Stella Marie Juarez


Tuesday, July 28, 2009


In the year 2014 your baby will start kindergarten.

In the year 2025 you'll be teaching your child to drive a car.

In the year 2027 you will be watching your child graduate high school.

Crazy huh?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

V Day

We have reached 24 weeks which is considered V-day..In other words, viability day!...If for some reason Stella made an early appearance, there is a very good chance of survival...of course, we want her to stay put for a while but this is a big milestone!

"This is another big week for your magical growing baby! Just take a look at the checklist for this week: 1) ears: done; 2) fingernails: done; 3) (if you have a boy) testicles: taking their 3-4 day trip from the abdominal wall to the scrotum; and 4) lungs walls: secreting “surfactant”. What’s that? Well, surfactant is sort of what it sounds like: a surface-activated fat whose main purpose is to assist the your baby's little lungs during inflation (as in, filling with air, not getting more expensive). Just in case you’re curious, your submerged baby is still breathing in amniotic fluid, preparing and rehearsing the lungs an oxygen-filled life outside the womb. By the end of this week, your child will be weighing around 2 lbs and 14 inches long. Your cutie-patootie may even be a little more plump, but isn't anywhere near their full baby-fatted cute-self. Most of the “filling out” is coming up in that long awaited (and slightly dreaded?) third trimester. Woo-hoo! Get ready! In the past few weeks, the top of your uterus has risen above your belly button and is now about the size of a soccer ball.

This month has gone by pretty quickly and the third trimester will be here in another three weeks. Pretty crazy. Next month I will have my glucose screening test and at that appointment I will schedule the 4D ultrasound. That should be super fun! We will get a glimpse at what she really looks like and I can't wait to see her sweet little face.

I am feeling pretty good these days thanks to a new mattress which is helping me get great sleep. I still feel pretty tired most of the time but I'm trying to enjoy this time before I get even bigger and getting around gets harder!

We had our first meeting with a pediatrician last night which went great. I liked the doctor a lot. She is young and has lots of experience with babies. She and I seemed to have the same views on many of the issues we discussed and she was able to answer all of my questions.

We have a busy month ahead of us. We have scheduled our hospital tour, breastfeeding class and childbirth class for next month.

At some point we really need to get crackin' on the nursery!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Halfway and a Sex Change

We are 20 weeks!

"This week you're carrying about 10.5 inches and 10.5 ounces of solid baby-miracle-goodness! Their little delicate bones continue to ossify and toughen while their itsy bitsy finger and toe pads are finishing up. Your little monkey now has teeth buds, although they’re hidden beneath the gum line. And finally! Their limbs have reached their relative proportions—no more alien baby! Their cute pink lips are more defined, and might be helping out in a bit of prenatal thumb-sucking. If you have a little boy, then their tiny testes are descending, though they have not yet passed the abdominal wall. What’s more, eyelashes and eyebrows are also visible. At this point, your little one really looks like a miniature baby—and we do mean miniature as your little swimmer currently weighs a mere eighth of their final birth weight. With half the pregnancy behind you, the most significant gains are yet to come!"

We went for our big ultrasound last week and found out that momma and baby are healthy and growing. But we also found out that our son is actually our daughter. It's a girl! It took a little while for my brain to switch gears but we are super excited.

So hopefully in (less and not more than) 20 more weeks we will be meeting our little Stella Marie.

I have a feeling it's going to be a long summer. The heat is already killing me and it's only June. We have a lot of painting and housework to do before she gets here so my plan is to stay busy until November!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

19 Weeks

"Your amazing little baby is now around 10 inches in length! If this seems a bit shocking, you’ll be relieved to know they’ve not actually grown over 3 inches, but that their little legs are now straight enough to be measured. This is when doctors begin measuring fetal growth from head to toe, (no longer “crown to rump” or CR). Lanugo (little hairs) covers their whole body now, trapping that charming cheese-like vernix caseosa (see week 18) to the surface to the skin. This week your lil’ fetus will start on an appetizing diet of amniotic fluid which they are now capable of swallowing, digesting, and passing the fluid as far as their tiny “large” intestines. Fortunately for you, this nice little lump of baby-poop won’t be coming out while they’re still in your womb. Some time shortly after they’re born, this fun lump will become the first in a long line of baby poops."

I can't wait for my big ultrasound on Thurday - my birthday! They said it will be about an hour long so I will get lots of different views of the little one and hopefully lots of great pictures as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I have looked on a lot of websites lately to find crib bedding that I like. Katie sent me this one and I think she found the best one out there:

Isn't it cute? The best part about it is that it's affordable too! A lot of people pay $500 to $600 on their crib bedding so I was pleased to find this at such a good price.

And since my birthday is coming up (June 18th, write that down)....................

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baby Plus

The 18th week also means that I am starting to wear the Baby Plus monitor. Mary and Juan gave it to me (thank you so much!) and they used it with Zoe. Apparently Oprah did a show about it and Juan thought it was a must have for Mary.

