Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Different View of Pregnancy

I've wanted to document how this pregnancy has been different from my pregnancy with Joseph for a while now, but have had a hard time sorting through all my thoughts. This past Friday at mom's group we were discussing the differences between our first and second pregnancies. This helped me process my thoughts and realize that my experience is not unique.

I've been a little cautious about writing this post because I haven't been as ecstatic about this pregnancy as I was when I was pregnant with Joseph. It isn't that I don't want to be pregnant, or that I somehow don't appreciate and love this baby as much I love and appreciate Joseph. It's just that the newness of pregnancy has worn off and the reality of having a toddler in the house has set in. I'm much busier now than I was when I was pregnant with Joseph. I don't have time to stare at my stomach in awe when the little guy kicks around. Those precious kicks have - somehow - become commonplace. The size of my stomach isn't the wondrous gift that it was with Joseph. It's more of a hindrance to me when trying to pick up or wrangle Joseph.

So, while I've enjoyed being pregnant this go 'round well enough. It just isn't as exciting as it was with Joseph. One major difference, however, is my appreciation for being pregnant. When I found out we were pregnant with Joseph I had a bit of an entitled attitude. As in - "Yeesh. That took forever!" (it didn't actually take that long for us to get pregnant, but I wanted to be pregnant RIGHT. NOW. So, it felt like forever.). I somehow felt that I deserved to be able to get (and stay) pregnant right away.

37 weeks with #2
This time I was more in awe of the gift that God had given us. I understood that this was a gift - a gift that many people don't receive. I had a much better sense of just how precious life is. When I first saw the positive result on the pregnancy test I was shocked and elated and overwhelmed with gratitude. I immediately began to pray thanking God for this precious gift of new life. All that afternoon I kept looking at the cross and smiling and praying again. It was surreal. I really didn't think we'd get pregnant so soon. It was also a blessing that Will was working from home the day I found out, so I got to tell him right away. I didn't experience this kind of excitement when I found out we were pregnant with Joseph.

I wish I had been less selfish the first time around so I was able to take in the wonder of God's creation. And I'm grateful for the work God has done to my heart so that I was able to catch a glimpse of His Greatness with our second, precious son.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Budgeting - Variable Expenses

After figuring out our fixed expenses Will and I had a good idea of how much money we had to spend on variable expenses each month. We came up with a list of variable expenses for our budget. Below you'll find the list of these variable expenses. We tried to take into account all variable expenses before assigning a dollar amount to each category in the monthly budget.  Some categories are more flexible than others and it is with these categories that we managed to "balance" our budget. 

Because some of these expenses only come up every few months, or maybe even only once or twice a year, it was a bit more challenging figuring out how much to budget for each category. We tried to start with expenses that occur every month and work our way down from there. We have since tweaked the budget a couple times to better fit our spending patterns. Here are the categories we came up with along with (not so) brief explanations of what each category includes or why we chose that specific category):

Metro - This is for Will getting to and from work. It includes both the metro and parking fees. It does not include me using the metro - that would fall under "entertainment."

Gas - This number was based on how many tanks of gas we generally go through in a month when we're at home. This does not include any gas for travel purposes.

Food and Household Supplies - This includes all groceries and any household items that are used and        
need to be replaced on a regular basis (cleaners, napkins, etc.). (For us) This does not include eating out in groups (either as a family or going out with a friend), but does include eating out if one of us just grabs lunch out alone.

Entertainment - This includes eating out in groups plus any other activities we do for fun (going to a movie or concert, having a party, etc.). It also includes baby sitting costs if we need to hire a babysitter to go out.

House - Betsy - This includes any items I may purchase for the house. Generally bigger items like furniture, window coverings or larger (indoor) house projects (painting, remodeling, etc). This part of the budget was actually in place before we even considered the need for a budget because I tend to go a little crazy with the spending otherwise. Now, I know how much money I have and don't feel the need to run larger purchases past Will first (although I still usually ask him, but he generally has no opinion if I'm staying within budget). It has forced me to really think about our needs vs. our wants. For example: We need a crib for the new baby. I want to finish the laundry room (likely not gonna happen for many many moons). This particular line item has also eliminated a lot of squabbles about what quality furniture to purchase. I tend to want to buy higher quality, but more expensive items that will last us a lifetime. Whereas, Will tends to want to buy something that will get the job done for now but likely need to be replaced in a few years.

