Pregnancy Makes Me Crazy

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I am a pretty fair-tempered person. I swear. For most of my post-pubescent years I have been the sane one, the laid back one, the easy to get along one. Even with my first pregnancy, I rarely had mood swings, I was always smiling and quick to laugh, and I worked right up until the end of my pregnancy without complaint. Fast forward to now… Not so much.

I’ve literally become a crazy person. While I’m secretly hoping this is due to an ungodly amount of testosterone flowing through my veins (PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE… LET THIS ONE BE A BOY!!!! lol) I’m not exactly sure if that’s the reason or not. But lately, I am so quick to lose my temper, I am so quick to lose my patience with customers at work (discreetly in the wait station where the flow of insults and curse words that come out of my mouth would make a sailor blush), and I am so quick to get upset with my husband over the stupidest things. That’s the worst part. I know these things that I’m flipping out over are stupid. I know I’m acting completely irrationally. But there is nothing I can do about it!!! It’s like Invasion of the Body Snatchers over here.

Case in point, a couple of weeks ago we had an especially exhausting week over here. Him with work, me with work and Peanut, Peanut with school, and so on. On Sunday night, my only day off from both jobs, I went to pick up my little one from my moms, came home, and we all passed out on the couch for a while. After dinner, I passed out again. I was completely useless that night. On Tuesday night, he did the same thing. I wasn’t mad. It had just happened to me. We’re good. But, when it happened again on Wednesday, I was livid. Thursday, as I was trying to clean the house and he decided to rearrange the living room, I lost it on him for no good reason. None. I was sobbing and irrational, I cried off and on for hours after, and nothing good came from the situation. I think we’ve argued more since I’ve been pregnant than we have our entire relationship. And it’s almost always because of something that I’m blowing completely out of proportion.

Now, I’m not trying to be sexist here. I’m all about feminism and women’s rights. But, if anything, I would have thought this would have happened with my first pregnancy with double the estrogen. I mean, scientifically, estrogen is linked to us being more emotional and more in touch with our feelings, isn’t it? Now double that. I would have thought that carrying a girl would make me far more susceptible to these emotional outbursts. And it’s not like I gave birth to a tomboy. She’s 100% girly girl diva. So what is going on with me???? Again, “we” want to be surprised, so I’m not sure what baby #2 is, but either way, he/she is making me lose my marbles a little bit.

I’m also cranky at work, which is not a good thing when you work in the customer service industry. An already thankless, under-appreciated job is now amplified by my pregnancy hormones and my lack of ability to control them. Things I used to be able to brush off I now spaz out about. The same customer that’s been coming in for 2 1/2 years and never tips… I hate that guy now. Before I could tolerate him. Now, I totally avoid him because screw that guy. The same customers that come in on the same days and ask for the same things over and over again… I used to find some solace in their continuity and routine. Now I’m annoyed by them. It’s out of control.

I’m definitely earning this little “vacation” from work. Hopefully by the time I go back I will be so happy to be out of the house and talking to adults again that I will have refreshed myself for both the industry and my wallet’s sakes. At the very least, I hope it gives me the opportunity to enjoy my job and appreciate my husband again. Those are kind of essential for a happy life.

Well, after a refreshing lunch with my sister-in-law and nephew, I feel a little recharged. I’m going to relax, order a pizza for tonight, and head into work optimistic for a change. We’ll see how that goes.

Until next time, have a good day!

-C

Blessed

Being the mother of a strong-willed 6-year old with whom I have entirely too much personality in common means that there are many times when I fail to appreciate the person that she’s becoming and focus more on how I want her to behave. We fight about the same things on an almost daily basis. While I love being a mother, and feel blessed to be her mom in particular, sometimes it’s hard to keep that in perspective on a daily basis.

My peanut has been off of school for the past two days and I’ve been home with her. Yesterday was a snow day; today we had doctor’s appointments at the local children’s hospital. It was also a chance for quality one on one time with her and a chance to appreciate her again. While yesterday was filled with playing in the snow and making an igloo, today I got to appreciate what a brave little girl she has become.

