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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

6 Things New Parents Really Do Not Need

As I was writing my last post about things new parents actually need I could not help but reflect on things parents do NOT need.  Babies are a huge consumer market and parents are led to believe that they must have every new and expensive gadget out there in order to be able to cope with the task of parenting.
Parenting can be tough, I will readily admit as much, but will some of these products really make it easier?
Here is my look at 6 Things New Parents Really Do Not Need:

1. Diaper Genie
You better believe I had one of these when Walter was born.  I had to, didn't I?  If I didn't get the newest version of this soiled diaper keeper along with the costly refills my life would be an unmanageable mess of diapers smelling up our home....right?  Wrong. I happened to be browsing at one of my favourite dollar stores when Walter was a few months old and I saw some dog poop bags- the kinds pet owners use during their "poop and scoop" duties.  My mind yelled out "If its good enough for dog poop, why not baby poop?!"   I could get 300 dog poop bags (with pretty designs on them no less) for $1.25.   Verses an $8 Diaper Genie refill that was holding roughly 30 size 2 diapers.
Diaper Genie did do as promised in that I never had an odour issue with it.  Those diapers were kept tightly sealed in their plastic twisted tube.  Yet, at the same time, I don't have a problem when I put my diapers in the dog bags, tie them closed and put them in the kitchen garbage.   Since our kitchen garbage is taken out at  least once every day, its very easy to keep things under control in that regard.
After making my grand discovery I decided it was time for me to part ways with my diaper genie so I sat down to list it on That's when I noticed the sheer number of these diaper disposal units for sale on this site (all brands, not just Diaper Genie). If they were so great, why is everyone selling them??? I think many people were having the light bulbs go on over their heads too.
You would be better off to buy $15 or $20 of dog poop bags, spending a small fraction of what you would with the Diaper Genie.

2. Baby Bullet Food Processing System
REALLY?!! This is a thing?!!  Being a very frugal person I never intended to buy my babies their baby food jarred from a store.  I planned to make it from the get-go. It was very important to me that I gave my kids fresh and local foods.  I shopped at the local farmers market so that I even developed a relationship with the family responsible for growing my children's food. It was a wonderful experience and something I would recommend to everyone. Even me who cannot cook can make baby food.  Just cut and boil.  No need to worry about over cooking, since mushy was the texture I was after. But what did I do with the food once it was boiled, you ask? How to make it into smooth baby food?  I used a $10 mini food processor That Guy had bought from Wal-Mart years before.  Simple as that.  No "system" required. No smiley face on the food processor, but for a savings of $60 I got by just fine without it.

3.Baby Cubes
They sell these plastic cubes with flip top lids that sit in a tray.  The idea is that when making your baby food you can store or freeze the food in these cubes and its all very convenient. Sure it is.  I was, in fact, given a set of these when Audrey was born.  I used them, but my method before I got the set was just as relevant and (had I bought them myself) would have saved a ton of money. I used ice cube trays and freezer bags.  This worked like a dream- make my baby food, put it in the ice cube trays, once frozen transfer the food cubes to a freezer bag labelled with what food it contained and when it was made.  Knowing that each ice cube is 1oz of food made it easy for me to keep a handle on how much my kids were eating.  Easy peasy.  Baby cubes certainly did not make it noticeable easier, and in fact had the draw back that I could only freeze 16 cubes of food at a time, and had to wait until all the food was consumed to make another batch of food. 
Two ice cube trays in a package at the dollar store, it really is the better way to go.

3. Baby Wipes Warmer
Unless you plan to change your baby outside in the winter this is a silly investment. If yo keep your house at room temperature of 21*C your baby wipes have no reason to be ice cold.  They do contain moisture, so they will feel slightly cooler than the room temperature. But the idea is not to bathe your baby with these wipes, its to clean their bottoms. Frankly they will be much colder from being undressed for their diaper change than from a wipe.

4. Baby Swings
I am not against the idea of the baby swing, I am against the ridiculously high cost. Stores try to convince parents that this several hundred dollar, floor space hogging item is essential. It simply is not.  I even had a used one for my daughter because my in-laws saw it and thought it would be useful.  Being that my daughter was already a few months old when they gave us the swing, we got maybe half a dozen uses out of it. She enjoyed it, but no more than she enjoyed being walked in the sling or vibrating in a bouncy chair.

