September 30, 2008

Extra Cash For Mommy & Baby

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:52 pm by bitsypieces

So Hubby’s new job means a bit of a pay cut.  As a result, we’ll have to tighten our belts a little bit more.

However, I’ve always indulged in “shopping therapy” for myself.  Moreover, I’ve been trying to make sure we have plenty of stimulating toys for Baby.  (I know she doesn’t need tons of stuff… but I do like to have something new and age-appropriate for her every month or so.)  For Baby to get one new toy and for Mommy to get one new clothing item each month, I need an extra $50 or so in my monthly budget.  Currently, our finances are set-up as follows:

Hubby’s income: All household expenses, including mortgage payment, car payment, groceries, gas, utilities, etc.

My (spotty) freelance writing income: Building an emergency fund and saving for future goals (new house, etc.)

Rather than take $50 a month from either of those two categories, I’ve decided to earn it through extra writing.  Since work from the typical sources (clients and magazines) is spotty, I’m going to write more for Associated Content.  (By the way, even beginning writers can make money through this website.  It’s a good place to easily pick up some extra cash.)

At an average of $5 per paid article–plus the residual income paid by the website–I can probably earn the $50 a month by writing 2 articles per week.

It’s not a lot of extra cash.  But, on the other hand, it’s not a lot of extra work.  I can write two articles in about two hours… so the payoff is worth it.

Of course… If I were really financially smart… I’d skip the “shopping therapy” and instead put that $50 a month in a mutual fund earning 5%.  The result would be $20,552 in 20 years.

Advertisements

September 29, 2008

Squandering “Me Time”

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:35 pm by bitsypieces

One of the more difficult aspects of caring for a new baby is the lack of Me Time.  Whenever Baby is sleeping or happily cooing on her play mat, I often use those few spare minutes for laundry, cooking, dishes, etc.  (If I have some actual paid work to do, every moment is used to get a first draft written.)

By the end of the night, when (hopefully) the housework is finished and I can settle in for some Me Time, I almost always waste it on a DVRed rerun of What Not To Wear or Jon & Kate Plus Eight.

But lately I’ve been wondering:  What happened to quality Me Time?  I used to read books–often at least one book per day.  I used to write short stories (or work on a novel).  I used to engage in meaningful hobbies and volunteer work.  (Ok.  Not as much as I should have.  But I used to at least occasionally volunteer.)  When did I drop all these enriching activities and trade them in for hours of boob-tube entertainment?

Perhaps this has been on my mind because I want to set a good example for Baby.  I don’t want her to spend her youth staring like a mind-numbed zombie at flickering lights on the Idiot Box.

So rather than squander my Me Time on ridiculous television shows, I’m going to try to cultivate more of my personally enriching activities.

Sure… Psych and The Big Bang Theory will continue to be “must see TV” for me.  But I should at least be able to find enough time to read one book a week.

September 25, 2008

Cleaner–and Cheaper!–Diaper Changes

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:18 pm by bitsypieces

I am kind of anal about germs… especially germs around my baby.  So every time I see a “baby diaper changing station” in a public restroom, my mind’s eye sees thousands of women doing this:

Not a problem, right?  I mean… that’s the purpose of these changing stations.

Except in real life, diaper changing stations don’t look as clean and sanitary as the one in that photo.  Instead, they generally appear dirty, dingy and covered in pee-pee and poo-poo.

Some companies sell disposable diaper changing pads for an approximate price of 69 cents each.  Sorry… but that strikes me as completely unreasonable.

However, I have found that Chux–which are disposable absorbent pads used in hospitals and medical facilities–work the same.  And they’re a lot cheaper, too!  The best price I found is at Amazon.com.  Even with the price of shipping, this box of 100 is less expensive than regular disposable diaper changing pads.

I just throw a couple of Chux in the diaper bag and I’m ready for any diaper changing situation.  (They’re great for when you need to change a diaper at a friend’s house, too, since they protect your friend’s couch/floor from pee-pee and poo-poo!)

September 23, 2008

What I Learned From The Hairstyle Poll

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:23 pm by bitsypieces

So after asking friends, family, blog readers and Internet friends to view my various hairstyles… I’ve come to one conclusion:

Differing personal preferences means no one clear winner.

I haven’t made a decision yet. Most likely, I’ll just shorten my current style a bit before (if) I take the big plunge into short hair.

Hubby has made his preference clear. He doesn’t want it to be any shorter than my shoulders.

I’m probably fretting over nothing anyway. I spend so much time taking care of Baby, that it’s rare for someone else other than her to even see my hair.

September 15, 2008

Baby Buying Madness

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:58 pm by bitsypieces

It’s time to stop the madness!

For some reason, I have an almost uncontrollable urge to buy every single rattle and crinkle toy I see… probably because Baby has started responding to these fun little items.  But at $6, $8 or $12 each, it’s a definite strain on our budget.

