New To Doing Things The “Old Fashioned” Way?

One of my favorite people recently started taking an interest in a more self-reliant lifestyle and has gotten her toes wet in the world of canning and seed saving, which I can only imagine will be addictive and lead her into even deeper waters.  What’s next? I’d imagine there will be at least a small garden in the works next spring, and perhaps eventually some bartering for fresh eggs or meat.

I’m so excited for her!  Naturally I want to share everything I’ve read, re-read, watched and learned so I sent a few favorite links via facebook.  Then I thought of another and another I ought to send.  Then I realized I’d better not send them at all, or she’d have nothing but links in her news feed, and she’d get annoyed and “hide” me!

That’s why I started blogging in the first place, after all.  I caught myself writing novels for status updates on facebook and realized it wasn’t the best way to share my ideas.

So, Kristin, rather than flood your news feed with a million links, I gathered them here and organized them by topic for you.  I hope it helps!

First up are a couple of magazines I read, which are LOADED with useful information and good ideas.  They both have archives and search boxes where you can access past articles to read online :

Backwoods Home Magazine.  This is the one that got us started down the crunchy/farmish path.  This magazine has it all.  From great recipes, to gardening, to earning a living without punching a time-clock, pretty much anything you want to know can be found in the archives.

Mother Earth News  A bit more commercialized and Hippie-Dippie (how they accomplish that paradox, I’m unsure), but also chock-full of useful ideas for gardening, alternative fuels, and farm life.

Gardening:

Starting a Self Sufficiency Garden, Even In A Small Apartment  Great ideas for small spaces and container gardens and what grows well in them.

Grow Open Pollinated Seeds for Self-Reliant Gardening  How to save seeds and ditch the seed packets.

The $1 Garden  I’d say one dollar is pushing it, but this article has some good advice for gardening without spending a lot.  FYI now is a good time to get seeds for cheap if your stores still have them.  Many will still be viable next year if you put the pouches in the freezer until spring.  I almost always have some seeds left over and use them the next year.

Plant Once, Harvest For Years  This one is all about planting things that produce year after year with minimal tending.  I really need to get around to developing an asparagus patch.

Amending Garden Soil in Early Spring  This is something I’ll be putting more time into this fall and spring.   Good thing we have plenty of chicken and rabbit poop!

Back To Eden  A film about how deep mulch gardening helps save on water.  Especially useful if you don’t happen to have irrigation.

Saving Seeds  The ins and outs of which seeds are worth saving.

Canning/Preservation:

National Center For Home Food Preservation  This PDF will be a good starting point for any beginning canner.  I’d recommend either printing it, or getting a copy of a good up-to-date home canning guide such as the Ball Blue Book.

Canning 101  A great read by one of my heros, Jackie Clay-Atkinson.  Actually we have several of her books and I read anything of hers that I can get my hands on.  This woman can do anything.

Make Your Own Dried Fruit And Vegetables  Not only practical but, much healthier than store bought snack foods.

The Survival Mom Radio Network  Here you’ll find information on such topics as gardening, food preservation, frugal living, health and wellness, and disaster preparedness.  Best of all you can listen while you work, so you’re not stuck in front of the computer!

And for tons of great ideas on everything from trimming the grocery budget to gardening to cleaning tips, mostly from other moms, be sure to check out the blog hops I’ve linked at the end of this post.

One small word of advice:  Don’t get so caught up reading about all the cool things you can do that you never actually have time to do them.  Actually, it’s probably good that gardening season is nearly over for most of us.  You can spend the winter making a list of things to try when spring rolls around!

Good luck, and have fun!

 

This post may be shared at The Homestead Barn Hop, The Homemaking Link-up, What You Wish Wednesday, The Home Acre Hop, and Simple Life Sunday.  Links go live throughout the week.

Baby On A Budget: Diapers

If you’ve been following Baby On A Budget, you know that we were surprised this spring to find out that we have baby #3 on the way, and that since I quit my “serious” job last fall, we need to keep the baby related expenses to a minimum this time.

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In the first two parts of the series I shared a little on how we’ve taken care of our baby gear and clothing needs very economically.

Now we move onto what is, for many families, a large and ongoing cost associated with having a baby.  Diapering.  Ah, the joys of motherhood!

There are three main choices when it comes to diapering your baby, disposable, cloth or hybrid.

You can all-out disposable diaper, and I’ll never judge you for it.  It is by far the most popular way to diaper for most parents today.  We mostly used “‘sposies” with our first two kids, even though in my heart of hearts I wanted to be a cloth diaper mama.  More about that later.  If you do choose to disposable diaper your baby, plan on spending around $40/month for a budget diaper.  We loved Kirkland Signature from Costco, and Up and Up from target.  There was a time when I loved Luvs, but the quality declined to the point I couldn’t justify the savings any more.  I did some internet research today and was surprised to see that diaper prices haven’t really increased since we had our last baby nearly six years ago.  At least something is holding steady!  If you choose to go the ‘sposie route, you’ll probably also buy wipes, at around $20 for a two or three month supply, and you may or may not need to upgrade your garbage service.  We typically use the smallest can available from Waste Management, but had to upgrade while we were disposable diapering our girls.  The cost of upgrading will vary by your location.   Assuming you choose to disposable diaper, using an economy brand, you’ll spend around $1620 to diaper each child for three years, not counting the cost of added garbage service.

