupon.

Once we did a ton of house projects, we were able to relax a bit at our friend's house for a yummy homemade dinner. Sorry there aren't any more photos. The Peeps S'mores dip we brought was a success!

Sunday continued with a ton of house projects, cleaning, reorganization, food shopping, planning, and a billion other things. I think from the moment Chris took Miles away, I didn't sit down until he came home Sunday night.

We ordered our first 1/2 cord of wood for next winter, too. Chris found the simple storage design online and $10 and 10 minutes later we were stacking up a truck load dumped in our driveway. This is going to smell good next winter :)

I'm still recovering from the long busy weekend. What happened to those lazy days of many years ago? We seem to be on the go daily, always with someone to see, an event to go to, or home projects to attend to. We usually get a break mid-winter, but that has yet to happen. I need to slow down a bit. I'm hoping the summer brings a bit more down time before the real non-sleeping weeks begin.

Ruby is still sick, keeping me up at night 2-3 times a night (but not during the day). I've deduced it's some form of an acid reflux through the medicine she's been on, cooking her homemade meals, mixing in dry kibble and feeding her several times a day vs. one. There are a few more days of things I'm going to try before we head to the vet again. The poor thing.

I feel so bad for her, but gosh I need to get a full night's rest soon...

- kate -
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Maybe after eating this chili mac I'll look more pregnant.

Last week, before a cold overtook Miles and I this weekend, I took Chris and Miles out to a drive-in for dinner. We had fun eating in the car, Miles loved it.

I ordered new protein, I guess I was hungry when I made my order. The one on the right is one I tried for the first time weeks ago (not a fan) and the one on the left is one of my usual go-to proteins if they are out of my favorite Integrated Whey Supplements brand at

I've been getting comments a lot lately that I don't look "that" pregnant for being more than halfway cooked (24 weeks). I think that's a compliment, but knowing I've gained about 20lbs already and can't reach my feet, it sure feels like I'm "that" pregnant and more. Terrible photo.

This week I made a new recipe from Seeded at the Table, Family Favorite Chili Mac. It turned out to be a quick, easy recipe that made enough for a week's worth of lunches - after - we had our bowls for dinner. I'll definitely keep this one in mind for future weekly lunches during a Sunday prep session. I may swap out the jarred sauce for homemade, but otherwise, pretty simple and straight forward!

And a colleague of mine suggested to make these Jalapeno Cheddar Sweet Potato Puffs for breakfast, so I made those after the chili mac dinner to put in the fridge to heat up later. They smelled delicious baking, and were even tastier when done. Definitely a "healthier" treat for breakfast (I think...) and if you love bacon and spicy flavors, these are it.

A lot of the blogosphere is about Boston recaps, spring marathons, and upcoming races. Once again, I'm missing out this spring/summer on a LOT of what I love to do and be involved in. What makes me feel like - me. It feels quite a bit isolating, as my only hobby I'm keeping up with right now is reading (wahoo!) but I desperately need to move my body more for mental reasons. I've been walking, 5 miles this weekend, and during the workweek on my lunch. It's wiping me out, truthfully.

This cold has taken me by storm, unable to take any medication to help it out of my system, I'm just stuck in limbo. Poor Ruby has been sick for over a week now, but it seems to be improving (slowly) through changing her diet to rice/chicken (possible food was making her ill) and being on meds. I hope in the next week, by the 70 degree days our household is back up and running (if not really "running" ha). Chris never seems to get sick, lucky.

At least I cooked a few days recently, so that felt like a nice change of pace. I'm still considering a 5k walk the end of the month, but not sure if I want to push it depending on how long this cold lingers. I might just try to keep up with 5mi trail walks this spring/summer.

I'm definitely no fit-preg-inspiration who's going to run a marathon in my 37th week, but since I ran last time through 6 months I feel like I did my time pushing myself and this go around, I'm not going to overdo it. I've got a lot to do this coming year and a much shorter maternity leave, so while I love Wonder Woman, I'm going to try to let it go and do the best I can. Once I'm through this "season" I'll get back to doing what I love and hopefully reaching those further distance goals one day.

- kate -
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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Eventually I'll get to rest again, in a decade or so.

