Sunday, September 17, 2017

Nearly half-way there!

My pregnancy is nearly half-way complete! Hard to believe in some ways and in others it feels like it has been dragging along. I haven't felt well during this pregnancy most of the time and so I sometimes feel a little guilty that I haven't been enjoying things as much. I'm back to work now so that is going fairly well but maternity leave is always in my sights and I just can't wait! I'm approved for my 12 weeks of FMLA but I'm really hoping that I can take off the remaining 6 weeks until summer vacation before heading back to work for the next school year. I don't have job protection if I do that...but I don't know exactly if that means they'll post my position immediately or not. I think we will just cross that bridge when I get closer. It would be wonderful to have 6 months off to be with baby (and Colton, when he finishes his school year!).

My sweet little Colton starts Pre-K tomorrow and he'll be in school full days, 4 days per week! Mark and I go back and forth with wondering if this is a good or a bad thing. It seems like such a long time for him to be in school, especially since last year (his first year of preschool) he did only 2 half day afternoons. But he's such a smart little thing and loves to socialize. The other part of me thinks he will really thrive in that environment. He's excited to start tomorrow!

Finally, I'll do a little survey to keep track of my pregnancy symptoms here.

We found out last week that we are having a BOY! We had a little barbecue to reveal the news. Nearly everyone thought we were having a girl, myself included! So now we are switching gears and preparing for life with another baby boy in our family.

How far along? 19 weeks and 4 days

Baby's size? at our ultrasound last week the sonographer said he was 9 oz! The size of a sweet potato or mango.

Weight Gain? Around 11-12 pounds now.

Maternity clothes? Yes. Still have a few things to get down from the attic. 

Stretch marks? Still all the same ones from pregnancy #1

Belly button in or out? Out. Colton's had a fun time poking at it, haha.

Sleep? Not great but it depends on the night. Some nights I feel comfortable and others I wake up with pain in my hips.

Foods I am loving? not craving much. Junk food, but that's always me.

Foods I am hating? nothing much here either. I am just kind of blah about food. Everything gives me indigestion.

Best moment this week? The weekend! Spending time with my family.

Movement? Yes, I feel something daily now!

Symptoms? My worst symptom is the indigestion/acid reflux/nausea. Everything makes me burp so bad, even water. Everything I eat gives me a stomach ache. 

Gender? another little boy :)

What I miss? Normal digestion.

What I'm looking forward to? Starting to clean out the attic and get our baby stuff organized.

Weekly Wisdom: Don't stay up too late!

Milestone: On Wednesday, we'll be half way complete! (Probably over half, I have a feeling this little one will be a week early or so).

Emotions: Getting used to the idea that our little one is a boy. I'm already grappling a little with my whole debate about working vs. stay at home mom guilt. Trying not to worry about that so soon though.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Exciting news for our family!

Baby number 2 is on the way! I am writing this post now, as of 10 weeks 2 days pregnant, although I won't post it until after my 12 week appointment. I am so excited that our family will be expanding. Colton is so excited that he'll be getting a little brother or sister. I'm trying to hang in there right now while these first trimester symptoms are still kicking me in the butt. I've had a lot of nausea this time around but haven't vomited yet, and I'm holding out hope that I won't. Some days I wonder if I'd feel better if I just puked and got it over with. I'm on summer vacation from school now so that's been very helpful in ensuring that I am resting and not overdoing it when I'm not feeling well.

My due date is February 7, 2018. We went in for a dating ultrasound at 8 weeks 1 day and baby was actually measuring 6 days ahead, but the doctor is not changing my due date. Policy there is to stick with the estimated due date according to last menstrual period if the discrepancy in dates is 6 days or less, so we just made the cutoff. I won't be surprised if the baby makes his/her appearance early, though. Colton was born 8 days early, even though he was quite the peanut at only 7 pounds 1 ounce.

I read back through my old posts about my pregnancy and the newborn stage with Colton and I definitely want to record things again. It was really fun to read and try to remember that time. 

Without further ado, here is my first set of pregnancy survey questions:

How far along? 10 weeks, 2 days

Baby's size? about 1.2 inches long and weighing in at .14 ounces. The size of a strawberry!

