Reese at Ten Months Old

Ten months of Reese. I love our little girl so much! I have spent every single day of her life with her and I feel so blessed to be able to do that. Reese’s first ten months have gone by so much faster than I ever thought they would. It’s unbelieveable to me how quickly babies change. The day she was born I remember thinking how small she was, especially compared to Finn at the time! Now, she’s a hefty twenty pounds of constant movement. She’s got a little personality. I want time to slow down.

Parenting:

Listen, you’re never truly prepared to be a parent. On top of that, when you start hitting your groove with things, something changes – developmental leaps, teething, growth spurts. I’ve learned that I’ve got to take things day to day. Generally, Reese is a super easy baby, but like all of us, she has her moments. Sometimes these moments throw a curve ball, sometimes I learn to go with them. Each day is very different, and yet I feel like I do the same thing over and over again.

I’ve told everyone I come into contact with that becoming a mother has truly fulfilled my life. It’s given me confidence and made me take risks I never thought I would. The older my kids get, especially Reese, the more I get excited about the next chapters in our lives. I love being a mom, and I don’t want that feeling to change. I think the reason I feel so content right now is simply because I have a balance in my life that I craved so badly a year ago. I have my work. I have my kids. I have my husband. And I have my “me” time.

Physical Growth:

Reese is twenty pounds, and in the 80th percentile for both her height and head circumference. She is finally crawling and getting into everything. She’s pulling up on the couch, chairs, her walker, everything.

Reese is slowly growing hair, and it’s blonde with a red tint, just like her brothers was at her age.

Brain Growth:

Reese is finally over her stranger danger phase. She loves to babble all day long, and certainly likes to throw a fit. She’s quite the diva! She gets frustrated that she can’t move as quickly as she wants, but she is getting better every day. She loves watching and taking everything in!

Sleeping:

Reese goes down between 6:30 and 7pm, and sleeps until 6:30-7am the next morning. I’m still dream feeding her around 10pm and she usually wakes up one more time in the night to nurse.

She also naps twice each day for about two hours each time.

Eating:

Our chunky monkey loves to eat! Her nursing schedule is a little inconsistent based on the day, but she nurses when she wakes up and goes to bed, and then twice more throughout the day.

As for solids, Reese eats three meals a day. She loves purees and yogurt, but from the start we basically gave her little bits of solid food and she’s eaten anything we put in front of her. Some of her favorites are waffles, blueberries, and puffs!

Things I don’t want to forget:

  • The way Reese scoots around the floor trying to figure out what to do with her second foot when she crawls.
  • The way she puts her arms out for Daddy to grab her when he gets home.
  • The squeal she lets out when she gets excited!
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Why You Should Never Break Promises You Make With Yourself

In the past month or so, I’ve gotten into a pretty good workout routine. David has been able to leave early in the morning to hit the gym, and I’ve been able to escape after bedtime so I can get my workout in. It’s been a necessary break from kids and work, and even the car ride to the gym feels like a vacation!

However, a few days ago, I found myself makin excuses as to why I wasn’t going to go to the gym that evening. I was tired. My legs hurt. I wanted to watch a TV show. I needed to finish work stuff.

At one point, I even texted David and told him that I wasn’t planning on going that night.

As the day crept on, I started to feel guilty. That was weird… what is there to feel guilty about? It’s just me. If I don’t feel like it, I don’t have to.

I then remembered something I had read in a book – when you don’t hold yourself accountable to yourself, what’s holding you accountable to anyone else? You should hold yourself to the highest standards; you are the most important person to you!

Those words ring so true in my current season in life – a new entrepreneur, trying to figure out the best way to motivate myself and get all the things done that I need to, as a mom who has two busy little ones who demand my attention all the time, and as wife who needs to make herself a priority so she can be the best she can be for her husband.

You see, setting goals is a great thing, but when you don’t take the every day baby steps to achieve those goals, you are only letting yourself down. No one else is going to hold you accountable, so make sure that you aren’t breaking the promises you make to yourself.

I ended up going to the gym that evening and ran four miles on the treadmill. It wasn’t the best run in the world, but as they say, a bad run is better than no run at all!

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A Letter To Me

Dear Erica –

I know you’re feeling terrified right about now. You just welcomed the most handsome little boy into your world, and you’re not sure what to do next. It’s not like the movies – you aren’t going to fall head over heels in love with being a mother right away. Maternal instincts will kick in eventually. For now, give yourself some grace.

There’s nothing that will rock your world more than having your first child. Your relationship with David will change, your relationship with your friends will change, even your relationship with yourself will change. With Finn comes a lot of change – some of it welcome, most of it, not.

I’ll be honest, those first three months are the hardest. You won’t be sleeping much, and Finn will demand your attention around the clock. Your body will be different – puffier and wider. Your boobs will leak all. the. time. Yes, you will need to wear a bra to bed. You won’t feel like yourself. You won’t want to do much of anything. You may feel a little depressed.

And then one day, you will wake up from the fog of the infant stage and realize that your baby can sit up, and eat real food, and sleeps through the night. He will start interacting with you, and soon, he will start walking, and running and even talking back. It doesn’t get harder, it just gets easier. Each stage has it’s pain and difficulties, but the newness of it all wears off over time. You both have learned how each other works. You fall in love with each other. You depend on each other.

Three and a half years into this motherhood thing, you’ll hardly remember what life was like before Finn. Now you have Reese, too, and unlike the first time, the second one was much easier. You’re an old pro – look how far you’ve come! Reese will teach you new things, too. Like how to take risks and how to feel content.

Motherhood suits you.

