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Financial Goals 2017: Third Quarter Recap

I have written several posts about my financial goals for 2017, which I broke down with specific goals for each month of the year. Overall, the goal is to give myself a healthier relationship to money, and to reduce our spending and consumption as a family.

In order to keep myself accountable, I’m recapping how I’ve done when it comes to accomplishing my goals that I set back at the beginning of the year.

DSC_0094Little Cotton Candy and me at our local cat cafe

July: Buy Local

My goal for this month was to shop at only locally owned businesses, eschewing any corporate spending.

How did I do?

In combing through my transactions on Mint.com for the month of July, here are the ones that I see that were made at major corporate restaurants and shops:

  • gas at 7 Eleven
  • snack at Shell (road trip)
  • coffee at Starbucks
  • gas at Chevron
  • a family dinner at Mod Pizza
  • small purchase at Michaels
  • small purchase at Target
  • purchase at Amazon (baby clothes)
  • snacks at Starbucks
  • ice cream at Dairy Queen
  • meal at Shake Shack
  • Slurpees at 7 Eleven
  • small purchase at Lowe’s (for repairs to house, getting ready to sell)
  • large purchase at Target (for charity)
  • Amazon purchase (baby supplies)
  • purchase at Home Depot (for repairs to house, getting ready to sell)
  • gas at Chevron
  • small purchase at Sephora (birthday gift to myself)

Total cost: $327.76

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Me Too.

A year ago, I wrote a post “Raising Our Children to Resist Rape Culture.” That post was written in response to news breaking of a 2005 video of Donald Trump caught bragging about sexual assault. I tried to capture some initial thoughts I had about how I wanted to raise our boys so that they can resist the pervasive rape culture that exists today.

A year later, the New York Times published an article revealing Harvey Weinstein’s repeated sexual assault and harassment of women in the industry. As I watched the news unfold, I was pleased to see less dismissals of his behavior (though, of course, there were some) and his expulsion from the Academy, horrified (but unsurprised) by the sheer number of women he had harassed and assaulted, outraged on behalf of all women (and all sexual assault victims, regardless of gender) and ultimately exhausted by yet another round of news that, for me anyway, has the effect of reopening old wounds.

In some ways, the Weinstein news hit a nerve for me because of the inherent power asymmetry between himself and his victims. He had the power to control the fate of young actresses and other individuals in the entertainment industry and he abused it.

In my post from a year ago, I mentioned, briefly, that I was the victim of sexual assault when I was fifteen. There have been other incidents of sexual assault and harassment over the years, both before and after (too many to count, some of which I didn’t even recognize as harassment until adulthood), but the one that sticks out in my mind and continues to haunt me more than a decade later, is the one when I was fifteen.

One of the big problems surrounding sexual assault is the culture of silence around it. Before I mentioned it last year, I could count on one hand the number of people I had talked to about it. And I’m certainly not unique in staying silent.

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8 Ways to reach out to a loved one who had a miscarriage

During the first week after my miscarriage, I relied heavily on the support of friends and family. Everyone grieves differently and I was surprised with myself in my willingness and desire to connect with loved ones almost immediately. Because many of our family and friends had known of my pregnancy, a lot of them came alongside us as we grieved the loss of our baby. For anyone who may have a friend or loved one who recently had a miscarriage and wanted to reach out in some way, I thought I would list some of the ways people reached out to us that we greatly appreciated in the earlier days immediately following the miscarriage.

Meals

We had some meals delivered to us through a delivery service and others dropped off by friends. It takes a huge load off to not stress over what to eat, especially when you don’t feel much like cooking.

Cards, emails, texts, and phone calls

I connected with friends and family a lot this way. It was easier for me in the beginning to want to connect with people and share about my experience and my feelings through texts versus meeting up with someone. I appreciated loved ones checking in on me, even if not much had changed since the last time we had talked. Even a simple text letting me know that my friend was thinking about our family meant a lot. The nice thing about all this (even phone calls), is that you can respond when you want to and if you don’t want to respond right away, it’s okay.