Here is what it is:

"The BabyPlus curriculum is a series of 16 naturally derived sounds that resemble a mother's heartbeat. The rhythm of the sounds increases incrementally as the pregnancy progresses. The BabyPlus sonic pattern introduces your child to a sequential learning process, built upon the natural rhythms of their own environment.This "auditory exercise" strengthens learning ability during the developmental period when the advantages will be most significant and enduring for a child. BabyPlus is the first educational tool designed for prenatal use that has been proven effective. BabyPlus children have an intellectual, developmental, creative, and emotional advantage from the time they are born. Your baby can very clearly hear these patterns. She/he learns to discriminate between the sound coming from the mother and those from BabyPlus. In other words, learning has begun."

Benefits of BabyPlus®
BabyPlus® parents report babies at birth and infancy:
More readily nurse
Display an increased ability to self-soothe
Are more interactive & responsive
Are more relaxed & alert at birth

And later in life demonstrate:
Earlier developmental milestones
Enhanced intellectual abilities
Longer attention spans
Improved school readiness
Greater creativity & independence

Juan and Mary saw a huge difference between Zoe and Dominic and obviously that could just be the difference in children but they are believers in this device.

You are supposed to wear it for two hours a day - one hour in the morning and one hour at night. I have been setting my alarm an hour before I have to be up and putting it on - I have to turn the sound machine up very loud so the sound of the monitor doesn't keep me up! Then I put it on for another hour when I get off work in the evenings.

Who knows if it really works but I figure it can't hurt!

18 Weeks

"We have two more ounces! Your "getting bigger-n-better by the minute baby" is already up to 7 ounces and 6 inches! This is a big week for their baby skin. There are now two distinct layers—the epidermis (or the surface skin) and dermis. Currently, their skin is covered with a greasy, waxy, cheese-like substance, known as vernix caseosa. Sure, it sounds pretty nasty, but this mixture of fatty secretions covering your little swimmer from head to toe is the best way to protect their oh-so-thin skin from bruising and abrasions as well as chapping caused by amniotic fluid exposure (and your little one is swimming in that stuff!). Still don’t like the fact your little darling is currently slathered in fatty cream like a greased pig? Well, you know the birthing process? Where you have to push something the size of a watermelon out a hole the size of a grape? That adorable little greased piglet would have a lot harder time getting through the birth canal without the vernix caseosa. Fun fact for momma’s with baby girls: it’s a uterus within a uterus! Your little girl will have developed a uterus and vagina canal by the end of this week."

Ok well that was a gross update......sorry people....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

17 Weeks

"Don't be too shocked but... your baby is EVEN bigger than it was last week, not to mention getting cuter, and smarter every day! As you’ve come to expect, there’s no shortage of growth and development this week: your fantastic little bean stalk has added yet another half inch to their overall height-- making them nearly half a foot long! Their little limbs have reached (or are within one week of) their relative proportions, and will continue to grow evenly with the rest of the body after this week. Reactive listening has begun for your baby, even though their ears are not yet structurally complete or fully functional. Meanwhile, different parts of their astonishingly complex brain are developing to process your little one’s hearing and other senses, (you know, sight, smell, taste and touch). Mind boggling factoid of the week: if you’re having going to have a little girl, her ovaries have already produced millions of primordial egg cells, which, within a few weeks, will develop into actual eggs! Phew… just wait till she’s a teenager eh?"

Cuter and smarter every day- sounds good to me!

So am I having a girl? We will soon know! Hoping to find out tomorrow. I can't wait - I just want to see the little one and make sure everything looks healthy.

We will be taking the girls with us so they will get to enjoy the moment with us. Let the countdown begin - tomorrow around 6:00 pm I should be laying on the table getting ready for the news.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

16 Weels

"By week 16, your baby-to-be's body is doing more to support itself. Her kidneys function and produce urine that then passes through the umbilical cord. Within her stomach, bile is secreted, although she relies on you for all of her nutrients. Her appearance changes as her scalp hair grows and may even have color. Her developing facial muscles make it possible for her to open and close her mouth, maybe even give you a smile or two. "

"Get ready for a growth spurt. In the next few weeks, your baby will double his weight and add inches to his length. Right now, he's about the size of an avocado; 4 1/2 inches long (head to rump) and 3 1/2 ounces. His legs are much more developed, his head is more erect than it has been, and his eyes have moved closer to the front of his head. His ears are close to their final position, too. The patterning of his scalp has begun, though his locks aren't recognizable yet. He's even started growing toenails. And there's a lot happening inside as well. For example, his heart is now pumping about 25 quarts of blood each day, and this amount will continue to increase as your baby continues to develop."

The Graduate

Friday night we watched Tavi receive her high school diploma. What a night. She looked amazing and we were thrilled, proud and terribly sad. I can't believe she is going off to college. I will always remember her very pink 13th birthday. My how time flies. We are really going to miss her but we know she's moving on to bigger and better things and we can't wait to see what the future holds for her.

