Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Things I've Learned So Far: 2 months

I've been at my job a little over 2 months, and I've learned an incredible amount of lessons about being a mom, being an older mom, and just about life in general.

1. I'm not alone.  I can't express to you how mindblowing this was.  When I first went into this stay-at-home experience, it was very easy for my melodramatic personality to honestly believe that (a) I am the only person EVER to go through what I'm going through, and therefore (b) no one can possibly relate.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  With the outpouring of support from family, friends, and my moms group, all calmly assuring me that I am not the only person in the world to suffer from baby-induced sleep deprivation, I learned that my experience is hardly unique.  It has helped me cope with the late nights, early mornings, bleary eyes, and ridiculous amounts of caffeine I've consumed.

2. I am not a patient person.  I always thought I was, but as the months have slid by, I realize that I'm a bit of a control freak and when Gracie does not follow The Plan (ah, the lesson I'm still learning...Don't Plan) I spazz the hell out.  Case in point: lately Grace has decided to tweak her nap schedule without consulting me first.  This leaves me baffled as to why she didn't go down for her first nap between 6:45 and 7, and instead fell asleep at 7:45.  I had a minor breakdown, but then after she finally began her nap, I had time to call my mom, have her tell me everything is going to be ok and that I need to chill out.  Wise words from a wise woman.

3. Books still don't really give me anything but A Plan, which I shouldn't have.  I gave back all the sleeping books back to the library, and shelved my Babywise and my first year guide.  I found that if she wasn't making a milestone, I would sit there and obsess over it and completely ignore the caveat in every book that states that "this is just a guideline, every baby develops at its own pace."  So in order to help me just let her be her, I needed to put them away for now.  As my mom told me, people have been having babies long before literacy was popular... so we should be fine. 

4. I did not turn into a Cleaning Goddess.  Those of you who had the fortune of living with me in college may find that statement in the "Well, Obviously" category.  But I really did think I could get all that cleaning stuff done and have time to spare.  While our carpets have never been vacuumed more, the shower is cleaner than it has ever been, and our toilets are darn spiffy, we still have dust (GASP!), my cursed tile counters are ever-crumbed (THE HORROR!), and I just haven't been able to keep up with the doggie nose prints on our patio doors (DEAR LORD CALL CPS!).  In reality, I try to tidy up every day, vacuum a couple of times a week, keep up with the dishes and laundry, and make the bed once in a blue moon.  And that's ok.

5. I have a lot less time than I thought.  This is building off of #4.  In my spare time, I like to write, catch up on email, and browse Facebook.  Luckily, the latter two take 2 minutes to do at a crack so doing so really doesn't take any time whatsoever.  Writing (like for this blog) takes a bit more time (YAY NAPTIME!) and also cuts into tidying responsibilities.  But since I consider writing one of those few things that qualify as Me Time and since I don't spend an hour doing it, I don't regret a single stroke of the keys.  As with #4, if I don't get every last bit of Official Business done (like filing) in favor of writing or taking a shower, so be it. 

6. I'm getting used to it.  I did not come home to stay and then have angels come out of the heavens to provide the soundtrack to a life full of sunshine and rainbows and perfection.  I've honestly mourned my professional life hard.  Not that I didn't want to stay at home with Grace, but I still look at my last job as the best I ever had until that point.  I had great colleagues, great rewarding work, and a great schedule.  I still feel like I let my bosses down, and I loathe to let anyone down.  The saving, heh, grace is, well, Grace.  I look at her and I can't believe how much we've woven each other into one another's lives.  She's beautiful and charismatic and goofy, and it's something that I want to soak in each day.  As silly as it sounds to some, but I'm a firm believer in Fate/Dessssstiny.  I was meant to be at home with Grace and it's turned into the new best job I've ever had (hooray for cliches!), and if my old job is miraculously available when I'm ready to head back into the work place I will pounce on that sucker with zeal.  But for now, I'll continue to adjust to this new life I'm carving out for Grace and Dave and me, and enjoy the present. 

So there you go, a small list of big lessons I've had the fortune of learning so far.  Now I'm off to get ready for that group play date...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

F--k Yeah!

When I was a kid, the highlight of the summer was going camping with my cousins and occasionally some family friends.  We will call the family friends "The Tuttles."

