What’s On My Shelf (age 0-9 months)

Hi, friends! We all know that the “parenting” section at Barnes and Noble is overwhelming, and yet– there is much wisdom in many of those books! So, I wanted to start a little series called, “What’s On My Shelf?”, telling you which books I found helpful. This first post will tell you about the books I’ve read that have really made an impact on me. I am a big reader and honestly will read anything I can get my hands on, but these are the ones that actually changed the way I parent. They are in order, based on the age. So, if you’re following along with your own little newborn, start at the top!

1. Happiest Baby on the Block: I read this while I was in my final months of pregnancy. My husband did, as well. And thank goodness! We literally used the “shhing” technique from hour 1 of Thad’s life and it always worked when all else failed. Just look at that swaddle! That swaddle deserves an award.

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 2. Babywise: You know what will make you a really good parent? SLEEP! And the earlier your baby sleeps for long stretches, the happier you will be and the happier baby will be. Thad was sleeping through the night by week 7, thanks to this book.

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3. The Vaccine Book: This book will help you understand the pros and cons of each vaccine that your child will be given. It gives you both sides of the story, and even gives you a couple options for alternative vaccine schedules, if you’re interested in that.

4. Bringing up Bebe: I am currently reading this book but I love it too much not to include it. It is definitely helping me understand how to Thad needs structure and also love. Plus, it’s hilarious.

5. The Wonder Weeks: This is also an ongoing read, because you read it as your child ages. There is an App that goes with it that is super helpful. It explains that your child goes through brain growth spurts, just like regular growth spurt. With each leap, baby learns something new or goes through something new– for instance, one week he may just begin to see color. That would freak me out, too!

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I hope this list helps you all as you navigate the first year of your baby’s life! It is the most wonder-filled, beautiful, exhausting time ever.

The tribe of five

I know, I know, I’m a day late, but I got my wisdom teeth out yesterday so get over it! Of all the random, made-up holidays, #nationalsiblingsday has got to be the best. When I think of my sisters, the first thing that comes to mind is *lucky*. I’ve always felt so special to be one of the Collins sisters…It felt like we were a tribe and I was just lucky to be in it. Each of my sisters brings me so much joy and inspiration and without them I would be so different… I am happy and confident and self-assured because they love me. They are my best friends and the best women I know.

7 Dave-Ramsey-Inspired Tips to Really Help You Curb Spending

My husband and I have been listening to Dave Ramsey as of late, in an effort to curb spending so we can start saving. We both feel trapped, because neither of us can do anything risky, such as take a low-paying job or plan a trip out west, when we are tied down to a million payments. We have to make a lot of money to support this lifestyle, and yet we aren’t even getting what we really want! For me, a lot of it has to do with emotional spending. When I feel self-conscious, or upset, the easiest way to cheer myself up is to get online and buy something adorable. And with Amazon Prime or Target RedCard, there is no shipping, so I can just get online and buy something. So instead of really living the life of my dreams, where I am able to work with passion and travel with passion, I am stuck in a rut with a bunch of cute trinkets that I keep having to clean up. It is such a slow way to die. So, without futher ado, here are a couple tricks I’ve discovered as I’ve been going on my journey to frugality. (And it is a journey, friends. A journey with a long road ahead!)

1. Unsubscribe. Take an hour (or two) and unsubscribe from every promotional email list for which you’ve ever signed up. Just go through your trash folder and knock em’ off, one by one. It is SO hard to resist a sale, even though we all know that no sale can ever really save us money… without taking some money first! So get that digital clutter out of your inbox and start off the day without a million little temptations. Out of sight, out of mind. julia-kostreva-desktop-designlovefest-soul-xs 2. Go on a spending freeze. Do you ever have those times where you binge shop like no body’s business and then feel super guilty? *raises hand* Sometimes my husband and I will go on a spending freeze, where we don’t buy anything except groceries (notice I didn’t say food… I’m looking at you, Chipotle). We tried to do it for a month once and it didn’t work in the least. So take it in smaller chunks… a day at a time is a great place to start and build up to a week. Everything, except groceries, can wait a week. It causes you to be innovative and trust that you can live without. Run out of conditioner? Use some coconut oil! Catch my drift?