We had a party for her Friday night and enjoyed celebrating this special occasion with those we love. It was a great night and we are very excited for Tavi.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Doctor's Appointment

My appointment yesterday went well. My blood pressure was up a little bit which the nurse told me to watch but the doctor told me not to worry about. I remembered later that I had taken Sudafed so that may have had something to do with it.

Everything else looked good and the baby's heart was beating in the 150's this time. I talked to her a little about deliveries and I did feel much better by the time I left.

I scheduled the big ultrasound for June 18th - my birthday! I'm excited. I am very much looking forward to making sure that everything looks healthy.

I can tell that I haven't been sleeping as well lately. I have been having weird pregnancy dreams. One recurring dream is that I'm drunk (sorry Grandma) and forgot that I was pregnant. I remember only after I have ingested a large amount of alcohol and then - panic. No, this hasn't actually happened but it is a weird recurring dream to have.

I woke up today and feel like I did one of Martin's ab workouts yesterday. I assure you, I did nothing at all. I guess you'd call that growing pains. It's pretty uncomfortable. Every time I breathe I can feel those muscles aching. I knew that would happen as the abdominal wall stretches but I didn't expect to just wake up with it one day. Pretty weird.

This has been a seriously long week and I'm looking forward to Tavi's graduation and graduation party this weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taking A Poll

What do you think we are having? Make your pick on the poll to your right!

Looks like we are set to meet Martin's friend for an early ultrasound on the evening of June 3rd. I'm not sure I can wait that long!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

15 Weeks

"Your growing baby now measures about 4 inches long, crown to rump, and weighs in at about 2 1/2 ounces (about the size of an apple). She's busy moving amniotic fluid through her nose and upper respiratory tract, which helps the primitive air sacs in her lungs begin to develop. Her legs are growing longer than her arms now, and she can move all of her joints and limbs. Although her eyelids are still fused shut, she can sense light. If you shine a flashlight at your tummy, for instance, she's likely to move away from the beam. There's not much for your baby to taste at this point, but she is forming taste buds. Finally, if you have an ultrasound this week, you may be able to find out whether your baby's a boy or a girl! (Don't be too disappointed if it remains a mystery, though. Nailing down your baby's sex depends on the clarity of the picture and on your baby's position. He or she may be modestly curled up or turned in such a way as to "hide the goods.")"

I am still hoping that Martin's friend can do an ultrasound next week. I'm not going to get too excited in case baby Juarez ends up being modest and doesn't want to let us see "the goods". Even if we aren't able to find out the sex, I would just love to get a good look at the little one. We haven't had an ultrasound since 7 weeks so I would like to see how much peanut has grown and make sure everything looks healthy!

I go back to the doctor tomorrow for blood pressure/weight check. Gotta love that scale! At least I will get to hear the heartbeat.

14 Weeks

I didn't get to post last week but here is what happened to our little peanut last week:

"Welcome to the second trimester! This week's big developments: Your baby can now squint, frown, grimace, pee, and possibly suck his thumb. Thanks to brain impulses, his facial muscles are getting a workout as his tiny features form one expression after another. His kidneys are producing urine, which he releases into the amniotic fluid around him — a process he'll keep up until birth. He can grasp, too, and if you're having an ultrasound now, you may even catch him sucking his thumb. In other news: Your baby's stretching out. From head to bottom, he measures 3 1/2 inches — about the size of a lemon — and he weighs 1 1/2 ounces. "

I'm so glad to be out of the first trimester!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

13 Weeks - Last Week of the First Trimester

"How your baby's growing:Fingerprints have formed on your baby's tiny fingertips, her veins and organs are clearly visible through her still-thin skin, and her body is starting to catch up with her head — which makes up just a third of her body size now. If you're having a girl, she now has more than 2 million eggs in her ovaries. Your baby is almost 3 inches long (the size of a medium shrimp) and weighs nearly an ounce."

I'm confused. Wasn't the baby just a plum? Isn't a shrimp smaller than a plum?

I can tell the second trimester is coming. The nausea is much better, almost completely gone. I have energy again - not back to 100% but much improved. I actually did grocery shopping, cooked dinner and stayed up until 10 pm last night. That's a huge difference from a couple of weeks ago.

I'm excited to see what the second trimester brings. We are hoping to find out the sex of the baby in 3 weeks - if we can work that out. We'll see!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

12 Weeks

Here is what peanut is doing this week:

"Even though your little Einstein’s body is still growing quite rapidly 2 inches long right now, the overall super-speedy growth of their amazing brain continues to leave the head proportionately larger than the body— and is actually slightly more than one third of their total body mass! The head and neck are still straightening at this point as can be seen by their little chin lifting off of the chest. Your baby is also actively rehearsing “breathing” by using amniotic fluid to prepare the lungs for future air respiration."

