Wednesday, January 17, 2018

milk money – how we’ve cut corners since baby #2

am i the only one who still remembers having to bring a quarter for an extra milk?!

funny thing is, i don’t even drink milk anymore.  guess i got my fill in elementary.

when we found out we were expecting our second bundle there were certainly moments of sheer joy and others of ‘oh, sh*t’.  we were in the middle of our home build, i was looking at another position and our oldest hadn’t even turned one.  then we started to consider the financials.  yuck!  sure, babies don’t have to be expensive but if you haven’t made the choice {nor desire} to stay home those daycare costs can really add up!

i consider myself frugal, not cheap – there’s a difference – so here are the top areas  we’ve either chose to scale back or be a little more penny-wise without sacrificing quality or quality of life.

Let’s start with the three biggest baby costs:

childcare –  our center offers a discount for multiple kiddos – you better believe we took advantage of that.  it kind of cracks me up!  just like retail, only it’s more like: have more, save more.   we are also utilizing our ‘vacation time’ days to reduce costs on days we are home with the kids anyway (dr. appts., birthdays etc.) – this saves us up to $70 a month + we max our flex spending account each year!  huge pre-tax savings!!  we don’t have much family in the area so if we want to go out we either trade childcare with our close friends who have kiddos the same age or ask our parents for planned nights before hiring a sitter.  in short: we don’t go on many solo dates.

diapers – i’ve tried just about everything and sampled several brands because they were free and because carson has sensitive skin.  i’ve settled on the target up&up brand.  they work really well for my little guys and save us roughly $10-20 a month + we often buy in bulk and get target gift cards on bundled purchases.  whoop!

formula – breastfeeding both my boys (even though i’ve exclusively pumped most of the time) has been a huge cost saver!  it’s a labor of love in my opinion and i, for one, have a love-hate relationship with it.  i will only need to supplement with tatum for a few months before moving to milk so I’ve asked the ped clinic for formula samples of the same brand i used on carson and have LOADS of formula in our pantry.  with any luck we shouldn’t need to buy any more.

then there are the other things:

food – did you know sam’s club offers discount memberships for expecting moms?!  me either.  until we signed up.  we’ve actually saved quite a bit by shopping there on a monthly basis.  we’re selective and i crowd-sourced the best deals before going crazy.   i’m also religious with meal-planning and only buy what we need.  it’s worked great since having carson!  we don’t dine out much and even when we do we prefer sport’s bars or sub shops.

clothes – where do i start?!  i’ve identified a few ways i prefer to save for each of us but there are lots more.  i definitely love dressing our family in current trends but also recognize i spend in this category more than most.  it’s a personal choice.  i’m also more inclined to spend more for something if it’s great quality, timeless and versatile.  so what do i do to save:

for me// bottomline: i spend less – aka #momguilt aka #lackoftime.  i’ve cut back my personal clothing spend by lots.  i’ve instead focused on buying more/earning more ;o) accessories and plain pieces that work well for both work and my momiform.  i layer jackets for work and spend little on items i’ll wear once.  (you guys!  i just scored a formal for an upcoming event for $38!!!  ah-may-zing buy!) i also co-sign.  this year alone i’ve co-signed and earned $300 from things i’ll never wear or carry again now that i’m a mom.  the move into our house was motivation to clean out my closet.  i used that money to invest in things i needed for my new job like a raincoat, blazer and flat booties.

for the boys// i either buy second-hand, with gift cards, or from small shops.  i rarely buy them anything brand new unless it’s for a special occasion and even then it may be second-hand.  i co-sign here too and use my credit to buy things as the need arises – like spare snow pants for daycare or more sleepers for tatum because he’s

for cody// he couldn’t care any less.  he just wants to be dressed appropriately.  i buy him things for special occasions or as needed.  every now and then i drag him to the store to shop – with a coupon.  it’s a delight, lemme tell ya.

target – after several asks at the cash register i finally signed up for the dang card.  it’s linked to my checking account and it saves me 5% each trip, even at the starbucks!  i also get bundles of coupons each quarter that i actually use…..and since we all know my affinity for target it’s also a no-brainer.  i also limit the number of trips i make.  if i don’t go i’m not tempted – and i’m tempted by nearly everything they carry.  lately i’ve only gone twice a month…and still feel like i need an intervention.  haha!