Peanut was born with one leg longer than the other. While we don’t exactly hide this fact, it’s also not something we talk about often either. I took her to a pediatric orthopedic in New Jersey from birth until the time she was about 2 1/2 years old… Every six months like clockwork to keep an eye on the discrepancy and make sure it didn’t get any worse. There was also a concern that she would develop tumors in her belly, which is another symptom of a potential disorder. When that doctor started talking about leg-lengthening surgery, I stopped going to him. The surgery would basically consist of breaking her left femur, separating it slightly, then pinning it in place and forcing the leg to mend itself and the space. It’s extremely painful and was something I deemed unnecessary. Please keep in mind that she was walking at 11 months, has been taking gymnastics since she was 2 1/2, plays soccer and t-ball, and runs just like any other kid. This “disorder” has not hindered her in any way, and this is her normal. To put my child through that much pain… I just couldn’t do that. Ever.

Last March, however, she started complaining about her belly hurting. This brought back concerns over tumors and the like. MedExpress diagnosed her with an ulcer and gave her medication for it. It seemed to help. In December, the pain came back. I immediately scheduled an appointment with her pediatrician, who was concerned about the previous diagnosis considering they went off a blood test rather than doing a scope. I also brought up my concerns about this being related to her leg discrepancy. This led to today’s appointments at Children’s.

As we left the house this morning and took the drive up there, we talked about what might happen at her appointments and her concerns. She was worried she would have to get another finger prick or a shot. All she wanted was stickers and a lollipop. I told her what I knew they were checking for, but I was honest about not knowing what the day had in store for us. First up, the orthopedic doctor. She had to change into a gown, which was shorter than she was comfortable with so she wrapped a towel around her waist, and went in for her x-rays. She did wonderful. The doctor was amazing – very personable and easy to understand. Spoke professionally, but did not use all medical jargon that a layperson wouldn’t understand. He was also great with her. We talked about the discrepancy, how it had stayed roughly the same over the last 4 years, and what his concerns and plans were. There was a brief discussion of surgery around age 11, but there is still plenty of time for monitoring her condition before that becomes a major discussion.

Next came the gastro doctor. We talked at great length about Peanut’s eating habits, drinking habits, defecating habits, etc. She spoke to my daughter directly and only asked me questions when she needed more clarification or my child didn’t know the answer to a question. We talked about her “ulcer” and how we’ve remedied the situation since last March. My daughter sat there so well behaved and answered so clearly and distinctly. I was very proud of her. Then came time for testing, and she had to give blood and a stool sample. She cried during the blood draw, but I can’t blame her. It’s scary for a 6-year old.

As we were sitting there, it occurred to me how brave my little one really is and what a wonderful person she’s becoming. Here she was, out the door at 7:30am, seeing doctors and running all over the hospital until after noon, and almost the entire time she was calm, barely complained, and did exactly what was asked of her even when she was scared beyond belief. I felt like it was an honor for me to be the one to hold her hand while she went through all of this.

We went to lunch after and talked about how she felt, what the doctors had said so far, what we were waiting to find out, and what we would do with the rest of our day. She took off her bandage from the blood draw by herself even though it hurt to do it. Then she finished her milkshake, and we headed home. As she napped in the car on the way home, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I am that I get to be her mom and how often I forget that lately. This person changed my life 100% for the better. She welcomed my husband into our little circle with open arms and creates beautiful little cards for him that say, “To Dad.” She constantly comes home with art projects made just for me, kisses me and tells me she loves me for no reason, and gives me hugs at the exact moment I need them. While I get lost in the day to day stresses of telling her again and again to shut off her bedroom light, clean up after herself, and complete her homework, she’s floating along in her own world, singing at the top of her lungs, totally unphased by me. She is such a wonderful little person and as I tucked her in tonight after reading a chapter in her book, I made sure to tell her as much.

Right at this moment, with a daughter I appreciate more than words can express, a wonderful husband who loves and supports us, and another child growing inside of me, I am overcome with a feeling of joy. I am so lucky that my life turned out this way.

Until tomorrow when we fight about combing her hair or brushing her teeth, anyway. LOL

Have a great night.

