Pregnancy

Budgeting & Baby

Congrats on your pregnancy! What an exciting time for you and your family. Now is the time you are probably chit chatting with your gal pals about your due date, how you plan to decorate your nursery, and all the other things we all talk about during pregnancy. I bet finances are not even close to the forefront of your mind as you buy the 15th adorable newborn onesie you found at Target (don’t worry, been there). Well, friend, let me be the cog in the wheel and inform you that growing your family WILL have a massive impact on your budget – no matter what your income looks like. Yeah yeah, you are thinking, “duh. Obviously this is the case.” It certainly is, friend. Here are a few big changes that I noticed that I was not expecting (or simply ignored until it slapped me in the face):

Child care: Planning to go back to work? Expect quality child care to take up a huge portion of your paycheck. Not going back to work (you go girl!) – this takes a hit on the front end with loss of income.

Diapers/diaper supplies: Yes, babies require A LOT of diapers. Unless you plan to go the cloth diaper route, this gets expensive. Not only that, it might take some experimenting for you to find the best diaper and diapering products for your baby. Some babies have allergies to certain diapers/products (like mine).

Medical Expenses: This, of course, depends on your medical coverage and many other factors (i.e., type of birth, number of nights stay, baby needs). Both my kids had jaundice and required phototherapy. Thankfully my insurance covered most of this, but had it not, this would have been an $800+ out of pocket charge.

These are just a few examples of costs associated with having baby. As you are well aware, there are many many many more. Thankfully there are a lot of products out there that can assist you in planning. If you do not have a budget created, that is an excellent first step. While you are in your planning stages of pregnancy, take some time and sit down with your partner to figure out where your finances are at. There are a million budgeting tools out there, just Google it. Once you have that budget established, begin to think about what adjustments will be necessary to accommodate your new bundle of joy. Believe me, by taking some budgeting steps, it will help you ease your mind in the long run and I promise, reduce future arguments with your partner.

Just getting started? Here are some tools that can help you on your way!

Building a Budget – NerdWallet provides tools to guide you through creating a budget

Mint.com – an oldie but a goodie; people use this app to track their spending and create a budget

Good ol’ Excel – Microsoft Excel (and Google sheets) has some decent budgeting templates

There are about million different apps and ways to budget. These are just a few that I have used in the past. It really just depends on your style and unique needs. Best of luck and happy tracking!

~Karen

Postpartum

Favorite Baby Care Products

The market for baby shampoo is insane. Before having a kid, I thought that there was one type of baby shampoo. You know the traditional Johnson & Johnson yellow bottle? If you’re anything like me, you figure out what works best through trial and error. I have to be somewhat careful with the types of products I use. Because Ellie was lucky enough to inherit .5% of my genes (look at her, she is 99.5% her dad), she has a touch of eczema. Certain products can aggravate her eczema which is a pain in the butt to stay on top of.

Through my trial and error as well as recommendations from family/friends, here is a list of baby care products I am loving right now. Love to hear if you have anything else you are slathering on your little minion(s)!

~Karen

Continue reading “Favorite Baby Care Products”

Postpartum

Toddler Mealtime Escapades

Is your kid a decent eater who will eat literally anything you put in front of them or do you have the kid who will only eat chicken nuggets, but only that one specific brand from a co-op four states away? We all know that feeding your toddler can be rough, especially because their palate can change like the wind. One day they LOVE apples and can’t get enough of them, the next day apples are being thrown across the room (thank goodness for my built in floor cleaners, AKA the dogs). The minute I find something Ellie loves and pretty much buy stock in that company, the next thing I know she is turning her nose up at it. Well, EXCUSE ME, Queen of England! For this post, I thought I’d list out a few of my go-to meals and snacks. As I have mentioned many times, my bar is set really low. I don’t typically get home on time to be like Julia Child in the kitchen… and let’s be real, even if I did, I still wouldn’t put the time into cooking. Continue reading “Toddler Mealtime Escapades”

Postpartum

Let’s Talk About Size Baby

Hi! It’s me, Karen. It’s been awhile. My apologies for ghosting you. I am sure you have been missing my parenting insights (and flops). Well, I am back. If you celebrate, my hope is that you had a wonderful holiday season. After talking to my sister-in-law for a while the other day on clothing sizes for our toddlers (her little gal is just a couple months older than Ellie), I thought a little rant about baby and toddler clothing would be prudent as you sort through the clothes your kid(s) received as gifts. Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Size Baby”