Another option is to cloth diaper, and it’s what I plan to do with this newest baby.  The cost of getting started in cloth diapering is, for many, a little off-putting.  If you go with brand new, name brand, all-in-one or pocket diapers you’ll spend between $15-$25,  PER DIAPER (EEEK!) and you’ll need about 24-36 diapers depending on how often you want to do diaper laundry.  A brand new basic diaper and cover system will cost more like $140, and should be almost all you need from 8-30lbs.  I’d add a set of newborn sized covers and prefolds, for around $42 because in my experience the “infant” sized diapers and covers are way too big for a newborn, and the longer you use the adorable, trim, tiny and (no denying) convenient newborn sposies, the harder it will be to make the transition to cloth.

Last of all there is the hybrid route, or as some call it the “gateway diaper”.  The hybrid has a washable, reusable diaper cover, much like you would use with cloth diapers, and a “flushable”, biodegradable insert.  The start up cost for these diapers is similar to that of cloth diapering, new or used, respectively. Unfortunately you also have the ongoing cost, which is similar to disposables, and they may or may not actually be flushable depending on your system.  These downfalls are why many call these “gateway” diapers.  People get tired of buying the inserts and start using cloth inserts, or they get tired of unclogging their toilets, and start tossing them into the trash, and then figure since they’re tossing them anyway, they might as well save themselves the laundry and go full ‘sposie.

Our cloth diaper stash is a combination of (barely used) leftover prefolds and Bummis Super Whisper Wraps from our last baby, some prefolds from a local second hand store, a ton of receiving blankets we had around and from thrift stores, and a couple of good ebay/facebook purchases of 4 newborn sized covers and 4 one-size pocket diapers.  I also recently cut up a bunch of stained and worn out cotton tee shirts into newborn sized flats, and upcycled wool diaper covers out of a sweater I had gotten at a yard sale and ended up never wearing .  I’ll let you know how well those work.  :-)

Not counting what I spent on the diapers left over from our previous baby, (It was 6 years ago, I can’t remember what they cost!) I spent $54 on the above stash which, very likely, would have covered our needs.  Then I saw another great deal that I couldn’t pass up on a Facebook group!  For another $50, I scored 10 brand new, still-in-the-package, Fuzzi Bunz perfect sized pocket diapers!  Those of you who follow cloth diapering know that was a steal.

What about the cost of all that extra washing?  Good Question.  I make my own laundry detergent and have stocked up on extra supplies to continue doing that for around $20. That’s more than double what I spend on a typical 6 month supply of my homemade laundry detergent.  Depending on where you live, the cost of extra water, and electricity to run the washer and dryer may make cloth diapering cost prohibitive.  We are thankful to have a well, and some of the nation’s least expensive electricity, so for us it makes sense.  You’ll have to do the math to see if it works for you.

Grand Total for diapering (unless I find another impossible-to-pass-up steal): $124  (plus the cost of doing an extra 2-3 wash loads per week…I’ll let you know after we see a power bill with the diaper loads included.)

Now that we have our poop catching situation in hand we’ll move onto poop making.

That’s right, come back next time and we’ll dig into how to feed your little guy without incurring an entire new grocery budget.  (Most of you probably already know the short answer, right?!)

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This post will be shared at The Homestead Barn Hop, The Homemaking Link-up, What You Wish Wednesday, and Simple Life Sunday.  Links go live throughout the week.

External links in this post are NOT affiliate links, just wanted to give examples of available choices.  

 

 

Baby On A Budget: Clothing

Welcome Back for the second installment of my Baby On a Budget Series: Clothing! If you missed the first installment of this series you can find it below.

Baby On A Budget: Gear

When we left off I had most of the gear I need for the new baby. I had spent $46 dollars, and budgeted $200 for a car seat. Since I have a few months to keep looking before the baby arrives, I’m holding out hope that I can find the perfect used car seat, but keeping that $200 budgeted in case I have to purchase one new.  ***Update*** I’ve discovered that a less expensive, but also highly rated car seat actually measures better for my car and costs $100 less brand new!  HOORAY!  Still keeping my eyes open for a good used one, but for now I can budget that extra hund-o somewhere else.

For now I’ve moved onto clothing our sweet little sugar bean.

Everyone knows how hard it is to resist the adorable little pink and blue outfits at the clothing stores. They are so precious. Go ahead and let yourself buy one or two. Get a “going home from the hospital” or “first Christmas” outfit. After that, reign yourself in and think long and hard about what your baby actually needs on a daily basis.

Let me tell you up front, in case you didn’t already know, babies grow FAST! That means good quality and gently worn baby clothes can be had for next to nothing if you’ll only take the time to look.

A winter baby with a stay at home mom (who actually intends to do a lot of staying home) will be perfectly happy in onesies and sleep-and-play outfits.  Let the Grandmas and Aunties have their fun by buying a few cutesy things to dress baby in for outings.

