No, not my pants – though at a day past my due date, I’m ready to give up on pants altogether and buy a muumuu instead.
No, that ripping was the sound that greeted me last week when I opened the large wet bag that hangs on the door knob of our bathroom door. After years of keeping dirty diapers safely away from curious little fingers, my favourite wet bag has finally given out.
I tried to ignore it – I tried to pretend I hadn’t heard anything. I tried to use the bag for the rest of the day. But every time I opened the top up, I could hear the bag rip even further.
Argh. Did it have to rip this month? This month of new car seats and crib mattresses and paint purchases and home birth supplies? Couldn’t it have ripped last spring? Or maybe in December, just in time have Santa stash a replacement in my Christmas stocking?
I’m so tired of spending money.
Honestly, I had no idea a third baby would cost so much more than a second baby! I don’t think we bought much at all when The Pixie was born, but with our third, we’ve had to make a couple big purchases that took me by surprise.
New Car Seats – Fitting Three Across the Back Seat
First of all, the baby needed a new car seat. Even if we could have fit our big old infant seat in the car, it’s set to expire any day now – after all, we bought it nearly six years ago! In fact, to fit all three kids in the back seat of our Mazda 3, we had to buy THREE new skinny seats (and for those that are wondering, we chose a Peg Perego Primo Viaggo for the baby, a Diono RXT for The Pixie, and a Graco Turbo Booster for The Princess).
Car seats are not cheap, but we figured that even buying three new seats at once would be cheaper than upgrading to a minivan, right? Except now that I’ve experienced the “delight” of having the girls side by side in the car, I’m not sure I can handle the bickering. Not to mention that The Pixie will be right beside the baby, feeding him a steady diet of french fries and tiny plastic princess shoes. I haven’t told my husband, but the other day I drove around used car lots and dreamed blissfully of minivans, ignoring my children as they loudly protested from the back seat that they were thirsty/hungry/tired/bored/still-able-to-maim-each-other-even-back-in-their-original-seat-places-on-opposite-sides-of-the-car.
A New Crib Mattress
In addition to new car seats, we really needed a new crib mattress. When The Princess was born, we opted for a chemical-free, all-natural mattress that would provide a toxic-free sleep – and that was hard to find seven years ago! We ended up shipping one up from California, making it one of our most expensive nursery purchases.
Unfortunately, The Princess hated that mattress. So did The Pixie. I’ve actually slept on it myself a couple times and I have to say that it really is just awful – I don’t blame my girls for insisting on sleeping in my comfy bed instead. I knew we’d never use that mattress again – even if we had more kids – so we stashed it downstairs in the crawlspace to try and insulate against the cold winter draft. This is also where we keep the cat’s litter box, so needless to say, I couldn’t use that awful mattress again even if I wanted to. I have high hopes for our new mattress though – a Purflo mesh mattress that is machine-washable. Genius? I think so.
To save room in our budget for these bigger purchases, we’ve been scrimping every where else we can. We’re happily taking used baby clothes from people. I’m knitting new diaper covers because goodness knows I have enough yarn to do it. I’m even selling off more baby carriers from my collection than I’m actually buying new (and as a self-identified baby carrier addict, this is no small feat).
But as overwhelmed as I am now, I know this is nothing compared to 12 years from now when The Princess goes to university. When I see the numbers of what tuition will cost by then, my head starts to spin. If she takes a four-year program, she should be graduating *just* in time for The Pixie to start her freshman year. Maybe we’ll steer The Pixie towards a three year program to save money – that way she’ll be finished *just* in time for The Baby to enrol. ACK! Do you realize that we could be looking at paying university tuition for 11 or 12 years in a row?
If we’re going to make it through this without losing our minds, we are going to need to do some planning. In fact, there are things that we can do even now to be sure our family is ready.
