The thing is, we co-sleep

When I was pregnant I had all these rules that I was planning to implement with Margs. I remember reading through online communities and telling Mer I would never co-sleep, I would never formula feed, I would never feed our baby rice cereal and I’d never use a binky with her.

Well, I failed at every single thing on that list. I failed miserably. I caved and I’m okay with it.

The thing is, as a first time mom I had no idea what to expect. I had no real experience with babies, the sleep deprivation and the reality that sometimes you’ve gotta do what you gotta do to just survive. Yes, sometimes a newborn or small infant means living in survival mode – 3 AM feeding anyone?

The thing with the formula was really hard on me. Like, I cried and sobbed that I was poisoning my little girl by feeding her boxed formula. I almost imported organic baby formula from Germany – that’s how guilty I felt about failing miserably at breast feeding. Margs would have taken to it I’m sure, it was me. I was just so exhausted that I needed Mer to step in and take care of some of the feedings. I couldn’t handle it all by myself and in retrospect I did the right thing for our small family. Having said that, it took months before I could accept that my plan to breast feed just wasn’t going to ever work out – mom guilt is real. So so real.

As for the rice formula and the binky it’s just something I assumed was best for baby because the interwebz told me so. Truth is, my kid loved eating rice cereal and when she got bigger and hungrier but couldn’t really eat it really helped fill her tummy. At one point, we were giving her over 40oz of formula per day and she was still waking up starving. Poor kid needed food but didn’t know how to eat. Rice cereal to the rescue. The thing with the binky – babies like binkies- it helps soothe them. She doesn’t use it often – mostly just when first falling asleep and we’re okay with that.

Now, the co-sleeping. This is something we’re still trying to figure out and deal with. Margs was amazing sleeper until she hit 6 months old which also coincided with us moving from a small apartment to this house which although still small is far bigger in the eyes of Margs I’m sure. It started with her naps. She suddenly needed/wanted to be held – no big deal because while holding her I’d enjoy a little rest and binge watch various shows on netflix. Then, it started to extend to her nighttime routine – we’d rock her to sleep which is something we’d always done but the second we’d put her down in her crib for the night she’d wake right back up and we’d be at square one.

For months we settled in for the night to watch a little t.v and Margs would be held by myself or Mer until it was time to go to bed. For a few weeks we set up her crib as a co-sleeper and that sort of worked until she started rolling over into our bed.

We’ve tried sleeping with her between us but that’s incredibly stressful and dangerous. We then opted to alternate nights sleeping with her when the other slept on the couch. This unfortunately is the only way my baby will sleep – in our bed cuddled up to either me or her father.

We’re not happy about this. We’re scared and anxious about the day she learns to pull herself up. We’ve tried cry it out (she cried for 4 hours straight until she puked all over her crib), we’ve tried getting her into a deep sleep and then transferring her to her crib (she’ll sleep maybe 20 minutes then wake up screaming and proceed to hyperventilate).

So, we bought her a double bed, a mattress and bed rails. Now, we alternate sleeping with her in her room so that at least we all get to sleep in a bed. Sleeping on the couch 50% of the time really isn’t ideal.

Any experienced mamas want to give this newbie some tips?

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a couple of things we do to save money

When we started looking to buy a house and move out of our apartment we were floored at the hidden costs of owning a home. Property tax, insurance and school taxes were far more expensive than we ever thought possible. On top of our mortgage we were looking at an extra four to five hundred dollars monthly to cover these “extra” costs. Who the hell has that type of money just laying around? We surely don’t. We’re a one income home (by choice), I stay home with Margs and Mer works full-time. Our decision to live this way is long story (in a nutshell, getting Margs here was hard as hell- but more on that another time) but it’s what we decided was best for our small family so we needed to brew up a plan to be able to pull off buying a home, providing for a baby and still living a  comfortable lifestyle. Now,when I say a comfortable lifestyle I’m talking about essentials here. We don’t vacation, we don’t splurge on stuff . I guess comfortable in our eyes means, eating good food, having enough cash to cover our monthly expenses and putting a little aside in our rainy day fund. We’re pretty simple people in that way.So here goes…

1. Babies are expensive.  When Margs was first born and we were living in the apartment I bought everything new.  I was a first time mom to a rainbow baby (baby born after pregnancy loss) so I had this intense need to get her the “best” of everything. Soon enough, I realized that baby items – clothes and toys especially are an enormous waste of money. This idea that I needed to get her the “best” of everything was my own issue and not at all related to my parenting (Intense mommy guilt with a whole lot of post partum depression and anxiety mixed in). As soon as I accepted that it was okay to buy used I started working with a local consignment shop and boom everything sort of fell into place. Now, I buy anything and everything I can used assuming that the items are in good condition and safe for Margs and we are all okay about it – happier even.

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I started off by dropping off a few items that we no longer used. Namely, a breast pump, floor play mat and a high chair. Soon enough I had enough store credit that I could replenish her wardrobe and toy needs without spending any money at all. Now, I drop off bags of Margs clothing and toys when she outgrows them and continue to build my store credit. When Margs needs something whether it be clothing, toys or other accessories I pass by the shop and have a good look around. Often, I can find exactly what I’m looking for – if I really can’t find it there I will buy at other stores but more often than not the consignment store satisfies our needs.

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Margs’ new shoes. Picked up yesterday along with a bunch of new outfits pictured above using my store credit.

