Tuesday, May 29, 2012

favorite onesie

Henry's grandpa is a soil scientist and picked up this onesie at a soils conference. Though they don't have onesies online, you can view all the Association of Women Soil Scientists' dirt shirts here. Cute shirt, plus support women in science. Win!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

more budget

I've gotten a couple questions regarding our budgeting process since we've paid of some major debt. Here's what has worked for us.

1. Write it down.
We are not perfect with tracking this but we have our budget spelled out to the dollar using this document. Ideally I would be then adding everything to the sheet instead of keeping vague running totals in my head. Knowing the parameters though of what we have left after fixed payments works of us. I am not so strict though that I go through my Target receipts to separate out personal supplies and groceries.

2. Get friendly with the bank.
Twice a month money is automatically taken out of our checking account (where paychecks are deposited) and   distributed to our other three accounts. The most goes into our money market account which we use as our future house down payment savings and grad school tuition payments. We never pull money out of this account.

Next is our emergency fund. We use this for things like car repairs, medical expenses or other unexpected bills. It makes it easier to pay them knowing "that's what the emergency fund is for."

Last is our travel fund. If we had all our money together, we'd never spend it on travel because it'd take away from our house down payment or set us back in other savings. But travel is something we've determined is a priority for our family so we have our fund. It gets about $200/month which really does add up fast. Knowing it's designated for travel makes it easier to use. Dave Ramsey would tell me I shouldn't travel while we still have student loan debt. I would tell him to zip it.

3. Be ready to sacrifice.
Initially budgeting was hard. It was all this money we were putting off limits. But now that we've been doing it almost three years, I forget we even have that money. Because we made the sacrifice initially, it was easier to just take the money we used to pay off our second mortgage and put it toward the highest interest student loan. We didn't allow ourselves to experience a month with a couple thousand extra dollars.

We still go out to eat, but we budgeted for that. I still can buy a new dress, but it's budgeted. We no longer spend in excess on clothes we don't need or updates on our stuff that really could wait. We don't have extra luxuries like cable or gym memberships but I can honestly say our marriage has benefited.

4. Snowball effect
It works. You pay off one bill, transfer that money to another bill and so on. Because we are comfortable with the level we're living at, as we have made more money it goes toward debt. It also allowed us to start a college fund for Henry and set up two life insurance funds as soon as we became parents without any real extra sacrifice in our monthly budget.

5. Attitude
Sometimes I get really jealous when other people are buying huge houses at our age, buying new cars or going to concerts every weekend. (that's a lie, I hate concerts) But, if Dave Ramsey taught me anything it's "Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else." There will be a day in the not too distant future, where we will be living debt free. But we'll know how to live within our means and maintain a budget no matter what our bottom line.

Friday, May 18, 2012

nine months

My tiny little Henry,

Nine months! We just got back from your appointment, and despite the fact I was positive you were at least 20 pounds, you are just over 16 pounds (3rd percentile) and 26.75 inches long (10th percentile). It's all normal since you are very, very active. You still wear 6-month pants and shorts and 6-9 month shirts and onesies.

You are crawling all around the house, and pulling up on everything forcing us to watch you like a hawk.You prefer standing to anything even being held (tear!). Your favorite activities are pulling books of the shelves and pulling laundry out of the basket, one-by-one. You love being outdoors, crawling in the grass and reaching out to other kids.

You are very social and enjoy yelling at anyone walking by who doesn't admire you. You still high five but have added shaking your head and the symbol for touchdown to your repertoire. You have one top tooth and the others are coming in with a painful vengeance. Your separation anxiety is pretty intense some days and breaking your mama's heart.

You are starting to prefer solid food over nursing though we're still at it. You pretty much love all foods though your favorites are bananas, applesauce, cheese, muffins, macaroni and cheese, peas, apple cinnamon oatmeal, sweet potatoes and carrots. We've even started ordering a kids meal at restaurants occasionally.

This last month has been active! You went to Chicago with us and Grandma, enjoying both the Museum of Science and Industry and the Children's Museum at Navy Pier. You had a taste of your first deep dish Chicago pizza. A few weeks later you went to California to see your godmother Ashley graduate from college and you got to spend time with your cousin Adilyn. You loved the beach and digging in the sand. SeaWorld was also a big hit. It's fun to go places with you where you actually notice where we are. You handled your first plane rides like a champ - much better than your anxious, over packed parents.

