Tuesday, August 30, 2011

a little bit about me

back in the day...

menewyorkwithbriannatmp94_1024x768dance recitalsurfer girl

right now...
How do you like your steak? rare, medium-rare

What is your favourite TV show? of all time? Friends. currently? Hot in Cleveland.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Oceanside, CA.

Favorite place to eat? BJ's

Where were you born? Rockville Centre, New York (Long Island)

Favorite baby/kids products? clothes: Carter's (thrifted of course), lotion: Aveeno, food: homemade

Are you a cat or dog person? Cat.. meeeeow.

Favorite flower? gerbera daisy

What was your favorite vacation? It's a tie between Seattle and Washington DC, my 2 favorite cities (other than Sandy Eggo)

Coffee drinker? Nope. Tea, strong and bitter.

Monday, August 29, 2011

backyard photo shoot

Ok so I've officially become the mom that blogs almost always about her baby. But can you really blame me? I mean, look at this face:


I hope you're enjoying the last days of summer outside. We are (at least during the not as hot parts of the day).

"So long sweet summer.
I stumbled upon you and gratefully basked in your rays
So long sweet summer.
I fell into you,
Now you're gracefully falling away"

~Dashboard Confessional

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 26, 2011

baby on a budget

A friend recently asked me what our budget is for Isaac. She's pregnant and is trying to set a budget for when the baby is born. To be completely honest, our baby budget is almost nothing. I don't see the point in spending a ton of money on brand new items that will only be used or worn for a few months. Nor do I feel it's necessary to buy premade food. So here it is...

thrift tip: keep baby costs low

Our current monthly baby expenses are:

diapers: $13.01- I buy one pack of 96 Fisher Price diapers through Amazon.com using Subscribe and Save. It's delivered automatically once a month (you can set it to however many times a month you'd like). Because I'm signed up for Amazon Mom, I get 30% off my diapers. We cloth diaper part time and so we don't use all that many disposables (we usually don't even get thru the whole box by the time the next one arrives).

For wipes we buy the giant pack of 900 at Costco. I bought 3 boxes when Isaac was born (7 months ago) and we still have several packs (100 each) left. I also sign up for free samples of wipes whenever I see them and they're perfect for carrying around in my purse. Otherwise I just put a few wipes in a ziplock baggie!

the cost of fruit and vegetables- Isaac eats whatever we eat. I don't buy any baby food or special food for him. If we have carrots, he eats carrots. If we have avocado, he eats avocado. And so on.

_MG_0182[the after-avocado-mess]

How do I keep costs low?:

Breastfeed!!! and pump- Breastfeeding is free. What can be better than free? Of course if you pump it will cost a little extra for baggies in which to store milk. And if you don't want to go all out on a automatic pump (and you're not planning to pump on a daily basis), I would suggest a manual pump. I know it might sound crazy, but they work just fine. I use one. It was only $30. And as far as breastfeeding pillows, regular pillows work just fine. Just stack them up on your lap and all around you. No need to spend big bucks on name brand pillows.

Don't get all the fancy stuff- Isaac dosen't have a swing. He never had a bassinet. His pack 'n play was given to us and is one of the old ones without all the extra pieces. He doesn't have a jumperoo. He doesn't have a walker. He doesn't have a Johnny Jump Up. He doesn't have a fancy bouncy chair with all the toys and lights and sounds (it was $2 at a garage sale). His umbrella stroller doesn't have a sun shade (he just wears a hat). And guess what, he's perfectly normal and is developing right on schedule (and ahead in some areas!). If I do buy him something brand new, it's from Walmart and it's small and cheap.

_MG_0378[elephant rattle, Walmart, $2]

Determine what you need before baby is born and register for everything!- Of course you may not get everything on your list, but this will better help you know what you'll need to get before baby comes. And you can get what you need with any extra gift cards or money you receive or you can just thrift it! But having a specific list and sticking to it will help reduce cost.

