Sunday, November 20, 2011

Baby is here!

I am thankful to say that our baby has arrived. HE was born on Thursday, November 17th at 11:12 pm. At 9 pounds, 4 ounces and 21.5 inches long it is hard to imagine how he had the room to flip breech at 41 weeks, 1 day, but somehow he did. At 41 weeks, 2 days we had an ultrasound to confirm breech and while it was being done he went from breech to transverse. We had an external version scheduled for the next day, but that night I couldn't get the contractions to go away (I'd been having them for over a week) and decided to go the hospital just to avoid having things move really fast (as they did with Peanut) and potentially putting him in danger because of his position.

When we got the hospital with our midwife and doula I did not appear to be in active labor and they monitored him and did another ultrasound that showed footling breech. The wonderful OB who was going to do the version had also come in (never had met us and wasn't on call that night) and decided that we could either do a version right there and then either induce or go home or if it failed then do a surgical delivery. As we discussed options we decided to check me as I'd had one contraction that really bothered me (and a few other small ones) and if I was in active labor we'd need to do a c-section right away. His mouth fell open as he discovered I was 9+ dilated. Needless to say everything moved fast and I just wanted it to move even faster as I knew he was in great danger. I learned very quickly how to blow through a contraction and not push as if my child's life depended on it, because it did. We had an amazing team and in the end our son was born with Mike and I both being present and awake for the birth.

Our sweet boy did not breath for himself and they bagged him for 5 minutes, but after that he bounced back quickly. He was in the NICU for about 40 (LONG, AGONIZING) hours and not quite to 3 days old he is home in my arms. I will have a most amazing Thanksgiving this year! From walking into triage at the hospital to his birth was just over an hour...and in that time we had monitoring and an ultrasound. When I say they moved quickly it doesn't even being to describe it. We even used an surgical suite that is no longer in use because it was closer and open...every single minute mattered in this situation and they treated it as such.

I'll be posting his birth story after it is written, but needless to say my three kids have given me three totally different ways of experiencing birth. I've had a completely natural, peaceful waterbirth, a vaginal hospital birth that was managed and involved pitocin, an epidural and episiotomy and a true emergency c-section. I am so grateful that all have worked out and cannot wait to write this latest birth story!

Thank you for your prayers!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


and waiting and waiting. At least that is how it feels.

Baby #3 didn't want to share a birthday with two of our friend's babies who were both born on November 8th. Coincidentally, that was our due date. We are so excited for both families who have healthy babies after long has been waiting for over a year to adopt, got the call on Friday, baby was born on Tuesday and they were headed home with her on Wednesday! Talk about a whirlwind journey into parenthood after a seemingly endless wait. The second has been on bed rest for 8 weeks and held out to delivery a big 8 pound boy at 36 1/2 weeks. We are so relieved that they were able to make it so far and that Mommy and baby are doing well. Great news that day, but we wanted in to make it a huge triple birthday party! It was too funny to get the calls that day as on Sunday we three Mommies had all talked about the chance that we could have babies on the same day. And then two of them did, within 2 hours of each other!

Then on Friday we had our first ever false alarm. As in had the van packed, had everyone on high alert and then it all faded away... We later realized it was full moon and that if things had gone well we would have had the coolest birthday ever, 11/11/11! But rather than 'having it all' the baby decided to wait for a little longer. We are just doing our best to be patient. I'm trying to rest easy in the knowledge that these contractions are doing a job and making life easier in the long run and that Baby 3 knows best when to join us! And of course, s/he will have her/his OWN birthday now :)

Today is beautiful and tomorrow is going to be warm too. I've said I'd love to have a beautiful day to have this baby, so here's hoping! And in the mean time I'll just keep learning to be patient. And be grateful that our baby is healthy and wiggling and has two big siblings eager to meet him or her!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Still going!

Can you believe I haven't posted since May? I realize no one may be reading this at all, but even for my own memories I can't believe I've skipped half a year! We had many things that contributed to it with my Grandfather passing away, Mike being gone basically all summer long, me being pregnant and just the general mayham that seems to have taken over our house with a very mobile 1 year old who thinks she is a 3 year old and the said 3 year old who stays mighty active himself!

So we are now at 38 1/2 weeks. Baby is doing great and I'm doing okay. I've never dealt with carpel tunnel during pregnancy and it is not. fun. at. all. This poor baby isn't getting the daily life journal that the others did, but I'm hoping to do a fairly comprehensive list of things that happened and fun stories at some point. I've also had some hip/pelvic issues that may have something to do with the surgery I had after Peanut's birth. Whatever the cause I'm now seeing a chiropractor and hopeful that things will still be fine with the birth! Based on my emotions and the pressure I'm feeling I'm hopeful that we'll not be as concerned about the looming 42 week induction pressure as we were with Peanut. Of course, in a month this kiddo might have decided to just hang out and we might be pleading for prayers again :)

The thing I most want to get down (before I lose the paper I kept track on) is the canning and freezing I did this summer and fall. It was a big challenge because of my wrists, but I am pretty proud of what did get accomplished considering the two little ones and third on the way. I want to have a record to give me an idea for next year so here goes...

