April 2017 Monthly Recap

April was the month with several public holidays so that meant long weekends! We enjoyed the two long weekends that we had, we mostly spent it with family and managed to catch up with some friends too. It was nice having my husband home as he was able to spend more time with our son in addition to me getting some help with taking care of the baby 🙂

I’m always on a mission to get more organised, it’s a work in progress but I’m slowly getting there.

Keep calm and get organized

I’m happy to say that this month I managed to accomplish a number of things on the organisation front. They were:

  • Sorted through and filed paperwork that had been piling up for months.
  • Cleaned out a cupboard that is located near the front door. It was piling up with all types of things but I’ve now cleared it all out and I have only kept things that we need in there.
  • Cleaned out two junk drawers in our living room.
  • Cleaned out my handbag.
  • Sorted my sons clothes and tidied up his wardrobe. Put away clothes that he has outgrown and washed the bigger sized clothes so they are ready to wear.

There’s still plenty more that needs to be done and I will get there eventually. I’m just happy that I’m making progress and accomplishing one goal at a time.

Apart from continuing on my quest of being more organised, I also started watching The Office (US version). Remember that show? It’s a great show and it is just hilarious! I watched season 1 years ago but I didn’t continue with it, I just didn’t get into it back then. Then a few weeks ago  I happened to catch some random episodes and loved it so I decided to start watching it from the beginning. I am currently part way through season 3 and I am loving it, so funny! Only 6 more seasons to go 🙂

What else? Well I have also enrolled my son into day care. He won’t start till the end of November when I am due to go back to work, but I may start him around mid October just so he eases into it a little better. We had a look at a few long day care centres and the one we liked by a mile was of course the most expensive at $110 per day. The others were not much cheaper but the one we chose had friendly staff, was spacious and looked very organised. It also had vacancies which was a surprise considering how hard it is to get a place in day care these days. So we decided to enrol him which involved having to pay two weeks bond plus an enrolment fee of $50. Very expensive indeed!

I just want to point out that the government does subsidise a part of that $110 per day. It should be 50% off capped at $7500 per year but I believe this may be changing according to the recent budget changes announced by the government. This benefit is not means tested so everyone is eligible. There is another benefit that is means tested but unfortunately I don’t think we will be eligible for that. Well at least we are getting something!

I think I have rambled on for long enough, hope you all had a great month!

7 Most Useful Products I Bought for My Baby – 4 Month Mark

I am all for being prepared for a given situation and having a baby was no different. I know some people start planning and preparing as soon as they fall pregnant but in my case I didn’t start getting prepared till I was about 7 months pregnant, I just wasn’t in the right head space.

There were people that even advised me to put off buying things until I needed them. This is practical advice but to be honest, the last thing I want to do is go shopping for a pram just after giving birth.  Hence, almost all the items listed below were purchased before the baby was born.

My baby is 4 months now so here are the items that have been the most useful so far.

Cot

childcare luna cot

Cot = $199 (Reg: $249)
Mattress = $90
TOTAL COST = $289

My parents gave us the money for this as their “big” gift for the baby. We bought the Childcare Luna Cot/Bed from Target and it happened to be on sale the day we bought it for $199 which was a nice surprise. We have this cot in the bedroom and it’s where the baby sleeps at night time. It has some really positive reviews online and it’s very sturdy, easy to assemble and it also converts into a toddler bed which will come in handy when munchkins grows out of the cot. You have to buy the mattress separately which costs $90.

Bassinet Cot

bassinet

We didn’t actually buy this item as we got it as a gift from my mother in law, however I wanted to include it in this list as it was a very useful to us. She sent it to us from overseas so the above image is not the cot we actually got but it’s a similar style. We were opposed to her giving us a bassinet at first as we knew he would grow out of it quickly but she really wanted to buy a cot for him and as my parents had already bought the main cot we just went with it and let her get this for us.

