Growing Family

Children are not logical.  They’re adorable, pretty fun (some of the time), and make your heart explode with joy on a regular basis. They are not; however, logical. They cost lots of money, sleep, time, sanity and home cleanliness.

And yet, here we are, ready to do it again. Not just ready, excited. (ILLOGICAL!) Another little one will be joining our family at the end of October. And if I’m totally honest I’m terrified. Bringing a new person into the world, our little world, could not be more intimidating.  But I don’t think being afraid is a bad thing. It just means something important is at stake.

It was an enormous decision to try for baby number two. There were lots of reasons to go one and done. There were two reasons to try again:

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1. I have loved watching Haines grow. I have loved every milestone, every new word, even every painful new tooth. Watching Haines grow from a fairly boring baby to a tiny, humorous person is joyous in the most quiet, incredible ways.

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2. I have a sibling who is almost 11 years older than me. I love her and our family just the way it is but growing up I often wished we were closer in age. I want Haines to have the full sibling experience… even though I know that means two kids under two, crazy fights over toys, personal space and the like.

These last 16 months have not been very easy. I have a tendency to isolate myself when I feel low and having a young child naturally keeps you at home more. This is something that I constantly have to work through- making sure I get of the house, reminding myself to make plans, to reach out to others. My company, nor Haines’ or Tyler’s, is not quite enough to give me all that I need. I’m not actually sure what does give me all that I need.

I assume that’s because I’m a growing, evolving person whose life has become much more complicated since adding 1 (and soon 2) children. So what I needed once, isn’t exactly what I need now. Plus before Haines I didn’t have it all figured out either.

I thought that by the time I had children I would be a pretty perfect, mentally sound person. I’m actually still me, which is more complicated and will probably make for a better mother overall.

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So, littlest Barrack we are not perfect. We will always make mistakes, but we will love you more than you can possibly imagine. See you in a few months baby B!

 

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Tiny Adventure: Coffee Crawling and Boat Cruising

So I’m pretty much down for anything that gets me outside on a pretty day. Make it stroller friendly and add free samples- I’m in! So this coffee crawl had my attention immediately.

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The Wilmington Coffee Crawl was well attended making it not as stroller friendly. One stroller was fine, but two strollers in a coffee shop or even near the shop- total traffic jam. It made it a little less relaxing than I would have hoped but I was in it for the adventure, right? To be fair, I don’t like coffee. I don’t like anything remotely coffee flavored. I’ve tried drinking chocolate milk with a thimble of coffee and it still makes me want to barf. I was in it for the danish samples (I’m always in it for the danish samples).

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Better Than Never blogger, Chrissy, and I strolled Haines through a light rainstorm to three different coffee shops and a brewery. He was a champ! We used a beer at the new Edward Teach brewery to calm our caffeine/sugar overload. Sometimes you need an afternoon downtown to remember how much our town has going on.

Haines is pretty tolerant of his stroller. Tyler and I have started jogging recently and Haines rarely fusses. BUT he does not like to be contained. When Tyler wanted us to go on a Valentine’s sunset cruise, dinner included, I was skeptical. Haines wants to walk around and explore 98% of his waking hours, not wear a life vest and stay in my lap. Still, we did it! Tyler picked up burritos, chips and queso- literally the food of romance for me- and met me at the marina with a few tulips and a baby fresh from daycare. We were able to take a short sunset cruise and eat dinner on board although I did have to walk around carrying Haines most of the time. Being seated was unacceptable.

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I’m working on tolerating the stress of going places with a busy baby. The other option is being at home which I already do quite a bit! In the end, I’m exhausted, a little bit fried and pretty proud of myself.

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Baby Money: How to pay for your new baby $$$

One of the most stressful parts of adding a person to your family, is figuring out how to pay for that person. They’re not exactly contributing to your household income (slackers). Most couples are faced with the choice- does one person stay home or do we hand our paychecks directly over to daycare? It is very easy to understand why many parents decide to become a single-income family. One month of daycare is just shy of our mortgage. I feel nauseous just writing that.