You’re not the first mom to feel all these emotions, and you won’t be the last. It’s all okay, it’s all normal, it’s all part of the journey.

It’s okay if you don’t want to take it all in. It’s okay if you need a break. It’s okay if you don’t love every minute of it. Just remember, motherhood will be the hardest job you’ll ever have, and most of the time it will be worth it. If you’re having a hard day, however, go for a run, watch some Real Housewives and drink a little too much wine. The days are long, but the years, they are already going way too fast.

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A Look Inside Our Monthly Budget

monthly budget

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about why we decided to get debt free. I found Dave Ramsey through some other podcasts I listen to, and once I started listening, I was hooked. David and I have been working our way through Financial Peace University – essentially a class about how to get out of debt and build wealth.

The first lesson of FPU is about living on a budget. The word “budget” gets such a bad rap, and I have to admit, even now it sometimes makes me cringe. There are so many negative connotations when you hear the word “budget” – mainly that you can’t afford something or that you’re cheap and don’t want to spend your money.

However, since taking FPU, we have started thinking of living on a budget in a completely different way. In fact, now we kind of get excited about setting our budget each month – kind of. 🙂 We also challenge ourselves to actually stick to the budget, and in the five months we’ve been planning out our spending, we’ve gone over budget twice. It’s harder than you think! FPU reminds you that having a budget gives you permission to spend money, which is a nice way to look at it

How We Set our Budget Each Month

With our FPU membership came a year long subscription to the EveryDollar Budget app. I’ve used budgeting apps before, but this one is beyond any I’ve seen. You can connect it directly to your bank account and each time a charge appears, you simply drag and drop it to the spending category.

Before each month starts, we plan our budget down to the dollar. First, we list all of our income first. Since my income can be a little unpredictable, we always round down, that way we don’t go over budget, and if we have a little extra at the end of the month, we can put that towards debt!

Speaking of debt, this is usually the next budget item on the list. We list our debt payments and assign them the dollar amount we plan to pay. We know this is money going out the door that month, so might as well take it off the top!

Next, we list our other payments including cell phones, electricity and internet. We count these under “living expenses” because they are necessary to live! Other fixed costs each month include childcare, our gym membership and some business expenses.

Next we assign a dollar amount to gas and groceries. These tend to stay roughly the same each month except if we know we need an oil change or something like that. For instance, when we were in the Adirondacks in July, our grocery budget was lower because we knew we wouldn’t be buying groceries while we were there. (That money was assigned elsewhere in the budget).

Our next category is any one time expenses that we may have that month like property taxes, any fees associated with preschool, haircuts, money for birthday gifts, etc.

We then give ourselves and the kids some spending money – even Juneau gets a category, although he usually spends all his money on treats. We find that by giving ourselves a limit of spending money each month we don’t feel guilty about buying things we may want, but it also keeps us in check. This item is last on our list because it’s usually anything extra we may have. It’s nothing crazy (the kids get $25 and we each get $100) but we think it’s a necessary category to have!

How We Manage Our Budget

The great thing about the EveryDollar app is that you can update it every single day and you can adjust as the month goes on. For instance, if we notice we are going to be way short of our gas budget for the month, we can move that little extra to our debt snowball and get ahead on those payments.

David and I discuss our budget before each month begins and then check in every week or so. Now that we are a few months in, things tend to stay the same from month to month so it’s not necessary to adjust as much as it was when we first started.

To be honest, we weren’t very good at sticking to our budget at first! But just like anything, we had to do it for a while to become good at it. We like to give ourselves a little grace, and as long as we are paying off the debt that we planned to each month, we tend to think of that as a success!

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How to Embrace the Season of Life You Are In

embrace the season of life you're in

We have a tendency as human beings to wish away time. The ironic thing is, as soon as we do, we wish that time hadn’t passed so quickly. Sometimes, you have to remind yourself to stop and smell the roses. Because seriously, time flies whether you’re having fun or you’re not, so why not try to enjoy it!

A year ago, I remember crying to a coworker about how I was “in the hardest season of my life.” In reality, I was depressed and pregnant and probably hot cause Virginia in August is the worst. I remember her looking at me – also a mom of two – and nodding. The next day she came in with a basket full of goodies and I cried some more, this time because of her thoughtfulness.

At that point in time, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my baby girl. I had just bought a house. I was working fulltime in a dead end job. David and I seemed to be passing in the night. I was looking for a way out. Little did I know, everything would change as soon as I stopped feeling bad for myself and started to take action.

The point is, everyone has bad days, bad weeks, bad months. It’s how you react to it that really makes a difference. You can sit around and feel sorry for yourself for a year (like I did) or you can embrace what you’ve been given and take a leap of faith.

When you stop letting life happen to you and start taking control, it’s crazy how much easier it is when you are dealt a bad hand. You feel prepared. You feel like you have a plan.

Pay attention to the things that bring you joy, and actually do them. Wake up early and schedule out your day. Celebrate the small wins, and definitely celebrate big ones!

Things, in theory, should have gotten harder for me when Reese was born. However, it was in having her that I was given the clarity that I needed – that I needed to stop and slow down and realize that these are the days. Instead of feeling bad for myself, I woke up feeling grateful for all the things I was given. I remember early on thanking little Reese for allowing me to watch an entire episode of Game of Thrones completely uninterupted. On that day, it was exactly what I needed.

All this to say, if you’re going through a hard time, stop pushing back. Embrace where you are. Understand that whatever it is, it will pass. And if you are in a wonderful season of life, embrace it even more! Take lots of pictures and write down the memories!

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