Monday, May 31, 2010

The Obsession Continues.

I know, it's ridiculous really, because I've spent the past several hours making this wonderful cost-comparison Excel spreadsheet. Actually, the cost-comparison took maybe 30 minutes, but the perfectionist inside took several hours making it as aesthetically pleasing as possible. After finishing it, I couldn't help but want to share it with you all. You see, I am a very visual person, so naturally before making hefty purchases, I need to see how it affects my budget plans, as realistically as possible, for the next few months, and in this case, the next few years. Here is my pretty spreadsheet:

Based on 2 1/2 years or 30 months, an average diapering time for one child, this is what I came up with. I don't take into account water usage because I never have to pay that in the apartments we live in (though, this means another spreadsheet when we buy a house someday!)


I am happy to even save a few hundred, but a $1000 with one baby?! And then over $6000 with 6 babies?!* Yes, we really would like to have 6 babies. Anyway, I decided that $40/month was an achievable average for me to obtain had I decided to go with disposable diapering through the years. These expenses are actually quite modest in comparison to what so many other websites have cited disposable costs to be. Just the same for cloth diapering, many sites stated the costs to be SO much lower than what I have listed. Not taking all the extra stuff to compare and just comparing diapers, the amount saved is more like $880 for one baby and $6,240 for six. The whole chart makes sense to me, but I hope it all makes sense to you all. Basically, I figured most of the costs out as monthly, but several things were listed as "cost X number of purchases." Nonetheless, the whole thing is based on 2 1/2 years. Oh yeah, the part that lists "Extra Disposables" on the cloth diapering section is referring to the disposable diapers I will buy while cloth diapering. I've been told that it's nice to have some on hand and I completely agree. Plus, the one-size may be a tad too large for our babe when he arrives, so we'll use newborn disposables for the first few weeks then slowly go into part-time cloth diapering then full time after that.

Initially, I thought I would be paying $18-20 per cloth diaper, but after careful research over the millions of cloth diaper websites and searching out ways to get my hands on promotion codes, I managed to buy my first seven for about $15.40 each (Why seven? Well I wanted free shipping and it had to be over $100, so buying 6 made it a few dollars short. haha).

Anyway, instead of my coupon-clipping madness I do, what if you're more like the average Joe who buys diapers for $8-10/pack or $15-20 for the bulk pack? Fear not, I made a mini-comparison for the "sales shopper/occasional coupon clipper:"


Obviously I could save money if I received diapers and whatever other baby things as gifts, but so far, with the exception of some baby clothes, blankets, and a baby bouncer (love it, Lisa!), everything has come out of our own pocket, so we are really grateful to give our wallets a break by cloth diapering!
Clearly, I am really obsessed, but at least I'm informative too, right? And I know you all secretly enjoy reading this all too :)



* EDIT: Ok, my dad sent me a different link about cost comparison and after averaging the cost for detergent and electricity expenditure for the washer and dryer, our bill may increase an extra $5/month, which puts us at about $600 for the 2.5 years and saving about $940 in that time as well (can you imagine what you can by with an extra $900?!). I'm still happy :) We'll see how much it actually does end up costing in November because utilities may really differ than the average.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Scoop on the Poop

I've been noticing something strange lately and that is I have a current obsession. No, it's not the latest movie, TV show, or book, and it isn't Facebook either. It's.....

DIAPERS.

It started out with the scare that we didn't have any diapers yet and only 8 weeks until the baby got here. The last essential babies (and parents, really) cannot go without, the necessity for incontinence, probably the most important item that somehow made it to the end of our list! I had taken a glance at diaper prices many times in the past few months, noting how some brands and sizes had more diapers for the dime (dollars...). I had thought to myself,

"wow, 84 diapers for only $18?! Not bad."

Then, last week came and I started actually calculating,

"84 diapers... $18... that more than $0.20 per diaper... newborns go through 8-10 diapers a day... 84 diapers will only last me a week if I'm lucky!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!"

That's pretty much how my thoughts went. SO, I started calculating prices and seeing how little I could pay for different brands. Calculating, researching, calculating, searching for manufacturer coupons of any brand.. This research went on for a little while. Then one day, I collected a bunch of CVS $10 off $20 coupons from the apartment recycling bin, along with some Huggies coupons and CVS brand coupons, and we hit up the local grand opening of a CVS store (I mentioned these trips in my previous post). I managed to by mostly Huggies diapers plus 2 CVS brand diapers, a total of 238 diapers for less than $30 ($27 something). I was pretty proud of myself because that's about $0.11-0.12/diaper, or hair less than $5/package with tax. So I came home all happy that I had so many diapers and saved so much money. Then it dawned on me again.

