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I often hear how expensive it is to be a parent. It makes me really sad to watch people putting off having kids until they’re “financially ready”. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad plan. But as I’ve often been told, if you keep waiting to be ready(especially financially), then you’ll never be ready. And I think it’s a very common misconception that having kids and starting a family is crazy expensive when in reality, it’s only really expensive if you make it so.

Think about. Think about everything you just have to have. Do you really need them? Are they necessities? Could you have survived without it? In most cases, the answer is that it wasn’t necessary. It just made things more convenient.

But having kids isn’t about convenience. It’s about raising a human being. It’s about unconditional love and always being there to support this child. It’s about watching them grow and be who they wish to become. And giving them all the tools they need to make it in this world.

“All the tools they need? That’s expensive.” No friends… It’s really not. Let’s take a look at a few ways to save lots of money.

 

Research pregnancy. Everything about pregnancy and birth. Know your rights. Know what tests can be refused. Which ones aren’t necessary to have. Don’t go crazy on ultrasounds. I didn’t see a midwife until I was already 16 weeks along. There were no risks and it wasn’t necessary. Minimal visits means minimal costs. Very simple and so easy for those with low risk pregnancies.

Have a natural birth. Don’t get the unnecessary interventions. Remember that you are paying for every thing they use during labor. Having an epidural costs more than doing it naturally. And if you can go without, do it. A woman’s body was meant to birth. Yes, there are instances where that just doesn’t work but stop trying to find excuses or allowing others to find them for you and trust in yourself and your body. Many women come out of natural births feeling completely restored and empowered.

 

Breastfeed. Yes, breastfeeding is a HUGE cost reduction. If you are able to do so, and most women are, then why wouldn’t you? It’s better for baby, it doesn’t carry the risks of formula, gives baby antibodies and other things to boost immune system, and it’s free! Baby can live off breastmilk up to the age of one. Food isn’t necessary before the child turns one. Think of how much can be saved during that first year if you aren’t purchasing 25+ dollars of formula. Probably several cans a month. That’ insane!

 

Feed baby what you eat. Just get a baby bullet or something similar and feed baby regular vegetables and fruits. No need to buy baby food. Baby food is more expensive than just doing it yourself as you are paying for the service and labor that goes into it. And parents often have jars of baby food left over. If you just use the food you eat, it’s already something you plan to purchase so you aren’t spending any extra or wasting any money. Before you know it, baby won’t need baby food and will be able to eat food cut into little pieces. Baby food is really just a transition process.

If you you breastfeed for a year, baby food is only going to be for play in most cases as all their nourishment comes from breastmilk. Solids shouldn’t be started before 6 months giving babies tummy time to develop and properly be able to handle digesting solids. Holding off longer doesn’t harm the baby in anyway.

 

Cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are an amazing investment. Looking into cloth diapers you may think it’s crazy to spend 10 bucks or more on one diaper, but you will be reusing this diaper. You can’t reuse disposables. You can also resell cloth diapers when you’re done with them or use them on your next baby. A good cloth diaper can last about 5 years or so.

My cloth diaper stash consists of 46 diapers for 250. 46 diapers is enough to cloth two babies! A large box of disposables is about 40 dollars. If I only go through one box a month, that’s 480 dollars a year, 960 for two years. That’s money that you’ve just thrown away. If I choose to sell off my cloth diapers right now, I could probably get 175 back. And I spend nothing extra because I use the same detergent on my diapers as I do our regular clothes. You can also get cloth wipes.

I truly encourage all new parents to look into cloth. It’s no longer the same as the horror stories you may have heard growing up. My parents used plastic bags to cover our cloth diapers so we didn’t leak. I’ve heard some horror stories my self, but I love our cloth. They even work as pants so my son can just wear a tshirt and a cloth diaper when it’s warm out.

 

Clothes. Clothes is a big one I think. Parents go over board when it comes to baby’s closet. Why? The child will grow out of it really quickly. My son spends most of his days in nothing but a diaper. We could probably get buy with 7 different outfits. He only wears clothes if we leave the house. I know for some people, that’s a lot more than it is for me, and that’s fine. You can still save. Buy hand me downs. Don’t be to proud to buy cheap clothes. What does a baby need brand names for? What does anybody need brand names for? If you are more focused on image than your actual needs, then you have a whole nother problem.