It’s good that we did because to our surprise it turned out to be very useful for the first 8 weeks or so. It has wheels so we were able to move it around the house easily and it made it easy for all of us to take turns to look after him. The wheels made it easy to rock him back and forth as well when he was unsettled. My baby grew out of it by the 8 week mark as he started to turn sideways and would end up in the horizontal position and get stuck lol. This really does depend on the size of your baby though as I have heard from relatives who purchased the same cot that they were able to use it for about 4 months.

Portable Travel Cot

portable travel cot

TOTAL COST = $120

We purchased the Childcare Travel Cot on clearance for $120 from Baby Bunting. I couldn’t find an exact photo of the cot I have (it must be discontinued) but the above photo is very similar to the one I have. The cot comes with a bassinet insert, changing table and mobile. We have this cot in our living room and it is basically where my baby sleeps during the day time. Munchkins graduated to this cot after he grew out of the bassinet cot mentioned above. It’s easy to assemble, folds up nicely, is not too heavy and when he gets bigger I can stop using the bassinet part of it. The cot we purchased doesn’t have wheels and it’s not something I wish it had as the cot is large and not practical to move around in our house. However, if you had a large open house I can see how having wheels would be beneficial.

Pram

valco baby snap4 black beauty pram

Pram = $295.65 (Reg: $349)
Vogue Infant Bootie accessory = $17.99
TOTAL COST = $313.64

We bought the Valco Baby Snap 4 from Baby Bunting and once again it was on sale the day we bought it, yay! This pram is lighter than most prams and weighs around 6kg. It also folds up easily and is easy to move around. The only thing I wish it had was a bigger basket but other than that it’s a great pram and I foresee it lasting a few years. I highly recommend getting the Vogue Infant Bootie accessory for this pram which is a cover that wraps around the bottom of the seat and basically keeps the baby safe and comfortable.

Car Seat

britax safe n sound millenia car seat

2 x Car Seats = $529 + $485
TOTAL COST = $1014

This is a must if you have a car and there are plenty of options available. Car seats are so expensive but on the bright side most of them are supposed to last till the child is 4 years old. We went with the Britax Safe n Sound Millenia and got it on sale for $529 from Baby Bunting and we have been happy with it so far. We have two cars so we ended up buying a second car seat as moving the seat back and forth became an inconvenience. Luckily the price of this car seat has dropped, so the second seat ended up costing us $485.

Bath Tub

ikea baby bathtub

TOTAL COST = $10

We bought a bath tub from Ikea for $10 and it has worked a treat so far. It gets used everyday and is totally worth the $10. Before having the baby we bought a different bath tub and a bath stand to go with it for $92 and this did not work for us unfortunately. The tub is moulded like a seat to rest the baby but I found this type of bath tub difficult to use with a newborn. I found a normal bath tub with nothing fancy works best and lets the baby feel free to kick and splash. Hopefully I can use this bathtub when he gets a little older, otherwise there is always Gum Tree or EBay.

Electric Steam Steriliser

electric steam steriliser

TOTAL COST = $148

We bought the Tommee Tippee Electric Steam Steriliser for $148 from Baby Bunting. I use this multiple times during the week and it’s really simple to use and sterilises in just 5 minutes. I purchased the starter kit which came with a number of additional items but I didn’t really end up using any of them long term. I used the 150ml bottles for a few weeks but my son preferred the bottles by Pigeon so I switched to using those bottles exclusively. I also used the bottle/food warmer for a few weeks but stopped because it was easier to get him to drink milk that was at room temperature. However, the warmer should come in handy when I introduce him to solids and cows milk.

So there you have it, a list of the most useful things I have purchased so far for my baby. We did buy everything brand new which was purely due to convenience, although I am sure we would have saved a few hundred dollars had we bought some items second hand. However I see most of these items lasting a while so I really have no regrets, apart from the first bath tub and stand I bought which hasn’t worked out yet.