"238 diapers... that will be a months supply if I'm lucky. Oh crap. Let's see, let's see, quick math... $30 x 12 months equals $360 in a year. That's not bad! Wait, babies wear diapers until almost 2 years usually. Ok, so double that... $720. How many CVS grand openings will there be in a 2 year span?! Ahhh... more like $1000 in 2 years if I continue to obsess with stocking up and finding coupons left and right."

Don't get me wrong, coupon and bargain hunting are fun for me, but there are so many things to consider such as, what if all my efforts to buy Huggies in this last trip totally failed because the babe is super sensitive to that brand? What if CVS diapers gives him a terrible rash? Well, of course I would try another brand, but that totally defeats my bargain hunting if I have to quickly buy some diapers. The point is, I really don't want to do all this trial/error money spending when already Carl and I are on a tight budget. So I concluded with all my fretting that a more economical route would be cloth diapers.


(...crickets chirping, uncomfortable silence...)


No, this is not a joke, yes, I am truly serious. I have always been a very eco friendly/tree hugger/animal lover kind of person, but this time, it's all about the money. I promise! I'm always happy if I don't contribute more to our landfills, but comparing costs, this is the way to go. In the beginning of the pregnancy, I looked into cloth diapers and said, "no way, jose! I'd rather pay $10 and get 40 diapers than almost $20 and get 1." It's true, each cloth diaper costs between $15-20 (unless you go with what our moms and grandmas diapered many of us with... that's waaaaaaay cheaper), so I'm looking at spending almost $200 on 10-12 diapers or so. But here's the cool thing- they make them one-size with adjustable buttons to fit 7-35 lbs! Don't believe me? Check this out: FuzziBunz.com. I really like this brand a lot and it helped that I talked to my friend, Stephanie, who diapers her baby with cloth diapers too.

It seems to come down to one thing for many people and that's "what about the poop? You'll have to actually scrape it off and touch it!" My answer,

"Um, I just graduated from nursing school and spent the last 4 semesters scraping code browns (poop explosions) from strangers' bottoms, old people I have never met before that shift at the hospital. I think I would much rather deal with my own baby's poop than an elderly stranger."

So, once I build up a hefty collection of cloth diapers, about 20-24, spend about $300 for the two years for one child and maybe add an extra $100 for when the next one comes, I think I'm fairly pleased that I'll be saving thousands of dollars over the next couple of diapering years to come! In a perfect world, diapers would be free. Forget that, babies would poop and pee in toilets as soon as they are born and I would never even have to fret about diaper costs, but being young and expecting parents, I'm willing to wash diapers every 1-2 days if that means I'm saving some dough. That way, my family can live comfortably in many other aspects, such as going on a fun trip, visiting grandparents, enjoying fresh foods, taking dance lessons or being on a tee-ball league. I know many kids don't get that opportunity growing up, but I did and I am forever grateful that my mom clipped coupons and made clothes for my sister and me so that we could afford some of those things. Not saying you can't make a memory without spending money, but it sure was fun to travel coast to coast and making friends at dance class :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Joys of Pregnanthood

 

just because I can.

:)


I find that the "because I can" reasoning works very well since I've been pregnant. For example, early on in the pregnancy, I had trouble gaining weight (as in, I didn't gain any in the first 16 weeks). The doc told me that I needed to gain at least 6 lbs. in about a 3 week time period, so I was pounding 300 calorie weight gain drinks twice a day. I also reasoned that eating my favorite cheese, brie, by the pound was necessary. Did you know that there are 100 calories per 1 inch square? Those were very delicious squares indeed. Now that I'm all caught up on my weight gain, I still like to make excuses like eating 7 otter pops in an hour or a dozen of the cookies Katie, my sister-in-law, sent us back home with. She gave us 2 dozen. Chocolate chip pancakes are definitely needed in the morning to get the day started right too. Don't you all fret, I eat many good things too, like 3 lbs of strawberries or a pound of blueberries, and a slew of vegetables that are too numerous to list. Anyway, I do this all because, well, because I can.

