(This is quite possibly the most vulnerable post I have ever written…) On our wedding day I felt as any bride should: beautiful, confident, joyful. I had worked hard to lose … Continue reading What Really Holds Me Back
Note: just because we have made these choices doesn’t mean that we are judging those who don’t! All parents have to make the decisions that work best for their family.
The number one thing I have heard about raising kids is how expensive it is. Between diapers, formula, wipes, etc. it can really add up during the first few years of life. On average, parents who choose (or need to use) formula will spend thousands of dollars just to feed their baby. Diapers on average will cost $3,000 per child from birth to potty training. I don’t have links to prove this, but I have heard these stats enough to believe them.
When we found out that we were pregnant, we knew that I would stay at home with the baby (and all future children), which would mean a slight loss of income. So, being the frugal person that I am, I began to research ways that we could save money and still make life great for our children so that our budget would not be greatly impacted.
By cloth diapering, using cloth wipes, and breastfeeding, we spend very little, if any, money on our baby each month.
If you had asked me a few years ago if I would ever cloth diaper, I would have said no! It sounded awful and like so much work. However, I have several friends who have cloth diapered and they blogged about their experiences. As I read their blogs, I realized that this was absolutely what we needed – and wanted – to do.
We spent less than $300 up front for our cloth diapers. We have 21 diapers and at least 20 extra liners. Since they need to be washed every 2-3 days anyway, it’s the perfect amount of diapers for one child.
Because Tori is exclusively breastfed (which is also free), washing the diapers is simple: you put them right into the washer. The poop of breastfed babies is water soluble (and doesn’t stink!), so you just do a cold rinse cycle and then add your detergent and wash on hot. So while we have increased our water bill by about $4 per month, we are saving so much more than that!
In addition, Brennan’s step-mom and her daughter-in-law made us cloth wipes for our baby shower. Again, never thought I would use cloth wipes! They are so wonderful and so good for baby’s skin, though! No chemicals, no waste, and you wash them with the diapers. Even our pediatrician said to not use disposable wipes because of the chemicals.
Tori rarely has any diaper rash and she seems to prefer cloth to disposables based upon her demeanor during diaper changes. We do use disposables at times and have them on hand for babysitters who may be uncomfortable with cloth.
The best part about using cloth is that these will last until she is 35 lbs, and we can use them for all of our children! That means a savings of $11,700 if we have the four kids we would like to have! Granted, if the next baby is born before Tori is potty trained we may need to buy a few more, but we are still saving thousands of dollars.
Kids don’t have to be expensive. It’s all about what your priorities are, I think. You can choose to use disposables, which are easy and convenient, but expensive, or you can choose cloth, which require a little bit more effort and time but save thousands of dollars. We have chosen to save money while also keeping our daughter’s skin away from chemicals, and it is working well for us.
What steps have you taken to save money while raising children?
Today was a very motivating day for me in general, and I came up with an audacious goal: I want to lose 31 pounds by my 31st birthday, which is on December 31, 2013. Lots of “1” and “3” up there. 🙂
By the way–I hate posting about this. It’s so much easier to just ignore my problem and tell myself that “it’s not that bad” and that it will be too hard to change. Whatever. From this day forward, I’m declaring war against weight-gain. 🙂
Science tells us that it is safest to lose 1-2 lbs per week. Given that I have 19 weeks, that means that I should be able to lose 38 lbs (my ultimate goal is 45-50) by that time.
How am I going to do this? I know that when I am strict and eat “clean” (and eat NO sugar), the weight comes off so easily. Add working out regularly to that, and I think this should be an easily obtainable goal.
How am I motivating myself? Three main ways:
One, I am not going to allow myself to donate my hair (working on my 4th donation) until the weight is gone. I am really ready to donate it, so this is incentive.
Two, when I lose the weight, Brennan and I will have some updated pictures taken of ourselves, since the last professional pictures were at our wedding nearly three years ago. I really don’t like having pictures taken of me right now, since I am heavier than I have ever been.
Three, I will get to go shopping! I haven’t really bought a ton of new clothes in the past year because I keep saying “when I lose weight…” Well, given the fact that I own ONE pair of jeans now because I can’t fit into the rest of them, this needs to be a major motivation.
The other silly motivation is our Wii Fit. My “Mii” is SO round and it makes me annoyed every time I see it.
According to the Wii, by BMI puts me in the “obese” category (cringing right now as I type that), and I want it to be back to “normal” (though, according to those charts, I need to lose 60 lbs, and that’s not likely to happen). I want to wear a single-digit size for the first time since high school. I want to be more comfortable around people, not fearing what they are thinking about me.
Most of all, I WANT to be healthy. I want to be active. I want to feel great, and I know that eating clean, cutting out sugar, and starting to exercise more regularly will help tremendously.
So, it starts today. 133 days until I turn 31, and I want that birthday celebration (in California, with my family) to be AMAZING. By our anniversary on November 6th, I want to be able to fit into that black dress that I’ve NEVER worn because it didn’t fit.