 

Toys. Does your child need all the toys he/she has? Does he/she play with them? Probably not. We have downgraded immensely on toys. We have a box of toys in the closet and a toy box filled with toys. When he gets really bored with the toys he has, we swap them for the box in the closet and it’s like all brand new toys again. He also plays with random things in the house. Measuring cups and utensils. Boxes. Laundry hampers. Sticks. Kid has an imagination and we let him use it.

 

Those are just a few ways I can think of to save money but there are many many more. I may make another post in the future about it but for now, I’ll leave you with this.

Why I Apologize to my Son

When you were growing up, did you ever get blamed for something that wasn’t your fault? Did your parents ever take their frustrations out on you? Ever hear the phrase “Because I said so.”, or “because I’m the parent and I’m always right.”? What did you learn from these times? What did it teach you? Anything?

I heard many of these arguments growing up. I got blamed for many things. Like one of my dad’s tools would go missing and then all hell would break loose. He would come in yelling and screaming and pointing fingers. But it never once crossed his mind that he could have simply misplaced this object. It just wasn’t possible.

Even if my parents had discovered that what they accused my brother and I of something that was not our fault, they never told us about it. They never admitted to being at fault. They were the parents. That meant that they were always right, even when they were wrong. It’s something you learned to just deal with. There was no point in trying to fight it, it would never change.

Now I am a mother. I have a 2 year old and although he doesn’t really understand everything yet, I apologize to him. All the time really. If he walks in front of me causing me to knock him over, I apologize. After all, that’s what I would do if he were an adult.

We practice peaceful parenting in our house. That means no spanking, no cry it out, and no yelling. It isn’t always easy and sometimes I lose my cool. If I raise my voice, it almost always ends with my son terrified and in tears. It’s not normal behavior for him to endure. And I always apologize to him for acting out of frustration. Always.

We haven’t gotten to the age of the blame game, but if I find I have made incorrect assumptions, I will apologize. Why? Because that is what you are supposed to do. That is what you would want someone to do if they accused you of something you had nothing to do with. That is how you would want to be treated and how you want your child to treat others. We teach by doing.

Apologizing to our kids also shows them that we care about how they feel. It lets them know that it’s okay to admit to being wrong. That everyone is wrong at times and that we all have faults. Nobody is perfect, not even parents. There is no reason to pretend to be.

It teaches them to forgive. And to ask for forgiveness when they should. That being stubborn and full of pride is not always the best thing. I have more respect for those who can admit that they were wrong than for a person who continues to deny it even when they have discovered they were wrong.

Apologizing is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. It takes strength to admit that you are wrong. To own up to your actions and accept the consequences. It allows people to see that you don’t see yourself as perfect and makes it so others are more likely to let you know when they were wrong as well.

Why do you think parents are afraid to apologize to their kids?

False Lover

She gave up her children to stand next to a man
Who really doesn’t care and puts her down with his hands
Two little boys growing up without a mother
Because she believes in a false lover
She fell for his words, so cunning and sweet
But she ignores the way his actions speak
Countless nights she cries herself to sleep
Can’t stand the guilt she feels when her little girl sees her weep
Asking her “Mommy, are you okay?”
And watching her cover the bruises she got today
Leaving Pennsylvania she left so much
To live with a man she can’t trust
She knows he hasn’t been true
And he says I’m sorry with a bruise
But she forgives him and takes him back
Without a thought, just like that

The Things I Love

Often we overlook the things that bring us the most happiness. We take them for granted or we don’t notice them at all. We are to busy focusing on the negatives in our life. And yes, I am very guilty of doing this as well. So today, I am going to make a list of all the amazing things I love and have to be so happy and grateful for.

I have my “furbabies” whom have been with me for a lot of ups and downs and have never wavered. They are always happy to see me with wagging tails and big smiles. Even the ones that have to live with grandma on the farm. They love road trips and running free. It’s always relaxing and fun to watch them run through a pasture and jump through tall grass. Or try to swim. I say try because they aren’t the brightest. One inhales water as he paddles and the other just doesn’t have a clue… Both would drown before leaving the water if I weren’t going with them. So very loyal.

I have the most amazing mother. She tries to be very understanding of the choices my family and myself make even though they aren’t what she’s used to. She continues to make sure that i do not go without even though I am 23 and have a family on my own. The most loving, caring woman I have ever known.

I get the luxury of being a stay at home mom because I have a supportive, hardworking, and dedicated fiancee. He even comes home and starts dinner and does the dishes if I haven’t gotten to it. I don’t know how I got so lucky.

