Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Knox Turns 3!

Yesterday was my Fur Baby's 3rd Birthday!  That makes him 21 in doggy years, however, being a Mastiff with an unfortunately shorter lifespan than the average dog, they say that each human year is actually 9 dog years for him.  This makes him 27.
First time we "met" Knox.  He is the chubby brindle one right in the middle. 
Anyways, you probably think that I am crazy to even care (and for the most part I don't really care), but growing up on a farm, I have never really had a "pet" dog.  Our dogs were always around to serve a purpose-to herd cattle, to guard the property, etc.  Dogs came and went, and although we missed each one, this was just the natural order to things.  Knox, however, is the first dog that I have ever owned just for the purpose of pleasure and companionship.
First week that we had Knox.
I always thought that those people that assigned their pets personalities must be crazy-really, they're just animals.  But I have converted over to the dark side, and now talk to my dog in a special doggy voice, even when nobody is around.  At times I treat him like a human, assigning him thoughts that I am sure he must be thinking at any given moment.
Over the three years that we have owned Knox, he has become a part of our quirky little family.  He is clumsy and awkward, never really aware of his true size.  He is playful and gentle, and I have never heard him growl in the entire time that we have known him.  Knox is laid back.  For the most part, he is quite content just lying on the steps sleeping.  He loves cats and has been known to carry them around the yard by their heads, and to lay on them, pretending he has know idea where they might be.  He likes going for walks (during which he must at all times be touching somebody), doing tricks like shaking a paw and giving high fives, and most of all, he loves peeping in our window and watching whatever we may be doing-this is usually an indicator that he is looking for some sort of table scraps!
Learning to shake a paw.
All grown up! 
I can't wait to raise my children with this dog!
Since he's now legal...

35 weeks

How Far Along? 35 weeks 2 days

Weight gain/loss: 19 lbs gained.  Now at 149 lbs.

Stretch Marks: Nope :)

Sleep: Some nights I even wake myself snoring.

Food Cravings: None

Gender: No clue.

Belly button in or out: Depends on where the baby is sitting.

Movement: Tons!  Although the movement is constant reassurance that Perogy is doing well, I wish that he/she would stay still for just a bit so that I could get comfortable!  And the constant hiccups are driving me mad!

What I miss: Being able to carry on a conversation or climb a flight of stairs without getting winded.

What I'm looking forward to: Maternity leave...only 12 more days of work!

35 weeks 1 day

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers-New Quad Edition

  • Whoa!  I just opened up this screen to make a new post and everything looks different!  When did this happen?
  • So, not too long ago, I had written about starting a savings account for a new quad.  Turns out, Ryan had his own ideas. Unbeknownst to me, he had been shopping around, had decided to trade his sled in, and had come up with a plan on how we would fit the remainder of the cost into our budget without sacrificing our 5 year plan.  I have to say, I was impressed at the amount of thought that he had put into making this happen.  I am typically the money police in our relationship, and it was nice to just go along with things for once knowing that I didn't have to worry about the financial end of things.
A new family-friendly way to explore the country.
  • As for the new quad, I have only been on it once.  I likely won't be on it again until after Perogy is born.  Enough said.
  • I have finally reached my turn for the Hunger Games from our local library.  I will likely spend the entire weekend reading.
  • I am bach'ing it tonight and tomorrow as Ryan has gone out of town for a quad derby.
  • This week, I received in the mail the three diapers that I had won via a blog contest from Jennifer Labit and this blog.  They are incredibly cute and I can't wait to put them on a real baby!
BumGenius 4.0's
  • Today, I tied up some loose ends prior to suspending my health plan for maternity leave.  I visited the dentist and stocked up on enough contact lenses to last me the year.
  • I have been thinking about making a birth plan.  All the books and websites that I read say that it is the thing to do to make sure your birth goes as you would like it.  All of the real people (other moms, nurses, etc.) that I talk to, however, say that its a waste of time and won't be adhered to either by the medical professionals or by me.  I think that I will talk to my doctor about it next week and see what she has to say.
For more Friday Night Leftovers, click here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Name Spoilers