Corn 4 1/2 quarts and 3 bags of on the cob corn
Broccoli 23 quarts and 4 quarts of ends for soup
Cauliflower 20 1/2 quarts
Green Beans 7 1/2 quarts
Snow Peas 2 small bags
Zucchini 2 9-cup bags sliced, multiple small bags of diced
Swiss Chard and Beet greens didn't count, but multiple servings of each

Diced Tomatoes 39 quarts and 6 pints
Zucchini relish 13 pints
Dilly Beans 13 pints
Spicy Garlic Pickles 17 pints
Garlic Dill Pickles 5 quarts
Pickled Jalapenos 1 pint and 5 1/2 pints
Tomato Soup 10 quarts
Pears 10 pints
Applesauce 94 quarts and 7 pints (plus over 2 gallons we ate and didn't can!)
Apple Pie Filling 9 quarts
Caramel Apple Butter 7 pints
Sauerkraut 11 quarts and 7 pints
Salsa 48 pints
Green Salsa 6 pints
Chicken Stock 7 quarts
Beef Stock 7 quarts

Potatoes 75 pounds of Yukon Gold, 50 pounds of Red potatoes
Squash 3 mixed 1/2 bushels of butternut, buttercup, acorn and delicata, 1 half bushel of small butternut
Pumpkins 3 to process after enjoying this weekend
Cabbages 3 smaller ones for longer term use

So a quick run down! And we've gotten a 1/2 of beef (this months grocery bill is about what we spent for an entire YEAR not long ago) and I've filled our smaller chest freezer with food for after Baby 3 arrives. Here's hoping for a great labor and delivery and recovery this time around! And a big harvest again next year..these kids are growing and eating like crazy!

Happy Halloween,

Sunday, May 22, 2011

So Many Moments!

We've returned from a visit to Kentucky! While there it rained and rained and was cold and yucky. Turns out it was the same here in Wisconsin while we were gone. This has sure been a different May then last year when it was beautiful weather all the time!

The kiddos have presented us with some very funny and touching moments recently. I can't help but wonder does it just get more and more amazing as they get older?

Peanut is now 11 months old. Yesterday we were all be quiet after her nap (and watching the Preakness) while Little Guy took a (highly unusual at this point) nap. At one point she must have been oh, so bored with her parents and crawled into the kitchen. We heard her standing at our patio door and banging, petting the dogs and just doing things she normal does in the kitchen. When she crawled back out to us she had brought along her pair of Robeez that I've been putting on her when we play in the backyard or sandbox. I was AMAZED. This is the first time I've ever seen her pay any attention to the shoes, she brought both of them to me while crawling and she made it quite clear she wanted to go outside and figured if I put her shoes on then we were heading out. Pretty clever girl, don't you think?

Little Guy (and Peanut) had photos taken while we were in KY. We are fortunate that Peanut's Godmother is a wonderful photographer and squeezed in an hour photo shoot on her 11th month birthday. While Little Guy was getting his taken he wasn't being too cooperative. So we tried to get him talking about what he had done that day. It had been a big day...he went on his first horse ride, went out to mow grass on the big tractor for the first time, Grandpa let him drive that same tractor, he made pancakes with Grandma, and assorted other fun on two different farms. When we asked him to share what he had done that day guess what he said. He told her he read two books. Yup, all the fun stuff packed into one day that he wanted to do and the thing he felt the need to mention? Books. I'm glad my kids both love books, but we read them every. single. day. and he almost never sees his grandparents and these things were big firsts he had talked about doing for WEEKS. Aren't kids crazy? :)

Other comments Little Guy has made recently (that he may or may not have heard from two adults that live in the same house)...

"This is ridiculous!"
"I've solved the problem!"
"I need a break."
"You need to relax Daddy." (Said part way through the 9 hour trip)
"I pray for Thomas and Percy."--big pause-- "And Salty!" (during night time prayers...these are trains.)
"Nice to meet you Mommy." (while shaking my hand)
"Half and a two" His response to the question of his age...rapidly being replaced by the more typical 'two and a half' or 'three on my next birthday'

And so many more that are hard to remember! Too funny, that cutie pie of mine.

Happy Warm, SUNNY day here in Milwaukee. Thank the Lord!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Security in a Word?

Lately Little Guy has an interesting new development. He seems to use a word as a security 'blanket.' And the word he chose? His little sister's name! Or sometimes the variation is "I do love Peanut." Isn't that an interesting thing to choose?

I noticed one day that he said her name many, many times, but didn't think too much of it. I did mention it to Mike and we laughed about making sure we pick names we like for our kids since sometimes we might hear them a few hundred times! Then we noticed that it continued. And then it morphed into him saying her name or that he loved her when he was doing something he shouldn't be doing (great way to distract us, I guess) or when he was in trouble or just feeling uncomfortable in a situation.

Neither of my children have security toys or blankets. And I've never heard of a security word before, but I would definitely say that my son has one. It is odd and interesting and wonderful watching how these little people develop, isn't it? When he says that he 'does love her' I always let him know that I do too and that I love him. We are not at all concerned about it and are just glad that he is constantly reinforcing in his mind how much he loves his sister. They really do love each other and we tell them both how much we love them all the time. I hope that the lovefest continues their whole life. And we really hope they love their little sibling as much as they love each other!

Fascinating this world of parenting!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Another holiday wish...

For all the Moms out there, those who hold their babies in their arms, those who have yet to meet their babies, and those who have babies who have left the nest may you have a wonderful day!

Being a Mom is something that I dearly love and yet it challenges me every single day. There is no job on earth that is more demanding, but yet there is no other job that I would rather have. I constantly question if I am doing it right and yet know that there is no absolute perfect way to do it. It is a whirlwind that challenges me in so many ways and I wouldn't change it for the world!

Thank you Little Guy, Peanut and Baby 3 for making me a Momma! I'm honored to be the person that gets to help you navigate this world.