Postpartum

Being a Mom During the Holidays

I love the holidays. I have always loved the holidays. I love decorating. I love thinking of just the right gift for every person on my list. I love Thanksgiving. I love to cook and to try out new recipes and to be in the kitchen with my favorite people in the world. The list could go on and on. My love for this time of year has not changed since becoming a parent, it may have even grown now that I have a little one I get to incorporate into all of these wonderful family traditions. What has changed though is the increased amount of pressure I feel to make the holidays perfect for those around me. While I know I don’t need to be making 13 different kinds of cookies each year, 6 would suffice, I just can’t seem to let some things go (but I need to). That being said, I am committing to do some things that decrease the pressure I have felt in recent years, while at the same time keeping the holiday cheer ever so present in my life. Continue reading “Being a Mom During the Holidays”

Postpartum

The Life of a Working Mom

The last couple weeks have been… demanding, to say the least, for Kristin and I. Like many of you out there, August and the first few weeks of September are the busiest work weeks of our calendar year. So I thought this week, the post would highlight some not-so-foreign feelings we working moms have. Holding my shit together during these times has developed a whole new meaning.

Continue reading “The Life of a Working Mom”

Dad Stuff

The Bedtime Conundrum

This week, we have a very special guest post! Zach, Karen’s husband, has written an excellent tidbit on his experimentation in getting Ellie down for bed at night. He has become quite the bedtime expert in their household. We hope that you find some applicable insight. Enjoy! 

Continue reading “The Bedtime Conundrum”

Postpartum, Pregnancy

Special Edition: Our First Guest Post!

Today is a very special day. It’s Kristin’s birthday! To make this day even more special, Kristin’s mom, Maureen, has kindly agreed to write a special guest post for today (I only cried a little bit reading this). Happy Birthday Kristin! 

My Baby Has a Baby!

I am blogging today to celebrate Kristin’s first birthday as a Mom!  Thirty-three years ago, August 14th Kristin made me a mom, and it changed my life.

img_0190-e1534210156694.jpgLiving and working in Manhattan, Don and I got the news that I was pregnant.  We were blessed with a “surprise” pregnancy and we needed to nail down the changes that will take place in our lives.  We both had demanding jobs and lived in a four-floor walkup, neither conducive to becoming parents. The amount of decisions and commitments needed to consider was daunting.  Stay in the city? Daycare? Schools? Yup, schools. Most women I knew enrolled their child in a preschool as soon as they got pregnant. That’s pressure!

Our lease was up in May, three months prior to meeting this new person, and we need to make a change.  We decided to move to New Jersey. This was to be a “two-fer”, getting a place closer to my family and my sister was going be her nanny! SCORE!

IMG_0165The day we met Kristin was an amazingly beautiful “beach” day on the Jersey Shore.  I was overdue and thought a day at the ocean would do me wonders. I got in my car, stopped at my parents’ home, grab a beach chair, and schlepped all my stuff to the ocean.  I parked myself near the lifeguard, just in case. After a while I started to feel a bit crampy, nothing much but I couldn’t get comfortable. I decided to leave the beach to go home and nap.  Dropping the beach chair at my Mom’s she said, “How are you?” I said I was good, but I needed to go home and take it easy. She said I looked tired and to let her know when I got home. Don called, from work in Manhattan, around 5p and asked how I felt.  I told him I was just fine and not to rush home. Oh, and I added that I was cramping… just a bit. He said he was leaving immediately and by the time he got home 1-1 ½ hours later I was in labor. My Jersey Girl arrived at 8lbs 9 oz, full head of hair and in great health.  Let motherhood begin.

I had a three-month maternity leave, Don went back to work in Manhattan, and Kristin and I settled into a new routine.  Mostly sleeping when she slept. I was breastfeeding and she was a hungry bugger. I experienced my first obstacle, cracked nipples.  Ouch! Never anticipated that! The internet was not around, and all “Mom” information came from books, your mother, or close friends/family.  I bought MANY books. One of my favorite authors was by T. Berry Brazelton, kind of the Mr. Rogers of pediatricians, he wrote Infants and Mothers and Touchpoints.  (For Kristin’s birthday I’m sending her an electronic copy of Infants and Mothers circa 1983. ☺ )

My biggest fear in becoming a mother was how to communicate with a newborn.  Would we bond? How would I be able to understand and anticipate her needs? Would she be able to feel loved and secure?  What kind of woman would I become? Could I put her needs ahead of my own and Don’s? What happens when I go back to work? And probably a million more!

These questions seemed to come up and be answered as needed.  She felt perfect in my arms. I was fortunate to have the time to bond, understand she was “out of sorts”, become enveloped in her laughter, know the difference between hungry and “hangry”, go through the conflicting feelings of returning to work, and just sink into the new “family”.