I get to wake up to smiles and giggles down the hall. I get to listen to my son try to sing. I get to watch him grow and become a unique individual. I get to be here to soothe and comfort him when he’s having a hard time. Go to bed after hugs and kisses every night.

I get to create and carry life. I can feel it moving inside me. Every movement a miracle. Everyday a gift.

This is just a small list. I could go on for days. All the amazing things I get to feel and experience as a mother often render me speechless. How lucky am I?

Unseen Love

Tiny little fingers
Holding you tight
A love that lingers
Forever out of sight
Though you cannot see it
Doesn’t mean it isn’t there
You can feel it in his longingful stare
Just a little boy, wrapped up in his fathers arms
Forever protected, completely safe from harm

So it’s become a thing among parents and other people to ask for medical advice over Facebook. A very disturbing trend if you ask me. It makes me wonder how many kids are sitting at home and suffering when they should be hauled off to the ER or at least the doctors office for real medical attention. But instead they are taking pictures and asking strangers if they should be worried about their child’s rash or a video of their child breathing abnormally wondering if they should take him to the emergency room.

Since when did we stop trusting our instincts and started leaving our lives and decisions in the hands of total strangers on the internet? We ask people how we should dress or wear our hair. What baby name sounds better or what birthday/nursery theme we should choose. We hold so little value in our own opinions anymore.

In the past, we would have called up or mother or a close friend for advice, not post a status about it or try to get a page to share it for us. And if we couldn’t get them on the phone we went with our gut. How many moms are trying strange remedies for their kids because someone on the internet said it works? They are postponing their trip to the ER for their child who can barely breath because they are waiting for someone to validate their concerns. What if nobody ever does and the child stays in serious condition?

People are asking strangers what they think is wrong with them and getting mad when those people come up with a different diagnosis. Not only that, but you have hundreds of people commenting and many different options as to what they feel it is. Some say it’s an emergency or you need to seek a medical professional soon but others say it will clear up on it’s own and it’s nothing to worry about. Who do you listen too? Which stranger do you trust with your child?

Why have we become so disconnected with ourselves? Why do we not trust our instincts? Our children’s cues? We are getting all our advice from strangers. Even taking advice when it feels wrong to them. I want to leave this by encouraging everyone to start listening to themselves. Give yourself more credit and confidence in your instincts. Don’t go seek advice from strangers. Especially in emergencies.

Influences

I try to stay out of the mainstream gossip as much as possible, but having a Facebook account makes that nearly impossibe. I can guarantee if I didn’t have Facebook, I would have no idea who Justin Bieber is. But i do know who he is and I have heard of all his horrible antics. Driving under the influence is just so cool….

Lots of people are talking about how he is just a “poor kid” and needs to be “saved”. That we shouldn’t judge him and that we should pray for him and embrace him. They want to see him released and let off. He’s just a kid. To that I say, RIDICULOUS!

He is 19, an adult. And he made decisions that could have killed someone. Have you ever seen someone die? I have. I watched a man, a father and loving husband, die right before my eyes. He was hit by a drunk driver. That driver was 19. Would people still be feeling sorry for Bieber if his actions had killed someone? Do they realize a slap on the wrist will only validate his feelings of invincibility. Being untouchable…

Another thing people often say is that Miley and Bieber are not influences on our youth. If they do have an influence on our youth then it is the parent who has failed to do their job. How is that so? Everybody is influenced by their environment. The media is part of that. Unless a parent keeps their child with them 24/7 and don’t allow them to watch TV, leave the house, or visit friends, it is impossible to keep them from being influenced by something. Even Bieber and Miley.

If you say that these people are not influences, I’d have to say that you are completely oblivious. If a stranger told your child that they shouldn’t play with this toy or that one, you would likely step in and say something if you disagreed because you know it could have an impact on your child. Have you had your child come up and ask you why someone said something or announce that so and so said that this is true. Clearly they are being influenced.

Even adults are highly influenced by the media. They are getting plastic surgery to change their image. They are scheduling cesareans because it’s what the celebs do. They are having botox and practicing parenting techniques they heard their favorite celeb talk about. To say that our kids are not influenced when we adults are, is absurd. And to say it’s all the fault of the parent? So even when they are influenced as an adult it’s still because mom and dad failed us? 

