Thursday, January 20, 2011

meet my brother-in-law paul

kelly's korner is devoting a day to "show us your single friends" and there is no one i would rather set up with a great girl than my brother in law, paul.  he and my husband are best, best friends and while he has dated, he has yet to meet the right girl to spend the rest of his life with. 

paul is 27, went to university of wisconsin, loves working out/sports, and is very loyal to his family.  he lives in southern wisconsin but works in chicago and grew up as a missionary kid in ecuador.  here is a picture of james and paul at our wedding rehearsal:
if you know any single ladies in the chicago/southern wisconsin area who might be a good match, please let me know! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

tres amigos

below are two of parker's best neighborhood buddies, dylan and caleb.
look at caleb's great smile!
touchdown packers!
we are blessed to have a great neighborhood of friends and kids!!!  and i cannot wait until summer when we can sit outside and let the kids pay in the sun.  hopefully parker will be a little better 4-wheeler driver this summer :)

in the meantime we are supposed to get 6-8" of snow tomorrow!!  i'm hoping for school to be cancelled tomorrow and friday so i can work from home!  love yall.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

the cost of raising a child

i've been wanting to write a post about the financial cost of raising a child ever since i read this article last year.  i'd highly recommend reading it as it is a pertinent and interesting subject for new parents.  one of the first questions james and i asked ourselves in the shock of finding out we were pregnant was, "how much is a baby going to cost?" our answer: we have absolutely no idea.  the money watch article claims that middle class families will spend $286,000 over the first 18 years of a child's life (not including the cost of college or loss of income from a stay at home spouse).  upper income families (income > $98,000) are likely to spend $475,000 in 18 years per kid.

these numbers sound absolutely outrageous and make kids seem very unaffordable.  however, i would argue the cost of raising a child can be much lower than these averages with a few easy steps and our cost of parker's first year was much lower than our expectations.  the article mentions that middle income families will spend $11-13,000 a year and upper income families $19-23,000.  i am happy to report that in parker's first year of life, we spent less than half of any of those numbers.  and without sharing too many personal details about our finances, it is helpful to breakdown where we spent our money:

1. childcare (about 50%).  thankfully we didn't have parker in full-time day care all year and our work situation is very conducive to reducing expenditures in this category since james watches parker most week days.  full-time childcare in arkansas is about $8-10,000/year and while i hear sooo many people complain about the crazy costs of childcare, it actually works out to less than $3/hr so hating the system seems unjustified.  plus many of my friends are either SAHM's or have relatives watch their children so that helps significantly in this category.

2. health costs.  for my personal calculation, i added the incremental cost of adding parker to health insurance + hospital/doctor's bills.  i am very thankful for parker's good health and that we did not have to have extra for staying in the nicu or going to the emergency room during the year.  did we still pay a few thousand dollars for premiums, prenatal/delivery costs, etc?  maybe.  but i don't think a few thousand dollars for these things is anything to complain about either--we get excellent care in america and should help pay for quality doctors.

3. baby supplies.  this is the area where i was pleasantly surprised to see low numbers in our budget.  diapers are not really that expensive!  for parker's first year of life we spent less than $100 a month on all feeding and diapering supplies (granted i breastfed over half of it, but still...the generic formulas that most babies can eat are not awfully priced either).  we got most of our clothes, furniture, etc. at baby showers and garage sales, so there was not much we really had to buy brand new in terms of supplies.

4. tax break.  i originally didn't have this in my expense list, but i think it makes sense to add back in the money saved in taxes into the cost equation.  child tax credit of $1,000 per child (if income is <$110k married filing joint) + dependent exemption ($3,650*whatever tax bracket you are in) = more than the cost of diapers and other baby supplies most of the time.

5. income loss--i didn't factor this into the equation even though i took extra unpaid time after parker's birth, but i think that is more a personal choice to stay at home longer (or forever) and while it directly affects available funds and is linked to the cost of raising a child, it is not a direct cost (plus the numbers for this are all over the board making it hard to have a true average).

anyway, i write this post not to brag about how we were super frugal with parker, but to encourage others that raising a child can be very affordable.  with a little planning, shopping around, etc. most stay at home moms can easily raise a child for less than $5,000 / year.  just to throw a number out there (which may be arguable with many, many contributing factors), i think any family with a member earning $40-50k or above can have the other parent stay at home with one child and make it work.  the more kids added to the family the harder this becomes, but finances should be considered before having more children if at all possible.  also i think it is helpful to breakdown baby expenses month by month and see how much you are really spending on your children.  i plan to continue tracking all of our kids' expenses every year and see where we end up.

did anyone else watch the oprah special this week with suze ortman and nadya suleman?  i loved it.  and i love suze ortman--sometimes i think we could be best friends if we were in the same friend group. 

until next time, hope everyone is having a wonderful sunday.  i had to add a picture of how parker and i spent our saturday since daddy was at work.  go packers!!!!!!!!!! (and jayhawks!)  love yall.