Hugs and acknowledgement

Simply acknowledging and expressing your condolences along with a hug is sometimes all that is needed.

Share stories of loss

I’ve heard many women’s stories of miscarriages before my own, but I felt more comfortable sharing and also asking more about their stories. Not only did I feel more connected to those women once we shared but it also helped me to connect to my own raw emotions and feel safe doing so.

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Graduating from Specialists

I was hesitant to write this down, because I don’t want to jinx it. But… I’m not really superstitious and I want to celebrate! Now that Ace is three, he has graduated from two more of his specialists!

My wild three year old!
My wild three year old!

Due to ongoing concerns since his birth, every 1-6 months we would see an ENT, a pediatric orthopedist, a pediatric neurosurgeon, and a pediatric urologist. Along with regular well visits with the pediatrician, and his year of early intervention therapies… it was a lot of appointments! Luckily, when Ace turned 2, his urologist, ortho, and neurosurgeon said that, barring any new issues, we didn’t have to come back for an entire year. He graduated from his ENT at 1.5, and he graduated from early intervention at 26 months.

Ace just turned three, and we went back for some of those follow up appointments in the weeks leading up to his birthday. His urologist was happy with his latest ultrasound, which showed less swelling in his kidney. His left and right kidneys are now both within normal range. And he is dismissed! No more follow ups with urology (unless anything new pops up, of course).

We had a similar experience with the orthopedist. No more follow ups, and another dismissal. We won’t see neurosurgery for another few weeks, but I am really, really hoping for a similar outcome. Overall, it was great that we had all of these doctors help us when we really needed it, but I am so happy that he has outgrown most these obstacles.

When we had all of these appointments looming over us, I was always anxious about it. Ace does really well at the doctors now, but from about 9 months to 2.5 years he had a really hard time. There were a lot of tears, bribing, and Paw Patrol on my phone involved with each appointment. It was extremely hard for me to see him stressed as well. As the appointments started coming less and less, Ace started enjoying going more. He now looks forward to his regular pediatrician appointments, and he was super excited to see his doctor earlier this week for his three year check up.

Being dismissed from so many different departments has been quite a relief, and I am so proud of my kid for all that he has endured.

Navigating Childcare, Part 1 – Finding Full-time Care for 1 Infant

When we found out we were expecting a 3rd baby, almost immediately Mr. Peas and I started talking about what childcare would look like for us after he arrived. Of all the decisions we’ve had to make since becoming parents, childcare is probably one of the most important. And, for us at least, it is one of the most difficult. While every family’s childcare journey is unique and influenced greatly by things often outside our control (where we live, where we work, how much we make, how much leave we get, etc.), I found it immensely helpful to talk to other parents about their childcare decisions.

I thought it might be helpful to share our journey here in case it is useful or helpful in any way for other parents trying to figure out this expensive, difficult puzzle they call childcare. I’m splitting this up into a few separate parts because our journey has been windy and we’ve done and tried lots of different things.

First as context, Mr. Peas and I both work full-time. I took relatively short maternity leaves after my first two babies were born (about 9 weeks with Big P, who is now 4, and only 6 weeks with Little P, who is now 2 1/2) with 6 weeks of that paid under my company’s short-term disability policy. With Baby P, who is now 3 months, my company only paid for 4 weeks of leave and I took an additional 6 ½ weeks of unpaid leave. With each baby, I went back to work full-time outside the home from Day 1, although thankfully I’ve worked at places that are relatively accommodating for new moms (i.e., I didn’t have to be sitting in my office in a suit at 8 AM every morning). Mr. Peas took a few weeks off after each of our babies was born but didn’t take any additional time off after I went back to work. Unfortunately, up until this point, not going back to work or taking an extended leave has not been a financially viable option.

