Halloween Costumes on a Budget

This was the first year that Peanut actually chose what she wanted to be and as you can see, she wanted to be The Cat in the Hat. She also requested that my husband and I be Thing 1 and Thing 2 (respectively). I wasn’t too excited initially, but then I figured out a way to tie the belly into it (that’s my belly painted, which some people didn’t realized until they’d been at the party for a little while). I’m pretty happy with how our costumes turned out, even though there’s a few things I would have changed.

We spent a total of about $42 on our costumes. All of it was considered entertainment money and $6 of it was in credit. Here’s the breakdown.

The Cat in the Hat

Hat – $6 in felt (hot glue gun and sticks I already had)

Tail/bow – $3 really big pipe cleaners (in a set)

Shirt – $3 (credit, will keep for future use)

Gloves – $2 (credit, will keep for future use)

Pants – already owned

Felt for fishbowl candy holder (pictured below) – $2.50 ($1 credit)

Thing 1 and Thing 2

Dye for clothes – $6

Clothes – $12 (from Savers)

Hair color – $3

Paint – $4 (used for The Cat in the Hat too)

Felt for hubby’s number – $.50

If I were to do it again, the biggest thing I wouldn’t do was the blue hair color. You could hardly see it in my hair (and not at all in the picture) and it ran out before I even got to my husband’s hair. Secondly, I would have just bought red clothes rather than white and dying them. I figured that if I dyed white clothes that they would all end up the same color, but since it was all different types of fabrics they ended up various shades of pink/red. If I did it again, I’d just buy red clothes that still don’t match and saved the time and effort of coloring the clothes. All in all, I’m pretty happy with our costumes, especially Peanut’s-it turned out exactly how I wanted.

Here’s what Peanut’s costume ended up looking like, with the candy bag (that everyone said was much too little and she needed to be able to fit more candy! My goodness she’s 2!).

A very excited Cat in the Hat about to go trick-or-treating.

Happy Halloween!

How much did you spend on Halloween this year? Did you make your own costumes? Did you stay within your budget? Did you make a specific budget for it, or just put it in a category like I did?

Pregnant With a Toddler

First thing in the morning at 29 Weeks 1 Day

Being pregnant with a toddler is hard. Some days it’s so hard I want to go back in time so I can slap myself during Peanut’s pregnancy for complaining so much. Some days it’s so hard I want to lock myself in my room. Some days it’s so hard I wonder why I even thought I should have another baby.

I’ve been trying to remember that it’s hard for Peanut too. Even though she maybe doesn’t understand all of it, she still feels her life changing. On top of this she’s at the age where they test their boundaries and she’s in a new preschool (though only has 5 weeks left). On top of even those things her mama isn’t dealing and that makes her not deal.

I understand that she plays off my emotions. I’ve been particularly stressed lately trying to handle her and pregnancy and schoolwork. Even when I feel I have a system down, I still feel stressed more often than not. I know that stress makes her stressed. I know that I lack the patience I once had. I know that I’m not present like I should be a lot of the time that I’m with her. I’m working on being more patient and present, but it’s a daily battle.

I write all this not to discourage anyone from getting pregnant who has a toddler or to say I regret getting pregnant, but just to say that it is hard a lot of days. Even if I wasn’t in school, I’m sure it would still be hard. When the baby comes, I know that it’ll get even harder because they’re so much easier to take care of when they’re inside. I know that moms with even more kids have it even harder. Pregnancy is wonderful, beautiful, and I cherish it, but also pregnancy is just plain hard. Some days I don’t even want to think about the fact that I’m pregnant, and that’s okay.

I can love my pregnancy and the life I’m growing inside of me in general without loving every second of it.

I am now 29 weeks and 0 days along. Woo third trimester (which actually started last week, but I haven’t updated in a while)! There are a lot of exciting things going on like crazy kicks (somehow I was feeling kicks on both sides of my stomach in the exact same place simultaneously today) and Peanut being excited about being a big sister (she tells me the baby will be small and cute and soft). There are also not-so-awesome third trimester things going on like constant heartburn and not being able to eat more than 2 bites without feeling like I’m going to implode.

