Thursday, November 28, 2013


It's that time of year again. Or, today is that day again . . . aren't we suppose to be thankful on a daily basis? Yes. We are. There are a lot of things I think of doing on a daily basis (shower, sleep, eat, brush my teeth, etc) that don't happen anymore. But I am thankful. And right now, I'm thankful I have a brief moment to pause and jot down a few things I'm thankful for this year.

I'm so thankful for:
My baby boy and his health and growth
My husband who I can't do this without
My friends and co-workers who kept me fed for the past two months
My family and friends who showered us with everything we needed for our baby
My mother and mother-in-law who helped care for me and William
My boss who reluctantly let me take three months off of work!
My small group who showers me with hugs and smiles just for showing up! (makes me feel so loved, let me tell you!)
My siblings who call often, I'm so thankful we're close!
My apartment that has been my home for over three years which I rarely leave anymore!
My mom-friends who tell me everything is okay and will get better. I do love hearing their stories.

I'm thankful for so much more. (including you dear reader) I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and remember to rejoice with thanksgiving a little every day!

My niece Charlotte and William wish you a Happy Thanksgiving too!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Drugstore Deals

Last year at this time, I was at the peak of my couponing high and couldn't wait for Black Friday, but at the last minute, my plans changed and I couldn't go shopping. I did however, partake in some pre-Black Friday deals at the drugstores. This year, I was looking forward to doing it again. And today was the day!

This was also a little bit of an adventure as I was taking my two month old with me! He did fantastic and I didn't do too bad either, although, I think my pulse races for two reasons now: couponing and fear of baby melt-downs! Here's what my three transactions looked like:

CVS Transaction #1:
1 dozen eggs: On sale for $1.79 (much cheaper than my grocery store)
1 Reese's candy bar: $.79 with $.79 Extra Care Bucks (ECB)
1 CVS brand panty liners: $.99 with $.99 ECB
1 Colgate Toothpaste: $3.00 with $.50 manufacturer coupon and $2.50 store coupon (=FREE!)
1 Sparkle Papertowel: $1.00 with $1.00 ECB
Total: $4.57 with $2.87 in Extra Care Bucks

CVS Transaction #2:
2 Chex Mix: $1.99 each with $.50 manufacturer coupon when you buy 2 and received $1.00 ECB
1 Crispix cereal: $1.99
1 Frosted Mini Wheats: $1.99
Total: $7.96 but I paid $4.66 and used the three ECB ($2.87) from my previous transaction and got $1.00 ECB for next time.

Walgreens Transaction #3:
3 Bumble Bee Tuna: $1.89 on sale with store coupon for $.99 each
2 Holiday M&M 11 oz bags: On sale for 2/$5; $1.00 off two store coupon and $1.00 off two manufacture coupon (making them 2/$3)
Total: $5.97

Total paid from my trip today: $15.20 and I still have $1 left for CVS (I probably should have changed the way I did my CVS transactions so I could carry that over for the second transaction too, but I had forgotten that the chex mix had it! oops!) $15 is still quite a bit to spend for a real crazy coupon lady, but I was quite pleased since I actually didn't have that many coupons. Technically, the paper towels, panty liners, candy bar, and toothpaste were all free!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Covering that Baby Bum

A long time ago, I asked for your help in deciding how to cloth diaper my babe. Well, it's about time I follow up with my decision and let you know how it's all going - since well, Baby B is nearly two months old!

Per some of your recommendations, I decided to go with a diaper service for the first month figuring I'd have enough to deal with without adding laundry to the list. And I'm so glad I did! A friend actually gave us a month of diaper service as a gift and let me just say that it was the best! We got to practice using prefold cloth diapers before having to invest in a stash of our own and didn't have to worry about laundry. (We also used a few packages of disposables that were given to us at a baby shower and at the hospital -- a little easier for the midnight changes)

A few friends passed along their slightly used diaper covers and inserts to get us started. Chris's sister even gave us an entire box of prefolds, covers, snappies and inserts that she no longer needed. And I received a number of covers from my baby registry at showers. I was so thankful for everyone's help and encouragement in this "project." After our month of diaper service ended, we were getting ready to build up our stash of prefolds (Bumkins Indian cotton), when a cousin of Chris's asked us what he and his wife could get our baby-- the timing was perfect so we asked for our diapers -- and they bought us all of them! I'm not even kidding when I say we have not purchased one single diaper for our child yet . . . (Praising the Lord for His provision daily!)

As you recall, one of my biggest concerns was living in an apartment with shared coin operated laundry. This was an issue because a) who wants to share a washer with poopy diapers and 2) the cost per load was going to be $3.75 if I added a rinse cycle before and after the regular wash cycle as was recommended in my research.