What were the most useful items you bought for your baby in the early months?

 

March 2017 Recap

Well March was mostly about settling back into our house as my husband was away for most of February for work, and because of that I stayed at my parents with the baby. It took about a week to get into our routine but it is nice to be back home.

Apart from settling back home I managed to finally attend a mothers group meeting at the local community centre. I wasn’t aware that these meet ups were for babies that are between 0-8 weeks old so my son at 3.5 months was the odd one out. However I am glad I went as I was able to see what happens in these meet ups. I was unable to attend mothers group when my son was born as they were closed during December and January, but had they been open I think it would have been very helpful during those tough early weeks.

Mother and baby polar bears

On the bright side, at the mothers group meet up I did become aware of playgroup sessions that were also operating at the community centre. Playgroup NSW is offering free registration this year for babies under 12 months, so I registered my son and I have been attending the playgroup for babies over the last 3 weeks. Although munchkins is little, it’s nice for him to be around other kids and get used to noises and a different environment. It’s also nice to meet other mums and share experiences so I would have to say that I have enjoyed attending these sessions so far.

Taking my baby to these playgroup sessions has also unexpectedly helped in building my confidence. I have generally been hesitant to take the baby out on my own, but the other day I went to the shopping centre to buy a few things with the baby and I wasn’t stressed at all. I would not have had the confidence to do this a month ago, so I think getting out more has been beneficial to me too.

As far as my reading is concerned, I didn’t read any books this month and I’m pretty disappointed with myself about that. I want to read at least one book a month so hopefully going forward I start to achieve this goal on a regular basis.

So march ended up being a very positive month for me apart from the reading. Hope you all had a great month too!

Images: Tumblr

February 2017 Recap

The weather has been terrible this summer. I used to love summer, I seriously hate it now! We have experienced one of the hottest summers down here in Sydney Australia and I will be happy to see the back of it!

Ok weather rant over…

This month I have been staying at my parents house with the baby as my husband had to go overseas for work. My parents have enjoyed having us stay with them for a couple of weeks, they are after all pretty smitten by their first grandchild 🙂 I have used this time to catch up with friends and go out and do a little shopping here and there. It has only been for a few hours but it makes a difference. Staying indoors all the time can get isolating so it’s good to get out when the opportunity arises. I have also been trying to be more active by getting a morning walk in when I can. It was impossible during the first two weeks of the month due to the hot weather but as the weather has improved now I have trying to get more walks in.

It was my birthday this month and I was able to catch up with one of my dear friends on the day. We had lunch and saw the movie – Hidden Figures. Great film, those women were so strong, super smart and inspirational!

I started watching the TV show – Married at First Sight. Yes I have no shame lol! What can I say, I just can’t look away. Some of the couples look cute together and could make it work but there are few that seem totally mismatched. I really don’t know what the experts were thinking there. It will be interesting to see how they all progress, I know the likelihood is that most of them will break up, I guess there is always hope for a happy ending 🙂

I’ve been reading again and I finished my first book for 2017! Yay!

This month I read..

babysecretsbyjotantum

Baby Secrets – How to know your baby’s needs by Jo Tantum and Barbara Want

This book was recommended to me by a friend as a guide to introducing routines to babies. I found it to be a really insightful read and so far I have implemented the routines recommended in the book on my own baby. The main purpose of the book is to guide parents into introducing a routine with the ultimate aim of helping babies to sleep through the night. The book also talks about how to read your babies cries and tips on how to troubleshoot various issues that arise. It’s a good book and I would happily recommend it to a parent who wants to introduce their child to a routine.

I hope you all had a nice February. Next month I am hoping to settle back home and continue with my quest of getting more organised.

2016 End of Year Review

I haven’t posted in a while, life just got really busy since the baby arrived. But I am trying to get my life into some kind of order now and hopefully I can start blogging more. Apart from life getting busy I also lost a bit of motivation to blog so I am hoping I get my mojo back. Well I guess writing this post is a start lol so hopefully it continues as I do enjoy blogging. I wrote 21 posts all up last year and looking back I liked writing the monthly recap posts the most as they helped me reflect back on what happened every month.

