Baby Turns One: What this Year Taught Me

Today my baby boy turned one. I’m seriously in shock that it’s already been an entire year since we welcomed him into the world. While the year has passed quickly, there have been a lot of changes this year including a job change for my husband, milestone birthday for the hubby and myself (30th) and of course, adjusting to life with a baby again. Needless to say, I have learned a lot in the past year and most of it is because of our littlest man.

  • Take Time to Smell the Roses – I don’t really remember taking the time to appreciate the small things with my oldest son and I blame part of that on the fact that he was our firstborn. With him, I was always trying to teach him something new or anxiously waiting for the next milestone achievement. However, this time around things have been quite different. I often find myself just sitting and watching my little guy crawl around the living room floor and explore new things. Even if he is headed to the blinds, I don’t rush right over there to get him away from them. Instead, I wait and watch to see what happens. I also don’t get impatient when it’s time to give him a bottle and he wants me to hold it instead of him doing it himself. I guess I’ve learned to appreciate these moments now because it won’t be long and he’ll be heading out the door to go hang out with his friends on Saturday night.
  • Don’t Worry about the Small Stuff – One of the things that this little guy has managed to show me is that there isn’t any need to worry about the small stuff. This guy is my laid-back, everything-is-fun guy and the only time he is crying or upset is when he’s hungry, tired or has a poopy diaper. Think about it – those three things really are the most pressing issues for babies; everything else is minor. I’ve started applying this attitude to my everyday routine. For example, I used to get pretty bent out of shape if I would catch Big Brother outside playing in his good dress pants instead of his “play” shorts. Now, when I catch him doing something like this, I take a moment to ask myself the question “Is this really a big deal?” Most of the time, the answer is “no.” Yes, I do go get him and make him change his pants (or stop whatever it is he’s doing that he’s not supposed to be), but I do it in a much calmer manner. Why? There’s no need to make a bad memory for my son over something minor like this. Let’s address the issue and move on.
  • Family Time is the Most Important – This may be something that I’ve learned as a result of turning thirty in combination with having our second (and last) child. I used to be of the mindset that we had to constantly be going (the hubby and I), especially on the weekends. Sitting at home was not something I wanted to do. However, over the last year I have really grown to appreciate the family time spent together at home – without the distractions that come from being out in public. I’ve also noticed that both of the kiddos seem happier when we spend the evenings together at home eating dinner and hanging out together in the family room before bed. On the nights when I want to do something special, I will usually just rent a movie for the hubby and myself to watch after the kids go to bed – it’s just as enjoyable as going out to the theater (and cheaper!).

I still can’t believe my little guy is already ONE, but when I look back over the last year and all that I’ve learned, I’ve got to say that I’m pretty excited about what the future holds for us. I am a firm believer that children teach their parents just as much (if not more) as parents teach them.

Tips for Losing Weight and Toning Up After Baby

As a mother, I fully understand that joys that come with pregnancy as well as the post-baby blues. I’m not talking about postpartum depression (although the baby blues can lead to that), but rather the sadness that many new mothers feel when they look in the mirror shortly after the baby is born.

While I didn’t experience the post-baby blues with my first son, I did with my second. I had lost a substantial amount of weight before I got pregnant with my youngest and was actually within 10 pounds of my high school weight. Therefore, once I had my son, I was ready to get started on a weight loss plan. However, due to having a c-section I was limited to what I could do for six weeks. Looking in the mirror in the mornings as I got dressed was sometimes all it took to make me cry. I couldn’t help but miss my pre-pregnancy body and wonder if I would ever get it back.

If you are feeling the same way, then don’t stress because you can lose the baby weight and get your pre-pregnancy body back. By counting calories and exercising regularly, I was able to lose all my baby weight and then some within six (6) months of having my littlest guy. However, I still have just a little bit of extra cushion around my mid-section that I want to get off.

The truth is that I’m happy with my weight, but I’m just not as lean as I want to be. Therefore, I’m embarking on a new journey to help me get where I want to be (fitness-wise). Regardless of whether you are like my and just need to tone up or if you have a lot of extra weight to lose, the tips below will help both of us (if we stick to them):