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That’s my baby being the biggest boy at his daycare.

It didn’t make sense financially for either of us to stay home, but even more significant it didn’t make sense for us emotionally. I definitely wish it was something we could have felt was a real option, but when it comes down to it both of us really like our jobs. It was important to us to keep them. That didn’t stop me from being an emotional wreck going back to work. I also periodically re-lose my mind over being a working mom and all the guilt that comes with it. But that’s parenting no matter what you’re work situation is.

I’d love to tell you about how we saved and prepared for all our new costs in advance but…not really. Here’s what we had to tackle and how we handled it.

//Medical// First you have to birth a baby and that’ll cost you. Then they’re going to get sick and you’re going to have co-pays for the pediatrician ALL THE TIME. I was very lucky that a previous employer I had a Health Savings Account. Through employer funding and my contributions I had almost $6,000 saved by the time Haines came along. When our non-medicated birth delivered by a midwife was only a little over $1000 I was so excited that we had more we could use later. But only two weeks later we were back in the hospital for twelve days. Thank goodness we had those extra funds. Even with a healthy baby, you never know what could happen. Now, I make sure to fund a Medical Flexible Spending Account each year to get the tax savings on our inevitable medical costs.

//Childcare// If you are a dual-income family, chances are someone is watching that baby part of the day. I liked the daycare route for several reasons. I wanted Haines to learn good social skills and  having some structure and routine around his day will be helpful when he transitions into school. I felt like daycare could provide more of that. It also seemed to be the most cost effective option (barely). I put the maximum into a Dependent Care Account which isn’t nearly enough. This part is painful. There’s no denying it.

//Diapers// We chose to cloth diaper via a diaper service for the first year. It cost about $80 a month, which was gifted to us. This is definitely the easiest way to cloth diaper- we loved it! But it’s not the most cost effective. Currently we do a mix of washing our own diapers and disposable. We’ve always had leak issues with cloth at night and when we travel we bring disposables. Still using cloth keeps our diaper costs down as well as our environmental impact.

//Formula// Obviously if you can breastfeed throughout the first year, you can avoid buying formula. That’s not always possible. We had to buy formula for 5 months which probably cost around $320. And that’s buying it at Costco. Now, daycares are required to provide formula so we could have saved by using their formula. But at around the same time a chemical, GenX, was found in our local water system. I wasn’t okay with our local daycare mixing the formula with tap water so we brought our own.

//Food// Haines ate pureed food for less than 2 months. He is not a fan of having people feed him. We made all of his food to keep costs low. I think it’s a little much to buy a special blender for baby food- I mean it’s just a tiny blender but we were gifted a freezer tray for baby food and I’m a huge fan. Now I freeze chicken stock in it.

Now he’ll eat most (like 60%) of the things we make for dinner but we keep certain staples on hand for him at all times: fruit canned in its own juice, applesauce (most often homemade and frozen), frozen veggies (corn, green beans, lima beans, peas) and either Chex or Kix.

//Clothes// Most of Haines’ clothes are gifts. I try not to buy much for him and as he’s the only grandson in our family, people are very generous! Anything we have to buy is from second hand kid clothing shops and semi-annual consignment sales. We probably spent around $50 last year on his clothes. I bought one pair of Target pajamas, two pairs of shoes, 5 pairs of shorts, 3-4 pairs of pants and a couple sweatshirts. Once he outgrows something it goes into a bag underneath his crib. Hypothetical baby number two and/or friends with babies will benefit!

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One of our best second-hand finds!

//Toys// With very few exceptions, we don’t buy toys. We have plenty from hand-me-downs and gifts. We have purchased 1 second hand wooden train set and 1 activity walker from Fisher Price. We’re going to keep this up as long as possible by saying yes to hand-me-downs whenever they come!

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//Baby bullshit// One person’s baby bullshit is another’s must have item. You know what yours is. I won’t call you out.

Paying for babies isn’t for the birds. Someone once told me that babies are cheap when they’re little. I call baby bullshit.

