mental viagra

we are in defcon 5 in our family budget this month. so that means no eating out at all (barring vacation which comes from a special savings account we contribute to all year) and making the most out of what we already have or can get on the mega cheap.

that means cooking. frig buckets.

i have successfully and frugally meal planned only once before. during frugal february. it's time to dust that off and get back at it again for the sake of our wallets and my sanity.

when you have 2 littles, a fulltime job, a running habit, an etsy shop, a sleep addiction and a husband you very much love hanging out with, there just isn't a lot of time leftover for much anything. so our meals usually get planned when all of a sudden i am so hungry that a repeat episode of curious george on TiVo makes me cry. out of this MUST EAT NOW OR EVERYONE WILL PAY situation comes a bevy of a frozen stouffer's meals, fast food, or last night's choice: a crag of colby jack and a bag of organic teddy grahams intended for judah. #winning.

in an attempt to get myself pumped for this upcoming month of cooking, and forever memorialize my efforts, i am posting the most involved meal i have ever cooked (seriously...dont laugh). i made this 3 course stunna for jesse for father's day and it was off the chizzle. warning: i am NOT a foodtographer.

grilled stuffed jalepenos from cooking light. mine dont look as good as theirs, but DANG they were good. i was afraid there'd be too much pepper taste (because the filling was woefully short on being able to fully stuff them), but they were just humble little tasty-trays serving up the goodness within.

-mediterranean ribeye from publix apron's meals. possibly our favorite homemade meal EVER.
-sesame green beans from cooking light .
-secret corn from keight and jesse. also known as magic corn.

blanched and peeled peaches ready to be harvested for dessert. i ended up only using 4 for the cobbler, so the extra went into some layla food.

raspberry peach cobbler from scratch using my favorite go-to recipe from MADE. i make this ALL summer long. i went ahead and got a party pail of vanilla ice cream to accompany all these that we will eat this season. AND i was feeling extra over-achieveristic so i measured out 5 batches of the the dry ingredients for the topping and put them in individual ziploc bags so future cobbling will be mega easy.

okay! i am suitably empowered now. i can do this. however, ribeye wont be on the menu this month. i'm off to find gourmet recipes combining cheerios, pasta, and pancake mix.


7 months

alternately titled, "the post of a thousand typos because it took me so long to write this and get all the pics uploaded through a bunch of errors that i have no left patience to proofread, and i am playing the grace card: please dont be turned off by spelling/grammar."

lay-bay, i am 2 weeks late again posting your monthly update. playing with you is way more fun that writing these. but i will try to exclude everything from the last two weeks and only talk about your actual 7th month (5/14-6/14).

-your 6 month doctor visit we actually did at 7 months because that's how mommy rolls. your stats: 28 1/8 inches (95 percentile, welcome back on the graph!) and 19 1/4 lbs (80 percentile i think). a very healthy chunky little lady.

-you were NOT okay with your shots this time. you were already fussy because it was bedtime while we were waiting for the nurse to come in so i was feeding you some yogurt. well when she came in i had to stop and you didnt like that. and then they stuck you. oh sweet mercy i have never heard you cry like that. the paper on the table was peppered with your little tear droplets. and then we had to do the other leg for the shot that is notorious for stinging really bad. it did not disappoint. you went ballistic and i hated myself for sending jesse ahead on an errand after the doctor talked to us. it was my most heart-wrenching mommy moment with you to date. i sat you up to try to distract you with the rest of your yogurt and you just slapped it away and reached out for me. yes ma'am! i ditch the yog' and scooped you up lickety split. i love that you want me when times get tough!

you love holding on to me. it's very adorable and tender. especially when i wear a v-neck.

-you mastered sitting up. you didnt really do this a lot before you hit 6 months. i remember judah teetering for months as he slowly built the core strength. you just seemed to go from being a laying down baby to then all of a sudden one day being able to sit up forever with hardly any balance issues. so yay for not having to come to your rescue as you topple a million times a day and donk your head on things. let's hope this waiting-until-you're-really-ready thing is a character trait.

sittin' like a kitten

-sitting up means that you get to ride in the front of the cart in the store now! no more plastic iron maiden carseat when you're awake. your first ride up front was at good old wally-world where we were picking up your new double jog stroller.

i think you're pretty pleased with yourself. or maybe brother bear just told you something funny.

-i was amazed at how you learned to go from sitting up to all fours and back again so seamlessly. you seem to have really strong little arms that just push you up off the floor and into a stable sitting position. you're so nimble! here you are doing that while yelling at some dinosaurs right after turning 6 months old.