When we first found out we were expecting our first son, Big P, I assumed we would enroll him in a full-time daycare when I went back to work. We lived in a small house and have 2 friendly but energetic dogs that we definitely could have done a better job training. I also grew up going to daycare basically full-time since I was an infant, so to me daycare seemed like the obvious and most economical and practical choice for us.

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Halloween costume ideas for sensory sensitive kids

In contrast to my younger daughter, who is willing to wear wigs, hair extensions, makeup, and an itchy light up witch costume with a giant tulle skirt, my older daughter has a hard time with Halloween in general. Here are some of her concerns:

1. Being in a school parade and having everyone stare at her and take pictures
2. Dressing up in something that might be uncomfortable
3. Going around to different people’s houses and having to ask for candy
4. Hearing lots of loud, scary, and different sounds

We haven’t pushed her too much during this holiday. Usually she has agreed to dress up a little bit (an Elsa costume two years in a row that she felt comfortable with, and Supergirl last year, without any of the accessories), and staying home with Daddy to pass out candy instead of going around trick or treating.

I am hoping she feels willing to dress up this year to continue to be part of the fun at school, but if she doesn’t want to, we have told her that is fine too. She is nine years old, and apparently some of the girls in her class have decided they want to be “babies,” as in wearing onesie kind of pajamas, putting their hair in pigtails, and carrying a bottle or pacifier. Hmm, not exactly what I expected of a costume, but if she wants to do it that works for me!

I started looking for some onesie type of pajamas she could wear that are not footed so she can wear her sneakers, and found a few different cute options. That led me to think, there must be some other comfortable and warm (we live in Chicago and it has snowed before on Halloween!) “costumes” out there. Here is what I’ve put together, based on what I think my picky, sensory sensitive kiddo might be willing to wear. Mostly they involve warm, fuzzy material and or robes/pjs.

Halloween-Costumes-for-the-Sensory-Sensitive

1) Unicorn | 2) Care Bear | 3) Koala | 4) Cow | 5) Harry Potter Robe | 6) Skeleton | 7) Mummy | 8) Monster

Do you have any tips on comfortable, warm costumes that a sensory sensitive, picky kid might be willing to wear?

Honouring Loss as a Community

I am no stranger to pregnancy loss, having experienced three miscarriages in a row between my two kids. I’ve been aware of October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day since before my own experience with PAIL, but after I became someone on the other side of it, the day held personal meaning instead of being an opportunity to show support to friends.

Two years ago we lit our candle for the wave of light and I opened up about our first miscarriage on social media. At the time I was pregnant again and so I felt like I’d already moved on —  and when I lost that pregnancy I ended up grieving for both. Last year’s PAIL awareness day was bittersweet; we were expecting A within months, and everything was going well and I was thankful to be carrying him, but I still mourned for what we lost, and I still felt a lot of anxiety owing to pregnancy after loss.

Light

I briefly toyed with the idea of trying to get some kind of community PAIL event off the ground last year. One thing that had, and still has, helped me through loss is using it to help others, to better the world around me in some way — to make it worth something. But I was too raw last year. I couldn’t handle the thought of being the face of loss in my small town and felt too vulnerable to put myself out there in such a public way.

Since then, a women’s group in town has formed a pregnancy and child loss support group, for which I am so thankful. I haven’t actually attended the group — I don’t think it would be appropriate to bring A, and it’s during the day so I don’t have childcare, plus I am generally feeling emotionally solid without needing support — but my heart is happy that the group exists for people who are feeling like I was, over the past two years.

A few weeks ago they announced that they’re holding a community PAIL event and I immediately signed up. We will be eating dinner together, creating pinwheels for PAIL, and lighting candles for the international wave of light. I live in a very small town so this is going to be an intimate event, and while I do feel a tiny bit nervous about being vulnerable in a small group, I think the power of sharing our experiences is huge in reducing stigma and helping everyone understand that loss does matter.

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