We celebrated New Year's Day with my parents but on New Year's Eve my little angel (now 5 months old!) and I just stayed in. Back in the day I always felt like I had to have plans for New Year's Eve. It is the biggest party night of the year after all. Anytime I tried to do something special however (a night out at a party or a bar) it was a fiasco. I always thought how cool it would be to go to NYC Times Square for New Year's Eve but it would probably be freezing cold, crowded and chaotic. I think I'd rather just watch it from the warmth and comfort of my bed, snuggled up under the covers with my little Michelle. I never thought I'd become a homebody but then I never imagined I'd be a Mom either.
I'm becoming a bit of a hermit. I stayed in my pajamas, didn't shower or leave the house for several days. If you'd told me a year or two ago that I would be content to stay home all the time I'd have said you were crazy, but here I am. The old me was rarely home. I was either working or out. Out playing music. Out dancing. Restaurants. Movies. Boyfriends. I never watched TV. I'd go stir crazy if I was home on the weekends. Now I'm happy when I don't have to go out. It's too stressful trying to go anywhere with Michelle and I can't leave her. I suppose one day I could get someone to watch her so that I could have a "night out" but right now I'd rather be with her than doing anything else and I'd worry about her too much anyway.
Shopping is something I used to enjoy. Since having Michelle it has become a chore at best and a nightmare at worst. Everytime I went out I worried how it would go. The question wasn't WHETHER she would have a meltdown but WHEN. It was inevitable. If I was lucky, she'd be OK until we got to the car at least and scream all the way home, which isn't fun but is preferable to a scene in public. Most of the time she'd wail at the checkout. Sometimes she'd howl from the moment I entered the store. It was incredibly stressful trying to rush around and grab things before she started to scream. But what could I do? I had to eat after all. Well now I have ventured into a new frontier -- online shopping and I LOVE IT!
After hearing my grocery shopping woes (my December post "Venting" recounts one of my WORST experiences in a grocery store!) a friend had suggested I try grocerygateway.com but I was reluctant at first. I imagined it being rather expensive, something wealthy people would do who can't be bothered going shopping. These days on maternity leave I'm on a tighter budget than ever and can't afford to throw away money on luxuries. After researching it however, I discovered that the delivery fee is only $12. When I consider the stress and aggravation of shopping with an infant -- loading a kicking and screaming baby into the carseat, frantically running through the store, having her scream at the checkout, loading all the groceries into the car (amidst her screaming) and unloading them at the house (still screaming), not to mention bundling up for the weather and driving on treacherous snow-laden roads, slipping and sliding with bald tires -- $12 to avoid all that hassle doesn't sound like much at all! The groceries come from Longo's so you know that the quality is good. Their prices can be a bit higher than bargain retailers but if you get things that are on sale you can still get most of the groceries you need at about the same price you'd pay elsewhere.
I finally took the plunge and registered with them. They wound up sending me a promotional code for $5 off as an incentive, on top of the $5 off that you get as a new customer so I only ended up having to pay $2 for delivery. One night while Michelle was sleeping, I went to the site. Shopping in peace, in the privacy and comfort of my own home, was a dream. I had my list in hand. Milk was at the very top (I go through a ton of it!) I was trying to get all the groceries I needed for $100. It wasn't easy but with some adjustments I was able to do it. For instance, I love asparagus but they were charging $5.99 for it (!) I've never paid anywhere close to that. So I settled for broccoli instead which was on sale for 99 cents. I've always hated broccoli but I know it's so good for you and it was cheap so I forced myself. I discovered that although I can't stand it cooked I actually don't mind it raw with dip. When it came to items like milk, I just went for the least expensive brand they had which was $5. I can usually get it on sale for $3-4 or get the better brands (regularly $8-9 which is OUTRAGEOUS) on sale for $5 but it's still not too bad. When I consider the convenience it's certainly well worth a few extra bucks. My health and sanity are worth the investment!
Ironically though many of the groceries cost a bit more I may actually end up saving money by shopping online because it allows me to see a running subtotal and know exactly what I'm spending so I can stay within budget and eliminate things if need be. When you're actually in the store you tend to spend more and grab things that aren't on your list. Those "impulse" items can double your total at the checkout if you're not careful. The $12 delivery fee is still a lot cheaper than being in a store and picking up an extra $50 in unnecessary impulse items. Especially if you shop at Walmart. It's too tempting because they sell EVERYTHING. It's so easy to just put more things in your cart. Online you have more control. You can be organized and limit yourself to just the items you need. Of course they do try to lure you to buy impulse items by advertising items on the home page and at the top of the page in each section but it's easier to exercise restraint when you can see your total and try to stay within your limit.
When you set up delivery you choose a two hour window (I chose 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.) the next day. The driver called when he was 15 minutes away (and it's great to have a heads up so I can try to be at least remotely presentable -- like throwing on a pair of jeans or track pants rather than my pjs! and so I know to listen for the door and won't be in the middle of feeding or changing the baby!) and at 11 a.m. I had my groceries. I can't begin to describe what a relief and what a joy it is to have your groceries brought to your door! To not have to load and unload the car and deal with a screaming baby is priceless. It was like Christmas unpacking the boxes and putting everything away. It was so organized and efficient. An OCD person's dream come true! And their produce was great. They were the biggest Macintosh apples I had ever seen! The delivery guy was very polite. He had me check over my order to make sure everything was OK. He said something like "Welcome to the world of convenient shopping." It is a new world for me! My receipt/invoice even had a welcome note from my personal shopper attached. It was nice. I thought "Man, I could get used to this. I may never leave the house again!"