Weight Gain? been gaining rather rapidly this time around - about 5 pounds. Gulp.

Maternity clothes? Sometimes. I bought a new pair of shorts because I only had one pair that still managed to fit. I've been working the rubber band trick for some of my jeans.

Stretch marks? nothing new

Belly button in or out? in, but when I'm super bloated at the end of the night it gets a bit flatter.

Sleep? doesn't feel very restful because I am having so many vivid dreams! They are waking me up a lot.

Foods I am loving? not a whole lot right now. Hardly anything sounds good. If someone puts food in front of me I will eat it but otherwise I'm having trouble with choosing foods that sound good. Unfortunately we have been eating out quite a bit which might explain my more rapid weight gain.

Foods I am hating? having lots of aversions in general. Not only to food but things like dishes in the sink or a half-full garbage can gross me out a lot.

Best moment this week? having fun with Colton & starting off my summer vacation from work.

Movement? I swear I felt a little vibration way way way down low last week, but nothing since.

Symptoms? nausea, food aversions, tiredness, a little bit of breast tenderness still holding on, vivid pregnancy dreams, sometimes emotional. I've had a LOT of round ligament pain since very early on, like 6 weeks. I have to be very careful how quickly I stand up or my position when I sneeze or cough. It can get really painful.

Gender? too early to tell yet! But we will find out.

What I miss? Not being nauseous all the time. I miss being excited about food. I love food, lol

What I'm looking forward to? next appointment & breaking the news to everyone else. And the end of first trimester! I really can't wait for that.

Weekly Wisdom: take cold showers if you have morning nausea. Staying hydrated is helpful as well.

Milestone: As of last week, baby graduated from an embryo to a fetus.

Emotions: Feeling more comfortable with the idea of being pregnant. Feeling very ready to start planning for the future (like how to reorganize the house, saving up to buy a new house next summer, getting a new car, I've already started adding things we need to a baby registry even!)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

January Grocery Budget - week 1

When writing up our budget, after all is said and done, it seems like whatever is leftover from our monthly income is thrown into the food budget pot. And especially this month, it is pretty slim. I suspect that it will be for several months BUT we have a lot of extra expenses this January.

First, we have a lot of birthdays. All three of us have January birthdays, though thankfully mine isn't until the very end. Because of this though, we have to pay to renew our license plate tabs and/or licenses all in the same month. We also like to throw Colton a birthday party each year and the cost of food and decorations can add up. My mom has a birthday as well as my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, though we just do small presents for our moms and don't exchange sibling gifts.

Each January we pay our renter's insurance for the year. This year we also have a January wedding in a few weeks and have set aside gift money. So for January, we have a lot to think about when it comes to allocating for these things.

Our grocery budget this month is set at $216. I am bound and determined to stick to that budget if I can help it. We also have Colton's birthday budget set at $118, and this includes food. So for these first two weeks (I shop on Saturdays) I will be dividing up some of the grocery bill between these two categories.


I shopped at two different stores this week - Target and Meijer. I actually stopped into Target on New Year's Eve but am still counting it toward our January budget.

TARGET
Total amount spent on groceries: $22.01
Total amount spent on birthday supplies: $5.50
Total savings: $6.29

On this trip, I made some purchases that were not necessities. I had some cartwheel and Ibotta deals that kind of pushed me toward making these purchases, but we could do without them. Here is where I saved:

2-Liters of Coca-Cola 5/$5 - you had to buy all 5 to get this deal, and I bought these for drinks at the birthday party. Regular price $1.79 plus deposit.

Boogie Wipes $3.77 - 5% off with Cartwheel, regular $3.97. These were not a necessity, but my little guy has been sick for nearly 2 weeks now and I thought it would be nice to have.

Earth's Best Organic Fruit Smoothie Pouches $4.23 - 20% off with Cartwheel, regular $5.29. These are going to my parents house for when my mom starts babysitting Colton two days per week while Mark is in class and I'm at work.

Earth's Best Strawberry Snack Bars $3.03 - 20% off with Cartwheel, regular $3.79. Same as above.

Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa $1.12 - 5% off with Cartwheel, regular $1.18. I bought this and Kraft mini marshmallows ($1.19) and got a $0.25 credit through Ibotta.

MEIJER
Total amount spent on groceries: $53.52
Total amount spent on birthday supplies: $38.57
Total savings: $58.13


That's right! FIFTY-EIGHT dollars and thirteen cents. I was so concerned when she told me my total was $92 but seriously, I got so much stuff. My receipt says 49 items to be exact. 

I don't know that I want to get into everything that I saved on because a lot of it was store sales, but I'll give you some high-lights.

First, I had two different rewards that I had clipped from MPerks. If you have a Meijer in your area but don't use MPerks, you are missing out! I had an $8 reward that I had earned over a 4 week period just for regular purchases, and since I spent over $100, I got $10 off. This was a weekend coupon that you had to clip online. There was also $5 if you spend $50. So there is $18 in savings right off the bat.

I took advantage of a "buy 6 and save" promotion where you buy 6 items and $6 is subtracted from your bill instantly (a dollar off each item). With that I bought a lot of the cheese I needed to make macaroni and cheese for the birthday party, some frozen pizzas, and Doritos. Nothing too healthy but hey :)

Kraft Singles were 2 for $6. I had an MPerks manufacturer's coupon for 75 cents off clipped, and went online to print another coupon for 75 cents.

What really helped me was shopping the ad and purchasing things on sale. There were a number of things I purchased that weren't on sale, but I couldn't wait around for those things (like milk).

I'm feeling like this happy housewife above with all the money I saved today. Our grocery budget balance is $140.47 which is a lot more than I thought I would have for the rest of the month!

Colton's birthday budget is down to about $74 which should be plenty to cover decorations and fresh fruit that I am going to buy a couple of days before, plus a small gift of course. 

Now comes the difficult part - no fast food, no restaurants, and no extra trips to the store until next Saturday.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year's Resolutions 2016

New Year's Eve is tomorrow, and my wheels have been turning for weeks now on just what types of goals I want to set for myself this year. I have a (rather long) document that I created last year listing many resolutions and I can't say that I really kept many of them.

Last year my focus was on health and fitness and while that is still important to me, I am setting my major resolution this year to be in the financial category.

Over the past year, I would write up budgets and track spending, but the two weren't mutually exclusive. The budget would look nice on paper, but our spending was high above it. Each time I received my twice per year "bonus weeks" of pay or other influx of money, we ended up blowing through it somehow. Some of it was necessity, like car repairs. Others definitely were not, and I couldn't even tell you what we spend that money on.

My major financial goals are to:

1. STICK to our monthly zero-based budget. No more miscellaneous category. I have already planned out every likely expense that we will face from now to October.

2. Keep our grocery budget at $200. While I'll be the first to admit that this feels impossible, it needs to be done. I want to free up money to put toward savings and debt, and this is the only place I feel like we could actually cut. I have been doing a decent job with meal planning already, and I'd like to see what I can do about using some coupons in addition to the rewards I use through one of our local supermarkets.

3. Eliminate restaurant and fast-food budget most months. Certain months throughout the year, we will have extra money to set aside for going out or ordering pizza, but most months, IF we want to continue saving and paying off debt more aggressively than before, this budget will need to be eliminated. I'm hoping this goal will help with my diet without me even having to try much ;)

4. Allocate "extra funds" wisely. At the school I work at, we have 4 weeks out of the year for intersession where it is optional to work and we are paid, essentially, a bonus. Since I am paid bi-weekly with 26 pays per year, there are two months out of the year where we will have an "extra" paycheck. And of course, the ever-important tax refund. I have already allocated where I think these funds should go and approved it with my husband, so now we just need to make sure it sticks when the time comes.

5. Have $1,000 in an emergency fund. We had our bare-bones emergency fund last year, until we had to dip into it for car repairs on BOTH of our vehicles. We are only $300 away from this goal now, so by February or March we should be all set.