  • Eat Clean – This is a really big one for me. As I said earlier, I lost all of my baby weight (plus 10 extra pounds) just by counting calories. I liked this method because I could eat what I wanted as long as I stayed under my calories for the day. So, now that I’ve dropped the weight and am working out 3-5 times a week, it’s time to get serious about toning up. The only way I’m going to tone up is to change my diet. I don’t believe in fad dieting, so I’m actually planning on making this a lifestyle change. Basically, I’m going to cut out 90% of the processed foods that I’ve been eating and focus on eating more fruits, veggies, nuts and unprocessed meats. In addition, I’m going to trade in my soda for water and other all-natural drinks. Clean eating will not only help drop weight, but it will also help lose inches and promote better digestion too.
  • Eat Healthy Snacks – I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time snacking during the day. Well, I can snack – but when I do it’s usually disastrous to my diet, so I usually just eat three meals a day with maybe one snack. This isn’t healthy. Since I will be eating a clean, non-processed diet, it is important that I eat healthy snacks all throughout the day. Healthy snacks keep energy levels up and the metabolism going.
  • Start Using Protein Shakes – Anyone looking to lose weight and get fit needs to be exercising on a regular basis. For those of us who want to tone up, it’s important that we lift weights at least 2-3 days a week and do cardio on the “off” days. I’ve been doing this for about 8 months now and have noticed results. However, I haven’t been drinking a protein shake after my workouts. This is something that I am going to start doing. Protein shakes give our body the protein it needs to better build (and tone) the muscles. Therefore, I need to be drinking protein shakes after my weightlifting workouts for maximum results.

It doesn’t matter where you are in your weight loss endeavors, the tips above will help you achieve the results that you’re after. I just hope that you don’t give up in your quest for a healthier/fitter bodybecause you’ve had children. Be proud of the fact that you’ve carried children and know that you can get your pre-pregnancy body back with some hard work and determination!

3 Things I’ve Learned from My Son’s First Day of Kindergarten

Well, it finally arrived. Yesterday was my son’s first day of Kindergarten. While a lot of my fellow mommy-friends have posted on Facebook, Twitter and their blogs about saying a tearful farewell as their little one’s headed off to school for the first time, I have to admit that I didn’t have this same experience. In fact, I think I was just as excited about my little guy heading off to school as he was!
I know, I sound like a horrible mother don’t I? Before you judge, consider this: my son has been going to all-day school since he attended the 3-year old program at a nearby school…and he LOVES school. My son is pretty outgoing and makes friends easily, and he was excited to get to go back to school and see all his friends again. How can I be sad about that?

I did discover a few things about myself on my son’s first day of Kindergarten though. Here they are:

  • Quiet time is good. I have to admit, it was a little weird coming back home and only having to care for the 1-year old. The house felt too quiet. However, as the day went on, I realized that I actually like my quiet time. While I love the heck out of my rambunctious 5-year old, it is nice to have a quiet house, giving me the ability to think. Over the summer, I put off most of my work until after the kids had went to bed because it was nearly impossible for me to get it done when they were awake. Now, with a (mostly) quiet house, I’m able get busy as I have the quiet time I desperately need.
  • Time is precious. I have a tendency to rush through my days. I’m always trying to get through one task in order to move on to the next, and I am often looking days ahead when I should be focusing on the here and now. Walking my son into his classroom on his first day of Kindergarten made me realize just how precious time is…and how much I take it for granted. It seems like just yesterday, my husband and I were taking him home from the hospital and now we’re sending him off to Kindergarten. The truth is that time flies by when you have kids and if we aren’t careful, we’re going to take it for granted and miss all of the important stuff. So, I’m determined that this year, I’m going to take one day at a time and appreciate all of the little gifts each day brings to myself and my family.
  • I’m spoiled. Yep, yesterday I realized that I’m pretty spoiled. For some reason, I found it a little odd that there weren’t more parents dropping their kids off for the first day of school. I grew up with a mom who always took us to school  on the first day and was able to be at all of our events, so I guess I just assumed this is how it is for every family. Yesterday I realized that not everyone has a job where they can take their kids to school and/or pick them up afterwards. I’m not quite sure why this didn’t dawn on me before, but it did make me feel pretty spoiled. While there are a lot of things I love about my job, the ability to be there for my kids on “big” days is definitely the best perk working from home has.

Above are the three things I learned on my son’s first day of school. What has the first day of school taught you?

Kids Formal Review and Giveaway

When the UPS truck pulled up to my house yesterday, I hurried outside to greet the delivery man because I knew exactly what he was bringing me. It was this beautiful Charcoal Suit from the Kids Formal warehouse. While, I admit that my son has worn a suit from Kids Formal before, that was a couple years ago when he was in a friend’s wedding (he was 3). So, there’s a good chance that my opinion could have changed regarding the Kids Formal boys suits over the last two years. Therefore, when Kids Formal offered me the chance to review this charcoal suit, I jumped on it!

At 5, this is my son’s first big boy suit and he’s pretty excited about it because now he can look like his daddy and grandpa for special occasions. And now, the exciting part for you! Kids Formal is giving you all the opportunity to win this suit for free! All you have to do is follow the instructions below to get yourself entered in our giveaway.