There have been a couple of times in the past weeks in which people have offered advice on picking baby names.
These people are often well-meaning, but I don't really think that they think before they speak.
The first time that this advice was presented was during our prenatal class.  The instructor came to class with a "top 10 list" of suggestions in picking a name.  The list was filled with things to consider and things not to do when picking a name.  Each section had an example of a "bad" baby name, and as she read them out in front of the class, I cringed thinking what it would be like if the name that somebody had spend so much time deciding on was on "the list".
Then this morning, I saw an article on Facebook about trending baby names of 2012.  I clicked on it to read it, and subsequently received a message on my Facebook wall stating "I am saying this because I care...please do not name your baby ________."  This friend was trying to be funny, however, I again wondered how that would have felt if I was in fact going to name my baby _________ (which I wasn't in this case).
Although I know that naming a baby is something that everybody wants to be involved in, however, I caution you from offering advice on what not to name our babies!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cloth Diaper Wish List

As I have mentioned before, I decided long before ever becoming pregnant that I would cloth diaper any future children.  When Ryan and I finally decided to start trying for children, true to my Type A self, I started researching the numerous brands of cloth diapers out there in an effort to find the perfect diaper.  I wanted something that was easy to use for Ryan.  I wanted Velcro, as it would be similar in ease of use to a disposable diaper.  I wanted something that had been rated well by other parents.  I wanted something with lots of options in colours.  I wanted something that would be fitted to the baby's size, so that we wouldn't have a tiny baby with a huge bulky one-size fits all diaper. Finally, after countless hours of research, I decided on the BumGenius 3.0 DELUXE diapers.  These diapers really had everything that I wanted.  They were a well-established company with many great reviews.  They came in a variety of sizes.  They had the option of hook and loop (Velcro) or snaps.  They were an all-in-one diaper (only one piece to worry about), but had a hidden pocket to add extra absorbent inserts if required.  They were super cute!

I decided that I would go with these diapers in small, which was recommended for 8-18 lb babies.  For the newborn phase, I would buy some cheaper pre-folds and covers, as they would quickly be outgrown anyways.

Bummis Newborn Pack-pre-folds and covers
After 18 lbs (which I guessed to be about 6 months of age), I would purchase a second stash of one-size diapers, which would last until baby was potty trained.  I had it all figured out!
The only problem was that I wasn't pregnant yet, and wasn't about to buy a stash of diapers without a baby on the way.  To make a long story short, by the time I became pregnant, these diapers had been discontinued by the company.  But a few weeks of intense Internet exploration and an unexpected stumbling upon a few of these diapers in a local store, I scored myself a stash of 24 diapers, some new and some very gently used.

So, that was quite a long introduction to where I am today.  Currently, we have all the diapers that we need to last us until our baby is about18 lbs.  We will then have to decide on what diapers we will use for the remainder of our diapering years.  Unlike initially, I have not been drawn to one single diaper, but instead, eight different options that I think might work for us.  I still want something trim.  I want something that is well rated.  I want something that will last until potty training and hopefully for multiple children.  The cute factor is a must.  I am torn between Velcro and snaps, as I still prefer the ease of use of Velcro, but don't want said child to enjoy the ease of use of Velcro (sorry for the poop on the wallpaper when I was younger, mom!).
Anyways, I am thinking that this time around, I will buy a variety of diapers to try, and then settle on the one that Ryan and I like the best.  The contenders at this point are:

1. AppleCheeks Diapers

  • Canadian made.
  • They are pocket diapers which consist of covers and inserts.  There are several options in terms of what type/absorbency of insert that you use, so it is pretty customizable.
  • The size two cover fits 18-40 lbs, which would be perfect for our needs.
  • They are designed so that the insert agitates out of the cover in the wash, so you shouldn't have to do too much handling of dirty diapers.
  • They come in a variety of colours, along with a  couple of unique prints.