Happy Mother's Day,

Baby 3 is due in early November. Things are going really well so far and we couldn't be more excited, although also a bit surprised at how quickly things happened. By around our 4th anniversary we'll have had 3 babies...and feel blessed to have been given these gifts!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all those who stop by my little corner of the world. I hope you and your family celebrate today with all the joy and wonder it deserves! And I hope that you got some chocolate in your basket too :)

Things in our house are starting to pull themselves together. Overall we are all healthy (FINALLY!) and we are anxious for better weather. On the occasional day that the sun pops out we get outside to enjoy it! We are trying to see a few friends we've neglected through our winter of sickness and just catch up with life in general. Soon Daddy will be on the road and gone every day and the kids and I will be home holding down the fort. We long for summer and we also know that summer will be crazy. An interesting situation due to Mike's business, but one that we embrace because it is what keeps our family housed, clothed, Mommy home and Daddy doing what he loves!

And wonderful man that he is Mike recently fenced in a big kiddie pool for me to use as a large container garden. According to the local charts it is time to plant the spinach and swiss chard and I am excited! It is wonderful to carve out more and more spaces to grow food for our family in our tiny yard. It takes creativity and a willingness to look past the 'not perfect,' but we are getting there. Sometime I'll share why we aren't doing more permanent things to make our yard one huge garden. We've got a plan and I am excited for where it will take us!

And back to a funny Easter note---at church Little Guy was asked if the Easter Bunny had stopped by our house last night. It turns out he did so she wanted to know what was in Little Guy's basket. When he clammed up she started prompting him, "Was there anything to special to eat in it?" I answered quickly that there wasn't. (We are taking advantage of the fact that he has no idea that there 'should' be candy in a basket yet. Eventually we'll introduce a chocolate bunny and some other treats, but for now he really doesn't need the sugar and we are pretty sure that he'll be getting more than enough at his grandparent's house later today.) A mother with a child somewhat younger than our 2 1/2 year old looked at me in horror. "There WASN'T???" I just kind of smiled and encouraged Little Guy to tell them both what he got. He filled them in, eventually letting them know he got a puzzle, a Thomas train t-shirt, two books, a bath toy and a huge Magic Doodle. Really, it was a very full, very fun basket that he loved. He doesn't miss anything that wasn't in there and I don't have to deal with melt downs because all he can focus on is the candy. How funny that we just expect that a two year old should have a basket full of sugar...and really sad, if you think about it.

Easter blessings from our home to yours!

Friday, April 1, 2011

No Fooling!

Happy April Fool's Day from a Mommy that did nothing to celebrate. I'm just not that creative these days, I guess.

Today involved a trip to the doc for me again. The ear is still plugged up and ringing, but the puss and infection is gone. Yippee to being done with antibiotics! Of course, now we are still working on getting all the congestion cleared up so the ear will work properly again. It is amazing how hard it is to function when I cannot understand Little Guy and Mike half the time and do not have my super mommy hearing to help know what the two little ones are doing when they are in a different room than me. I'm just hoping that it gets cleared up soon!

And being on antibiotics without taking acidophiles (what was I thinking forgetting to do that!) seems to have caused a yeast imbalance. So I'm working on getting that back on track. Seriously, two full days of antibiotics when in labor with Little Guy and eight weeks of them after my post labor surgery with Peanut and no problems. Ten days due to an ear infection and BAM! problems. Ugh.

Funniest thing said recently that I can remember. During prayers Little Guy was going through our friends and family and Godparents and everyone we pray for. And to wrap things up he said "God Bless pancakes!" And I giggled. Almost every morning he wakes up asking for breakfast and says "Momma making pancakes?" Most mornings the answer is no, but at least once a week we do have them for breakfast. I guess he'd like to make sure that God continues to bless our family with pancakes! The irony is that two days ago I gave him the last of some blueberry pancakes from the freezer and he immediately lost it. Turns out that he really, really, really wanted toast that one morning. He NEVER wakes up asking for toast, even that particular morning. I guess he just likes to keep me on my toes.

Continuing to pray for spring weather and a healthy household!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm Impressive!

I just got back from a Dr. visit and found out that I'm impressive. Yup, this time I had to go to the doctor. I fought a really, really bad sinus infection all on my own. The pain was so bad at times that I used labor breathing to get through. And yes, I did take Tylenol, but because of nursing I didn't want to take anything else. I also told Mike that I kind of thought it might hurt less if someone would punch me in the cheek because if the bones were crunched then the pressure would be relieved. Crazy talk, huh? It was not fun.

Then the pressure got better and the pain subsided. That is when I realized that there were other issues brewing as well. My right ear was ringing and really plugged up. I've never had such an odd sensation in my ear. There was pain sometimes, but not much and nothing compared to my sinus issues. I figured it would clear up as the sinus issues cleared up.

But it didn't. It has stayed the same and sometimes feels even worse. And it has been over a week now. Ten days of worrying about my hearing. Ten days of wanting to have the ringing just stop already. Ten days of hoping I'd get up in the morning and would be back to normal. No has persisted.

So today I went to the Dr. and was told that I was impressive. Turns out it is very rare to see an ear infection in an adult. It is even rarer to see one that is as severe as mine. All in all the doctor declared my case to be impressive. And I'm starting antibiotics shortly. Here's hoping I can go back to being normal soon!

Happy Monday,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Wee Hours

The best part about sinus infections? There is no best part. There is pain, pressure, mucus, and lack of sleep. Today I'm putting that lack of sleep to work checking in on my favorite blogs and decided to put something up here too. But really being awake during the wee hours is not really fun no matter how you spin it. I *think* we are on the down side of this crazy virus, but am knocking on wood as I say it so that I don't jinx things. We are praying for spring to come quickly!