5. Baby Spa Bathtubs
Oh, how I wish I were kidding. These things on the market have jets and power sprayers the whole shebang.   If MY bathtub doesn't have jets, there is no way on the face of the earth I am spending $60 on jets for a three month old baby who just wants to watch you pour water from a jug onto their knees as the ultimate form of bath time entertainment. Even if my tub did have jets this is simply a ridiculous form of indulgence- for the tub buyers, since the baby will have no idea. I used a baby bath tub from a second hand store. I paid a little over $5 for it, and when my daughter outgrew it I was able to sell it back to the second hand store for almost the same amount.

6.Any other baby item costing over $150 new with the exception of a car seat (possibly a crib)
examples of this include $1000 jogging strollers, $700 cribs, $500 swings/chairs, $400 high chairs that look sleek and ultra modern.  Just listing these items I feel like my point is well made, the prices seem so far fetched. There are big ticket items that parents really do need, but for the length of time they will be in use please really consider the time:cost ratio.

So many of these things are bought by well meaning shower goers, but please gentle readers, instead of spending lots of money just spend your money well.
As far as parents buying for your own baby I would like to leave you with a thought.... spoiling children is not about providing for them, or providing well for them.  Spoiling a child is when you give them things to make yourself feel better.  So please, for the good of your finances and your children consider spending half as much money and twice as much time.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

5 Things New Parents Actually Need

I know a few expectant parents right now.  As the time for baby showers draw nearer I thought I would take a moment to talk about some items that I, both as a mother and professional childcare provider, have found to be invaluable. These are the things I would actually make or even spend my hard earned dollars on.

5 Things Parents actually need:

1. Wrap/Sling

Baby wearing is awesome! There are so many benefits, not the least of which that it leaves you hands free. This was one of the only ways I managed to keep the house clean and baby happy when my kids were wee. Pop them in the sling or wrap and I was able to still load the dishwasher or vacuum.
But beware, not all baby wearing devices are created equally. For example, I have found that the Snugli and Baby Bjorn are no good if you plan to wear your baby for more than three minutes at a time. All the weight of your baby- and the carrier- are pressing down into your shoulders and it hurts- a lot!  Also, these devices have your baby sitting squarely against your tummy, without the option to shift them to the side.  Wearing Baby on your tummy is fine for things like walking (if you don't mind the searing pain in your shoulders), but doing things like cleaning or shopping without the ability to bend at your core is very difficult.
I used Little Star Slings for Walter, its a basic pocket sling and one of the most reasonably priced options on the market.  I loved my sling and even got a second (one for home and one for in the diaper bag to always have on the go).  I used my sling until Walter was well over two years old, he found comfort in it and would often fall asleep in it.
When I was expecting Audrey I decided to go the route of the Mobi Wrap.  Although costing more than double the amount of a Little Stars sling, the Mobi Wrap still gets my approval for money well spent.   Its amazing! Because of the way the wrap is tied around the body there are no pressure points and you can wear Baby for hours without being uncomfortable. There are different ways one can tie the wrap to situate Baby against your tummy, hip, or even on your back with additional options of having Baby facing in toward your body or out to observe the world.  Although tying the wrap can look mildly daunting to some I promise its a skill you can master with three attempts.  There are lots of videos on you tube to assist as well if you lost the instruction booklet or if still photos just are not cutting it for you.  The Mobi was so comfortable and well loved by both myself and Audrey that I never needed a stroller for her, marking a savings win for us.

2. Pacifier

Not every baby needs or wants a pacifier. Case in point- my son adored his pacifier and refused to be separated from it until he was 17 months old.  My daughter, however, never took an interest in them at all.
Pacifiers are designed to soothe and pacify Baby, but there is very rarely a need for this to be an expensive endeavor.  (There are some children born with cleft or palette issues for whom a special and much more costly pacifier would be required).  My son was a particular fan of the Wal-Mart Parents Choice brand of pacifier- it was the only kind he would take.  It was a win for me because at under $4 I got two pacifiers in a package and they came with caps to keep them clean while in my purse, pocket or diaper bag.  They came in different sizes for different ages and I even had a choice of some fun colour options. They held up great being washed in the dishwasher a million times and never broke down, swelled or cracked.   If your thinking of including a pacifier with a gift for expectant parents, I highly recommend the Parents Choice brand.