So, we ended up purchasing a portable washing machine; it's just a small, 1-cubic foot machine that hooks up to our bathroom sink. It can wash about 25 diapers at a time, which is perfect. We found a used one on Craigslist from a family who had used it for their baby's clothes. We would only need to do about 50 loads before it paid off in comparison to the coin operated option. I have a feeling I'll hit that mark by Christmas! And it's a lot more convenient than having to run downstairs to start the different cycles/change loads every time. We still pay to dry them in the dryer for a buck a pop, but that doesn't really bother me. Perhaps when the sun comes out again, we'll put up a line in the window and sun-dry them.

So far, I'm very happy with the way cloth diapering has worked for us. Thanks for your input and encouragement as started this process so long ago!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Babiaks Come to Town

At the end of October, Chris's mom came to stay with us and meet her new grandson. She stayed for a week offering to help me out while Chris was working. I needed her help badly and was so thankful she came! For you sleep deprived mothers, you understand just how valuable that extra nap is during the day and Mom B made that happen! I felt like a different person!

She was so helpful in preparing us meals, watching William while I napped, showered, ate, etc. We even got to go on a walk together (with William), which I really enjoyed. This motherhood thing is really new to me (obviously) so having one-on-one time with an experienced woman was both eye opening and encouraging. Plus, I got to hear stories of my husband's childhood, which is always fun!
Dad B came for a long weekend and the five of us drove up to Sonoma to go wine tasting (only four of us did the actual tasting!). This was William's first adventure outside of San Francisco and he did amazingly well.  Like a true gentleman, he waited until after we left the restaurant to let out his screams. And it was my first time trying out my K'Tan baby wrap, which he seemed to enjoy enough to sleep in while we were out and about. 

There were three generations of Babiak men in our home that weekend so I had to take a few photos. There is potential for a four generation photo to be taken, but I'm not sure when that might happen. We don't see (Great) Grandpa very often. William won't be able to meet my grandparents since they passed away several years ago, but I'd love for him to meet Chris's grandparents and see them as much as possible. 


We had such a wonderful time with them both and are so grateful they could spend the time with us! Looking forward to seeing them again this spring when we welcome another cousin into the world!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Budgeting: Delayed Gratification

I've shared a few of our financial success stories with you before, and you already know how we do our monthly budget following many tips from Dave Ramsey. But I have one more area I'd like to discuss: Delayed gratification and saving up for those big purchases.

Several years ago, let's say three or so, I decided I wanted to buy a new camera. A full-frame DSLR camera, something I could use if I decided to go professional. Well, three years ago we were not in a place to make such a purchase. Any money we had left over from our expenses was going toward paying off loans and setting up our emergency savings. Sure, I could have put it on the credit card and had it in my hands that very month but it would have ended up costing us more with interest if we couldn't pay off the balance right away. And there were a few other things we wanted to save up for as well. The camera just didn't make the list of top priorities.

So, what did we do? (Giving up on the idea was not an option!) We set up another savings account for the sole purpose of purchasing the camera. Every month, as long as we were able, we tucked away $25 into that fund. Not a huge amount at all, but it was something! When our loans were paid off we increased it to $50. Slowly but surely, as the months went by, the fund grew and we were getting close! If I received money for birthday or Christmas gifts, I put that into the fund too. That made a huge difference.

And three years later, I purchased the camera! I ended up buying a refurbished DSLR since I wasn't willing to wait an additional two years to buy a brand new one. I had shopped Craigslist for months trying to find a used one in good condition but that seemed a little risky and the price difference wasn't that much better than the refurbished one.

It still seems unreal to hold my new camera in my hands and actually use it! Three years ago it seemed like that day would never come. I don't feel like I really missed out by not having this specific camera and I'm more ready now than I was then to attempt professional photography. I'm so thankful that we didn't go into debt to buy it and it didn't hinder us from reaching our other financial goals!

We've used this model quite a few times for larger purchases: a road bike, our trip to Europe, and most of our flights to Minnesota or Texas. The amount varies depending on how quickly we need to make the purchase and our available funds. For the most part, this works really well for us. I think the best part is never really feeling "hit" by a large purchase and having to struggle to make the budget work because we had a big credit card bill to pay.

If you know you will have a large purchase to make in the future, or really want something that is out of your budget, try saving up for it instead of using a credit card/incurring debt or trying to scrape together enough money now. Set aside a specific amount each month so you won't feel financially stretched when you make your purchase. There is freedom in delayed gratification. And it feels good!

Bringing Up Bebe

I grabbed this book randomly at the library a month ago, I had never heard of it before but it looked interesting. Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman is filled with fascinating observations and research about the differences between French and American parenting styles. She was raised in the United States and moved to Paris after marrying an Englishman. When they start their family they couldn't help but notice that the behavior of their daughter was quite different from the French children around them. Which led her to look into the way she was parenting.

Druckerman shares a lot of information on studies that have been done, interviews with well known pediatricians and other medical professionals, and her own personal experiences.

