Posts Tagged ‘life lesson’

Week One: Home With Baby – a New Perspective

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Week One: Home With Baby – a New Perspective

We have been home exactly one week now with the new baby.  Compared to our first child, this has been a calmer week than before.  Some people chalk it up to experience, knowing what to expect, steadier nerves, and lessons learned.  I say it’s a mix of all those things, plus a less temperamental baby. 

For all those new mommies-to-be out there, you have no idea what you are in for and nobody is going to tell you the truth about what to expect.  After I lifted my head from the milk-drenched trenches of yesteryear, I called all my mommy friends and asked them why they didn’t tell me what to expect.  Oh sure, everyone had something to say about labor and delivery, but not one soul told me what I was going to go through the first few weeks being home.

Want the honest truth?  Now that I’ve been through it once myself, there is really no way of describing the aches and pains of recovery, the pain of engorged breasts, the zombie-like sleep deprived haze, the constant worry of this thing called SIDS, stumbling through breast-feedings, the projectile poops, and the crying, crying, crying of a newborn whom you feel helpless to soothe.  My mommy friends simply told me that I would have to go through it myself, so no point worrying about it before hand.  Plus, they said they didn’t want to scare me.  Anticipating pushing a watermelon through a straw for 40 weeks is scary enough, why add to that stress?

The second time around, our first week went much smoother than before.  I even got out of the house for some recreational play with the family, something I didn’t do for 6 weeks with Oliver.   We are older and wiser now.  This time around we had a Grandma stay with us from day one in the house to help.  We have a more efficient diapering station setup.  We already have a bag of tricks to soothe a crying child.  We can tell which grunts, groans, and sighs mean, “help me” vs. “just passing gas mom”.  And the breastfeeding – so much easier the second time around.

New mommies, rather than tell you what to expect, let me try relating from a different angle.  I’m going to throw out some numbers.  You do the math from there.

Situation: 

Zero-complications at labor and delivery, vaginal birth, epidural/no-epidural, stitches from an episiotomy or tear, healthy baby, breast-feeding, first 7 days at home after a 2 night hospital stay.

Numbers:

325 pictures taken
84+ glasses of water drunk
82 diapers changed
78 maxi-pads used
40 minutes average time for one feeding including changing diaper halfway through
36 200mg ibuprofen tablets taken
16 ounces of liquid hand soap used
18 lbs lost after a 16 lb gain throughout total pregnancy
6 accidental poops and 1 surprise pee (baby)
6 surprise pees after 6 surprise sneezes (mommy)
4 nose squirts and squeezes (baby)
3 showers taken (mommy)
3 nights of 4 hours sleep or less (mommy)
3 loads of baby laundry done
2 boxes of diaper-wipes used
2 periods of sleep greater than 2.5 hours each out of 168 available hours (mommy)
2 trips to the pediatrician
2 unexplained bruises from things that you bumped in the night
1 trip to Babies-R-Us for things we forgot to get before

The times you kissed your baby’s cheeks, watched him or her roll away from the breast milk-drunk, cuddled them close to your heart while rocking them to sleep, gazed into their little eyes when they were alert, and smiled at their little chuckles while they slept – priceless.

36 Weeks and Counting

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Happy Halloween!  We carved up the rest of our pumpkins and lit them just in time for the onslaught of trick or treaters last Sunday.  We had probably 40+ kids come through, our biggest year so far!  Thanks to shopping the bargains last year, we had several very large ghouls, monsters, and creepy things to decorate our house with.  Quite a few of the kiddos were too scared to come up to the front door and my hubby had to go outside to meet them.  Awesome! 

I’ve finally packed away the Halloween gear for next year and, believe it or not, started working on the nursery.  We are at 36 1/2 weeks, as of today, and don’t have much time left for dilly-dallying.  Our nursery is actually a corner carved out of our bedroom, but is complete with changing table, shelves, rocking chair, and bassinet.  What else do you need right?  (Famous last words)

The office will be cleaned out this weekend to be used as our “master guest suite” for the visiting grandmothers.  When the baby is old enough for her own room, she will move into the office and the office will move into our bedroom.  We will make it work! (or die under an avalanche of junk while trying…)

Baby and momma are doing great healthwise.  I’m working on our hospital bags and Oliver’s babysitter bag.  I’ve been typing up a user’s guide titled, “Everything you ever wanted to know about Oliver, but was afraid to ask” for the caregivers.  Looking at the sections titled, “Schedule” and “Routines” surprised me to see how well we’ve figured out how to run things around here.  I went from being lost and confused 8 months ago to semi-confident and settled now.  Of course, the new baby will throw us all for a loop again, but I hope I’m better prepared than I was when I left my job.

