5 Month Letter

To My Cat Napper Vaughn Emerson,

Holy moly child, you have mastered the 45 minute nap this month.  Like a clock you wake up SCREAMING at 45 minutes.  Occasionally you will go back to sleep, but usually you are just wide awake.  You also decided that many nights you were going to get up every 45 minutes from 7-10:30ish at night too.  4 month sleep regression?  Perhaps, but I’m ready to move onto sleeping 1.5 hour naps, and sleeping at night again.  Of course after I wrote this last night you made me a liar and took two almost 2 hour naps today, yay!!  You are still super sweet.  You think your sister is the funniest thing around.  She loves making you laugh and can make you squeal harder than anyone else can.  The best thing is when Ellery is throwing a royal tantrum and you start laughing.  Dad and I find this hysterical, Ellery finds it absolutely maddening.  You also make noise almost constantly.  Ellery always says, “are you growling like a bear?” and it really sounds like you are.  You have started enjoying your excersaucer this month and will last in there up to 30 minutes some days.  I let you watch your first DVD this month when you refused to nap and I had to get some work done.  You hate the bumbo and will only sit in it for 5 minutes before you really start arching your back and fussing to get out.  When we lay you on your tummy you immediately roll to your back.  You are SO CLOSE to rolling from back to belly, but haven’t done it just yet.  The other night you broke out of your swaddle, rolled onto your side and slept the rest of the night that way.  I imagine we’ll transition out of the swaddle by 6 months, but I’m going to keep using it as long as it works.  Everyone says when you have a second baby your love just multiplies and you love each child the same.  It is actually true, I just can’t get enough of you and I’m so thrilled that God gave us you!

Love you forever,

Mama

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How To “Make Money” While Staying Home

PiggyBank

This isn’t one of those, “15 jobs you can do from home posts.”  I think those are great, I think Etsy is a fantastic way for women to be “momprenuers”, and I am extremely blessed to have a very part time flexible job I can do from the comfort of my family room.  However not everyone has a talent to craft and sell, have access to a part time job, or has the desire to work part time while having a full time mom job.  Instead this is a post about some things you can do to make money by saving money.  I’m sure these are all out there somewhere on the internet, but I thought I’d share some of the ways I have found to stretch the budget.  We subscribe to the old philosophy that “a penny saved is a penny earned.”  So here are some ways you can earn pennies by saving them.

Hang dry all your clothes.  Yes, it will take you an extra 20 minutes or so, but in the long run it will make you money, I promise.  I have hung dry all my girl’s clothes besides pajamas and I have been able to sell a lot of them for good prices because although we wore them quite a bit we never dried them so many look like new.  Also hang all your clothes.  They will last much longer, they fit better, and just look so much nicer.

Sell your clothes regularly.  If you haven’t worn something in a year or two, sell it.  If you don’t plan to have more kids in the near future (2 to 3 years) and you’ve already gotten a couple kid’s use out of items, sell them.  This is a radical piece of advice, I know, but you will get more money for items if they are not out of date.  The way I look at my kids clothes is; if I buy them used in the first place and I consign them after two kids I will basically only have spent a couple dollars on each outfit.  I keep my absolute favorites and I keep pretty much all of my GAP and POLO clothes because they are pretty timeless.  Just this week I listed some of my old dresses, Ellery’s first Easter dress, a necklace, and a couple pairs of jeans on our local Facebook Garage Sale site and just like that I made $100.  Literally $100 in the matter of about 15 hours (an hour of work maybe).  And every one of these items I hadn’t worn ever, or since before Ellery.

Unsubscribe to temptation.  We gave up spending for Lent….you wouldn’t believe how much money we’ve been able to put on our student loans this month.  I didn’t think I spent much money to be honest.  I’m a very frugal person in general, but then I see a cute pair of shoes for Ellery or a sweet outfit for my Vaughn and just like that I’ve spent completely unnecessary money.  I also find that opening e-mail advertisements make me think I NEED this or that and honestly I have everything we need for the next few months (besides a pair of shoes for Ellery in the next size….but she can wait to get those until after Easter).  So I started not opening e-mails from stores that I like and unsubscribed to a lot of them.  I once heard a woman say she was completely satisfied with her stay at home motherhood until she went to the mall, and then she saw everything she had to sacrifice to stay home, she quit going to the mall, problem solved.

Cook Your Meals.  Holy cow, eating out is expensive.  A Jimmy John’s sandwich is between $6 and $10 (doesn’t mean I still don’t get them on occasion).  I can bake homemade bread for a MONTH for the cost of one sub.  I don’t like to cook, but Pinterest has been very helpful, and seeing how much money I can save our family by making our meals is very motivating.  We could EASILY spend $150 a month on eating out and that did not include any dates, so that money just disappeared without any kind of planning.  I think about how much we are willing to spend on food out and how ludicrous that would seem if we saw that price at a grocery store.  Even buying a banana at Starbucks is like a $1.  You can buy a bunch, literally, of bananas for $1.  Another way I cut down on things like spending $1 on a banana is carrying snacks in my bag.  I make poor money choices when I am hungry.  When the girls and I are out running errands instead of driving through some place, I whip out some snacks.  $5 here and there adds up very quickly.