While checking my e-mail this morning I found a forward from one of my aunts. She likes to send on all manners of things and I thought today's was pretty interesting. I'd like to remember some of these ideas (since I tend to 'file' forwards) so I thought I'd post them here. Some of these seemed pretty genius to me!

Better than paper towels and a lot less expensive...COFFEE FILTERS

Who knew! And you can buy 1,000 at the Dollar Tree for $1.00, even the large ones.
1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave. Coffee filters make excellent covers.
2. Clean windows, mirrors, and chrome... Coffee filters are lint-free so they'll leave windows sparkling.
3. Protect China by separating your good dishes with a coffee filter between each dish.
4. Filter broken cork from wine. If you break the cork when opening a wine bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter.
5. Protect a cast-iron skillet. Place a coffee filter in the skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.
6. Apply shoe polish. Ball up a lint-free coffee filter.
7. Recycle frying oil. After frying, strain oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.
8. Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale.
9. Hold tacos. Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods.
10. Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot. Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes.
11. Prevent a Popsicle from dripping. Poke one or two holes as needed in a coffee filter.
12. Do you think we used expensive strips to wax eyebrows? Use strips of coffee filters..
13. Put a few in a plate and put your fried bacon, French fries, chicken fingers, etc on them.. It soaks out all the grease.
14. Keep in the bathroom. They make great "razor nick fixers."
15. As a sewing backing. Use a filter as an easy-to-tear backing for embroidering or appliqueing soft fabrics.
16. Put baking soda into a coffee filter and insert into shoes or a closet to absorb or prevent odors.
17. Use them to strain soup stock and to tie fresh herbs in to put in soups and stews.
18. Use a coffee filter to prevent spilling when you add fluids to your car.
19. Use them as a spoon rest while cooking and clean up small counter spills.
20. Can use to hold dry ingredients when baking or when cutting a piece of fruit or veggies.. Saves on having extra bowls to wash.
21. Use them to wrap Christmas ornaments for storage.
22. Use them to remove fingernail polish when out of cotton balls.
23. Use them to sprout seeds. Simply dampen the coffee filter, place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a zip-lock plastic bag until they sprout.
24. Use coffee filters as blotting paper for pressed flowers. Place the flowers between two coffee filters and put the coffee filters in phone book..
25. Use as a disposable "snack bowl" for popcorn, chips, etc.

I know I've seen some pretty amazing wreaths made out of coffee filters and I've used them in making gift baskets as well. Anyone have any other ideas for coffee filters? Other than for making coffee, that is...

Happy Early Morning!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Want to Laugh?

Tell God (or your blog) your plans!

So why haven't I been around in a while again? Well, Peanut was sick. Then she seemed to be getting better, but nights were rough again. Then we were getting ready for a few events, one being a get together of our Bradley class from when Little Guy was born. One family had to back out at the last minute due to a sick 2 year old and 9 month old. But the other 6 two year olds and 4 other little siblings plus parents were able to make it. It was crowded in our little house, but it is so great to see these kiddos grow up and hear other parent struggles and successes. We had so much fun!

Until about 24 hours later when our Peanut was sick AGAIN. I'm so hoping no one else came down with anything since this has been one heck of a week. Called after hours and got our Ped...wonderful! She was vomiting and 103 degree temp so he gave us some advice and said he'd probably see us in the morning. Grateful things seemed under control and we didn't go in. But on Tuesday we added Little Guy to the mix. Fever, coughing, a couple of clean up in aisle 3 episodes. We just kept on top of fluids, rest, treating fever in Peanut when it got really high and doing our best to keep our patience in tact with two sick kids. Little Guy has never really been sick like this so it has been a learning experience to find out that he gets VERY whiny and emotional and frustrated and demanding. Couple that with lack of sleep and things have been interesting.

So Friday things were just really bad. Peanut was really fussy (not normal at all for her) and I called the nurse. After hearing where we were at after fighting this all week she suggested we come in. And based on how they kept acting we were glad we made that decision. Turns out Little Guy had really, really bad ear infections that were making his eyes water and mat up as well as contribute the river of snot and probably contributed to his vomiting. Peanut is still just in virus stage, her ears and eyes are okay. We are praying that it doesn't change! Little Guy is on antibiotics (normally I'm not a fan, but he has been sooooo miserable that I really hope it makes the difference) and Peanut is just nursing a ton and trying to work through it.

Fun stuff, huh? And a big lesson for this mom. I've had such healthy babies and two winters with nothing significant. I cannot imagine the stress that having a very sick child generates. I've been a wreck more than once because of this goofy virus. And hopefully next year will be better. I've had two nurses and our Ped tell us that this year is crazy bad. And based on how nuts the waiting room was on Friday I have no doubt that is the case! Oh, and to add to the fun Mommy is now having significant symptoms and Daddy thinks he is right behind her. I guess five days of being coughed on, sneezed on and just handling baby virus was just too much for my immune system too.

Just wanted to also let anyone reading this know that there is a great giveaway going on at Maple Valley Farm's blog. This family is pretty fascinating. They left behind a house (that looks like a mansion) to buy a farm that is totally off-grid. And yet they blog! Isn't technology something else? And now they are giving away some Tattler canning lids. I got some for Christmas from my mom and my was a big item on my Christmas list. I'm hoping to build up enough that I'll do away with disposable lids altogether, other than for gift purposes. I love things that can be reused! Check out the giveaway here.

Take care and hope everyone out there is healthy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Grass Fed Beef Quarter Cost Analysis

How's that for a dry title? I figured it would be good to share how our experience buying a quarter of grass fed beef worked out. Before we ordered our quarter I had many questions about hanging weight vs. actual take home meat and what the final cost per pound of the finished beef would end up being. Using our farmer's numbers I did a best guess and once I picked up our beef I figured the actual total. The numbers were surprising close. That is what happens when you work with an experienced, honest farmer!