I’m going to keep posting updates here because it creates accountability, and it is also forcing me to own up to my weight problem. Vulnerability is freeing and I’m trying to embrace that more often.
Most of all, I want to honor God by taking better care of this body with which He has blessed me, and I never want my weight to hinder me from serving Him in any way.
“Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Tonight I attended a meeting of the Harrisburg Social Media Club after being invited by a fellow Start Experimenter who lives nearby. I went on behalf of Essential Harrisburg in hopes that I could learn more about how to utilize social media for my “business” and do some networking.
I assumed that it was going to be like a class where we all sit quietly and learn. I had no idea that they would ask us to introduce ourselves and our organization! So, in front of 30 strangers, I introduced EssentialHarrisburg.com and gave a brief description. That was slightly nerve-wracking – but not because of the public speaking element. Up until that moment, my website had existed only on Facebook in “safe” circles: friends, family, and the Start Experiment community. Now, there are strangers–businesspeople in the surrounding area–who know about it and could possibly check it out. And in the moment, I briefly questioned whether or not I even belonged there…whether or not my idea had value in the world. Fear strikes at the most inconvenient times. 🙂
This is exciting, but it also reminds me of how much work needs to be done to generate quality content. Also, I need to get business cards. I wrote that down on my to-do list last week and spoke with a friend about creating a simple logo for me…now I am very aware that I need to get those done as soon as possible so that in moments like the one tonight, I have something tangible that I can hand out to keep the idea fresh in the recipient’s mind.
I also sent my portfolio and an application to a missions organization tonight to possibly help them out with photojournalism. I’m pretty excited about this organization because they offer very unique service opportunities that would be perfect for Brennan and I to do together.
This thing is real. It is actually happening.
The further into this Start Experiment I go, the more I am filled with wonder and anticipation at what God is doing in my life and in my marriage. The second round is already proving to be more amazing than the first, and I think part of that is simply due to the fact that I have been able to figure out my dream. The other part is that this community of people continues to grow closer together and the momentum continues to build. We’re all in this together.
So far, I am 4.5 lbs down from when I started this project, which isn’t impressive considering that it has been a month. However, I wasn’t as strict as I wanted to be during the first round. I admittedly didn’t try as hard as I should have. But, that has changed. I have newfound determination.
To give myself a visual goal, I hung a dress on my closet door that I want to wear on our anniversary. I currently cannot fit into this dress, but I love it. I really want to wear it on November 6th. But, in order to wear it, I need to lose probably 20 more pounds in the next 83 days. That is a little over 11 weeks from now, and if I lose the recommended 2 pounds per week, I can lose more than 20 by then. That will be about half of my weight-loss goal.
So this is my audacious health-related goal: to lose 20 pounds by my anniversary so that I can wear the black dress.
It begins again: 24 days of focused and audacious dreaming and risk-taking. Round One of The Start Experiment brought me such freedom and courage, and I am beyond excited to see what happens next.
My risks for the first round were focused on self-discipline (physical and spiritual), and I am going to continue those elements through this next round (and hopefully for the rest of my life). I will continue to eat clean, exercise, blog, and spend time with God each day.
As a result of the connections made in Round One, I was able to focus in more on what my dream is and what it is going to take to make it a reality.
I asked myself this question: if I could do anything at all for the rest of my life, regardless of whether I made money or not, what would that be? And the answer is this: I would travel around the world and take pictures in order to tell the stories that need to be told (i.e. missions, disaster/response, capturing God’s Creation, etc.).
That led me to create Essential Harrisburg. I realized that, through this new blog/website, I have an opportunity to grow my skills, increase my audience, share my city with the world, and use this as a way to serve the city in a new way all without having to fly anywhere. I needed to Start somewhere, so I decided to Start in my own backyard.
This leads to what I am risking for round two. The theme is “Audacious” and we were encouraged to be radical, to be risky and do something that really scares us. So, here’s what I’m going to do:
- Continue to work on self-discipline risk from Round One.
- Focus on writing a minimum of 3 posts a week (which includes photography) for www.essentialharrisburg.com in order to generate content like crazy so that I can approach someone from the City to connect with them and share my goals.
- Make contacts with people who can potentially help me obtain my dream job of being able to get paid to travel and do photography/missions.
- (the audacious one) Actually send my portfolio to a potential “employer” and not be afraid of rejection.
The next 24 days are going to be amazing…I just know it. I can’t wait to see what God does through this!
Today is the last day of round one of the Start Experiment, and it has been a great 24 days. Did I perfectly meet all of my goals? No. But that wasn’t my objective. I set specific goals that all revolved around one thing: self-discipline. And I do feel that I made progress toward that goal!
Over the past 24 days, my desire to read my Bible each day has increased. I’ve been working through 1 & 2 Chronicles and have been excited to see what’s going to happen next (since I love history and haven’t read these books in a while, it makes sense that I’m excited!) 🙂 I’m loving watching God’s plan unfold and these stories have taught me some valuable lessons for where I am in life, too.
