Posts filed under ‘happiness’
Last week my beautiful baby boy reached the eight month mark. I can’t believe how fast time has flown since his arrival. I have taken thousands and thousands of pictures since his birth. In the first few weeks I snapped shots every day. As the weeks went on I started pulling out the camera at least three times and more recently I pared down my photography sessions to roughly two times a week.
Luckily my husband and I are super organized folks. Every few days my husband edits the photographs I take. He searches through hundreds of photos and pares down to only the best shots. While we start with roughly one to two hundred we ultimately end up with the best fifteen to thirty for that day.
He categorizes them by date and event and stores backups so we won’t ever lose them. We post the photos online so friends and family can see them, but I wanted to further pare down the photos and create an album of the first eight months of our little guy’s life.
Even with all of our organization it still took me a couple of days to search out and select the very best shots. I narrowed it down to roughly 149 photos in the first four months and 279 for months 5 through 8.
There are nearly twice as many photos in the second four months because I never picked up a camera before my son was born and in the past eight months my shot selection has greatly improved. Plus, as my son becomes more active the photographs have become interesting. In those first couple of months most of the photos are taken with my son laying down.
I had two Groupons to Photobook America that were set to expire on the day my son turned eight months, so I decided to separate out the photos into two albums. The first months 1 – 4 the second months 5 – 8.
It made me so happy to look through all of the photographs and remember each of those precious moments with him. Unfortunately, I realized that I didn’t include all of the photos I intended to in the first book. I copied the images over to a directory and it seems they were moved to a sub-directory without my realizing. After looking at so many pictures I simply didn’t realize they were missing until it was too late.
That’s a bummer because some of the early images in the hospital won’t be included in the book. Along with a particularly adorable set of photos that were taken just before Christmas time.
I learned two valuable lessons in all of this. First, if I intend to make another album, (which I do), then I need to select favorites every month. It took days to select all of the pictures I wanted and it will be much faster to complete this process as soon as my husband edits them rather than trying to take on this task all at once.
Second I should not wait until the last minute to take on a task like this. I literally waited until the very day my Groupon was set to expire to complete the album. This was due in part to the fact that I was sick a week up to the expiration date, but in my rushed state I missed photographs I wanted to include. Had I provided more time for myself I could’ve created the album then taken a day or two to review it and make certain that it was just the way I wanted it to be.
Of course, we have those photographs in other places, but it’s a bummer to work so hard on something and then feel it’s slightly less than I wanted it to be.
I can’t wait for the photo albums to arrive. I purchased them from Photobook America and the vouchers cost only $35 for $115 worth of photo keepsake books.
I don’t want to plug Photobook America until I see the results, but I will say that I was very impressed with their software. I was able to perform a lot of cropping and editing within the layout screens.
I’ll provide an update once the photo albums arrive. After all this work I sure hope they look amazing!
If you’re interested in purchasing a Groupon to Photobook America click the image below, sign up and search for deals in Cincinatti. There are only a few hours left to purchase, so if you’re interested you should hurry. I just purchased another Groupon so I can create one last photo album, (months 9 – 12), of my son’s first year!
Long before the summer started I bought my son a very expensive swimsuit from Gymboree. I couldn’t wait to introduce my little one to the water for the very first time and I guess I wanted to dress him in something special for that occasion. I’m not sure why I thought that, but nonetheless that thinking led me to search the Internet and ultimately purchase an adorable little swim outfit that cost $35.
Now let me just say that $35 was the reduced price. My mom purchased a few outfits for my son around Christmas time and received $25 in Gymbucks that could be used towards a future order. Had it not been for that coupon the total would have exceeded $60! Yes you read that correctly. At full price the rash guard, swim trunks and little bucket hat cost nearly $60. $60 for a swim outfit that my little one will wear for a limited time this summer.
I convinced myself to make the purchase because I had my mom’s coupon in hand and I’d won a gift card for $25 to Gymboree a long time back, so the cost after shipping was just over $16.