I’m also working on my own personal list of “The Essentials” for baby and momma gear.  As I’m getting ready for my little one, I’m creating it in tandem and will post for the new mommies to be out there.  It’s not as fru-fru or fluffy as the lists that are constantly being shoved in their faces, as I am not that type of gal, but hopefully it will be helpful.

Well, back to my Oliver guide and the section about food titled “To Eat or Not to Eat – That is the Question.”

The Big 5-0! posts that is…

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

This is my fiftieth blog post. Wow, I feel like I should celebrate a little bit!

My blog has been live for about 3 1/2 months and I even managed to keep it going after a slump there in April.  50 posts is peanuts in the blogging world, but here is why it is important to me:

My husband was very concerned about the state of my mental well-being after we decided that I would become a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM).  Why? When we moved down here from DC, I had a period of 8 months where I was unemployed and 2 months where I was waiting for my new job to start.  For those 8 months, I was mostly miserable.  I began to hate the monotony of the household chores.  I was dying to be around people.  I felt trapped in a house that was too small, cluttered and constantly falling apart.  We used to fight (alot) and I used to cry (alot) and it was basically a miserable time in general.  Having gone through all that, he was skeptical that I could be happy not working again.

Here is what he did not take into account.  We had just gotten married in September, the month before I left my job in DC.  We also miscarried our first child at 3 months.  My grandmother also died the week I quit my job.  Our water heater broke in our attic 2 weeks after that.  Our car failed inspection and needed to be overhauled a month after that.  I had continuing medical problems and bills that continued on for 6 more months.  The debt started piling up as we had month after month of $1,000 expenses to add to the lingering expense of the wedding and continued expense of doctor’s bills. 

As anyone knows, when debt climbs and income drops so does your general happiness.  In January, I started looking for employment hardcore.  I found that after working at a large international non-profit in DC, coming down to Raleigh was difficult.  I wasn’t qualified to do much in this job market.  My technical IT skills from my tech support days were non-existent after a 6 year hiatus.  My non-profit IT skills (I was a manager), were not useful in Raleigh’s technical market.  Week after week, I had zero responses – not even one inquiry.  I attended job fairs and was thoroughly disappointed.  I started lowering my standards and looking for entry level work – guess what?  I was OVERQUALIFIED.  Someone with my resume would never be happy working a menial desk job -or so I was told.  I started “dumbing” down my resume.  I actually have 14 different versions which each hacked up my career (Secretary – yes, I can answer phones, and file, and type on a computer).  The whole experience was pretty demoralizing.  I couldn’t even get a job making $10/hr at Mailboxes, etc. 

Add that demoralization onto the stress of not being able to pay the bills and guess what?  I was Miserable.  While we were at it, lets add the fact that I was desperately missing my life, my friends, my job, and the city of DC.  I had worked so hard to get out of Raleigh and to do something with my life and here I was back in Raleigh and back in the same old house that I had been desperate to leave. 

It sounds like I am rambling, but I am getting to my point.  The miserable unemployed person that I was 2 years ago does not exist anymore.  The reasons I was miserable had very little to do with me just being “unemployed” and more to do with – well, you can read it again in case you missed it.  Here is how I have changed:

My husband and I finally started meshing as a couple – mind you, we met in 2006 – married in 2007 -got pregnant in 2008 – had a baby in 2009 – and have another coming for 2010.  We didn’t really have a long “honeymoon” period before we started making big life decisions.  Once I started working again in 2008, we were able to start paying down our debt, stop living so desperately, and start enjoying ourselves a little.  I also started settling in to my new lifestyle and stopped missing DC.  Raleigh is a different city to us now that I am a part of a “we”.  This is also a different house – it’s “our” house and with our home improvement projects my hubby definitely has put his touch on things around here.  We also had a HUGE garage sale and finally got rid of the excess stuff and merged our households into one.  And the biggest change: 

We have started our family!  I have wanted to be a mother my entire life and now I have the most precious little boy ever, with a girl on the way.  Everything that I have ever done, from my upbringing, my travels, my jobs, my education, and my experiences have come down to my greatest project – raising children, laying the foundation for the future.  I would say that this is my biggest and most important job to date.

