Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Cutting Grocery Costs: Part One


One of our favorite ways to cut costs is through Amazon's subscribe and save. If you subscribe to 5 or more items per month, you save 15% on those products, which is the cheapest that I have personally been able to find for these particular products. You can cancel or move the items around to your heart's content or for when your family actually needs them. We get some items every month and some we get once a year. Also, it's basically like Christmas when you get household products in the big Amazon box delivered to your front door. Here's some of the items that are a constant in our household:

Also, if you have young kids, think about Amazon Family, you get 20% off diapers & wipes subscriptions:

Beyond all of this, Amazon offers coupons that you can clip. A lot of them are for the first order of a subscription but every penny counts. Please do your due diligence and shop around but we have found that our orders not only save us money, because we no longer have a membership at a Costco or Sam's, but can still buy in bulk and it's delivered to our doorstep, meaning less gas to run to an additional store and less chance to buy the things we really don't need.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Our Marriage Lesson

My husband and I are about two weeks away from our four year anniversary and we have been through the deepest of valleys and the highest of mountains in those four years. In our three and a half years of dating we only touched the tip of the iceberg of what we would have to lean together for in our marriage. All in all, the biggest lesson I've learned is to lean together, not apart, for everything, good bad and all the little things in between.
To give you an idea of what we have grown together through, in our first four years of marriage:

4 moves: 3 within the city, 1 from Florida to Michigan
1 puppy, now 3 years old
8 job changes
1 death my step-father
1 birth of our beautiful daughter now 15 months old
1 miscarriage, still painfully fresh in our hearts
Several family illnesses

We've been given every opportunity to grow apart, to find the faults in each other and to let the wounds fester, especially with the valley we are currently going through. I can understand why people don't want to talk about miscarriage, I personally struggled to share ours myself. But to those who have lost a baby, you are not alone, that's why I wanted to share. That baby was a blessing and I am not ashamed to talk about our loss.

On February 10th, we went in to my doctor for an ultrasound with the thought that we would get to see the heartbeat of our 8 weeks along baby. Our second, after a easy first pregnancy with our 15 month old daughter. This baby wasn't exactly planned, but we were so excited because we knew what was coming. Our 15 month old has brought us so much joy, we couldn't wait for the joy of a second child. 

The appointment started off so well, my doctor asked our wishes this time around, anything that was important. I was unable to breastfeed with our daughter and I really wanted to give it my best shot again. Our doctor was greatly supportive and it encourage us. She performed the exam and said my cervix was progressing as it should be. Then came the ultrasound. Looking at the screen, the pregnancy didn't look at all like it had last time. The baby was about 6 weeks in growth and there was no heartbeat. We were so blindsided, it was not on our minds that this could happen, not after the first pregnancy went so well. But there we were, feeling like we had been cast out to sea.

We were sent to the hospital for a second ultrasound. We went, saw the exact same thing, but they didn't want to say the word until we waited 7-10 days and had a follow up ultrasound. So we waited. My HCG levels were not doubling the way they should, they weren't doubling at all. In 9 days, they barely went up. We knew in our hearts what we were facing and yet you can't get rid of that little sliver of hope that it was just too early for the heartbeat. Maybe our dates were wrong.

But we knew they weren't. We knew my hormones weren't doing what they should.  So 10 days later, here we were again, 3rd ultrasound, which was already one more than we had gotten in our last pregnancy. No growth, no heartbeat, still at 6 weeks growth when we should have been at 9 weeks.

I don't tell you this for any other reason than this: I won't grieve without my husband. Sure, I'm the one going through the miscarriage physically, but we are both dealing emotionally and mentally. We will always know that we have a baby in heaven not on earth that one day we will get to meet, a sibling for our daughter.

Don't go inward when you are hurting, those are the moments when we change as a person. When you go through something that you never thought you would, it changes the way you think and hope and dream. It changes everything. If you don't go through it together...well you could very well grow apart. When we become stuck inside ourselves, that's when the wounds fester. When we don't talk about what's happening and how we hurt, we think that the other person doesn't care or doesn't hurt or doesn't feel the way you feel. So share your hurts, your fears, your worries, your dreams, your hopes, share it all. 

Lean together. God doesn't mean for us to go through anything alone, we need companionship, whether that is your spouse, your family or friends. There are a lot of things that we have said in the face of this hurt: something must have been wrong, this baby is safe and sound, not hurting; we wouldn't wish a life of hurt of for this child, we prefer the child rest easy in heaven. Regardless of what was wrong, we wanted that baby, not any other, and telling moms who miscarry that at least they can get pregnant....just don't. They wanted that baby, in that moment.

Because the pain isn't an instant, it's continuous. The next several months will be filled with thoughts of the baby that should be growing, the baby we should be preparing for. Then, when we are ready to try again, the next pregnancy will be filled with the fear that it will happen again, because the reality is that one in four women go through this and that doesn't change in risk for it happening again. I'll still have a one in four chance of it happening. 