I’ve been thrift-shopping for several warm rompers, some onesies and a few pairs of cozy pajamas in a couple sizes.  It’s so easy to go overboard and buy, buy, buy all those adorable little outfits.  Rest assured though, when you have a baby (especially a girl) bags and boxes of adorable and barely used clothes appear on your doorstep, as if by magic, at regular intervals.   Keep what you can use, and bless another family with the rest.

If some weird twist of fate leaves you bereft in the Magic Clothes Fairy department, don’t despair.  You can still find plenty of great deals.  If there is a lack of good thrift and consignment stores in your area, take a quick look at Craigslist.

A craigslist/baby and kids search of the term “LOT” today yielded me a full page of baby clothing lots ranging in price from $10-$100.  Of course one would have to narrow the list to the appropriate gender, season and size for the baby in question, but the savings are definitely out there to be had, particularly if you start looking long before you’re in need, and take your time.  It’s totally okay to be extra choosy when buying used.

Another great option is yard sales.  Baby clothes are often priced at fifty cents or a quarter at yard sales.   I’ve mentioned before that I don’t frequent yard sales very much, because I don’t live near where they tend to take place.  When there is one in my neck of the woods, I always try to stop by, especially if they’ve advertised baby and kid items.

Here’s the thrift store newborn layette so far:

WP_20140828_009I’ve spent $26.42 on clothes, about half came from my all day thrifting trip a couple weeks back, and the rest came from local thrift stores.  This includes some wipes, and receiving blankets that I plan to turn into newborn sized flats and more wipes. The prefolds and diaper covers you see were part of the original $46 from part one.  I’m keeping my eyes open for  a few more sleep and play outfits since we’re going to be cloth diapering, and I expect to have a few leaks, complete with resulting extra outfit changes, until I figure out which diaper/fold/cover combo works for our (typically skinny) newborns.

Now, because we’ve been thrifty, patient and willing to accept the generosity of our friends and family we are nearly ready to bring our baby home.  Next on the list of things we need to think about for our baby is diapering.  Stop by next week to see how we plan to keep our baby clean and dry without breaking the bank.

Total so far: $72.42.

 

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Sharing at The Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Life Sunday, What You Wish Wednesday, and The Homemaking Link-up.  Links go live throughout the week.

 

An All Day Thrifting Trip

Saturday I went on an all day thrifting trip to Seattle with a few friends.

Turns out I’m not really up for all day shopping right now.  I was achy and TIRED by the end of the day.

I was looking for good condition clothes for my older kids, but since I had specific items in mind I didn’t find as many as I would have if I was just buying all the cute things I could get my hands on.  I was looking for jeans for my older girl who has room to grow in a 7 slim, and leggings for my younger girl who “Hates Pants!” and is generally uncomfortable in anything with a waistband which needs snapping, buttoning or zipping.  I only found one pair of jeans I was willing to pay for, and I just couldn’t bring myself to pay $2.99 for used leggings when new ones are $4.99, and often on sale at that.  Next time I’ll try to plan a thrifting day when the stores are running half off on kids clothes.

I did find some great bargains though.

First we hit the Goodwill Outlet.  Have you heard of this?  They sell everything by the pound, and everything is just heaped into huge rolling bins that you have to dig and sort through.  Definitely not the type of shopping you want to do if you need order or personal space, but with perseverance (and maybe a mask and gloves. I always get sneezy shopping there) you can find some real bargains.  I spent $4.77 on the items in the picture below.  I also spend around $11.00 on shoes including a pair of Bogs for my older girl, some chicken coop boots for myself, and snow boots for the baby to grow into.

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Next we hit a regular Goodwill.  Goodwill offers half off a color tag each day.  The color of the day was pink, so I looked for items with pink tags only.  My total for this stop was $7.64 which included a blanket with the original tags still on, and a $3.99 AG hair styling chair which isn’t pictured.  I spent more on the chair than on the baby clothes and blanket combined, but boy were my girls happy when they saw it in the trunk of my car!

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(The pink bunting pictured above was actually from Value Village, but got lumped in with the others.  oops!)

Finally we stopped at two different Value Village stores, where I didn’t find much for clothes, but did find something I was not expecting to find or planning to buy.

BOOKS!

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Oh, how I love books!  At the first Value Village I found all but one book in the Narnia series, and a great book with 5 minute science experiments kids can do at home and in the yard.

At the second one, I found (drum roll, please) the missing Narnia book, the entire Anne Of Green Gables series, most of the Little House books, Huckleberry Finn, Little Women in print, with the audio book included, three Ramona books, and a Junie B. Jones that we haven’t read yet.  I spent more on books at the last store than I did at all the other stores combined, but I almost never feel bad about spending money on books, and I especially don’t mind when they are a dollar each, and buy four-get one free.

Do you thrift shop?  What are your favorite tricks and tips?

This post may be shared at The Homestead Barn Hop, The Homemaking Link-up, What You Wish Wednesday, and Simple Life Sunday.  Links go live throughout the week.

Settling Into a Homemaking Routine

With the “Lazy Days of Summer” winding down, and school starting soon, I’ve been making an effort to switch myself from “Summer Break” mode to “Full Time Homemaker” mode.