collaborations – not many of you have this as an option but if you do – work it!  the blog has allowed me to collaborate on so many products in exchange for reviews that i would’ve had to buy otherwise.  even when companies reach out i only collaborate on items i actually want or would use frequently.

experiences – living rich in experiences vs. things has been a mind shift.  we are putting money away for a big vacation (hopefully next year) while also planning for a few smaller family and mommy/daddy only getaways in 2018.  we stay home a lot more now and rarely go out so that frees up more to spend on the mini getaways that we have planned so that we enjoy them fully.

here’s me being incredibly open about our financials…..gulp:

cody and i look at our budget frequently.  i’ve become uniquely (and annoyingly) aware of my spending habits and trends.  we can pay all of the necessary expenses on just 1 income (it would be super-duper tight if we had to, but we could).  we live within our means yet are still able to give a little something to our church.  we put plenty into retirement, have fantastic health insurance, cars that (while they aren’t flashy) are well maintained and a new home.  we are very fortunate but have also worked very hard.  we don’t get lavish gifts and we aren’t getting any assistance.  budgeting stinks but we’re committed to it.  i’m not going to lie and say it’s easy.  i want SO.MANY.THINGS. (especially for the house) it’s dumb.  being a mom has been the best budget incentive.

how are you cutting corners??  i would love to know!

milk bath photography//ls photography


Friday, January 12, 2018

mama confessions : 2.0

it’s probably about time for another round of these.

if there’s one thing i never want to lose sight of with this whole blogging thing it’s my humility.  bloggers, myself included, often share about their lives in ways that make it appear as if everything is perfect. well let’s just get one thing straight – it’s not!  nope.  but why not feature and focus on the happy?! this series is intended to share those imperfect, ugly crying, oh-so-embarrassing moments with you because at the end of the day those are the moments that make us all human and keep us all connected on this crazy, dizzying journey that is life.

one.//  let’s start with these pictures.  oh my goodness!  it required two separate tries, like two separate days. + lots of frustration (from me).  my husband is the best. my kiddos are so cute at just being them.  my photog is bomb.  now if only the sun was out a little longer these days.  you fill in the blanks.

two.//  (another blow out story) i’ve been telling this story often and it’s about time i get it documented on here.  a couple of months ago i took the boys to church – solo.  not a big deal.  it had been a particularly trying week so i knew church would be good for my soul and i prayed that i would hear God’s message.  then, tatum pooped all over me.  like bright yellow, runny poop.  all over my dress and so loud that the kind man next to me turned to smile and said ‘we’ve all been there.’  as fast as i could manage we bailed.  i nearly wacked that same kind man in the head with the carseat that i was awkwardly holding as i juggled the diaper bag and tried to keep the babe over the giant yellow stain he created until we were in the narthex. a quick diaper change in the bathroom and an applesauce pouch for carson later and we were headed back home.

three.//  has anyone else discovered edible cookie dough….and managed eat the whole container themselves…within days?!  i just opened another.

four.//  i told cody i didn’t want anything for christmas after he bought me a new coat.  then i sent him a wishlist.  in my defense 1) most items were relatively inexpensive (except for the sneaks he actually bought) and 2) i didn’t buy them for myself as i christmas shopped #selfcontrol #kindof…..i just couldn’t help myself.

five.//  things we’ve said to our toddler in the past few weeks:

“we don’t saw people.”

“did you really just poop on the floor?!”

“you cannot touch the baby’s penis.”

two days ago – “please do not color on the baby.”

six.//  cody told carson to tell me i looked pretty the other day.  carson came into the bathroom pointed to my thigh and said something with such intent deliberation….i had no idea so asked him to repeat it.  he then pointed to a mole on my thigh and said the same thing.  cody asked if he told me i was pretty….um, yep.  something like that.

seven.// after a season hiatus i’m back to watching the bachelor and keeping up with the kardashians.  and dateline….balance.

eight.// i told my boss the other day that i’ve finally come out of my post-partum ‘mom fog’  i’m in employee and labor relations.  enough said.

