Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Note About a Grad Students Social Life

So, Hubby as been attending school for nearly 2 months now and I have come know a few things.
  1. While he is not technically graded on Networking Parties; it is important to always attend, look sharp, and be sociable.  If these parties were graded it would be Pass/Fail where it is much easier to fail than pass since first impressions can be decided in seconds.
  2. If spouses/significant others are invited to said parties it is necessary to attend--more importantly it is necessary to look just as great/impressive as the student looks--as you are a reflection of that student and therefore a part of their resumé.  I know it is hard to swallow but it is true--when you are in the students world it is your job to make them look good.
  3. It is your job to make the student look good because every single person there is a potential contact to a dream job.
  4. But on the fun side, you get to have plenty of beautiful and classy clothes!  Just think of them as a necessary investment in your future.  If the student needs them so do you--although they might need more variety because spouses/significants are not always invited.
I hope to learn more.  Some of the wives that I have met are intense and intimidating!  (Not that I let them know that I am thinking those things)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Baby Proofing My Desk -- Part 2

As an update, Honey Bear cannot reach anything dangerous....  However, to quote Hubby, I have just "kicked the bucket down the road" because the top of my desk has become a disaster and I am always out of time to organize.  Which sucks because organizing is my bliss--sappy and sad but noetheless true.

In order to even get this far I had to breakout the hand-me-down Pack 'n' Play for Honey Bear because I needed to have my back turned for at least a few minutes at a time in order to get ANYTHING down at all and he is just a little too quick, interested, and smart to not be fully supervised in a "construction zone."  As luck would have it it took him all afternoon to realize that he was being restrained since I have never had the play pen out before, instead it was something new and interesting to investigate for a couple hours!

Now it is time to move onto the top of the desk, it must be organized before being photographed--it must!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Baby Proofing My Desk -- Part 1

Well, the time has come.  My baby is mobile.  So, here are my two thoughts (1) Awwww, he is growing up so fast! and (2) Ah, crap!  My entire living room is still a death trap. 

Here is my problem, our family computer is in the living room and I like it set up to have excess wires underneath the desk--which happens to be at just the right height for a baby to chew on when supervision glaces away for any longer than 2 seconds.  Now, since the idea of baby gating off half the living room in order to protect the computer and flat screen T.V. is actually more irrational in reality than one hopes; I have to reorganize all cords to protect everything that inhabits my home at any given time (inanimate or otherwise).

Here is the problem with each detail clearly marked with a giant red circle:
My messy desk in all its glory.

The underside of my desk.  The plan is to
reorganize everything to be on top of the desk.
Notice all the insane hazards?  Yeah, me too.  Only to Honey Bear they are fun playthings to explore, lick, and bite.  I have to get this all finished this week....hopefully each and everyone of those circles will disappear.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Peas, Please!

Where to begin….Well, as I have mentioned I have a wonderful little boy who is very close to 8 months old and I have been feeding him veggies and fruits since he was 5 ½ months (it went badly for a couple weeks so I suppose the solids officially stuck at 6 months). Before he was born I decided that I wanted to make his baby food myself.  My reasons at the time were purely health related. I wanted to make sure that Honey Bear was getting as many vitamins from his foods as possible and no chemicals. I realize that eventually we all get some chemicals of some kind in our system but I am trying to keep that to a minimum for as long as possible.

Today, I made another batch of peas—this one is my third batch so far. Now, to site my sources I have been using a great site called Momtastic—Wholesome Baby Food to guide me in this endeavor. Granted, for this particular veggie I didn’t need guidance on how to cook it since it is a common one in my home; however, it did shape my decision to cook the peas on the stove instead of the microwave. According to them, microwaving can destroy large amounts of nutrients depending on the food but (and here is the reason that I love this site) they don’t lay on a guilt trip if you disagree with them. They admit that they do everything the ideal way but still encourage you to make as much homemade baby food using whichever method as your schedule/desire to do so allows. They make it plainly obvious what their opinions of the best options are but never criticize anyone for choosing an easier method.

This time around I chose to cook the peas on the stove because I wanted to make a large batch of 32 ounces of frozen peas. Afterwards, I drained the peas but kept the cooking water.