This is going to look a little dry since it was typed up as a document for me to refer to in the future, but hopefully it makes sense.

Quarter hanging weight: 149 pounds, $320 paid to Miller Brothers Farms. We paid $2.15/pound hanging weight. They rounded off as we were told to just send $320. I do see that prices are increasing to $2.40/pound for this next year.

Processing costs paid directly to Cedar Road Meats at pick up. $.44/lb (65.56) + quarter of slaughter charge (9.50) + order charge (3.00) = $78.06

We were walked through cutting instructions once the steer was in, butchered, and we knew which quarter was ours. We simply called Cedar Road and were asked cut by cut what we would like. If I was uncertain she would explain the standard and the options. I asked for things to be left bone in and for all 'other' cuts to be included, 2 steaks/pack, 3/4" cut, 2 pound roasts.

This is what we got when I picked up the order about two weeks later.
Meat type: number of packages, total weight

hamburger: 34, 1 pound each (34)
stew meat: 4, 1 pound each (4)
arm roasts: 2 (4)
chuck blade roasts: 4 (10.5)
sirloin tip roast: 2 (4)
rump roasts: 1 (2)
round steak: 2 (5)
swiss steak: 2 (4)
t-bone steak: 2 (3)
rib steak: 3 (4.5)
sirloin steak: 4 (5.5)
porterhouse: 1 (2)

The next four are things we have never really eaten, but I asked for them and am hoping to be courageous and give them a try. Or to hide them in things if necessary! Since we paid for them I figured we should take them and eat them if at all possible too.

liver: 3 (3)
tongue: 1 (2)
heart: 1 (2.5)
oxtail: 1 (1.5)

Asked for fat to render and large bones to make stock--got about 10 pounds of each (not included in calculations.) Ended up with 7 quarts of beef stock and 7 or so pints of beef tallow.

Asked for soup bones and short ribs, but were not in the order when I got home. Contacted Cedar Road Meats and she checked into it right away after asking me to double check what I had brought home. After comparing my list to theirs they could only guess as to where they went. They were not able to find so replaced with beef they butchered, but wasn't from Miller Farms. They estimate I would have gotten about 3 pounds of each, so am adding those 6 pounds into final numbers. They did give us a bit extra to make up for the trouble and we arranged to pick up at a farmer's market closer to our home as the butcher shop is about an hour away.

Total weight of meat brought home (and estimates of soup/short ribs): 97.5 pounds
Total paid: $398.07

Total paid/pound of meat brought home: $4.08 (Based on Luke's estimates I had figured roughly $4.11/pound would be our final total. I don't think he could have gotten much closer!)

Percent of hanging weight: 65% now in freezer (He had estimated 68%)

So when order a quarter or half of beef it is important to remember that you will not be getting 100% of the hanging weight back for the freezer. I've seen other bloggers suggest that on a whole cow they only lost about 30 pounds of weight total, but that is not accurate. Typically you will lose 40% or (much) more on an average quarter, half or whole cow. Our percentage was 'better' because we asked for bones to be left in and we ordered from a farm that is working to increase the percentage by breeding different genetics. Different breeds of beef cattle have different meat percentages and it makes sense to find one that does a good job of converting grass into meat to maximize your yield. You lose a lot of weight to the large bones. We also would have had a lower percentage if we did not take the 9 pounds of liver, heart, tongue and the oxtail.

Also hanging weight is taken right after butchering. The meat is very wet and weighs more than it will after it ages and drys. Any good butcher will let the meat age or rest for 7-14 (or more) days before butchering. At that point you've lost a fair percentage of weight to evaporation, but it is good because the flavor has improved.

We love the beef we got. Some people talk about grass fed beef as being tough or odd flavored. I can only imagine that they have gotten an inferior product or are not used to the flavor beef should be. Our meat is tender, juicy and really wonderful! Mike doesn't like steak (I know, weird right?) but even he loved the rib steaks I made from our quarter. I recommend working with Miller Brothers if you have the chance. I do not think you will be disappointed.

All in all the price per pound is much more than I used to pay for meat. However we got many cuts I never, ever bought before. We also got the added value of beef tallow and lots of stock. And most importantly we have peace of mind as to how our cow was raised, how it was butchered and feel good about the meat we are eating and local families we are supporting. We will eat off this quarter for at least a year which makes the cost that much more affordable. We have already reserved a quarter for next fall to be prepared for 2012 and our growing family needs!

Happy Eating,

Just a note since everyone seems to need disclaimers for everything now...Miller Brothers and Cedar Roads have no idea I posted this. I did send my break down to Luke at Miller Brothers after I figured it out so that he would have something to pass onto other questioning potential customers like me. I did not and do not expect to get anything from anyone for posting this :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy (Belated) St. Valentine's Day

We had a nice Valentine's Day here at home this year. Oh wait, that is what we do every year! I started the morning by making my boys pink heart pancakes. Isn't that what every man and his son want for breakfast? Actually, Little Guy asks for pancakes, waffles and couscous for breakfast every single day. Having me home full time has gotten him out of his oatmeal for breakfast routine a bit more!

So back to the day...we had pancakes that I dyed using a little beet juice. I'm trying to get myself away from artificial coloring more and more and thought I'd give it a whirl. It turned out really pretty, but the pancakes got very golden so they no longer looked pink when baked. The taste was great though! For lunch we had leftovers so nothing special there, but our dinner is a tradition! We had homemade garlic bread, seriously kicked up mac and cheese, roasted broccoli spears, A&W in frosted mugs, and hot fudge cake for dessert. It was a great meal and a nice day all in all.

