Saturday, February 22, 2014

33 Weeks

Milestone reached! I've officially made it past 32 weeks and am in the clear for delivering at our local hospital. I think I'm finally almost rid of the last of the head cold that has been plaguing me for the past two weeks. Unfortunately, now the boys both seem to be sick with coughs.

At 33 weeks I'm feeling pretty large and uncomfortable (despite people telling me I look small). I've got the pregnancy waddle down pat now. Sleeping has also taken a turn for the worst. I generally go to bed by 8pm to account for all the times I get up through the night. Last night was particularly bad. I woke up every 1-2 hours before moving downstairs to finish the night on the couch which seemed more comfortable. I also have to be conscious to stay on my left side or rather off my right side or flat on my back due to an issue with my right kidney. Typically in other pregnancies at this point I would've woken up just enough to stretch my sore leg and out and roll over.

Baby seems to have turned head down and stayed there. Which is really good news. Though there is always the chance he'll flip back around. I forgot what a funny feeling baby hiccups were and what it feels like when the baby pushes up against one side. Movements have slowed down at this point but most of the movements now feel jarring and if I feel my belly I can feel a limb through the skin when that happens. N asks me often, "where's your baby?" and when I reply in my belly he looks surprised every time. B is really excited and seems to understand everything for the most part.

Emotionally, it feels very real that this baby will soon be here. I'd be very surprised if baby held off until his due date in early April which means he will likely be born sometime next month. Some things have been weighing on my mind...  like labour fear. Having had the experience of delivering both with the epidural and without, there is no denying that without was more painful. But at the same time, the pain was fairly short lived and the recovery seemed much easier. There was no IV or catheter; no worrying about potential side effects like paralysis, chronic headaches, prolonged labour and increased risk of cesarian, or lethargic baby; no waiting for the freezing to wear off, no required 24 hour hospital stay. I could also feel the effectiveness of pushing without the medication and only ended up with a hairline tear vs. a much worse tear when I had the epidural with B (who was 2lbs smaller!). But still I worry about complications arising and being without pain medication if interventions are needed like forceps, episiotomy (if the doctor takes over), or tearing that requires stitches. This is also coupled with the fear that my labours are generally very quick and even if I needed or decided I wanted pain relief there is a good chance I wouldn't be able to get it. I had a long conversation with R about my feelings. He's supportive of whatever I decide to do of course but ultimately only I can make that decision for myself. I'm still leaning toward going without the medication again. Keep your fingers crossed for a smooth labour and delivery for me!

I've been feeling sad about the thought of leaving work too. I love my job and the people I work with and since I am on a contract, I don't have a guaranteed job to come back to. Job searching again feels so daunting. Being a mother is definitely a very fulfilling and rewarding job and I love spending time with my kids but there is definitely a gap when I am not working or when I put my own passions to the side. Luckily, I volunteer with a couple of different groups/organizations so I am hoping I can ramp up my involvement there and I'm trying to keep a positive outlook that if I don't end up going back to my current job that a much better prospect will come up.

Our nursery is finally painted, furniture put back together and scrubbed cleaned (post to come soon!). Just waiting on the finishing touches - some decor - and to be loaded back up with the baby stuff from the basement. Now if we can get it together to finalize our short list of baby names we'll be prepared. Having a third boy definitely makes choosing a name more difficult!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Kitchen.

Earlier this week I posted on house envy and stated that one of my goals for awhile has been to make our house a home. Most of my envy is actually directed toward people with nice kitchens. Not even fancy kitchens... just ones that aren't completely gross. You'll soon see why. When we toured, prior to making an offer on our house, the kitchen served as a good bargaining chip for negotiating a better price. Realistically, it was probably one of the biggest reasons why the house was on the market 30 days before we saw it. On the surface, the kitchen appeared functional but after moving in, it has been one frustration after the next. This kitchen has seriously been kicking our butts. Every single one of the little upgrades we've done to this room have somehow come undone or gone awry. More than once over the past year I've said to DH that I would be willing to take out a loan to have it completely redone - and that's saying a lot!

Behold the room I loathe most:

Big frustrations:

- The counter. Aside from the hideous hunter green colour.. the joints are heaving. I got giddy when I saw a product at Home Depot that sealed the counter and gave it a new colour for a fraction of the price of a new one.. until I realized we couldn't really use it anyway since a previous owner cut a chunk out of the back of the countertop (wtf?).