A big head, just like it's mama.

"The big news: your little pooper is now officially going to need diapers! Although a majority of the waste produced is transferred to the mother’s system for discharge (to avoid having it linger in the amniotic sac), some urine is released to the amniotic fluid and your baby will actually breathe it in before it passing it on to your for discharge. Not to worry, urine--in this particular form, is completely harmless to your baby."

You all wanted to know that, right?

As for me:

"And how's mom doing? Logically, as your baby is growing bigger, so must your uterus. By now, your once-flat and relatively small uterus is stretched to the size of a softball (12-14 cm), but that’s nothing: by the time you deliver it will have grown to 15 – 17 inches (37 – 42 cm). Your uterus is slowly increasing at a rate of approximately one centimeter per week."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I went to the doctor this morning and found out that I'm actually 11 weeks YAY!

So here is what the baby's doing this week:

"Maybe you’ve noticed… your baby is a super-duper grower! Your lil' fetus will be gaining a substantial amount of weight this week and has already achieved fruit-size-status comparable to a plum. What's more, your little scientist is already starting to explore their body, focusing most intently on touching their head, and especially their face and mouth. Their mouth in particular will provide them with hours of entertainment. This happens not only because your baby is gaining coordination, and is therefore able to move a hand on command, but also because their palms have gained sensation and can actually “feel” what it touches.They're also developing their swallow reflex this week. And lastly, your baby's smelling and other olfactory senses will begin developing this week, which when combined with the maturing taste buds, will provide your baby with their first experiences of taste and smell."

The baby can actually feel things - is that crazy or what?

And for me:

"If you’re still enduring the joys of morning sickness, it should finally be subsiding to the point of non-existence by the end of this week. The growing placenta combined with your little one’s developing pituitary gland have given you a break on hormone production, so now your can focus on the fact you’re about to enter the second trimester of pregnancy, which can be most aptly characterized by lots of growth for both you and your little uterus-tenant.
At this point you should be making a conscious effort to gradually increase your consumption of healthy, vitamin-rich food, but remember: THIS DOES NOT MEAN LIFE IS NOW AN OPEN BUFFET. Think about it, if it’s not good for you, then it won’t do any good for your developing baby. If you’re finding that you’re still hungry after dinner, don’t simply default to having extra ice cream for dessert. Have a second helping of vegetables and fish, or whole grain bread with jam. Good nutrition is absolutely vital for your baby's brain and body development.
Additionally, make sure you’re taking “me-time” to center yourself and focus on your body’s interactions with your baby: listen to relaxing or inspiring music, read good books, think happy thoughts, you know, all the mentally stimulating stuff that puts you in a good mood and makes your pregnancy feel like a positive experience. In other words, watching international news isn't recommended. The better you treat your body and emotions now, the healthier and happier your child will be once “they’re on the outside.”

It's not an open buffet? Well crap. Extra helping of fish? You gotta be kidding!

So I'm extremely pleased that I'm a little further along than I had thought. Can I celebrate tonight with an extra ice cream?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Well not so much surprise - everyone pretty much already knows. But we are expecting a little one! Little Juarez will be here in November and Martin and I could not be more excited!

The last few weeks have not been very much fun. The nausea and fatigue were worse than I had expected. However, I am very happy to report that I am feeling MUCH better. I actually made it to the grocery store and cooked dinner last night! It is wonderful to have some energy back. Next step is to get moving. I need to start walking or do something active with all the food I'm eating these days!

The number question we have gotten is "are you going to find out the sex". The answer is ABSOLUTELY! I am way too much of a planner to go 9 months without knowing. I understand a lot of people like to be surprised at the end but that just isn't us. We can't wait to find out - about 9 more weeks :)

We are currently in week 10 which means:

"Your astonishingly tiny baby has been hard at work growing as fast as possible—almost doubling in size in the past three weeks! Amazingly, you’re in for a repeat size doubling performance within the next three weeks! Your tiny champion still weighs less than a quarter of an ounce but has already completed the most critical stage of their development. Using Doppler technology, your doctor or gynecologist can let you hear their tiny rapid fetal heartbeats this week (145-165 beats per minute!). Chances for miscarriage are greatly reduced when the heartbeat can be detected, so take a sigh of relief if you’ve been needing one—it hasn’t been an easy ten weeks! What’s more, they’re getting ready to make their first baby poop! Your little one’s major organ systems are developing, including a functioning digestive tract capable of moving food all the way through their bowels. The final shiny gold star on their fetal behavior chart for the week: your little scrapper has already developed defense mechanisms to protect them on reflex!"

First baby poop? Now who isn't getting excited about that?

As for me:

"And how's mom doing? More good news for mom: the placenta has grown substantially in size and function and is now beginning to manage some of your child’s hormones, finally taking some of the hormonal burden off of you! Since the placenta has gradually taken over the hormone production for your baby, you should finally start to notice that much-awaited decrease in morning sickness symptoms."