-C

Snow Day

I spent a good 2 hours yesterday trying to free myself the rest of the way from the snow. Luckily, I have wonderful neighbors that came over to help. Even their adorable little 3-year old had his shovel. Finally, I was free and able to go pick up Peanut from my mom’s. School was canceled for today, so we’re trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. Stay inside, watch Netflix, and drink hot chocolate is not good enough for a 6-year old. However, the Dyson Hot and Cold fan that I ordered (upon recommendation from multiple friends who have kids of their own and did extensive research) and the door draft guards that I ordered to warm up our home also arrived today, so they are all set up and will hopefully get her into the “Play in your playroom” spirit. Hey, wishful thinking.

So far, the plans for today include writing, folding the laundry that I’ve been avoiding for days, getting layered up and going outside to create an igloo and possibly shovel a path to the mailbox, then coming back inside to play board games, drink hot chocolate, and take a nap. Peanut has already picked out what she wants to help make for dinner tonight, so we will be working on that later, as well as running to the store to pick up some items for the freeze ahead meals I talked about the other day. Seems full enough to me.

My little girl is so excited to go out in the snow. I understand her excitement, but I honestly hate the snow more than you can imagine. I was built for an island somewhere… Some place warm and tropical, where the only things that are frozen are the drinks. I’m that girl that hates having the fan blow directly on her, or the A/C on full blast. Once I’m cold, it takes me a lifetime to get warm again. Remind me why I moved to western PA again? Lol.

Sorry for such a short post today, but we’re looking forward to getting started. I will write more later to update on how everything went and hopefully include pictures of our igloo. Wish me luck!

-C

Two Steps Forward…Sort of

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I spent the day researching how to create a successful blog, what to do to generate more traffic to my site, and work from home job opportunities. It was as daunting as it was encouraging. If I follow the right steps and write topics people actually want to read, my income potential is unlimited. That alone is inspiring. However, there are a lot of other people out there trying to do the exact same thing right now who are not succeeding. While having a 6-year old and welcoming a newborn in the next few months will give me plenty to write about, what happens when Mommy Brain kicks in and I just can’t find the time to write consistently anymore? Worse yet, what if I lose my motivation?

The thing that set off this search today, besides being stuck inside and unable to even shovel my own car out, is my extreme dislike of the new job. It’s awful. The people are so nice and they’re all so happy it makes you want to puke, which should be uplifting. It’s not. They’re also college kids. I’m at least 10-12 years older than everyone I work with. One of the shift supervisors is 2 years younger than me. She’s got 10 years on the assistant manager and everyone calls her Mom. I’d hate to find out what they’ll call me if they ever learn my age.

On top of that, this is the slow season because the holidays are over and the snow is here. Every shift that I am scheduled for I’m sent home early. Whereas I was already in a position where an ideal work week of 24 hours a week would only net me $600 per month, I’m actually receiving about 8-12 hours per week. It’s just not worth it. I could go work at a convenience store for more money per hour. Or, I can try out one of these work from home opportunities and be able to work in my pajamas. That one sounds ideal.

I had been hoping their manager training program would be worth it after I came back from maternity leave. But the $9/hour shift supervisor pay, after taxes, comes down to approximately $6.84. For an 8 hour shift, this comes to $54.72. Now subtract the roughly $30-40/day that daycares charge. I would be paying someone else to watch my baby in order to make $15-25/day. Now I know why so many families choose unemployment and welfare. Not that I have any intention of taking that route. I just understand why it wouldn’t be worth it to go back to work at all.

All in all, our lives are changing so dramatically over the next few months that I honestly have no idea what 2016 has in store for us. There are so many variables with a new baby that I can’t make a definite plan right now. The best I can do is save my money, work as hard as possible, and try every avenue I can until I find something that works for us. I intend to stay at the second job at least until I find something else. Some extra income is better than no extra income. But the second I find something else I’m out of there. As nice as the people there are, my college days are long since over.

Until then, I’m just going to keep writing and hope you keep reading.

Have a great night!

