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A Fresh New Start

I’m settling in to the new house.  It’s such a wonderful change from living in an apartment!  A fenced in yard for my son to run around, no worrying about crying children bothering the neighbors, having a front porch to decorate, and having a garage are things that will feel novel for quite a while, I’m sure.

We’ve been positively gorging ourselves on the outdoors.  Play time?  Take it outside.  Time to check my email? Do it on my phone, while sitting on the front porch.  Need to exercise?  Forget pilates – I have a garden that needs weeding! Speaking of gardening, I’ve been surprised to discover that I truly enjoy it!  I’ve always enjoyed the results of gardening, of course – who doesn’t love a beautiful, well tended Eden? But my experiences with gardening tended to involve blazing heat, a time limit, and someone standing over me, telling me what to do.  It’s so different when it’s my own yard.  I put on music and a lovely hat, and simply enjoy being outside.  I can take breaks when I want to, I don’t have to push myself, and, of course, I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor!  Having only been here a week, all I’ve done is simple things like pruning and weeding, as I’m still a novice, but you can already see an improvement.

I have so much to learn though – there’s a gorgeous rosebush in the yard, but all the roses on it are sick – I suspect an insect infestation?  I’ve been pruning and dead-heading, but I’ll have to contact an expert to do more.

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So, after a couple of hours cruising around the neighborhoods we were looking at, a wonderful talk with our real estate agent, and an initially positive call with the loan broker, all our plans came to a crashing halt.  

We have no credit.

This has happened to us before.  We got loans, got credit cards, and worked to build credit.  But we canceled the card just over a year ago, and apparently credit has a “use by” date. We’ll still be talking to a couple of people, but chances are, we won’t be able to buy a house for at least another year.

I hate that we’re being punished for making financially sound decisions. After all, we’re young, married college students with zero debt!  How rare is that?  But we haven’t played the game, so we don’t get a house.

I’m also frustrated at the idea of moving back into an apartment. Noisy neighbors, no parking, can’t paint or change anything… and only a year, so no chance to really settle in and make friends.

I guess that’s the worst.  I’m SO READY to put down roots.  For the last six years, I’ve moved from place to place, never sure how long I would stay, scared to make friends or really settle in.  I want to feel comfortable in my own space.

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Scary Things

So, in the past couple of weeks, we’ve decided to A: move up closer to my husband’s work (two hours of driving a day is killing him), and B: buy a house.

Frankly, I’m terrified.

I love living with my parents.  With my depression and anxiety, it’s made things so much easier to know that if I have a total breakdown, there’s someone here to take care of JJ.  I love helping my mom cook.  I love watching my husband play video games with my younger brothers.  I love watching my dad’s face when his grandson gets excited to see him come home.

But all good things must come to an end, I guess.  We moved here I was so sick during my pregnancy that my husband was scared to leave me alone, and then stayed because we knew the chances of me getting Post Partum Depression were very, very high and we wanted a safety net.  I’m not pregnant any more, and my depression is under control.  My son turns a year old in a few weeks, and I’m doing so much better.

But buying a house?  That’s scary enough to send me right back into the arms of panic.

What kind of house will we be able to afford?  My husband works in a very expensive part of town, and a dollar doesn’t go as far up there as it does down here.  Do we have enough savings for a down payment?  Closing cost?  What if we buy the house and then find problems?  We’ve never done any kind of renovations before, and frankly have no desire to – but we don’t have the money to buy a shiny new house.

I’ve managed to come up with a list of “Needs, Wants, and Perks”, but the “wants” list looks to long compared to the prices we’d be able to afford.

We’re meeting with a family friend today who is a real estate agent.  Hopefully, she’ll have answers to our questions.

 

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Nursing to sleep is pretty much the worst thing you can do to your children.  It will suck away your free time, make your children clingy, mean you can never leave them alone, encourage *gasp* cosleeping, and of course… they will never. ever.  ever.  be able to fall asleep without a nipple in their mouths.   If you do it now, you’re setting yourself up for months of tantrums, sleepless nights, and tears down the line.

At least according to parenting books.  Sleep gurus.  And every website known to man.

It’s common, conventional wisdom.  The only people who nurse to sleep are those who fall into “accidental” parenting, otherwise known as “I’ll do anything to get this baby to sleep so I can sleep for more than 45 minutes”, and they always, always regret it down the line.

And so I spent nearly five months refusing to nurse my son to sleep.  I’ll not go into the sleep deprivation and desperation I felt.  Naps?  What naps?  My son cried himself to sleep on nearly a daily basis.  I hated nursing him for comfort, because he would always fall asleep, and then I had to wake him up.  So when we had tried everything else, we would swaddle him and put him in the swing with white noise playing.  Usually, after about twenty minutes of fussing, he would fall asleep, stay asleep for half an hour, wake up, and we would start the whole process again.  He was miserable, we were miserable, but at least we weren’t nursing him to sleep!