As you’ll notice, the water is no longer clear but a thin green. This is because during cooking the peas leak nutrients. I keep the water because the peas need to be thinned a little in order to puree them and I would rather do that with nutrient rich water instead of plain water.

Look closely; you can see the water line about halfway up.
I just put my peas in my regular blender to puree.  Once in the blender I added some of the reserved water to the jar—my goal is to cook the veggies in as little water as possible so I can return all the nutrients that leaked out to the mixture. This time it didn’t work out for me and I had left over nutrient rich water. Oh well, next time maybe.

(You can just barely see my son's reflexion on the jar)
(Yes, the white-ish blob in the middle)
I'm really happy with the consistency that I ended up with so I didn’t need to add any more water to thin it out. I hope you can notice the bits of pea skins left over, I tried to leave it a little more textured this time since my Honey Bear is getting older—if you can’t see it that’s because it really isn’t too textured but just a little more than my last batch of peas.

Instead of using some fancy, pre-measured cups to freeze my baby food I use my ice cube trays that I already had (I’m saving money left and right! Wahoo!) and since our new apartment had a nicer freezer that came with its own space saving ice cube trays mine have been out of commission for a while. After scooping the goodness into the trays covering it with plastic wrap is useful to prevent some freezer burn. This was another suggestion that came from Momtastic and I love it because I was all set to buy a couple sets of Baby Food Freezer Tupperware and this works so much better (for me) than I imagine the other system would have. This is because the veggie cubes pop out once frozen and store nicely in quart sized freezer bags which then get stuffed wherever they fit best in my crowded freezer at the time! Basically, it’s awesome. I’ll get you a picture of the peas in bags soon; they are just not fully frozen yet.

The ice cube trays in general end up being about 1 ounce each, I’ve tested my trays with my digital scale and they averaged out to about 0.92 ounces and my son eats 4-5 cubes a day. (I’ve tried over filling them but that turned out to be a bad idea. I’ll show you why when we cover squash!)

Some days it is inconvenient to make my own baby food but I try to work around that by making larger batches. Nutrients stay intact for about a month so I try to space out making batches of fruits and veggies and only do it on days that work for me. So far, so good.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

PaperBackSwap: New (To You) on a Budget

My sister loves to read and her library is quite impressive.  The best part is that her library is constantly changing.  She manages to do this with very little cost by using a great website called PaperBackSwap.com.  I am not sure where she heard of this site but it has quickly become a favorite of hers and mine and every Book Lover that we tell about it.

The way that PaperBackSwap.com works is that (1) you post all the books that you are ready to get rid of by their ISBN, (2) mail the books that others request to them thus earning credits, and (3) request books from others with the credits that you earned mailing out your old books.  The site is pretty awesome in that it is a one-to-one swap but it ends up being a three-way swap because you send your book to one person and get a book from another.

There is no cost to become a member but there is some cost involved.  You are responsible for the cost of mailing your book to the new owner.  But by extension the other person is paying to send their book to you so it all evens out pretty well.  So, the only money that you spend goes directly to the post office and can be very little depending on book weight.  (There is an option to get the postage though PaperBackSwap.com but I think there is a small fee to use that so I never do, instead I just stop by the Post Office when I am already out doing errands)

I have used this site several times, primarily with Hubby’s old Spanish textbooks.  In college, he was required to read some Spanish Literature but the college bookstore never bought them back and he held on to them hoping that the next semester the bookstore would.  This also worked on textbooks that I couldn’t get rid of either.  This isn’t a quick fix for most random books but eventually I was able to get rid of our old books and choose new ones.

Getting books is really easy and you can pick out ones from every genre.  The one that I am most interested in right now is the Children’s books because of my 7 month old, Honey Bear (because he is such a sweet little boy!)  And, you don’t have to worry about condition because PaperBackSwap.com has standards that everyone has to follow.  I have never had a problem so far and I don’t anticipate any in the future.

If there are any books that you feel that you have read enough and are ready for something new on a budget I strongly recommend PaperBackSwap.com!