-you began crawling in the last half of the month. for the longest time we thought you would skip crawling in sheer defiance because it's SO clear that all you want to do is to walk and be on your feet. when you went from the traditional milestone of all-fours rocking with maybe some tiny lurches forward, to this maneuver, we weren't sure if you would ever settle for motoring on your knees.

you want your feet on the ground! we got to see your little booty point skyward a LOT this month as you tried to master the bear crawl.

-luckily, you never figured out how to move forward in this awesome, booty-up bear crawl fashion, so you came back down to your knees and went for traditional crawling... with a layla twist: you quasimodo crawl. you use your hands and your left knee, but instead of your right knee, you use your right foot. it's hilarious. it's as if you refuse to settle for crawling altogether and will only acknowledge it as a lead-up to walking, thus, one foot must be engaged. and you get a big push off your right foot so you sort of lurch forward just like the real quasimodo. man you are funny. in the last week before your 7 month birthday you really started being able to really go places. and please dont be mad that i dont have a good video...daddy was gone that week and i was borderline insane. this one only sort of captures it's greatness in your 7th month.

-so with your newfound mobility you are into everything. i remember the first time i came in the room after putting you down in the middle of the floor on your blanket and encountered this scene.

to your credit, that is the bin for "layla's toys" so at least you toppled the right one.

-i dont even know how to classify this next trait. you have always been a little intimidating. when we give you kisses, you open your mouth so wide and growl and attack our faces. now that you are older and stronger and louder, this is even funnier. if someone's face is within your reach, you will play it cool for a little while and then all of a sudden go bonkers and grab their ear in one hand and a fistful of hair in the other and try to eat their face while growling and or yelling. it is beyond funny and only slightly scary.

nice try, judah. nobody gets JUST a kiss from layla

i was trying to capture you having one of these fits on my leg in the following video, but you had other plans.

-we are pretty sure you started teething this month. you started drooling, and being fussy when not tired or hungry for the first time ever. it was weird. and not fun to see our chill baby being upset. the teething tablets we used for judah didnt seem to fly with you and i had heard bad things about an ingredient in some orajel so i didnt want to be sticking that in your face 19 times a day. and of course, i dont want you on motrin 24/7 either. so we looked for some other methods of helping you out and actually found something that seems to be working: an amber teething necklace. these are kind of controversial in the mommy blog world for a few reasons, and you will know by now that mommy is NOT a hippie chick when it comes to 99% of things, but this homeopathic remedy seems to be working great for you!

early signs of teething? or just showing a love of shoes?

-you are sleeping great still. 6:30pm-7:30 am most days. 90% of the time, we put you down fully awake and dont hear a peep from you until morning. and that peep is usually you standing up bouncing around in your crib chirping your amusement. i wonder how long you are up for before you finally get loud enough for us to hear you. you are so dang content that i suspect you spend an hour playing happily in there alone every day! which explains why you then go down for a nap at 10 am. and then again at 2 pm.

-daddy and i sneak into your room once a week at least to look at you sleeping or rub your sweet head. we get to talking about you after youre in bed and then we miss you so much that we HAVE to see you again. this has led to some awesome discoveries. such as:

give the world a hug! i wish i could sleep like this. flat out spent.

you thought that an off the shoulder look was more chic for evening

-you are LOVING eating . so much so that you are kind of on a thirst strike. you always prefer solids over your bottle. i have started making your baby food these days since really great produce is in season and cheap right now, and you make me feel like a master chef with how much you attack my cooking. if we aren't feeding you fast enough you make sure to smack your lips and then yell at us with a staccato burst of indignation. your sass is hilarious.

pretty baby food (carrot berry jasmine rice) and a bossy baby demanding more!

-with crawling came pulling up. they happened simultaneously. judah pulled up at 6 months and then didnt crawl until 9 and a half, so we weren't sure when you'd figure this out. but you did it all on the same day. this has led to some tangles. you can now reach the end tables and you love to snatch up judahs bowl of cheerios or blueberries and shake them all over the room. you also love to climb up the back of judah when he is sitting and pull his hair. he is NOT amused and you cant figure out why. you are kind of a tiny bully in this regard. it is so dang funny. judah is very sweet though and doesnt try to hurt you back when you accidentally give him a tug. you're probably a little jealous of his flowing locks at this juncture.

"just standing here going through your stuff...is that okay?"

-your babble is picking up so fast. you will talk back and forth with us now and are adding more syllables to your repetoire of growls, shouts and chirps (each of which we ADORE, by the way). here we have what will technicalyl be called your first words. why am i not surprised?

-you LOVE the bathtub. we are giving you baths more lately because you now have more body control and because you adore every second that youre in there. we fill it up really low and you go to town exploring every cubic inch. you are a little water baby!

love those eyelashes!

so ladylike eating your lego with your pinky up!

a great booty shot with some side rolls. and you can see how much hair you actually have here too. when its dry its so thin and light that it's transparent, but you actually have a good amount going.

