"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

God provides

I don't usually like to post super long blog entries, but this one got away from me! Sorry in advance :)

Not too many people know this story (until now! ha), but when I was pregnant the first time around, I was struggling with the decision as to whether or not I would continue working when Levi was born. I had always wanted to stay home with any children I might have, but there were a couple things stopping me. First, money. I wasn't sure if we could make it on one income back then (that was before I followed blogs about frugal living). Second, I loved my job. I actually interviewed for the position 2 days before I knew I was pregnant, and since I was due in May, I wouldn't even finish an entire school year. That was a little depressing, because I finally enjoyed working (my first RN job was NOT FUN. Night shifts, no sleeping, loss of appetite. Yep, I was loads of fun then, ask Logan).

So yeah. I prayed about it often, since I really didn't know what to do. I felt more a pull towards staying home with Levi, but there were still those questions...Would we make it financially? Would I regret not working?

I would try to explain how I felt, but instead I'll just share what I wrote in my journal when I was 10 weeks pregnant:
Something I've been thinking about more and more these days is if I'm going to go back to work next year once I have the baby. I'd rather stay home and raise my child more than anything else, but I also don't know if I could quit nursing altogether. I feel called to be a nurse, but I also feel called to be a mother. And I'm realizing just how important it is to be a mother, especially one who stays at home. There's just this battle going on inside, and I don't know if I'll ever be completely at peace about what decision I make. I know I still have time to decide, but I don't like thinking about how I could make a decision I'll regret. What I need to do is stop worrying about the whole thing and just bring it to prayer. Jesus and His Mother will help me do the right thing.

The weekend after Christmas when I was almost 22 weeks pregnant, Logan and I went to vigil mass for the Feast of the Holy Family. As I was praying during the mass, the whole working vs. staying at home situation came up. This is what I wrote later:

Let's just say a few new thoughts came to my mind, and I'm pretty sure I can thank the Holy Family for them. First I was basically reminded of the fact that it would be extremely hard to leave my son 5 days a week. Then I realized that if I still worked, I might not get to see Levi crawl for the 1st time or make his 1st steps. There's a lot of things I could miss. Just thinking about that made my eyes tear up. I don't want to regret not being able to raise my son. Of course, I don't want to regret giving up being a nurse either, but I've got to think about which one is more important. Yesterday I really felt like God is calling me to go against the majority and be a stay-at-home mom, and yet, I still can't bring myself to make a definite decision. Maybe I just need to think about how God may have a bigger plan for me as a mom than as a nurse. You never know, other opportunities could come about if I give up my nursing job.

Two days later, we were in the hospital, saying goodbye to Levi. And I couldn't help but think about the irony of the situation - I finally had my answer about staying at home, and now it didn't matter... because there was no baby to stay home with.

But even to this day (sorry about that depressing moment there), when I wonder if we can really make this work financially, I think about that moment in mass when I felt called to stay at home. Actually, the fact that I felt like I still couldn't make a "definite decision" totally makes sense - because at the time, I didn't need to.

But when Landon came, I had to decide. And as most of you know, I stay home with Landon for the most part. This time it was a no-brainer, because I waited 3 years to hold a baby in my arms and I didn't care what it took to stay home with him.

It hasn't been easy, by any means, since our financial situation is still pretty much the same as it was when we first got married, and we knew I couldn't quit working completely. I've been doing all kinds of things to lower our budget, and things are still tight. Seriously, there are days where I look at our income vs. expenses and wonder how the heck we've done it for this long, since I haven't worked full-time in a year (thanks to bed rest), and I've only been working once a week since August. But if there is anything we have seen proven over and over from this past year is that God provides.

There have been many times where I wasn't sure how we would pay for certain bills, but somehow it always works out. It's been pretty incredible. We are still debt-free (other than our mortgage), and we still have a decent savings account, which we haven't had to tap into for several months.

I really have no explanation other than that when we do God's will, as impossible as it may seem, He takes care of us. Truly. Sometimes it's hard to trust that God will provide, since unexpected things happen. It also hasn't been easy when we live in a world that tells you to buy anything and everything. When people I work with find out I only work once a week now, the response is usually, "Oh, that must be nice" - as if we have more than enough money. I can't help but laugh, because if they really knew the sacrifices Logan and I have both made for it to be even remotely possible, well...they would think we are nuts.