Peanut is nursing a ton more and it’s kind of driving me nuts. I don’t want to wean, but I really wish that kiddo would calm down. Even when I tell her no (which I do frequently), she still goes nuts asking and asking. She won’t even go to sleep to daddy reading her books anymore, only nursing. When I nurse in the daytime it gives me much more heebeegeebees and is much more irritating (not painful per se, but makes me cringe a bit). I’m sure that a big part of this is directly related to the first section of this post (re the irritability and lack of patience and what not), but Gah! I happily welcome any advice on nursing your toddler during pregnancy.

What’s In Your Bag?

I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while and this guest post by the Minimalist Mom on Babble made it come back to thought. People are always making fun of me for my huge bag (often called my Mary Poppins bag by others and myself). Yes, sometimes it’s actually huge-ly full of stuff, but for the most part it’s not. I’m always trying to find ways to pare down to what I really need and at this point, everything that’s in my bag is used at least once every couple weeks. The stuff that’s on the less frequent side of that is the stuff that’s really needed when it’s needed.

So what’s in my bag?

Going left to right, top to bottom: water bottle (refilled multiple times a day), current knitting project (major bulk in the bag because that skein is huge!), scissors for knitting, ruler for knitting, crochet hook for knitting, the actual bag itself, cell phone, keys. Luna bar for emergency snacking, nuts for regular snacking, pen and pencil, nail clippers, glasses cleaning cloth (I’m attempting to not use my shirt on my new glasses), tissues (not often used, but sorely needed when Peanut gets a runny nose out of nowhere), planner/wallet/money tracking/awesomeness book, black gloves (yay I found them!), gum (which is actually helping my heartburn, thanks Hannah!), inhaler (also not often used, but obviously when I need it, I need it), headphones, lotion, flossers (can’t stand stuff in my teeth).

Actually writing it all out like that seemed like a lot, but I think it’s a fairly simple system. I’m certainly not planning on downsizing my actual bag anytime soon, especially with Twig on the way (thank goodness breastfed babies don’t need you to carry much stuff!), but I think that I carry a reasonable amount of stuff. For the most part, Peanut carries her own stuff in her bag, but now that’s she’s having fewer and fewer accidents I sometimes just throw a change of pants into my bag rather than bringing her little backpack. Overall I’m pretty happy with my system, but of course I’m always looking for ways to pair down even further.

My bag hanging on it's hook by my desk (keeps the desk free for use and discourages small hands from playing with Mama's bag).

What’s in your bag? If you’ve done a post like this, please link it in the comments! I find it so interesting to see what others carry. Any recommendations for where I can pair down further?

Apples, Apples Everywhere

For some crazy reason, I decided I wanted to make homemade apple sauce. It was a bigger project than I had anticipated. Wow. I spend hours in the kitchen cutting apples until I couldn’t feel my fingers. I created a ridiculous mess on my stove top from apples boiling over. I spent $50 on apples in bulk. I ended up with what equated to 23 quarts of apple sauce that is better than anything I’ve ever bought in the store and healthier. I’m not sure if I’d do it again, but I’m happy that I did do it.

As an overall summary, I used this recipe (I heart pickyourown.org). Of course, I did my own little tweaks, the biggest one being using my Vitamix. I can’t imagine how much more time I would have spent without that thing!

So here’s how we made sugar-free applesauce from scratch using our Vitamix.

Step 1: Get the apples.

Here’s the first thing I would have changed–less apples! We went to a fruit stand (on what locals call “The Fruit Highway” around these parts) and I bought 4 half-bushes of apples, totaling just shy of $50. For non-apple experts, that’s somewhere around 80 lbs of apples. Sure, I got a great deal by buying them in bulk, but it also meant a lot more money and a lot more expense. Next time, I won’t do so much at once.

The reason why I bought 2 bushels is because it’s best to have a mix of apples if you’re making sugar-free applesauce. Since they came in half-bushes and I wanted at least 4 kinds, I ended up buying 2 bushels. I used Jonathon, Gala, Ozark Golden, Red delicious (though I only used about 2/3 of the half bushel for the last one because the check out guy at the fruit stand told me to). I am so incredibly happy with this mixture too. As I tasted each of the apple sauces as I went along I thought “that could make good apple sauce on it’s own!” When I tasted them all mixed together, I was blown away.

