**Here are some questions and answers. My post was getting really long, so I'll post the rest tomorrow (I am terrible at writing succinctly)! Thanks for doing this! It was fun!
1) Did you always know you wanted to be a SAHM? If not, what led to the decision? 2) Do you have any tips on how you manage financially on one income? 3) And, what is your favorite activity you do on a regular basis as a SAHM?
1) Wow! Let me sip some coffee before answering. Mmm. Okay. I separated these questions by number to prevent me from writing a novel. No, I did not always know I wanted to be a SAHM. I knew I wanted to be a Mom, but I didn't know if I would want to work or stay home. What led to the decision was what you could call an epiphany my senior year of college. Let me take you on a walk down memory lane ...
(Insert whimsical music and birds singing ... and term papers and ulcers ...)
It was my spring semester. I was engaged and well on my way towards finishing my Bachelor's degree and taking the next step towards getting my Master's in family counseling. I had an application for OU grad school on my desk at home. I was taking a Relationships class at the time (which I loved). However, one of the ladies who taught the class was barely older than I, had just received her Master's, wasn't married, and was giving us marital advice. And something just "clicked" inside me and I realized I wanted to have some life experience before I attempted to pursue any sort of career in counseling. Numerous marital counselors are not married and they are fantastic, but at that moment I knew I, personally, did not want to do it that way. I discussed my thoughts with my amazing advisor, Dr. Allen, and she told me that in her life she had gotten married, then received her Bachelor's, then had children, then received her Master's, and once the children were grown, she obtained her Ph.D. She told me she didn't regret it one bit. And that I would know if furthering my education was really a top priority, or if having a family was. She was the only professor in college who did not indirectly pressure me to get a higher degree immediately following graduation. And that's when I knew that my first desire was to be a Mom. And God provided the way for me to stay at home once Cubbie came!
2) Here you go:
a) If you can, begin "practicing" the art of living on one income before you have children. We lived off of my husband's income and saved mine before we had kids.
b) Find a system that works for you. We take out a chunk of cash once a month and use cash for groceries, entertainment, medical expenses, etc. so we spend consistently each month. Using a debit card is definitely more convenient, but using cash works for us!
c) Prioritize what is important to you and budget accordingly. For example, we love our date nights, so we set aside money to do that every month. We also started a college fund for Cub aside from his savings account and we put some money towards that each month. It doesn't require much, so don't let things like that intimidate you! Research your options!
d) Use common sense. Eat in more than you eat out. Stash away the credit card. Use coupons, buy generic, and cook meals that share the same ingredients (a little seasoning can change the whole taste).
e) If you want some extra spending money, get creative! I use photography as a means of making a little extra money when we want to plan a trip, purchase a large item, etc.
3) PLAY GROUP! I love play group. It is by far my favorite activity as a SAHM. I've learned that being a SAHM is defined differently for every family. Some Moms really do physically stay home the majority of the time, while some are always on the go. I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I enjoy being at home, but I crave conversation and connection, too (note the above-mentioned desire to be a counselor). And I can see how Cub's social skills have really developed and I credit a good chunk of that to play group. Socialization is great for kids!
What did you do about family visiting/helping post-birth, and what would you do if you didn't have room for those folks to stay in your house?
Great question! Let me preface this by saying that what matters most is what will keep YOU sane post-birth. Remember that. You can be selfish. YOU YOU YOU. If YOU are okay, your baby is okay. YOU YOU YOU. YOU ARE NUMERO UNO.
My Mom came and stayed with us for five days after Cub was born and I loved it. But, she was the only one. Because we have family close, we had relatives stop by during the day, but she was the only one who stayed overnight. Would I have wanted more family staying the night? NO. POST-BIRTH IS NOT THE TIME TO PLAY HOSTESS (especially after your first baby). And any woman who has birthed a child and any man who is married to a woman who has birthed a child should already know that. Meaning, draw your boundaries. You are not putting your relatives out by asking them to stay in a hotel. If it's your Mom and she's cool with sleeping on the couch and you want her there overnight, then go for it. But it's really what makes you feel comfortable. And your relatives will understand that, trust me. Just be sure you lay out your expectations BEFORE Baby Poe comes, so any potential wrinkles can be ironed out before you're, well, changing your own diapers in your bathroom!! :)
What is in your purse?
Hmmm! Let me check! (And yes, I just went to the living room to grab my purse.) Okay. It's a big bag, so no teasing here. In my purse I have: A small cosmetics bag that houses lip gloss, mints, mascara, etc., my wallet (that holds my debit card and insurance cards and such), my cash wallet, my check book, a cute little bag that contains two diapers, a package of wipes, and some Butt Paste, my Bible, lotion, Catch Phrase (um, we brought it to a friend's house last night and I guess I stashed it in my purse when we left!), a Chuck truck, my sunglasses, a ziploc baggy containing cinnamon toast crunch, a couple receipts, a pen, and my keys.
How did you learn photography? Did you take certain classes? Have you always loved it? P.S. I love your photos.
My husband bought me a camera for Christmas one year and it all started there. I've never taken classes--I just shoot what I think looks good. I always try different angles and such to keep things interesting, plus I have a couple different lenses to help change things up. I learned the art of picture-taking by asking advice from some extremely talented photographer friends of mine who were more than willing to answer my questions. Some photographers are stingy and secretive, but my friends were awesome. And I think they knew I would never really be competition!! :) And I think I've always loved it. My Mom had an old film Canon that I used to play with as a kid and experimented with in high school. Maybe that's why I only use Canon! :)
And thank you for saying you like my pictures. You are very sweet. Here you go, just for some eye candy:
Love that little kid! :)
Is your MIL as great as she sounds?
She's even better than that.
I can't brag on my MIL enough. I am very blessed to have in-laws that I not only love, but also like. Besides my MIL's amazing grandparenting skills, I also just love spending time with her. We've taken many a road trip with my husband's family and she and I pair up (we're the only girls in the bunch) and I love it. We share similar values and also what we deem important in life. Like Seinfeld and The Cheesecake Factory. :)
And no, I'm not sucking up. ;)
Why is my blog not on your list?
I'm not really great at keeping the list updated (I read several blogs that are not listed there). I do not put private blogs on my blogger list, which is why yours was not listed. I read them, but I do not put them on the list. But, since yours is recently public, I'll add it!
If you had to change every physical feature about yourself except for one, which would you hold on to and why? And, vise versa, if you HAD to change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I like my legs because they are skinny. And I'm not bragging about that. I gain my weight in my belly which makes me feel like a caramel apple on a stick sometimes, but I can't complain. I like my legs. I'd hold onto my legs! And, if I had to change one thing about myself, I would accidentally dive in front of a softball pitch and get nailed in the nose so I could have a nose job. My nose has always bugged me, for some reason. Not enough for me to change it (unless the above scenario actually occurred) because really, there are more important things in life. But, you can tell by my nose that I have French ancestry! Eh bien. C'est la vie!
More to come tomorrow!