Legend has it that one day, the youngest Tuttle, a boy of about 6, was caught swearing.  After being chewed out by Mr. Tuttle, Mr. Tuttle turns to my dad and goes, "I don't know where the f--k he gets it from."

Hm.

Here we are, 20-25 years later and I find myself in a similar situation.  Many of my conversations with Grace go like this:

"Grace, go the f--k to sleep."
"Oh sh-t, Grace."
"You rolled over!  F--k yeah!"

Anywhere I can possibly enhance my speech by the high brow use of cuss words, I do.  And it will soon catch up with me, especially if Grace's first word is "f--k."  My dear husband is likely to ring my neck because he doesn't have the colorful vocabulary around Gracie like me.

So perhaps I should start substituting the following words when the urge to cuss falls upon me:

  • Shizz
  • Bizzo
  • Biznacho
  • Freakin'
  • Frellin'
  • Frakkin'
  • Heck
  • Darn
  • Curses!
  • Son of a gun!
  • Great golly whoppers!
And yes, I have used them in the past.  I bet some of you have done the same.  

Ah, my darling awakens and the library calls to our soul.  So I must be off.  Wish me luck as I endeavor to clean up my language...  I'll need it.  :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dealz!

When you are only bringing in one income after living for several years on two, it sort of goes without saying that one might want to start paying attention to bargains.

Getting acquainted with some money saving websites and ideas will totally help a newbie (like moi) get started on frugal living.  Here are just a few ideas that I've gotten into:

Craigslist
Not just for a kitchen table!  My first purchase ever on Craigslist turned out to be a lot of 6-12 ounce cans of Gerber Goodstart formula for Grace.  They retail for $12.97 at Walmart, so I saved more than $25 even before taxes.  I stalk Craigslist for cloth diapers too.  So actually my first purchase, sort of, was a bunch of brand new, never used One Size premo cloth diapers (bumGenius and Happy Heiney) for like $10 a pop from a business that was going under.  I actually bought directly through her shop, but I did find the deals on Craigslist.

Freecycle.org
It's a listserve that you sign up for your area, and people post things they want for free or what to give away for free.  The cool stuff gets snapped up really fast, but so far (after about a week of being on the listserve) I got 3 pieces of clothing for free, and was able to give opened formula for free (shelters don't take anything opened).  I missed out on a stand up freezer and some Pampered Chef stoneware, but 's all good.  Every little bit helps.  Likewise, I'm going to also unload a manual treadmill and 2 cases of cat food that Fozzie used to like but then started barfing up. 

Other items received: coupons for Gerbert Good Start and a brand spankin' new Snugli carrier. 

Unfortunately, you may run into some situations where the person doesn't put the stuff out for you to pick up, or someone else swipes it.  Recently happened to me, but then again... I got a frickin' Snugli for free.  Can't complain.  Free is good, especially when you are on a super strict budget.  Like me. 

Sharing with friends
Being a brand new mom has also opened me to the generosity of others.  A friend of mine has two children, the youngest 6 months older than Grace.  She's offered a bumbo AND a swing to me (plus anything else I can think of... I can't) that I can have on permanent loan until she decides to have another child.  And if she doesn't, I can keep it for my kids then pass along the items.  That's over $150 of savings!  Sharing baby stuff is a brilliant idea; kids are only in clothes for a tiny bit of time, and eventually everything becomes useless. 

Rummages/Garage Sales
Gosh I love a good rummaging morning.  I can't tell you how many outfits I've found this last summer for Grace, all for about $1 a piece.  The savings are priceless, even with the pieces that may have some stains on them.  She's now 6 months old; I'm pretty sure she's not going to notice.  I've also scored a sling, the changing table pad, bibs, toys...  and I'll be going back for more this spring.  Sometime people over price their items, which is fine.  I just won't buy from them.  So do your research at your department stores or whatever, get the retail price of the items you are on the look out for, then when you are perusing people's garage sales, you know exactly how much you are going to save by purchasing a used item vs. the full price at a store.