2. Thirsties Duo AIO Diapers

  • Like the AppleCheeks diapers, these come in a 18-40 lb range.
  • These are an all-in-one (one piece) system, with the option of adding extra absorbency underneath the tunnel layer.
  • Option of Velcro or snaps.
  • Super cute prints including an owl print that melts my heart!
  • Made in the USA, which although not Canada, would mean no duty if ordering from the US.
Thirsties Hoot Print

3. Fuzzibunz One Size Elite Diaper

  • These are a pocket diaper with a cover and an insert.
  • There are different types of inserts to choose from.
  • These diapers fit from newborn to 30+ lbs.
  • These diapers adjust not only at the rise, but have adjustable elastics, unlike any other diaper that I have found.  This would allow for a more customized fit.
  • Elastic can be replaced, adding longevity to the diaper.
  • Made in USA.
  • Tons of colours.

4. SoftBums Omni System

  • This is a two piece diaper system that consists of a shell, along with "pods".
  • Basically, there are three different ways to use this diaper-the pods can be snapped on top of the shell, they can be inserted into the shell, or a pre-fold can be placed on top of the shell. 
  • There are several different types of pods that can be purchased including different sizes as well.
  • Fits 5-35 lbs.  Uses Slide-2-Size technology, which is an adjustment system that supposedly allows you unlimited options to customize size to your baby for less leaks.
  • Available in Velcro or snaps.
  • Fewer colours/prints than most diapering systems.

5. AMP One Size Duo Pocket Diaper

  • These are a two piece diaper.  The insert can be stuffed into the diaper, or can be placed on top of the cover and the cover can be reused if it does not become soiled.
  • Fits 7-38 lbs.
  • These come in 25 colours and 7 prints, including a camo print that really sold me on these diapers!
AMP Combat Print

6. BumGenius 4.0 One-Size Pocket Diaper
  • Two piece system with cover and insert.
  • Can be used without insert as swim diaper.
  • Fits 8-35 lbs.
  • Replaceable elastic.
  • Option of Velcro or snaps.
  • Made in USA.
  • Tons of colours and a couple prints as well.
  • One of the most popular and well rated brands in cloth diapers.

7. BumGenius Freetime All-in-One One-Size Diaper
  • All-in-one (one piece) system.
  • Attached inserts can be folded to adjust absorbency (more absorbency at the front vs. back, etc.)
  • Quicker drying than typical all-in-one as air can get between the inserts.
  • Fits 8-35 lbs.
  • Replaceable elastic.
  • Option of Velcro or snaps.
  • Made in USA.
  • Tons of colours and a couple prints as well.
  • One of the most popular and well rated brands in cloth diapers

8. BumGenius Elemental All-in-One One-Size Diaper
  • All-in-one (one piece) system.
  • Organic cotton used for absorbency.
  • Fits 8-35 lbs.
  • Replaceable elastic.
  • Only available in snaps.
  • Made in USA.
  • Tons of colours and a couple prints as well.
  • One of the most popular and well rated brands in cloth diapers

So, after all of this, which one do you think would be the best diapering system?

34 weeks

How Far Along? 34 weeks 1 day

Weight gain/loss: 18 lbs gained.  Now at 148 lbs.  About 3 kg (almost 7 lbs) of that has been in the past month.

Stretch Marks: Nope :)

Sleep: Pretty good.  Surprisingly, I have slept through a couple nights without having to get up to go to the bathroom.  I am no longer experiencing leg cramps, but my right knee has been aching like crazy in the middle of the night.  Ryan has also been complaining about my snoring, and I have been drooling like crazy in my sleep-even more than my usual!

Best moment this week: Finishing up prenatal classes.  It was great to get a tour of the maternity ward at the hospital where I will be delivering, and realizing that it is not as scary as I thought it would be.  I also met a few other moms that are expecting at around the same time as me.  Three of us are planning on cloth diapering which is pretty cool.

Belly button in or out: Slightly out I think.

Movement: Lots of kicks, twists and turns.  These movements can be seen very clearly from the outside as well.

What I miss: Wine.

What I'm looking forward to: Having a real live baby in just a few short weeks.

Other Pregnancy Symptoms: Sore ribs-both in the front and the back-just on the right side though; increasing shortness of breath if I talk or move around too much (the first one which is very difficult for me.)