-C

Snowed In

With all of the snow we’re receiving here in SWPA, I figured today’s topic of make ahead freezer meals would be perfect. Please keep in mind that this is just the research phase of these meals. I haven’t actually made any of them yet. This, however, is the perfect solution to “I don’t know what to make for dinner” or “I’m too lazy to cook, let’s get takeout.” These meals would give me the option of spending a day or two prepping various meals and ensuring my family is eating healthy. They will also save me a ton of time and aggravation once the baby arrives and I have zero interest in doing anything productive.

I found many sites with a lot of good suggestions, but I’m only going to post the meal ideas that my family will actually eat and those that can also be stored in freezer bags. While I’d like to eventually get to the point where we have a freezer full of BPA-free glass containers with beautiful matching lids and so much organization you just want to scream, realistically I am far too cheap to spend that much money on containers at the moment. Besides, I know a lot of expecting moms and I usually like to prepare them a homemade meal like a tray of baked ziti or something along those lines. Those work better in aluminum foil pans because then I don’t worry about getting my container back. Also, as I’ve posted before, this is a time for saving.

The first item that really caught my eye was on marthastewart.com and was for, simply enough, Breaded Chicken Cutlets. While I always try to have chicken on hand in our freezer, I never thought to prepare them this way and have them ready to go. Instead, I freeze them individually, defrost them the day of, and then prepare according to recipe. This would save me so much time and they can be used in virtually anything. Now, when Peanut wants Chicken Parmesan, I can have it ready in a snap. I will definitely be preparing these tomorrow while I’m snowed in and have nothing better to do.

Over at Happy Money Saver, she has a post for making 50 freezer meals in one day. While this seems a little ambitious, I am willing to eventually take that challenge – just maybe not tomorrow. Her lasagna recipe seems simple enough, however, I would go the traditional Italian route and use ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese. She also has a fried rice recipe that I’d like to try. I have a recipe I got off of Pinterest that my family loves, but, again, I never thought of making it in bulk and keeping some on hand in the freezer. There are a few other recipes that stand out, but I’m going to let you check out her site yourself and see what your family would enjoy.

Finally, I went over to Thriving Home and found an article on over 70 healthy freezer meals for your family. While I love the glass pans she endorses, I don’t think they’ll be making their debut in my kitchen just yet. Save, save, save, remember? This woman is super organized. She is part of a Freezer Meal Club (I wasn’t aware those even existed… Friends? Anyone interested?). She has quizzes on food safety and freezer meal labels, and all of her recipes are divided up by category. She is the level of organized I aspire to be one day. I especially liked her breakfast ideas because it means Peanut would still be eating healthy in the morning before school, but also that I wouldn’t have to wake up super early to prepare said healthy breakfast. That’s a win/win situation if you ask me. Her other recipes were very interesting also and I’ll have to look through them further when I have more time. Maybe we’ll try a few out and I’ll write a follow up post to let you know what my family thought of them.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for tonight. I’d love it if my family could go multiple months without dining out. It’s not like we eat out all that often now, but I don’t even enjoy restaurant food anymore. I’ve become one of those homemade snobs without the flair or dedication to cook a homemade meal every night. It’s a very confusing existence. 😉

Have a great night and keep warm. I will write again tomorrow.

-C

Winterproofing

Before we moved into T’s house, we did some remodeling. The big ticket items on our list were painting and decorating Peanut’s bedroom, finishing the room downstairs so that she had a playroom, and creating a garden space for me outside. The bedroom was easy because all it needed was a little primer and some paint. I took care of that over the course of a couple days. The garden area seemed to take forever and T didn’t understand why it was such a priority for me. Finally, I broke down in tears one day and explained that he had his garage and computer desk, Peanut had her bedroom and playroom. There was not one, single place in the house that I could call mine. No where for me to escape to when I needed to. That’s why I wanted the garden. That would be my space. The next day he sent me a picture of a garden box he had built for me. He’s pretty great like that.

The laundry room downstairs had a big, open space connected to it. Our plan was to make that space into Peanut’s play area so that her toys were (mostly) kept in a central area. T worked very hard to frame out the space, build a false wall to protect her from the furnace and water heater, put up drywall, and painted the entire space by himself. I was definitely proud of how hard he worked to make us feel at home and to complete the space by the time we moved in. I still am. We completed everything in less than 3 months and moved in July 1st. I was so excited to take this step with him.

