Sunday, April 26, 2015

Life

I'll never take for granted how fast it goes or how blessed I am.




Thursday, April 23, 2015

Those Terrible Stairs- Revisited

When we last left the stairs they looked like this:

 And while lovely, they're also near deadly. 

The treads are shallower than in a new home and everyone over the age of 35 that climbs them acts like the earth is shifting while they do. "Oh wow these are scary." "Be careful!" "You actually carry the baby on these?" "Wow you could fall right over the side of these." "You USE these stairs?!" I realllllly heard it when everyone came to the house after Lila was born. You'd think I was carrying her upside down the way everyone acted about me actually transporting her from one floor to another. I've gotten used to them. I navigated them in the dark while pregnant multiple times a night going to the bathroom! 

We added a gate at the top since Zulu has started getting forgetful. We were afraid she would accidentally turn and fall down during the middle of the night (she has fallen down once before and it was terrifying). We also figured it wouldn't hurt to get a jump on Lila-proofing the place. But we knew that wouldn't be enough. We need a railing and something to keep her from going over the edge. Fortunately, my family is in the carpentry business and my uncle and cousin came out to make them safe. It about killed me to not DIY this, but I just couldn't figure out how to attach a post and railing without significantly narrowing the stairs. 

Get ready for lots of pictures:
Just a reminder of where we started...

Then I added stripes and painted the railing white:
Then I ditched the carpet and found something scary underneath:
 Tried to stain it and hated it:
 And finally painted the treads black and added a thin crown molding to the back (making the stairs 1/4 in shallower and adding to the fear and agitation people experienced near the stairs)!

So Lila, the pets, and I packed up and moved to the basement for a day while they set to work. 

 She then proceeded to have a blow-out and got to hang out like she was sunbathing while I went and apologized for needing to climb the stairs to get her new clothes!
These are the inspiration photos I gave to my uncle to see if I could achieve something like this:


He pointed out that this would be easy to climb like a ladder for a little kid. There went that plan. I would LOVE to have a glass wall to keep the look of the stairs the same:
But that would be expensive and the Kardashians have stolen my idea. So there went that. My uncle sent me these two pictures and basically told me to pick one. I was glad for the lack of decisions and just to be done:


Ready to see what I picked and how it turned out? Well… I'm writing this post as it's being built so stay tuned for part 2!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Life's Work

Meeting Lila has been the most life changing thing I've ever experienced. I knew it would be but I was and still am shocked by the amount of love that I feel every single time I think about her or look at her. 

Quite simply- Becoming a mother has changed me forever. 
I know that it's also changed this blog! It borders on mommy blog, and I'm sorry for that but not… I want this blog to continue to be honest and about everything going on in my life. Right now it's less DIY and more baby raising. My life has recently changed even more. You know this if you follow me on Instagram. 

I quit my job.

I am now a stay at home mom! I have to say that this was my biggest life's dream from nearly the beginning. I had a few reoccurring prayers growing up and through my 20's. One was that I would find love and be at home with someone. It was a huge answer to prayer when I met Chris. The other was that I would have my own family- specifically that I would become a mom. I was sure I would be infertile. I was sure I would miscarry. I was sure she would be stillborn. I was sure that when I went to quit Chris would lose his job and I would have to leave my baby and go back to work 70+ hours a week. I prayed and I prayed that I would be mom and when I did that I could be there for every little thing. You see, I worked as a nanny. I was instructed by one mother not to let her last child learn to walk. She didn't want her last baby to stop being a baby. This little girl walked for a month before the mom found out she did! I had little kids slip up and call me mommy. I knew how to comfort them and calm them down when their own parents didn't. If you chose to (or have to) work I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I am saying that I saw that side of it as a nanny and I knew that I wanted something different.   I'm so grateful for this opportunity! 

As I had mentioned in Lila's birth story, Chris lost his job just days before I went onto maternity leave. It was a terrifying prospect to be going on maternity leave and wondering how we would handle that. I had been socking away money for quite some time, so we were financially able to handle it, but would've been in trouble by the end of my maternity leave if I didn't return to work. Chris's company was downsizing and because he was the newest he was the first to go. Fortunately, he was looking for jobs before I even knew he was unemployed. He had a week full of interviews within a week of being unemployed. He got the first job he interviewed for. They had him wait to start until Lila was 6 days old. So we had about 3.5 weeks of staring at each other and without his check. We were able to make it without dipping into our savings at all which was a huge blessing. 