But all of the sacrifices, stress, hard work, and extra prayers has totally been worth it! It's been awesome watching Landon grow and develop over these past (almost) 9 months. That has been something money cannot buy! :)

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you'll be criticized anyway." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cloth Diapering: Part 2

If you haven't read it already, here's part 1!

I was pretty darn excited when the cloth diapers came in, as crazy as that may sound. After washing them a few times, we got to using them. Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad!
I thought it was so cute his diaper matched the blanket :)

Fast forward a couple weeks...the cloth diapers started leaking. Every time. I got so fed up with having to change Landon's clothes with each diaper that I seriously considered switching back to disposables. But I just couldn't bear to think about all that money going down the drain!

So I did research. Turns out the way you wash the diapers can make a HUGE difference (ESPECIALLY with hard water. Thank you New Orleans.) We also started using two inserts at a time. Like one friend told me, "I feel like cloth diapering is an art!" So, so true.

In addition to leaks being less frequent, another friend told me about diaper liners, which you need to use when you put cream on your baby's bottom (so as to not ruin the cloth diaper's absorbency). These wonderful liners also make poopy diapers sooo much easier. Logan is much more on board with cloth diapering (and the poopiness) now that we use liners. Who knew?

We put Landon in disposables at night since the cloth diapers would always leak, but again, I did research. I found some awesome inserts (since we have pocket diapers) that I double with our current inserts - and voila! We rarely have leaks overnight now. Best part is we don't have to buy as many disposables! (We really only keep some on hand for babysitters and out-of-town trips. And Logan tends to use disposables when he has to bring Landon out of the house by himself.) Honestly, I think the cloth diapers work better than disposables at night. But that's just a personal opinion :)

It's been a learning process, that's for sure. There are a lot of things I wish I had known before I (impulsively) ordered that first set of cloth diapers, though....

To be continued...(last one, I promise!)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Photo Friday: dog is baby's best friend

The doggies love him (we did not get a second dog, we were watching my parents')

I hope this means he will love books like his mommy (as opposed to his daddy, who does not like to read) :)

Ahh. I love him.

He LOVES food.

They look out the windows all.the.time.

I can just see it now...Landon will sneak his food to Marley one day. Oh boy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oh, Lent.

A week into Lent and it's safe to say I'm ready for Easter. *Sigh*

I know so many people going through some major life events right now - cancer, hospitalizations, job changes, etc. Thankfully, Logan and I do not fall under any of those, so I feel silly even saying this, but...it has been a rough new year for us.

January is the worst month for us financially (and I knew this going in since I've been tracking our income our entire marriage), Landon is officially mobile, and we've been trying to organize and purge our house, room by room. Which basically means a part of our house is always messy. Add to that our goals we made for 2013, the fact that we're working on communicating better, and how we're still trying to finish my LEAST FAVORITE THING EVER, taxes. I hate them. I despise them. Last year I thought I was going to go into labor because of them. (If you itemize and have a small business you totally feel me on this.)

Now that you know entirely too much about our life, I want to say that I was NOT looking forward to this Lenten season. Usually I am, because I am a melancholic, but the 6 weeks before Lent this year were enough for me, and honestly I couldn't help but think how I was already trying to pray more, read Scripture daily, clean the house more, and be a better wife and mother. What else could I possibly do? (Yikes, that makes me sound conceited. Sorry. I still did give up something and am doing something extra during Lent, though.)

Well. We all have those days where we get overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. So, one thing I've been trying to do lately is pray throughout the day more. I did it rather faithfully when I was in college - at least the 2 years I lived in a dorm. Now, however, is a different story. There are days where I'm definitely more aware of the need to unite myself to God through prayer, and I do it (usually half-heartedly, if I'm honest)...but other days, I get so caught up with the dishes, laundry, and bills, and the baby won't nap, and the dog won't leave me alone until we go for a walk, and I just wish I could have an hour of silence. By myself. With perhaps a glass of wine and lots of chocolate.

[I know those of you with 2 or more kids are probably thinking, "Oh, just you wait!" Be nice. You were here once too. :)]

So yeah, I had one of those days yesterday. And after it taking 3 attempts to put Landon down for his first nap (he doesn't like naps in general but he hasn't been feeling well the past 2 days so it's been extra fun), I was so not wanting to do that again for his second nap. So we plopped down in our rocking chair and I sang to him and he instantly fell asleep. We stayed like that for 2 hours. Landon never takes 2-hour naps.