Over the past couple years, we’ve made a few other changes to the house, but the playroom is still the most drastic change of all. The only problem is that while the playroom portion is insulated, framed out and drywalled, the rest of the room is still only cinder blocks. This makes it uncomfortably cold down there in the winter. Peanut wants to play down there, but has to bundle up to do so. She wants company while she’s down there, but I can’t take how cold it gets and I’m forced back upstairs after no time at all to warm up again.

I’ve been looking online for a kid-friendly space heater to warm up the room without having to worry about her knocking it over or getting burned on it. Hell, if the room was warm enough I’d have no problem being down there with her while we play. I also bought those draft guards for under the doors downstairs, so I’m hoping once they come in they’ll help the matter. I’m really at a loss for what else to do, though. This is the first floor of our home, even though it’s not really livable space. It’s not like it’s a basement where the cinder block is surrounded by cold earth. Any of the articles I’ve read have been more about drafty basements and how it’s not economical to heat them. This is slightly different, but I’m not exactly sure how off.

Anyway, any suggestions from you readers out there would be welcome. I’d like to make the space something that can be used year-round – especially so I can have my living room back. Also, I’d like all those tiny 6-7 year old toys to stay on a different level of the house than our mobile 7-10 month old (which he/she will be by next winter). If we can test out different warming methods this winter and find a solution next winter will be much easier on everyone involved.

Write a comment below or write suggestions on our Facebook page. Any ideas short of building a bonfire in the middle of the room are appreciated! 🙂

Until next time!

-C

Our Furry Kids

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About 13 months ago, a little terrier mix found his way into our home. T’s dog was out front. When he went to let her in, this little guy came running into the house, straight to the top of our stairs, and wagged his tail like he was home. He wore a black collar with no tags, but was well fed and had just had his nails groomed. It was the middle of December, so we could not, in good conscience, let him back out on the streets. We put posts on Facebook, took him to the vet to see if he was microchipped, and posted Found Dog signs in the neighborhood. No one responded.

Since he was not fixed and neither was our female dog, we had to lock him in the garage for the night to keep them separated. He whined and scratched at the door the entire night. The. Entire. Night. In the morning, I got Peanut up and off to school, let the dogs outside and back in, and went back to bed because I had slept so poorly the night before. When T and I finally woke up for good, we sat in the kitchen drinking our coffee and T looked at me and said, “I say we name him Westley.” To which I responded, “Goodnight, Westley. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” (We’re both ridiculously huge Princess Bride fans.) A few days later I woke up to our new dog with his shiny new Westley name tag. We were adopting him.

The first few months were difficult – especially until we got him fixed. Westley is a runner. If the front door is open for more than 5 seconds, he’s gone. Strangely enough, though, he comes home after about an hour or so and scratches at the front door. He doesn’t run away as often now, but it still happens every once in a while. The best story happened late that first December. Westley got out while I was driving halfway across the state to get Peanut back from her dad. It was the night we were going to celebrate our Christmas. We came home to every door downstairs being closed (which makes the front entrance feel very claustrophobic), T and his dog waiting at the door, and loud barking coming from the garage. T looked at me and held his bloody hands out to me for help cleaning himself up. It seems that his first reaction when Westley fled was to run after him. In his socks. Over the wet grass. As soon as he hit pavement, however, his now wet socks failed him and he ate it. Hard. He tore up the palms of his hands, his right elbow, and his knees. And he still chased after the dog and got him home. The dog, however, was banished to the garage for the night. That was also the night that he proposed to me and Peanut (yes, he bought her a ring too). As he knelt down on one knee and asked me to marry him, he finished by saying, “This would hurt a whole lot less if I didn’t just eat pavement 45 minutes ago.” I smiled through my tears and kissed him. I love that man and the little moments like that.

Westley has been a part of our family since. He jumps into bed with us at night and paws at the top of the sheets until we let him under, then curls up into a ball and spoons us. He greets me every day as I walk through the door, even if all I did was walk the driveway and get the mail. He even knows that the 2:50pm alarm on my phone means it’s time to walk to the bus stop to pick up Peanut. He gets so excited for it. And, he helped us through one of the toughest times in our lives and our relationship.