Clothes - To come up with this number we estimated how much we would need to spend in a year on clothes per person. We then came up with a monthly allowance based on that estimate. We've already had to up the budget for this line item slightly.

Donations - This is the amount of money we donate to organizations other than the church. We came up with a yearly amount we wanted to hit and divided by twelve to come up with this number. Starting next year we will try to keep up with these donations each month instead of making the majority of our donations right at the end of the year when we realize we haven't donated as much as we wanted.

Travel - This includes anything related to travel - food, gas, plane tickets, etc. It does not include our expenses while on vacation. So, we wouldn't include eating out or other activities while we were on vacation under this line item. Such activities would fall under "entertainment."

Car Maintenance - I think this is self explanatory. Anything related to keeping our cars in good working condition falls into this category.

House Maintenance - Similar to car maintenance, this includes anything required to keep our house in good condition.

Miscellaneous - This category is key. There are so many little expenses that come and go. We didn't want to have to have a line item for every. single. little. thing. So, we created this miscellaneous category. This includes prescriptions, hair cuts, baby sitting costs for non-entertainment purposes (when I teach CCD), etc. Really anything that doesn't fit nicely into another category gets thrown here. We tried to make this for truly random or small expenses. It's the line item with the least amount of money in it

Gifts - We actually came up with a yearly budget for this and keep track as the year goes by. This includes any gifts we purchase throughout the year - birthday, wedding, baptism, anniversary, etc. It also includes any postage necessary to get gifts to their desired location and any gift wrap we purchase for said gifts. I was amazed how much money gets spent on gifts each year!

Surplus - We put any money that isn't specifically assigned to a particular category into this line item. It's pretty small, but allows us to make small adjustments as needed fairly easily.

If you've made it this far, bravo for you! Having a logical, type A personality I tend to enjoy this kind of stuff. I loved coming up with the budget and enjoy finding ways to save money and make the money we do have go as far as possible.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I pinned it and did it. Now I'll review it.

Ever since we bought our freezer last year I've been working on finding good freezer meal recipes to stock the freezer with. I've also come to love my crockpot, so when I came across this pin I just had to try it out. The recipes seemed to fit the parameters of what my family will eat (after eliminating any onions or peppers in the recipes) and seemed to give a reasonable amount of variety.

I had the brilliant idea to try this during our first month on a budget. I compiled my grocery list substituting a few ingredients for those listed (adding in veggies when I needed to replace an "off limits" veggie, etc). And I doubled the recipes so we ended up with 24 meals (I think that's right, but I could be off by a few).

I logged them all into an excel spreadsheet so I could keep track of what was in the freezer and jot down our thoughts on each meal. Here is what I wrote down for each meal (in the order that we tried them) along with any other thoughts that come up right now :)

*Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken - The perfect amount for the 3 of us! Serve with rolls and you're done.    

This was one of my favorite recipes from the line up. I really liked that we didn't have leftovers and that it was so healthy and flavorful. Don't let the "BBQ" fool you. It isn't like traditional BBQ. Honestly, I'm not sure why it's called "BBQ Chicken" since it's more like flavorful, fall apart chicken with veggies.

*Chicken Taco Soup - Makes a LOT. Maybe cut recipe in half? We've already gotten nearly 2 full dinners out of it so I ended up freezing the other half for later. Also, if chicken breasts are large (.7lbs or larger) you only need 2.

This is a great meal for a large group of people. I wonder if you could split the recipe in half before freezing but I'm not sure if/how that would affect the cooking time?

Bean Stew - A good meal for Friday. Will and Joseph liked it (with black beans), and I thought it was fine for a Friday meal but not something I would be asking for otherwise.

Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew - I didn't have any, but everyone at the potluck seemed to like it. Makes A LOT.

This is the only meal that I never actually tasted because I gave my second batch of it as an extra meal for a new mom. I got lots of compliments on it at the potluck I took it to, though.

*Sausage and Bean Supper - Very good, but pretty similar to the New England Baked Bean Stew I make. Be sure to use *non-spicy* sausage next time :)

The non-spicy sausage is so Joseph can eat it with us (without tears, because he still gobbles up the sausage even if it's spicy and causing him pain).