What will get us through it is by being in it together, by holding on and knowing that regardless, we have a beautiful little girl. Who knows the choices that will have to made in the years ahead of us, but the decision we need to make right now and every day for the rest of our lives is to be together, through each moment, good or bad. It's not a decision you make just once, you need to make it every day. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lessons I Learned

Tomorrow my little turkey baby will be turning the wild one. I'm not sure how it's happened, but here we are, on the eve of her birth. It's amazing to look back and see where we were and to see how it all panned out. How amazing our God is! He has blessed us with this beautiful little girl who is such a light in our lives. She has taught us so very much and I thought I would share our journey and what we have learned with all of you good people. Whether you do not have kids or you have seven, I think each kid has their own lessons to teach. So here are the lessons Q had for us.

1. Let go and let God:

Quinn was born at 3:01 Thanksgiving morning via emergency C-section. She was not getting enough oxygen and her heartbeat slowed each time I had a contraction. The placenta had already started to detach. When our doctor came in to tell us that our sweet girl was not doing well, I think my heart stopped. It seemed like she took forever and a day to tell us what was wrong. Time slowed and we were so scared. In reality, it most likely took less than a minute for her to explain what was happening and that she wanted to get us into the OR. We let go of our expectations and trusted that we would be holding our baby very soon. They walked me to the OR to get my spinal. The anesthesiologist was amazing, so calm and warm. She walked me through the whole thing. We were so amazed by the team in there. They figuratively and literally held our hands through the entire process. At the end of it all, we were holding a perfect and healthy little girl. Maybe it wasn't according to our plan, but it was according to His.

2. Find your parenting style:

Whatever we had read or heard before we held our daughter really did not prepare us. What works for someone else could not help you at all. Embrace the confusion and panic. I had full on meltdowns when it came to breastfeeding. What's important is to do what is right for you and baby. Is baby thriving? Then good, you are succeeding at parenting, whatever style you choose. Everyone will have their opinion on what you are doing, but if your bundle of joy is happy and healthy, then all is right.

3. Accept the things that come:

Just because I couldn't breastfeed Q doesn't mean I won't try again with the next one. I struggled after birth with it not going the way I had imagined. My vaginal, no meds delivery turned into a emergency c-section. I struggled with the thought that my body had failed me and kept failing me when I couldn't breastfeed. Then I just looked at Q one day and realized that she was here. Sure, it wasn't perfect and it has left me with my battle scar, but she is here guys. And she is beautiful.  Our bodies work exactly how they are meant to and it's amazing that babies are formed in us to begin with. Let's take a moment and just be thankful for each and every child.

4. Don't compare:

Quinn was walking at 11 months and we've been running ever since. Our girl doesn't slow down and we love it. Some babies are super content and love to just cuddle all day long, not our Quinn. Her cuddles are a second long and then she's off. But how she loves. She is so loving. So what, Quinn isn't like that one baby who has slept through the night since they were two weeks old and has fought naps since day one. We are gifted these sweet babies and we need to encourage their differences, not try to conform them. Quinn was never able to be on a real schedule, she didn't do well on one. As soon as we took her off it, she thrived. No baby is alike, embrace it. Love it. We do.

5. Don't wish that stage away:

There was a time for two weeks when we brought Quinn home from the hospital that we could not get her to sleep. She would be awake for hours, which is definitely not normal for newborns. We called the pediatrician, read books, tried everything we could and it was miserable. There were tears of frustration and exhaustion. Constant rocking, swaying, patting and humming. Eventually we all settled into life together and she stopped being as difficult. She still fought sleep until 8 months old, but she was able to go to sleep much easier than before. I miss those days now, those first few days when her hands were closed in tight fists and fuzzies would gather, when she would snuggle in close to sleep and give sleepy grins. I wish I could have Quinn at every stage all at once, they are all so amazing. Don't wish away the stage you are in, you won't get it back and you'll miss it. Even with all the crazy, you'll miss it. I know I do.

6. Take pictures and videos:

You know, so when you are on the eve of their first birthday you can look back and have a sob fest. Capture as much as possible, you'll forget things and want to look back. Or you'll just get sentimental and want to reminisce. It's ok to cry about that baby growing up, we all do it. No judgement here, in fact I'll join you. How is year almost gone??

7. Soak them in:

Pause every once in a while and just soak them in. Look at their facial expressions (smiles, pouts, crinkling nose), their goofy antics, their big eyes looking up at you, their hand holding yours. Smell that baby smell, give kisses and bear hugs. Listen to them jabber in their baby language, giggle when you tickle them. And grab them up when they reach their arms up to you. Just take it all in. Golly, if you could bottle the sweetness of a baby, no one could be unhappy. They bring such joy.

8. Let them:

Quinn is such an independent little girl. She explores everything and we let her. We let her take little tumbles, get in the thick of playtime with kids, and let her experience life. There is nothing like watching your kid learn about the world. Looking through their eyes is so special. They see things like no other. Don't hold them back, go with them and hold their hand if they need you to.

Yes, that is my child licking a swing. Things happen.

This list could go on, but these are the big ones. And I know in another year, there will be even more to add. Parenthood is an amazing experience, one full of challenges, love, and memories. However you become a parent, whether it is birth, adoption, fostering or by fur baby, you won't regret it.