Sunday, January 18, 2015

Noah @ 9 Months

With each day that passes we are getting more and more glimpses of Noah's growing personality. He is so into his big brothers now and the cutest thing is hearing all 3 of them laughing together.

Some highlights from this month:
- No new teeth. Still just 2 little bottom teeth.
- Texture! Noah now eats mostly non-pureed foods. His brothers liked seeing him eat a few plain goldfish crackers this month. We've been offering him whatever we have been eating where we can. 
- He is SO close to being mobile. He still scoots around on his bum most of the time but loves to stand at the couch or walk with you holding his fingers. He much prefers to stand and will stiffen his little body when you try to sit him down. Otherwise, he does get up on all fours but doesn't quite get the crawl yet. He can also sit up now from lying down. 
- Down to nursing 2-3 times/day. I stopped coming home from work at lunch this past week. He wasn't always interested in nursing at lunchtime anymore. It felt really weird at first and I miss him but have been enjoying having that time to do errands. He is unphased! 

Here he is in action:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

$25 per month iPhone

In December we re-evaluated our budget and decided to make cuts to our cable package and cell phones. For the past couple of YEARS I’ve been investigating cell phone alternatives but service providers other than the two main providers Bell or Rogers either didn’t have good service range,  weren’t compatible with the iPhone, or data was expensive so I stuck with the status quo. In December I did some more investigating and cancelled my plan and switched to a pre-paid account with the same provider. I wanted to wait until I had used the service for a month before reporting on the switch but, in short, I’m saving a ridiculous amount of money and I’m kind of bummed I didn’t make the switch sooner.

Here is a summary of what I use my cell phone for:
Checking Facebook and Instagram Accounts
Checking my personal email
Texting (a lot!..mostly R during the day)
Taking photos. Can’t remember the last time I used our camera.
Calling people. Rarely – only if I’m going to be late somewhere or have to get in touch with someone immediately.

Where: mostly at home, sometimes at work, occasionally while out and about to check directions, coordinate plans or appointments, or to pass time when I’m waiting for appointments

For 2 years I paid $55/month (3-year contract – including cost of cell phone – iPhone4S). This is actually a really good deal from what I hear. I had unlimited social media, My10 (free unlimited Canada-wide calling with 10 contacts), 200 local calling minutes, unlimited local calling evening and weekends, and 1GB of data. No voicemail or caller ID. I almost never had additional charges. R uses his cell phone much more than I do so had an $80/month plan with unlimited Canada-wide calling and text, 2GB of data, and caller ID, voicemail. He wasn’t locked into his plan since we bought his iPhone 5 outright so he decided to try to cut back on his usage and take over the remainder of my plan to avoid early cancellation fees.

With my new pre-paid account, I pay $20.75/month and get unlimited text messaging including photo and video, caller ID, voicemail, 100MB Data, and pay $0.25/minute for local calls.  The extra $5 covered additional data and a few phone calls I made. Since I have caller ID, I can answer urgent calls and otherwise return calls from our home phone or my work phone as needed.

My only issue this month was using up all of my data in the first 2 weeks. This was mainly due to iMessaging. I never knew about iMessaging but it uses data to send messages to other iPhone users. So there I was making full use of my “unlimited” photo and video text messaging and it was using my data since it was through iMessaging rather than regular text messaging. Also other silly things like the Stocks App used up some of my data so I figured out how to turn the data off for applications like those. Generally I’ve been keeping my cellular data turned off so my phone only connects to wi-fi when it is available (at home we have unlimited internet).  I love having the ability to use data though when I’m out and about to look addresses up, etc. and now that I’ve figured out the data settings on my phone, I think the data included will suffice. A bonus is that I find myself not checking my phone as often at work or when I’m out.

By switching to pre-paid I’m saving $30/month with minimal impact to my use or enjoyment of my cell phone and with the savings from R switching over to my old plan, we’re saving $55/month combined on our cell phones.

Do you have a really good cell phone plan or do you pay an arm and a leg? Can you manage to avoid additional charges without it becoming too inconvenient?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hello 2015!

In past years, most of my goals have focused around establishing my career (finishing school, finding a job), getting our finances in check (paying off debt, buying a house, cars, etc.), and balancing family life (including growing our family). Now that I've accomplished a lot of those goals, I can definitely pull back on efforts in those areas and refocus on other areas of life that haven't had as much attention.  This year, most of my goals are focused on myself but I hope that by working on myself, the positivity will radiate out into other areas. My goals for 2015 are:

Nurture my marriage.

Now that we're getting past the first exhausting year of babyhood with Noah and nearing having two school aged children this September, I feel like we can really focus a little more on our relationship as a couple. I have so much admiration and respect for couples who don't seem to let other priorities like kids and work get in the way. It can be so tough. This year I'd like to start prioritizing time together without the kids, pursuing collective and individual interests (we used to be fun people and we used to do fun things together and apart and it made for good conversations!), and pay more attention to physical appearance. I notice a huge boost in my confidence when I feel good about my appearance. Good fitting clothing, a nice haircut, and feeling up on personal grooming, I think, will have a positive impact on my marriage as well as likely have other benefits like feeling more professional at work. This will involve spending some time and a bit of money.

Getting back to myself.

Since I started skating again, I began to think about all of the other things I used to enjoy doing growing up and into university that over the years had been put on the back burner as I started to have more responsibilities. I used to love reading, watching movies, rollerblading, riding my bike, going to the ski hill with friends, going to interesting lectures or talks (for fun!), playing frisbee on the beach in the summer with friends, and the list goes on! This year I'm going to try to find ways to work these things back into my life. They may look a bit different now - for instance, I can start re-reading the books I loved as a child with B at night and my love of interesting lectures and talks might be more limited to seizing professional development/continuous learning opportunities but it's definitely a start. I'll also need to simplify things at home as much as I can to allow for time for these things in my life.

Focus on making emotional and physical health a priority.  

We're incredibly lucky to have health benefits through both of our work places. I can also take paid time off work to attend medical appointments etc. but we've never taken full advantage of these benefits. This year I want to prioritize health by booking and attending regular medical appointments, eating and drinking better, getting more sleep, more time to myself to relax, and staying physically active. Low weight has been something that I've struggled with for the past 5 years and I want to deal with it this year. While I am "skinny", I don't feel strong or healthy. Getting back into skating last year really made a huge difference in how I felt and I actually felt much stronger.

Make our house a home. 

Yep...still on here. I saw this 52 week complete home organization schedule floating around and I thought this was perfect for helping me to stay focused on this goal and to also tackle some of the home decor stuff at the same time as the organization.

Continue to pay off debt but not let it become stressful.

Ideally, I'd like to automate debt repayment and be able to forget about it this year. Paying off debt while having expenses like daycare still is difficult. I'd like to check in with our budget periodically to see where we can make improvements and reinstitute spending money into our budget to help cover the financial implications of some of my other goals like skating fees, dates, and new clothes.