I haven’t lost much weight, but I have made progress in being more aware of my food choices. We’re working on not having anything that isn’t “clean” in our house, which forces me to cook with only “real food” and nothing processed. We have made it to the gym at least twice a week since we joined, and we’re going to be increasing that each week. Our goal is to go 5 days a week eventually, once our schedule calms down.
I also made progress on my “future” dream of being a travel photographer by creating “Essential Harrisburg” and beginning to generate content.
The road to self-discipline is still long, but I am excited to continue this process. I know that it will enrich my life greatly and will help me to be a better Jesus-follower, a better wife, and a better future mother. This experiment gave me the momentum to “Start” and to stop procrastinating!
I’m looking forward to the second round of The Start Experiment because life will be much less hectic during this round. I went on vacation, started a temp assignment, had my parents here, broke my main camera lens, and had many other disruptions to my “normal” schedule, and that made it difficult to find my groove.
If you’d like to join the second round, you are invited! Registration is only open for 24 hours, so join now. It’s not overwhelming and the daily tasks are simple, yet challenging. The encouragement from the Start Community is unmatched and I am LOVING the interaction in our Facebook group.
To join in, take this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/StartExpRound2
Well, blogging every day is proving to be more challenging than I thought 🙂
We’re halfway through The Start Experiment and I’m pretty happy with my progress.
To review, my “risks” were as follows:
- I will choose to eat “clean” and strive to make great food choices.
- I will do a minimum of 24 minutes of exercise each day.
- I will choose to become more self-disciplined about reading the Bible, journaling, and praying by doing these things every day for 24 days.
- I will blog every day for 24 days about my progress, including a before picture (ugh).
I have been doing very well with eating and exercising, though I haven’t been legalistic or strict about it. I am choosing to celebrate victories rather than dwell on failures. I’m also okay with making the best possible food choices given my available options, because that’s reality. For instance, while we were in Canada I had to really work to make good food choices since I wasn’t at home. It taught me that I’m not always going to be able to eat “clean” food 100% of the time; rather, I need to learn to make the best possible choices no matter what, while offering grace to myself when I fall short.
With the exception of blogging everyday, I’ve been pretty consistent with everything else. There’s definitely room for improvement, though!
I’ve lost 4.5lbs in 12 days, and it has come off pretty effortlessly so far. Amazing what eating “real food” and exercising can do! 🙂
Each day is showing me that I can be self-disciplined and that it’s not as hard as fear tells me that it is. 🙂 One day at a time.
Well, when I committed to blog every day about my progress I forgot that I would be traveling right in the middle of this project and we don’t own a laptop. So, I’m going to summarize our trip in this post.
Overall, I didn’t do terribly. We walked a TON while in Canada so that was the exercise component (though we also spent two days in the car with little exercise). I made mostly good choices while dining (it was hard to find totally clean meals, but I did the best that I could) but did have a little sugar while there, too.
I weighed in this morning at 2 lbs less than on Day 1, so I think I did reasonably well.
I read my Bible three of the five days, prayed each day, and journaled a few times. Definitely need improvement there.
At first I was slightly frustrated that this trip fell during this 24 day experiment, but then I realized that since we love to travel, this was actually perfect. I was so much more aware of the fact that preparation will be even MORE important while traveling in the future in order to maintain this new lifestyle. And, throughout the trip, I continued to think of ways to continue this project while not completely derailing our plans. I also offered grace to myself on the days that we were driving because exercise would have been really difficult to squeeze in given our time constraints.
So, overall, I did okay. But I learned valuable lessons and that is what matters the most. 🙂
Biggest accomplishment of the day: signing up (and paying in full) at our local community center for a year-long membership to their pools/gyms/classes. SO excited. We’ve wanted to do this for a long time and God provided the money last pay period. We went tonight and tried to swim laps. Well, we did swim laps, but not continuously. 🙂 I did 4 total (I think it’s a 25 yard pool, so I swam 200 yards), but would have to stop for several minutes at the end of the pool each time. Brennan swam more laps than me but had to stop as well, so that made me feel better 😉
I now have no good excuse for not working out. We’ve paid for this membership, it’s air-conditioned, and there are plenty of options in terms of workout activities. I’m committing to go during the day, and probably also in the morning, early, with Brennan. I know my arms are going to be sore in the morning, but that’s okay. It’s worth it.
I spent time this afternoon reading 1 Peter, which focuses a lot on holy living and being set-apart. Of course, part of being set-apart is having self-control and he mentioned that a couple of times.
That’s the whole point of this for me: to honor God with ALL of my life. It’s not about what the scale says–though that’s a bonus. It’s about making choices that honor God, even in the smallest areas.
I met each of the small goals that I have set (clean eating, exercise, time with God, blogging) today. I’m also blogging MUCH earlier so that I can go to bed at a decent time! Today’s challenge was not emotionally eating when I found out that I broke one of my camera lenses–one that I use the most. Sigh…
We leave for Canada tomorrow night so things might be tricky in terms of blogging, but perhaps we can go to a Starbucks with wi-fi so that I can blog! If not, I’ll at least blog in my journal and type the posts when we return 🙂