- The floor. The original laminate had water bubbles in front of the dishwasher and sink - we replaced it with ceramic tile (approx. $600 spent) but obviously didn't do it right because the grout is cracking, some of the tiles are loose, and B dropped a heavy can on it which taking out a big chunk in one of the tiles. Not to mention our freezer occasionally leaks when it isn't shut properly which has made the grout all yucky (even though we sealed it?). This is our second botched attempt at tiling. We spent $1500 tiling the kitchen, foyer, and hallway of our old house only to have to rip them all up and replace with laminate flooring a couple of years later. At this point, I'm at a loss for the floor. Hiring someone to tile isn't cheap.. but do we attempt it again?

- The stove. Cannot pull this out easily to clean. It is wedged too closely in between the countertops. DH did manage to get it out when we did the floors. Nothing like scrubbing someone else's curry and spice sludge off the sides with a toothbrush. There are also some grease stains on the back by the clock which just won't come out.

- The range hood. The old range hood was so gross inside. We quickly replaced it with a white microwave range hood (a couple hundred dollars). Except we have the same issues but with grease staining the microwave which just looks even worse.

- The dishwasher. A little over a year ago the dishwasher that came with the place broke. We did manage to pick a better used one up off Kijiji for $80 and used that without too many issues until last weekend when the bottom of it cracked and it leaked water into the basement. Thankfully it hadn't been a slow leak so the water damage is minimal.

- The plumbing. Upon taking out aforementioned second dishwasher and deciding we'd wait to replace it, we realized that there was no shut off valve from the water supply to the dishwasher so we couldn't turn the water to the house back on without completely redoing the plumbing under the sink or hooking up another dishwasher. When DH got into redoing the plumbing we found that the plumber had soldered the copper pipes directly into the faucet which meant we had to replace the faucet too. This tuned out to be a blessing because the old faucet had knobs which collected dirt in the grooves and it was annoying to use after handling eggs or raw meat.  So another $80 in plumbing materials and a basic faucet and we are dishwasher-less at the moment but at least we don't have shoddy plumbing and we won't get salmonella poisoning.

- The sliding patio doors. These are drafty, the glass is scratched from a big dog of a previous owner, and one side is full of dirt/gunk that I just can't scrub out. The screen was also broken which we replaced ourselves for about $10 but our kids quickly broke that one too. We've also replaced the vertical blinds twice since moving in since the kids keep playing in them or ripping them down for fun. I toyed with putting in curtains except I like the wipability of blinds. Less things to collect dust and dirt are better for us since we are a household of allergy sufferers not to mention the food splatter that comes from the boys.

- The lighting. Beautiful globe lights. You can see we're missing one over the eating area. It fell off and shattered. I think the naked bulb goes well with the rest of the kitchen.

Surprisingly, the 80's looking tile backsplash and cabinets don't even bother me that much.

Since taking out a loan isn't an option with our debt repayment plan and me soon to be not working, a complete overhaul is not in the cards.  But we are planning on spending some of our tax return this Spring on making a few upgrades to make the space more tolerable.

Some of our immediate plans are:

- Replace countertop with a new laminate counter top ($800)
- Replace dishwasher ($300)
- Replace kick plates at the base of the cupboards ($50)
- Do spot repairs/replace tiles - ($50) we still have a box of tiles and most of the supplies. It will just take time but this should tide us over for a year or two until we can replace the entire floor - again.
- Update two light fixtures ($275)
- Use Grout Renew to freshen up the backsplash tile ($25)

Do you have a room in your house you absolutely loathe?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Organizing the gift wrapping bin

Basement lighting + iPhone = poor photo but the gift wrapping supplies are slightly more organized 
Do you reuse gift bags? Do you have a storage system for them?

I started saving gift bags/wrapping after my very first baby shower. I'm pretty sure I have enough baby themed gift bags to last me every baby shower I ever have to attend and then some. After Christmas a couple of years later I found a wrapping paper Rubbermaid container on sale. Fast forward a few more years and my bin looked like this (minus the two smaller bins to the left):

My bin was so disorganized that I found myself stopping off at the store a couple times in the last few months out of "convenience" to grab gift wrap. With the boys' birthdays coming up and my nesting instinct in full swing, organizing my gift wrapping supplies was the perfect 30 minute project to make me feel like I got something big accomplished.

