Monthly Archives: September 2011

Couponing for Tuco

I’ve become a stingy frugal freak show who is bargain-crazy. This is what happens when your household goes down from two salaries to one—especially if there is a new human being to feed, clothe, and send to school some day.  And if said human being might need a lot of lessons to become a world-class violinist and a lot of one-on-one professional coaching to also earn a spot on the men’s US soccer team,* we need to save some serious scratch.

I feel guilty not having an income right now. But I also feel grateful to spend every day with my son while he is still a tiny nugget of cuteness who needs his mom. I’m so grateful, yet still so very guilty.

To squash the guilt a bit and feel like I’m contributing, I’ve made keeping costs down part of my new job as a parent.  Each week I cut coupons, go through sale papers, and check online for deals on things we use.  Yes, it takes a lot of time, but it’s all adding up to money saved for Tuco.  At the end of each week, I add up all the little “Today You’ve Saved” totals from my receipts, and I put that money into a savings account for Tuco.

Here’s how a successful purchase might go for me:

Let’s say I need to buy a tub of butter and it costs $4.79. (I really should have made the item organic apples so I sound cooler than I am, but admit it, every household needs butter.) I have a $1.00 coupon from Target, plus a $1.00 manufacturer’s coupon. Plus the tub of butter is on sale a dollar cheaper than the regular price. I purchase this $4.79 item for $1.79. And what if I get to the store and the tub of butter has a bonus 25% more free butter? Then I am queen of the motherflippin’ world.  Because of coupons, a sale, and bonus butter. Oh how things have changed.

Those three dollars will go into Tuco’s savings account for just this one item.  Add that to the $6.00 I will save on diapers, plus the $5.99 I’m going to save on buy one get one free turkey meat and that’s $14.99 saved in one trip. Booyakasha!

I realize this kind of savings isn’t going to cover 4 years of college plus all those violin and soccer lessons**, but it will help a little. More than that though, it helps my psyche tremendously to know I am trying my best to save something for the little guy. Was it Oprah or G.I. Joe that said, “A mother with a content psyche is half the battle”? Whoever it was, it’s so true.

 

*just kidding, just kidding.
**no pressure, Tuco. I’m honestly kidding.

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A New Series for AWT: Things I Want Tuco To Know

As a new mom, I have all sorts of ideas about what I want to teach to Tuco. I’d like to get these ideas into coherent words, so I’m going to be a total blogface and see how they come out here. I anticipate this becoming a series since there is so much I hope the boy will learn.

Today’s lesson for Tuco: DFW it when you can.

David Foster Wallace (hence the DFW in DFW it) is one of my husband’s and my favorite writers. He gave a fantastic commencement speech at Kenyon College where he talks about choosing to look at the mundane, sometimes infuriating daily routine in a different light.  The choice DFW talks about is something we try hard to remember every day. For example, if my husband gets annoyed with another driver who is following our car too closely, I say something along the lines of  “Maybe his wife just went into labor, and he’s trying to get home to take her to the hospital.”  My husband does the same thing for me when I get annoyed about something that doesn’t matter. It’s what we call DFWing it. I hope that DFWing it will be an ever-present component of our parenting and that it rubs off on Tuco as he gets older.

This portion of DFW’s speech sums up the point nicely for me:

“But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options.”

I truly hope we can make the choice to look differently at these day-to-day human annoyances that are impossible to avoid. Especially when Tuco is present. I hope it helps teach Tuco empathy and keeps him from turning into a ball-of-stress person who detests other people.  In other words, I don’t want him to be like his parents. We’ve gone so long not making the right choice that now we need constant reminding to DFW it.

It’s hard to believe the über-cute kid in this picture could ever not just love everyone. *sigh*

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Tuco is Five Months Old

Tuco turned five months old yesterday. It’s hard to believe the baby in the picture to the right is the same baby that Tuco is today.

Though I love the happy, smiling snapshots we’ve taken of Tuco, this picture is still my favorite. My husband took it just minutes after Tuco was born. I feel like the look on Tuco’s face expresses exactly how I was feeling at that moment: What just happened? What is going to happen? And though the details are too much for me to process right now, I know that my world has completely changed.