Sticking to a Budget
First, the kids need to learn to be responsible with money so that when they go off to university, they are comfortable living within a budget. I’d like to start The Princess on an allowance this year so that she begins to understand the value of things and of money.
Second, I want to teach all three of our children to be self-sufficient so that when they do live on their own, they don’t waste money needlessly. For example, I wasted a fortune on the horrid overpriced food at the university cafeteria. I vividly remember watching jealously as the Parisian students in residence cooked amazing meals for themselves that were far beyond my KD dinner-making abilities. I want my kids to be the ones baking fish in a lemon-butter sauce while other the other kids eat styrofoam cafeteria burgers. Bonus points if my kids talk with delightful French accents while they do it.
Registered Education Savings Plans
Third, I want to teach them the value of saving money. One practical way we can do this is to set a good example by saving in advance for their college education through a registered education savings plan.
Even stashing away just $25 a week away in a RESP can add up to over $50,000 in 18 years – AND the government’s Canada Education Savings Grant will match our investment with up to 20% on the first $2500 that we contribute each year – at $500 a year, that could mean an up to $7200 towards tuition!
Now, when I first started thinking of RESPs, my first question was what would happen to the money if my kids decided not to go to school – would all that money be lost forever? I mean, The Princess is pretty darn clever, but The Pixie… well, we caught her trying to taste latex paint the other day. No worries though – it turns out that if our kids decide not to go to college, the money can be used to fund our own RRSP. So keep licking that paint brush, kiddo. Just don’t get any paint on these retirement cruise brochures that I picked up … you know, just in case. ;)
Another cool thing about RESPs? We can even have friends and family contribute, which is a great alternative gift idea for parents looking to cut back on the amount of toys in their house. And really? Young kids just want an old box from your basement to play in – an RESP is a far better use of birthday money.
Grow Your RESP with RBC
To be honest, I’m really not great with budgets and saving for the future and all that stuff – there are plenty of days where planning ahead all the way to supper time feels overwhelming. Thankfully, nobody has to figure this all out themselves.
RBC has gone to great lengths to make RESPs easy. They’ve created tools like the RESP-Matic® which makes saving practically effortless, and they’ve set up websites with great tips on saving for a child’s education:
I LOVE university – in addition to my college diploma, I’ve taken university classes off and on for years and I’m just one class short of finishing my Political Science degree. Taking that last class isn’t financially feasible for us right now – not to mention that I don’t have the time – but I’m fine with that. However, I don’t want finances ever to be an issue for my kids – I want all three of them to have whatever education they dream of and that means we have to start saving now. And who knows? With some careful financial planning, maybe I’ll be in class along with them. We can carpool together in our minivan. ;)
Disclosure: I am part of the RBC RESP blogger program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.Read More
There are just under two weeks left in my pregnancy – nine days until my estimated due date. It’s funny – for most of this pregnancy I generally had no idea how far along I was and I once a week or so I’d enter my due date into pregnology.com to find out.
Then, once I hit 37 weeks, I could tell you the exact amount of days left until my due date. Because I’m done.
Actually, I think I’ve been done for about a month now. To be honest, this has been my easiest pregnancy by far. I credit having a great chiropractor who kept everything aligned and was able to take away almost every discomfort I had.
But now there are less than two weeks left and I think I’ve had enough of this pregnancy thing. I’m tired because I can’t find a comfortable way to sleep. And because I have to go to the bathroom 17 times a night. And because my clothes have stopped fitting me. And because I have two kids that chose to be sick for the entire month of August.
And I’m done with the typical comments that strangers give you. Like, “wow – you must be due any day now”! But it’s not any day now – it’s two more weeks. And technically it could be four more weeks if this bun decides to bake a little bit longer.
I apologize in advance for anything that I write here on my blog if I go two weeks overdue.
About a month ago a beautiful young girl at a farm was ringing through my purchase and she flashed me her perfect smile and stated that I must be ready to pop any day now. (It’s always any day now. I HATE any day now.)