Although I’ve technically been keeping house since I first moved in with my husband, I’ve never really been a homemaker. I’m the kind of person who has a hard time juggling responsibilities. I’ve always managed, but there is always one thing that will take priority and get my “Best Effort” while everything else gets whatever is left over. When I had an outside job that always got my best effort, and my family and home got nursed along, one laundry load and meal at a time. I was acutely aware that my family was getting the leftovers and I had a lot of guilt over it.

Now that I’m a full time homemaker, I’m making an effort to settle into a routine to help me keep things running smoothly as well as allow plenty of time for loving on my family.

I have time to cook now, so my loved ones shouldn’t have to eat take-out three times a week. We enjoy take-out once in a while, mind you, but I’m making a real effort not to rely on it. I also don’t want to start relying on expensive (and sorry, but kind of gross) school breakfasts and lunches, when I can provide as good or better nutrition for less by taking a few minutes a day to make breakfast and help the kids pack lunches.

Since I’m no longer making a serious financial contribution, I also feel it’s my job to make sure it’s easier for my husband to go out and earn our living. We all fall down sometimes, but my goals are that he is greeted by a reasonably neat, welcoming home after work, that he has a good meal to eat at night, and that he has plenty of clean clothes in the morning. He should not have to worry about the bills AND whether or not he has clean socks.  (I can hear my feminist friends shouting “But you worried about clean socks AND earning a living when you worked!”, which is true.  But if he’d been home while I was working I would have appreciated a home cooked meal and full dresser drawers, so that’s what I’m trying to do for him.  I guess clean socks are my Love Language ;-)  )

While my routine is still very much a work-in-progress, here are some resources I’ve been using to help me get things ironed out.

Meal Plans:

I’ve been trying to make a meal plan based loosely on the themed one at Blissful and Domestic.  I use a wipe-off weekly meal planner which I’ve customized with a good old Sharpie.  This week it looks like this:

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I already had my week half planned when I found the theme idea, which is why some of the meals don’t match the theme.  I like the idea of a go-to menu, but thought my family would scoff at the same seven dinners week after week.  I like that this one offers a framework with some flexibility.  I tweaked it to work better for our eating habits, and probably will many more times.  Since I don’t plan lunches, I’ll probably end up using that column for a working grocery list throughout the week.

Chore Charts:
I’ve been using this one from A Bowl Full of Lemons for myself, and even though I don’t always get to everything on the list, it has helped me get a handle on the daily mess.

I also took a few minutes to think about the things I nag the kids about each day and made a chore chart for them. It’s not as pretty and Pinterest-y as some I’ve seen, but it works for us. I divided the chores into three time slots. These are not limited to personal care chores. I think it’s important for kid’s confidence and sense of responsibility to take care of things that benefit the household, not just themselves.

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Their chores are as follows.

Morning:
Feed and water cat, dog, chickens, and rabbits. Chickens and rabbits generally only need topped off and refreshed every few days, but the kids need to check each day.

Afternoon:
Gather Eggs
Tidy Up The Living Room (so Daddy doesn’t have to come home to our mess)
Water Flower Pots (Free Pass on rainy days!)

Evening
Pick up toys from downstairs.
Get dirty clothes into the wash.  (A Bowl Full of Lemons recommends running a complete load first thing, but I prefer to start the day with an open and empty washer and just toss things in as the day rolls along.  I do my regular washes on cold, so I don’t worry about separating stuff.  It all just goes right in and gets washed and dried after the evening chores and kitchen clean up.)
Pick up paper clutter.  (Are my kids the only ones who leave trails of confetti behind them? No matter how beautiful or precious a piece of their artwork was when they made it at 3:00, if it’s on the floor at bedtime, I’m putting it in the trash.  Having Paper Clutter Patrol on the chore chart greatly reduces the frequency that I find masterpieces on the floor at bedtime.)

I’m also toying with the idea of having them take turns being Mom’s Helper after Baby Hazel is here, and doing little things for me throughout the day. I’m not looking for a slave here, just someone to run and fetch a fresh diaper, or grab me a glass of water when I realize I’m dying of thirst just after I get the baby settled and latched to nurse.

So far the kids are responding really well to the chore chart and taking great pride in putting a check mark next to each completed chore.  I LOVE that I don’t have to remind them ten thousand times what they need to do each day.  I simply announce “Morning Chores!” for instance, in as cheerful a voice as I can muster, (it’s morning after all) and they hop to it. It’s changing our lives!

I haven’t quite figured out where and how lawn and garden chores fit in, and I’ll admit that the lawn and garden have suffered for it.  I’ve just been watering, doing only the most demanding weeding, and harvesting when we go out to play.  I haven’t mowed in ages. The grass doesn’t need it so much, but the weeds on the perimeter of the property are getting out of hand.  Lovely isn’t it, how all the hose-dragging I do to water the lawn barely keeps the grass alive, yet the weeds are thriving?  The neighbors probably hate us.

I also have a few bigger projects/goals that I’ll need to find time for soon:

Create a kids closet and organization scheme in the laundry room, so that toys can move into the girls’ bedroom closet.

Clean and rearrange the girls’ room to make room for Baby Hazel.

Set up the crib/baby corner in the girls’ room.

Pre-wash/re-fluff my cloth diaper stash.

As much as I wish I wasn’t sending the girls out to public school this year, I do realize that when they are at school is likely when I’ll be able to devote a big chunk of time to getting all these things done.