6. Pay off both credit cards by October 2016 and stop using them! This has been the problem for us. We are always buying more than we actually have money for. We will say things like "put it on the credit card until next payday/next intersession check/ect" and then never end up paying it off. Likewise, we use our Amazon rewards card for subscribe and save items but haven't actually been paying for those items with our real money in full! So my goal is to pay close attention to that especially and when we have a month of subscribe and save items, to pay that bill right away.

7. Begin bulking up our savings. After our credit cards have been paid off, while ideally we would keep pressing on with debt and begin tackling student loans, I feel like it would be best for our family to revisit our emergency fund. I'd like to have a 3 month emergency fund well on its way by 2017.

These financial goals are really important to me because until we can start making some headway, we won't be prepared to accomplish my 2 GREATEST goals - buying a house and having our second baby. So 2016 is the year to build the foundation for my greatest goals to be accomplished someday soon :)

What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Summer Recap (in phone pics)

School has been in full swing for over a month now (!!!) and I never once blogged about having an amazing summer at home with my family. My summer only lasted about 5-6 weeks but even still, I really enjoyed the time off at home.

We saw fireworks twice this year. Our city fireworks were actually on our anniversary (4 years!) and so we went down to our neighborhood park to watch like we do every year. We allowed Colton to stay up and watch too. The park was fairly crowded and the view was terrible! They shoot the fireworks off from a golf course across the street and the were all perfectly placed right behind a tree.
Nice view...
My anniversary flowers and hand-decorated vase.
Fourth of July was spent at my parents house. Since the 4th was on a Saturday, I thought it was a good opportunity to change things up this year because usually we spend the holiday at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes with Mark's family. Colton got to stay up late again to see more fireworks that my dad and uncle set off.
Selfie! My youngest sister and me.
We went on our usual trip to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes as we do every year. It was a good time and the weather turned out quite well. I think we only had one day that rained and only in the evening. It was chilly in the mornings but by 2-3 PM it warmed up quite a bit. It was a fun trip. Mark's mom was quite ill on the trip after having had some complications from surgery a few weeks before but she really was a trooper and I am amazed that she even decided to come on the trip! (She is doing much better now, a few months later.)
Colton's first go-kart experience (sorry for Mark's silly face)
Once we got home from the trip we did your typical summery things every day. Many trips to the park, trips to the zoo, swimming, bike rides, eating ice cream, grilling, picnics, movie days when it was too hot to go outside. I tried my best to savor every moment. It was nice for us all to be home, too, because we were able to really keep up on household chores and didn't have much to worry about juggling. Is it sad that I am already looking forward to next summer?

Extra sweaty after cherry picking!







Goodbye summer.

Bring on the fall! Even though I have to be back at work now, fall is my favorite season, and everything that comes with it.

Friday, June 19, 2015

School Counseling Life

My first year as a school counselor in an urban elementary school is almost complete. We have just 6 school days left for the year, 3 of which are half days, and then 1 final planning day for teachers and staff.

Long ago, when I first began working as an intern with juvenile probation during undergrad (and again in graduate school), in the very same city that I now work, I talked to my supervisor about how I just wish I could have helped some of these kids sooner. I wanted to be there to help them, to guide them, to put a spark in them, to show them love and kindness, and teach them the same thing. It's so ironic that this setting is really where I ended up.

This job is not luxurious. It does not pay well. I don't even get the perk of Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness since I am not a teacher. It is very flexible in that I am able to create my own schedule and my own program which I certainly like a lot.

But first...

There are a lot of rough days. There are days when I find it difficult to stay objective. There are days when I can't wrap my head around how broken the systems in our society really are. I don't think you could ever really even begin to contemplate it until you actually SEE what it is like. See the homes of people living in poverty. Speak with them. Teach their children. Learn about their backgrounds.

Some of those days feel like a whirlwind of breaking up fights, of students yelling over me during guidance lesson, of kids that constantly run out of their classrooms, students swearing at each other, jumping off of tables and bookshelves, blatantly disrespecting their teacher, throwing chairs in anger, kicking a wall, screaming and crying.

But then...

There are wonderful, beautiful days.

When the boy that has gotten into countless fights this year alone comes up to me and tells me that someone hit him today and he didn't hit them back.

When the girl that is constantly threatening people is certain to tell me several times about how she is now being a good friend.