Shop secondhand- I don't buy anything brand new. If it wasn't given to us, it was thrifted (with the exception of a crib and mattress because we plan to reuse them several times). There is nothing wrong with using baby items that have been used before. This is the best way to buy clothes, especially since they are only worn for a few months at a time. Garage sale, thrift, borrow, hand-me-down. Isaac's high chair, dresser/changing table, nursery decor, bouncy chair and some clothes.

_MG_0980[onsie, thrifted. toy blocks, garage saled]

one a side note here: do not purchase a breast pump secondhand or borrow one unless it's one made specifically for sharing. You can wash all the pieces or buy new attachments but the motor cannot be cleaned and it's usually exposed to the milk. There can be bacteria still in the motor from the previous user.

What did I miss? Any tips for staying on a budget? Any questions about this topic I can answer??

Thursday, August 25, 2011

7 months

Dear Isaac,

Are you really 7 months old today?? I just cannot believe it.


You are:

-all boy
-crawling at full speed
-sitting on your own in shopping carts
-eating like a monster.. your favorite is whipped banana and avodaco (yes, together)
-sleeping 11-12 hours through the night (this has been since 5 months)
-napping twice a day
-nursing 4 times a day
-loving Jack Johnson (but I mean, who doesn't?)
-always headed for the kitty
-going from crawling to sitting on your butt all by yourself
-pulling yourself up to your knees (and can get one foot underneath you)
-always exploring everything.. we call you "baby magellan"
-still the cutest baby I've ever seen

I'm so excited for all the new discoveries you'll make this month. I can't wait to see what new milestones you'll reach. And most of all , I'm really looking forward to more time to love you, snuggle you and watch you grow.

Love you always,

Monday, August 22, 2011

birthdays and waffles and date nights and milestones!


1. milestone- pulling himself up, which means we lowered the crib mattress this week 2. Ben turned 2-?. Ya, it's a secret. He wouldn't want you to know 3. brunch on Sunday 4. said brunch 5. being so good in his high chair! 6. found this little guy on our front porch Friday night.. pretty sure we're going to keep him and call him Tex (since he's a Texas kitty. Our California cat's name is Cal. Cal and Tex) 7. spinach and artichoke pizza + strawberry lemonade + chocolate chunk pizookie + Chargers game = best night ever 8. "wanna fight mommy?" 9. date night

How was your week/weekend??

Friday, August 19, 2011

in memoriam: Isabella Marie

Tomorrow marks 3 years since we lost our baby Isabella. To celebrate the memory of her short life, I've decided to compile some pictures, journal entries, blog excerpts and emails that I wrote and received during the 25 weeks I was blessed to carry her in my womb.