I’ve also been told that when it comes to babies the money always just seems to work out. It did for us, but it has almost entirely been through the generosity of others. Maybe that and a little luck. So the amounts here may seem small to you (if you have a child) or they may seem enormous (if you don’t). But it worked out. And it was worth it.

Medical $7,500
Childcare $7,020
Diapers $15/ month in disposables, plus free cloth diapering
Formula $320
Food insi
Clothes $50
Toys $50
Bullshit $30

Baby’s First Year Survival Tools

One of the things expecting mothers always panic about is all the things. You feel you need all the things! In reality, you won’t need half of what you end up with when you have a baby. A lot of people will try to give you things. You’ll most likely accept everything  thinking, how am I to know what I need? You don’t, so cut yourself some slack. I don’t know what you need either, but I do know what I used to get through HEB’s first year. If we have another baby we’ll probably need totally different things! But hopefully not because we’re not buying anything.

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Newborn hell (or 0 to 3 months):

I have to be honest, those newborn days that everyone (without a newborn) glows over… those are pretty intense. Even if you are not breastfeeding you may start to think, surely this is impossible! Horribly enough we all started off as extremely needy, up all hours of the night, feeding every 2 hours, adorable little babies.

  • Netflix– get it, gift it, don’t judge yourself for binging it.
  • Chicco Keyfit stroller caddy– We loved this for the ability to plop our carseat right in and start strolling without ever disturbing our sleeping babe. There’s also tons of storage underneath so I could throw his diaper bag in there. I preferred using this for grocery shopping (heavy things in the caddy, light things in a basket) rather than a cart when he was small.
  • A breastfeeding station- Find yourself a Boppy or a Brest Friend or whatever and keep it near your comfiest chair or couch. Near that fill a basket with granola bars or easy to eat snacks, your kindle or your TV remote and remember to bring water when you’re sitting down to feed. Two minutes in and you’ll suddenly remember you’re DYING of thirst.
  • Rock n Play– Haines slept in the Rock n Play for the first 4 months of his life and absolutely loved it. Admittedly though we never put the batteries in so it didn’t rock him on its own. I would reach out and rock him to sleep in the middle of the night if needed, but never used the actual function. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to stop.

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3-6 months:

This was a pretty tough time for me. I went back to work and Haines’ sleep had really gotten worse so the level of fatigue was high. At the same time though H started to interact with us. He was alert and playful. It really lifted me up.

  • Bouncy chair– This is something we didn’t know we really needed. It was a hand-me-down (as is everything else) and I wasn’t even sure why we would want it. Um… you want to carry this lightweight all over your house so you can get things done! This is what baby lays in while you cook dinner, go to the bathroom, type your blogs- all the important things.
  • Frozen meals- I had fixed some items in advance and my mom and Natalie also stocked my freezer as well. The first few weeks/months we were the beneficiaries of a meal train but that comes to an end well before the fatigue does. Having the world’s easiest meals on hand is very helpful. I also froze muffins to help me with my constant need to snack.
  • Ergo– We started out with a 2nd hand Chicco carrier which worked okay, but it was a huge upgrade when a friend gave us an Ergo. After a little while you start to want options for going out and having some sort of baby wearing device is a must. (Also, I tried a wrap and found it to be an enormous pain the tush.)

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6-9 months:

The first turning point! Everything was fun during these few months (minus sleep training and ear infections). Haines was excited for everything- food, Clara, being outside. There were also so many milestones during this time. He sat up, crawled and walked all between 7 and 9 months.

  • Kiddo food trays- I LOVED using these to make Haines’ baby food. I made all of his food at home which was much easier than I anticipated. When he napped on the weekend, I would dump all the veggies into a steamer before blending in our Nutri-bullet. Any blender will do. The only downside here- HEB moved on from purees pretty quickly. He wanted to feed himself!
  • Baby proofing- This turned out to be much more in depth than I would have expected. We had to get rid of several pieces of furniture that we deemed being too annoying with a baby to keep. If you’re going to try to limit your “No! Don’t touch that!” conversations than I will suggest going beyond outlet covers and cabinet locks. Every trash can in your house should have a heavy lid, your toilet paper should be moved near the ceiling and any knick-knacks resting within 3 feet of the floor should be moved. Probably just get rid of your blinds now.
  • Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy- For months this was Haines favorite toy. It could entertain him indefinitely. This is probably the only thing we ever tore up the house looking for.
  • Nursery rhymes- Start practicing now. This was the only way we could get perk up a cranky baby during diaper changes or going into his carseat.