I'm a photographer, but I haven't been taking any photos; even on my iPod! I have just been experiencing life a bit more, but I always feel obligated to share a photo when I write. Therefore, I haven't written much, because I feel bad posting without a photo. Bummer. I hope you don't mind if I write without images now and again, though everything is prettier with a picture.

This week is a busy one. We were out on Sunday, which led to getting a bit behind on getting prepared for the week ahead; i.e. lunches are on the fly this week - cheese or PB sandwich anyone? Our weekends always seem to be full of running around these days, so we're hoping to slow it down a bit and get in regular family time to settle into a routine of sorts before number two arrives and said routine is blown out of the water.

If anything, I just need to rest a bit more... I've been on overdrive in all areas and it's really catching up to me. I did my workouts and walking last week, but I was wiped out by weeks end literally back to square one. Argh.

Some days I ask Chris, will I ever be normal again? He chirps back, was I ever normal to begin with... Ha. I feel like I've been pregnant for years. I've forgotten what it is like to not be exhausted day in and day out, with a girth that makes reaching my toes difficult. I'm almost 23 weeks and finally - yes finally - morning sickness has started to dissipate; though it likes to chime in every now and again. I had the lovely all-day sickness that they fake for mornings with Miles through 20 weeks or so, and I think this one is out to get me...

Poor Ruby started to get sick on Saturday night, coughing and having breathing problems. I gave it a day, thinking maybe it was allergies (we were out all day for the nice day), but it didn't seem to stop. So, after a second sleepless night Sunday, I brought her to the vet on Monday for a full check-up, tests, and meds. No exact diagnosis, but major issues have been ruled out, so it's just meds and keeping an eye on things. She seems to be breathing better, with the occasional cough, but last night she was up for hours coughing and I just sat with her. Ah, no sleep already... too soon too soon!

Today and tomorrow I have the pleasure of attending the New Jersey Librarian Association's Annual Conference. It's nearby, which is awesome, and I get to learn and catch up with old colleagues from around the state. Lunch today was with a few awesome librarians I haven't seen in six or seven years! Just like old times.

It's nice sometimes to be an attendee instead of always a presenter or teacher. A lot of what I do professionally these days (which I do love) is presenting and teaching others technology, research, or other exciting things. Every once in awhile, it's great to sit back and not be on the spot... but while I'm sitting there I feel the urge to put in to present next time. I'll probably get in more presentations in 2016 across conferences. While pregnant, it's just awkward as people follow my belly around, ha. And I hate presenting when I constantly sound out of breath; it takes a lot out of you.

I'm working on letting go of who I used to be, and accept that I'm yet again morphing into something else: mom of two, runner, maybe not a runner, long distance, maybe not, foodie, maybe not... This year is so overwhelming with the changes in life (jobs, family, new house) that I'm just hanging in there and I'm just going to keep moving forward one step at a time or one day at a time. A lot is out of my control, and maybe that's my lesson this year - let it go, let it go... and trust in my faith.

Oh, and my red raspberry leaf tea just arrived (excellent for pregnancy/birth - I drank all throughout with Miles). Thank goodness! And I've ordered new protein powder, as well as picked up teeny tiny cups of ice cream to slow down the calorie intake and expenditure of recent runs to the ice cream store :)

Eventually I'll get to rest again, in a decade or so. It's worth it for these little monsters, but man, I am no happy glowing pregnant lady. I can deal with being tired or sore from workouts, but when I've got a little guy sucking the life out of me from the inside and another on the out; whew it's a day to day battle. Having number two is no joke when number one is running around... there is no rest for the weary :)

Have a nice week, I'll be back next time I have a moment to sit still. Time to make a cup of tea (Chris is the best at it).

- kate -
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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Our $25 per person Weekly Food Budget

A lot has been in the news lately about the budget for those on benefits from the government. I don't plan to comment on all of that (here's a great piece on it), but I thought it would be fun to share how we use our budget for food and write about things like I used to.

I'm always surprised to find out that our family food budget is below the "Thrifty Plan" under the USDA food cost guidelines. We spend about $75 or less per week, currently shooting for $50 a week to stockpile a few extra bucks, on food and household goods. This isn't to say that we are able to always stick to that budget, sometimes we go over to around $80 per week, but I strive to see that number or below weekly when we hit the grocery store(s).