Tuco and I have come a long way since that picture was taken. In the last five months, we’ve become buddies. I can anticipate and understand his needs, and he can forgive me for making him take a nap.

He is in a fun stage right now. He’s doing something new every day, and smiles and laughs are abundant, which is my favorite part. I do look forward to his future development, when he can play games, ask me “why?” too many times, and give me a hug out of the blue (oh god, I have never wanted a hug more from anyone before). But with each milestone he reaches comes a twinge of nostalgia for newborn Tuco. Already I miss the cornsilk-like hairs that grew on the back of the head. I miss how he would sleep in his crib with his lips puckered and his tiny fists up by his round, Karl Pilkington head. I miss how he would make old man grunting sounds as he rooted on his little fingers when he was hungry. And most of all, I miss him falling asleep on me periodically with his legs in a frog position (see the picture to the left).

I suspect that these motherly longings for past phases will only get worse as Tuco gets older. If I’m this bad at five months, I bet I will be a wreck by the time he’s five years old.

Happy five-month birthday, m’boy.

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Tuco Tried To Eat, But Then He Cried

Tuco tried eating solid food for the first time. Though it doesn’t seem quite right to call it solid because this meal was just rice cereal flakes mixed with formula. The final prepared dish is just liquid with some lumps thrown in for texture. If it sounds gross that’s because it is gross.

At first Tuco was game. He seemed curious and excited to be sitting in a new chair. After dodging his grabby hands a couple times, I finally got the first spoonful in his mouth. Instantly his facial expression switched from a look of content to a look of bewildered discomfort. And then all the food fell out of his mouth and ran down his chin.

Tuco humored me with a few more mouth dribbles until he decided he couldn’t take it anymore. He started crying and all signs pointed to meltdown. Though it wasn’t very successful, it made for some great pictures. We’ll try again tomorrow.

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Want to feel like the world’s cruelest parent? Make sure your baby gets his vaccines.

I know, I know, it is for his own good, and in the long run it’s better to get the vaccines now rather than face a serious illness later. All that logic doesn’t help when my sweet little Tuco is crying so hard that little purple spots are showing up all over his head.

He did pretty well at the pediatrician’s office. He took an oral vaccination, and he didn’t cry. He just had a what-in-the-wide-wide-world-of-sports-is-a-goin’-on-here look on his face as he swallowed it down. The crying came when the nurse stuck him, first in the right leg and then in the left. He did calm down shortly afterwards and seemed fine, but the real crying didn’t start until the end of the day. It was close to his bedtime, and he was getting crabby and seemed uncomfortable. We decided to give him some Tylenol to help with any pain, so he could get a good night’s sleep.

As I put the medicine dropper into his mouth, he started to cry. It was as if something in his brain recalled the oral vaccination in the doctor’s office. He shot me a look as if to say, “You’re going to stick me in the legs next, aren’t you?” The crying intensified, and we couldn’t calm the poor guy down.

Eventually, my husband had Tuco in his nursery, trying to complete his bedtime routine by giving Tuco his last bottle for the day. I stood in the doorway watching and feeling absolutely terrible about everything. My husband seemed to be soothing Tuco, but having me in the room was a distraction for the little guy. I’m not sure if the sight of me was making him cry or if the distraction from the calm my husband was trying to create made him cry. I was affecting him in some way, and eventually my husband came over to me and said, “Sorry, I’m just going to do this” as he closed the door on me. Ouch. But I understood. Tuco was crying for a long time now and we needed to get him to go to sleep. Me pathetically lingering in the doorway wasn’t helping Tuco at all.

Tuco did go to sleep that evening, and the next day both he and I woke up just fine. His little Tweety Bird band-aids on each of his legs made me sad (see picture). They reminded me not only that the shots caused him pain, but also that he went to the doctor’s office thinking everything was all sunshine and lollipops. He smiled at everyone he encountered in the sweetest way as if they were his best pal. He had no idea they were going to stick him in the legs with needles. Seems like an early, heavy lesson that I don’t want my four-month old to learn.

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