Step 2: Wash the apples.

Of course, with some help from Peanut.

Step 3: Cut the apples.

For some reason, though this was by far the longest step, I didn’t take a picture. You can kind of see what’s going on behind Peanut on the cutting counter.

This is where my plan deviated from the Pick Your Own recipe. Since I was using the Vitamix rather than a sieve, I didn’t want to keep the cores. I see the point if you’re using a sieve because then you get every bit of flesh you possibly can. I started off using my apple corer, but of course that broke about half a dozen apples in. Worked out better in the end though because I didn’t waste as much apple. I just cut out the seedy parts, leaving as much as possible.

Step 4: Cook the apples.

Important to note that you do not need very much water in the bottom.

Too much water = boiling over = sad stovetop.

Step 5: Put the apples into a strainer to get the excess liquid off.

Step 6: Put the apples (including skins) in the Vitamix.

Watch out! They're really hot!

Step 7: Blend them up!

Be generous with the tamper and make sure all the apples get blended. Be careful to run it as little as possible so you don’t overheat it (which I did, luckily it was on the very last batch).

Step 8: Pour it into a bowl, keeping each type of apple separate. Keep repeating until all of your apples are into sauce.

Step 9: Make a rainbow!

I used a combination of 1 cup Jonathon, 1 cup Gala, 1 cup Ozark Golden, and 2/3 cup Red Delicious.

Step 10: Add cinnamon to taste and stir CONSTANTLY until heated through.

This is what happens if you don't stir constantly. You can't really see, but there's an actual blister there--it was that hot!

Step 11: Put into cans and process.

My end stash (minus 4 quarts I gave to my mom for bringing me emergency jars).


Money Update

I think I’m headed in the right direction, but I’m at a bit of an impasse. We’ve switched over to the cash envelope system and it seems to be doing well. I know exactly how much money I have until more comes in. I also know exactly how much to give myself on November 20th and December 20th. That leads me to my problem.

When do you start your budgeting “month”?

My husband is paid on the 5th and the 20th, but for as long as I have been recording our spending (over a year now), I’ve recorded it within the calendar month. Now that I look back on it, I wonder if I was misrepresenting our actual financial situation because of this method.

Here is my logic. Husband is paid on the 5th, which means that the money we spend from the 1st until the 4th is actually earned the month before. Then, in our current situation, we actually have more bills from the 5th of the month until the 20th than we have a paycheck coming in. This means that some of the money from the 20th of the month before also continues to be used until the 20th of the current month. His earning stay the same every month, but bills change. How do we account for this?

So that is my dilemma. I know how much to give myself every 20th of the month (since we don’t actually have money to spend on the 5th of the month paycheck) accounting for how much of that paycheck will have to go to the next month, but I don’t know how to account for it all in my expenses. I know that I don’t have to detail every single purchase, but I prefer knowing where my money went after the fact. If there’s confusion I can go back and figure out the problem or I can use those numbers to try to anticipate upcoming expenses.

So, here’s my spending up until the 19th of this month. I may continue with updating in a calendar month format or I may start a 20th-19th format. I’ll let you all decide!

Eating Out – $115.03 Yeah, we need to cool it here. I didn’t even realize it was this high until just now!

Pets – $0 (thinking of combining this one into grocery since some pet expenses end up going there anyway)

Personal – $46.50 Doctor’s visit, lab work, and husband playing basketball (when they can’t find a free place that’s open, they pay)

Grocery – 110.89 And half of that is apples for applesauce! Definite change from last month. I’m attempting to spend less than $20 every grocery trip, which is about once a week.

Cars – $86.22 Somehow we’re spending a lot more on gas this month than last. We’ve already spent this much again since the 20th. Maybe I should start tracking driving? Has anyone had any success with that?

Gifts – $11 Found some used yarn for sale on the internet. Got a couple of skeins for baby stuff, but most of it was for Christmas gifts. We’re pretty much covered on Christmas with canned stuff and stuff I’m knitting.