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When I met T, I was in competition with the other love of his life – his dog, Blue. She was a beautiful Blue Healer/Husky mix with one brown eye and one blue eye and she had the sweetest disposition. The first time I met her, I immediately scratched that spot on her back right above her tail and we were fast friends. She would cuddle with me on the couch and would jump into our bed to cuddle in the mornings after T had left for work. Even though she will always be his dog, I like to think we shared a little piece of each others’ hearts. While T had her for almost 9 years, I only got to share 2 of those. On August 21st, we woke up, but Blue didn’t. She passed away in her sleep that night, watching over my peanut. It’s the first time I ever saw T cry. Thinking of the hole she left in our family still makes me tear up. I still can’t listen to that song, ‘See You Again’ from the newest Fast and the Furious movie without sobbing.

The morning that we found Blue, Westley laid on Sophie’s bed and cried. It was both endearing and heartbreaking. He walked around the house lost and aimless the next few days. We all did. But having him there to cuddle with, going through the daily routine with him, seeing how excited he was when any of us came home… That’s what got us through that time. I am forever in his debt because of that. T latched onto him after that day. He would come home, go in our room, and just cuddle with Westley on Blue’s old dog bed for an hour or more each day. The two of them now have an inseparable bond. T still has his off days where he misses his best friend, but having Westley here definitely made the transition a little easier.

What animals have made an impact on your life? How have they helped you?

 

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5 Minutes of Peace

Job #2 let me leave a little over an hour early today because we were slow. I could have picked up Peanut from her after school program early, but I know she was looking forward to going. T won’t be home from work for another half hour or so. I decided to take this opportunity to run to Target and pick up a few things that Peanut needs for school (along with a few things that we didn’t need), stopped at Dollar General to pick up snacks for the gift basket the girls from work are putting together for our friend who is leaving, and come home to write today’s blog entry.

It’s not often that I’m wide awake, feeling productive, and have a quiet house. Usually I prefer to take that opportunity to nap. However, since Peanut pointed out last night that I was on the computer a lot yesterday (I had quite a few posts to catch up on) and one of my resolutions was to spend less time on there, I thought I’d get this done before she gets home so that I can focus my attention on her.

As moms we’re always running somewhere or busy doing something. There’s always something around the house that needs to be done, an errand to run, and the endless task of laundry for which there’s no cure. We put our families’ needs before our own and we constantly give of ourselves for their sake. It’s in the programming. But every once in a while it’s nice to just sit back and do something for ourselves. Maybe you get your nails done or go to the spa, maybe you like to take yourself out to lunch and read a book in peace, maybe you hide in the bathroom with your phone and play a game (I’m not judging). Whatever it is you do, I hope you do something for yourself when you start to get run down. I hope you realize that you are no good to your family if you are worn out. It’s okay to be a little selfish now and then and say that you need some “Mommy time.”

My mom and stepdad are so amazing that they watch my daughter on the weekends so that T and I can both work. She sleeps over there on the Friday and Saturday nights that she doesn’t spend with her dad. I drive up there to see her on those days so that I still get to spend some time with her, but honestly, she could care less if I’m there or not. They are both so attentive and amazing with her that she prefers to be there than almost anywhere else in the world. They truly look forward to her being there, however, my stepdad still goes on his hunting weekends when it’s in season. He takes off to his friend’s cabin and Mom and Peanut have a girls’ weekend. Next weekend, my mom already let her know that she is going out with the girls on Saturday night. My daughter was so offended that she couldn’t be a part of this girls’ night. I had to explain to her that even Grandma needs a girls’ night with just adults once in a while. Please keep in mind, my mom is one of those women who give and give and give endlessly. I’m glad she’s finally taking some time out for herself.