3.Sophie The Giraffe

If you're cheap frugal like me, the cost of this teething toy may shock you.  Or bring tears to your eyes.  At almost ten times the cost of a standard teether it is EXPENSIVE.   But the kids love it.  So much. To be honest I have never met a kid who has not adored Sophie.  If you run her through the dishwasher (as I do for almost every one of our hard surface, non- electronic toys to clean them) her squeaker will stop working after a few times.  But as a mom who does not always celebrate kids making the most noise they are able to make at any given time, this was actually a PLUS for me. :)  After about two years of constant use and washing Sophie's spots will begin to fade.  But she will stay soft, chewable and easy for little hands to grasp. Sophie's neck also fits in most standard pacifier clips, which means you can secure her to Baby or to your wrap, stroller or car seat almost eliminating the possibility of loosing such and expensive and well loved toy.

4. Tag Blankets

These are so easy to make yourself and 100% adored by babies.  Make it yourself, or have someone who can do it for you, if at all possible since the ready made store bought version comes in at several times the cost of materials for this blanket. You can make them as small or as large as you'd like.  I have seen them as small as 12 x 12 inches and as large as a baby quilt.
These are the kinds of comfort item that babies get very attached to very quickly. So if you are making it, have mercy on the new parents and make an identical second blanket so one can be washed.  Or, as I like to do, give what I call a "Pair and a Spare"- one for home, one for in the wash and one for the car/daycare/grandparents house ect.

5. Vibrating Bouncy Chairs

These saved me as a first time mom. Walter was very allergic to our cat (of course we didn't know this at the time) and had some pretty serious eczema as a result.  My poor little guy was itchy and uncomfortable so much of the time.  Needless to say, he was cranky! But that vibrating bouncy chair brought him comfort enough that he could sleep, and I could maintain my precarious hold on my sanity.
The chair we got for Walter was a baby shower gift and ran the gift giver around $30 - such a great value! The one we used for Audrey we got second hand from for $10 and was an even better value.  
There is no need I can see to spend $80 on a chair that will play lullaby classics by modern pop artists to Baby. I am going to touch on this only for a very brief moment here today- but there is NO need to spend $200 on a fancy baby swing.  A vibrating bouncy chair does not swing, I admit. But with bouncing Baby gets  movement which is what Baby is drawing comfort from- not from swinging in particular.

In a few weeks I will share with you some easy tutorials for other baby shower gift ideas for you to DIY. For now, hopefully this short list can help you get the most value from any gift you do decide to invest in.  Happy Thursday, gentle readers!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Multiple sources of income

About a year and a half ago our family was in a very rough financial spot. After a string of poor luck with my daycare I had lost all but one child.  Everyone seemed to be moving, getting laid off or transitioning from day care age to school age and entering the public school system.
Audrey was still under two months old, and since I do not get any paid maternity leave because I am self-employed we had decided That Guy would take some parental leave to give me a hand until I got into the swing of things as the mother of two.
So there we were trying to live on an income level less than half of what we normally struggle with.

Making use of coupons, price matching and store specials as well as reaching deep into the cupboards for all  those long forgotten canned goods we were able to get by feeding ourselves and daycare (admittedly only one daycare child) for little over $20/week.
We cancelled cable, the long distance plan on our home phone as well as call waiting.
We shopped for new cell phone plans and companies and cut our costs by a little over 50% there.
We re-discovered our local library as a great source of socialization for myself and entertainment for the kids.
It wasn't even close to enough.  That Guy had to cut his parental leave short and go back to work.

Very fortunately it did not take long for me to fill my empty daycare spaces. Our income became more in line with what was typical for us, but now we had to fight against the  bills on our credit cards and line of credit we were forced to use- we still were not in the clear.

So I got online and started researching ways other families handle their debts and pull through messes like the one we were trying to climb out of.  (No, we had not cancelled our internet to save money.  I am a very firm believer that having internet access saves tons of money and is a very wise investment. Case in point: researching how to save money!)   I came across a website that pointed out that the more sources of income one has the less devastating it is if one source is lost.  Well....DUH!! And I rolled my eyes at my computer screen. "That's all good and holy in THEORY" I told my screen "but there are only so many hours in a day. And really, how understanding do you expect employers to be about the schedules of your three other jobs? Plus! Lets not forget I have to consider childcare costs too!"  My computer screen just stared back at me, and said nothing.  Clearly that meant the screen thought I was right. *smirk*

And I was very happy in my superior knowledge of real life over that of my computer screen....
Until recently when someone was asking me about my children participating in beauty pageants. They asked if it was expensive.  Since "expensive:" is a relative term I outlined the costs for them.  Entry fees, up to date photos, outfits and costumes plus special snacks and treats to keep the kids happy the day of.  "But how does someone so frugal justify that sort of strain on your family budget?" asked my logical friend. So I explained how these costs don't come out of our family budget.  There are times during the year that I am casually employed to do some sewing for people. Since sewing is something that I do from home with no over head costs and something I enjoy all the money I earn from that gets stashed away to pay for the kids pageants. If a pageant is approaching and there is no money, or not enough, in that envelope then we do not enter the kids - simple as that. But wait.... that might make my occasional sewing employ a "source of income" like that website was talking about....    Sure, its casual and inconsistent but its still money coming in.