Tonight, I wanted to point out all the good things I love about being pregnant because in the last few days, I have been the most uncomfortable woman ever. Tossing and turning at night, having to sit up or walk around the apartment at 2 in the morning so that the baby will stop pushing on my diaphragm and let me take a breath, and deal with exploratory appendages finding their way under my ribs or playing with that odd lump known as my bladder. Nonetheless, I've had a pretty easy pregnancy compared to many other women. Here are my top favorite things I've experienced thus far:

10. Peeing on a stick could never be more fun when you actually want to be pregnant! It was a big disappointment to have one line on the stick the first two months, but that third month was great! Two lines! And digital message saying "pregnant"! What? That's two different pregnancy test brands? Oh, that's because I took 5 tests because I was so excited and could hardly believe that all I had to do was pee and get an answer.

9. I get strangers telling me I'm cute all the time. Is it a crime to enjoy feeling cute? I say nay. I tell Carl I feel like a beached whale almost every night as he helps me climb in bed by giving me boost up or when he puts my socks and tennis shoes on for me. He thinks I'm cute too. I'm pretty lucky to have a husband who takes such good care of me!

8. No stretch marks! The secret? My genes. I never lotion, soak in special oils, use special collagen creams, or anything of that sort. Don't get me wrong though, I have a dark linea nigra, dry skin, and a belly button that deviates to the right (Carl says that's cute though).

7. No morning sickness! I didn't feel pregnant during my first trimester because I thought I was supposed to toss my cookies at least once a day or even once a week. Everyone told me to just wait because it would happen, but nope, I never did throw up once during the first trimester (during the 2nd trimester is a different story that includes how I made up for the first with a bout of food poisoning). There were a few days of nausea that I remember and it's true, I didn't exactly ever have an appetite, but I was just so grateful to never really have that relationship with the trash can or toilet.

6. I can see the babe's every move! I have no idea what's what when something is sticking out, but when he moves, I not only can feel it, but I see my belly transform. This is uncomfortable a lot of the time, but so entertaining!

5. No crazy cravings of any kind. I don't crave ice cream and I don't crave grass. I love to indulge in delicious treats, but that goes back to the "because I can" theory. I figure that if there's a time to indulge in tastiness, it's now! If I haven't ballooned thus far, then I'm safe to have dessert :) Besides, Katie and I are good and exercise almost every morning!

4. Buying baby stuff. Carl will testify that I am quite the budget Nazi when it comes to spending every month. However, that does not mean that I don't enjoy spending! I love shopping in every form and love brand new things! For our baby, I wanted to be sure to have 3 things that were brand, spankin' new with warranties: a carseat, stroller, and crib (or pack n' play):

Graco makes these wonderful pack n' plays with bassinets and changing tables! Take off the those two things, and voila! a crib :)

By careful review, we decided we liked Baby Trend the most! They have the best carseat handle EVER! Plus, if you're expecting and don't have a stroller, check out strollerdepot.com and search out coupon codes from retailmenot.com because we got this for a steal!

and of course I took this opportunity to splurge on a diaper bag that I adore and have been using quite frequently as a purse:

3. CVS pharmacy. Ok so not exactly pregnancy-related, but I'm slightly obsessed with the place right now, and more obsessed with the coupons I got in the mail (and dug out of the apartment complex recycling bin) for the grand opening of one of their stores. I have been going coupon crazy searching for diaper coupons all over the Internet! It's a bit embarrassing that I have a special coupon e-mail  (couponcrazylady22@gmail.com - send me a good deal! haha) I use for signing up for loads of websites to get free samples and more, well, coupons. So far, thanks to these nifty $10 off $20 coupons at this special CVS store and several manufacturer coupons, I've managed to buy almost 240 diapers for $27. Sadly, that will only last about a month. I can't believe babies poop so much. Oh yes, I'm expecting to go through at least 8-10 diapers a day. It makes me sick to think that I'll probably spend about $500 or $600 in diapers in a year's time.. and that's if I keep up with this deal hunt. I have seriously considered cloth diapering after the babe is about 3 months old. We'll see. I'm still grateful for the good deals CVS has given me!

2. I'm SEW crazy!!! I have loved sewing more than ever since graduating! It's just been so fun to make baby hats, mitts, a night gown, and a bunch of other stuff I can keep on blabbing about. Once I get a snapshot of these things, I'll be sure to post them.

1. Last, this babe is truly a miracle baby! Why? When I was about 8 weeks along, I had some bleeding going on that was extremely frightening. After going to the OB right away, we were told to prepare ourselves because there was at least a 50% chance of miscarriage due to an odd lump that could possibly be a fibroid in my uterus and impede the baby's chance of surviving. Though, in that first ultrasound, we saw and heard the little baby's heart beating away. So we prepared ourselves with much prayer every night and from our family members and held onto that hope that the babe's heart would keep on beating. And it did :) Every single ultrasound was more promising than the first until one appointment after a million it seems like, the doc said not to worry about the odd lump because the baby seemed to be doing just fine. I'm so grateful for all of the thoughts and prayers our family members supported us with! I like to think that the lump is just a nice pillow for our baby now. haha!