3. Have a spending day. The one thing about Amazon Prime that I truly dislike, is the temptation to buy every little thing that comes to mind, right when it comes to mind. Like cottonballs, or coffee, or little boy’s suspenders. I can just log on, and press “buy now.” No shipping and hardly any thought- let alone feeling- goes into the purchase. The myth that Amazon would like you to believe is that this will save you time and money. They are completely playing you (and me too). You end up with a bunch of things you hardly use or don’t work well for your life. And you don’t really feel like sending it back… so the junk piles up. Instead, keep a running tally of things that you need to buy. Have one day a week that you sit down and do the shopping, online when possible. I guarantee you that at least a couple of those purchases you thought you absolutely needed will fall by the wayside (read: little boy’s suspenders). The rest of stuff you actually do need, you’ll be able to get all at once, which will cut down on any shipping fees, and the best part is that you will actually know how much money you are spending a week on MISC. Also, you won’t be on the internet shopping throughout the week, so you won’t be drawn to stuff you never would have thought you needed anyway.

4. Ignore the sales. This one is SUPER tough for me. But this has the same sort of principal that Dave Ramsey applies to credit cards: the amount you save is completely nullified by the amount you will spend. The company is counting on you spending money with them that you otherwise wouldn’t have. Read that again: that you otherwise wouldn’t have. Meaning… had their been no sale, you never would have spend $100 at Gap. The $20 you save has nothing on the $100 you wasted. *The one exception I have for this is: if there is one article of clothing or item that you are just dyyyying to have, you can wait for that to go on sale. Just don’t get distracted and buy 3 other shirts just because they are on sale, too.

5. Cancel your credit cards. Dave Ramsey just comes out and says this one. Like, a LOT. For the longest time, I always pushed it aside. I have always paid off my balance every month, so I thought it didn’t apply to me. But the reason he tells you to cut up your credit cards is because swiping a credit card has no emotions tied to it. And the “points” or “miles” you gain by spending with a credit card pale in comparison to the money you spend because you don’t feel anything. If you think about how much you will save by just paying with cash or debit cards, you’ll be able to afford a MUCH nicer vacation with that money.

6. Don’t feel “frugal shame.” I am totally guilty of being embarrassed by being frugal. For instance, if I am out with some friends, I hate to be the only one to buy the PBR, when everyone else is getting a craft beer. Or I hate being the one to suggest going to a cheap restaurant. Or I REALLY hate being the one giving the inexpensive birthday gift. But if you compare yourself to, say- your sisters or your parents- you will not live within your means. You will begin living within their means, which you can’t afford. Don’t compare yourself. Period. Just asses where you are, and what you can afford! There is no shame in that, and try to remember that everyone has been exactly where you are.

7. Envision your payoff. Do whatever you need to do to envision the payoff at the end of saving. Whether it be a new car, a trip to the beach, or just a debt-free life, envision it!

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all images via Design Love Fest

Switching to Marquette

After WAY TOO MUCH necessitated abstinence, and constant “fertile signs”, we decided to give another method of NFP a try. It says a lot about NFP politics that it took us that long. It seems to me that every method touts their way as “the best.” So we hadn’t even heard of Marquette, until I posted something on a NFP facebook group. So far, it hasn’t helped… but I have hope. Marquette Method uses the ClearBlue Fertility Monitor to measure your LH and Estrogen hormones. In that way, it determines your “peak”. After that peak (plus 3 days for safety), you are free to use the rest of the month! FREEDOMMMMMM! So what happens if it doesn’t read a “peak”? That is precisely what happened to me last month. It basically means a loss of about $30 (each stick is about $1.50 and if you test for 20 days…) and an entire month of abstinence. However, there are several things I did “wrong” that I think messed up the monitors reading. So, that is why I’m hopeful. I’m on day 5 of my current cycle, so testing begins again tomorrow. fingers crossed!

P.S. Marquette considers the first 5 days of your cycle infertile (assuming you had a confirmed peak last cycle). So we are able to use those days! AMAZING!

Stop counting 

Progress is slow. And it can come with grace, if you let it. Stop beating yourself up about whatever you did or didn’t do tonight. It’s ok! You’re changing, but it might be slow. Patience sweet one.