Now that I’m pregnant, I don’t really have any desire to go out with the girls. Not that I was much of a  drinker before, but the whole atmosphere doesn’t really hold any glamour for me. I’d rather be home cuddled up on the couch with my family and my pets. I’d rather have our family game night. If by some miracle, T and I have a weekend night off together, I’d be perfectly content ordering takeout and binge watching Netflix for the night. But I still need some kind of respite. Sometimes I’ll take myself out to lunch with a book I’ve been meaning to read. Other times, I’ve taken myself to the movies to see something I know no one else in the house has any intention of seeing. I don’t do these things often, but it’s a welcome change when I do take that time for myself.

What do you do to relax and get your head back in the game? How do you treat yourself?

I’ll write again later!

-C

Pregnancy: Round 2

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Pregnancy is a beautiful thing and I feel lucky to be blessed enough to go through it a second time. They say that each pregnancy is different and now I finally believe them. While there have been some similarities (little weight gain and no morning sickness… Please don’t hate me) there have also been many differences this time around. Some may have to do with the baby, some the difference in age since last time, some the fact that I’m not doing it alone this time around. Let’s start there.

When I became pregnant with my now 6-year old, it was a shock. I had just ended a very toxic relationship with the immortal words, “F*%k you, lose my number” when I realized three weeks later that I was pregnant with his baby. I was devastated. Not about becoming a mother. About being connected to this person for the rest of my life. I called to tell him about the baby. He tried to manipulate me into having an abortion. To be honest, I had already considered it. I was 14 weeks along. I had been going to the gym nonstop to get rid of my “gut,” going tanning, and going out drinking. I didn’t know what kind of damage I had unknowingly done before that positive test. But I would not concede. He told me he’d become an alcoholic if I kept the baby. I told him that wasn’t my fault. We ended the conversation with me telling him to tell himself whatever he needed to in order to sleep at night but I was keeping the baby. I didn’t hear from him again.

My very Catholic grandmother was beside herself. “How will you raise a baby by yourself?” I simply told her that I was not the first woman to raise a baby on her own and I wouldn’t be the last. We left it at that and she has supported me every step of the way since. The rest of my family was also very supportive. I decided to work the summer in the beachy, tourist area where I had grown up so that I could save as much money as possible, then move to western PA to be closer to my mom and go back to school. I worked 40 hours per week, road my bike to and from work, and came in every day with a smile on my face. One of my coworkers found out what the baby’s father had done and tried to confront him one drunken night. I politely asked her not to fight my battles for me; that I didn’t want anyone guilting him into being a part of the baby’s life. Nothing else was said to him by or for me for the rest of the pregnancy.

It was a very easy pregnancy, with no morning sickness, a one-time craving (salt water taffy), and very little weight gain. I basically looked like I ate a beach ball (see picture above). And for the most part I didn’t hate him for not being there. Like I said, we were toxic together. It was for the best. Then a day came when the doctor’s office called to tell me I had to go for a more in depth ultrasound because they thought there was a cyst on the baby’s brain. I googled what that meant – awful words like Trisomy 18 and stillborn were the results – and I sat in my apartment alone and cried. That night I hated him. But only because there was no one to comfort me, no one to tell me it would be okay, and no one who knew the exact heartache I felt at that very moment. I went to the ultrasound a couple months later and everything was fine, though. No need for him to be there in the first place.

My daughter was born on her due date. I had my mom, my dad, and my aunt (who is like a big sister to me) in the room with me. The delivery was relatively easy, even though there are some things I will never forget about that day (you other women are liars… LOL) and my peanut was here. Even the first few months at home with her were easy. She was the best baby ever.

That year, I sent out Christmas cards. I had told everyone that if I didn’t hear from her father by her 1st birthday, I never wanted to hear from him. Then I decided it wasn’t fair to give someone a cut off date and not tell them when it was. So I sent him a Christmas card and a letter. I explained every detail about her and I offered him the chance to know her. He had until her 1st birthday to contact me or he had to sign over his rights to her. Either decision was a lifetime decision. He chose to know her. He met her for the first time when she was four months old. A couple months later we got back together to give it a try. If she could have her nuclear family I had to at least try. We ended things for good a year later for almost all the same reasons we didn’t work the first time.