As a parent, we do our best to ensure that are children are surrounded by positive influences. We cut people out of our lives to prevent them from being an influence. We change our lifestyles to make sure we are good influences. But the media is everywhere. Magazines at the store, Miley and Bieber dolls, TV, radio and etc. We can try to steer our child in another direction but our kids, just like you and I, are unique individuals. They are capable of coming to their own conclusions and thinking their own thoughts. Not everything we say is going to get through to them. 

I agree that it is not Bieber or Miley’s responsibility to care for our kids. I would never EVER ask one of them to or want them to. But unfortunately they are influences. And they started out as influences to our youth targeting the younger generation. I’m not saying their life is easy trying to leave behind the childish image but I don’t feel sorry for them for all the negative backlash they are receiving. They chose this path. They chose to be in the spotlight. They should just accept that spotlight and fame come with people being in their business. 

They should also, as should many celebs, take responsibility for their actions. Sadly we don’t have many people in the spotlight that we can look up to. And if we do, I may just not be aware because I try to stay away from all that. But feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

It’s amazing how a life can change when you put a child in it. How people you know become someone else entirely around a small child. That guy you’ve always thought to be a huge jerk answers a toy phone when a child says “It’s for you!”. All of a sudden you think, well he’s not all bad I guess. Or maybe the person you thought was always sweet and kind completely throws you through a loop when they tell a small child to get away from them and explain that they hate children.

Most of us can’t remember what it was like to be a child. Growing up has destroyed our imagination. It has taught us that we must always be in a hurry. That there is always something that needs to be done or a bill that needs to be paid. We can never stop just to take a moment to breathe. A moment to look around and see the world we live in. A moment to dream.

Today’s society has also taught us that there are so many things we need to be part of. That kids are burdens and they hold us back from living a dream life of seeing the world and doing amazing things. That kids will put us in a slump. Drag us into debt and be an endless drain on our life. So we should wait to have kids until we have achieved everything in life we have set out to do. Because once you have a child there is no going back and you can’t do any of those things.

Having my son, has taught me that society is wrong. I certainly didn’t plan my son. I was 23 and a week away from doing a physical to approve my enlistment into the Air Force. Am I unhappy that I had him? I was unhappy about the news at first, but I know that I am far happier now than I ever would have been if I had followed my plan.

I learned that life never goes according to planned and that’s okay. It’s not about planning life, but about being happy with the life you have. I have never been happier with my life. My son has enriched my life beyond my imagination. And my life rarely goes as planned anymore. Nap time doesn’t always happen. He doesn’t always want to eat the food I have prepared(even when I spent a week planning it and all day preparing it). My son gets sick. I have to cancel plans to take care of him or because I couldn’t find a sitter. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

My son has taught me to see the good in everybody. To not immediately judge them. And be open to new friendships. Friends can come from the most unexpected faces. And a simple smile can open up so many doors.

I now know that I need to be careful how I word things. It can make the world of difference. And never get stingy on the “I love you’s”. It’s important to let those you love know how much they are cared for.

Snuggle time is a must every day. Preferably several times a day. A hug and a kiss can be the perfect thing to help make someone feel better. Even adults.

I used to always be early, now I am lucky to on time. I have slowed down. My son loves to stop and look at things. Smile and wave at people. He wants to see the world and experience it. I don’t want my haste to stop him from that. And giving him time to explore allows me to take time to notice the world around me.

Having a child gives me an excuse to use my imagination again. If I want to color or do childish things, it’s not weird. I have a child. I can color horses green and make them eat pink grass. I can play with legos and make fancy buildings.

Poopy diapers should be celebrated. Having had to change a colostomy bag for my son’s first three months, I can honestly say that I still love seeing normal poopy diapers. And it helps me not take things for granted because I have been on the other side. At least here, so I try to put myself there in every situation.

Having a child is not the end of the world. Is the beginning of a whole new world. If you are able to open your heart and your mind, you will see how amazing life can be. Hoe much love you can truly feel. I am lucky to have such an amazing child.

Upon You

A poem I wrote 4 years ago….