I budget about $25 per week per member of the household, planning to add another $25 per week when Baby #2 arrives (which might be tight with formula year one). I don't have to budget for diapers, since we use cloth diapers which is a huge savings in our budget; especially this go around. And most people might not use their food budget for items other than edible goods, but I try to throw as much in that category as we can.

In college, I survived on $15 or less per week, so to me, it is a little more flexible (and little kids once past formula don't consume huge amounts of food... though with two boys, we'll be trending upwards... eeek).

I'm thankful we have the flexibility to add to our food budget when needed, but if we plan our meals in advance and keep staples on hand, it makes it easier to stay within a budget. We don't exactly eat fancy, but on occasion I'll spring for feta and peppadew peppers! (Thanks Alex and Steph for introducing me to them so many years ago). And it doesn't hurt to plan a dinner at a g'parent's house now and again ;)

I use a local farmer's market for our produce, as it's been far cheaper than the supermarket overall and fresher. And, you know what, I'm a Walmart shopper and feel no shame. We switch between Walmart and Wegmans depending on the staples or meals that upcoming week. Each provide us with low cost options in certain areas of our pantry and fridge. With Walmart's Savings Catcher App, I've gotten a bit back on my purchases which is a nice addition.

Now, we don't buy organic, but I'm not convinced that everything sold organic really is anymore. When we were a part of a local CSA, I could visit the farm and taste the difference. That isn't always an option with supermarket goods, and knowing how a farm's cross-winds, etc. affect pollination and pesticides we may or may not be getting organic for that higher price. I do prefer a local farmer's market vs. a large supermarket, but as long as we're focusing on vegetables (and now growing some ourselves) that's a huge win in my book.

Oh, and I do look forward to picking my own strawberries at a u-pick farm visit in June... hot, sweaty, and 7 months pregnant. I'm crazy like that.

Are we perfect? No. Are we always Thrifty? Nope. I am not sure though I'd ever spend the "liberal" plan under the guidelines... whew, now how many crazy items could I buy that week?! It's double... get me some goat cheese will ya? Wouldn't doubling our food budget be fun! I believe a lot of food would go to waste that week.

I do feel we spend far less than the average household on food, but aren't lacking nutritionally or otherwise. I still buy flax seeds, chia seeds, spirulina powder, red raspberry leaf tea, etc. Most of those added items come from my personal budgeted allowance. We are both on an allowance of about $40 per week for gas/extras, but I usually have leftover now with a smaller commute so I put it into my ice cream cravings or dinners out :)

The reason we're on a tight budget is to get our emergency savings back in order from our huge house sale loss and our even larger house buying expense, plus the unpaid maternity leave I'm facing, and well, it's fun to be frugal. It's become somewhat of a game for Chris and I at times to see what we can do with what we have. We've learned so much in squeezing our budget; and I'm a bit of a general about it.

I mean, we definitely chose to have another boy because it would save us tons of money, right? Ha. How life is funny like that...

Throughout the past several years with the economic ups and downs, I've become far less of a shopper and more interested in selling old stuff and gaining side income. Chris has become super handy about making things for our house and doing renovation work himself. I love watching him finish a project and the joy it brings him. See: homemade desks, end tables, kitchen island thing, bathroom renovations... and more.

It's helped us tremendously get out of debt, but also I've loosened my attachment to fancier things and have found pleasure in a more simple life. I don't feel compelled, though at times I really really want that $2k lens..., to buy lots of new things anymore. I save up for larger purchases forgoing the things I want now, for the item I really want later (hence, I'm still saving for that lens and may sell a few items to get it). I prefer Goodwill (score, $3 pair of maternity shorts like new!) and re-purposing old items. It's apparently better for the environment, too.

I used to think it was a bad thing to budget and be frugal, like I was weird or something. Now, I'm realizing the tremendous amount of freedom it's bringing us, the peace of mind, and the joy of creating and viewing our entire house as a trendy makerspace.

For more similar thoughts to my own on frugality...

- kate -
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