Pork and Veggies - Good. Will and Joseph really liked it, but I was just so-so on the meal. We have a decent amount of leftovers, but I don't think quite enough for 2 full meals.

Meat Stew - Good, but not super flavorful. A good simple meal.

Chicken Tortilla Soup - This was very similar to the Chicken Taco Soup, but much more soupy. Very good.

*Creamy Farmhouse Chicken and Garden Soup - I loved this. A good, hearty soup for a cold day.

Overall I was very happy with my experience preparing a bunch of freezer meals at one time. I will likely continue to prepare meals using this method as it made meal planning much easier.

Also, while the woman who wrote the post with the recipes I used this time did all the prep work in one day it took me nearly a week because I couldn't find one full day to do prep without any distractions (aka - Joseph). But it was still worth it to me.

I plan on making all of the *starred recipes again in preparation for baby #2 as they were my favorites. I also plan on trying a few recipes from here this time around. Eventually I hope to have a list of recipes tailored to my family's tastes. It's a slow process trying out new recipes, but I think it will definitely be worth the effort.

Friday, January 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 48)

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 202)

1) Countdown to my due date: t - 4weeks 5 days (assuming I go into labor on my due date). I can't believe how close I am. I remember counting the days with Joseph, but with this pregnancy it seems like the whole thing has flown by. I've barely managed to keep up with my bi-weekly pregnancy photos (I actually missed my picture holding "the sign" yesterday, but I did get a quick shot with photo booth). I have an inkling that this baby is going to come early - although I'm not sure how early I think he'll come. But I also thought our boy was a girl, so we'll see how this prediction pans out.

ready to go down the big slide
2) My patience has been somewhere along the lines of non-existent lately. I'm not sure why. Probably because I haven't been getting as much sleep. Joseph has been waking up early and I haven't been resting at all during the day because I feel the need to get stuff done. I'm going to try to take it a little more easy for a few days to see if my patience improves.

3) Nesting is in full force. I'm really glad I've been able to get a lot of things checked off my to-do list. And I'm starting to feel prepared for the baby, which is good just in case my early-arrival prediction is correct. Unfortunately, all the baby-related tasks have taken precedence over my regular cleaning schedule. I'm hoping to remedy that and do somewhat of a "deep clean" this coming week.

4) Does all the bickering about attachment parenting vs. non attachment parenting drive you nuts? It drives. me. crazy. Why can't people just parent however they like and move on with their lives? This goes for a lot of parenting stuff. All families aren't the same. There isn't a one-size-fits-all way to parent. I do enjoy a good, respectful discussion, but please no judging or assuming.

giving the Great Goofini a kiss
5) I'm going on a retreat February 1-3 before the baby arrives (assuming he doesn't make his appearance before then), and I can't wait! I'm really looking forward to having some time to relax and work on my spiritual life before the craziness of two kids hits. It will also be a good "trial run" for Joseph being away from me for a couple days. Not to mention it'll be good father-son bonding time.

6) I recently stumbled upon this blog and wanted to pass it along. I am Kristy's aide for Kindergarten CCD and I've really enjoyed getting to know her and her family this year. They're currently trying to adopt a second child, but are stuck until they can raise about $20,000. You can check out their website to find out more about them. Even if you can't contribute financially would you please join me in praying for them?

7) I can't believe Joseph is already 18 months old! He continues to grow at a crazy pace and amaze me with all the new things he learns every day. Happy 18 months little man!

Thanks Jen for hosting this week even though you're under the weather!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

See? See?

We're in full nesting mode over here. There are lists. Lots and lots of lists. And there is organizing, purging, reorganizing, ideas and the rehashing of said ideas with the hubs.

It all started right around the new year when I realized that #2 would be here in less than 2 months and I didn't even have Joseph's new room ready yet. Actually, I hadn't even started working on his room. Oh, I had talked about what I would do - what I needed to do. I had talked a lot about that, but I hadn't actually done anything. Then we got home from Christmas vacation and I realized we needed a little more action and a little less talk.

I ordered the crib and started searching for dressers online. Once those two items were taken care of I moved on to organizing aaaaaaall the baby clothes. So far Joseph and I have spent two afternoons organizing everything. I think one more afternoon and I'll have everything sorted into its appropriate bin and stored in its proper place.