I found it really interesting that French babies learn to sleep through the night by three months old, often times much earlier. They learn to eat four times a day - three meals and one snack before they are a year old; they also eat four course meals and are able to sit through dinner at restaurants without making a fuss. They rarely interrupt their parents and they seem to live freely within the boundaries the parents set up (and the parents are consistent)

She also writes that French women to maintain their sexual femininity post-childbirth, keep their marriages thriving and go back to work. They seem more detached from their children than American parents. Basically, having children doesn't change the way they live. Most of this seems possible because France provides subsidized childcare for most families (there is an application process). Even if women don't work outside the home, their children still spend at least part of the day at day care.

It was inspiring to read that things don't have to be so chaotic with children. After reading the book, I wished I could implement what the author shared, but I have to admit, a few weeks later and I've already forgotten most of the details. It was an interesting read, perhaps I'll look into this French way of parenting more later.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why I Quit my Gym Membership

Most people probably wouldn't quit their gym membership when they know they will have at least 15-20 pounds (or more!) to loose after they have a baby. Well, I actually quit my gym membership the week of my due date. Here's how I came to that decision:

I have belonged to the same gym for a year and a half.  I shared my internal debate with you here; it was meant to be a month-to-month decision but actually, I enjoyed it so much, I never really gave it a second thought. And we made it work in our budget so I didn't have to worry about that either! I loved it.  I really didn't have any regrets.

When we found out we were expecting, I kept up the membership and actually kept up my routine as much as I could. Toward the end of my pregnancy, the frequency declined to three times a week and I dropped the intensity. But it was still worth the investment. I was feeling really good and it helped keep my weight in check (because we know I wasn't watching the calories).

I debated whether or not I should keep my membership once I had my baby. I knew I wouldn't feel up to working out for at least 6-8 weeks postpartum, paying for a membership when I wasn't going to use it seemed like a waste of money. And I knew getting to the gym three times a week would be a challenge, especially since I was planning to transition from working at the office to working from home which would make the gym not quite as convenient. I could go less often, but then it wouldn't be a very good return for my money. At three times a week, it was costing me $4 per session. Not bad. But I wasn't willing to have it cost more than that. Yes, this is my greatest motivation for getting to the gym!

Having a gym that doesn't provide childcare (not many in this area do), I would have to find a sitter for William if I wanted to go when Chris was unavailable to be home. Or, I would need to limit my workouts to evenings and weekends, which I knew would be challenging to commit to. 

So, I decided to end the membership. . . at least for now. I'm not planning to give up working out, I enjoy it too much. I needed to give myself a pass to rest and recover without the pressure of returning to a gym (and throwing money away); and when I'm ready to get back into it, I will! I know it would be good for me to intentionally get out of the house every few days and do something for myself. I might be returning to the same gym, but they did increase their prices, or I may have to find a cheaper gym -- one that I wouldn't feel guilty paying for if I only made it once or twice a week. They exist, I know it! I'll let you know what I find!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Baby B: One Month Old

My little man is one month old already! Obviously he has become the focal point of everything we do, according to my blog posts lately, anyway. Its hard to believe I have been operating on so little sleep for this long . . . and I have so many more months of this ahead of me. 

Baby B has a hard time falling asleep anywhere but in my arms. The best way to get him to sleep is to try to feed him. From day one, he has fallen asleep almost instantly after latching on. My battle has been to keep him awake long enough to make sure he stays alive gets the nourishment he needs. Thankfully the scales show my success by proving he has gained weight since leaving the hospital. His current weight: 8 lbs 6 oz.

He has the amazing ability to wake up from a nap as soon as we sit down for dinner. Every. Single. Time. So, one of us ends up eating a cold meal or holding him while attempting to eat with one hand. 

He hates to have his diaper changed . . . no matter what we do. Thankfully we have gotten a little quicker so the screaming doesn't last nearly as long! 

His first real outing (not to diminish doctor appointments or the grocery store) was with us and his grandparents on the Babiak side last weekend. We drove to Sonoma to go wine tasting.  As someone who has abstained from wine for the past nine months or so, this was a very welcomed trip! He did fantastic in the long car trip and throughout the day only had a few fussy moments. I was so grateful.

He has gotten to meet a few of our family members this month: my mom, both of Chris's parents and Chris's cousin and his wife. Several friends and co-workers have stopped by for a visit or to bring us meals, too! We have yet to venture out to larger social gatherings, but hope to soon!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Balance Rewards: Redeemed

Earlier this year, Walgreens started a new rewards incentive program called Balance Rewards. I've been accumulating them ever so slowly but finally reached enough points to equal $20. My problem then became needing to actually spend $20 at Walgreens since I usually just spend a few dollars here and there - especially when using coupons.

Well, the day finally came when I needed to spend $30 - buying infant formula and vitamin D for Baby William. I gladly took this opportunity to redeem my rewards.

Here's what the transaction looked like:
1 can of Gerber Good Life formula - $18.99; used $10 off coupon from Gerber
1 bottle of Enfamil D-Vi-Sol - $11.99
1 prescription refill - $5.99
Total: $27-$20 Balance Rewards = $7 Total Paid