Archive | December 2010

Christmas is still Awesome!

Remember when Christmas used to be so exciting when you were a kid? The presents? the lights? the sweet snacks that your parents let you eat in a gluttonous matter because it was a special time of year? Then you get older, and Christmas doesn’t seem as exciting. There is still an element of excitement for those who have children because you get to experience all of that joy through the eyes of your own child. This year has been a rough one for me, and although my 15 month old is now able to experience the holiday more than he did last year, he is still quite young. Even though I have very little money this year due to my recent separation, I made every attempt to splurge a bit and I don’t even feel guilty about it.

When people asked me what they should get my son, I emphatically stated that he must get practical items only. Well of course, that never works. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I found that many family members purchased items for me, my son and my expected daughter on zappos.com. This was very exciting because we each got a new pair of Cole Haan shoes. If you are not aware of Cole Haan shoes, check them out because they are really nice.

Since I am a working single mother, shoes are kind-of a big deal for me. Personally, I haven’t had a new pair of shoes in about two years, so when I got a pair of Carma OT air pumps, I about lost my mind. These shoes are so classy, and totally my style. Even though it seems shallow sometimes, a girl loves to get a great new pair of shoes. My mother, who gets a little crazy every year bought my son Cole Haan shoes that look like old fashion shoes from the 1940s or 1950s, which I really appreciate and he loves (this is the kid who worships all things “I Love Lucy”). Finally, my mom also got my expected daughter cute little slip-ons that she won’t fit in for at least a year, but I know she was just in the mood to shop.

This year was quite unexpectedly exciting. The presents my children and I received were amazing and generous. I got great deals that I painstakingly shopped for in order to get pretty fantastic presents for friends and family. Family is the most important part of the holidays, and I was overjoyed to spend that time with so many of my family. My son is crazy about his uncle, and vice versa, so I was ecstatic that my brother was able to come to visit this year.  Next year I will have two children  and that excites me to no end. The best thing I learned this Christmas; Santa Clause scares my son almost as much as Santa always scared me.

Baby Shower Ettiquette

Having about 5 weeks more to go in my pregnancy, I am still being pestered with the question; when is the baby shower? when I respond that there will not be a baby shower, people seem disappointed and surprised. There are a few reasons why I did not and will not have a baby shower.

1. My son is only 15 months old, which means that it has been less than 2 years since my last baby shower.

2. Although with this pregnancy, I am having a girl, I still feel that it is too soon for another one. I still have plenty of baby items.

3. I am going through a divorce right now, so it is kind of weird time for me.  Since I am pregnant with my estranged husband’s baby, it seems even weirder.

4. Since I am due in January, the holidays fall right at the time a baby shower would take place, who has the time?

So that is my response to the question, sorry to disappoint. Something I may consider is a welcome home party. Perhaps two weeks after bringing my daughter home, I will have a gathering for my friends and family to meet my little girl. Seems like a fair compromise to me.

Sprout is pure genius

For the past three years, I have had the pleasure of not having cable in my home. It never seemed very important to me, so I never cared enough to waste the money. I am one of those people who like specific shows, so I will either watch them online or get the DVD. Well, since my father moved in a few months ago to help out and be a full-time nanny for my son and expected daughter, he begged that I allow cable in my home. I can understand being bored, staying home all day, so I agreed. Of course I tried to convince him that I was a housewife for the better part of those three years and managed to find a myriad of tasks to perform around the house, but he’s not the Martha Stewart type, so I gave in.

At first, the commercials alone made me crazy, so I was a little irritated that I allowed this madness in my home but then I found a fabulous little network called Sprout. The genius behind Sprout is that it basically caters specifically to the toddler set. There are shows that feature songs, animals, wacky puppets and so much more. There aren’t even a lot of commercials, which makes it so much better. My 15 month old seemed to only be interested in shows like I Love Lucy and Mad Men, but suddenly became enthralled in this educational channel.

To be perfectly honest, I love the shows too. They are fun and entertaining. Recently I read an article about how it is evil to allow your child under 2 to watch television, but it’s hard to discourage what is clearly something that I enjoy too. The problem may be that there have been so many articles and studies done on every element of parenting, that it is getting more difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is crap. Either way, I like Sprout, and so does my kid, sorry developmental researchers.

Best Laid Plans of Motherhood

When you’re pregnant it seems like there are a million ideas that flood your head about what kind of mother you are going to be and what exactly you will do. After having a child, I realized that most of those ideas pretty much go out the window. As I sit here in my eighth month of pregnancy with my second child, I still think about how I idealized certain things and made all of these plans, when in reality, I had no idea what I was talking about.