June 10, 2008
From my pregnancy journal:
Today I found out that you are very sick. They think it is a chromosomal abnormality. That doesn't make you any less my baby. She (the ultrasound tech) said your heart beat is still strong and you are a little fighter for hanging in there so long! We are just praying that you aren't in any pain and that if it's God's will that He will heal you. I finally feel like your mom and cannot express how much I love you!
June 16, 2008
A prayer from a friend:
I pray that Jessi and Ben will just continue to see the Lord's fingerprints in all that they are facing, and see how only He can provide. He is our Heavenly Father who loves them. I pray that they will hold tight to that, and it will comfort them. He doesn't prevent all hardships, but he can grow us and bless us in amazing ways that we can always trust His ways over our own. Lord I just pray for Baby Bridges. We first pray for healing, but if that is not your will in this, we thank you that you have given this child to a mom who loves this child enough to trust you. Lord, we thank you for your Holy Spirit that knows the unspoken prayers and cries of the heart and brings these to you. Help us to remember to be vigilent in our prayers for Jessi. Give us sensitivity in this and wisdom if there is more you want for us to do for this family. Let us be used by you to be prayerful sisters in Christ. You are an awesome God!
June 28, 2008
From my blog:
I know that my God has a purpose for my life and my tiny little baby. That night I prayed for God to heal my baby, but above all, that he would receive all of the glory from the outcome of my brokenness and heartache. He has not left me during this time. In fact, I have never felt more peace about anything in my life. I know he holds the life of my baby in His hands. Psalm 139:13 says "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb" and Psalm 139:16 says"...All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." My baby belonged to the Lord before she was placed in my womb. Only He knows when her last day will be. All I can do is be faithful to Him and His plan. So, I will wait on the Lord. Psalm 130:5 "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.
June 28, 2008
From my pregnancy journal:
I received my amniocentesis results from Dr. Vo. I found out that you are a girl! We also found out that you have Turner Syndrome. We named you Isabella Marie this week.
June 30, 2008
Letter from a friend:
I am glad that you were able to get a diagnosis from your amnio. And what a relief that future pregnancies shouldn't be affected. I know it is still very difficult to be going through this pregnancy hoping for a miracle but preparing for the worst. It is a strange place to be. Just remember that God created Isabella just the way she is and knew that he could trust you and Ben to be her parents and love her just the way she is.
July 10, 2008
From my pregnancy journal:
I had an ultrasound today at the Women's Resource Center with Dawn. We recorded it for Ben. I saw Isabella suck on her umbilical cord and wave at me! Isabella is 20 weeks. Her heart rate was 152 bmp (still very normal!).
August 16, 2008
From an email I sent out:
Thank you to all of you who have been praying for my baby girl, for me and for Ben. This past Wednesday I had a routine OB appointment and my doctor was unable to find a heartbeat. We apparently lost her some time last week. Although it wasn't the outcome I was hoping for, this is how God chose to heal her. I know she is with her Heavenly Father and she is more perfect and beautiful now than she ever could have been here with us. Ben will be home tonight at about 11:30. It has been a battle in itself to get him home, but he is heading home. My doctor wanted to wait to set a date for delivery until he knew that Ben would be here with me.
August 22, 2008
A note I received from a friend:
Isabella has known only the most wonderful comfort of this world. The only world she knew here on earth was the warm, protective place from within you. She heard your voice, and was rocked to sleep by your movement. She was kept warm by your body, and was sheltered from all harm. When it was time for her to leave you, she knew no pain, no fear, no sadness. She went straight into her Savior's arms where she is warm and protected. She hears His voice, and is rocked to sleep by His movement. He keeps her warm, and shelter's her from all harm. She will never know pain, or fear, or sadness. She has only known the two most wonderful places, yours and His...
August 22, 2008
From my blog:
Late August 16, Ben arrived home from deployment to be with me during delivery and the memorial service. On August 19 at 7:30 a.m. I checked into St Rose Hospital to be induced for labor. At 5:45ish pm on August 20 I finally delivered. I chose to not see her as my husband suggested it would be too difficult because of her disorder.. so they wrapped her completely in a blanket and I held her for a little while. She weighed only about a pound.

Today we will meet with the funeral home and plan the arrangements for her funeral.

To conclude I would like to quote John MacArthur from his book Safe In the Arms of God:
Every child conceived is a God-created and God-loved person with a God-given purpose and destiny. God created your child. God loved your child and continues to love your child. God's purpose and destiny for your child are fulfilled perfectly, even if the child dies. The reality of that is beyond anything you can know fully this side of heaven.
Or as our pastor says, "no one dies early". Psalm 139 says: All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. If you have experienced the loss of a child, please be encouraged that God is still in control. He is always in control.

My favorite part of that last quote is "God's purpose and destiny for your child are fulfilled perfectly", which is the reason Isabella's grave marker says "All things to the glory of God." I could not have known how much God would use her life, my pain, my struggle, His peace in me and my experience to minister to others in the years to follow.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

thrift tip: who needs cable

Never once since we've been married (7 years) have we had cable. For a while we had the simplest package: all the major networks like NBC, ABC, CBS and some other random channels (of course half of them were in Spanish). But we've never had channels like MTV, TBS, USA, Spike or HBO. Nor have we ever had Tivo or DVR *gasp*.


The basic package used to cost $12 a month but over the course of time, it's been getting more and more expensive. I think last I checked it was something like $17.99. And yet, they haven't added more channels, and the quality hasn't gotten any better. Cable companies have just gotten greedier; which leads me to...

thrift tip: cancel all TV.
That's right. We don't have a single television channel. Zip, ziltch, nada.