OK so I thought I would review the year that was 2016.

What a year and it was pretty much dominated by my pregnancy. I think we were very blessed to fall pregnant reasonably quickly although it did feel like forever.  Overall I would say that I had a pretty good pregnancy. The morning sickness wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible either. I didn’t vomit and I didn’t have any weird cravings so I can’t really complain. The final weeks were uncomfortable just like any pregnancy would be I suppose, but I stayed healthy and as active as possible right till the end. The baby surprised us all and came 3 weeks early too which was something I never even considered would happen. My advice to anyone expecting is to start organising and prepare your hospital bag at 35 weeks because you just never know!

So anyway we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy! The last two and half months have been challenging for sure but it’s also been very rewarding. The constant lack of sleep can really take a toll and I also faced breastfeeding issues and loneliness from staying at home. I have been working in some capacity for nearly 18 years believe it or not, so when I was home alone for the first time it wasn’t an easy change to adjust to. It has taken some adjusting and it is getting better, however it’s something I continue to work on. But despite all these challenges, I would never want to go back to how it was before. I am so lucky to have my baby boy and am so thankful that I get be his mother. One thing I have learned is that the sooner you accept that – this is how life is now and that this is what normal is, the easier it gets. It took me a few weeks to accept this but once I did life became so much better.

So apart from the highlight of having a baby, at the beginning of last year I set myself a goal to start reading books. I am proud to say I definitely accomplished this goal! I actually set a small goal to read 5 books and I ended up reading 12 books!! I am so thrilled with that number and even more thrilled that I have discovered a new hobby.

Here’s a list of all the books I read last year.

  1. The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella – Review
  2. 101 Ways To Save Money On Your Tax – Legally! 2015-2016 By Adrian Raftery
  3. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – Review
  4. The Zero Waste Home: 101 Ways To Reduce Waste & Save Money In Your Home by Kate Anderson – Review
  5. Last Shot (Dev Haskell Mystery #6) By Mike Faricy
  6. A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes #1) By Arthur Conan Doyle
  7. The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes #2) By Arthur Conan Doyle
  8. Love Muffin and Chai Latte by Anya Wylde – Review
  9. Mr. Swirlee (Dev Haskell Mystery #2) By Mike Faricy – Review
  10. What to Expect When You’re Expecting By Heidi Murkoff – Review
  11. 30 Days Change Your Habits Change Your Life by Marc Reklau – Review
  12. Thirty-Two Going on Spinster by Becky Monson – Review

The book that really stands out as my favourite is Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. It was such a fun book to read and I really want to read the next book in the series.

I also set a goal to track my expenses every month. This didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked, I was actually doing really well up until November but as soon as the baby was born I stopped tracking. The process I follow to track my expenses is very manual and moving forward it is just not practical to continue tracking this way. A few people commented on the post I wrote about how I track my expenses and mentioned that they made use of online banking tools to do this automatically. I was aware that my bank offered this feature too so I’m planning on getting this set up so I can start tracking again.

Having a baby changes everything 🙂

In regards to our savings, I think we did pretty well most months. Our savings rate was in the black almost every month, it was just one or two months at the end of the year where it went in the red. This was mainly due to costs associated with our upcoming home renovation. We are currently waiting for approval from the local council, so once that comes through we can start getting quotes and then start the renovation. I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product and to have a more comfortable house that my little family can enjoy.

I also made a bit more money last year without really trying. I received a small pay rise from work and I was also added to the on call roster which means that for the weeks that I was rostered to do out of hours support, I received an allowance.

What were the other highlights….