-though you are into things and exerting a little sassy will, you are still easy like sunday morning, layla.
you're a happy traveler

youre cool with non-mommy and daddy personages.

youre happy hanging from daddy

you're happy getting your eyes sneakily poked by your brother?

you're happy reading popular science with daddy.

and you're happy during diaper changes.

from your ducky fuzz hair to your long little piggy toes, you are a delight. a we just ADORE you with all of our hearts and relish every day with you! you are entirely AMAZING!

and evidently youre amazed too.


the fence post

i am still not sure sure how this whole thing happened. jesse's mom told us about a big catholic church event where lots of youth teams were descending upon our neck of the woods in search of work projects. i am not sure if they were doing them for anyone in need, or for the families of folk in ministry or what, but jesse made a call and a few hours later we had a team headed our way for 2 days.

so we didn't really have a glaringly obvious project we needed help on, but jesse had just mentioned how much a fence would help our back yard so much.

considering we live inside the city limits of our town, we have a lot of land. not like "the hills are alive" amounts of land, but also way more than "jenny from the block" who probably just had her stoop (and her hip hop flava). i think jesse informed me that we have just under 2 acres. that means approximately nothing to me. what is the conversion rate between an acre, a peck and a schrute buck? answer: fiction.

but what it does mean is that there is WAY too much for me and my man to make look good. we are horrible landscapers. we just dont care. jesse's dad is passionate about beautifying their land himself, and my parents live in the headmaster's residence at my old school, and the groundskeepers (hagrid, et al) for the school also tended to our yard so neither jesse or i was ever apprenticed in tending the soil. we are not blaming our parents. let me restate: we just dont care.

we cant make grass grow, our lawnmower breaks every 30 seconds (we once got a citation in our redneck town that our weeds were too high. our neighbors have toilets in their front yard, but our grass was the true eyesore), and if the price of brazen, unpulled weeds (note the S on that word) ever rises, we will be set for life.

part of me thinks it's because who gives a crap spatula what your lawn looks like when there is so much effed up in the world? it's like superficiality that's not even related to your own appearance, which you at least walk around with all the time. seems like pouring money and effort into your house's facial hair. so our 3 bedroom ranch's goatee is a little scraggly? cry me a river.

so i get on my high horse and let the georgia red clay, crab grass and dandelions have a florgy (see what i did there?) in the name of jesus, but really it's probably because i am ignorant and lazy and don't have yard-critique-o-vision…which i totally would if mine looked halfway decent. i've found it's a good practice to only judge others on the things that you have together yourself, that way you're always the best. if something in your life is a mess, then just be all, "oh no, i don't even see cellulite on women. god created each and everyone of us beautifully," that way anyone who points out my curds and whey will at least feel like a jerk because i am so un-judgy. but if it's something like pouring the exact right amount of milk for a bowl of cereal or something else that you do just right? then judge and rank the world!

has this post taken a turn?

so we have a chain link fence around a great portion of our land. but that's where the wildebeests known as our dogs live, and it's detached from the back of our house (thank god or the hellhounds would have gnawed off all of our siding by now). rather than go to war with the dogs over this land, we have ceded it to them in exchange for not having to play with them or touch them daily (this would have made me cry once upon a time but i have real human pets, known as my children now, so the animal activist in me is gone). so that land is wild and forest-y because they prefer it that way. we save money by not having to import ticks to put on them by just having tons of wild brush back there.

view from the driveway. you can see our red and our black dog lounging back there (chopper and clifford) in their domain. the fence and their area extend about 30 yards back.

the extent of our backyard grooming: a patio set, a buzz lightyear tent, and a failed vegetable garden that is now a frog sanctuary.

this still leaves a great bit of backyard land. we have trees that continually dump leaves all over the place (havent' figured out how to make them stop) which we of course don't rake. and these same trees provide so much shade that not a lot will grow back there (can't be sure though since we haven't really tried).

oh my gosh this is the most boring post in the world. i am monologue-ing like whoa. that concludes the unabridged history of our backyard. i will become a stripper next week so you have something way more interesting to read.

back to the point. the main problem is that if we let judah outside to play, he is not contained. i would put him back there with the dogs, but i think i would have to leave him out there permanently because he'd be so smelly and dirty. he can run around the front of the house and into the road unless we are right there with him, and i really dont love outside or the idea of helicopter parenting his fun outdoor play.

so jesse dreamed up a pretty wooden fence extending off the back sides of our house to meet up with the chainlink doggy fence. but of course we wrote it off as "dream list" material because we can't afford to have that kind of work done right now. this was like 20 hours before he heard about the work teams coming to town. "ok god, we'll build you a fence! it will be 4 cubits long and we will fill it every species of our household: dogs, cats, babies, and parental dukes, 2 by 2."