Regardless of how my life has changed, how great things are, and how happy I am – my husband does have a point (Now we are getting to it!).  Without a goal, without focus, without self-expression, I tend to get lost and lose my drive, my forward momentum.  Hence, 2 Pennies 2 Rub was born!  He pushed me to come up with a way to keep the inner me challenged and satisfied, above and beyond taking care of my family. 

My goals are my own, but I get to challenge myself constantly with this blog.  Did I hit my number of posts?  Are they balanced between family, living, and being frugal?  Do I have good ideas?  How do I get my site traffic to go up?  How can I enhance my readers experiences?  Did I make my milestones at 3 months, 6 months, a year?  Not only does this blog keep my happy, but it keeps us focused on saving money, living frugally, and finding the best deals so that I have more to share with you. 

So back to the beginning – this is my 50th blog entry! Woo hoo!  Thank you hubby for pushing me and thank you readers for keeping me writing.  My little one is now slapping my keyboard and demanding to be fed now, so I am off. 

BTW, I love being a SAHM and my mental health is doing good.  :-)

He Speaks!

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Salee here… It has been several weeks since my last post.  I have been tied up with a very important project, which has left very little time to blog.  While I haven’t been writing about it, we have still been living it – the frugal lifestyle.  I have updates on my garden, our home projects, how couponing is going, etc… and I will get to them in the next couple of weeks after I reveal my latest endeavor.  In the meantime, my husband suggested being a guest blogger and I thought – what the heck?  So without further ado, may I present my husband and his two cents:

Ok, Salee has been swamped with the duties of motherhood, spousal-hood, and any other *-hoods I failed to mention.  So, I, the devoted husband am pinch-hitting in her stead for the time being.

First, I must admit, that the whole idea of Frugality is something that, once begun, begins to consume your life . . . but in a good way.  Originally, I thought that the goal of bring frugal was to be, as the Boy Scouts state, “Thrifty.”  Thus when I was young, Thrifty was the moniker of the day, with everyone looking for ways to save a little on the side, so you would have a solid nest-egg or back-up fund in the event of an emergency.  Now, it is not as easy as it was back then.

Personally, I always thought that there were different levels of being thrifty, or frugal as is the current trend.  The lowest level being someone who collected coins in a jar, and wrapped them up in the little coin wrappers that you could get from the bank.  And, the upper echelons being those people who were so tight fisted that they could squeeze a booger out of Lincoln’s nose.  Most people, however, fell into a kind of middle ground.  Personally, I was always the oddball that would cross over 4 lanes of traffic to pick-up a penny off the road.  However, several years later, and a few scraped and bruises “stupid sedans”, I find myself now with a wife, a son, and a mountain of debt working to crush us all into the throes of perpetual missed payments and late fees.

Ok, I am exaggerating.  Our debt is not a huge overbearing mountain of credit cards, mortgages, and other loans.  However, it is also not something that I can just write-off.  I would classify our debt as more of a little foot-hill, or a large speed-bump.  A majority of the debt is wrapped up in the mortgage and college tuition loans.  I have seen all the ads and read a lot of articles which state that these 2 types of debt are “good debt.”  I guess that is because they are linked to a tangible (or as the case of education, intangible) asset which can appreciate, and provide a benefit to you later on.  In fact, companies often re-classify debts as separate from expenses on their balance sheet, which end up having a different impact on their bottom line.  Personally, I feel that if I have to write a check for any amount a month or whenever, that this is a cost to me that I would prefer not to have to pay.  Not that I would prefer to have it for free, as I believe in hard work and earning your place in the world . . . I just do not like seeing the hard earned monies I make disappear each month without seeing some physical asset replace it.

Now, onto the task at hand.  This blog is about living the frugal life.  To assist with the blog, I do spend a little time browsing the local web news and am seeing more and more articles expounding the benefits and joys of “frugality.”  Personally, the word frugal sounds like some weird fungus or toadstool that you find in a dark cave, surrounded by some mythical little creatures with pointy shoes and hats right out of a Harry Potter novel.  “Hey, can you place pass me some frugals” . . . “Boy honey, this is the best frugal I have ever had” . . . etc.  However, as it turns out, this is really “How to live simply, and to enjoy life to the fullest.”  Most people seem to measure their life via the accumulation of the newest little electronic blinky battery scarfing things that you can buy in your local Best Buy or GameStop.  Personally, I believe that life is about experiencing what the world has to offer, and making your mark in the word in some way to the betterment of all.  I know, it sounds kind of like a weird 1960’s flower-power ideology, where everyone gets a guitar and paints their faces while wearing a burlap sack singing Kum-By-Yah around a campfire.  Well, if that is what you think I am about . . . boy are you in for a surprise.  :-)

I will be chiming in from time to time, filling in, with my own personal viewpoint of the world, current events, and new events in our frugal minded household.  So, check back in from time-to-time, as you never know what is coming next.  But, keep in mind . . . my goal is not to shock, or gripe, or whine about the world or to propagate my own personal beliefs with the aims of motivating or manipulating the masses.  I admire objectivity, and will always strive to give the true and honest, un-biased stance on any issues I take on.  This will be fun . . he he he.