And the more I mention it to other people, the more I find that we're not alone! There are lots of us non-cablers out there.

But alas, you don't have to go without. Through our XBOX we can stream Hulu and Netflix and it's alot cheaper than cable. With an HDMI cable, we can hook up our computer to the TV and stream news and football through websites like justin.tv and it's all FREE.


For those of you with children, Netflix has every single episode of Blues Clues, Yo Gaba Gaba and that PBS show with the astronaut guy. And it's waaaaaay cheaper than having a giant cable package with a million channels you don't even watch.

For Christians, there is Sky Angel (which we used to have) which streams through the internet on your television. They have different selections of Christian, chilren's and family programing. It's definitely worth checking out.

I've always said that if I had it my way, I would create an al la cart package where you pay a montly fee for only the channels you select. Doesn't that make sense?? But unfortunately there's too much regulation because companies will lose money.


So what about you?? Do you have cable or not? Have you considered canceling it??

I promise, it's not as bad as it sounds.. and there so much more peace and quiet and time to read!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

my 2011 booklist: update

I'm embarassed to report that I've hardly made any headway on my 2011 booklist. I had such high hopes for myself starting out this year!

And then I had a baby.

And moved.

And moved again.

And it's not as thought I haven't read at all. I've read several books not on my list, to include On Becoming Babywise (which literally changed our lives) and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

Trip to Dallas Aug 2011 077

But now it's mid-August and I'm barely finished with my February selections!! But my plan is not to give up and start again next year. My plan is to catch up! Ever since we cancelled our television, I've had a lot more time on my hands.. time that I can dedicate to reading. And that's what I intend to do!

With the exception of A Patriot's History of the United States (because it's just so long), I will have every book completed by the end of the year. Truly I would love to be completely caught up by December so that I can enjoy the 2 selections I've made for Christmas time.

Trip to Dallas Aug 2011 075

Last night I started Wild at Heart. Tonight I finished A Wrinkle in Time and this week I plan to finish Authentic Faith.

Trip to Dallas Aug 2011 076

Goals set.. now time for goals to be met!

Monday, August 15, 2011

thrift tip: used camping gear

We all know that camping stuff gets worn out and dirty. So why buy brand new stuff if you can just get it used? It's so much cheaper (and most of the time, dirt cheap)!! So, save some money and consider...

thrift tip: thrift and garage sale for camping gear.

[vintage book, thrifted, $1]

I learned this tip from my mom years and years ago. Lately I've been stocking up for when the weather cools down and we can take Isaac camping. Here are some of my latest finds:

[plastic bowls: 50cents for 3]

[pan: 25cents, collander: 25cents, 2 peelers: 50cents, spatula: 50cents]

[glass s&p shakers with lids: $1 for both]

[plastic egg carton: $1, green thermos: $2]

[folding chairs, $2 each]

If you see something you want, ask about it. Sometimes there are things that are visible in someone's garage that aren't necessarily for sale.. until you ask! The camping chairs above were out because the seller was using them. I've been looking for some so I asked if she was selling them. Her response was, "they can be." It never hurts to ask!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

day in the life: thursday

A friend suggested that I do a weekly "week in the life" post. I liked her idea so I will now be featuring a "day in the life" post every week. Yay!

And you know what?! I think you should join in!! It's super duper fun and really makes you think about new ways to take pictures.

Let me know if you post a "day in the life" on your blog so I can check it out!!


thursday: 1. wake up 2. trash day 3. crawl in the kitchen 4. unload dishwasher 5. breakfast 6. what i wore: shirt- Walmart, shorts- Gap clearance, shoes- Target 7. what he wore: jumper- Carters, garage sale 8. wash legos, gift from mom from the thrift store 9. pack Ben a lunch 10. Sam's club 11. get water 12. laundry 13. correspondence 14. wind blew the neighbor's fence over 15. make baby food 16. homemade garlic bread with dinner 17. football game and bed time for baby