House – $5.29 Needed some tar for the roof of our garage since it was leaking. My husband did the work himself.

Children – $77 ($35 of which is being refunded to us through the mail as we speak) We cancelled Peanut’s dance class ($31/month), so that’s the last time we’ll be billed for that. I’m also using a wonderful tip from ladykay and hopefully Peanut’s grandparents will gift her enough for Music Together this January as part of Christmas, which would help a ton in budgeting that in. The other $1 was a tip for a balloon animal that a man made Peanut at the farmer’s market.

Entertainment – $22.50 Stuff for Halloween costumes and we went swimming once.

Clothes – $10.66 Found some maternity stuff at a consignment store. Don’t plan on buying any more clothes until baby is out!

Bills

  1. Bradley Class $50 (once more on this one, then we’re done)
  2. Car Insurance $79.63
  3. Comcast $115.02 (actually this is last month and this month’s, which is their fault so they took off a late fee, but of course still charged us for it, so we have a credit on our account)
  4. Mortgage $900.99 (why does it feel so revealing to show you all how much my house payment is?)
  5. Gas $46
  6. Jewelry Insurance $38 (yearly)
  7. MacBook $153
  8. Phone $40
  9. DirecTV $52.10 (after a cancellation fee, we won’t be paying them anymore!)
  10. Midwife $450

On the good new front, we’ve made $70 so far this month on selling random items from our house! I love selling stuff we’re not using. :-D This next month is going to be rough with money because I spent so much in this first 19 days without realizing I was doing anything wrong. Now that we’re looking at the individual month and budgeting according to that, so things will be tight this month and next (next month we’re paying the midwife twice, but then we’re done!).

Any advice on how to further cut the budget? I’d love to see some of those who commented a couple weeks ago come back and give more advice! You guys were great!

Envelopes and Basketball

While looking at this picture, you must say "Yao Ming Smash!" in your head in The Hulk's voice.

As you all know, I started full disclosure with my finances last month. That post went up two weeks ago, but it actually documents my spending in the month of September, which means it’s really been over 3 weeks since I updated. I got a lot of really helpful comments on that post and I’ve been doing my best to put these into action.

One of the most suggested things was to start a cash envelope system. I know that I mentioned our debt snowball in my last post, but at that time I hadn’t actually read Dave Ramsey’s book. I listened to the audiobook about a week ago and one thing he mentions in there is that a budget isn’t meant to be constant. For some reason, I thought that if I tweaked things just right that I would eventually come up with the perfect budget for us and we’d just keep using it. Instead, I went over the next few months and decided what bills we had and how much money was left over afterwards. After coming up with the total for this month (which was incredibly low because I didn’t actually do this until we were over half way through the month, so I had been using my constant number, which was too high in the case of this month, up until this point) and withdrew exactly that from the bank. I haven’t gotten as far as putting specific money into specific areas (something I plan on doing next month when I actually have money to put into areas), I do know exactly how much I have to spend. It’s actually a huge weight off my chest and I’m loving it.

The second thing that people kept repeating was that we needed to cancel our cable. This was Really. Hard. To. Do. Mostly for my husband. While he is entirely on board with getting out of debt and in general changing our spending habits, he isn’t too happy about giving up things he loves. For me it doesn’t really matter if we have cable or not because I can watch all of my shows on Hulu, but for him it’s the basketball. He’s not just a fan, he’s one of those crazy people that knows Every. Single. Stat. from games a decade ago. He’s not a huge book reader (internet is entirely another story), but he read an entire book about the history of basketball in probably about a week and it was over 700 pages long. I know that guys love their sports, but he really loves his basketball (and enjoys sports in general really).

And this isn’t the first time we’d discussed cancelling our cable. We started to talk about it somewhere around a year ago. This summer we actually threatened to cancel and got $20 off our bill. What kept bringing us back was the basketball. Even with NBA League Pass Broadband, it was still a hard choice. He couldn’t get NBA TV, he couldn’t get the blackout games, he may have issues getting all the Jazz (our local team) games. So we put it off.