And I would totally agree with that! The hormones have really made me feel crazy. For one, it has made me feel completely stupid (no comments, please). I have been super forgetful and just not as sharp as I normally am (no comments, please). I have also had weird cravings like corn dogs - ew. I am not a hot dog eater so this one was pretty weird. Luckily that phase has passed!

I go back to the doctor tomorrow. I'll keep everyone posted!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pretty Much Perfect Weekend

We had such a great weekend. Martin got to ref lots of boxing matches and I got to eat sushi!

Friday night Martin went to the Golden Gloves to ref and judge the matches and Jeannie took me and Katie to Jensai where we stuffed ourselves silly with sushi roll and after sushi roll. It was heaven!

Saturday morning (well closer to afternoon if I'm honest!) we got up and accomplished a lot around the house. After a trip to Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Anna's Linens we were able finally complete the girls' move downstairs. We also got a great deal on a vacuum cleaner at Home Depot. We had been without one since ours broke and our carpet had gone from cream to grey and it wasn't pretty. We got tons of laundry done and Martin cleaned the kitchen until it sparkled.

Saturday night Martin went back to the Golden Gloves and I met Dad, JB, Katie and Jeannie at Los Arcos for some greasy food and lots of laughs.

Sunday morning I met Tavi and Jeannie to get a mani/pedi and then lunched at P.F. Changs. It was a great way to spend a Sunday morning! Tavi then had to head to BAM to work and Martin and I actually went to a movie. It's been a VERY long time since we went to the movies. We saw Gran Torino (Note: Movies between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. are only $6!). Martin and I both really enjoyed it. It was sad at the end but super funny and entertaining (if you aren't easily offended).

The best part was that we were still home by 7 p.m. and were able to regroup and get ready for the week.

We had a great weekend and hope everyone else did too!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

We had a great weekend. It started with Tavi calling to let us know she was accepted ON THE SPOT to Point Park University's acting program. She auditioned and interviewed with them on Friday and he woman said she would talk to the scholarship office and see what she could do to help Tavi get some additional scholarships to the school. The other student from ASFA that auditioned for Point Park was not accepted which made Tavi feel even better. The woman said "Tavi, you have real, raw, talent". Woot!

Martin is still trying to get over the flu so he spent most of the weekend trying to rest and get better. Friday night we had Anna's friend, Lexi, spent the night. They played very well together and we didn't even had to get up during the night to tell them to sleep!

Saturday morning we got up and made pancakes and then Marisa had her championship basketball game. Her team lost but she had fun playing which is all that matters. That afternoon I took the three girls to Chickfila for lunch and then to Jonas Brothers 3D. Before heading into the theater we stopped at the Dollar Tree for a posterboard so they could make a poster for the "concert".

Luckily the theater wasn't crowded (unlike Hannah Montana 3D!). Anna and Lexi went to the front of the theater and danced and held up their Jo Bro sign. Marisa was a little "too cool" for that so she just sat back and watched Nick on the big screen.

"He is totally cute."

After Lexi went home I took Marisa and Anna to Books-A-Million to spend their Christmas gift cards. They had a blast shopping and spent the rest of the night reading until they fell asleep on the sofa.

Sunday we spent most of the day at Jeannie's so I could wash clothes (thank you Jeannie!). We went to lunch and played games (both board and wii) until it was time for them to make the long trip back to Clay.

I am hoping to enjoy some sunshine this week with the time change; however, I am not a fan of 80 degree weather in early March! Let's hope we get a little Spring weather this year instead of jumping full into a hot humid Alabama Summer!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Keep or Give?

Ok, so I found these sunglasses on clearance for $2.99. I know what you are thinking, wasn't she JUST complaining about having no money? But they were $2.99. And, well I can't control myself either.

So I got them home and put them on and they were bigger than they looked in the store. You know they always put the security device in the spot that makes it impossible to REALLY get a view of what the glasses will look like.

I was disappointed. I thought they would be so cute but now I think they just look B I G.

What do you think?

Give them to someone who likes huge glasses or keep them?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Losing Control

I haven't blogged in almost a month! The last month or so has sorta been a roller coaster. There have been ups and downs and the biggest thing I learned - and I'm still learning and trying to accept it - is that I can't control everything in my life. It's hard for me - I'm a planner. I love having a plan and I would love to be able to plan for everything in life. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen. There are just some things I don't get to control (my grandmother's health, unexpected bills, other peoples' actions/reactions, appliances breaking, etc.).

That said, we are doing the best we can and trying to make the most of things.

My grandmother is doing very well and we were able to take her 80th birthday beach trip on February 20th. It was great to see the beach and spend time with family we rarely see. We gave her a memory box - we all wrote our favorite memories of her and put it in a special box. We took turns at the beach reading the memories aloud and we all really enjoyed hearing each others memories. I am so glad to have her back to her old self and out of the hospital.