nine.//  tatum is learning to crawl.  he goes backward pretty well but he’s still in that awkward coordination, excited humping/rocking, face first into the carpet lunge phase.  we make a big deal to celebrate these types of milestones and carson loves to get in on it.  he’s very supportive and enjoys being right there to encourage his little brother.  a few nights ago we told carson we needed him to give tatum some space to crawl.  then we asked carson if he could show tatum how to crawl and you know what – he performed the best ‘excited humping/rocking, face first into the carpet lunge’ crawl impersonation i’ve ever seen!  he is always paying attention….it’s what he knows to be crawling right now.  haha!

ten.//  i hate hair washing nights.  around christmas i literally went a week without washing my hair.  #skankstatus  thank goodness for dry shampoo or i would have been a total grease ball. it’s all the lather, wash, soak, lather, rinse, product, blow dry, product, style that makes me want to just cut it off or learn how to master a decent looking bun.

eleven.//  true story: we had a baby scare a few weeks back.   as in, i thought i was preggo.  nope. not at all. not even a little.  phew.

would love to hear your mama confessions!!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

two thousand seventeen


what can i say, it was a year.  a year of change.  lots and lots of change.

every year seems to get a little more crazy, a little more busy and with it brings new challenges.  after a somewhat melancholy christmas day holiday that left me feeling anything but merry and bright i’m reminded in this post and through our pictures of what an amazing year and life we created in 2017.  there were so many high highs and some bumps in the road but what’s life without a few ups and downs?!

i can’t say it was our best year ever but it was pretty dang good.


the year started cold – as they usually do in iowa – so we ventured to the library (a first for carson) and made sure to capture a few bump pictures as i entered the second tri.


we found out that our baby was another little boy and i was already day dreaming of a bunked bedroom and years of legos, twinning duds, and toy cars for my little men.  carson also came down with rsv and landed back in the hospital for another week long stay almost one year to the day from the year prior. #preemielungs #scary and that next week i started at isu.


we capitalized on the lingering snow and took some fun maternity pictures in the cold.  then, because of our cabin fever and being stuffed in a small apartment for far too long, we took carson to the circus on the wettest, rainiest spring day.  he loved it!


we were homeless….then we moved!!  finally!  and just in time for easter.  since the move we’ve added a concrete patio, sod, window treatments and cody has partially finished the basement – texture, paint and carpet and we’re done!!!!!  we have been busy!


we spent several weekends waiting on baby.  we visited the zoo (carson’s first trip), took several walks, had carson’s 18 mo. pictures taken and even got the boat out a couple of times.  tatum matthew arrived on the sunday before memorial day at 7:02 AM.  he was absolutely perfect!


despite having just had a baby we were on the move.  we attended a state championship soccer game – a first for us all – to watch cody’s cousin, took in a local minor league baseball game (knowing we wouldn’t make a brave’s game this year), cody got a hole-in-one (first in ames golf league history), got the boat out lots more and had a newborn photoshoot at home.

more water.  that’s just what we do.  we were regulars at the pool and then traveled as a family of four to lake tahoe, ca.  it was an amazingly beautiful place and i cannot wait to go back!


mommy went back to work – with mixed emotions – and we settled back into our new routine.  the boys were dedicated at our church in this year’s celebration sunday and then we lunched after.  it was a gorgeous day that i’ll not soon forget.


i embraced fall so much this year and then watched our weekends slip away with one calendared item after another.  a visit with thomas the train, a wedding, a weekend away for mommy and daddy’s anniversary and a trip to kc were the highlights.


we only got to the pumpkin patch once this year as a family.  it was everything and more.  we also enjoyed the sobotka nationals, celebrated carson’s second birthday and went out for a memorable first halloween trick-or-treating experience.  loved every minute of october!


while daddy worked on the basement mommy took the boys for their 2 year and 6 month pictures on a chilly fall day.  we finished carson’s big boy room and transitioned him to his own bed then traveled for thanksgiving.


daddy went hunting and mommy shopped for the first half of the month.  then it was all christmas, all the time.  the boys met santa and had their pictures snapped so many times carson now has his ‘cheese’ down.  we spent another three weekends on the road and were wiped come NYE.

though not one for resolutions i plan to do more of the following in 2018.