Do you have a routine that works for you?  Do you include a time slot in your daily or weekly schedule for big projects or just take time for those as you find it?

If you’ve blogged about your routine feel free to share a link in the comments!

This post may be shared at: The Homestead Barn Hop, The Homemaking Link Up, What You Wish Wednesday, and Simple Life Sunday. Links go live throughout the week.

Baby On A Budget: Gear

Welcome to the first post in my new series, Baby On A Budget. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As many of you know, last fall I left my “serious” job for one that paid a lot less, but allowed me a TON more time with my kiddos. It was great.

Then this spring we discovered that we have another sweet blessing on the way. With the smaller paycheck, it just wouldn’t have made sense to pay for daycare after the baby comes, so I’ve now left that job to be a full-time stay at home mommy, which is WONDERFUL, but not terribly lucrative. While I never was a big spender in the baby department, it’s especially important this round that we keep the baby related expenses to a minimum.

The first thing that many of us start doing when there is a baby on the way is to plan our “Dream Nursery”. I must admit that those designer nurseries in the catalogs are absolutely adorable. But let’s get one thing straight right now. Those perfectly coordinated, brand new, designer and name brand nursery sets are for Mom. The baby doesn’t give a hoot where he sleeps so long as he is loved, fed and cozy. I’d add that he should absolutely be safe as well, but at his age, he doesn’t care much about that. Good thing he has a mommy who can take care of that detail for him.

While there is nothing wrong with spending a lot on your baby if you can and want to, I’d like to demonstrate that it is entirely unnecessary to spend a fortune, and in fact very easy to find everything your bundle of joy needs at a fraction of the cost of just that brand new coordinated designer nursery.

Now then, let’s try to sort out the difference between needs and wants.  First, I think it’s important to recognize that household rhythms, parenting styles, and even babies are different for every family.  So you very well may need something that I would find myself rarely using.  Keeping that in mind, I’m going to run down a list of commonly purchased baby gear and whether it’s worth buying based on the way my family works.  

  • Crib: Most Americans would agree that a crib falls into the Need category.  What many don’t realize is that you may not need it right away. I kept my most recent baby in her bassinet next to my bed, and only used the crib for occasional napping until she was around 5 months old.  Our oldest, on the other hand, slept in her crib (with forays into my bed for night nursing) from day one.
  • Bassinet:  While I did use one for 5 months, I’d put this in the want category, as long as you have a crib or another safe place for your baby to sleep.  It is a very convenient item to have though.
  • Changing table: Nice to have one with a strap once baby learns that she can escape mid-diaper change. Unless you plan to keep it in the living room, you probably won’t use it much.  Not a need.
  • Play pen: Not a need, but can be useful for travel, or if your baby’s room isn’t on the main floor and you want to keep an eye on him while he naps.
  • Stroller: Only a need if you anticipate that you’ll be doing a lot of walking longer distances than you can comfortably carry your baby and the stuff you bring with you when you go.
  • Car Seat: Unless you absolutely never ride in a car this is a need.
  • Baby Swing: Not a need.  But can be a very worth your money if you have a baby who likes to swing.  It can save your sanity and buy you precious moments to get things done.
  • Bouncy Chair:  Not a need.  But again, can buy you moments if your baby likes it.
  • Baby Bath: Not a need.  Your baby will be perfectly happy to be washed in the sink, or in the regular tub with you.
  • Diaper Bag: If you ever leave the house you will need something to carry a few things for the baby.  It doesn’t have to be an actual diaper bag, however.  A backpack, an old overnight bag, or even a grocery bag will work in a pinch.  My mother-in-law actually preferred to toss a couple diapers, wipes and onesies into a grocery bag rather than carry the giant, stuffed to the gills, HEAVY diaper bag I had for my older girls.
  • Diaper genie: Not a need.  Seriously, just take out the trash when it gets stinky.
  • Wipes warmer:  I’ve heard babies like warm wipes, but I’ve successfully raised two through the diaper stage without ever owning one.  Not a need.
  • Baby Monitor:  How big is your house?  I can hear practically everything in our smallish 1915 farm house.  I did however use one with a receiver that I could clip on my belt to go out and do yard work while the baby napped.  It was nice to have, but not a need.
  • High Chair:  My oldest never had one until she was almost a year old.  If it is a Need in your eyes, it can be put off for at least 5 or 6 moths after the baby is born.

This list could go on and on.  Bottom line is that you don’t have to buy or use every gadget that has been invented and marketed to you.  Think about your lifestyle, choose the items you think will be useful to you, and leave the rest on the shelf.

Once you’ve decided what you do want to have, don’t run out to the big box store, or for goodness sake, a baby boutique and get everything brand new.  While it may seem unfair to your precious bundle to make him sleep on a used mattress, or ride in a used stroller, think about what you plan to do with that item after your baby outgrows it.  You’ll probably use it for your next baby.  So used is good enough for your second baby, but not the first? Babies just don’t put much wear and tear on these things.  They can easily last for several babies worth of use.  I’ve actually gotten some nice used items, ran them through both of my kids, and sold them for the same price I paid.  I felt like I won the lottery!