Of course there will still be times I'll have to venture out. I had to return a couple of duplicate Christmas gifts (which I wasn't looking forward to. I hate making returns!) I waited for a clear day at least. It's been snowing lately and other than putting the garbage out, I hadn't stepped outside in several days. I noticed that my neighbour was kind enough to shovel my driveway for me. They know I'm a single Mom and help me out sometimes by cutting the lawn in the summer and shovelling the driveway in the winter. It is a big help. It's hard enough doing chores inside with Michelle never mind outside. Just putting the garbage out for two seconds she woke up and was crying. It's like she senses that I'm gone. Anyway I survived my returns (though I had to drive around the parking lot at the mall for 10 minutes waiting for a spot. I finally had to stalk someone leaving the mall -- follow them to their car and wait for them to pull out. Why so many people? On a WEEKDAY no less. You'd think they were GIVING things away!) and picked up a few things while we were out. I was so relieved to be back home. I'm like Dorothy in my ruby slippers now. "There's no place like home!"
I've also been ordering diapers online from Well.ca. Michelle's skin is so sensitive she gets diaper rash easily so I use Pampers Sensitive. Unfortunately most stores only carry it in small quantities so you end up paying more per unit. At Well.ca you can get a larger economy pack. They usually deliver in about two days and just leave it on your porch. I was a little uncomfortable about it at first. They delivered on a day that I wasn't home and I worried someone might take them. But who steals diapers off someone's porch? They were waiting for me when I got home that night.
Michelle is 5 months old now! Time has really flown. She can sit up by herself for close to a minute now. She rolls over and over when she has her tummy time and lifts her butt like she's trying to crawl and scooch across the floor. I'll have to be really careful once she's walking. Something tells me she's going to be even more of a handful then! I can't wait for her to talk. I keep trying to get her to say "Mama" but she just laughs at me. So far it's just little sounds and a whole lot of blowing raspberries. Her "I'm hungry" noise has gone from an "Uh-uh" to more of an "Mm-mm" as in Mm-mm good! So I know she can make the M sound. Now we just need the "ah." She's still feeding every couple of hours or less. She's so hyper that she's constantly in motion -- kicking, wiggling, jumping. I was starting to worry that she isn't gaining enough weight. She eats non-stop but she also exercises so much that she burns it all off. I should follow suit and start working out to lose my muffin top but I can't seem to find the time/energy. Maybe in 2013 I'll feel more motivated. I'm not going to make it a resolution but I definitely do want to work out this year. Just not right now. Maybe tomorrow. Or the day after...
I can't believe she'll be six months next month. A huge milestone. She'll be starting solid foods. That will be a whole new adventure. I'm getting nervous about it. I've heard conflicting stories about what you're supposed to start them out with. Some say cereal then veggies and fruit but lately I've been told that you have to start with meats because the baby needs protein and iron which drops at 6 months for some reason. The problem is you're supposed to introduce foods one at a time and I haven't even seen baby food meat that isn't mixed with something. It's always chicken and veggies or beef with rice. It's never just the meat on its own. I'll have to ask my doctor at the next checkup. Someone told me that General Practitioners don't know much about nutrition anyway. They only get 10 minutes of training in it during their medical training. What you really have to do is speak to a dietitian. Everyone seems to have a different opinion. I guess it's like anything in parenting, you can listen to a wide spectrum of advice but then do what seems right to you. At least Michelle is starting to show an interest in food. She watches me intently as I eat and tries to grab at the food. She's started sipping water from a glass. My doctor said it was OK for her to have a little water so when she reached for my glass I let her try it. She seemed to like it. It was a change for her to have something cold from a glass since all she'd had so far was milk from me and occasionally from a bottle.
Though I do stay home most of the time I do need some contact with the outside world! When I get a chance I go online to check my email etc. Whenever I'm stressed about something I call my sister and she puts my mind at ease. She always knows the perfect thing to say. I talk to my Mom daily. Sometimes several times a day. She likes to hear from me every day to make sure that Michelle and I are OK. I get so used to talking to her that I end up calling her with every little minor detail. It's just good to have a sounding board when you're on your own. My Mom can be negative and a worrier, so sometimes if I'm worried she actually makes me feel worse! Then I call my sister to calm me down. Overall though I must say that since having the baby I've felt closer to my Mom than ever before. For the first time I really understand what it means to be a Mom. I also understand the challenge of raising a family on a tight budget. When I was a kid I used to complain about not having name brand this and that. I didn't understand that we simply couldn't afford it. My Mom seems pleased that I'm becoming more like her all the time -- trying to save money, looking for bargains and now becoming a homebody and not wanting to go out. Michelle has changed my life and myself more than I ever could have imagined. She is my top priority so everything else has to work around her wants and needs. Sometimes it is exhausting but she is worth it.
I hope that 2013 will have great things in store for us. I hear the winter is supposed to be harsh. At least I know if we're snowed in I don't have to go hungry. I can have my groceries delivered. We can hibernate until the Spring...