Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Woman's Work...

Times have changed since our grandparents were raising our parents. My mom grew up in the 50's and 60's in a middle class family. My grandfather earned a salary as an accountant and my grandmother stayed at home to raise my mom and aunt. That was the norm for most families then and it was accepted and even expected by society. This is definitely not the norm anymore and the idea of motherhood as a profession is very often frowned upon by society today.

Thank you very much, feminists. (Topic for another post perhaps?)

Before my husband, Randall, and I got married over 2 years ago, we agreed that once we started having children, I would stay at home to raise them, at least until they were school age (if we didn't decide to home school). Now that we are expecting our first child, this is becoming a reality. Actually it became a reality earlier than we had originally expected. I decided to quit my 30 hour per week job of baking cupcakes at just 8 weeks into my pregnancy, when the infamous "morning sickness" monster started rearing it's ugly head. I absolutely love baking cupcakes (and eating them!) so it was not easy to stop making money to do what I love, but as most of you have probably read in my precious entries, that first trimester was no walk in the park. So, to sum it up, baking and all-day nausea didn't mix. I wasn't making a lot of money and my husband was up for a promotion within the month so it seemed to be a sensible decision for me to go ahead and quit.

Then came the 2nd trimester. Ah, relief. My energy began to return and the nausea vanished. Hallelujah! But wait, I felt okay again but now I was bringing in no income. Hmm...

Being at home has left me with plenty to do, but I still feel the squeeze of not bringing in any income. I know the desire of my heart is foremost to be a mother and God has provided the means for that, for which I am very thankful. But while my husband is able to provide for our family, right now we could use some extra income. Working with one income after having two for so long has been a challenge and has had us questioning where we need to cut back. While I really am fine with living without some things - eating out more than once a month, cable television, etc. - the hardest part for me has been feeling like I'm not doing enough when I could be bringing in money that we could be saving up for the baby.

So I've been perusing my options for how to bring in some income during these next 5 months and even beyond. I applied for a freelance writing job that would allow me to work at my own pace and write only as many articles as I want to. I have no idea if I will get hired but I do plan on applying for a few of those and hope that maybe one will work out. Here's some other ideas:

- Selling CDs, DVDs and other stuff on Amazon or eBay - not a steady form of income, but hey it's income, right?
- Selling my cupcakes from home - this is a bit more tricky and would pretty much have to be by word of mouth because of health code regulations, but it's something I want to do. Randall and I still have a dream of owning our own bakery and coffee shop business one day so this would be a great way to build up at least a small client base too.
- Sewing and selling aprons - This one is the most out of reach right now because while I have recently purchased a sewing machine, I still haven't learned how to use it! Regardless, I have a love for vintage aprons and want to make them, especially by repurposing old fabrics.

Ladies and moms - I want to know what you think. What are your experiences with managing a family with one income (specifically less than 30,000 per year)? What are some creative ways you've heard or or have used to bring in extra income as a mom?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Did You Say CLOTH Diapers?

Diapers. We've all worn them (and may again with the rising life expectancy) and when we have children of our own, we will all change them and buy them. It's a messy business for sure and an expensive one too, as any parent can attest. Disposable diapers on average cost around $850 per year or $70 per month. For me, that's a jarring number considering my plan to be a thrifty stay-at-home mom. So, I've been considering the alternative - cloth diapers. Yes, I said cloth diapers.

Relax, I'm not speaking of the daunting piece of white cloth that you somehow wrap around a baby's butt and fasten with safety pins. Those are more or less a thing of the past. Today, cloth diapers come with features like snaps, velcro, and some even come with a one-size-fits-all feature that grows with your baby. The upfront cost is higher, as the premium cloth diapers cost around $17 per diaper thus around $400 for 2 dozen, which should be all you will need for the entirety of your child's diapered days. Now that sounds like a better number than $850 to me!

But there is an obviously messy fact to consider - cloth diapers must be washed. This is probably a determining factor for many because let's face it, the thought of cleaning off seemingly endless poop, diaper after diaper, day after day is not a pleasant one. I'll be the first to admit that the ease of throwing a dirty diaper in the trash sounds delightful in comparison! However, I have found that while cleaning a cloth diaper is always a messy job, my research suggests that it's not as scary as my pre-conceived notions about it are. Diaper bins similar to the ones that are used for disposables are available, which not only hold dirty diapers until washing time, but can also mask the smell of them. What I've found to be the most intriguing invention that aids in cloth diaper clean up is the bumGenius brand diaper sprayer. It attaches to your toilet fairly easily, can be stored on the wall, and allows you to spray poop off of the diaper and directly into the toilet before washing. And speaking of washing, while there is always the option of using a diaper service, this almost entirely defeats the economical side of cloth diapering. Diaper services can run you almost as much as it costs to use disposables every month, so I'm scratching that idea. I have a washer and dryer and am certainly no stranger to using them so I would wash them myself, which on average runs you about $15-$20 per month.

There are other pros and cons to the diaper debate that I am not even delving into. Health and safety and environmental friendliness are among the biggest. While these topics do hold some weight in my diapering decision, I chose to stick with the cost side of cloth diapers as it holds the most weight for me personally.

With 6 months left to go before I must make the ultimate diaper decision, I will continue to read and listen to personal experiences and opinions from both sides of the debate, including from you - my readers! Did you or would you choose cloth or disposable and why?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Caffeine - To Drink or Not To Drink

Wow it has been far too long since I have made a post. My plan is to change that and post at least 2 times per week if not more. Here's a quick recap on what's happened since the last time I posted - heard the baby's heartbeat twice, entered the "honeymoon" 2nd trimester and said farewell to nagging nausea, vomiting, food aversions and extreme fatigue, and have begun to grow a "baby bump". Looking forward to finding out the sex of the baby in a few short weeks - November 24th!

It's an exciting time for sure, but the further I get into my pregnancy, the more I seem to read and hear about things to avoid. I don't want to be an overly stressed mom-to-be that barely lives those 9 months for fear of doing something wrong but I obviously don't want to be the polar extreme of that. So where is the middle ground? What do you do away with completely and what do you allow yourself to have in moderation?

Today I'm specifically asking this question about caffeine. Pre-pregnancy, I woke up to drink that marvelous cup of piping hot joe every morning. Since about 5 weeks into my 1st trimester, I stopped drinking coffee entirely. I didn't want to risk it but even more so, the "morning" sickness made the smell I had once loved turn my stomach sour. But lately, my craving has returned. The brisk cool air, fall colors and promise of Christmas along with my new sick-free days have made brewing and drinking that morning cup of goodness a soothing way to start my day. I confess that even as I type this, I am drinking a cup - mind you, it is 3/4 decaf and is a small cup. But I am plagued with the conflicting information that's out there on how much is okay. I'm tempted to think that even my small cup of almost entirely decaf coffee could be damaging to my baby, but my gut conviction is that this is ridiculous. Everything in moderation... right?

So ladies, mothers, pregnant mommas-to-be, I want to hear what you think and why. What are your experiences or maybe you know someone who has dealt with this issue even if you haven't yourself. I want to hear your thoughts.

**I should mention, I do enjoy a glass of sweet tea a few times per week, but I always make sure that I only have it on days when I have not had any coffee.

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