We finally got our sewer bill. The City of Irondale and the City of Birmingham were "fighting" over Irondale's sewer services so they just didn't bill us for a while. I got home after work to find a $200 sewer bill in the mailbox. Ouch that hurts.

If you start to notice a weird smell around us it's because we can no longer dry our clothes. Our dryer died. It was very old and it was bound to happen eventually, I just wish it would have happened some time after tax season! SEE I want to be able to plan when my appliances die! The weather isn't exactly warm enough for a clothes line so looks like we will be headed to the laundromat this weekend. If you know of anyone getting rid of a dryer please call us!

Our microwave also died. Martin was devastated because this means no more microwave popcorn! We had gotten the microwave as a wedding present so it lasted a year - how long are they supposed to last? That didn't seem like very long to me.

Not having a microwave has actually been sort of blessing (although, I would still like to have one eventually). It has forced me to cook new things in new ways. I have been trying to save money on groceries by reading all of the mailers and cutting coupons. The combination of a limited grocery budget and no microwave has made me start cooking things I have never cooked before. Last weekend I made "refried" beans from dried beans. Normally I would have bought canned beans and stuck them in the microwave. This was a little more time consuming (but not much) but they turned out very well AND were a ton cheaper than buying the cans. It makes a lot so I can freeze some for future meals.

Winn Dixie has been having great specials on meats so I have definitely been stepping out of my comfort zone. I have discovered chicken thighs (skinless) - they have MUCH more flavor than the breasts and if you buy it skinless it is still healthy. I have also cooked pork chops and even chicken with bones. I used to be a ONLY boneless/skinless girl but once you realize how much money you can save by buying it with the bones and how it adds flavor you'll never go back (well, I will for somethings).

Last Sunday we had snow and this time it was real snow! We had about 5-6 inches at our house. It was absolutely beautiful. I spend the day baking and cooking and Martin and I watched movie after movie. It was a wonderful, lazy day. Even the animals were lazy with us!

These pictures were taken before the "real snow" hit. This is what it looked like early on. I didn't take any pictures of it when it was at the most.

Hopefully I'll be back to normal blogging soon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Walk In The Park

Last weekend we took the girls and the Zarates to a huge park in Leeds that Lindsay told me about. Not only was the park awesome but the drive there was really nice. We took Grants Mill Road and went over beautiful bridges and saw lots of horses and other animals. The drive was great but the park was even better!

Dominic LOVED it. He was so excited. He didn't even know where to begin so he just did a lot of this.

That boy had to be tired by the time we left. He ran ALL over the place! I think Juan was pretty tired too since had to chase him everywhere he went.

Zoe was too little to really enjoy it but she did get to swing for a little while.

It made her giggle out loud. It was too cute.
When she wasn't swinging she thought staring at Martin was pretty entertaining.

Marsia and Anna went down all of the huge slides and climbed the climbing rock and then spotted their favorite part - the perfect climbing tree!

We all had a great time and will definitely be back!

Thank you Sjon, Mark and JW

The girls got their Christmas present from Sjon, Mark and JW. They were a BIG hit!

Look closely - see the toes???
Tavi got hers last night and loved hers too. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of toes.
Thank you Sjon, Mark and JW!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Egg Mcmess

I was running late this morning - again - but I wanted to make a quick breakfast before I left. I made an egg and cheese on an English muffin. I have made these before and when you leave the yoke a little runny its delicious! That combined with an ice cold Diet Mountain Dew and I'm off to a good start.

I wrapped my hot breakfast in a paper towel and headed out the door. I had my purse on my shoulder, breakfast in left hand, diet dew tucked under my arm and I was trying to lock the door with my right hand. Then I dropped the keys. As I bent down to pick them up I forgot that my diet dew was open so as I leaned forward the potent green liquid poured out - and all over me, my breakfast and into my purse. CURSES! So I went back inside and dried everything off, including the arms up to the elbow because it had traveled down my sleeves, and then headed back out the door. This time I got the door locked and got into the car. I put the keys in the ignition and took a bite of my breakfast. Remember that runny yoke? It EXPLODED. It went everywhere. On my jeans, down my sleeves, all over my hands and face. LOTS OF CURSES!! Back into the house I went. Yellow goo everywhere and getting it off was made even harder because our sink was full of dishes (ahem, Martin...) so I could barely even get to the water. I cleaned up the best I could and headed out . Again. I pulled out of the drive way at 8:28 and I have to be at work at 8:30. Nice.

I tried to get to work as quickly as possible and as I pulled into my parking lot I touched my hair. Hmm what in the heck could have made a big section of my hair so stiff?

Yes my friends, right before I got out of the car I realized I had a huge mass of dry and crusty egg yoke in my hair.

What's with today, today?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Let's Wrap It Up

Ever need a simple recipe for lunch or dinner? Well, I always do! This a very simple suggestion that kids and adults will enjoy.