When I posted about our money situation and everyone said to get rid of it, I started thinking again. I brought it up here and there and eventually we had a big fight discussion about it. He said to bring him the numbers. So I sat down and worked out how much it would cost us over the next year if we A. Stuck with DirecTV and even renewed our contract when it’s up in May so that we could get a discounted price again=$700; B. Cancelled DirecTV (with a cancellation fee) and did Hulu Plus instead=$225; C. Cancelled DirecTV, got Hulu Plus, and the basketball season (which is currently in lockout in case you didn’t know) started this upcoming month (which, of course, it probably won’t considering they got a federal mediator and still couldn’t figure out a deal) and therefore we bought the cheapest Roku (so we can watch the games on the actual TV since they don’t have a League Pass app for the PS3) and the cheapest League Pass package (just 7 teams)=$500, or D. Cancelled DirecTV, got Hulu Plus, got the most expensive Roku, and got the most expensive League Pass=$600. This doesn’t even consider the fact that the basketball season may start even later and therefore League Pass would likely get a nice discounted price.

With those numbers, he finally agreed. I called today and, to the dismay of the man on the phone, cancelled our DirecTV. Whoever said in a comment that they really don’t want you to cancel was right. He wanted to offer me deals, he talked about how much we’re going to have to pay upfront to cancel ($20 for every month left in the contract, so $140 for us), he tried to get me to just put the account on hold, blah blah blah. I told him no and that he’s not talking me into keeping my service. It shuts off at midnight tonight.

I know that some of you are probably reading this and thinking we’re crazy. I know that some of you are thinking “Why do they need to get Hulu Plus or NBA League Pass to make up for their lack of cable?” It all comes down to different priorities. Television is a hobby of both my husband and me. It’s how we spend time together. Therefore, it’s important to us. I know that we need to “Live like no one else so that one day we can live like no one else,” but there is a limit. You still need hobbies in your life in order to be a happy person. I like being a happy person.

I’ll do a follow-up later this week on the actual money we’ve spent since this became a much longer section than I had anticipated.

Do you have cable TV? Did you decide to give it up? Was it as big of a deal for you as it was for us?

No More Time Out

Image courtesy of The Guardian

I was recently talking with one of my favorite mom-friends about what we wish we were better at as parents. This particular mom is one that I highly admire and, quite frankly, wish I were more like that majority of the time I’m talking with her. Within this conversation, she confided in me that she has to make a point to not hit her daughter. She was raised in a household where hitting was the norm, so it is her first reaction. She said she has only done it twice (and very minor offenses at that), but she feels incredibly guilty about both of the incidences. As she was saying all this I wasn’t shocked or appalled, but rather I could see the genuine love that she had for her daughter in her active attempt to change herself. She knew that was not how she wanted to parent, so she made the effort to change.

I think that’s what matters–the effort. We all make mistakes. I know that’s such a clique about parenting, but it’s very true. No parent is perfect and I would say a lot of us are frequently awful. I wouldn’t say a lot of parents are always awful, but from a day to day basis, I certainly have had more than my share of days where I am just, simply put, an awful parent. Or maybe it’s just that moment where I do something that is so horrendous to me that I want to quite literally punish myself for doing it. Like once when Peanut was less than 2 and I threw her onto the bed. Yes, it was onto a soft bed and she wasn’t even the slightest injured, but the hurt in her eyes afterwards at her mama reacting violently at her made me burst into tears.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s the effort to change that matters. If we have ideals and are working towards them, our children will see that. My problem is when I get caught up in life and stop working towards my ideals.

Such is the case in time outs.

When Peanut was younger, we didn’t do time out. Rather, we did time in (I can’t find the original article I read that explained it more thoroughly, but this one explains it well enough). For a long time, she thrived on it. We would go to a chair or corner and she would sit on my lap and we’d talk about what was wrong with our behavior. We’d always end in a hug and she’s run away happily playing. Somehow over time, time in became a punishment (don’t do that or we’re going to have to go to time in) and I’m not sure how exactly my mind switched over. I honestly hate the whole “Don’t do this or this will happen” line anyway, so why did I start using it? Why do I continue to use it?