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9-12 months:

This was the second turning point. We have a routine. We can mostly anticipate Haines likes and dislikes. He’s fussier and harder to console but also easier to distract. Children are weird.

  • Alphaprints book & The Itsy Bitsy Snowman are Haines two favorite books right now. They are guaranteed to lift his mood!
  • Bathmat– If your baby wants to crawl all around the bathtub then I recommend getting a non-slip bathmat for the tub. It has cut down on his falls tremendously and ours has a hook so it can hang on the shower to dry.
  • Spoutless sippy cup– Haines has struggled with all the other cups we’ve given him but took to this one right away! (Full disclosure: we still use a bottle most of the time, but this cup has helped a lot).

 

If you’re stressing about needing all the things, don’t. Get a carseat. Figure out a safe place for the baby to sleep. Buy a few diapers (and expect many more in gifts). Collect every hand me down you can. You’ll figure out the rest.

And remember, for better or for worse, this is only temporary.

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2018: New Year’s Resolutions

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I know I said I was sticking to a theme for the new year but let’s get real, I have a lot of goals for 2018. I’ve been reading all over the place that I shouldn’t have a lot of unattainable goals. Stick to goals you can truly impact and accomplish. These are a mix of goals I’d define as both stretch and within reach (maybe).

Personal Finances: For 2018 I hope to save $5,000. I had similar goals for 2017 but it turned out to be a much more expensive year than I anticipated. Guess what guys, paying for daycare- pricey. Also, if you’ve never had a baby before you probably don’t know how much babies cost. This is totally fair and I probably should have factored this in to my goals. Once someone told me that babies are cheap when they’re very little. Um… clearly you didn’t pay for formula, daycare or diapers.

And in reality, like most people we’re still learning how to be financially savvy. Tyler calls 2018 “The Year of Smart” and this definitely applies to our money. We want to make smart decisions. That’s pretty much all you can ask for. (Dang, this should really be my goal. But I want to save $5k!)

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Home: In the land of new baby, the first priority to drop is cleaning the house. This creates a constant cycle where we don’t pick up after ourselves and every 2-3 weeks I freak out because I can no longer tolerate the state of our home. Surely, there’s a better way to live.

So this year I just want to do some pretty basic picking up after myself. Tyler and I have starting washing our dishes and fully wiping down the kitchen after each meal. This may seem like adulting 101 but I feel like we’re relearning every aspect of life right now. We’re putting the laundry away the same day it got washed  and cleaning the bathroom on a regular basis.

Basically, it’ll take nothing short of a miracle to maintain this but I’m still holding out hope!

Professional Life: I wear several different hats in my role at work, because it is a role that constantly evolves. This is awesome as it allows me to be challenged but I often feel pulled in several directions and constantly worry about dropping one of the many priorities I am juggling. I think this is a pretty common experience for individuals who have just reached the point in their career where they’re truly challenged.

Now it’s just about being able to balance my priorities, learn some project management skills and advocate for myself. Sometimes you have to say- TOO MUCH! This is a goal I don’t expect to reach, just aim for. I’m growing, y’all.

Mama Life: The number one thing I want to do as a mom is be present. Yes, I want to be present as a friend, a daughter or a wife but being present as a mama is my number one. This is harder than I would have thought. Haines can be…boring. It’s not his fault- he’s a baby! He’s adorable to watch and he just started to ask me to read him books which makes my heart explode but sometimes I’d like to have a conversation that isn’t, “Don’t put that in your mouth!” or “What a big boy you are!”