Of course as the summer season rolled around I found an adorable swim outfit on sale at Macy’s for only $8 and received a number of rash guards and swim trunks as hand-me-downs. Although I plan to take my baby to the pool and ocean quite a bit I have more than enough swim wear for him and decided to return the Gymboree purchase.
Well I hit the jackpot at the Gymboree store. For the same price that I paid for three little swim related items I bought three long sleeved onesies (one with matching pants), two pairs of pajamas, two summer hats, a sweatshirt and a pair of overalls.
All but one item cost less than $4.50 and four were as low as $1.59. I am actually thinking about returning the overalls, which cost one-third of the overall total. They were $9.99 and while they are certainly cute I just received a brand new khaki pair of OshKosh brand overalls from a former coworker that are the exact same size as the ones I purchased.
I feel so much better about spending the money on ten items then I did on the original three. Especially since the other three items would only have been worn while swimming.
I hope when I return the overalls next week that I can find a bunch more items at rock bottom prices. Since I’ll have store credit from the return I might as well see what I can find! At these prices if my son can’t wear whatever I find I might just give them away as gifts. A lot of babies have been born to friends of ours in the past six months!
Last week I asked my readers for suggestions on how to spend my first mother’s day. I was so happy and inspired by the comments that I thought I’d provide a summary here. I can’t thank my readers enough for all of their wonderful ideas!
Without further ado here are a few of my reader’s suggestions:
- Plant a tree with your child. You can watch it grow over the years and take photographs every year of your child in front of it. (I LOVE this idea and plan to pick one that flowers on Sunday.)
- Mother/Baby photo shoot. (I’ve asked my husband to take some photos of my son and I on Sunday too.)
- Sometimes having a little one can be a bit overwhelming. If it feels difficult to take them out then make the most out of spending time with your family at home. Two suggestions: Enjoy dinner at home or have a picnic right in your own backyard. (Oh yeah we’ll definitely be spending time together at home. I think we’ll eat dinner on the back patio. It’s almost a picnic )
- Make handprints together with your little one. (I’m going to try to sneak some time in for this too on Sunday.)
- Ask your husband to bring you breakfast in bed. (I’d alter this one slightly to have breakfast for the whole family in bed. The little one can snuggle with daddy while you munch on chocolate chip pancakes or whatever breakfast food you love.)
This post won’t do justice to the comments so I suggest going back to my original post to read them. I’m grateful to all those who provided ideas. I have taken your stories and words to heart and can’t wait to celebrate this weekend!
My husband and I spent nearly the entire day together with our six month old son. We ran errands, planted herbs and vegetables in the garden, bought groceries and cooked dinner. These days mean more to me than just about any other.
What is it about the simple pleasures in life that make a day that may seem boring and mundane to some so magical to me? When I was younger I always had such grand plans for how I should spend a Saturday. These days I treasure the simplest of moments.
Tonight in between chopping veggies and cooking chicken we popped our iPhone into external speakers and sang and danced around the kitchen with our little one.
By the end of the evening we’d made three scrumptious chicken pot pies. One which we ate for dinner and two that we packed into the freezer. I also made delicious meatballs for a party we’re attending tomorrow night.
After dinner my husband gave our baby a bath and I sang and rocked him to sleep. These are the days I want to remember forever. The simplest moments that mean the world to me.
Did you do anything special to celebrate your first mother’s day? My little one was born last October and this holiday has suddenly taken on a whole new meaning for me. I don’t want to spend a lot of money or buy anything unnecessary, but I would like to find a special way to celebrate this day.
For the time being I am a stay-at-home mom so I guess you could say every day is mother’s day for me. I could not be more thankful or grateful to spend time with my beautiful baby boy.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has ideas on how I should celebrate this momentous occasion. I already started a blog for my son and began writing letters to him, so I’m looking for something else I can do to commemorate this day.