2. Selling our clothing and things we don’t wear online.  Mer works in an office setting so he needs a pretty substantial wardrobe so that he can look presentable on a day to day basis. I tend to wear the same things day in and day out (stay at home mom life anyone?) but do like to replace certain items from time to time. We used to hoard our clothes assuming (hoping?) that at some point we’d start wearing certain items again. When it came time to pack we realized just how much clothing we actually had but more importantly how much of that clothing we never wore. We brought it all with us and slowly I’m sorting and selling it online. It  helps earn us a couple of extra bucks every week that I use towards grocery or stocking up on essentials. I would have started a consignment system with our stuff if there was a local one that dealt with adult clothing – but, no such luck.

Doing this does take a little effort since you’ve got to photograph everything. I’ve joined some local online garage sale sites via facebook where I post lots of our clothing for sale on a weekly basis. Some weeks we sell more other weeks less but every little bit helps.

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Here’s a recent lot I posted for 20$.

3. Stockpiling essentials.

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This might sound counter intuitive because you’re essentially spending money to save money but we’ve discovered that it really does save us a ton of money in the long run. We’re pretty picky about our laundry detergent but hate paying full price for it. When it goes on sale we stock up. Usually, this involves visiting multiple locations of the same store to stock pile the sale since in this area most stores put a limit on how many items you can buy. Those Tide detergents for example were 50% off costing us 4.99 per box/jug instead of 9.99$ last week.

Other essentials that we keep an eye on regularly are : toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, fabric softner and dish soap

4. Saving /clipping coupons.

I went through a phase when we first moved where I was obsessed with coupons. I’d literally scour the internet looking for coupons which not only drove me crazy but made the whole experience really really stressful. Half the online links don’t work and a good  portion of  coupons are not available to us Canadians. So, I stopped couponing that way and just stick to manufacturer coupons that come with products we buy or coupons that come by mail with our weekly bundle of store flyers. I know I can do more but honestly couponing isn’t easy. It requires an enormous investment of your time and often it’s for products we don’t even use.  My system is pretty simple. I’ve got a zip lock on top of our microwave where I put my clipped coupons. Most are for baby hygiene items like diapers and wipes but from time to time some coupons for other household essentials make their way in.

5. Growing our own produce.

This is a really big one for us. We’re very fortunate to have a substantial piece of land where we can grow our own vegetables in the  summer. We share the work with Mer’s parents and ultimately stock up our freezers with a ton of fresh produce that sustains us pretty much through the winter. I’m not sure if the situation is similar elsewhere but since moving further outside the city the cost of fresh vegetables and fruit has really gone up. We were shocked to find out that apples can cost anywhere from 2$ to 4$ per pound only 20 minutes further from the area we used to live.  We clearly have to fill in the gaps because you can’t preserve things like lettuce or fresh fruit but we do a pretty good job of sustaining ourselves with tomatoes, squash, beans, peas, corn, spinach, peppers and broccoli which is a huge help to our grocery budget every week.

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Our freezer is currently overflowing with frozen veggies. On our current wish list is a chest freezer. We’ve got a little cash stashed away to buy one but we’re waiting until a second hand one in decent condition pops up for sale locally.

So these are a few of the things we’re doing to help us save a little extra cash every month. They may not be suitable options for everyone but it works out quite well for us.

What things do you do to save some cash? I love reading about how other people work their budgets.

Beginning

I signed up with wordpress yesterday with this desire to share my thoughts and ideas with the world. That’s a grand gesture no? I mean, my intention was to create a place where I could share my thoughts, recipes, DIY ideas and discuss parenting because parenting is so so hard most days. Then, I sat there staring at this tiny blog wondering how in the world would I introduce myself  to “the world”. Let’s be honest, maybe one person is going to read this right? In any case, I struggled to come up with a grand way to introduce myself and really summarize what this blog is all about. I guess I’m not even 100% sure what this blog is all about – I just know that I’d like to communicate with people.

So here goes.

I’m Jenny. I’m a mid-thirties (how the eff did that happen?) mom to one living child (more about that another day). I live in a tiny blue cottage in a gorgeous little suburb  outside a major Canadian city. My husband and I moved here with our tiny bundle just over 3 months ago. This is our first home, it’s a work in progress and we’re loving every minute of establishing our lives here as a family of three.

I’m a stay at home mom. Before this I educated other people’s kids and loved it. Now, I spend my days loving on my miracle and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I plan to write about our adventures a lot.

I also love to cook and bake and do all those other housewifey things (who would have thought – I originally started off in the corporate world and would never in a gazillion years thought I’d ever enjoy this mom and housewife gig). I plan to write about that too. Share recipes and stuff- because everyone like to eat. I try to cook healthy but ya know sometimes good tasting food is important too.

I’m also somewhat of a minimalist (recently – since the move because we had so much shit cluttering our lives) . I’ll write about that too from time to time.

I’m also an anxious mess. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder about 10 years ago. I’m medicated and feeling well-ish these days but I have my moments. Raising a kid with anxiety is effing hard. Really hard. I’d like to write about that too.

Clearly this is a hodge podge. Clearly I’ve got nothing and everything to say about everything and nothing all at the same time.

Follow along. Share your experiences. Talk to me.

And now, a photo of our walk through Saint Bernard Island Sanctuary yesterday because how else am I going to end this big awkward “this is me in a nutshell”, welcome to my blog post. Awwwwwkward.

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