I topped off the Valentine's Day food the next morning by making eggs in a hole heart style. They turned out really cute and were appreciated most by Mike. I didn't realize that he loves those so much and need to make an effort to make them more often!

Here's hoping you had a wonderful Valentine's Day surrounded by those you love!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What an exciting time to live in Wisconsin! The entire state is having a blast celebrating the Packer's big victory and we couldn't be happier. We were invited to a friend's house to watch the Superbowl, but since Peanut wasn't feeling the best and Little Guy is just on the mend we decided not to chance being out late and around new germs.

Turns out it was a good decision. Peanut got sick during half time. Really sick, scared Mommy sick. She had been warm and obviously not feeling good all day, but nothing too bad and pretty much just par for the course with this yucky cold thing. Then she was really, really warm and just not acting or looking right. Took her temp it was 102.5. Not good news. We called the after hours number at our pediatrician's office and when the doctor called back he wasn't overly worried. He just wanted us to bathe her, give her Tylenol and watch her. If it got above 104 go to Children's ER. And he had to go, he was watching the Superbowl, click. Seriously? I was basically hung up on by the doctor because of the game.

In the end her temp came down to about 100 after a scary period where she got kind of listless and I spent most of the night up with her nursing and comforting and checking temps and such. Yesterday the nurse at the office was much more thorough and comforting, but we may have a while to go with this. And if other symptoms get worse we may still be going in. But she reassured me a ton after she heard that we've never dealt with much sickness other than some diaper rash issues with Little Guy. We've been really lucky.

I'm up early with her this morning and she is doing pretty well temperature wise. She's got a cough that isn't fun, but I'm more hopeful that this will pass without major complications. Here's hoping my response system can quiet down now too. I've been a bit strung out on worry and lack of sleep the last few days!

Woohoo Packers!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Old Man Winter is Roaring!

It appears that half of the country is either in the middle of or just through a major weather event. We are midway through, but the worst is just arriving according to our weather predictors here in Wisconsin. I believe they are forecasting somewhere between 14-18" of snow by noon fun.

The kiddos have been fighting pretty bad colds for a while now. And today I can feel it marching up my throat and across my body. And Daddy leaves very early on Thursday morning for 3 days. Wonder why I ran to the library today during nap time and picked up a slew of new books and a few Thomas videos? I have a feeling we'll be laying very, very low until the weather is past and we are all finally past this cold nonsense. We've been so blessed with healthy kids that it really makes it hard to watch them cough and sneeze and not sleep and just not feel good. Here's hoping we all get through this soon!

Stay Warm!

Friday, January 28, 2011

I'm Hungry

My little toddler is growing up! For the first time he came into the kitchen and said "Mommy, I'm hungry." I realize that is a pretty simple sentiment, although lately it seems to be one that expresses a feeling he has all. the. time. I can only imagine how much he'll want to eat when he is a teenager!

But why the excitement about the sentence? He really has only started using me and I in the last couple of weeks. He has used his name for a long time now, but everything was referred to as "Little Guy hungry" or "Little Guy trains." Then recently the word I showed up. And then it was "I hungry." But the other evening, totally unprompted he came over and said "I'm hungry."

Recently he has started pointing at himself and saying (in a very excited and exuberant voice) "ME!" which he follows up with his whole name. Of course, he often then points and me and says "ME" followed up by "Mommy, Heather." Yes, we've been working on 'whole names' so he knows his and his sister's which led also trying to work on Mommy and Daddy's as well. There is nothing cuter than a 2 year old saying his first, middle and last name and then his sister's as well. Now, how to teach him that I am not 'me'. At least not to him, only to me. It gets a bit confusing to explain!

I find it so interesting to watch how his language develops. First it was signing, then words and signs, then just words. Recently signs have shown up again as we prepare to start showing Peanut them as well. And when he gets really mad or really wants something he'll totally bust out the 'more' sign! And he has never totally lost the please and thank you signs either.

After words came a few words together, then more complex thoughts in simple sentences. He figured out possession really quickly thereafter. I think "Grandma purse" was the first one and from then on every item had the owner's name attached! Now is the I and me time and putting together really coherent sentences. I find it adorable to watch him say something and then go back and say it again, but more grammatically correct. Language is an amazing thing to watch develop!

Of course, he is still often difficult to understand. He uses 'no' an awful lot of times when I would rather he didn't. He was rather late to that party though, which I am very grateful for! And he still doesn't say "MINE" when his sister grabs his trains. Unfortunately I have no doubt that it is coming. He has a long way to go before he is a great orator, but watching him get there is so fascinating!

Happy Speaking!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Isn't Included

As you might guess there are a few things that might not be included in our grocery budget. And in the interest of full disclosure in case anyone is comparing or competing (which you SHOULD NOT be doing) I thought I'd list those items out. And really because I am keeping records and want to have a good comparison from year to year this will help me in future years.

What is NOT in the grocery budget 2010

*toiletries or paper goods
*canning supplies
*seeds or tomato plants
*Cola soda used for late night trips home from gigs (but any other soda, including root beer is)
*Chocolate stash (but baking chocolate, chips, etc are)
*Gift baskets of food for Great-Grandparents

To explain a few of these...

We visited my grandparents over Christmas this year. I'm so fortunate that I still have all four grandparents and they are all pretty healthy, still living in their own homes! My oldest grandfather just turned 90 and my youngest grandmother is 83. They are hard to buy for as they have what they want and do not like a lot of clutter. I decided to fill a big grocery bag of baking items for them for Christmas. I bought things like chocolate chips, flour, sugar, and spent about $30 total on both families by watching sales and getting good deals. I included that in our gift giving budget, not in our grocery budget. Other food gifts like the truffles I made the neighbors and granola I gave to friends were made with food from our regular groceries.