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tracking Down the Perfect Laptop

Hubby is currently preparing to begin his first year at Business School.  He starts a two week long Orientation on August 16th which is also the day after his last day of steady employment.  This is because Hubby’s school makes everyone sign a contract that they will not work (paid or unpaid) in any way during their first year of Business School.  Yeah, I’m nervous. 

We are trying to find him a great laptop with a whole list of minimum requirements that Hubby’s school has—not to mention the minimum requirements that Hubby has himself.  Right now we are comparing computers from BestBuy.com, SamsClub.com, Amazon.com, Costco.com, basically everywhere.  I really recommend not being impulsive on this matter since it is such a big purchase.  Plus, being thorough helps me to be less paranoid.
I also believe that the extended warranty is a great idea for school laptops.  Think about it, if you have the money now to get a laptop you probably have that little bit extra to pay for an extended warranty (which in our case only needs to be a two-year plan since Business School is only that long.  I think the smartest plan is to get a warranty that is for at least the length of your program if possible—law school: three-years; med school: four-years plus). 

Now here is my reasoning, and it has nothing to do with frivolous spending but everything to do with peace of mind, a year and a day from now (when the basic manufacturer’s warranty runs out) we will not have the money to buy a completely new computer and that is when things are more likely to break.  I also believe in the accidental plans too but they are more expensive and if you trust yourself and everyone who could come near it this might not be necessary and skipping it could save some money.  Seeing as we will soon have a small person toddling around I think that we need the accidental plan…Hubby disagrees, I’ll keep you posted on who wins that one.
It is a long and frustrating process but in the end I think Hubby will be happier knowing that we checked out every option.  Otherwise, if he were to stumble across something better that was available at the time of purchase I know he would be disappointed.

I do have some guidelines to make it a little less convoluted:
·         Decide what is important for your computer to do for you.  Create a list, and this list does not have to use computer jargon!  There are plenty of people out there who can translate what you want into the actual product.  Know what sort of things you will be using this computer for—different programs make the computer run slower and slower.  So, if you want a fast computer but you also want to run a slow program your computer will need to compensate for that and the sales clerks can help you pick that out.

·         After you have picked out your ideal computer compare prices.  Even if you are in a store and don’t have a smart phone this can be done without leaving.  Lately, more and more computer stores are hooked up to the internet—not necessarily all the computers on display but a couple.  Log on and type the model number (ask the clerk) into your favorite search engine (I prefer Yahoo.com even though I still say that I am going to ‘Google it”) and it will bring up the price at various online and real world stores.  Then decide where you want to buy it—keeping shipping costs in mind.
Wish us luck.  Laptop hunting is hard. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wife, Mother, Moonlight Blogger

My name is Heather and I am the wife of a soon to be MBA student and a brand new mother. 

Hubby and I have been married for four years and during that time I finished college with a BS in Home & Family Living from Brigham Young University.  I am now counting on my major to guide me through the next two years.  Hubby, having finished his degree from BYU before I met him, has been working a good, steady job this whole time.  His plan has always been to attend a graduate school and he picked Business School in order to get his Masters of Business Administration.
To be perfectly honest, our marriage has been low on financial stress to this point having been able to pay our bills easily as long as we budgeted and were reasonably careful with purchases.  Doing so, we’ve been able to save up some money for Grad School but definitely not all that we would need for 2 years. 
Now, this is going to sound insane but…Hubby is voluntarily and intentionally quitting his job to return to school for a 2 year MBA program.  And thus begin our financial struggles.  This is going to be a crazy adventure but we are sure that it is best for our future…in the meantime it is probably going to suck.  How much it sucks, I have decided, is up to me and my awesome Home & Family skills I picked up in college.
My job is to keep the home running and figure out a way to survive off our savings and live on student loans while raising our incredibly adorable son.  So my goals as the wife of a Grad Student are these:
·         Make do with our saving and student loans without borrowing more than necessary


·         Keep Hubby’s stress exclusively oriented around school and not finances or the home


·         Raise our sweet, energetic son with all the love and attention that I can give him


·         Run the home efficiently by managing the costs of groceries and other regular purchases


·         Enjoy life on a shoestring budget
I am quite certain that I can find ways to achieve all this without losing my mind…or at least not all of it.
So here I am, a wife and mother who Moonlights as a Blogger.