Oh yes, our holiday to Cairns back in August was very nice. That was our “babymoon” and it was a very relaxing and memorable trip. Hopefully we will be able to take more trips like this with our little munchkin in the future.

img_2006-1

Cairns Queensland Australia

 

Overall 2016 was a pretty awesome year…a year I will never forget!

November 2016 Recap – The Most Memorable Month of My Life

I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy! He was very impatient and decided he had to come 3 weeks early!! I definitely wasn’t expecting to give birth 3 weeks early and it all happened so quickly. But he is here, healthy and has brought so much joy to our family ❤

I took 3 weeks off work before my due date and thought I had all the time in the world to get organised before the baby arrived, I was actually a little worried that I would feel bored at home. My last day of work was on a Friday and I gave birth 2 days later! It was a massive surprise but we feel so blessed. The feeling you get when they finally arrive is truly amazing!

I’m hoping to write my birth story and share it here on the blog so I don’t forget it. I need to do that sooner rather than later.

Tracking expenses and calculating saving rates have been put on hold for now. I haven’t tracked anything since the birth and I’m unsure when I will start again as I have my hands full these days.

As far as my reading is concerned, I did finish a book in early November which I started reading the previous month.

thirty two going on spinster by becky monson

Thirty-Two Going on Spinster by Becky Monson

This book is pretty average and predictable. I found the constant self loathing, procrastination and over analysis by the main character to be really annoying at times. There are another two books in this series but I won’t be reading them. I wouldn’t say it’s the worst book I’ve ever read, I started to get into it more towards the end but it was the main characters self loathing that really put me off. You just want to tell her to snap out of it!

So November turned out to be a truly blessed month for us with the safe arrival of our first child. Hope you all had a great November and have an even better December! Take care 🙂

How I Reduced Clutter by Switching to Paperless Bills

I hate having paper bills pile up. They take up space and if you want to throw them out you have to shred them first for security reasons. The shredding part I’m always lazy to do so the bills just pile up as a result.

Pile of bills

So sometime last year I noticed that more service providers were offering email bills, so I decided to look into it and make the switch.

I have setup the following bills to be sent to me via email rather than post.

  • Electricity
  • Internet/phone
  • Water
  • Car (roadside assistance)

Unfortunately all the service providers allow only one email address for the bill to be sent to and no alternative address. Therefore, to get around this I setup forwarding rules in my email so that whenever I receive a bill it gets forwarded to my husbands email as well. At least this way we both get a copy.

I have a few bills that are direct debits so I don’t get monthly bills for those. The amounts for these bills remain constant so I don’t mind them being direct debits. The above bills however vary so I like to know the amount owing before I pay.

It’s not only bills though…this also applies to bank, insurance and superannuation statements. I have all of them setup to be emailed to me rather than posted.

The only bills that I still receive by post are for:

  • Council rates
  • Annual car registration

Once these providers offer paperless bills I will definitely make the move.

Switching to paperless bills and statements has been very effective for me. It’s reduced clutter, reduced the need to shred sensitive documents and to top it off its eco-friendly! It’s always feels good to help out the environment in some way.

Have you gone paperless with your bills and statements?

Image: (Woman’s Day Magazine)

October 2016 Recap

The month flew by as usual but it has been a rather uncomfortable one in regards to my pregnancy. The baby has grown so I’m carrying more weight which makes it harder to walk. There’s swollen feet, clothes not fitting and I’m also a lot slower these days, mostly physically though 🙂

I was telling my husband the other day “I think I’m over it” lol. That said I don’t want the baby to come now as it’s a bit too early. The last weeks of pregnancy are definitely challenging.