I refused to listen to my mother when she suggested nursing to sleep.  After all, what did she know?  Back then, a parents only options were Nursing To Sleep and Crying It Out.  What could she know that the  No Cry Sleep Solution, the Baby Whisperer, and the Sleep Lady not? Times have moved on!  It was possible to get any child to sleep without nursing OR resorting to cry it out.  I knew that for a fact.  I just had to work harder, try one more system…

And so the drama continued.  Our nursing relationship suffered, because I was forever pulling the nipple out of his mouth as soon as he closed his eyes.  I couldn’t get anything done all day because I was crashing on the couch for those few precious minutes he WAS asleep. And when we were away from home and the swing… well, the less said the better.

Finally, about a week ago, as I was reading one of the many “sleep aide” books, I had an epiphany:

Every baby uses sleep aides.

This book went from saying how terrible it was to nurse to sleep to informing me it was vital that the baby ALWAYS sleep in the same bed, in a darkened room, with an established “settle down” routine before hand (such as a lullaby, a cuddle, and a bath at night).  This routine and system were vital “sleep cues”, telling baby it’s sleepy time.

How was this any different from nursing?  Didn’t all these things limit THOSE parents as well?

I realized it’s about what works for YOUR family, right now.

For a working mother who has to leave her child with another caretaker a large amount of time, I can easily see how such a scenario would be best: it doesn’t matter if it’s Mommy, Daddy, or Nanny, the baby knows it’s time to sleep.

But I’m out of the house several days a week.  And I bring my baby with me.  I’m blessed to be in a position where times when someone else is caring for my child are few and far between.  Frankly speaking, the number of times JJ needs to sleep away from home with me far outnumber the number of times he needs to sleep at home without me.

And so about a week ago, when JJ started rubbing his eyes, I took him to the bedroom, swaddled him, and nursed.  He was asleep in four minutes.  After 15 he was asleep deeply enough for me to unlatch him and put him in the bassinet.  He slept and unprecedented hour and 45 minutes, woke up happy and smiling, and I got a mound of housework done.

I LOVE our new system.  I’m not afraid to nurse him for comfort any more; if he falls asleep, great!  When we leave the house, it’s easy to pack a a+a blanket to swaddle him with, and I have a white noise app on my phone to drown out any distractions.  I find I enjoy the quiet time, laying down next to him, forced away from housework and laptop and iPhone.

And when Darling Husband comes to get me because he can’t get the baby to sleep, I smile and gently shove any resentment away.  Because yes, it’s inconvenient sometimes.  But it’s an inconvenience I choose, one I can live with, one that fits MY family RIGHT NOW.

Will we have a huge struggle down the line?

Maybe.

But I’m tired of struggling more NOW.  I want to enjoy my son.  And it’s much easier to do when we’ve all had enough sleep.

Should everyone nurse to sleep?  No way!  I can see how it would be incredibly difficult and handicapping for many families. But for me, for my baby, it’s perfect.

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The Simple Life

 

I’ve been reading a lot on minimalism lately. and the concept really appeals to me.  I’m a natural pack rat, from a long line of pack rats.  Of course, none of us are “Hoarders” worthy, but clutter has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember (to my father’s frustration).

Still though, lately I’ve been more and more drawn to the streamlined movements – a smaller house, but with all the features you dream of, a simple wardrobe of high quality clothes that will last for years, cutting back on the “junk” that fills up every day.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading – there are some great minimalist blogs out there.

One thing I want to clarify:  I am not, and never will, be a part of the “Own only 100 items movement”.  To me, the stress of getting rid of all your stuff, of not having the things you need, defeats the purpose of minimalism, which is to make your life more enriching by removing the things that suck time, money and energy from you without giving anything back.

Fewer belongings means less cleaning.

Fewer commitments means more time with family.

Less clutter means a greater sense of peace and wellbeing.

Buying something once, rather than having to replace it every few months/years means  you can get better quality.

 

I’ve been trying to be more “green” for a while now, and while in many ways they overlap, there are a few goals I’ve given up because they became too much of a hassle.  Like washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar – frugal, natural, and healthy, a lot of people love it.  To me, there were simply too many steps – mixing the baking soda, diluting the vinegar, the weekly clarifying treatments that our hard water requires… and of course, the long process of finding the exact ratios and schedules necessary for my hair.  I really wanted to make it work, but never managed to.

So, back to Garnier Fructis I go.  My hair is happier, showers aren’t stressful anymore, and if I’m using more chemicals than is strictly ‘healthy’, well I’ve cut back in a lot of other ways.