Eventually, we moved away from the time in idea. I’m not quite sure why, but I started sending my, at that time around 18 month old daughter, to her room. I think I justified it in saying that she was just overwhelmed and needed to be removed from the situation. Originally she went willingly and would close the door. Less than a minute later she’d ask me if she could come out and I would respond by asking her if she was going to do whatever behavior she was sent for again. In the beginning she didn’t even realize that she was supposed to answer no, but rather told me yes, possibly because the positive word seemed to her like what I wanted to hear.

I realized at that point that I didn’t like what I was doing. I tried to change and we would try different strategies for a while, but somehow revert back to it. Now, a year later, we not only send her to her room, but she’s screaming crying as she goes. She has even been crying so hard that she can’t figure out how to open the door again and thinks she’s locked in. She starts to panic and I have to come save her. How did I get to this point? This is not how I wanted to parent.

So, even though I’ve tried it in the past and still reverted, I’m going to try to stop. I don’t like who I am when I take my love and physical presence from my child as a form of punishment. I don’t like how I make her feel and how I feel every time I do it. I am going to make an active effort to change. I am going to try to change my habits before Twig comes so I can have a different default to fall back on when things go downhill.

Here’s my game plan:

1. Say “yes” more. A big reason that she ends up being sent to her room is because of hitting. I’ve found out that she hits me when she’s frustrated because I’ve told her she can’t do something. Not only am I going to try talking to her about why it’s not nice to hit (which I do now, but I’m going to do it to a greater extent), but I’m going to try to stop saying no as much so we don’t get into the situation to begin with. Just because she’s older doesn’t mean I can’t redirect her attention. Just because I’m stressed or trying to do other things doesn’t mean that whatever little, slightly annoying thing she’s doing is bad. Why do I care if my child dances on the coffee table? She’s not doing any harm.

2. Talk more. As I just said, I’m going to try to talk to her more. Rather than “If you do that again…” talk, I’m going to ask “Why did you do…” and tell her “It makes me feel ____ when you…” I don’t want every little thing to be a consequence. Along the same line, I don’t want to count at my daughter anymore. I don’t want her only to stop hitting me or doing something that can injure herself because I got to three.

3. Listen more. Not just listen, but just give her my attention more. It’s difficult when I’m in the middle of the semester and I feel like I have a billion things to do (not to mention actually getting some me-time in) and she’s wanting my attention too. When she’s starting to frustrate me because she’s doing something while I’m trying to concentrate on a blog post, I need to just close the computer and walk away. When she’s chasing the cat screaming at it (and scaring the cat to death), I need to put down my knitting and go play with her. I’m stressed because of my lack of time to do all the things I want/need to do and so is she. I need to remember that it’s hard on her too when I have so many things to do and she isn’t getting enough attention.

4. Involve her more in what I’m doing. Obviously I can’t do this for blogging or homework, but I can easily involve her in housework. She loves to help me with laundry. I also need to remind myself while she’s helping that if she doesn’t do something right, it’s okay. Or if she’s suddenly decides it’s more fun to throw the laundry rather than fold it, maybe it’s time to do something else. The laundry isn’t going to go bad if it sits on the floor half-folded for a while. I also need to avoid using the punishment voice to get her to let me finish the thing I’m doing (for some reason she’s devastated if I tell her that we have to stop laundry because of her, even if she doesn’t want to do the laundry).

5. Stop using “the voice” in general. I’m all about my child understanding the natural consequences in life, but I don’t need to make unnatural consequences to get her to comply. I noticed something that a (different than the earlier) friend does when talking to her son. She automatically goes into a happy voice, even when he’s done something wrong. She never speaks to him like he’s a “bad boy” as I often do with Peanut. When I want her to comply I start using this voice with her that sounds so condescending it makes me want to pull my hair out “Well if we keep doing such-and-such-thing, we can’t do other-such-and-such-thing.” No. More. Of. That.