The night is pitch black 

Nothing to help me find my way back 

No light to light up the sky 

Leaving me here wondering why 

These memories haunt my mind 

All I want is you by my side 

To hear you laugh 

It lingers in the past 

To see you’re angelic smile 

Something I haven’t seen in awhile 

You had a way of lifting my spirit 

Now I don’t want to hear it 

All the words they say 

To let me know there’s no way 

I will ever see you again 

My heart is filled with so much pain 

There’s no hiding it away 

So I’ve turned to the whiskey 

Half gone, and half in me 

They say it’ll be the death of me 

I can’t even speak 

I’m slurring my words now 

Hoping the whiskey will drown 

All the feeling I have left in me 

I can still see the beautiful coffin 

That now contains my everything 

My every wish, my every dream 

For you to be here with me 

But you were taken from this world 

As it slowly continues to spin around 

My knees hit the ground 

As I begin to realize 

That with your life, 

Mine was stolen to 

Leaving me here 

Lost and so confused 

People often say 

They’d give their lives 

For those taken away 

But for me this is not true 

I would never wish this pain and suffering 

… upon you

Children. Children are vulnerable people. They are easily destroyed by our words and our actions. Often children are not treated with respect and expected to behave in a manner beyond their years. They are punished, yelled at, and torn down. If, as an adult, people were treated the way children are, they would most likely remove the person tearing them down from their lives. Children often don’t have that choice.

Instead of talking to children on their level, we talk down to them. Make them feel like less of a person. If they make a simple mistake, like spilling their glass of milk, we make it out to be the end of the world. But why? Why do we spend so much time making our kids feel like they are not good enough when we should be making them feel they can do anything? Instead of praising them and letting them know that we are proud of them any chance we get, we are making sure they know every mistake they make and every flaw they have.

When you talk to your kids, do you ever think of how your words are impacting them? A simple “Oh you’re okay.” when they feel hurt can just add to the pain. Dismissing the child’s feelings as if they don’t have any. You certainly wouldn’t do that to an adult. Most people don’t mean it that way, but that’s what it says. A better way to say it is “It will be okay, I’m right here.” Validating the child’s feelings and comforting them to help them past this moment in time.

Don’t get angry with them because they are upset for, what seems to you to be, no reason. Adults get upset all the time. Sometimes they don’t even know why, but they aren’t told to “get over it”, “better stop that crying or I’ll give you something to cry about”, Oh’ you’re fine. Quit being a baby.” Those words hurt. Those words sound like the words of bullies. Why are parents being their child’s first bully?

I guess I just don’t understand how a parent can tear down their child so much. And I don’t understand how they can’t see that they are doing it. When your child comes up to you all excited about something, take a moment to listen to them. Be excited with them. Don’t justify it. Just be excited.

You go to the kitchen to find them trying to make you breakfast in bed. The kitchen is a mess with milk spilled on the floor and eggs shells and yolks everywhere. Don’t get mad. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. Join them in cooking and cleaning up. And request that next time, you would love it more if they came to you for help so you can cook together. Very simple and it doesn’t dismiss they had good intentions, they outcome just wasn’t what they had planned anymore than you. But coming in yelling and screaming is just going to make them think doing nice things like that always ends badly.

And this doesn’t stop with the kids. These kids grow up. They become adults. And as adult, many of them can’t shake the idea that they aren’t good enough. They are still trying to please their parents whom, often times, are still tearing them down. But instead of removing this negative person from their life, they feel they can’t. It’s their parent. They have to make them proud. They have to keep trying.

And they surround themselves with negative people. They feel that what these people say about them is true because it’s how their parents make them feel. And their parents do it out of love so this must be what love feels like. It’s a never ending cycle of negativity. Slowly tearing us apart. Making us feel worthless.

My MIL is one of these people. My fiancee is dealing with cancer and deals with things in his own way, alone. Instead of accepting that and being happy that he is keeping her up to date and that the news is good, she makes sure he knows that what he is doing his killing her. He is fighting a cancer diagnosis and mom is guilt tripping him. Something she does everytime he makes a decision she doesn’t like. How do you think this impacts his life? I can tell you. It takes me days, weeks, sometimes months to build him back up. To make him feel worthy again. That’s just not right.

It is possible to move away from this. Many people do. But many others continue to feel trapped. They have no idea how to get away. Every decision they make is wrong in the eyes of their parents. The people who, for so long, were the only people that mattered in their lives. They have literally spent their whole lives trying to please these people just to come out on the bottom, EVERY time.

Words matter. The way you say something. The way you word a sentence. The tone of your voice. Your body language. It is all saying something. But is it saying what you want it to? Or is it telling people they will never be enough for you? That no accomplishment in their life will ever help them win your love? Make you proud of them? Next time you speak to a child, think about your words carefully. It can make a difference.

Image(Photo found on pinterest)