Our antenatal classes wrapped up about two weeks ago and they were really helpful. I’m so glad we signed up for them, we both learnt so much and they have really put me more at ease about labour and the birth.

money

In regards to finances we had a pretty expensive month. There were several extra expenses such as:

  • Renovation costs (payments to the architect)
  • Baby items (car seat, bath, baby carrier, clothes etc)
  • Food
  • Medicines and toiletries
  • Clothes (My husband needed to replace a few business shirts and jeans and I needed a few items as well)

Our savings rate as a result was in the negative at -6% 😦

The biggest expenses were the payments to the architect and the baby items. The eating out and take away food total was higher than usual as well. Looks like hubby and I were definitely more relaxed in regards to eating out, I think that might be because we know we won’t be able to go out very often once the baby arrives. I have also been feeling more dehydrated lately so we have been buying more take away juices and fruit salads which obviously adds up.

Anyways, hopefully the savings rate improves dramatically in November. Although the car registration payment is due which will be around $1000, there shouldn’t really be any more big expenses.

I didn’t finish reading any books this month but I am part way through reading one. The book I am reading is dragging on a little but I will hopefully finish it in the next week or so. I will review it in next months recap.

How did October fair for you?

It’s the simple things that lead to happiness

"The most simple things can bring the most happiness" - Izabella Scorupco

“The most simple things can bring the most happiness” – Izabella Scorupco

I saw this quote on Twitter the other day and it really rang true for me. That made me wonder what simple things make me happy.

Having a Clean House

When I have a clean house I’m usually in a happy mood. My mind isn’t racing a million miles an hour thinking about what chore needs to be done around the house.

Waking up Early in the Morning

I wrote about this recently and waking up a little earlier every morning has brought upon several positives in my life such as less stress and more time.

Blogging

My motivation goes up and down in regards to blogging however I have been blogging more regularly the last few months and it seems to lift my mood every time. I enjoy documenting what’s happening in my life, sharing things I have learnt and I also love it when people like and comment on my posts. It’s a great feeling to know that people have taken the time to read and acknowledge what I write.

 

What are the simple things in your life that always lift your mood?

September 2016 Recap

September is over already, the time really is flying by. I say that every month, lol! Here is a breakdown of what happened.

Finances

We did have a few extra expenses this month but despite this our savings rate was decent at 32%.

Our extra expenses were:

  • Renovation costs
  • My drivers license was up for renewal
  • Quarterly water bill
  • Baby items (we purchased a pram and a portable cot)
  • A few clothes for myself (I am running out of clothes that fit!)

On another positive note, I was told that I would be getting a 2% pay increase at work, yay! The increase takes effect at the beginning of October and I will get back paid from the 1st of September. So the income will get a little bump next month which is always nice 🙂

Pregnancy

I am into my third trimester now and I can’t believe that I will be meeting my little baby in just over 2 months time. I don’t feel prepared and I feel like I have a million things left to do. Hopefully everything falls into place by the time baby arrives.

We started attending antenatal classes this month and they have been really great. There are six classes in total and so far we have attended three sessions. The classes are really intimate (just five couples in our sessions), informative, friendly and we have both learnt so much in these sessions. I would highly recommend attending antenatal classes to anyone getting ready to have a baby.

I am feeling much bigger these days. I have only gained weight on my tummy which is a good thing but it’s starting to feel more uncomfortable as the days go on. I have also been experiencing some back pain especially when I sleep. During pregnancy you are meant to sleep on your left side but as I naturally sleep on my back so this has been challenging. Despite having pillows on both sides I still find myself waking up laying on my back…sigh!

But despite all the discomfort, the baby is kicking away on a regular basis, sometimes it feels like an earthquake is going on down there lol! Oh it’s just so cute ❤ ❤

Reading

Just read the one book this month.

30 days change your habits change your life by Marc Reklau

30 Days Change Your Habits Change Your Life by Marc Reklau

This book was pretty decent. It has several helpful tips on how to build habits by introducing small routines into your life. The chapters are really short too so it makes it easier to read.

Well it’s a long weekend in my part of the world this weekend and I have also taken Tuesday off, making it an extra long weekend, yay! We don’t have any plans other than to relax and do some shopping for the baby.

I hope September treated you well and hopefully October will be even better for you all 🙂