IMG_4809I now get to be part of her beginnings of motherhood.  I watch Kristin and Kris navigate parenthood with excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation, dedication, joy and love.  I see them create a home and family. I’m excited to watch as they create their own rhythm and schedules and I am touched to think that both the Hummel and Kvam family values and customs will continue on with the next generation. The holidays and traditions she has had over the years will mean even more to her now that she’ll get to share them with her child.  I have the joy of getting to know my grandchild, be his Nana and watch him develop into the Finn that he will be.

It was my JOY to have Kristin changed my life, and now I celebrate as Finn changes hers.

Happy Birthday Kristin.

Love and Lollies,

Mom

Maureen Kvam, aka: Kristin’s proud Mom.

Postpartum, Pregnancy

Our Favorite Parenting TV Shows

Hellllloooooooo! This week we are going to share some of our favorite mom/parenting TV shows (in no certain order). It’s fascinating how relatable fictional TV is to the plight of becoming a new parent. Sometimes the the mental escape from reality is much needed, and the only thing that can fill it is a 30 minute episode of Bob’s Burgers. What are your favorite parenting TV shows? If you say Keeping Up With the Kardashians you should seriously reflect on what constitutes “parenting” – no judging here though (as we discretely throw shade your way). Just kidding… you would be shocked to know the amount of hours spent watching trashy TV at our house. Yikes.

The Letdown

Ever drive your kid around at all hours of the night and finally get baby to fall asleep, only to have some jerk tap on your window? Moms, you’re gonna relate with this show!

Shameless

Having a particularly crappy parenting day? You will immediately feel better about your parenting skills after watching Frank being Father of the Year.

Bob’s Burgers

Need a good laugh? Bob’s Burgers will certainly do that for you. As Bob put it so well, “I love you, but you’re all terrible”.

Life in Pieces

Whether you are a parent of preteens or are brand new to the parenting gig, you will definitely find something to relate with in this show. Jen and Greg highlight the emotional nuances many of us new parents feel.

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Mama Ru will keep you on your toes with every new season as she brings in a new barrage of girls. With each episode, she reminds us that “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you going to love somebody else?”. Could not have said it better Ru.

Honorable Mentions:

Big Little Lies

Transparent

Jane the Virgin

SMILF

Parenthood

Game of Thrones (I am only mentioning because Zach told me to)

Happy binging!

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Postpartum

Childproofing Your Existence

Did you wake up one morning and found that you had a crawler or walker on your hands? In that moment, I bet you cheered your little one on, thinking this kiddo is the cat’s meow. Every new development is such an exciting milestone, it’s no wonder we are thrilled when it happens. But that thrill quickly turns into the familiar ‘oh shit’ ball of worry in your stomach.

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Scheming her way out of this prison.

My home is barely safe for my husband – I say this in earnest as Zach nearly broke his face after tripping over my weights strewn about the floor the other day (sorry pal, I owe you some Ben & Jerry’s). While we have already done  what feels like a ton of childproofing, we are finding something new everyday we need to change or update. Inevitably Ellie finds a new cable to chew on or a ledge to tumble into. I caught this kid actually somersaulting off the couch a few weeks ago. It was quite graceful but not ideal. So, while I am working on getting Ellie down from the ceiling fan… enjoy reading just a few home childproofing recommendations:

  • Stairs: If you have them, get a gate up… like yesterday. Babies seem to be attracted to stairs like moths to a bug zapper.
  • Outlets: Purchase those cheap plug things and plug any open outlets you have. Ellie loves finding outlets. One day she is going to resemble Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, red hair and all.
  • Cords, cables, and the like: These can be challenging if your living room is set up like a Van Gogh painting and you have to configure your set-up in the most inconvenient way. We’ve taken to using packing tape to hide our cables in plain site. #classy
  • Hard edges (fireplace, tables, etc.): There are these great padded furniture edgings that can be cut to fit and stuck to most edges. These have saved Ellie from many bruises and tears.
  • Vacuum: The most random things can fall on the floor which are prime pickings for little curious hands (and mouths). A word to the wise, if you have guests over, make sure to vacuum and pick up after they leave. People often forget that there is a baby around that likes to eat everything. Also, maybe they left some change or valuable jewelry between your couch cushions – no one said daycare was cheap.

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    Ellie pets her PUPPY.
  • Pets: We have two decent size dogs we watch like hawks. Our dogs are pretty good with Ellie, but you never know if some new things she’s doing (like running across the room screaming “puppy, puppy, PUPPPPPPPYYYYY” and throwing herself on them) will bother them. We fortunately have never had an incident but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

While there are about a million and a half other things that could be done, I believe this is a good start. Just remember, while we can only do so much to keep our kids safe, sometimes they are their own worst enemy.

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Feel free to let us know what your tips are! Happy chasing!

~Karen