Before we get to the details of the giveaway, I want to take a minute to describe the suit in detail for you as the picture online does not do it justice. This 5-piece suit comes with the 3-button jacket, matching vest, dress pants, a white dress shirt and a matching clip-on tie. So, here’s how the suit “stacked up” in my book:

The first thing I noticed was the fabric of the suit. The color is just beautiful as it is darker than a normal grey but not quite black – it’s a very solid “charcoal” just like the online description says. Secondly, the material feels exquisite and very high quality. I can tell that my son will not have any problems with the quality of this suit as it is obviously well made. All of this was determined while the suit was hanging on the hanger before my son arrived home from school!


Once my son got home, the fun began as he couldn’t wait to try the suit on when he saw it!

The suit fits true to size, if you take the time to read the sizing chart information before you order. My son is comfortably wearing size 4/5 clothing in boys, so I chose to order the size 5 suit and it fit him perfectly. The white dress shirt was just right as it didn’t hug his body but wasn’t big on him either and the sleeves were the perfect length. It’s the same story with the vest. The vest gave him plenty of room to breathe without being “bulky” and the jacket was absolutely perfect. Not one thing I can complain about, even the sleeves fit great!

I was the most nervous about the pants on this suit because my son is quite skinny and we have a hard time finding pants that fit around the waist and are the right length. This is why I’m such a huge fan of the brands that have built-in elastic “belts” for the kids around the waist.

While the dress pants don’t have built-in “belts,” I didn’t need to worry about it because they also fit perfectly around the waist. The length of the pants was just a hair too long. I think I will probably have them hemmed for holiday events, but in a way where they can easily be let out and worn “as is” once he has another growth spurt. Therefore, the pant length really isn’t an issue for me because I feel like it’s a good thing for them to be just a hair too big so they will last longer.

Finally, the tough part of the review was finding out what my son thought about the suit. After all, you know how picky little boys can be when it comes to formalwear. I’ve heard it all from, “it’s too hot,” “the top button is too tight,” to “I can’t move in it!” So, I was a little nervous to find out what my little guy thought about this (gorgeous) suit.

He loved it! He didn’t complain about one thing on the suit and would have been happy wearing it for the rest of the evening if I would have let him. So, there you go – this Charcoal suit from Kids Formal is a big hit at my house!


 

So, now for the fun part – getting you entered to win this suit for your little man! All you need to do is follow the following instructions and you may welcome this beauty into your home free of charge this fall!

To enter, simply type your email address and name in the entry form below then click Begin.  To increase your chance of winning, you can enter a comment or share it with your friends.  For each of the optional click, you can earn an additional entry to the final drawing.  Thank you for sharing and good luck!

How to Spend Your Tax Return II

The first of the year brings the dreaded tax season with it. It’s the time of the year that many Americans dread because we don’t know if we are going to end up owing the government money or if we will be getting some money back. I’m not sure about you, but this time of the year makes me anxious until I get the call from my accountant telling me the “verdict.” Like everyone, there are years when my husband and I have come out ahead and received a tax return but then there have been other years when we have had to pay Uncle Sam.

For those who will be receiving a return this year, it can be pretty tempting to go out, splurge and spend it all. After all, it is your hard earned money being returned to you right? I know how tempting this is from experience. While spending a well-deserved tax return will feel liberating at the time, chances are it will be followed with a feeling of regret when all the “extra” money is gone. Below are a few suggestions for how you can spend your tax return without experiencing “buyers’ remorse” afterwards.

  • Open a Savings Account: Studies have shown that the majority of people are living paycheck to paycheck with very little money saved, if any at all. In fact, the average American hast more debt than they do savings. If this is you, then why not open a savings account with that tax return? Let that money stay tucked away in case an emergency arises in the future. There are some savings accounts that earn interest, which is always nice.
  • Pay down Debt: As mentioned above, most Americans owe more than they have in savings. If this is you, then paying off a credit card, medical bill or another outstanding balance is a great way to start working your way out of debt. There isn’t another feeling quite as good as making a final payment on something. If you have some money left over, put it in savings or opening a savings account is still an option worth considering.
  • Buy an Investment Property: While debt is generally considered a bad thing, there is a time when it isn’t bad and that’s when the debt is making money for you. For instance, most business owners have to take out a loan when they start up a business, but the money they make from the business pays for the business and then some, making that a good kind of debt. You may not be ready to start your own business but are looking for a way to increase your net worth, then buying an investment property is an option worth considering. Investment properties are a great way to increase your monthly income while building your investment portfolio. Your tax return can be used to purchase the house and make necessary improvements before you find a tenant…or resale it for a profit. It is worth noting that while investing in real estate is a good thing to do, getting rid of all your little debt (credit cards, student loans, etc.) should be your first priority.

Hopefully the ideas above have given you some inspiration for how to spend your tax return. Do you have any other ideas for spending a tax return wisely?