If every pregnancy could have these perks (minus the scary beginning), I'm good for the next few pregnancies! And although this is fun, I can hardly wait for the next 7 weeks to pass by!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Welcome to Our Humble Abode

As requested by my sister and some friends, here is where we live in Kansas:

Yes, this is a glorified picture I pulled from their website. There is a pond, it's not that close and I'm pretty sure it belongs to the nursing home and not the apartment complex. Nonetheless, bravo to the Claremont Apartment advertising team's skill for snagging this picture.

Living Room from the front door view


Living room from the office/almost-baby room
(I know, the yellow velvet couch is just dazzling)

The office/baby room
 
The kitchen


Bathroom

And of course the bedroom


That's all for now. I like the location of the apartment mostly because it's right across the street from the hospital I'll be delivering at and my OB is also across the street too! It makes appointments very convenient AND it'll be convenient at the time I pop :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Please, Refer To Us As Senor y Senora Crafty

I've always been a a creative person. Carl has too, though, I tell him all the time that he surprises me every time he whips a new talent out that I never saw coming. Such as this:

(Before and After)












Someone on craigslist posted that they had a free desk to give away, so I told Carl, "Hey, you should check it out." So, he did and he sent me the picture on the left. In my head, I said, "Bummer, it's yucky, maybe another free desk will show up" but Carl said, "Fun project!" So he brought it home, glued the top back on (the picture doesn't show its terrible curling top due to water damage... you can kind of see it on the back right corner), sanded it down, stained it, put the handles all back on, and voila! We have a new desk! We brought it inside, but unfortunately, the stain still smells toxic and it needed to air out some more. It's a really well crafted desk though- all the drawers are fitted and glued together, nothing like the desks we have around today.

When we moved out here, I told Carl that if we could find a cheap glider chair, I would really like one. Not really a necessity, but it would be pleasant to have one during late night baby parties. Yes, they will be parties, not moan and groan getting out of the bed to change poopy diapers. I try to be optimistic.  Well, what's cheaper than free?! I joined the local Freecycle.org, posted a want for a glider, and a lady contacted me soon after that she had one with an ottoman to give me! Talk about kind people, right?! I had been searching for weeks on craigslist and they were all at least $50 or 50 miles away if less than that. We picked it up the next day and it was kind of yucky because it had been in the garage for several months and also had really stained cushions, but this time it was my turn to say, "fun project!" Here are the results:





(I don't feel like the picture did the new fabric justice, so here's what it looks like up close)


And here we have my new Boppy pillow cover! I really had no idea what I was doing, but it turned out fairly nice in my opinion. Carl chose the fabric (well, I gave him 3 choices to choose from) and it was much cheaper and better than the store-bought covers. Maybe I'll have business making Boppy covers... or maybe I should continue studying and be a licensed nurse :)
Finally, I just had to share a recipe. I meshed two recipes into one from a Better Homes & Garden cookbook and I must say, it's fantastic. Last night, I made a dozen of these Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins. Right now, there are 4 left. And Carl and I haven't shared them with anyone. Without further ado, I present:

Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins
1 1/3 c. flour
3/4 c. rolled oats
1/3 c. white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon (I just eyeballed it)
About 1 c. sweetened dried cranberries. I may have used 3/4 c.
1 beaten egg
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. oil (I usually bake with canola)

Streusel Topping
3 tbs. brown sugar
3 tbs. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. nut of your choice (I used chopped almonds)
  

1. Pre-heat oven to 400* and grease/flour each muffin tin. Or use paper/foil muffin cups!
2. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and seperate those clumps of sticky cranberries. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together and then pour into the dry ingredient well.
4. Mix only enough so that everything is moist and there is no longer any dry ingredients
5. Fill each muffin cup about half way.
6. Top with streusel topping.
- To make: combine all the dry ingredients except the nuts. Cut in butter until course crumbles appear. Mix in nuts.
7. Bake for 18-20 min.
8. Take out, wait about 5 minutes, and delight in the new tasty treat. Mmmmmmm!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ode to a Comedian's Joke

The truth is, I have always been a huge fan of Chuck Norris... jokes. For some reason, they just crack me up like none other and I can spend an hour reading and laughing at them! Probably longer! So, for the sake of avoiding studying for nursing and to give you all a Chuckle (i am so hilarious), here are a few Chuck Norris jokes to tickle your day:



Chuck Norris has already been to Mars, thats why there is no existing life there.