Monday, January 10, 2011

gender reveal party details

i think all of you know from facebook, but we are having another BOY!!  as much as i wanted another boy and was excited when we saw a little junk in trunk on the ultrasound, part of my heart sank a little wondering if we will ever have a girl.  oh well, parker will have a best friend and we will have a rowdy house of sports loving boys.
i always try to have one element of each party we host a "do it yourself" project, and even though i bought almost everything this time (pizza, beer, chips, cupcakes, cleaning lady-ha, etc), i still got stressed out when i ran out of time to finish the sugar cookies.  thankfully my sweet husband helped roll out the dough and cut all of the onesie shapes out.
here are a few of the finished cookies.  two of my sweet neighbors came and helped decorate, which also helped alleviate the time crunch stress (although i still did not have time to do my hair or makeup, blah).
we ordered cupcakes from rick's bakery and they were delicious!!  (i found the "it's a girl" and "it's a boy" cupcake toppers at hobby lobby for $1.99...saving the rest of the pack for showers!)
here is our dessert table...i love the pink and shiny blue fabric.  i actually had the pink left over from my wedding decorations box and i bought a half yard of blue at hobby lobby for $1.50.  the blue and pink plates, cups, napkins, etc. are from walmart for cheap.
team pink:
team blue:
these are the two fabulous ladies (neighbors) who watch parker when james is working.  love them!
 my cherished best friends from college supporting team pink, lisa and emily.
kids' beverages...i tried to find blue and pink jones soda and they sell it NO WHERE in nwa (well at least not at walmart, target, or the pinnacle market), so i settled for berry and punch juice boxes instead.
our gender "guestbook"...made from supplies at yours truly, hobby lobby (the letters were left over cutouts from parker's birthday party sign)
overall i think the party went really well.  i enjoyed myself more than parker's birthday party and felt like i got to talk to more people instead of just running around doing things.  even though james' asked for me to make it girls only after i'd already sent the invites, i think it was a good family activity and more guys showed up than we were expecting (well more people in general).  the kids played, everyone had enough to eat, and it was a great night of celebration of new life!  love yall.

Friday, January 7, 2011

quick update

apparently i am not the only one who googled gender reveal party ideas and came across the cat fight:

a snippet of what we've been up to...
"vacationed" in wisconsin for a week with family for christmas. it snowed and snowed and snowed. nothing like driving 30mph through the whole state of illinois on the interstate and spending 14 hours in the car for a day with a 1 1/2 year old. parker actually loved the snow and kept saying, "bubbles!!"
hung out with a lot of friends.  one thing i love about nwa is how everyone is connected in some way, i.e. my neighbor/church friend lauren who went to jbu at the same time as me--even though we did not know each other there, we have a common bond and something to talk about now (and babies of course).  aren't london and lena the cutest little girls ever?
one of my other neighbor's little boy, brady, and parker at the jump zone.  i just noticed what a big tongue parker has, haha!  poor brady got a bloody nose.
james and i went to shogun's for dinner on new year's eve...and then he fell asleep at 9:30pm (not long after parks!)
parker is still as sweet and crazy as ever and loooooves his new slide.  thanks grandma/garage sale!
until tomorrow and the party, love you all!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

to 2011

is this not the sweetest photo you have ever seen!?!  a friend just posted it on facebook, and although i usually don't get all sappy/look how cute my kid is, this photo melts my heart.  parker was even saying "cheese" to the wedding photographer.  he is a real person and not a baby any more!!

i have been going a little stir crazy this week with no work and cold weather.  i think the biggest adjustment into parenthood is being locked to the house after 8pm every night (babysitters and pack 'n plays aside, although i don't use either much), and winter makes this especially dreadful.  i suppose introverts don't mind staying home as much, but sometimes i struggle with feeling like life is not as full as other times in life when i was constantly building relationships and hanging out with others (i.e. college, camp, high school, etc.).  then i look at that sweet picture of parks (squeezable, kissable cheeks), and i am reminded that pouring my heart into him is the most fulfilling thing i can do right now.

in my boredom, i've been playing our gender reveal party (i'll announce the sex of baby #2 next sunday...we just found out ourselves the day before christmas!).  while researching googling party ideas, i found several articles and message boards bashing the idea of a gender reveal party.  haters (haha can't think of a better word) complained these narcissistic parties were greedy events friends felt obliged to attend.  my husband even agreed that no guy wants to spend his saturday night at a gender reveal party.

so i have to clarify before i put up all of my pink and blue decorations...a gender reveal party is not about finding out the baby's sex...sure it is nice to tell people at the same time (and in person...a lost art), but that is not why friends come.  the point of the party is to HANG OUT!  gifts are not encouraged or required, and for moms who are tied to the house every evening with nothing better to do than plan gender reveal parties (me), this gives us something to look forward to.  i love planning parties and getting together with friends, and i am very much looking forward to our party.

as i learn more and more about motherhood, i realize that it is so important to find joy in the small things.  while pregnant with parker, i read a local magazine that had a page devoted to "spicing up your walmart outfit" (i.e. trading the workout shorts for khaki shorts) and i thought it was the stupidest article i've ever read.  really, is this all i have to look forward to as a mom--dressing up to go to walmart?  i think i'll keep wearing my workout shorts, thank you.  and now i know that when you've been at home with an infant all day and need to get out of the house, a trip to the store might just be the highlight of your day, and that is perfectly okay.  it is a little things for a mother that bring joy and excitement, and we should be slow to judge other's sources of happiness (especially people who don't have kids :)).  my goal for 2011 is to stay positive about life, family, parenting, work, etc. and to enjoy building memories with those i love.

happy new year!!!