As I was organizing my sons clothes, something that mothers of small children have to do so often because they outgrow everything so quickly, I noticed my sons baby book sitting on the book shelf. As I took a gander at the first few pages that were filled in very good detail, I dreaded delving too deep because I knew the truth, I really hadn’t made it very far. I was so far behind on writing down milestones, updating the doctors visit information, and just adding the cute little anecdotes. I didn’t even have any photos in there. Then I stumbled upon a few baby albums that were given to me for my baby shower, and realized that there were no pictures in there either. Eeek, I feel like a terrible mother who has not been keeping up with all that sentimental crap that we should be keeping up with. I have a lot of pictures of my boy, but they are all on the computer or on camera. What can I say, in the modern world, there is no hurry to develop pictures.

The next thing I started thinking about was the mommy and me classes that I swore I would go to once he was almost a year. For some reason I was thinking  it would be more fun for him if he was a little older, well he is now 15 months and I have not taken him to a single one. The problem is, the class falls on the only day I have off of work, which makes it perfect, except when you are pregnant and lazy and don’t want to get moving or get your kid moving for the 9am class. Fail as a mother once again.

I also swore that I would do enriching activities with him every chance that I got, and would keep him away from the television until he was at least three. Well, we finger paint quite a bit and he also likes for me to read to him quite often, but he also enjoys watching television every day when I just feel like relaxing, his favorite shows? reruns of the original Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place, Seinfeld, I Love Lucy and Gilmore Girls. We don’t have cable so he really just brings me DVD cases of what he wants to watch that particular day.

I swore that I would never get my kid one of those leash things. Now that I have a toddler that constantly wants to walk around in every store, I am starting to consider it.

So I had all of these ideas of what kind of mother I was going to be, but the truth is, all of those minor things don’t really matter. Being a good mother is really just about loving your child and making them safe and happy. So maybe we should take it easy on ourselves.

When working out gets difficult on your pregnant body.

I am 32 weeks pregnant and I’m spent! After months of consistent 40 minute power-walks everyday, today my body let me down. This morning I began a very brisk walk up a slight incline with my two dogs in tow, when after about 15 minutes my body began to feel very odd. I began cramping, there was pressure in my pelvis and I felt light-headed.  Realizing that I did not want to be stuck too  far from home, I began my trek back at a much slower speed. I began thinking of what I would do if I passed out on the side of the road, or what if my water broke? or maybe I would just go into labor right there and I could not make it back home? Of course I had my cell phone with me, so most of these concerns were not completely valid. But after today, I feel like I should perhaps start taking it easy. Taking a break from walks until the baby came may not be the biggest deal in the world, besides it is getting unbearably cold anyway. Yesterday, I went to the library and checked out a pregnancy yoga video because I was contemplating substituting my daily walks in favor of a video that would allow me to exercise in the comfort of my own home.
Something else occurred to me on my walk home, what if I am not eating enough for my little girl? I do feel hungry more than I should. When I was pregnant with my son, I was hungry often but would always fill my cravings, with this pregnancy I am trying to be more practical and only eat what may be the minimum health requirements. I am not trying to starve my baby by any means, I am just trying to maintain a healthy weight to ensure an easier delivery. So now that I have 8 weeks left, should I indulge even a little? maybe just do my inside workouts and skip those strenuous walks? or is this just me getting lazy towards the final laps of my pregnancy? What are your work out routines? Do you stick to a rigid healthy diet?

Christmas shopping ideas for the cheap mom.

I am thrifty. I am not one of those crazy people who save butter containers and use them as Tupperware, but I definitely like to save money. Every Tuesday, I get grocery ads in the mail and I totally get a kick out of thoroughly hunting for the best deals, you will never catch me buying an item at the market without checking the unit price. A year ago, I was in much better financial standing, my husband and I did not have any money issues and I didn’t even have to work. Even then, I was tight with the purse strings, but now that I am on my own with a toddler and a baby on the way, those purse strings are tighter than Ryan Reynold’s abs. Since I am not the only mom out there with financial strains, I am giving my tips on ways to save money this holiday season.

1. Ebay is awesome!
I never realized, until recently, how helpful eBay can be for children’s clothes. Babies and Toddlers barely wear a single outfit more than once, so you are most likely going to end up with a lot of clothes that they outgrow and are in good shape. If you need new clothes for your little one, there are always bulk lots at reasonable prices, and let’s be honest, it is so fun to go through a box of baby clothes that was delivered to your door. Once your little one outgrows their stuff, consider auctioning it off, just make sure to apply proper shipping so you can make a little money off of them. The same thing applies for maternity clothes, as we all know, that is another pricey bit of clothing that by definition can’t get too worn out.