The crib came yesterday afternoon which made me crazy happy. The store said it was going to take 2-3 weeks to come in then another 1-2 weeks to be delivered. That time line made me a little nervous because I want to transition Joseph into his new room before #2 arrives. Now all I have to do is assemble Joseph's new crib and move his clothes into his new room. We should be able to start the transition this weekend once all the essential stuff is done (the crib is the final piece of "essentials"). I can't wait!
35 weeks
In other news Joseph's vocabulary is exploding. I won't even try to list all the words he knows now (or will I?). It's really nice that he's learning so many words so quickly. It makes communicating with him much easier. I do a lot less guessing to figure out what he wants because he can (generally) verbalize his wants.

One of his favorite things to ask for/do lately is "See? See?" whenever I'm in the kitchen and especially when I'm cooking. It was really cute at first, but it's pretty impossible to actually cook while holding him so he can See? See? everything. And I'm afraid to show him how to pull up a chair to the counter so he can watch because I'm pretty sure he'd do more than just watch and we'd end up in the ER. So, for now I've whipped out the trusty old high chair (which had been retired until recently) in order for him to have a better look at what I'm doing. It usually buys me a solid 5 minutes (and sometimes even up to 15 or 20 minutes!!!) to get things done without having to constantly pick him up or hear him say See? See? a million times in a row.

A couple other cute words he's picked up are melmo (Elmo), fway (tray), pway (pray), cahm down (calm down), and pweece (please).

He can also climb in and out of his booster seat without any help now which is a huge relief for my back/ginganto stomach. So, whenever he wants to eat he just climbs in and asks for his fway (or fwoot (fruit) or whatever food it is that he wants).

Sorry guys, but I'm starting to feel the nesting itch again, so I'm off to get stuff done. Have a lovely afternoon!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

December Craziness and a New Year's Resolution?

I've kind of neglected this blog lately. It's not because I don't have ideas for posts (I do!) it's just that I've been sort of lazy/busy. I don't have one of those fancy-schmancy smart phones so I actually have to upload my pictures to my computer then upload them to the internets, so it takes some time and motivation to do all that. And when all my pictures pile up I get to a point where I don't even know where to begin. So, I'll begin here with a pictureless post.
I figured I'd give a nice, wordy update on our lives as of late and elaborate more with follow-up posts when I get around to it.
December has been fairly busy with me turning all of 29 years old, finding/wrapping/mailing Christmas presents and heading to Florida for 8 days for Christmas. We visited with Will's family and had a lovely time. It was nice and relaxing and even warm(ish)!! Definitely warmer than what we would have gotten here in Maryland.
It took a couple days to get my bearings straight once we got back from Florida. And I smartly planned on hosting a party on New Year's Day - which was lots of fun, but maybe it wasn't the best idea  to host a party mere days after returning from vacation. And to top it all off, I got a stomach bug (or something) starting Monday, but didn't really realize it until Tuesday (the day of the party) after breakfast. I was so glad Will had the day off to help get ready for the party and help corral Joseph.
Amidst getting home from Florida and hosting a party I got bit by the nesting bug and just HAD to get Joseph's room put together. NOW! Poor Will has dealt with his crazy wife very well over this past week. Hopefully the new crib will arrive soon and I can get Joseph situated in his new room before baby #2 arrives. We pick up the dresser this Saturday (awesome find on Craigslist, baby!) and I can't wait to have somewhere to put Joseph's clothes in his new room so I can move #2's clothes back into the nursery and get to organizing. Does anyone else out there love organizing as much as I do? I really do enjoy it when I have a plan and am not just flailing my arms trying to figure out how to organize everything.
Are you asleep yet? Yes? Well, I'll leave you with the list of posts I hope to get to within the next couple months (you could call this my New Year's Resolution, I suppose, since I haven't actually made one of those yet).

- Budgeting: Variable Expenses
- Budgeting: How the first few months have gone (food budget in particular?)
- pregnancy #1 vs. pregnancy #2
- Christmas 2012
- Joseph update
- Joseph's birth story
- crockpot freezer meals "review"
- guest post for Stacy (sadly I started this months ago, and just haven't gotten around to finishing it - sorry Stacy!!)

Thanks for sticking with me through the most ramblingest post ever. Happy New Year!