First step was roaming around my basement in search of unused/underused storage containers since part of my organizational problem stemmed from the fact that I had more supplies than what fit in the bin. Once I found a few other bins, I gave them a wash in the laundry tub and was ready to sort. Some of the really well used bags went in the garbage.

I now have an entire medium sized bin dedicated to gift bags, a small container with tissue paper,  a smaller bin with tape and some small rolls of ribbon, and a fairly neat stack of unused cards and cards to repurpose all in one spot. I even found a bag of balloons which will come in handy for the boys' birthday party in a couple of months.

I also reuse cards and recycle them into gift tags or other little projects. Extreme? It actually saves a bunch of time and money. Now I have no excuses to buy more gift wrapping supplies!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Nesting: House Envy

The nesting phase has officially hit.

We've been in our current house nearly 3 years. Our first house was a HUGE project. It didn't feel gratifying spending money on things like windows, insulation, drywall, furnace, and electrical work, while I saw friends buying furniture, decks, appliances, and decor. When we were house shopping (coincidentally in my 3rd trimester last time around), we saw a lot of newer turnkey places with nice kitchens and bathrooms and wood and tile flooring in our price range. They were in brand new neighbourhoods with brand new schools. But the lots were tiny and there wasn't much privacy, yet at the same time, there didn't seem like much of a sense of neighbourliness or community either. We were also looking for a walkout to the backyard from the kitchen and most of the newer places had walk out basements. Having little ones, a walk out from the main floor was particularly appealing so we could see them if they were playing in the back yard without always having to go out ourselves or be in the basement.

The kitchen walkout was a good call! The boys spend a lot of time in the backyard.
When our realtor showed us our house, we fell in love with the large backyard and the abundance of green space compared to what we had seen in newer neighbourhoods. There were also kids everywhere and adults actually chatting in driveways. Our house was 10 years old so we still had awhile before major repairs and although the kitchen and bathrooms were standard builders grade and left much to be desired and the paint colour and decor was hideous, the house was functional and we were excited to not have to spend time and money on the mundane projects and be able to do fun updates. So we kicked back, relaxed, and settled in.. we hired a painter to paint the main floor and upstairs hallway, we did a small bathroom update project on the main floor, tiled the kitchen floor, built a deck, tackled the boys bedrooms, and are almost done the nursery.

But I still feel a twinge of jealousy when I see friends posting photos of stellar nurseries (not that ours won't be nice) and entertaining with their new furniture and upgraded kitchens. It feels silly though because having the same is totally within reach, we just haven't made upgrades to our house a priority. Instead, we've chosen to do other things like go on vacations, get a vacation spot up north, and try to pay off debt a little more quickly and I don't think we're willing to make concessions on any of those things to undertake expensive renovations right now - especially when I'm soon going to be off work. We'll just have to keep plugging away at small projects as we can afford them.  One of my carry over goals for this year that I didn't make much progress on last year was to make our house a home.  I'm hoping that this year while I'm off with the baby I can tackle some of the smaller inexpensive projects around the house that will make a big difference.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

31 Weeks

I made it to 31 weeks - one more week and I will have met my first small milestone of being far enough to deliver locally and collect EI if I need to leave work early!

I felt pretty crummy this week and mostly felt like I was really just muddling through. I was uncomfortable most days at work whether it was my extremely low blood pressure making me feel faint or dizzy, just getting over an infection, being achy, feeling a ton of pressure, and being over the top exhausted - I just wasn't myself. This was extremely frustrating because I really enjoy my work and I'm usually so on the ball. I'm also usually happiest when I'm very busy. This week was the first time I regretted having extra commitments. Mentally and physically I was just not there. Last night, as soon as the boys were in bed, I packed it in at 7pm. I still woke up every 2-3 hours to go to the bathroom, get a drink/or mini snack (to help with the low blood pressure issues), and rearrange some of my 5 pillows I currently sleep with. But I slept until 7am and for the first time in nearly 2 weeks I felt worlds better.