2. Amazon Mom-
Amazon mom is a fairly new feature for Amazon that allows you to get pretty good discounts on baby items. The best deal is the subscribe and save for diapers. If you commit to a box of diapers a month, they bring them to your door and it is at a great discount. I pay $22 a month for a giant box of size 4 diapers, at the cheapest I could get those for $34 anywhere else. For diapers, I don’t think you can beat this discount.

3. Dollar Store- If you need to come up with gifts for coworkers, friends and family that you can’t immediately picture the perfect gift, go to the dollar store and make goody baskets. The Dollar Tree always has fairly fun stuff and if you put all the right items together, you can create a really nice gift basket.

4. Library book sales
Pretty much any library you come across will have a section of used books for sale. If you are lucky enough to catch a big sale around the holiday season, all the better. Getting your kids a few used library books for christmas would significantly cut costs. There is a good chance that the book your kid may be interested in at Barnes and Nobles for $15 is actually hiding in a pile at your local library for 75 cents. Get your kid their own library card to go along with the gift. These days, making sure your kid is more interested in books than the newest video game can be tough, but it is your responsibility to help them along a proper path to literacy.

5. Used kid’s stores
I live in a tiny town that doesn’t even have a Target (it kills me too, but I totally drive 40 minutes out-of-the-way to get to one). Even my town has a small shop for used baby and small children’s items. It is a great place too, you can trade in stuff you no longer need and get yourself a whole new batch of gently used items for super cheap. Scope out your town and see if there is anything similar available to you, it is a total money saver.

These are just a few ways to save this holiday season, give me your ideas on how you like to save.

Insurance, Take 2!

In a previous post, I discussed insurance and how sometimes it seems like such a hassle to pay every month but sometimes it really is worth it. There are some types of insurance that I just don’t understand. Some people actually have insurance on their pets, those people either have way too much money or will never have children. Caring for your pet is a wonderful thing, but sometimes paying an insurance premium is just giving you reason to make unreasonable decision about Fido who has probably led the life he was meant to lead. There is also insurance you can buy on items you purchased in a store, I was once asked if I wanted to extend my one year warranty on a microwave I purchased, the extended warranty was $69, and yet I only paid $30 for the actual microwave. A fair form of insurance is cell phone insurance, especially if you have a toddler. Phones, especially these fancy pants new phones, always seem to break and having insurance on them can be a lifesaver. I pay $7 a month for complete coverage on my phone, which is fantastic because sometimes your phone can just die, or perhaps your child can throw it in the toilet, and you need a replacement right away. Not dealing with the hassle of trying to find an affordable replacement is awesome. If you are someone who likes to buy the newest trendy cell phone every 6 months, this insurance would probably be useless though.

The major insurance that is always a controversial one is health insurance. I think health insurance is actually the most beneficial of all. Having that comforting feeling that you and your child are going to be covered if something goes wrong is totally worth the aggravation of paying that monthly premium. When you consider the amount you have to pay if a problem arises and you are not covered, it all works out for the better. There is also the tendency for people to skip going to the doctor or even the emergency room because they do not have insurance, your health is your most important asset, and your child’s health is even  more important.

With new health care reform that has come into fruition this year, things have become more complicated for people who pay for private insurance. I have to admit, I was pretty upset that my premium increased because I am basically paying for those who do not have to pay. By the way, a 26-year-old being covered by their parents plan? wtf? That is insane, I won’t be 26 until March, and I cannot imagine still being covered by my parents.

So anyway, if you want to get health insurance information check out this website, http://www.healthcareinsurance.me/ It is a really helpful site that goes above and beyond your typical quotes. It does offer quotes, but there is a wealth of information on the site that can help anyone in their quest for the proper insurance. HCIMedical allows you to find the cheapest insurance rates online. There are a lot of links that actually help you understand what you are paying for, like the difference between having a PPO or HMO or having catastrophic insurance. Checking out http://www.healthcareinsurance.me/ is a good idea if you are planning on getting your own insurance, those who may still be on their parents plan. Single mothers who are in the same boat as me should really check it out because of all of the information that they provide. Sites like this are really beneficial to someone like me, who always wants to be informed about low-cost medical insurance and what my options are.

If you have any suggestions on other types of insurance that we are expected the pay, let me know and also let me know what you think about health insurance, car insurance and even cell phone insurance. I plan on doing a future post on government benefits for single mothers, so stay tuned.