24 wks x2

Now, almost 7 years later, I find myself pregnant again. This time is completely different, though. For one, I am with a man who loves me as much as I love him – a man who loves my child as if she were his own. Also, we were trying to conceive this baby to complete our family. It happened sooner than we expected it to, but we were ecstatic about it. The day I got the positive result I couldn’t wait to tell him and emailed him at work to call me as soon as possible. He called and I blurted it out. Nothing like the way I planned to tell him, but I was just so excited that I couldn’t contain myself. That night he came home with my favorite pie to celebrate.

While I still haven’t had any morning sickness and at 24 weeks I’m only up 11 pounds, I’m tired all the time. I don’t know if that’s because of my age, because I’m trying to keep up with a 6-year old, or because I work the night shift and that has me all thrown off. Either way, I know I do not have the energy I had at 28. Part of the incentive to get this other job was just to force myself to be awake and get back on a regular schedule. It hasn’t happened so far. Now I fall asleep as soon as I come home from the other job and I’m too tired to make dinner.

This time, I have someone else who has to agree on a baby name. To make matters worse, we’re not finding out what we’re having, so we have to agree on two names. For months T wouldn’t even discuss names, now he just detests every name I throw out there. But, at the same time, I have the emotional support of someone who loves me, who changes his work schedule to be at every single doctor’s appointment, who holds my hand without fail as I hear his breath catch in his throat each time we hear our baby’s heartbeat. This time, I will not face any issues alone. This time, it is not me and my baby against the world. This time we are completing the family we have already become. And while I would not trade my peanut or our journey for anything in this world, I will take this time anytime.

-C

How To Get Ahead

So, I’ve talked a lot about how I do my monthly budget and what I do to make sure Christmas doesn’t make me go broke. This post is going to be about getting ahead of the game and I’m going to give as many specific examples as I can. With the arrival of baby #2 quickly approaching, I’m in panic mode to get as much income as I can set aside so that my finances and the credit that I’ve been working so hard to get back don’t plummet. The goal is to save $4500 over the next 4 months. These are my strategies:

First off, where whatever extra I had at the end of each month used to be fun money, that money is now being set aside in a separate envelope entitled “Extra” (very original, I know). This month, I had a phenomenal weekend over New Years’ Eve weekend. That now puts me in a position where almost everything I made this past weekend, and everything I make over the next 2 weekends (Yay for 5 weekend months!!!) is considered bonus and will be set aside in that envelope. I’m hoping it ends up totaling somewhere in the vicinity of $1500, but I will be happy with whatever I can save. This will go for the next few months until I go out on leave also.

As you know, I’ve also taken on a second job. While it only pays $8.15/hour and the maximum I’ll be able to work there will be 24 hours per week, this still should net me approximately $313 per paycheck, at two paychecks per month, equals approximately $626 per month that can go straight into my savings. January is a busy month with doctor’s appointments and days off of school, so I’m only going to count that rate for February through the end of April. This should generate about $2000 by the time I go on leave.

I am going to take one paycheck per month and start transferring that into my Capital One checking account so that it’s out of mind and I scale back on my debit spending also. That spending isn’t really out of hand because I don’t usually leave a lot of extra in that account to have access to it, but an extra $100 per month couldn’t hurt.

I also have hopes of one day earning a paycheck from writing this blog. It’s going to take some time and a whole lot of effort, but I’d really like for it to be a success. I don’t expect to be one of those “6-figure bloggers,” although I wouldn’t say no, but if I could start off by earning $500 per month I would be extremely grateful. If that could happen by say, March, that would give me the extra $1000 I need to hit my target goal for my maternity leave. It would also give me an opportunity to work from home and still generate some income while on leave. Hey, a girl can dream.

All in all, it won’t be an easy goal to hit, but it’s not unattainable either. By setting small, realistic goals in each area of income I think I will be able to achieve my goal by the time I have the baby. The goal is to hit this milestone without having to tap into our savings or force T into working a ton of overtime and missing out on valuable family time. That alone makes it worth trudging through the next few months. I’d rather have him home with me and there for as many firsts as possible than emailing him at work to let him know what he missed.

Do you have a goal in mind for the year? What is it and how do you plan on saving for it?

Can’t wait to hear from you!

-C