Cloth Diapers.  If you are willing, I would do cloth diapers.  My size small set of cloth diapers is still in REALLY good condition.  Granted you only use that size until they are like 10 weeks old, but still  I could use them on two more kids and they would still be great.  I was able to replace the velcro on my medium gdiapers for free (they give you a set of replacements for free if you request them) and new plastic pants are only $22 for 6 (they last 100 washes each) so if I was REALLY diligent with diapers, which I’m not, at this point into baby #2 I could have only spent about $35 total for the 6 new rubber pants and one bag of diaper detergent.  When babies go through 12 diapers a day at first you could spend that in the first week or two!  Also to extend the life of your diapers you should line dry the outsides.

If you are looking into whether or not you can afford to be a stay at home mom I encourage you to really consider it.  I know not everyone wants to stay home, but if that is your heart’s desire, I seriously recommend not letting the money aspect stop you.  You will have to make sacrifices, but for us it’s been worth it.

On Letting Them Be Little

Let them be little– Lovely print from Sweet Peony Press

I’ve seen this phrase all over the internet and I thought I knew what it meant and I thought I was doing a pretty good job of letting my Ellery be little.  What I thought it meant was to lower your expectations on what they should be able to do.  Let them play unstructured a lot, let them explore, let them get dirty, let them be creative, let them be who they are for that time.

And then Ellery started crying A LOT, and when I say a lot I mean like hours a day.  Turns out she had an ear infection that continued on after her first round of antibiotics, so as of today we finally have a reprieve from the insane amounts of crying/screaming we were dealing with for weeks.  On Monday night we got home from a meeting that she had fallen asleep at.  Once we woke her up and got her home the screaming ensued and it was epic.  Like thrashing around on the ground, absolutely uncontrolled, I believe there may have been some gagging, and what Andrew and I call exorcist style screaming.  Nothing I did was even making a dent in the volume level or intensity of the screaming.

Typically at this point I just walk out of the room, I yell talk really loudly, try to reason with her, or start taking privileges away.  Unfortunately she had already lost the privileges I tend to take away so that wasn’t an option, I was worried about what she would do if I walked out, and Vaughn was crying at this point too, so yelling seemed like it would just make everything much worse.  So I rocked her.  I picked her up and starting rocking her and singing to her.  And I did this for a good 20 minutes and guess what, she was completely calm that entire time.  I realized at that moment that there are a lot of areas I “let her be little,” but one area that I expect WAY too much is in the emotion department.

I would never do to my 4 month old what I do to my 2 year old in terms of calming her down.  Would I yell at Vaughn if she was uncontrollably screaming, no.  Would I take away her things for screaming, no.  Would I leave her in a room by herself if she was upset, not usually (sometimes I have to walk away for a couple minutes).  My goal for the next week is to really focus on how I respond to Ellery’s emotions.  They are only little for so long, and as I recall every child hits a point where they want to be and act WAY older than they actually are, so I’ll cherish the time that she wants to be a little girl, a baby even, because all too soon she will be more mature than I’m comfortable with.

**And yes I know that my 2 year old is, in fact, emotionally more mature than my 4 month old and I should have higher expectations on her than I do my infant, but you get the picture.  I was wanting her to be an adult emotionally and that just isn’t fair.

Four Month Letter

To My Butterball Vaughn Emerson,

Someday you will probably cringe that I called you butterball as a baby, but you are just SO JUICY.  I can’t even handle how plump you are, I love it so much, and everyone loves your big cheeks and you have the best rolls on your legs that I’ve ever seen.  Seriously adorable.  This month was a big one. You took your first road trip to Austin.  Which means you rode about 35 hours in the car in the course of a week.  For a baby who previously hated your carseat you did remarkably well.  You went to a four hour feeding schedule a week before the trip which made the drive quite a bit easier.  On our way down you were pretty congested and after our first night there I realized you had an ear infection so off to the doctor we went and you started your first round of antibiotics.  This month the big milestone was rolling over from front to back.  You did it twice in the span of 10 minutes and then never did it again.  You started playing in your exersaucer which kind of terrifies you.  You still startle very easily, so all the moving parts tend to make you cry.  Hopefully you’ll get used to them and start to enjoy it because Mama would really like for you to have a toy you like so I can put you down.  You have pretty much gotten over the swing which is a relief because I seriously didn’t know how I was going to break you of that habit.  You are really good about putting yourself to sleep and probably only need assistance about 25% of the time.  You nap 2-3 times per day and then sleep from about 7:30-7:30 with two night feedings.  One of the feedings is my choice before I go to bed, and the other is usually between 4:30-5:00.  You are a pretty erratic nurser during the day, but eat like a champ at night, so I have no plan to break you of this anytime soon.  Hopefully you’ll grow out of it on your own, I’m really ready to sleep through the night again.  You light up when anyone walks in the room and love your sister, she makes you laugh and smile a lot.  All in all you are a super content baby.  We love having you!!!

Love you forever,

Mama

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