6. Stop bribing good behavior. I have never been comfortable with the idea of bribes for children. It’s just another form of making unnatural consequences to get a child to comply. Regardless of my ideals, I still told Peanut a few weeks ago when we were shopping for maternity pants and she wouldn’t stay with us that she would get a cookie only if she behaved. She didn’t behave and therefore didn’t get a cookie. Of course she was upset. Rather, I should have realized that maybe that day was not the best one to take my child to the mall looking for pants. Why is it so difficult to realize that a stupid thing like buying pants can be put on hold until tomorrow?

7. Look at her needs first. I’ve noticed that every evening right around when my husband is getting home, Peanut starts getting super whiny and particularly defiant. Part of this is not something I can improve right now (her naptime at presschool is way too early in my opinion and she is a much happier child when she naps 2 hours later, which we will do when she’s out of preschool in December), but part of it is that she’s hungry. I need to remember this and feed her a late snack a couple of hours before then to tide her over while dinner is being made. Things like this must be considered when dealing with a toddler. If your child hasn’t had a nap, it’s going to be a more rough night, so A. realize that and work knowing the cause and, B. try to get them the nap in the first place.

So that’s my plan for now. I’m going to make an active effort to change my habits and make my personal parenting more in line with my ideals. Yes, there will be times when I revert. This is a natural part of changing a habit and I shouldn’t stop trying just because I reverted back once. I will continue trying. I will do my best to be the parent I want to be.

Do you have an parenting habits that you’d like to change? What do you do to work towards your parenting ideals? Any ideas for alternatives to the ways I’ve been parenting?

Project 333 Maternity Wear

Before getting pregnant, I went through my wardrobe and got rid of a lot of clothes as part of minimalizing my life. I didn’t give myself a set number of items to keep or get rid of, just that I had to get rid of anything I didn’t like wearing to begin with, was too worn, or I’d never really worn. I immediately loved the simplicity of my wardrobe. I already had a small one to begin with, but every morning I was going through the battles in my head of “Do I want to be seen in that shirt?” and “Can I get away with wearing that skirt with the hole?” I just woke up in the morning and grabbed clothes and felt good about it. I felt good wearing what I was wearing because I only wore my favorites.

Then I got pregnant.

I started wearing maternity clothes very soon into my pregnancy because I was so bloated. I continued wearing them after I stopped being so bloated because they were comfortable. I simply added the maternity clothes into my closet without taking anything out. I slowly put some of my shirts I didn’t want to stretch out to the top shelf in my closet, but I still had many of those scattered throughout. I got back to the having to make an active decision about what I was wearing in the morning “Will I stretch this out if I wear it now?” “Will this be comfortable with my belly?” “Why is this even in here anymore? I can’t fit in it!”

So I decided to get down to business and take part in Project 333. The basic idea is that you have 33 pieces of clothing for 3 months. I was intimidated at first of limiting myself to 33 items of clothing during pregnancy (because who knows how comfortable I’ll be in my current clothing when I’m about to pop), but The Saved Quarter’s post about her Project 333 maternity wardrobe gave me hope, so I set to it!

Here is my planned wardrobe until the baby is delivered (and likely a bit after while I shrink down to pre-pregnancy size):

1. Maternity Jeans

2. Black Maternity Yoga Pants

 

3. White Skirt (not maternity, but stretchy)

4. Purple Skirt (also not maternity, but stretchy)

 

5. Black with white polka-dots dress (friend gave it to me because she’s no longer pregnant. Score!)

6. Purple maternity dress (my closet was so full that I had forgotten I owned this and I love this dress!)

 

(part of the project is that you're supposed to "find your style" by only wearing what you truly love, cardigans are definitely my style)

7. Striped cardigan

8. Grey with black trim cardigan

9. Grey 3/4 sleeve cartigan

10. Purple cardigan

 


11. Blue tight shirt

12. Yellow tight shirt

13. Black wrap shirt

14. Flowery shirt

15. Green butterfly shirt

16. Yellow flowery shirt

 

17. Green tight shirt

18. Grey turtleneck

19. Brown squares shirt

20. Striped blue shirt

 

21. Grey “Mary Poppins” bag (yeah, it’s that big)

22. Black earrings

23. White earrings

24. {Fake} diamond earrings

25. Watch

 