I smiled back and said no, I still had six weeks to go. She smiled even wider and leaned in, asking me in a knowing voice, “is it twins”?
Being the charming person that I am, I forced a laugh, all the while praying silently that someday she’d be blessed with pregnancy acne, varicose veins and stretch marks. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to pray for things like that, but if it ever comes up, I plan to blame my hormones and third trimester sleep deprivation.
It’s hard not to be impatient. It’s hard not to think about all the things I’m missing out on in September, things that I could do with a baby rather than a belly. But I’m also trying to enjoy this time which is really going by so fast.
There are only two weeks left.
Two more weeks to take my girls to Chapters where they will run around like hooligans. Because after two weeks I will think back fondly on the days where I only had two kids to take out.
Two more weeks to find a way to cram another car seat in my back seat. Because I’m too cheap to buy a minivan.
Two more weeks to get the diapers prepped and the clothes sorted and to find the other half of the crib. I mean, if I don’t set up the crib, where will I store the diapers and clothes??
Two more weeks to avoid the supermarket so I don’t have to hear anyone accuse me of stealing a watermelon and then laugh like they are the first person to come up with that joke.
Two more weeks before this baby comes out. Although I suppose it could be four.
I hope it’s not four.
Photo courtesy of Torsten Mangner on Flickr and slightly modified by me.Read More
We started our homeschooling up again last month. Yup, halfway through the summer. We even started on the holiday Monday of the August long weekend.
We’re soooooo mean.
When you think about it, though, there was really no reason not to. Other than the daily ten minutes of copywork (handwriting) that The Princess dreads, she thoroughly enjoys everything else. She still gets annoyed that we don’t do school on weekends. I think she secretly suspects that I made weekends up.
For some reason, our days are just so much nicer when we do school. There’s less whining and less arguing – and not just from me but from the kids too. The Princess gets excited about doing her lessons and The Pixie suddenly becomes more interested in distracting her sister than in watching TV. And rather than being faced with a whole day to fill, I’m faced with a day where I wonder how I’m going to fit it all in.
Our homeschool days are actually pretty simple. We are heavily influenced by Charlotte Mason, a British educator that lived at the turn on the 20th century. Among other things, she advocated for short lessons where the students focus intensely but for limited amounts of time, with formal lessons ending in the early afternoon. She also recommended a lot of time outside.
Like a LOT.
Like 4-6 hours a day.
To be honest, there are days when getting outdoors for half an hour is a challenge – in fact, sometimes getting outside at all seems impossible, not just for me but for the girls too.
For years, The Princess hated going outside. When she attended a Waldorf school at the age of 3, she was originally scheduled to be in class on Thursdays, the designated “hike days”. On hike days, the kids spend the whole morning in the woods and it’s the most favourite day of all the children. Or so they told me. I warned the teachers that The Princess wasn’t … super keen … on hiking. They quickly assured me that everyone loves hike days – even the kids who resist it at first. So I signed her up and was relieved that soon I would have the nature-loving hippy child that I had always dreamed of.
About two months later, the teachers pulled me aside and asked if I would please switch The Princess to another day because she ruining hike day for all the other kids. I nodded my head and we all shared a knowing look – I’m certain they tried their best. Secretly though I was totally relieved. If even these amazing teachers couldn’t get my kid to embrace the outdoors, then it certainly wasn’t my fault. As a mother, I was officially let off the hook for having the world’s only kid who hates being outside.
Then last summer, at the age of 5, something changed: The Princess fell in love with it all. She likes to climb trees. She likes to catch bugs. She likes to pick flowers. She LOVES going on hikes and will happily spend an hour in a forest drawing happy little trees in her nature journal.
And, of course, now my three year old wants none of it.