When my students ask me how I can always help make everyone be friends again.

When a student learns some real anger management strategies and uses them in the classroom.

When some students insist that after learning more about respecting others, they owe their teacher an apology.

When the kids get to have a special event or assembly. I almost cried the day that we had a really big, fun assembly in late fall. The kids were SO happy. It made me so happy to see them that way.

Now that I've had a year for trial and error, for learning more about the environment as well as my profession, I hope that I can continue to make a difference in someone's life.

Friday, November 21, 2014

adjusting to more changes.

Last I left us, I was working two jobs for a short six-week period while I looked for a permanent full-time job.

A part of me really hoped that I wouldn't find one right away. I thought maybe it'd be nice to work part-time for just a FEW more months. Just keep working each of us part-time, equating to one full-time job, and lots more time spent together as a family.

But I got a new job. My first real job with my Master's degree. I am now an Elementary School Counselor.

This is what I always wanted when I began my program. I wanted to be with the little kids. I wanted to nurture them and help them along the growing pains of the childhood and pre-adolescent years. My school is inner-city/urban, about 600 students in Kindergarten through 6th grade. There are a lot of challenges but a lot of rewards too. I thought I would be somewhat well prepared because I had experience with children in this city and district in previous jobs and in my practicum. After a month of working there though, I realize now that there is a huge difference working part-time in an office separate from an inner city school (but still working with the children), and an even bigger difference working in an inner city school part-time versus full-time.

It is exhausting. It has already gotten to me. Sometimes I feel like - am I even helping anyone? What am I even doing?

I try to remind myself that even though change is hard to see, the fact that after only a couple of weeks there I had touched so many children who were genuinely excited and happy to see me, who remembered my name despite it being difficult for the adults in the school to pronounce, makes me feel like at least they know I am a person to trust, a person who cares about them. I get at least 10 hugs a day. The kids are just so sweet.

Adjusting to a difficult job is one thing. Adjusting to being a full-time working mom is another. I've never felt like such a horrible mom. Even when my schedule was at its craziest, I usually only worked 3-4 days in a row at a time. And the schedule varied so many I was home in the morning during more of Colton's waking hours and got to spend more time with him. Now it's just 2 and a half hours together before I put him in his crib. Much of our time together is preparations for bed, or bath time, or eating dinner. Sometimes I am so exhausted that we just watch TV after dinner or he plays while I watch. I feel like the quality of our time spent is just not good enough. I feel like I don't even know what he and Mark have been up to all day.

I should be happy that at least one of us can be the stay at home parent. But I can't help but be jealous that it's not me. I know that we've discussed my staying home with our next future child, but that won't be for a long time and by then Colton will probably be in kindergarten or first grade. I'll have missed so much time with him.

I know the whole working mom versus stay at home mom is a big debate. For me I just don't know. I never imagined that I'd still wish I was staying at home when Colton was almost 2. Before he was born I thought 3 months would be awfully early to go back to work, but 6 months would probably be okay. So much happens in a young child's life though! I don't want to miss a bunch of it!

Having this attitude has gotten me no where because when I am home I have just felt depressed on all I've missed throughout the day. Or I just feel totally detached from motherhood and am just counting down the time until he goes to bed - kind of like I'm just avoiding having any feelings about being gone all day I guess. Mostly though, I've been really trying to make an effort to stay positive, to be patient and caring, to play and resist temptation to veg out on the couch for any of our precious time together, and to just be present.

I can tell a huge difference in Colton's behavior when I'm in a positive mindset or in a negative one. It's really interesting how he seems to pick up on that and act accordingly. Tonight I was positive, happy, engaged, patient, and matter-of-fact in our routine. This is the first time that Colton came to the bathroom to brush his teeth the first time I asked him. He was well-behaved during bedtime stories and didn't climb all over me trying to get my attention. He gave me extra hugs and cuddles. He didn't whine or cry when I told him it was time for prayers. He nearly drifted to sleep while nursing and gave me no problems when I tucked him into his crib.

I need to remember what a difference it makes next time I'm feeling sorry for myself and take it out on the darling little boy who only wants my love and attention when I get home.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

one week down.