Some things that helped me cope over the past couple of weeks:

- Having an awesome partner. DH has really been amazing. Being a working mom, we share parenting and household responsibilities pretty equally but the past 2 weeks he's really stepped up his game and taken over the lions share of the kid duties and cooking. My house hasn't been the cleanest but what is really important has been taken care of. My sister also deserves honourable mention as she watches the boys at our house during the week and also helped out more than usual with things like laundry, tidying, and shovelling.

- Making a goal to do just one "extra" thing each day. Usually I ended up doing 2 or 3 but it made me feel more productive when I was really feeling terrible and starting to get overwhelmed by the thought of everything that I wasn't doing that I'd need to get caught up on. One night I cleaned all the toilets (living with boys makes this a frequent chore) and stocked the bathrooms with toilet paper and it felt like such an accomplishment.

- Having the boys help out more. At almost 3 and almost 6, the boys are capable of doing a lot in terms of self care and around the house and they do regularly. I've never been more thankful that we've always encouraged their independence than I was last week. B can help N with a lot of the stuff he can't quite do on his own yet too. B thought it would be nice to help me since I wasn't feeling well by wiping down the table after dinner all of last week. It was sweet of him and it was a big help. N was my little helper all day long today - I barely had to bend over to pick anything up or reach things in low places. Both of them especially like helping to bring grocery bags to the kitchen and putting the groceries away. N loves to help with laundry - gathering items and filling the hamper, loading the machines and pressing start, transferring clothes from washer to dryer and emptying the dryer.

I'm hoping that the past couple of weeks were just a rough patch though I think they really put into perspective that there isn't much time left before baby #3 arrives and that I should be realistic in setting goals over the next couple of months and focus on prioritizing rest, healthy eating, and minimizing stress and sorting goals into what needs to be done immediately and what things can wait until after the baby arrives. Originally I had wanted to make baby photo albums for the boys and family year books for the last 6+ years but that is definitely something I can plug away at once the baby arrives and I'm off work. I've also said it before and it is something that I keep coming back to, I want to enjoy these last few weeks as a family of 4.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Month 15: Debt Repayment Update

 So for January we are only down $236 which leaves:


Still not below the $50K mark. January is always a month of catch up for us since DH doesn't get paid for almost 2 weeks over the holidays and then work is always slow to pick up for him afterwards. Especially slow this year due to the frigid temperatures. January is also when we go back to having CPP and EI payments deducted from our pay. DH usually pays these off by late summer if not earlier so for the last half of the year, there's a couple hundred dollars more on each pay. 

This month, a few unanticipated costs came up like DH having to pay a few hundred dollars in union dues. We were planning on paying these in February but the union called - no choice. We also made a few trips up north this month to visit DH's family which didn't cost too much aside from gas but still, the small things add up. 

We've been trying to make the most out of our last few months as a family of 4 - and doing a pretty good job at it might I add (DISNEY)! Once the baby is here, the boys will get a little less attention at least for the first little while so when friends of ours, who also have two boys, invited us up to Horseshoe Resort with them for the weekend, we jumped on the opportunity. They had already paid for the accommodations, had extra space, and took care of all the meals in exchange for us hosting them one weekend this summer at our family cottage in Temagami. DH took the boys this weekend as I've been battling a kidney infection and they had a blast skiing, swimming, and eating sugary breakfast cereals. DH has taken B out the last 2 years (since he was 3) to the local ski hill with a pair of child skis and boots we got off Kijiji for $20. This was N's first time on skis at 2 1/2 - so a year earlier than B. Apparently it went remarkably well. N was grinning ear to ear and B didn't need any one on one assistance at all from DH.  I'm sad I missed it but happy they had so much fun. They do like their daddy time. 

Planning ahead for when baby arrives, this month I also booked a local swimming pool for the boys' birthday party in May. I've posted before about how I feel about larger than life birthday parties. Both of my guys LOVE the water and with a newborn only a few weeks old, I know I won't be up to hosting parties for a 3 and 6 year old at home. Something has got to give but..combined party..and you know I'm DIYing it up with the food, decor, and fun. I also paid for B's summer baseball registration. I've been trying to pay as many additional costs in advance of being off work since my maternity leave budget is really lean and won't allow for large additional expenditures. In February I plan on buying paint for the nursery but really focusing on tackling the last of our credit card debt since I feel like there's a very good possibility this little guy will be coming early so the pay checks are limited.