Once i got to really reflecting on it I realized that my small handmade gift item business would cont as a source of income too.  The income is small, but it is pretty regular.  So lets see here.... That Guy works full time outside of the home bringing in a modest but respectable income for our family. My sources of income are smaller, but more numerous...daycare, sewing and handmade gifts.  Additionally I am in the process of starting up a private home school.  School would eventually take the place of daycare so it would not be an additional source of income. But since private homeschooling commands a slightly higher cost to parents it would be an additional amount of income.   Maybe this website actually was on to something..... I'm not usually wrong but I suppose there are first times for everything ;)
That's not saying that I have the option right now of closing day care and living off the small and inconsistent incomes of these other enterprises. What I'm saying is that maybe finding more source of income isn't really about holding down more jobs....its more about working smarter than working harder.

If you like walking, why not look into a paper route? Not a lot of money in it, but its something. It will also force you to get up and get out as we start to fall into "hibernation" mode of the winter. Its a GREAT way to meet your neighbors, too!
Offer up your talents (sewing? fluent francophone? great ballroom dancer? best coupon clipper?) to friends, on social networking sites and free classified ad websites. It does not have to be employment that would carry you in the same way your full time job does now, but something you can do with a bit of flexibility,   Or maybe even offer your talents for trade. (you clip coupons for a family, and organize them in an easy to use way for x amount of time and in exchange a member of that family will babysit for you, teach you to build something you were going to buy, or teach you a marketable skill - like plumbing- so you never have to hire out for it again)

Turns out there are as many ways to increase sources of income as there are personality types.
I suppose I owe my computer screen an apology.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

No lion, I love when my kids eat well

A few days ago I posted about how I get my son to eat well and see healthy food as a fun reward option.  Today he specifically asked me for a "silly lunch" for school.  My heart melts when he makes a request like that because it means he really appreciates the energy and the love I put into those lunches.
Having no idea what to send him, I decided to give Pinterest a try. And lo! There was this adorable lion sandwich that I simply could not resist copying. The one on Pinterest looked MUCH better, much more "professional" if you will.  Especially since I don't have a single fancy lunch making tool, and also because I could not buy any special ingredients.  We do our groceries once every two weeks now, and I simply had to make do with what we have on hand.

But here it is, my little lion bento lunch for Walter.
Lion Lunch
In case you're like me and thinking "My kid would love that, I can do that and I can find three extra minutes when packing his/her lunch" then I want to show you how I did this.

You will need:
What I used:

- whole wheat hamburger bun
- ham and cheese (or other sandwich filler)
- white cheese
-vegetable peeler
-bento box (or any hard re-usable container)
-pastry tips

I do not typically buy olives by the bucket or pack such fancy cheese in the school lunch of a four year old.  Both were left over from our annual wine and cheese party That Guy and I hosted on the weekend.

First, you will want to fill the hamburger bun with sandwich filling as you normally would.  Do take care that the fillings are not visible from the outside.
No visible sandwich fillings
Next I cut in half and pitted a black olive.  This would be so much easier if you use already pitted olives since its nearly impossible to remove the pit by hand without mashing the poor olive into mush.
 Two olives halves plus toothpicks equals lion ears.
cutting olives
olive ears
Next I used the vegetable peeler to get thin strips of carrot. There is a way to get thin carrot strips to curl - wouldn't that be cute for the lions mane? That Guy told me that would involve blanching and shocking the carrots (submerging them first in boiling water followed immediately by ice water). Frankly last night I was just not committed enough to take those extra steps.  Just plain vegetable peelings will do.