Chuck Norris is the reason Waldo is hiding.

When the boogie man goes to sleep he checks his closet for Chuck Norris .

Chuck Norris can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.

Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.

Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

Chuck Norris counted to infinity - twice.

Chuck Norris knows where Carmen Sandiego is.

Chuck Norris CAN believe it's butter.

When Chuck Norris had surgery, the anesthesia was applied to the doctors.

Chuck Norris ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one.

Chuck Norris frequently donates blood to the Red Cross. Just never his own.

Aliens do exist. They're just waiting for Chuck Norris to die before they attack.

Chuck Norris' tears can cure cancer... too bad he's never cried.


And I'm done with the jokes that can go on and on and on. I plan to update with some pictures of the desk Carl revived and the glider chair I made beautiful. Correct, there will be before and after pictures and I will also post some pictures of our humble abode.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

CRAZY.

I'm not even sure where to begin on an entry. I made it a goal to start blogging so that I can keep my families informed of the not-so-exciting, but sometimes interesting things going on in our life. Of course I didn't want to notify anyone of this blog until I beautified it and made it more personal than a template. I agree, a plain white background is somewhat boring, but note the banner I made with this Photoshop-wannabe program called Paint.net- I am pleased.

SO, what's happened in the last year? I believe the last post was that I was finally in Texas with Carl after spending a miserable 4 months apart. Here's a timeline:

2009
July - finished my second semester of the nursing program and moved to Texas

August - enjoyed my time with Carl and toured around the Dallas area

September - moved back to Rexburg and back to good ol' BYU-I

October - still in Rexburg...

November - I'm pregnant! Spent the first part of Thanksgiving break in New Hampshire and
Boston for Chris and Katie's wedding, then flew back to Idaho and drove to Oregon for the rest of the break to be with Carl's side of the family.

December - finished my third (and favorite) semester of the nursing program, spent Christmas in CA with my family, and then decided to drive to OR for the last few days of break

2010
January - starting the last semester of the nursing program and also Carl's last semester in school!

February - I think by this point, both Carl and I were suffering from being almost-grads...

March - We're having a baby boy! We were thrilled by this news, especially Carl :) I didn't really have a preference, but the superficial, materialistic Tracey secretly wanted a girl due to the absurd amount of cute clothes little baby girls get. Plus it was kind of fun to see shock and hear the surprise tones when we announced the babe is a boy- there were many family members confident it would be a girl!

April - this was a happening month because this happened:

That's right, we both graduated- Carl in Exercise Science and myself in Nursing! I don't feel very graduated unfortunately. I'm still trying to take an exit exam AND prepare for the license exam (NCLEX-RN), so everyday I do stinking practice questions and it is getting old. Carl is working very hard everyday providing for the both of us and the little babe in the uterus hotel- I'm such a lucky girl :) Also in April, our first nephew was born on April 9th! Cody and Cherie had their baby boy, Benjamin Case Leder. He's darling and I wish I could hold him everyday!!! Good thing is that we'll be getting our own baby in about 8-10 weeks!

I said April was a happening month because we ALSO moved to to Kansas! We'll be here until at least August and probably until the end of October. The city is called Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, MO, and I adore it. The city girl in me is delighted by the many lovely shopping malls and hubs all within a few miles of our apartment! We are also very close to some LDS Church history sites and I'm looking forward to taking some tours. No lies, I was a little frightened about moving to KS because I didn't know anything about the area except the Wizard of Oz and the extensive repertoire of tornadoes in its time. That being said, I haven't come across any tornadoes and the area I'm living in really isn't flat. Southeastern Idaho is much flatter.

May - Here we are now in May already. Can it really be May 8th already? And on top of that, it's Saturday meaning the weeks is practically over. I'm 30 weeks and 3 days today, we've been in the area for nearly a month, and I can't believe the babe is getting here so soon! We have most of the essentials for the new arrival, like a pack n' play (which we're using as a crib since we are truly nomads and a crib would be a pain in the BUTT to move), car seat/stroller set, some baby clothes (we still need to add to this since he has less than a week's worth of clothese for both newborn and 0-3 months), diaper bag, and our latest cool thing: a glider chair with ottoman. Might I just say that we got that last item today and for FREE?! I love Freecyle.org. I posted that I wanted a glider and somebody responded within a few hours! I love free stuff and I love kind people.

Anyway, that is the big update for all those who faithfully read this blog and for those who stalk us secretly :)