So where do you find it if you aren’t getting it at the baby gear store?

  • Friends and Family:  When you announce that you are expecting, you’ll likely get many offers of hand-me-downs from friends.  If the items are in good, safe working order, and gender neutral, take them!  If you end up with something that works better for you later, you can always ask your friend if she would like her item back, or if she would rather you pass it on.  This is, by far, how I’ve gotten most of my baby gear for all of my babies.  If you don’t have a large family, or are new in town and haven’t made a lot of friends yet, you may have to rely more on the other methods, but can still get most of what you need very inexpensively.
  • Yard Sales:  If you live in a populated area or near a nice neighborhood, yard sales can be a gold mine.  Since I live about a 30 minute drive from our nearest large town, I only go to yard sales if they advertise an item I’ve been looking for, and happen to fall on one of my “town days”.
  • Thrift and consignment stores:  While you’ll have to do some digging, thrift stores can hide many good treasures and usually at great prices.  Consignment stores will have the treasures pre-sorted and on display, but you can expect to pay a little more.
  • Internet Sales sites:  I used to use craigslist.com quite a bit, but lately have found that buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook usually have more of what I’m looking for and usually closer to home.  Take a look at what’s available in your area.  Often when a family is “done” having babies they will sell everything either in a lot or by the piece.  (I put “done” in quotes, because I sold and gave away all my baby gear about a year ago and here I am looking for all that gear again ;-) )  Just to give you an idea of what is available in our area, today I looked at Craigslist and saw a crib with a mattress for $75, a swing for $20, a carseat for $50, and a changing table for $45.  Those were just a few items from the first half of the page.  Often if an item isn’t selling fast enough, the seller will take offers.

I started gathering items for our new baby about two months ago, and so far I’ve spent $46.  All I still need to get in the “Gear” department is a car seat, and maybe I’ll eventually pick up a high chair or booster seat.  I intend to be extra picky about the car seat I buy, for obvious safety reasons, and also because it needs to fit between the two older kids in the back seat of the car I already own.  I’m prepared to spend a little more or possibly buy a new one, which I’ll keep in good shape and resell when I’m “done” with it.  If I have to get the one I’ve had my eye on new, I’ll spend about $200.

Assuming I buy a new car seat, that’ll total about $250 so far.

Let’s have a look at some popular nurseries online.

You can get this one which includes a crib (no mattress), changing table, and a dresser for around $300.

This one, on the other hand will run you closer to $1400. Even if you get the “budget” option you’ve already paid more for just a crib, dresser, and changing table (still no mattress or bedding, or the cute little teddy bear that you know you’ll want to prop up on the dresser top), than I’ve paid for a crib, a crib mattress, a bassinet, a baby bouncer, two strollers, a play pen, a Bumbo seat, a Boppy pillow, a dozen newborn prefolds, 4 newborn diaper covers, and a car seat (assuming I have to buy it new) .  There’s a good chance I’m forgetting something I have already gotten and stashed away for later too.

The baby will also need some clothes before she arrives in December, so I’ll be doing some shopping in the next few months.  I’ll share what I find and how much I spend in Baby On A Budget: Clothes, coming up soon.

Again, if you have a lot of extra money and want to spend a lot on your baby, that is okay. I’d just hate to have new moms and dads out there wringing their hands wondering how to afford everything the baby will “need”. Rest assured, your new baby doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune if you are thoughtful, creative, and patient.

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Sharing at The Homestead Barn Hop,  Raising Homemakers, What You Wish Wednesday and Simple Life Sunday.

19 Weeks: Pregnancy, Gestational Diabetes, AND The Big Reveal!

I am happy and thankful to report that Baby is growing well, kicking strong and has finally “popped”!

I'm actually glad that this is the best photography my 7 year old can do.  I'm not anywhere near as tall as I look, and the blur really hides the sleepy eyes!

I’m actually glad that this is the best photography my 7 year old can do. I’m not anywhere near as tall as I look, and the blur really hides the sleepy eyes!

Gestational Diabetes hasn’t been much of a challenge this time around (so far).  The first weeks I had great blood sugar readings but I was spilling some ketones, so I upped my carb intake little by little which got rid of the ketones, but didn’t change my blood sugar much.  Right now I’m able to eat pretty much anything within reason if I’m careful about portions, and staying active.  I’ve had a few (3) high readings, but have been able to narrow them down to a higher carb meal on a lower activity day.  I’ve had the same meal leave me at 85, and 135 on different days, so you can really see where exercise makes a big difference.  Right now I’m walking or doing really light step aerobics any day that my incidental activity level is low, or when I know I’m going to be tempted by extra carbs, like birthday parties or BBQs.  I fully expect my blood sugar to be more of an issue, and to need tighter diet restrictions as I get further along, but for now I’m thrilled that I can enjoy my regular diet, and even the occasional treat.

Baby is very active, giving me lots of kicks, and showing a preference for (or maybe against) big glasses of ice water.  Big sisters can’t wait until they can feel the kicks too. They also can’t wait to hold Baby, feed Baby, change Baby’s diaper and generally be Mom’s big helpers.  They are spending a lot of time “practicing” with their baby dolls, and I can tell they will be excellent big sisters!