Of course, the best toy for Baby is a loving parent.  And I do my best to provide as much stimulation as possible.  Free stuff I do with Baby includes:

  • Smiling at each other
  • Cooing with each other
  • Dancing together to music
  • Singing together
  • Peek-A-Boo
  • “This little piggy…”
  • Naming body parts

At 9 weeks she can’t exactly provide any type of competition in a Scrabble game, but we’re having fun in our own “baby” way.

And we do have lots of toys that people have bought for her, which we play with every day.

So there’s no need for me to go out and buy another rattle, right?

Right?

September 12, 2008

Frump or Fashion?

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:13 pm by bitsypieces

Mrs. Fussypants skipped her usual Fight The Frump Fridays post, but I decided to go ahead and stick with a fashion-focused post today.

Comfort is top priority for me when it comes to clothing. However, I like to look at least a little bit put together when I leave the house. (Though I admit to running to the store wearing nothing more than a baggy tee-shirt, a pair of Hubby’s boxers, and some ratty flip-flops. Not exactly the most stylish outfit.)

During the cooler autumn and winter months, I’ve started wearing tracksuit type outfits like this one from Chadwicks:

But here’s my question: Are these types of sets really fashionable? Or are they just another frumpy style?

Probably a tracksuit that fits nicely–hugs curves, hemmed to proper length, doesn’t look too bulky–could pass as stylish. But an ill-fitting tracksuit just looks like a gym reject.

It also depends on the type of accessories and shoes you pair with the tracksuit, too.

Dumpy gym bag + bulky sneakers + ponytail in a scrunchy = frump, frump, frump

Cute tote + skimmers + styled hair = fashion!

September 11, 2008

Non-toxic Natural Cleaners

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:34 pm by bitsypieces

I’m an super anal about cleaning my kitchen, particularly if Hubby has been messing around with raw chicken, eggs or seafood. As a result, I spray a ton of Lysol on every surface. But I HATE all the horrible fumes… and I really hate using that toxic stuff around Baby.

The “natural” cleaners–like Seventh Generation–don’t really kill things like salmonella, however.

But I’ve been doing a little research. Turns out, scientific studies have found that plain white vinegar usually kills most salmonella and e. coli germs… especially if it stays on the surface for about 30 minutes. (Although one study found that even a quick wipe with full-strength vinegar will kill salmonella.)

I’m convinced and converted!

Starting today, I am filling a spray bottle with vinegar and using it for most kitchen clean-ups. It’s cheaper, non-toxic and natural! (As for the leftover Lysol I still own, I’ll save it to use when Hubby makes a serious raw-meat mess in the kitchen.)

September 9, 2008

Semi-Retirement

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:19 pm by bitsypieces

Hubby and I had hoped for early retirement, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to meet that financial goal. Instead, we’re now striving for early semi-retirement. We’re hoping that we’ll both be able to work part-time only by the time we reach 55 years of age… which is about 20 years from now.

For this to happen, we need to significantly decrease our spending and increase our savings. (It would be nice to increase our income, too, but that probably won’t happen any time soon.)

As a result, I need to re-dedicate myself to the idea of frugal living. I’ve been doing a lot of spending lately–particularly on baby items–and it’s time to rein in my wallet. I am thinking about a “spending fast.” No spending money on anything except essentials for 30 days.

Of course… what is an “essential”? That’s something that will require a little thought first.

September 8, 2008

Breastfeeding Issues

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:56 pm by bitsypieces

When Baby was first born, I was determined to breastfeed. Unfortunately, we had some “latching on” problems. I consulted my pediatrician and two different lactation consultants. For the first three weeks I battled cracked, bleeding and painful nipples. Sometimes when Baby would start crying her “hungry” cry, I’d almost bust into tears because I so dreaded the pain of feeding her.

Now, at 8 weeks, things have improved. It’s still a little painful to feed her–I don’t understand how some women actually enjoy it–but I’m not near tears anymore. My nipples have healed, and they are no longer bleeding. I don’t look forward to feeding her, but I’m not dreading it either.

I am starting to get concerned about my milk production, however. I pump once about every other day (just so Hubby can occasionally feed Baby), and I’ve noticed that I’m getting a lot less milk now than I did a week ago. I’m not sure what that’s about… and I’m wondering if it has something to do with our introduction of the pacifier (because now I am not the pacifier).

September 6, 2008

Babies and the Spirit World

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:15 pm by bitsypieces

Now that Baby is cooing and smiling a lot more, I’ve noticed that she sometimes seems to be chatting with no one.  She’ll be in her crib or swing, and she’ll be staring at one spot.  She’ll be laughing and gurgling as if having a conversation with someone, but no one is there!

A friend told me that some folks say babies are chatting with ghosts and spirits and angels, which they can see since they themselves were so recently in the spirit world.

I admit that part of me likes to think Baby is chatting with the Angel of her recently passed grandmother.

Next page