All Worth It

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

The baby has learned to put the ball in place.

I went into my old office today to pick up a few items I had left behind and I must admit, I sort of miss it- just a little.  I miss the camaraderi the most.

At home, I do not have a shortage of things to do.  Every day is jam packed and what little breather I get during nap time is spent doing house work.  I have actually watched him flourish before my eyes in the short 1.5 weeks that we’ve been together.  For example, in the picture above, he learned how to place the ball correctly after we practiced for 4 days.  He was so excited that he started clapping his hands afterwards!  Priceless.

Choosing to stay at home has been worth every penny we pinch.

Last Day of Being Gainfully Employed

Friday, March 26th, 2010

This.Is.It. Wow, I am both excited and terrified today.  I finally get to be a stay at home mom and to raise my son the way we want him to be raised, yet I have so much still to do at work that I can’t imagine leaving.  I haven’t really ever left a perfectly good job before.  I have either been burnt out, had a better job elsewhere, or moved.  It feels sort of gutsy to walk away.  Go me!

There are more important things out there than money.  I could list 2 dozen off the top of my head.  It comes down to food, shelter, personal hygiene, and the bare necessities.  We are shifting our values from material and self-gratification to spiritual and emotional well-being.  Instead of thinking of everything we will do without, we are thinking of everything we will gain – peace of mind about the baby, less stress, more sleep, more family time and more time to have a cleaner house and better meals.

Frugal tip of the day:  Decide to live frugally and then do it!  Stop moaning and groaning.  It’s just like daylight savings time or flying across time zones, the longer you wait to change your watch the more confused and bitchy you will be.  Embrace your penny-pinching ways and it will soon hurt less to have less.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Tomorrow is my last day of work.  Today some colleagues took me out to a nice lunch and surprised me with thoughtful going away gifts.  The first thought that went through my head – “Awwww…how sweet!  You guys are too much.”  The second thought – “Awesome!  Free stuff!” 

Frugal lesson #1 – To get free stuff, work with incredible people, make good friends, and then quit your job.

JUST KIDDING!  Well sort of.  The real lesson here is a life lesson – be kind, generous, thoughtful, caring, and genuine to the people in your life and you will receive the same in return.  This especially works when you are trying to get deals and discounts to sustain your frugal life.

Here are real world examples of this in my life:

CVS – I was confused at trying to figure out the secrets behind saving money at CVS.  I started chatting up a very tired and cranky looking employee.  Within a few minutes she not only told me how to get the best savings, but also personally led me to the bargain items I was trying to buy AND told me to call for her if I needed help!

Lowes – I am a regular fixture at my local Lowes Home Improvement store and have developed relationships with some of the employees over time.  They know my skill level, appreciate my enthusiasm, and have always given me GREAT advice on how to do my projects better, easier, and usually less expensively.  When we replaced our carpet last year, I was told by someone that I could only take the little 3″ X 3″ samples home.  Who on earth can decide which carpet you want for your entire house from a 3″ x 3″ sample?  I came back when the manager, who I am friendly with, worked and he cut a 12″ wide swath down the entire length of the carpet ROLL for each carpet I wanted.

S2 Metrobus – When I first moved to Washington, DC I had NO CLUE how to use the Metrobuses.  I was told by a local that I wanted the S2 bus to get back to my apartment.  When my bus pulled up, I sort of stood there looking at the driver and finally asked if he was going to 16th and V.  I sat at the very front of the bus and chatted with him.  I learned all about the bus system that night, how long he’d been driving, how the drivers rotate routes, and how many kids he had.  In turn, I got great advice, some free bus rides on his routes and a honk and a wave when I saw his bus go by on 16th street.

Frugal tip of the day:  Instead of trying to wheel and deal a few extra cents savings from someone, try being nice.  In the long run, you will probably come out ahead.

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