Today I had my mid-term ultrasound and, while the tech can’t really tell you anything “for sure”  it looked to me like we have a healthy baby with the appropriate number of arms, legs, fingers, toes and organs.  Baby was a bit of a stinker, and didn’t want to let us see all the angles we wanted to, but we were able to get a good idea of the gender.  Also we’re pretty sure it’s an alien.

A Girl alien!!

Introducing Hazel Rosemary Clark.

We love her already.

 

Gestational Diabetes: Round 1

Disclaimer:  It’s been nearly six years since this sweet babe was born, so some of the details have gone a bit fuzzy, but what follows is my best recollection of my first experience with Gestational Diabetes.

Being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes during my second pregnancy wasn’t a huge surprise for me. I don’t know why exactly, but I just had a feeling I would fail the glucose tolerance test. Perhaps it was that I have a family history of diabetes, I was overweight, and I had some spells of feeling “puny” between pop-sickles, which were my #1 craving that round. Perhaps I’m a tad on the hypochondriac side and, for the first time ever, I just happened to actually have the thing I was worrying about.

Either way, my first reaction was feeling totally overwhelmed.  I felt like my body had betrayed me.  In fact it was I who had betrayed my body, by not getting enough exercise, enough sleep, or enough of the right foods.  I had been indulging my junk food cravings, living on caffeine and had been yo-yo-ing between 10 and 20 pounds heavier than I had been prior to the first baby (for which I was already overweight).

I had a general idea how I needed to adjust my diet, since my mom is diabetic, and I had glanced through a few diabetic recipe books. Basically what I thought in the early days was “Carbs are bad. I’m only going to eat the bare minimum of carbs, and I’m going to exercise every time I eat.”

It almost worked. My post meal blood glucose readings were mostly in the middle of the target range.  Unfortunately I was still having some slightly high fasting readings, and I started losing weight pretty rapidly.  The weight loss would have been wonderful if I hadn’t been pregnant.   My midwife wasn’t crazy about the amount of weight I was losing and my fasting numbers weren’t crazy high, so I saw a nutritionist and started trying to push my post meal reading toward the upper end of in-range.  I wasn’t terribly good at it.  Once you have the “carbs are bad” mind set it is really hard to eat a grain without feeling the need to do some sort of exercise.  Also, I had a hard time finding the right balance between “more of the right carbs” and “too many carbs in general”  I was able to bump my numbers up a little, and by adding a snack at night I was able to get my fasting numbers down a little, but the weight loss continued.

My midwife started having me come in for weekly weight checks and eventually consulted with an OB about my weight loss.  The OB wasn’t worried about the weight loss given that I had extra weight to lose, but she wanted to make sure I wasn’t spilling ketones.  I was.

We gave it a couple weeks of trying to keep my numbers in the upper range, and trying to get rid of the ketones.  But after I lost even more weight (around ten pounds by this time), we decided I’d probably need medication and that my care should be transferred to an OB.

Under the care of the OB I ended up going on a low dose (10 units) of NPH insulin at bedtime.  I still had to eat carefully, but my fasting readings stabilized and the ketones went away almost immediately.  By this time I only had another 6 weeks or so to go, and for the first time in my pregnancy I started gaining weight.

I only ended up seeing the OB twice.  She was going out of town and scheduled me with another doctor for what would have been my third visit with her.

Around nine o’clock the morning of my third appointment I was pretty certain I was in labor, so I called my husband at work and asked him to meet me at my 11:00 appointment.  I figured if it turned out I wasn’t in labor, I’d rather find out at a regular appointment than go to the trouble of booking into the hospital and then waiting around to be discharged.

I was meeting the OB who was filling in for mine for the first time, and when I told him I felt like I was in labor, he was kind, but gave me the look you give a four year old who tells you he is really Superman.

“MMm hmm, well you could be, but your due date is still two and a half weeks away, so we’ll just check”

And then.

“Mrs. Clark you’re only dilated to about 3, but you’re completely effaced, and you’re contracting regularly. You’d better head to the hospital”.

“You mean like right this minute”?

“Yes.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect 200 dollars.  Go directly to the hospital”

Two hours later and just minutes after my water broke, we were holding our sweet baby Montana.

She was 6 lbs 15oz, which surprised me since the ultrasound “estimate” was eight pounds a couple weeks prior, and you always hear about women with Gestational Diabetes having huge babies.

At that point I wasn’t sure we would try to have any more babies.  It had been exhausting to pretty much have my life revolve around food and think and calculate and worry every time I took a bite.

As time passed, so did the exhaustion, and eventually I started having spells of baby fever. My husband did not.  He was absolutely ready to be done having babies, and when Montana turned five years old, I started to realize how nice it is to sleep all night and only wipe my own bum.

My husband planned to have a vasectomy but never got around to it, and I temporarily went off the pill, to try and figure out if that was what was causing some terrible headaches I was having this winter.  When I went off the pill, the headaches mostly went away.  I still didn’t know if that was a coincidence, and had planned to see my midwife about a different brand or different dose.  But by the time I got around to calling her I had a different reason.

Turns out half backward glances at the calendar and judging whether you’re ovulating by how you “feel” isn’t such a great method of birth control, especially the longer you go past age 30.