You are a smart, active, happy boy. We're so proud to be your parents.

Much love,

Monday, May 14, 2012

a happy (belated) mother's day to you

It's really easy for me to get caught up in the difficulty of being a mother to a baby.

It's always repetitive. I follow the same schedule in the morning. Pack the same bags with the same stuff. I drive the same route to daycare. Change a diaper, fill the highchair tray with the same Cheerios so I can make dinner, wash the same dishes and pump parts, play with the same toys and follow the same routine for bedtime. I read the same book in the same silly voice and build the same tower with the same blocks.

But as I read this blog post, I was reminded of how that routine and consistency has a much greater purpose in Henry's life. It give him solid ground in a world he doesn't even know is chaotic. The small things are what make him feel secure, confident and happy.

There are mothers in my life who are dealing with children who fall short of their expectations. Mothers who worked so hard to instill values in their children and then to watch the painful rejection of those lessons.  Mothers who are taking care of sick or handicapped children. Mothers who are still parenting their adult children through tough situations. Mothers who lost their children before they ever got to meet them or who can measure the life of their children in hours.

I have a beautiful baby boy. He's active, healthy, social, smart and smiley. And I have more love than I thought my heart could ever hold. I am lucky.

It's really easy to get caught up in the "mommy wars." To spend so much time debating and agonizing over choices on breastfeeding or formula, co-sleeping or crib, cloth or disposable, crying it out or not, organic or that crap Gerber makes (which I buy), cow's milk or not, stroller or sling.

Some of those choices probably do matter, most don't. But the more mothers I meet, the more I realize we're all doing the best we can with the unique kid we were blessed to parent. I might cloth diaper, co-sleep and breastfeed, but making baby food or staying home all day with him I cannot. I have to make choices for Henry and the unique little man he is.

I love the ultimate selflessness that is motherhood. I understand now the need for a few selfish choices to maintain sanity and balance.

So is the complicated, exhausting and entirely awesome journey of motherhood in year one.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

cover controversy

Not sure what to think about this week's TIME cover.

The stories are about Dr. Sears' attachment parenting theories, which we are of very partial proponents. But attachment parenting is so much more than extended breastfeeding. Co-sleeping and not always sticking your kid in a seat - carrying or wearing instead - perhaps an image that might have been a bit less polarizing.

More power to the women who can breastfeed their kids to the WHO's recommended two years or more. No judgement from me. But I wonder if this image turns people off even more to breastfeeding in an age when it's tough to get a mother to nurse (who can nurse) exclusively the first six months. Although, it would certainly be much more convenient if Henry could pull up a chair and nurse while I did dishes. Kidding...kind of.

It's a cover that makes you do a double take and probably buy a magazine. The journalist in me applauds the boldness. The breastfeeding mother in me cringes at the message it sends.

What do you think? Here's my favorite response.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

how long are you planning to nurse?

I didn't pack any bottles for our trip to California last week. Even better, I didn't have to pack my dang pump. It was a fabulous thing to just feed Henry when he needed it - at the Shamu show, during dinner, before bed. No making bottles, worrying about warm water or stopping what we were doing.

I nursed him on takeoff and landing in a discreet, under a blanket way. The woman sitting in our row began to question me.

Woman: How long are you planning on nursing?
Me: My goal is a year but if he wants to go longer, that's fine. Whatever he needs.

Five minutes later...

Woman: Kids have to learn to drink from a cup eventually, you know.
Me: Sure.
Woman: I just hate when I see those three-year-olds breastfeeding.
Me: Well, I'm just doing what's best for my kid.

On the way home, the TSA agent asked if we had baby bottles with liquid to go through the x-ray.

Agent: No bottles? 
Me: Nope.
Agent: No water even?
Me: Um, nope.
Agent: Poor kid!
Me: I'm his food. He's OK.

I did have some super positive experiences like the SeaWorld's baby and nursing friendly park. But it's interesting how the older he gets, the more judgment that comes. Just wait til he walks over to me when it's time to nurse. Gasp! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

the time my kid made me vain

For the record, I think this is vain.

But kids make you crazy and abandon all your previously held standards.

So that being said, VOTE for Henry daily until Monday so he can be on the cover of a magazine so that when he is a sullen teenager we can remind him that at one point, he couldn't stop smiling.