Chicken Caesar Wraps.

I made these the other night for a sick man and a vegetarian. The man was pleased but omitting the chicken for the vegetarian made this a very light dinner so you would need something more substantial for a side.

First, cut up some chicken and cook it in a skillet over medium heat. I seasoned mine with lemon pepper and Spike and cooked it in olive oil pam.

Make sure you cook it until there is no pink on the side (insert dirty joke here).

While the chicken is cooking chop up a tomato and some romaine lettuce. Take your cooked chicken (you may want to cut the chicken into smaller pieces) and place it on a burrito size flour tortilla.

Notice how yellow it is? That is from my crappy camera - the chicken and the tortilla are actually very normal in color.

Next layer on your lettuce.

Then add some crumbled feta cheese. I used reduced-fat tomato basil flavored.

Come on, I said layer on it on - don't be bashful!

And top it with tomato.

Just disregard that wine opener in the back of that picture. I have NO idea where that came from.

I usually like to add some black olives to this but I didn't have any in the house.
Finish it off with your favorite Caesar dressing.

If you are making this for kids or a picky adult who doesn't like Caesar (crazy person) you can always substitute ranch dressing.

Now just rap it up - My name is Laura, and I'm here to say - oh wait, wrap it up.

Looks pretty boring from the outside but after your first bite you will be hooked!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Chicken Parmeasyn

After reading Sjon's blog this week I started craving Chicken Parmesan. It's great comfort food and it's super EASY! I thought everyone made it the same but after reading how Sjon makes hers, I think everyone probably has their own recipe.

I got a special treat on Wednesday night because Martin's last client cancelled so he actually went with me to the grocery store - that never happens. We bought the groceries and then went home and he helped me cook.

He enjoyed pounding the chicken! I think that was his favorite part. While Martin was pounding the chicken to an even thickness, I mixed Italian breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese together in one bowl and an egg with a little bit of water in another. Then Martin dipped each piece of chicken in the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Instead of frying them in oil I used olive oil Pam and browned each piece of chicken in the skillet until the outside was nice and crispy.

Then I popped them into the oven to cook through. 20 minutes later I pulled them out and topped them with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese.

And put them back in the oven for another ten minutes for the cheese to melt.

I served it with whole wheat linguine and it was delicious! The chicken was so tender and juicy but still crispy on the outside.

The cheese was crispy and a lovely shade of brown but the flash makes it look white in this picture - yes, I need a new phone.

The best thing about making this is that it makes great leftovers - I ate it the next day, cold right out of the fridge. Don't judge me.

After dinner Martin helped me do the dishes and then we curled up on the sofa in front of the fire.

It was quite a lovely evening!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

We Are One

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

I am so proud.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Allow Me To Introduce

Our new (to us) car:

She finally got all of her little bumps and bruises fixed and came home with us today. She's a 2005 but only has 29,000 miles on it - not too shabby. She has a full tank of gas and since she gets great gas mileage hopefully that will last us all weekend - which will involve 3 separate trips to Clay and back. Gross. Poor little girl, as soon as she comes home we put her to work.

Martin and I are so excited about not having to carpool anymore! And if you would like to send donations, make checks payable to Laura Juarez :)

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2009 - The Year of the Budget

Well, ok, probably not an actual budget because Martin and I are terrible with money. And because its haaaaaarrrrrdddd. But one thing is for sure - this year we will be FORCED to budget our money better. This year my paychecks will be smaller due to an increase in health insurance premiums, a (small) contribution to 401k and the medical expense flex card. That combined with an additional car payment, car insurance premium and another new one - life insurance premiums. Yes, we are geniuses and decided to do this all one time - brilliant! And within the next couple of months or so we should also have Martin's 401k set up. Not that we will have much of anything left to contribute but every dollar counts, right?

Oh and we are also going to pay off our credit card debt.


A girl can dream.

We have downsized our cable (goodbye movie channels!), gotten rid of caller id (we pretty much just don't answer our home phone at all now), cancelled our internet (Martin is UNhappy about that one), and haven't paid our water bill in two months. Yes, I know I have to actually pay the water bill it's just so annoying that I can't do that online!

We are really going to have to watch what we spend on eating out and going out. I will have to miss the circus this year (first time in 5 years). I know that pleases Martin! I know we can do it but we are really going to have to change our ways.

So far we have done well this week. I guess we don't get much credit since it's only Tuesday. But I planned the menu for the week and bought groceries Sunday evening and it is really amazing how much money you save if you actually plan your menus. I didn't buy anything that wasn't on my grocery list and spent a lot less money then I normally do.