What lesson did I learn? We need to give ourselves a break! I am speaking to myself, of course, but maybe you need to hear it too. :)

Seriously. I know it's Lent and you're supposed to strive for holiness by making sacrifices and it's supposed to be hard. But I realized I have simply been trying to do too much - and it has been affecting our family.

Sometimes sacrifice can be as simple as rocking your baby boy for 2 hours while letting your to-do list stack up. It's hard to sit still when you know there are a million other things you could be doing. As crazy as it may sound, giving yourself a break can be a sacrifice (at least for me!)

I thought my day would be completely unproductive because I sat in a rocking chair for 2 hours, but you know what? The rest of our day went by much smoother after that. God knows what we need better than we do, and He obviously knew Landon needed a decent nap and that Mommy time. Landon was well-rested afterwards, and that break actually allowed me to recharge for the rest of the day. I prayed, read, and even slept for a little bit while holding Landon. It was lovely. It was also pretty darn nice having that cuddle time! Ironically enough, afterwards I finished everything I wanted to yesterday. That has not been happening lately!

A lot of times when we sacrifice something (even a silly to-do list), we get much more in return. And yesterday that was definitely true. Thank You, Jesus.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cloth Diapering: Part 1

If you had told me 4 years ago that I would now be an advocate of cloth diapering, I would have thought you were crazy. No lie. So if you've been thinking about cloth diapering, this post is for you!

I lived with my brother and his wife for an entire year before I married Logan. Not long after I moved in, their first son Max was born - and he wore cloth diapers. So, I was fully aware of how cloth diapering worked. I knew it saved money, I knew it was better for the environment, and I knew it was more work than using disposables. I also knew Max looked super cute in some FuzziBunz! ;) (It kind of blows my mind to think how he is now FOUR years old. My little buddy!)
Oh, I am so glad I found this picture! Max at 6 1/2 months, I think? :)

I was engaged most of the time I lived with Michael, Lindsey, and Max. And at that point, Logan and I knew we wanted to try to have kids right away (Max and his cuteness probably helped with that). So I was thinking about what I wanted to do whenever we did have kids - and as much as I wanted to want to cloth diaper (does that makes sense?), I did NOT. It didn't seem worth it to me. Extra use of water and electricity to wash diapers, plus the extra hassle? No way!

When I was finally pregnant with Landon, I knew we needed to save money, so I thought about registering for a couple of cloth diapers just to see how I would like them. I mean, they were so cute! They had to be simple enough, right? But I talked myself out of it - I figured if I was going to cloth diaper, might as well go all in. That was silly of me, I know, but it's the truth, and I just wasn't willing to commit.

I'm not sure at what point I started to seriously consider cloth diapering - maybe it started when we had to buy formula for Landon and I realized how much money we would be spending on both formula and diapers. I do know that saving money was the main reason I became interested. However, it still didn't thrill me to think about doing extra laundry or dealing with poopy diapers.

One day I saw one of Target's daily deals were cloth diapers. And the thing with a "daily deal" is that you have to decide THAT DAY if you want to make a purchase. After thinking hard and talking to Logan, I ordered some diapers...

To be continued...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Photo Friday: someone please stop time

The Landon pose

Such a happy boy after sleeping ALL NIGHT (11 hours!) in his crib for the first time!

More Mardi Gras fun (do I even need to say that it was Logan that decorated the wagon??)

Yep, starting to get into EVERYTHING

I'm not sure how Marley feels about it

He kept trying to play in Marley's water bowl, so I (stupidly) put the stool in the way to see if it would stop him. Ha!

They follow me everywhere...even into the bathroom.

He found a friend! Haha.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A frugal Valentine...my favorite!

I feel like I should have posted some sort of Lenten reflection or something but somehow yesterday flew by. So maybe I'll do something of the sorts next week...

Today, however, I wanted to share how Valentine's Day doesn't have to cost much money. This is what I woke up to:

Each animal had a little pun/poem in front of it, and as I went around the table, it told the story of our relationship. Logan is definitely the creative one in our marriage. :)

And this super cute valentine only cost Logan $3 (the chocolate)! Most of the stuffed animals were from Mardi Gras parades, one we already had, the reindeer is a Christmas decoration, and he's been using the fake rose petals for years (such a romantic).

I thought I was actually a little creative with my valentine this year (only spend $1!), yet Logan always manages to blow mine away. Gotta love him!

St. Valentine, pray for us!

P.S. Ya'll remember what happened a year ago today??