I finished my first week of having two jobs again and I have been so stressed, it's almost unbearable. I also made the mistake of filling my full and partial days off (Thursday and Sundays I have off, Saturdays I work mornings only) with shopping and errands and a bunch of other things that I really should have just delegated to my husband since he's home more often than I am now. I have a hard time with delegating tasks - very often I like to do everything myself and make sure everyone is taken care of. Except that leaves me stressed and exhausted and depressed, so that's something I need to work on.

Tonight I think I'm going to move showers to PM. Maybe I'll get a little more sleep and maybe Colton will too. Since our house is so small I'm a little worried that my early morning showering has been waking him up, since he actually slept in the past two days that I didn't shower before 6 AM.

Meal plan is complete. Everything is fairly simple and we did major grocery shopping about a week ago so all of the meats and veggies we need are in the freezer already. I may need to pick up more potatoes midweek but hopefully not.

I cooked dinner tonight so we have tons of chicken leftovers - two different recipes of drumsticks. That will be dinner for the next two nights and then Mark will be in charge of dinner Wednesday night. I am trying to give him simple dinners for now since he isn't used to cooking the meals. I'm sure he could figure out something a little more time consuming but there's not really a point in that. We can cook the more involved meals on nights when both of us are home.

Our chore chart has gone straight down the tubes. I haven't kept up with anything at all this week and neither has Mark. We're lucky that we've gotten the dishes done and the toys picked up every night, but that's pretty much the extent of it. I've done about half of the laundry so far and I'll need to throw in at least one more load tonight. Colton's clothes are all washed and folded, at least.

As much as I have a plan to be organized, actually following through with it has been extremely difficult. I think my mental state is just not with it right now. I don't know for certain that I am really tired from work and commute and mom stuff. I think it's just messing with my head to know that I have all of these things to do, and thinking about them makes me just clam up and not do anything at all. I wish I had more drive to get things done.

A picture of the beautiful dinner I made:

A picture of my sweet boy on Thursday at the park. It was so cold. I'm so happy for Thursdays spent with him.

I have to remind myself that I need to work for him. For all of us. 
It's for the best.
If only my emotions would get on board with that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

one little whisper.

Out of my whole stressful day, the time I looked forward to the most is quietly nursing my sweet little boy before bed. I never knew how important nursing would become to me when I first began researching it when I was pregnant and I'm so grateful that I am still able to hold on to this bonding time that Colton and I share.

Sometimes Colton will fall asleep nursing and I'll carry him to his crib. Tonight was a late work night for me, so we got home late and I thought for certain he was would fall asleep. I think the opening the door startled him awake a little bit as I carried him out of the bedroom. He looked up at me with his perfect blue eyes and a big sleepy smile and whispered "hi mommy."

I know it sounds like nothing. But through all the hectic moments of our day and the rushed hellos and goodbyes as we are heading out the door from one place to another, this one meant so much to me. A quiet, peaceful hello, safe in my arms, before drifting off to sleep.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Jobs

Ever since 2008 I've had a crazy schedule. There have been months of down time in between, but in general it has always been crazy.

Dairy Queen, DSW, college.
Intern at courthouse, Dairy Queen, college.
Dairy Queen, Waitress, college.
Waitress and Intern at courthouse (finally graduated!)
Grad school, Intern at courthouse, waitress on weekends.
Grad school, Intern at courthouse, waitress, and pregnant.
Quit waitressing 3 months before Colton was born.
Quit internship 1 month before Colton was born.
Grad school and newborn.
Grad school, work at Autism center.
Grad school plus Internship, work at Autism center.
Finished internship, last class and work at Autism center.
July & August - work at Autism Center ONLY! Hooray for one job!
September - Autism Center & Substitute School Counselor.

And obviously I am still a mom as soon as I get home which makes things a lot more difficult since we all know that I really do not want to be a working mom. Today was my first day back to the grind of having two jobs and I am pretty much asleep except I needed to vent about how long I've been doing this garbage of working and school and everything I have to do to keep my family afloat financially and try to get the experience to get a full time job someday. Will it ever come?!