26. Gryffindor Scarf

27. White gloves

28. Grey/black sweater

29. Red button up coat (not actually maternity, but my mom is planning on making an extension for it)

 

30. Grey cute boots (a bit worn, but not in dire need for replacement)

31. Black fuzzy boots (so comfy!)

32. Red striped flats (for special occasions)

33. Brown flip flops (yeah, the weather isn’t going to call for these most of the time, but I’m pregnant and lazy so I’m sure I’ll wear them often enough to count them)

 

Not Included: Underwear, bras, tank tops (because they’re essentially underwear for me), socks, wedding ring, necklaces (because I only wear one necklace at the moment, and it’s my wedding ring), swimwear, lingerie, pjs, workout wear.

 

So there you go! My whole wardrobe is easily numbered! I actually feel pretty proud of myself and I’m not doubting a single thing that I put away. I can’t guarantee that I won’t go searching for one of the not-favored-but-possibly-more-comfy maternity shirts towards the end of my pregnancy, but I don’t think I will as of right now. I was really concerned that in order to get 33 things out of my maternity clothes (which the majority of this actually is), I’d have at least some things that weren’t ones that I really loved to wear, but I’m entirely happy with the whole thing. I’m also already open to changing things up a bit (like I’d never thought of the flowery shirt with the purple cardigan, but I’m loving it!). Next I’m on to Peanut’s clothes!

Homemade Gifts

I used to think of homemade gifts as cheap. Something that only incredibly thrifty (when that word used to have a bad connotation in my head) people gave. I used to think of homemade gifts as macaroni necklaces that kids made for their parents in school. I used to think of the importance of gifts in the form of monetary value. I used to work really hard to give all people of the same “level” in my life (e.g. my parents and in-laws) the same dollar amount of gifts. I used to relish in finding the perfect gift for someone and when I couldn’t find the absolute perfect gift I was crushed.

Yes, I’ll admit that my sudden interest in homemade gifts is partially because of money (or the lack thereof), but it’s also because in making the thing I’ve made for Peanut so far, I’ve realized how much value is put in something just by the fact that I made it. Rather than walking into a store and randomly picking out something that seems good for that person, I can give them something that I personally decided would be useful in their life, I spent the hours making it, and it will last a lot longer than the dinky thing I picked out in the store. So for my mom’s birthday, I decided to make her two gifts (because they’re both small things). I spent no extra money on these because I already had the yarn (and she’ll know that) and that’s okay.

Gift 1: Coffee cup cozy

My mom drinks coffee every day and even when she’s at home she drinks it out of a portable cup. She uses reusable cups and those are better insulated than the disposable ones, but being even less likely to burn your hand seems like a good thing. She even surprised me by putting it on her soda bottle when she received it! Dual purpose!

Here’s the general directions for what I did. I just did rows 7 and 13 in the K1 P1 configuration because I didn’t know how to do YF (yarn front). There’s also a little defect if you look close–I accidentally got the knits and purls backwards on a row so they shift. I’ll call that a quirk since it’s the thought that really matters.

Gift 2: Bookmark

I obviously had some yarn left over after my Gryffindor scarf. My mom is an avid reader and while most of it is done on her Kindle now-a-days, I figured that a nice knitted bookmark could be good for when she gets books from the library. From what I’ve read online, yarn bookmarks damage pages less than some bookmarks you can buy in the store (like metal ones), but last a lot longer than paper ones.

I used the same idea as the Gryffindor scarf. Smaller knitting needle (6 US) made it a bit awkward to work with, but it wasn’t too much of a hassle and I like the smaller knits for the smaller version of it. Do make sure that you do the exact same number of rows for each block though, or else it will look wrong. It’s also important to note that you need to switch colors when the right side is facing you (i.e. the side that looks like the picture above) because otherwise you’ll have random lines of color throughout both sides.

 

So that’s my mom’s birthday gifts. She seemed pretty happy when we gave them to her and said that she was extra happy we didn’t spend money on it. I’m really happy that I made them and I’ll certainly be doing more homemade gifts in the future.