Friday, February 8, 2013

Photo Friday: we've got a climber

Go Ravens!

He's starting to pull up on everything now!

Best buds.

He is fascinated with the dryer when it's on.

Cousin fun!

Ah. The hallway step (AKA mountain)

Almost there....

Victory! And now it's time to put a baby gate on the stairs :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Growing boy: 8 months

Thank goodness for reminders on my phone because otherwise I would have completely forgotten to take his picture today!

These photo shoots are getting more difficult each month :) Someone doesn't like sitting still! This month he started pulling up and has been getting into more things. It's been fun! (No sarcasm there, either!) :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Goals update: January is over already?!

I don't know about you, but I've heard a lot lately about how most people have given up on their resolutions by now, and that is so annoying! We haven't been perfect with our goals by any means, but we are in no way ready to give up on them. :) Here's a review of how we did this month!

  • Monthly confession. {Done.}
  • Compliment each other daily. {I SUCK AT THIS. Seriously. I do. Logan has done pretty well, on the other hand.}
  • Monthly date night. {We went to a wedding earlier in the month and also went to an early dinner on Wednesday since Logan had an unexpected day off.}
  • Read to Landon daily. {I did forget a few days. There were also some days I tried and Landon just wasn't interested. Sigh. I wish I could just read as part of his bedtime routine, but when he is ready for bed, he is READY.}
  • Teach/use sign language with Landon. {Still trucking along with this. Sometimes it's hard to do since a lot of signs require 2 hands and that doesn't exactly work when we're holding him! But it is fun seeing Landon react to certain signs we use often.}
  • Make a toy box. {Haha. This one make me laugh. I think Logan forgot about it!}
  • Read Scripture daily. {I've been doing this but felt it wasn't as fruitful as I had been hoping - probably because I'm trying to read while feeding Landon with one hand and myself with the other. So I started doing this during Landon's first nap (which is so hard when there is housework to be done!) MUCH better. :)}
  • Journal twice a week. {I did get better with this but still not doing it as often as I like.}
  • Walk 4 times a week. {Totally kept up with this! Logan comes with us more often now since we're getting ready for a couple of 5Ks.}
  • Exercise twice a week. {I finally got on the ball with this! I started off with doing Zumba (I have the game for Nintendo Wii) and then I started to run again. Yes, run. Many of our walks include a period of running or I go by myself when Logan is home. So I think I've actually been exercising more than twice a week. Also, I was asked to play co-ed soccer again this spring, and Logan is actually letting me (he told me no in the fall)! SO EXCITED.}
  • Learn to knit crochet scarves (sashay yarn). {I found out you can crochet these scarves- it's just the specific yarn that makes them so pretty. So I started a scarf and undid it and restarted a million times because it wasn't turning out the way I liked. I think I may have the right method finally, so we will see. Otherwise, I'll just learn how to knit them after all.}
  • Make a monthly meal plan master grocery list. {I'm excited about this one because it really is simplifying our cooking and grocery shopping. It'll probably take another month or two to finalize it, but so far I have the cost breakdown of a few meals and have kept track of certain things we buy regularly. One of the books I'm reading is about saving money and the author talks about a "master grocery list" and turns out that's what I've been working on! Just to give an example, for dinner I decided to cook certain meals regularly. So far I've already cooked red beans, gumbo, and spaghetti, and was able to freeze portions of it for later. Red beans was by far the cheapest, but the others were still under $10 - and that was for multiple dinners. What's even better is that I can just pull one of those babies out of the freezer and not worry about cooking. Yay.}
  • Read 2 books per month. {Done! I read 2 short ebooks and another actual book, plus I'm in the middle of 3 other books. I have a really bad habit of reading several books at a time.}

Friday, February 1, 2013

Our little explorer

I know I posted pictures today already, but....I just uploaded our camera pictures from the month of January and had to share some of them - it's obvious that Landon is starting to get into more things! So fun. :) I'm enjoying this time when he's just crawling because I know once he starts walking, things get crazy...

 Yeah, we took the bassinet out of his pack'n'play after this. Ha!
 All day. Every day.

 WATER EVERYWHERE. I told you he loves bath time ;)
He was really frustrated that he couldn't climb this step!

Ok, and I have to share these next ones because they're SO CUTE! I may be biased.

 Eating some peas while waiting on the parade

 Seriously. This boy.

My new favorite picture of my guys :)

I love my family. January was a rough month, but we made it! God is good great.


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