We have a serious chocolate problem in this house. We love it to much. So after Christmas I stock up big time on 50% or 75% off name brand candy that I won't buy otherwise. I think I spent about $50 or so last year...yikes. But it lasted all yearn, made my husband happy and is not included in our grocery budget.

Once a month Mike plays a gig that lasts late into the night and then he has to drive over an hour to get home. He does this on Friday and then Saturday night on the weekend he plays. In order to stay awake he drinks 1-3 cans of cola on the way home each of the two nights. As we never drink this otherwise I consider it a business cost, not a grocery budget cost. We rarely drink soda other than an occasional root beer but any other soda bought is put into the grocery budget.

And as for the rest...our budget is just for food. If I buy something else at the grocery store it gets subtracted out and put into a different category. Canning supplies and plants/seeds maybe should be counted, but I never have before so for now I'm going to keep going how I've done it. If we get to a point where we are raising a very large percentage of our own food then I'll probably start including them, but not for now!

Happy Budgeting!

Monday, January 24, 2011

When We Have the Room

Right now we are in a home that has a tiny city lot. I try and garden as much as possible wherever the trees do not totally obscure the ground below. This means that the room for playing is primarily under the huge tree that is tucked between our home and our garage. So far we've got a turtle sandbox, a couple of free and new to us cars/tractors/things, and a toddler swing in the branches of the tree.

Growing up we had a huge swing set that my dad built for us. It had a big sandbox as the base and two or three swings, a rope swing and room for more things to be added. I think the idea was that there would be a slide, a teeter totter and a few other things, but they just never happened.

My hope is that someday we'll have a great big swing set for our kids to play on. It might come from this store or maybe we can get my dad to come and make one :) Kind of doubt that second one!

I've just peeked around a bit, but is one of the stores that is part of the CSN group of stores. I've ordered from CSN once before and had a good experience. The ice cream maker that I gave the family for Christmas is a big hit! In fact we'll be finishing up a batch of cake batter ice cream that I made in it once Mike gets home from a neighbor's house.

Happy Shopping!


Yes, we are that excited! We are not the world's biggest fans or anything and we most definitely did NOT spend $9000 per ticket to go to the game, but we were cheering like crazy yesterday as our Packers won the NFC championship. We were really sweating for a long time, but in the end it came out like we had hoped!

And now we only have to beat a team that has won every Superbowl they've been in except for the first time they were there. With a QB that has won two of them and a coach that has won one of them. --yikes--

But we are favored to win? Huh?

We are just hoping and yes, even our priest is praying that the Packers are the next Superbowl CHAMPS!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Canning Recap

This is for my own notes than anything else. I need to get my recipes down somewhere so I hope to link back to them. For now it is a list to help me remember what got done this year!

What I canned in 2010

Diced tomatoes
Tomato Salsa
Green Salsa/Enchilada Sauce
Diced Pears
Chicken Stock
Beef Stock
Zucchini Relish
Dill Pickles
Dilly Beans
Tomato soup
Split Pea soup
Lentil soup

What I froze

Green Beans
Swiss Chard
Roasted Eggplant
Green Peppers
Freecycle Fruit

Storage Vegetables
25 pounds small Yukon Gold Potatoes
50 pounds medium White Russet Potatoes
1 bushel Butternut, Spaghetti, and other squash
19 Acorn Squash
3 Cabbage
10 pounds of Empire Apples

Things to change next year:

More Cabbage for Sauerkraut and for eating fresh
Second bushel of squash (mostly Butternut)
Freeze many more quarts of Green Beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Zucchini and Carrots
May need to can jam again (check stores--did in 2009)
May need to freeze corn again (check freezer--did in 2009)
Second 50 bag of potatoes with plan to freeze mashed and hash browns as they sprout
At least 10 cups of pesto in freezer

Happy Preserving!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Grocery Budget 2010 Wrap Up

Grocery Budgets...they are the fodder for many a blog post and even entire blogs, aren't they? They cause much angst and competition and are all as different as the families they feed.

I'm not posting ours in order to compete or to compare. I'm posting ours so I have a record and to encourage others who might be transitioning to a more local, seasonal, organic way of eating. We have been and are continuing to do so in baby steps!

In 2008 and 2009 my husband and I spent approximately $1300/year on groceries. I do not have the exact figures (where the heck did they go?) but it was within a few dollars of that each year. I had budgeted $100/month and there always seemed to be one or two months that added on to make it a 13 month year! I realize this number is very low for most families. This only fed 2 adults and I did almost all of our cooking from scratch. I make most of our bread products and use almost no prepackaged snacks or meals. I bought (and still buy) loss leaders at the grocery store and during those years really stocked up on meat when I found an amazing sale or marked down packages. I know I bought chicken for $.29/lb and often bought hamburger for about $.90/lb.

In 2009 we made the decision to change the way we ate. We had always eaten fairly well...lots of veggies and fruit, I grew what I could on our little city lot, I made things from scratch and (other than our chocolate obsession) we didn't eat much that most would consider junk food. However, we did eat conventional meat and didn't make a big deal about which veggies or fruit we were eating. I watched "Food, Inc" and read the book. I read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and "Eating Animals" and many other books. I got disgusted about the state of food in our nation. And decided things had to change in our house if we wanted things to change in the industry.

