Christmas Gifts on the Brain

Mid-October may be the earliest I’ve ever bought a Christmas gift. Last night, I was surfing on the Toys R Us website and happened across this neat art desk from Step 2.

Step2ArtDesk

We saw it at a friend’s house over the summer, and I really liked it — so did Emily, who kept wandering away from the party to try to play with all the art stuff they had on it. (“Accessories not included,” naturally. But of course we have all the markers, paints and crayons needed to make a mess… uh, I mean, make art.)

I wasn’t really looking to start my Christmas shopping. While I’m not a last-minute Linda, I will get a good jump on gifts sometime in mid-November, and then get caught up in the holiday madness that descends upon my professional and personal life this time of year, and forget to complete my shopping list. An unfortunate side effect of the “early” gift-buying is that I tend to forget one or two of my stashed presents. Good thing I have time to find the lost gift and re-purpose it for Emily’s birthday 6 weeks later…

This year, we’ll be celebrating Christmas with our newest addition, Jenna. As she’ll only be 5 months when the holiday rolls around, we won’t be doing a ton of shopping for her. She’ll be barely able to sit up by then, forget about being able to play with most toys.

Emily, on the other hand, has reached the age where she wants everything she sees — on TV or in the multitude of toy catalogs that have hit the mailbox in the past week. I’ve had to hide those suckers to preserve my sanity. Not that it’s stopped her from asking where they are — the kid has a memory like an elephant.

All in all, it will be a fairly lean Christmas since I’ve been on maternity leave since July (and returning to work mid-November), but I’m pretty sure the kids won’t even notice. Unless I manage to lose even more gifts this year.

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First Day of Pre-K

Today is Emily’s first day of pre-K at a local nursery school. I woke her up, got her to eat breakfast with minimal prodding (a rarity!) and dressed her in a cute fall outfit. She was great about taking pictures and ran inside the school without so much as a glance backward at me. I’m glad she’s a social butterfly and not a clingy little thing — she’s affectionate as can be, but she’s an independent spirit.

EmilySchool

 

She came out excited about her morning, but was a little light on the details. I’m sure she’ll tell me more as the days go on — she’ll be going five mornings a week. Right now, I’m enjoying every minute with her while I’m home on maternity leave.

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She’s Here!

Well, she wasn’t as early as our first Baby Frugalista (who was five weeks premature), but our second little miss arrived at 37.5 weeks in the same exact manner — my water broke, and off to the hospital we went. My labor had to be induced again, as my body seems not to know how to start contractions on its own, but the experience was relatively positive. Miss Jenna Rose arrived on July 15 weighing 6 pounds and measuring 18 inches long, another little peanut! I delivered at a different area hospital this time, getting a lovely private suite and room-service meals. The baby was born completely healthy and two days later, we were home and a family of four.

 

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She’s 7 weeks old now. Our 3.5-year-old, Emily, has been trying to adjust to her new baby sister as best she can. We’ve had some hiccups with regressions in the area of toileting, but she’s back on track now. It’s tough to lose 100% of your parents’ attention, so we’re trying to make sure she feels as included as possible — she gets her own Mommy or Daddy & Me time.

I’m on maternity leave until November, and like last time, I’m torn between enjoying my time at home with my children and missing work. We’ve arranged daycare for Jenna when I go back to work, and Emily will be in preschool. Thankfully, my father-in-law has retired and will be able to help with pickup and aftercare until Mr. NSF gets home from work (I work later than he does). Hopefully all will go smoothly!

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What Do You Need for Baby No. 2?

When I was pregnant with our first child, we needed everything — crib, bottles, car seat, burp clothes, high chair, you name it. We received clothing and a number of beautiful gifts.

Now that Baby No. 2 is on her way (another girl!), I’ve had to take stock of what we have, make sure it’s clean and in good working order, and decide what we’ll need to buy new.

Turns out, we don’t need much of anything.

We can reuse our infant car seat, because it’s only a few years old and has never been in an accident. I still have bottles, so I’m only replacing the nipples. Clothes in all sizes, check. Bathtub and baby towels, check. Swing, check. High chair, check. Burp cloths and swaddling blankets, check. I have a pack of newborn diapers, a case of baby wipes, and leftover size 1 and size 2 diapers to get us started.