Doctor's Appointment Update: Everything is still going good.  The latest ultrasound indicates that baby is measuring in the 40th percentile for gestational age (slightly small), however, this is based on the gestational age determined by my last ultrasound, which said I was measuring 6 days earlier compared to my LMP due date.  So all in all, I am guessing I am pretty much right on track.
As for the kidneys (reason for second ultrasound), the report said that the right kidney is measuring 0.45 (unsure of units) and the left is measuring 0.50.  These are both within desired ranges.  Funny though that the first ultrasound stated that there might be a slight dilation of the right kidney, which is now the smaller of the two.  My doctor says that they still may want to do an ultrasound on the baby's kidneys right after birth just to make sure everything is good.

Date Night on a Budget

On Friday, Ryan and I went on what was likely our last date before Perogy arrives! Crazy to think how drastically our lives will change in six weeks!
First we went out for supper.  There aren't a lot of restaurant choices in our town, so we chose one in which my union provides a discount for.  We both had supper, and Ryan had a couple drinks (I can't wait to join him again in this department!).  I had a coupon to save $5 off of a $25 purchase, so our total came to just over $40.
Then, we went to a movie.  We saw American Reunion, which I have to say is likely the funniest of the entire American Pie series.  We laughed so hard throughout the whole movie!
At our theatre, if you sign up for their email newsletter, you get a free small popcorn.  Both Ryan and I signed up.  It cost us only $25 for the movie tickets, a small popcorn for each of us and a large drink.
So in total, our whole date cost only about $65, which may still seem like a lot, but for dinner, drinks, a movie and snacks I think it was pretty good.

Any other ideas for budget dates?  I am sure that we will need them once Perogy arrives!

Monday, April 9, 2012

We Have Names!

It is official.  We have finally decided on what Perogy's name will be once he/she is born. The name Perogy has been so popular amongst our family and friends, that we actually considered just keeping this as the forever name.
All joking aside, naming this baby has involved a lot of compromise.  A lot of texts back and forth.  A lot of vetoed favourites for both of us.  A lot of apprehension on my part that we would never be able to agree on a name.  Now, I cannot wait to find out whether we are having a he or a she, because I am so excited about the names!
For all of you out there, you will still have to wait to find out.  There has been much speculation on names amongst our family.  A lot of pleas for hints.  We won't budge.
Why are we so secretive?  We know that the name is one of the most exciting details about the birth of a new baby.  Really, who cares how much the baby weighs or how long it is?  We would like to save all of the excitement of the name for the day that Perogy is actually born.
We also know that everyone has their own personal tastes and preferences when it comes to naming a baby.  Although the opinions of those closest to us are very important, we want Perogy's name to truly be a reflection of our tastes as parents, and do not want it to be "tainted" by other's opinions.  Although we are very strong in what we like, to know that somebody whose opinion matters greatly to us does not like the name that we choose would likely influence our decision, even if just a little bit.  So we will only tell the name once it is official, and we need a real live baby to make it official.
Finally, even though we are certain today, we still have seven weeks to change our mind.  We don't want to have to change the mind of others as well.
So the waiting will continue.

33 weeks

How Far Along? 33 weeks 2 days

Weight gain/loss: 15 lbs gained.  Now at 145 lbs.

Maternity clothes: Yes.  Getting sick of wearing the same things over again, but too cheap to buy any more at this point in the game.

Stretch Marks: Nope :)

Sleep: Awesome, despite regular bathroom trips.

Best moment this week: Finally starting pre-natal classes.

Gender: On the fence.  Everyone thinks that it is going to be a boy.  I am preparing for a girl just to be different!

Belly button in or out: Pretty much flat.  I took my belly button ring out this week, not because it no longer fit, but because my protruding belly button made it more visible, even below two layers of clothes.

Movement: Lots of kicks, twists and turns.  These movements can be seen very clearly from the outside as well.

What I miss: Being able to sneeze without peeing my pants :)

What I'm looking forward to: Getting my nursery together-should be happening soon now.

Milestones: Ultrasound last week showed that Perogy is now breathing, even if it is just amniotic fluid.
Fears: That because everything has gone so well up until this point, that some disaster must be looming on the horizon.  Irrational I know.