I realized in early April that we are expecting another sweet baby mid December.

Because of my history my midwife wanted to test me early for GD, and we found out I do have it again.  So far my blood sugar has been great and actually even a little low at times. But more about that later.

Come back in July for a pregnancy update, a baby bump pic (finally starting to get one) and part two of my GD story.  It’ll be shorter since It’s only been a few weeks.  ;-)

 

Kids Backpack Emergency Kit

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We (wee, little children mostly) are pilferers of the supplies in our 72 hour kits, and back packs.  The kids especially love to borrow the light sticks, and granola bars.  Every once in a while I need to go through all of our supplies and evaluate and replace items.  Since we have a backpacking trip coming up soon, today I’m focusing on the kids’ packs.

We’ve previously had a few comfort and safety items such as light sticks, whistles and a few band-aids in the front pocket of their packs, but it is too easy to shuffle these items about when they are loose in a pocket.  Instead I’ll make a kit in a quart sized zipper bag.  Slide top freezer bags are both sturdy, and easy enough for a kid to open.

What I’m Including:

  • A small first aid kit  -  purchased at the dollar store, it includes antiseptic wipes, adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment
  • 3 power bars -  I choose these because they are edible but not delicious.  I don’t want them looked on as a treat to be sneaked out and enjoyed at the first hint of an appetite.
  • 3 mini light sticks – Each glows for  several hours providing a night-light like glow.  More for comfort than function.
  • Moist Towelettes – For cleaning up before/after eating.
  • A Mylar Blanket- We already have these, so I’m including them, but don’t really know how they hold up to handling by kids.  I’ve heard they tear easily.  We still have a lot of receiving blankets around so I may place one loose in the backpacks too.
  • An N95 mask – I keep these around for cleaning the chicken coop, because chicken poop lung mud grosses me out, but we’ve had “real world” use of these when wild fires made our outdoor air hazardous for the better part of a month.

You’ll notice that most of these items are very non-technical, and not for any kind of serious event. Little ones really just need a mom or dad to help with the serious stuff.  I’m not saying I don’t think children can be taught to use serious tools, just that my children are a little young to be alone with knives and lighters just yet.  They have used both under supervision.

I also didn’t add water, but I always make sure everyone has her own bottle for each hike/day trip, and I carry a lightweight filter.

It seems like I’m always thinking and re-thinking the items in their kits, mainly because they are growing, changing, and able to handle more all the time.

I should also mention that these are in their hiking/day packs, NOT their school backpacks. I do think there is a place for a kit such as this in a school pack, but I’ve seen public school from the inside, and between shared lockers, and kids always wanting to show off their cool stuff, the most useful items would just land my kids in trouble. I could also see my kid pulling out a granola bar during a lock-down and being told she can’t eat it because she didn’t bring one for everyone.  Some might consider these good reasons to home-school, but that topic deserves an entire series of posts all it’s own.

Do you keep a small emergency kit in your kid’s pack?  What do you include?

Sharing at The Homestead Blog Hop.

Surprise!

I was planning to wait for this announcement until I had an obvious “Baby Bump” photo to share with you, but as it turns out, I’m nowhere near patient enough for that.  My jeans have just barely started getting snug, and I haven’t gained any weight yet. (No complaint about that!)

Clark baby # 3 cookin' up nicely.

Clark baby # 3 cookin’ up nicely.

We are expecting this little blessing to arrive mid-December.

I had a doozey of a first trimester compared to my previous pregnancies.  I felt really good for most of both prior pregnancies, despite having had Gestational Diabetes with the second.  This time I had a few weeks of nausea, which I never had with the girls, but the most difficult part has been being extremely tired.  The upside of that is that I’ve been able to shed, although probably temporarily, my night-owlish ways, and have been getting to bed early and sleeping well except for the middle of the night bathroom trips.

I’ve just started getting my energy back, but still I think there is no denying that being pregnant in my mid-thirties, is very different than it was in my twenties. I also have Gestational Diabetes again this round, which did not come as a surprise given that I have all the risk factors except for a history of large or stillborn babies.  This means I’ll be monitoring my blood sugar, following a very carb-balanced diet, walking daily, and trying not to gain or lose much weight.  There’ll be no caving to random chocolate or ice cream cravings for me.  I’ll share more about my previous and current experiences with GD later.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, this was not a planned baby, but will be loved and treasured all the same.  The surprise did throw a little wrench into our financial plans, but I think all will ultimately work out just fine.  We’ve decided that I won’t return to work for the kids’ school next fall since daycare for an infant would cost more than half of my take-home pay.  I’m working on another post to share some of my ideas for filling that little financial gap, and keeping our baby related expenses as low as possible.

Now that I’ve gotten past the shock, nausea and tiredness I’m enjoying little flutters in my belly, and starting to prepare to have a sweet-smelling, wiggly, little wee one in the house again.

 I have to add that I find it just a tad comical that our first unplanned pregnancy happened after five years of premarital cohabitation, followed by nine years of marriage, and two impeccably planned children.  It just goes to show you that an “It won’t happen to me” mentality can and will catch up with you. Feel free to share my story with your teenagers.   ;-)   

 

Shared at The Homestead Blog Hop.