A good friend is giving me a mini crib, which we’ll use in our bedroom until we’re sure the baby is old enough to share a room with our 3-year-old daughter. We have a three-bedroom house, but only two of the bedrooms are upstairs (ours and Emily’s), and I’m not putting a young child or a baby in the third bedroom downstairs. Since we’ll have two girls and a very large bedroom upstairs, it’s a no-brainer that these two girls will share a room until they can either no longer stand it or we’re comfortable having one bunk in the downstairs bedroom.

We’re so very excited to meet our newest addition — but the poor thing still needs a name!

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We’re Not ‘Thinking Pink’ — Part 2!

This is a two-fer post: We’re happily expecting, and it’s another girl! I’m past the halfway point now and it’s finally becoming more real that we’ll have another little one in the household in a matter of months.

And no, we’re still not ‘thinking pink‘ — although it’s going to be much easier to add another girl to our family, since we’ve saved all of Emily’s clothes and baby things. Plus, with one of our three bedrooms on the first floor, these two will be sharing Emily’s room for as long as they can stand it until we think one of them is ready to move to the downstairs bedroom (we have the other upstairs bedroom, and moving downstairs isn’t an option for us).

Yes baby No. 2 will be getting a lot of hand-me-downs, but most of the clothes are in pristine condition. The beautiful, purple/girlie baby swing gifted to us by my BFF was hardly used. The only thing we’ll need is a new crib, as Emily’s has been converted into a big-girl bed.

So many new things to think about, too — preschool, daycare, new budget. I’m going to have to put on my personal finance hat and figure a lot out. But for now, I’m reveling in the joy of carrying another life inside of me.

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Extreme Couponing or Just Plain-Old Couponing?

My brother, future sister-in-law and a few friends decided to start a couponing club. They’ll be sharing coupons and trying to get the best deals on the necessities for their lives. By pooling their coupons, they can buy items in bulk, which is great for non-perishable items like toiletries and paper products.

But will it work? Only time will tell.

Extreme couponing takes a lot of time and energy. You have to match coupons to sales, which can eat up most of your free time. It usually requires a number of trips to different stores. And what’s on sale isn’t necessarily what you need.

I used to be an avid couponer — nowhere near “extreme” level, but I paid a lot of attention and would go to difference stores to get what I needed more cheaply, especially cat food and litter. But since the birth of our daughter three years ago, my couponing time has dwindled. Partly because I’m working more and partly because I’d rather spend my free time with our little girl. Another variable is that there were fewer and fewer sales on the items we regularly use.

I still collect the Sunday coupon flier, but I find that I’m not cutting out as many as I once did. It’s difficult to match up coupons with sales prices lately. I just try to make smart purchases and use coupons when I can. But I’ll admit there’s a pile of fliers on our dining room table that I haven’t touched in a month, and I’m sure half of the coupons expired two weeks ago.

Has anyone else been having trouble with couponing lately? Is it that the deals and the coupons don’t match up, or that you don’t have the time to expend on couponing?

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Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

I’m still here — work and our almost-3-year-old daughter have been keeping me quite busy nowadays, and I find myself immersed in her world more than the world of personal finance. I’m still clipping coupons and challenging customer service when necessary, but I’m also making cats out of Play-Doh and playing with dolls (and dinosaurs). I’m hoping to post more regularly come January.

Right now, I’m in the middle of my annual Christmas cookie bake-a-thon, but only two varieties in. This weekend I should be making two or three different kinds, which I think will more than suffice. That is, if I can find the time in between wrapping presents, a task I’ve neglected until the last minute again this year.

I can’t wait to see Miss Emily’s face on Christmas morning, when she sees her “prizes” — her adorable name for presents. While she may not remember it forever, it will be the first Christmas that she really understands what’s happening, Santa Claus and all.

Merry Christmas, everyone! If you don’t celebrate, enjoy the season and best wishes for a Happy New Year.

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