After cutting a thin slice from the brick of white cheese I used the "wrong" side of the pastry tip to punch out circles from the cheese.  These were whites of the eyes.  Also from the cheese came a semi-circle for the lions "snout".  Using the small end of the pastry tip I punched three holes in each side to suggest whiskers.
Wrong side of pastry tip
correct side of pastry tip (those are the hands of That Guy, since  I am unable to  take a photo while  trying to perform culinary magic.  My hands are slightly less mannish ;)
Cutting the tips from more olives gave me a nose and pupils for the eyes.  I did use toothpicks to hold the pupils, and sclera (whites of the eye) together and in correct position on the bun top.
He's looking at you :)
A few thin disks from the carrot (i used the wrong side of the pastry tip again to make them round) for cheeks and all that was left was putting it together in the bento box. Add in some celery sticks and grape tomatoes and I had a fun, healthy lunch that I know Walter will eat.

As I said I did this all only with ingredients we already had on hand and without a single special tool.  This is something you could do too, either as a lunch box option or as a special dinner or lunch at home. I would love to see what you, gentle readers, can do with your food!

Monday, 14 January 2013

A room fit for my princess

I used to watch a certain home decorating show.  You remember the one, where neighbours would swap houses for a weekend and redecorate a room in each others home for the "impossibly tight" budget of $1000?  They did, I admit, have a rather strict time line of just 48 hours. I always found myself thinking "I could do that"...and now I have, for MUCH less and without the help of a personal carpenter.
How could anyone not want to give her a pretty bedroom?
As I mentioned in a previous post, we have just moved into our new and wonderful home.  The first room redecorated has been Audrey's.  She is such a sweet and girly baby but I really did not want a pink bedroom for her.  I decided teal and white was going to be perfect.
The best shot I could get of her room.
Audrey's bed:
Her crib we were very fortunate to have given to us second hand by a family friend.  It was originally a light maple colour, so I painted it white. .The white paint appears in the budget as part. Of he white paint for her walls.
The crib mattress I bought second hand from for $10.  I did have to look at a few to make sure there were no rips in the mattress cover, but this one was a win.
The bedding I bought brand new from Toys R Us. Yup, I bought something brand new! The set was regularly priced at $344.99.  Can you imagine me paying that?! Not a chance.  However since it was the very last set, and a display at that I walked out with a crib sheet, dust ruffle, bumper pads and comforter for $40!
Total cost for bed and bedding $50
$50 crib and bedding :)
The rocking chair was a hand me down from Walter and a gift from my in-laws even then.  $0
The shelves beside the rocking chair were $15 (top one) and $10 (bottom shelf). At first it really bothered me that they were not exactly the same, but I'm over it now.   Total $25

The dresser I bought from one of those "put it together yourself" places.  But for $98 I thought it was manageable,, since we really did need something to put her clothes in.  Her tiaras she won all by herself participating in beauty pageants.  Yes, the pageants do charge an entry free- but thats a separate budget and the fee is the same if she wins or not, so I am counting those as $0.  Same goes for the trophies above and beside the rocking chair.


The floral canvas wall art was a gift to Audrey from my Aunt when Audrey was born.  The framed print behind the dresser was a gift to me from my mother back when I was a teenager.  I still love it and am so happy it works so well in Audrey's room.  Total cost for wall art- $0

The window treatments are the same ones that came with the house.  I think the brown drapes give a bit of drama to the room and I am in no rush to change them. $0

The bedroom is teal and white, two cans of paint at $32/can.  Add in rollers, paint trays, paint brushes and painters tape (everything but the painters tape from the dollar store) $12

That brings us to a grand total of $249.   One quarter of what those TV designers ha to work with, and I even bought items new!! For anyone wondering,between myself and a few friendly helpers we had that whole room pulled together in the same 48 hour time line. Maybe I should call the TV networks and knock their socks off ;)

Friday, 11 January 2013

Healthy food for kids

Healthy Food For Kids-. How to get your kids to prefer fresh, healthy foods over the processed, sugared, dyed stuff out there

When my son Walter started school in September he struggled in a big way. Not academically (in fact it was suggested to us that we skip him ahead a year) but behaviourally.  He would over feed the class goldfish, colour on the table when done with his project and even once tackled a kid in the hallway.
Walter is very fortunate to have a great teacher and a wonderful ECE in the classroom everyday.  So I joined forces with them to figure out some real solutions for Walter.  In time he settled down, but we kept up consistent communication with his teacher.  She would send home a notebook every night letting us know how his day was.  If it was a positive report he got a check mark.  A week of checks and he got to choose a treat.  Usually he chose McDonalds as his treat. We allowed it.
Then a funny thing happened.  I started to notice that the nights we got him McDonalds were the nights  we were fighting with him to finish his dinner, and the ONLY times Audrey left food on her plate.  I guess it was so ingrained in me that "kids like McDonald's" that I never bothered to question it.  And it took me months of Walter not finishing his "reward dinners" to notice.  After all, why would he request it if he doesn't like it?
THE TOY!!!! Thats why he asks for it! What a huge (and totally obvious) light bulb. I thought about it being described as comfort food.  When considering adults I think there is something to it.  We all grew up eating it, we have memories in the restaurants and being rewarded with french fries in very much the same way I was trying to reward my son.  But....what if we didn't like it then? What if we STILL don't?! I cannot honestly say I like the food, but I do admit to a comfort factor.