:: sleep ::

:: hold my babies ::

:: continue to challenge myself to love without expectation ::

:: slow down and stay home ::

 happy new year and thanks for following!!!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

tatum matthew : seven months

started from the womb and now you’re here!  haha. seven months here!

i’m in complete disbelief but then again i always am when i sit down to capture these milestone posts.  if i could stop time i would do it right now – this very minute –  with both you and carson – these ages have been so much fun.  and seven months baby is just i can’t handle it!!!

no doctor updates though we know you continue to climb the charts and aside from a stuffy nose you’ve been a healthy boy.  thank goodness!

the past month has been one for the books with all things christmas all over our radar.  it’s been nonstop christmas pjs, cartoons, and yummy treats.  yet you do what you do best and roll with it all – happily chewing on whatever you can get those chunky fingers on.

sleep//  ugh.  i really wish i knew where we went wrong.  you went from being the best sleeper to being up once or twice a night – demanding cuddles and often nothing more.  you will not go back to sleep most nights unless it’s in one of our arms.  not that it’s all that bad but it doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep for mommy and daddy.  and for the past week you’ve been stuffed up with a cold meaning that waking two or three times a night has become our new norm.

personality// i’ve already commented about how easy going you are and that hasn’t changed.  you are also uniquely aware of anything your brother is doing and want nothing more than to be in on it all.  if he has something, you want it too.  the exact same thing.  it’s already causing issue. ;o) you’re our little ‘surfer dude’ and seem to take this big, crazy world in stride.

looks//  a thicker patch of peach fuzz tops your noggin these days.  you have the longest little fingers and look so much more like mommy’s side of the family than daddy’s.

development// still not rolling.  actually you may be outright protesting the roll but you will work those legs in ways that force your bottom up off the ground when you’re in tummy time.  you are strong little man!  you sit with relative ease and are fine-tuning your pincer grab.  you also like to tip buckets of toys and reach far to grab whatever it is you want – usually one of carson’s toys or mommy’s phone.  you can see far and recognize your name.  musical toys are of particular interest and i’ve caught you watching our mouths recently.  it won’t be long before you’re imitating our sounds and spouting off a few words.

eats//  what an exciting month!  you’ve had all sorts of baby food and now actually prefer it over your breast milk.  i’ll continue to pump but i’m thinking our days are coming to an end which is most definitely bittersweet.  you also get frustrated at times when fed because you prefer to hold the spoon.  it’s a favorite so i’ve gotten in the habit of having a spare nearby, easy for the  grabbing.

loves//  baby food. toes. daddy.  carson’s toys.  bath time.  attention.

firsts//  visiting santa claus.  christmas jams.  holiday mickey mouse cartoons.  a mega bubble bath.  christmas morning.

that bro bond// it really is something.  carson like to ‘wiggle, wiggle, wiggle’ your legs like mommy and daddy, feed you, ‘carry you’, sit really, extra close next to you at meal time, put your dirty diapers in the pail and fetch us new ones.  he still calls you ‘brudar soboka’ and asks for you every morning.  he’s also starting to play with you and give you toys.  and i do believe he even wants you around – like all the time.  you do get a little fluster when he gives you long, heavy hugs but also squeal in delight when he comes close to ‘play’.

other bits and pieces

you reach for carson’s toys even when you have a pile at your feet easy for the taking.

you have the fullest belly laughs and especially find it hilarious when we tickle your neck with our own face as we make funny noises.  then you hiccup for the next 15 minutes.

this past month you were introduced to the snot sucker.  you are not friends.  and won’t be.  period.

those big blue eyes can make you smile no.matter.what.

can we just talk about those motorcycle arms that never quit?!  you hold your arms our and twist those hands as if you’re revving up your ride and it cracks me up.  you do it when you’re most excited.

you can sit really well but occasionally tip over in excitement when someone comes near – you look up and up and up and then bonk!  you go down but then we set you back up and you are oh so happy again.

legs. you love diaper changes and get them going like crazy once the pants and diaper come off..  you are SO expressive through your legs.

so chunky – one of these days i know those rolls won’t be note worthy and a single chin will appear and all that baby fluff I brag about will be gone and I’ll miss ‘em.

what is it about this sweet seven month baby stage that makes me want about 5 more babes?!

oh baby boy.  i am loving everything about you right now!  i can’t get over how smitten i am with being a mommy this second time around.  this is my favorite baby age!  watching you learn and grow and experience the world around you brings me unparalleled joy.  it’s just the best.  you continue to brighten our days with your easy demeanor and endless smiles.  our cups are forever full!  we love, love, love you sweet baby!

s e v e n month photo dump

so grainy and no makeup but might be one of my favorite pictures this month!