So in late 2009 and all of 2010 I made a much more conscious effort to buy local produce and eat it in season. I shopped our farmer's market like crazy and canned and froze as much as I could of what I could get cheaply in season. I threw a whole lot of tomato plants in the ground before Peanut was born (even among the evergreen shrubs in front of the house) and put some potatoes in a garbage can and put lettuce and basil and cilantro seeds in every pot and space I could. I canned many quarts of tomatoes from those plants and the seconds I bought at the farmer's market. We ate a lot of salads from all those tiny lettuce seeds. We are still loving the pesto that I froze from our basil plants. And I'll be planting even more this year since Mike turned out to be a BIG fan of pesto.

We were able to pick apples, pears, and glean a finished garden (including 19 acorn squash) from friends that live about 2 hours away. It was a busy, fun, beautiful fall day of collecting and visiting with good friends. And the week that followed was a busy time of canning and freezing! As the farmer's market wound down I bought a bushel of squash, 75 pounds of potatoes and 4 heads of cabbage to help tide us over the winter with local produce.

I stopped buying meat from the grocery store and started getting a few things from the one meat vendor at the farmer's market. Her prices shot up a lot this summer and while I know it is fair I was blanching even at the much lower prices that I paid back in April. We ate a lot less meat through the spring and summer. We never ate huge amounts, but we ate a lot, lot less. I finally found a chicken product I was okay with in Smart Chicken. I know it is still not pastured and it is not eating everything a chicken should eat. However it is air chilled and that makes me very happy. After I read how poultry is processed in 'water' it made me seriously reaffirm my desire to buy food that I trusted not just what was cheapest. I bought a couple of local, pastured chickens at Outpost when they had their truckload sale and I wish I had bought even more, but we just didn't have the freezer space to spare. I am now paying $2 or more for chicken on average. I only buy whole chickens and I break them down myself or I get legs if they are cheaper. I have found marked down Smart Chicken at Woodman's occasionally and that makes me a very happy girl indeed. The markdowns often come down to $1 a pound or so!

We bought a 1/4 of a grass fed, no added anything cow from Miller Brothers. It was ready in November and we have been loving it! We were never big beef eaters before, but this meat is wonderful and I know the animal was raised right and was treated right until the very end. The farmer makes a living, the small family owned butcher shop makes a living and we got a superior product. Our beef came out to about $4/pound when you figure out the weight of what we actually brought home. They also saved me the fat and I've rendered it out. An interesting new thing that I tried and a fat source for cooking that I feel better about than most conventional products.

We are looking into getting 1/2 pig from Miller Brothers when they have them available. That would be ideal as the pig would be totally pastured, no antibiotics, etc. If it doesn't work out fairly soon then we'll be getting one from a different local farm. We did stock up on bacon at the little processor in my grandparent's hometown in South Dakota. It is Mike's favorite bacon and the meat was local to the processor. I'm guessing it was confinement, but I've seen the farms in the area and know that it wasn't a CAFO for sure.

So what was the grand total after all this? We spent $2212.16 on groceries in 2010.

It was a BIG increase (almost $1000 more) but it was worth it to feed our family of 2 adults, one 2 year old and a baby who is a month into solids. We have almost an entire 1/4 of meat in the freezer, bacon for a year, and still have many, many jars of canned goods. Overall we have a lot more food in this house right now than we did last January. We have eaten almost all the frozen vegetables, but are going to have a second chest freezer for me to fill next summer so I'll have enough for more months. I also will have more room because I will not have the two big boxes of milk that I pumped and saved for Peanut. That milk took precedence as I can buy groceries and I can't buy her my milk!

All in all I feel good about what we are doing and where we are headed. We have a long way to go, but we like the changes we've made! Next step is probably getting a grain mill and starting to grind our own grains. I'm excited, but does anyone have any idea where I can buy non-GMO wheat here in Milwaukee for a good price? And I'd like to make all our eggs free range and our milk local and and and doesn't really end, does it? :)

Happy Eating!

New Post?!?!

Does that button even work anymore? Hi there blog, I'm Heather. It is nice to see you here in a whole new year! We've had a great Halloween, Thanksgiving, birthday, Christmas, New Years. Thank goodness I'm stopping back by before it is Valentine's Day!

Okay, really I do plan to start blogging more again. I know I've said that before, but as long as Peanut starts sleeping better again it will be true! We moved her out of the co-sleeper into the crib and it seems to be helping. Instead of being right next to me she is now just outside our bedroom, maybe 10 feet away. The change is good because she was waking up with every movement I made and I was waking up with ever movement she made. It meant we were both awake a lot and if she was awake she wanted to nurse. Or sometimes she didn't really want to nurse, she wanted to sleep, but because she was awake and so was I she'd try and nurse. Then she'd get upset and be awake longer and then I'd be a cranky, tired mom. This has not been fun. Especially since she was a terrific sleeper from such an early age. I'm excited that we are back on track!

We are off to toddler story time at the big library today. We went there a few weeks ago when my mom was in town and Little Guy enjoyed it. We were at the preschool story time and only stayed for one story. I figured he did well and we wanted to excuse ourselves before things turned south! He did get to play with the train table, lego table, climb the light house and just have a blast in the library. Central library has the best children's wing I have ever seen. We love our neighborhood library a whole lot, but it is a fun treat to visit central!

I am looking forward to posting about how our year of grocery change has wrapped up. The budget was much bigger as expected, but still okay. I also want to update my canning inventory for last summer and how it is holding up. I am hoping to record some of my favorite recipes and even start posting pictures again! And (of course) there will be kids stuff because it is what happens around here on a daily basis. Will there be an opportunity to start scrapbooking again? It is amazing what a few more hours of sleep (all in a row) can do to a girl!