With me staying home with Lila we cut our income by about 62%. That's a pretty big number. I'm not staying home because we're so rich my money is my "fun money." So here are some things we have done that have made this completely manageable:

Haircuts. I have girly hair that is very very naturally dark. I will still be getting mine done professionally, but I leave without getting it dried or styled which saves about $15. I also went darker so I could go longer between appointments. I also cut Chris's hair myself now. It was pretty brutal looking the first few times and he is a brave guy! Now he looks completely like a normal person and it saves us about $400 a year and my skipping styling saves us about $100. 
I still would rather not mention who I worked for, but I'm sure you can figure it out. While I worked there I used my amazing discount to its fullest to organize every single closet, drawer, etc. so that I wouldn't have to spend that later. Now as our life changes we are able to change our house with it and not spend a penny doing it:





I make anything I'm capable of, instead of buying. Lila's entire room was done with a can of paint, and my sewing machine aside from the crib and a rug. Everything else brought into the room was something I registered for. 
 I'll be supplementing our income by putting my creativity to work. I'll be opening up my own Etsy shop (check back for the link) and selling these great cotton gauze swaddling blankets I made:

I paid off my 2-door car that I was making payments on and used cash to buy a 4-door "family car." This completely eliminated approximately $3000 we were spending a year in car payments and gave us equity. I also did it at the perfect moment when my brother was leaving the country and made him a deal to buy his car getting me a "family discount."
I had a natural childbirth. Seeing a midwife usually allows for less interventions in childbirth, and reduces the chance of a c-section. This was not only good for my recovery, but also for our wallets as c-sections are significantly more expensive. 
I DIY. A lot. I preserved my own wedding dress:
I spent a few bucks to make dryer "sheets" that will last pretty much forever:

We just don't eat out anymore. We still have special dates, but I pretty much cook every meal these days. I plan meals in advance, clip coupons, and shop sales. 
 I stockpile. Subscribe and Save on Amazon, Cartweel for Target, and coupons let me do this. I've got lots of pet food:
 Toilet paper, paper towels, razors, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and Kleenex on hand at all times. I also buy meat, milk, cheese, and bread on sale and freeze the excess. 
 I used my baby registry to its fullest. I think it's poor etiquette to have a second baby shower. The purpose is to help a new mom get what she needs. So I registered for gender neutral things and thought about the future. I registered for sippy cups, a potty seat, a big kid car seat, etc. This helped me eliminate future expenses. Her future stuff is just waiting downstairs to be used. I also spent on things I was ok having inexpensive versions of. We bought our own crib and high chair because I liked Ikea's and it was cheap. This allowed me to register for more things because those two things were paid for. My in-laws wanted to buy us a whole baby furniture set for our gift, but I liked the process of putting things together and not having a matchy matchy set. 

I also added everything I didn't get to my Amazon baby registry. There is a 15% completion discount with Amazon mom and free shipping with Prime. Everywhere else gave you 10%. I used money given as gifts to purchase everything else I considered a "need" on our list. Everything else I have an eBay, Craigslist, garage sale list for and am always on the lookout. 

I don't skimp on things I really believe in, but I do find a good deal. I mentioned we use Honest Diapers for overnights. When you join their site you get a welcome coupon. I used that to get a great discount on a bundle of diapers and wipes. I can exchange any unopened packs in the bundle for a larger size if we don't use them all by the time she graduates to the next size. One bundle will last us for months and months.
 We don't have professional pictures taken. My dad is a great amateur photographer. He has taken all of Lila's pictures so far:



I mentioned before that I cloth diaper. That saves us tons of money. Now that it's not snowing I also line dry them which saves us additional expense. 
 I borrow. There are some things I wasn't sure I would want and won't use for too long so I've borrowed from others with kids:

No more Stitch Fixes… (If Chris is reading this I would love a gift certificate though!) I don't buy many clothes these days since I don't need to go to work. It's good incentive to lose the baby weight so all of my cute stuff will fit again!


I buy used.  Unless someone bought it for her, 90% of Lila's clothes are from Once Upon a  Child. I can't imagine paying more than $5 for anything she will quickly outgrow!
 I think she is pretty cute in this used stuff too! Oh and her headbands are all made by my mom. 
Sorry, no  picture for this one, but I breastfeed. That's a huge money saver. And it saves us doctor's bills. I've been able to nurse during the cold and flu so far and pass along antibodies to her that she wouldn't get otherwise. I plan on doing it for her first year.
I'm sure there is more, but that's my big life change and how we're making it happen! 
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