Suddenly The Pixie hates the outdoors. She hates the hikes. She hates our backyard and runs to the safety of her bedroom as soon as we look the other way. Honestly, I just have to laugh at the entire situation - partly in good-natured defeat, partly because something in my brain has finally snapped and laughing a bit psychotically is the only response I’m capable of. Either way, I laugh and trust that as she gets older, she’ll learn to love the outdoors too.
And I think we did SO GOOD with going outside this summer. We went to splash pads, parks, wading pools, farms, petting zoos, hiking trails, berry patches, gardens full of lightning bugs – we even camped in my cousins backyard for a weekend.
That being said, the past four weeks have been rough. There have been stupidly hot days. There have been weeks where all three of us had a wicked cold. And of course there has been the whole last-month-of-pregnancy thing stealing all of my motivation. I’m trying not to let it bother me though. I try to focus on the days where we actually make it outside rather than dwell on the days that we don’t.
Like today! Today we made it outside. We went to the Teaching Garden at Churchill Park in Westdale where we learned about calendula from Dan of apothecarysgarden.com. It was such a beautiful day to be out in the sun and the girls got to gather seeds for our front yard and pick flowers to take home. Dan told us how we can prepare the flowers as a tea or as a cream, which I can’t wait to get started on tomorrow.
I’m certain the Princess could have stayed in the garden for another hour, drawing the flowers and watching the birds, but the Pixie became pretty cranky and we decided to head home. As we walked back to the car, I saw the start of a trail I’ve never explored, Caleb’s Walk, so I asked the girls if they wanted to peak inside the Spoooooooky Forest. Of course, if I said “let’s go for a hike”, the Pixie would scream no. If I said “let’s see where this goes”, the Pixie would immediately throw herself to the ground in the sort of tantrum that makes three year olds legendary. But when I ask her to explore the Spoooooooky Forest, she was all for it.
It wasn’t my intention to go for a hike. I didn’t bring water or snacks or even a phone if I went into labour at the bottom of a trail. And normally I don’t just start hiking without a clue about how long the trail is or where it goes. I had only meant to peak in and maybe walk for a few minutes. But today my three year old had other plans.
You want to know how to snap kids out of bad moods? Forests. They are truly magical.
Anyway, we first walked down a gigantic hill. Half way down I realized that I was in trouble. The girls were going to freak out when it was time to climb up again and there was no way I’d be able to carry The Pixie once she got tired, so as soon as we got to the bottom I told them that we had to turn around – except that they couldn’t hear me because there was a bridge over some water and they had to check it for trolls. And then they had to see where the boardwalk went. And then they had to run up another dirt path. After 20 minutes of walking, I got concerned. Well, more thirsty than concerned.
A father and daughter team passed by and I asked where the trail went – he said it looped around back to Churchill Park, which is what I figured. Then he warned me to go back since the trail was about to get narrow and unsteady, which I thought was good advice. Unfortunately my children disagreed with our parental wisdom and ran on, with me and my enormous pregnant belly stumbling along behind them. At one point the path was insanely narrow with a steep drop on the side – I was glad to see that the man and his daughter were still nearby. Thankfully, the father had kept their pace slow so that if I got into trouble he could give me a hand. Or at least call an ambulance if my water broke.
When we cleared the trail and arrived at the much wider path of Ravine Road Trail, the other family took off at a much faster pace and I relaxed, knowing that our hike was almost done. Except that it wasn’t – we were only about half way back to the car. And the trail had different paths and sometimes I was just guessing at which way to go. Even short hikes feel like endless marches when you you have two young children, no water, and no idea of where you actually are. I didn’t worry too much though since there were suddenly far more people around. And it was such a beautiful walk - I can’t wait to go back and hike some more. I mean, “explore the Spooooooooky Forest”.
In the end we were outside for 2.5 hours today – still a far cry from the 4-6 hours that Charlotte Mason advocated. But we’re definitely getting better, and I’m looking forward to the day that The Pixie loves being outside as much as The Princess does. Which should be right around the time that our baby turns three and refuses to leave the air-conditioned house.