I love making my own cleaning supplies – an empty spray bottle with diluted vinegar (for disinfecting) and a paste made from baking soda and water (for scrubbing) clean pretty much everything.   Cleaning supplies have always given me headaches, and I find the vinegar smell dissipates much faster.

I’ve never been much of a makeup user, and while I kept a few basics around (mascara, blush, lipgloss) for when I really want to dress up, I threw out all the stuff I was keeping around (and having to replace every year or so) in an attempt to start using it.  Once I stopped all the fancy “acne cleansers” and treatments, and switched to just water and a washcloth (and a mild cold cream when I do wear make up), my skin cleared up dramatically – but more importantly, I slowly cared less.

As strange as it sounds, I spend far less time on my hair now that it’s tailbone length than when it was shoulder length.  The only products I use are shampoo and conditioner, I never blowdry, and putting my hair up in any one of several cute, intricate looking styles held with a single hair stick takes far less time than “styling” ever did.

 

I’m working on my wardrobe right now – I’ve planned out what I want, and I’m working on getting rid of what’s not on the list, and replacing the things I have with much higher quality items.  It took a while (and a lot of reading) to figure out a style that was simple, comfortable, and still looked nice.  So many of the ‘recommended’ wardrobes online are for working women, and the ones for stay at home moms didn’t have the clothes I needed for church.  So I started paying attention to what I really wear, and came up with this:

10 nice fitted tees

3 blouses

4 pairs of pants (2 well fitting jeans, 2 capris for summer)

4 skirts (2 knee length, 2 ankle length)

5 dresses for church.

Plus some assorted cardigans, sweaters, etc.  Maybe it’s too small, but if it ends up being so, it’s easy to add one more skirt or something.  I’m also working on getting all my colors to coordinate – I favor (and look best in) greens, blues and purples, so a wardrobe made up of those colors both makes me happy, and makes getting dressed in the morning easy (when I don’t have to match things).

 

My shoe wardrobe is also getting an overhaul (or will, once I have this baby and we find out whether I grew a shoe size or not).  I spent my whole life in $20 shoes that had to be replaced every four months, and thought myself “thrifty”.  I had back pain, sore feet, and a box overflowing with shoes I “might need” that weren’t in good condition.  I finally gave in to my husband and grandfather (both of whom believe in spending good money on shoes) and, with a little reading to figure out a brand that was good quality and comfortable, I got a pair of brown leather naturalizer sandals for my birthday this past spring.

They are SO COMFORTABLE.  I have worn them every day since (at least until the last couple weeks, when it started getting too cold for sandals), and while they were $80, eight months after purchase, they still look brand new.

I plan on getting two good pairs of boots (one black, one brown) for the winter, a quality pair of tennis shoes, and a single pair of NICE black heels.  With my brown sandals and a pair of crocs for days at the river, I really don’t need anything else.  And, with care, they’ll last years.

 

What have you done to streamline your life?  Do you believe in “Living with less, but only the best”?

 

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One of the fun things about being pregnant is the planning – at least for me.  I love researching different options, finding the best product for the lowest price, balancing green/frugal/easy, and endlessly changing my mind, until I am finally, firmly satisfied with what I’ve chosen to do.

Several years ago, when we first started trying to get pregnant, I began researching.  Some things were easy; for example, breastfeeding was always a given.  Others were a matter of convincing my Dear Husband: cloth diapers, home schooling, elimination communication.  And then there were things I thought sounded nice, but wasn’t convinced myself about, like a natural birth, co-sleeping, and so-called “gentle discipline”.

DH actually got on board with cloth diapering pretty quickly, once he saw how easy it can be – he even made me a spreadsheet to help me juggle numbers!  His only request is that we have one, simple system, instead of a cloth diaper “stash” of various types for different occasions.  It took a long time for me to decide what I wanted to do, since it always feels like the “perfect diaper” is out there, but I think I’ve finally settled.

My next post will be a run down of cloth diapers, the different types and options, and what I’ve decided will work best for us.

 

It really is incredible all the different parenting options, products and advice out there.  It can be really overwhelming, but at the same time, it feels almost like a treasure hunt!  You just KNOW that somewhere, someone has come up with the perfect thing for you and your family.

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FOR TODAY
Outside my window… I can hear the morning birds singing.
I am thinking… that I hate doing phone calls (the business/errands kind)
I am thankful for… phones, so I can get so many things done at home.
From the kitchen… cold chicken for breakfast, oh joy!
I am wearing… my blue polka dot nighty with my initials on it.
I am creating… my first post in a long while!
I am going… to sleep soon (hopefully).
I am reading… A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle
I am hoping… that my prescription gets worked out.
I am hearing… the refrigerator hum
Around the house… are piles of fresh, clean laundry needing to be sorted.
One of my favorite things… Is my new steel water bottle.  It’s green!
A few plans for the rest of the week: The Cherokee Meeting on Saturday, yay!

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