Coupons
Sometimes.  I find that the store brand at the grocery store is even cheaper than the big brand with a coupon.  But when you just can't get yourself to go off brand (disposable diapers and wipes immediately come to mind), then looking for store deals and teaming them with coupons is the way to go.  I recently stocked up on the next size up of disposables, a case of wipes, and some super brand paper towels at Babies R Us (BRU) for about $80 to $90, but I scored a $20 gift card to BRU for spending $75.  AND I used coupons on top of it.

Store Deals
Half of my bottles are wonderful and cheap and available at any store you can imagine.  The other half are the stupendously expensive Tommee Tippee bottles.  Luckily we got many of those bottles for our baby showers.  However, something I didn't think of: babies grow OUT of size 1 (slow flow) nipples and need fastr flow nipples when they get older.  Not wanting to waste good bottles, I went to BRU for the next size up.  They were there... AT $2.50 A NIPPLE.  *sigh*  Logic would dictate that maybe I shouldn't have gotten the bottles in the first place, but they are awesome.  So I wait for a deal and my BRU rewards to come out.  I had two $5 coupons to use at BRU, plus Tommee Tippee items were Buy One Get One 50% off.  In packs of 2, I bought four size 3's for $5, a savings of $15.  Store deals are key, whether for babies or for the grocery store or department stores. 

I'm always open for more suggestions and ideas.  One can't save too much!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Miss Clean

One of the first things I started researching on ye ol' Internet when realizing my iminent career change were alternatives to cleaning products.  I've used vinegar in my Manly Bathroom (it has a black sink and toilet...screams manly man!) for cleaning the ridiculously hard to keep spotless black sink and toilet.  I once used a baking soda and vinegar option to clean one of the toilets upstairs.  But, honestly, I've never incorporated home made solutions into my cleaners, mostly out of convenience.  Foaming cleaners, handy wipes, swifter dusters....But now that I find myself re-imagined as a homemaker, I can look into really making these things.  Not only would they be healthier for my little girl and the pups, but aside from an initial investment, it should be a heck of a lot cheaper to clean the home as well.

Google provided a plethora of sites that outlined numerous options:

http://organizedhome.com/clean-house/pantry-recipes-homemade-cleaning-products
http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm
http://www.diynetwork.com/decorating/homemade-cleaning-products/index.html
http://www.ecocycle.org/hazwaste/recipes.cfm
http://beingfrugal.net/2008/01/29/save-money-by-making-homemade-cleaning-products/
http://www.diylife.com/2010/05/04/home-ec-7-homemade-cleaning-products/
http://archive.blisstree.com/live/25-safe-non-toxic-homemade-cleaning-supplies/

So I formulated a list of supplied that I needed:
1. Baking soda (already have)
2. Vinegar (already have)
3. Borax
4. Spray bottles (bought 2 more)
5. Lemon juice (have some for cooking)
6. Squeegie (already have 2)
7. Essential oils (already have 3 wee bottles of lavendar, tea trea, peppermint*, and lemon oils)

Also, we do have some liquid dish detergent that'll come in handy.  Looks like Borax is all I need.

What about dusting options?  For the floor, I already have a microfiber mop that looks like a Swifter dust mop on steroids, but I only have one sheath for the "mop."  So I tend to reuse it a lot before washing, but I suppose if I'm dusting the floors every other day, it shouldn't get so dirty so fast.  In theory anyway.  We'll see if that works.

I have been taking to using Endust for the el-cheapo, finished "wood" furniture and just a damp cloth for the unfinished or real wood.  When we bought our dining room table, we were strongly encouraged NOT to use Endust or anything like that, because the ingredients have stuff that coats your wood in order to repel more dust, inevitably ruining the finish. 

In the meantime, I'm trying to use up my other chemicals while she naps.  Today I tackled the shower with KABOOM!  Heh heh... that name just makes me giggle.  It works fine for some regular cleaning (not deep cleaning) of our shower.  I also have 2 bottles of Scrubbing Bubbles to get through. 

Also looking to use up: Windexes, tubs of cleaning wipes (although how wonderfully convenient), toilet cleaner, etc.  I have "green" versions of this stuff too, but, again, to save money and to keep it simple, homemade seems to be the way to go.

*I wrote the bulk of this post like 2 months ago, and have since busted my vial of pepperment oil.  Bathroom still smells minty.  :)