i got way overwhelmed at the store the first time when we were trying to just swing by and pick the materials up the first time. we had a post-vaccination layla in tow, and just our tiny cars and a general plan/list. i got overwhelmed STAT when i realized that free labor doesn't mean that a lot of planning and muscle will still be required to get the supplies. also i was very hungry. so i quit and went home.

jesse persevered and came back 3.5 hours later with nothing in hand after realizing it wouldn't come close to fitting in our cars so he left it at will call. that was a sad homecoming. we drew up a more detailed plan, priced it out to be sure we weren't overpaying, borrowed a good friend's truck and trailer and sent our neighbor along with jesse to assist. we would need every inch of truck, trailer, neighbor, and all 12 months of no-interest financing to pull it off.

so much wood up in the 'hood.

all i had to help with was unloading the trailer and i still managed to crush my finger, cry, sweat and complain. freaking princess. but all of this was still 100% worth it because of the amazing blessing of having this awesome team do the work with us. and in typical keight fashion, it was way more involved of a process than i was predicting. SO glad i have a diligent husband who cares about doing the details right rather than just doing it quick like i would.

here are a million pictures to commemorate the process.

our across the street neighbors yard. they actually take great care of their lawn, but that toilet has been there a LONG time. and the other arrow points to our crappy mailbox that got smashed by some truants and we reattached with tape. it meets the ground on a rusty metal pole embedded in a huge ant pile and sits next to an AJC mailbox that we have never once used.

seriously. would you be friends with the people who owned this mailbox? or would you be a little scared that they would give you moonshine, tie you up with a hose, and then steal your teeth if you came over?

oh my gosh ten million times better. we'll get so many more molars now that we aren't scaring away 90% of our prospective victims.

our WONDERFUL team on a popsicle break. even their color coordination is awesome.

can we talk about if i had been in charge of painting 214 pickets white on all 4 sides and in the top curvy parts?

these huge posts had to be cemented in holes dug over a foot deep and wide and placed just right to keep aligned. i had no idea. this was smart, heavy duty, man-work (was that sexist?) and jesse and the dudes worked so hard to get it just right.

so many pickets.

these girls ROCKED it.

i picket pickets.

more posts going in on day 1. the made the turn at the corner. almost done with the first side of the house.

look at the battle wounds the girls bore from painting hundreds of pickets!

perfectly aligned. using string! and brains! makes me want to curl up in a ball and suck my thumb thinking about the meticulousness that went into this.

they got all the posts inserted (except for 3 or 4 which my hero husband finished on his own that night) and left them overnight for the cement to fully harden.

day 2. the 2x4 railings going on and pickets being attached! i squealed at this point.

that gap is where the gate is going to go and we are going to move the bushes somewhere else (and most likely kill them in transit).

this little sub-team was the bomb-dilzzly. they would perfectly measure all the cuts that jesse need to make with the saw and go before him and prep the brackets and do all sorts of initiative-taking things that i dont even understand.

smile! we (i) may not play with them or give them heartworm pills anymore (please dont leave hateful comments. we love our dogs, but are poor and love our kids more), but we do give them doggie crest white strips for a shining grin.

agh! i love progress.

getting ready to fire up the saw. hello toolbelt! i had never seen jesse be all handy and power-toolsy like this. it was...mmm, enriching for me.

this was the 3rd time i had taken judah out to visit the site. the first time he ruined his white shorts with red dirt. the second time he ruined his blue shirt with white paint. so we went redneck-casual on the 3rd venture. mama aint no fool (the 3rd time around at least)

something about the new boundaries really got him excited. so he sprinted all around the new play area for a good 15 minutes. back and forth as fast (and serious) as possible.

tiniest chariot of fire.

building our gate door. hott-E

at the end of day 2!!! drool much?

these kids were out of their minds unbelievable. i cannot believe these are high schoolers. they did such a great job working hard, not letting the heat beat them down and having great attitudes.

showing off their perfect work!

THANK YOU to our amazing team from mississippi! if we didnt already love jesus, your servant hearts and joyful faces would have told us a lot about who he is and how he loves us. we COULD NOT have done this without you.

our wild 2 year old will now be safely contained within our picturesque fence and not roaming the streets lord of the flies style. you have given us a well-contained, highly manageable little backyard that we WILL make pretty so it can live up to the gorgeous boundaries.

i sort of get it now about land-beautification. i am so proud of this gift we received that i want the contents to live up to the hard work that went into it! we have dreamed of flower beds, and herb garden, a swing set, a hammock, an arbor and maybe even some sod. all pending amazing deals, of course.

i feel like we have tamed the wild! i may one day enjoy being outside of an HVAC controlled environment. i am really excited to see our "home" extend beyond the walls of the house and this may have been just the jumpstart to make that happen. onward!