33 weeks, 1 day

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How I Earn Money Online

OK, the post title may be deceptive-I don't actually make money online, but here's the deal:
We have all heard the saying "A penny saved is a penny earned."  I wholeheartedly believe this.  By earning money online, I am actually making money online.  Now let's take it a bit further.  I recently heard that a penny saved may be worth way more than a penny earned.  Think about it this way-if I took every penny that I saved, and invested it into a long-term investment with a 6% compound interest rate, in 25 years that penny would be worth a whopping $0.04!  Doesn't sound like much, but to quadruple your money in 25 years is pretty good I think!
As a side note, I have had this post planned for quite some time, and it has nothing to do with the recent announcement of the discontinuation of minting the Canadian penny...my thoughts on that another time!
Anyways to digress back to the topic at hand, I spend quite a bit of time "shopping" online.  At any given time, I may be waiting for 5-6 parcels to arrive at the post office.  Other times it is online "window shopping"-scoping out deals and waiting for that steal to come along!  I never pay full price for anything that I buy online.  The same applies to "real life", with the exception of groceries, which I can't really live without!  So how do I make (or save) money you ask?  Here's just a few ways:

1) Coupons
They are everywhere!  Don't know where to start?  Click on the Coupons & Deals tab at the top of my blog to see some of my favourite coupon sites.  Many companies mail out coupons, free of charge.  Others post coupons online to be printed.  You can find coupons on tear pads in your grocery stores, or collect coupon inserts from newspapers.  Some may consider me a bit extreme, but I even belong to a coupon chain, so receive a big envelope of coupons every couple of months.  I keep all of my coupons organized by category in a binder, so I don't miss out on any deals!  For the biggest financial gain, combine store sales with coupons for the lowest price.
2) Online Coupon Codes
I never purchase anything online without first searching for online coupon codes.  I have found that the best way to find coupon codes is by subscribing to the retailer's blog, joining their Facebook group where other consumers often post codes, or using sites such as retailmenot.com to find codes.  Also remember that a higher price combined with a good coupon code might actually be a better deal than the lower price that originally catches your eye.
3) Freebies/Giveaways
Often times, companies will give away free products in hopes that you will make future purchases from them.  I score the majority of my freebies by reading blogs of other frugal living consumers.
4) Store Sales
Know the sale cycles of your regular stores.  For me, this is knowing that the first week of the month I can score 10-15% off of my purchases at my regular grocery store with their "Family Day" flyer coupons.  These are the days that I stock up on those things that never go on sale.  It is also knowing that another of my local stores has "scratch cards" at least every couple months, so if I can wait to make my purchase, I will at least get something off that item that may not be on sale.
5) Facebook Fan Pages
If I have a prospective purchase in mind, I will often join the Facebook Fan Page for that specific product.  From other consumers, I gain insight into deals and sales.
6) Price Matching
Personally, I don't do price matching very often.  I find that the fuel that it costs to chase deals from store to store for my everyday purchases is not worth it.  However, for a large purchase, I definitely shop around and may price match, as many stores offer a certain percentage off of the difference in price.
7) Points Programs
Many retailers offer membership to points programs free of charge.  Whenever I have the opportunity, I take advantage of these.  Sure, it may be an extra card in my wallet that I never use, but there may be a time that I can capitalize on those points and save a few bucks.  Several online sites also offer points, such as the Ebay Bucks program.
8) Deal Sites
I have taken advantage of deal sites such as Groupon and TeamBuy to score discounts on items such as gifts, restaurant vouchers and even a command start install for Ryan's truck.  Daily emails will alert you to daily deals that may be up to 75% off retail price.
9) Ebay
I don't have to say much about this one.  Everyone knows what Ebay is.  Use it!  I have found that the greatest savings potential is on small items that are cheap to ship, and anything electronic.

So, how do you make money online?


Through a not so great stretch of luck, today I ended up with my second flat tire in one month. Both times, I was driving work vehicles. Not too sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing- in one sense if it were my vehicle, I would have had some control over the quality of tires, and this may have never happened. In another sense, I am very happy that I haven't had to foot two tire repair bills in one month. Here's to hoping that this luck doesn't come in threes!

*As a side note, I am making this post from my iPhone and can't seem to label my picture. FYI, this is the stone that caused today's casualty.