So being present  is equally about being present when we’re together and taking breaks that allow me to focus on him. This weekend Tyler was off work. We took Haines to a party on Saturday where Tyler was primary baby watcher and Sunday I got to go to a coffee shop for two hours with Better Than Never Blogger, Chrissy. This little moments are what excites me to run back to my baby bubba.

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Haines after a run. 

Health: Almost everyone looks to the new year with a health goal. Tyler has started running which naturally has amped up my own fitness routine. We RAN 3.2 miles on Saturday (with breaks). Although I do have periods where fitness falls down the list of priorities, most of the time I feel pretty good about that area of my life.

Right now, it’s caffeine. Every since this baby entered my life, my soda intake has skyrocketed. I don’t drink coffee so this is my main fuel for life. No matter what I tell myself at the beginning of the week, by Sunday I’ve drank 3-4 Dr. Peppers. Pre-pregnancy I had one a week. I need to get back to that.

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Little Ol’ Me: There’s one last goal I want to keep in motion for 2018. For a long time, this has been in the forefront of my interactions but I’m not yet where I want to be. The goal is simple- communicate honestly, openly and regularly.

Don’t let things build up. Don’t sugarcoat unless absolutely necessary. Give of my authentic self whenever possible.

Goals:

  • Save $5k
  • Clean the house
  • Learn balance at work
  • Be present
  • Drink less soda
  • Communicate regularly and honestly.

When I lay it all out, it seems like a lot. I probably should have stuck with Tiny Adventures. Here we come 2018!!

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The Year of Tiny Adventures

Now we’re in 2018. It’s a brand new year and we’ll encounter brand new challenges that will be tougher and easier than keeping a baby safe and well from birth to 12 months. (So I hear.)

I’ve started to have a little more time to breathe now and it seems like my brain waves are firing a little faster (no guarantees). Tempted as always to create unrealistic goals for the new year, I’ve settled on a single idea.

(Okay, I’m lying. I have a lot of resolutions but I’m trying to ignore them. I want to just have a theme for my year instead of a lot of lofty goals that are unrealistic to set.)

I want to have more adventures, but to do so I need to see the adventure in everyday things. Haines is 13 months and I work on someone else’s schedule. Hiking Machu Pichu or snorkeling foreign seas aren’t in my near future. It can be hard to appreciate adventures in baby world. Haines primarily finds fun in eating leaves and other tidbits he finds on the ground. But to grow him and me we have to get out of the house.

Welcome 2018: The Year of Tiny Adventures

My goal is to explore Wilmington in a way that keeps me outside and interacting with others. These are the two things that maintain my sanity. That and the occasional baby break but sometimes that’s not an option.

January’s adventures include:

A trip to the Fort Fisher Aquarium– big news, we’re members now! Haines got a membership for his birthday and we plan to take advantage. His attention only held for about 30 of the 60 minutes we were there but I consider that a win.

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Wilmington Coffee Crawl– I don’t actually drink coffee but I like coffee shops and anything involving strolling a baby around downtown. I hope the weather holds out!

Also, I started using Peanut which I’m super intimidated by. Has anyone tried this? It’s like Tinder but it’s for Moms and is just to make friends. Wish me luck!

So, here we go- a little attitude change, a little planning and a lot of (tiny) adventures!

 

So long 2017

It goes without saying that 2017 was the biggest year of my life (so far). December 2016 we added a whole addition person to the world. It is very strange to think that we created a person and added him to our world. He wasn’t there before but now he is and life will never be the same.

This year our tiny person has gone from barely understanding how to feed himself to a person with preferences. He chases our dog around the yard. He prefers peas over sweet potatoes. His stuffed animals seem to freak him out a bit. He loves to dance to music and clap his hands. He also pulls hair and bites my shoulder way too often so it’s not all fun and games. He’s crazy active and I’m terrified that he’s going to wear me out before he can even talk.

But it isn’t all about HEB. There are two other people in our house who are also irreversibly changed. I can’t speak for Tyler and what becoming a dad is like. I only know that this life is so much harder than before. But I like this life. I love where we are. I couldn’t imagine any other.

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