So how then do I get my four year old as excited by healthy food as he is about toys? Ah ha! Make food fun! I remembered seeing a Japanese style of food presentation (bento) that looked cute.  So I started looking it up.  I could do this!!  Not all of it, of course.  Walter and That Guy are both allergic to eggs and since cooked eggs are easily shaped they are often used in this style. I am also not a fan of licensed products, so I would rarely attempt to make anything Hello Kitty or Disney Cars.   If I am going to be totally honest I can barely get out a recognizable cat, let alone something exactly like Hello Kitty.

But I have made some things that are reasonably cute.  I primarily pack these in Walters school lunch, but they have also become really great options for reward dinners.  And moreover, rather than trying to hide veggies in the meatloaf and not letting kids in on the secret that they really do like carrots I am celebrating the fruits and veggies Walter eats.  They are all there, dressed up but in plain sight.  So when Walter eats an apple that looks like an umbrella he knows he likes apples!

This is the sandwich I sent in Walters lunch yesterday.
It really was very easy to do.  This is a  traditional ham and cheese sandwich.  With one slice of deli ham poking out to make the '"tounge".  The eyebrows aree simply bits of orange bell peppers and the eyes and teeth are cucumber. I used a kfife, vegetable peeler and a straw- no fancy bento lunch making equipment.  The most complicated part were the pupils in the eyes. I took a discarded cucumber rind peeling, gently pushed the end of the straw into it and out came the circles. Nothing "holds it together".  once you put the lid on the sandwich container there really isnt enough room for things to go sliding around.

If I estimate that it takes me ten minutes to pack Walter an average lunch (sandwich, fruit, vegetables, drink ect) then its pretty fair to say a fun bento lunch takes me about 13-14 minutes.
And really, if Walter likes this (as empty food containers coming home from school prove) and he DOESN'T like McDonalds, it takes about 15 minutes to go out and grab McDonalds- so this is healthier, faster, and more cost effective!

As I get and try more fun ideas, and as my bento skill set improves I will share them with you, gentle readers.  Along with some quick tutorials on how you can do it yourself, if you so desire.
Happy lunch!!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

New Year, New Home

I usually post on Mondays, so this comes late- please forgive me.
On Friday we moved into our new home.  It is not far from the old house, but still an ordeal that prompted much reflection.  
Amidst the flurry of boxes and packing tape I spent some time remembering.  That Guy and I bought that home while I was on maternity leave with Walter.  It was very close to the apartment we were renting at the time in the area of the city we really loved.
That house was a true "fixer upper" but we had vision and so much enthusiasm!  We tore down walls, tiled, repainted, changed light fixtures.  The home was never perfect, but it was our little family home.  Which, in itself, was a bit of a miracle.
As a teenager I had been advised that I would likely never have children.  We had even started the adoption process before very happily discovering that we were expecting Walter.  Outgrowing a 3 bedroom home was not something we even thought was possible for us,
Time wore on though and as the day care became a viable option for us the house started to feel smaller.
Then the huge shock that three years after Walter was born we would be having a second baby.  We had never taken any steps to not get pregnant, we simply figured I couldn't. And three years of no pregancies seemed to confirm that.  Except here was Audrey.  Everyday getting bigger.

We saw that our home was the home for young couples and new parents, a place to grow and dream in.  We were now in a place where we needed to establish ourselves.  We needed a space to work, to make those dreams our own reality.

And we found just the place for us.  We took what we needed from the old house - the lessons, the growth, the maturity gained, and of course the kids growth measurments from the kitchen doorframe.
Now we are here, bright eyed with excitement and possibility.

I will slowly be redecorating almost every room in the house, and will happily share the results with you. If you can bear with me, gentle readers,  through this time of chaos I will share with you my home decorating ideas on a dime.