Tonight's dinner is questionable. As I have said before, I love my crockpot. But I am trying a new recipe and when I left it this morning I didn't have much confidence in it. Steak cut in cubes, cream of mushroom soup, dry onion soup mix, etc. But no water or other liquid other than the soup which is very thick and it's supposed to cook 8-10 hours. I am imagining getting home tonight to a black ball of burned beef. If that happens we'll HAVE to go out to eat - oh no! See! Slipping already. I guess I need to keep a jar of spaghetti sauce in the pantry in case of recipe failures. Need to add that to next week's grocery list.

Feel free to pass on any money saving or budget suggestions or tips. We will need them.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Totally Lost and Unfocused

I'm back! This has been a crazy couple of weeks.

Christmas was great! We spent Christmas morning at my mom's house and then went and picked up the kids and spent Christmas evening at my dad's house. Everyone was spoiled rotten, including the adults!

The day after Christmas was spent getting ready for our trip with Tavi to New York. We had such a great time and Tavi absolutely loved the city. We saw Hairspray (with the original cast! Thanks Dad and JB!), we went to the Top of the Rock, ate at some amazing restaurants (Thanks Jeannie!), shopped and shopped and shopped some more, went and saw the NYU campus, went to Time Square, Central Park and everywhere in between. We crammed as much into the three days as humanly possible!

The weather was pretty warm but we decided that was probably best since Martin does not like the cold!
The city was so beautiful decorated for Christmas.
By the end of the trip we were all exhausted.

That picture was taken in the back of a cab during a ten minute drive. Those two can fall asleep anywhere!

We got back from New York and spent one night at home before repacking and heading to the lake for New Years. We had a great time taking the dogs on a hike through the woods down to the water and letting them do some rock climbing! Jake and the girls loved it!

New Year's Eve we cooked steaks and twice baked potatoes and Martin set off fireworks. We were all very excited about 2008 being over and looking forward to a fabulous 2009!

Everyone stayed awake to bring in the new year (well I don't know if you can really count Jeannie).

If you watched the ball drop in New York those glasses should look familiar. We bought them for Marisa and Anna while we were there.

New Year's Day we wanted to start the year off right so we made a big breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns (well, tater tots, close enough) and then packed up to head back home.

It was a great way to spend New Years. 2009 was going to be our year!

Well at least we thought. On January 3rd while Martin was out running errands a woman ran a red light and ran right into the Focus. The Focus that we had for only 3 weeks and hadn't even made a payment on yet!

Yes, my friends that is what you call a total loss. Thankfully no one was hurt. Anyone looking for a safe car? Try a Focus. We are amazed that with that amount of damage, Martin was able to walk away unhurt. The damage on the other car was not nearly as severe.

She'll need a new door and some body work but I think her car will probably be ok.

As you can imagine Martin and I were very upset. We had waited a long time before getting a second car and after getting it we really realized what we were missing! Now we are back to one. Not to mention we were so worried about how much money the insurance company would give us versus what we owed on it.

The night of the accident Dad and JB cooked us a cheer up dinner. We tried to find humor in the situation and just be thankful that no one was hurt. We had a nice evening and then headed home to try to get some sleep.

That didn't really work out for us. We got home to find that Layla was missing. This is not her first time to get out so I tried not to freak too much. She has a collar with a tag and she is also chipped. But then a few minutes later Katie called to tell me Jake was also missing. Jake has never, ever gotten out of her fence and unlike Layla, is not familiar with being off leash and alone on the streets. Panic set in.

We loaded up the girls and headed to Katie's house yelling for the dogs and asking neighbors if anyone had seen them. We got to Katie's house to find her even more in a panic than we were. She was, to put it mildly, hysterical. Layla would go home with pretty much anyone, but Jake is not the kind of dog that walks up to strangers and Katie really believed that he was gone and would never be able to find his way home.

As we were screaming up and down the streets, Katie heard a bark that she was sure was Jake's. (We didn't really believe she could pick out his bark in the dead of night, remember she was pretty hysterical!) But then out of the dark we heard the jingle of a collar and Jake came running home - two steps behind him was Layla.

We were both furious and unbelievably happy. We have no idea how they found each other. Katie and I live pretty close to each other but it is still a long way for short beagle legs to walk. We aren't sure how Jake got out and how they found each other but we were just glad to have them home safe and sound.

I guess these two really are inseparable!

This week has been spent worrying about the car situation and trying to adjust to "real life". A five day work week, paying bills and dealing with the insurance company has been exhausting but luckily the week is almost over.

I heard from the insurance adjuster yesterday and it appears that 2009 is looking up. They are going to give us enough money for the car to pay off what we owe. Now we are back to square one - we have to find another car (within our very low budget!).

We are hoping this is not the way 2009 is going to be - if so, it's going to be a very long year!

But we aren't giving up! We are so thankful to have such wonderful family and friends who are there for us when we need them. Even if 2009 doesn't go our way, we know we have a lot of people who love us and who needs more than that? Well, ok, we do technically have to have money so we don't lose our house. I don't think our loved ones necessarily love us enough for us to live with them ;)

Please 2009, take it easy on us!