Over seven years ago I left the hospital with a blood clot in my lung and absolutely no idea of what was going on in my body. For weeks after that incident I walked around my neighborhood trying to heal. I remember one day in particular I prayed to God that I would get better and that whatever was wrong with me would not prevent me from having children.
While my main goal was to lead a healthy, happy life I also knew in my heart of hearts that I wanted a child. I cannot believe that I am now the mother of a happy, healthy, beautiful baby boy. I pray for him every day and thank God for bringing him into my world.
Over the years I’ve entered and won quite a few contests. I used to keep a list of prizes on a page on my old blog, but unfortunately when I moved to Word Press it was accidentally deleted. I don’t enter often, but every once in awhile I go on a bit of a binge and spend thirty minutes or so filling out forms and crossing my fingers.
I must be pretty lucky, because I’ve probably won at least 50 contests in the past two to three years. Considering I don’t enter very often I think that’s pretty good. My best prize was a $250 gift card to Marshalls. A few of my other favorites were a box of really tasty BBQ sauces, jewelry, children’s games and movie tickets. Just this morning I received notice that I won a book in a contest I completely forgot I entered.
A few weeks ago I entered the Spring Cleaning Blog Contest and won a $250 gift card to Bed, Bath and Beyond. I won a similar contest in February. These contests required more work, (I had to write a blog post and get selected by a panel), but they really inspired me to try my hand at more literary contests in the future.
Overall I consider myself an extremely lucky person. I have a good family, good friends and relatively good health. In the past I held down good jobs and earned a good income and now I’m living out my dream of staying home with my son. I feel luckier than just about everyone I know.
It’s not all attributable to luck. I’ve had to work hard for quite a lot of what I have, but at the end of the day I believe luck plays a role in at least part of my happiness and success.
How about you? Do you consider yourself lucky? Do you enter contests? Which contests do you enter and do you find yourself winning a lot?
Speaking of contests… enter the Are You a Stain Gambler sweepstakes by May 4th for a chance to win a washer & dryer and a years worth of Resolve All Stains. I haven’t entered this one yet, but with a six month old at home I’m sure I’ll soon need all the stain fighting help I can get.
Here’s a question for you. What’s the best thing you ever spent money on? It doesn’t have to be an object, it could be an experience or a trip or anything else that you think was important and memorable. This question is difficult for me. I have a couple of competing ideas racing around in my head.
In reality the best thing I ever bought was a vial of botox. No, no it wasn’t to remove my wrinkles. It was to fix a problem with a tightened muscle in my neck. Prior to that injection, (which was considered experimental and not covered by my insurance), I suffered from daily bouts of never ending pain. Through a combination of that injection and biweekly trips to the massage therapist my pain slowly dissipated. I went from spending less than an hour a day without aches and moved on to days without any.
I suppose I should also say that the trip to the emergency room and the subsequent surgery that proceeded that vial of botox were also high on the list. Without the medical services I received I wouldn’t be here today. That’s not being dramatic. It’s 100% true.
Since I didn’t have a say in the medical expenses, (I needed them to survive and be well), I think I need a second category for the best thing I wanted to spend money on. In that category I would have to place my beach house at the top of the list. It has provided more joy and memories than I ever could have thought possible.
On a much smaller scale I’m also glad that my husband convinced me to buy a video camera before my son was born. I spent part of the day reviewing videos from Baby A’s first six months. I can’t believe how quickly time has passed and how much I’d already forgotten about those first few weeks and months. I loved looking back and watching our little man grow again before my eyes.
I can be frugal, a tightwad and sometimes downright cheap. I don’t like to spend money unnecessarily. I search for deals and clip coupons and cringe every time I pay full price. Interestingly enough my husband doesn’t possess any of these same qualities or characteristics.
He’s not a big spender, but he is perfectly content to purchase things that aren’t on sale. If he needs something he’ll buy it. If he wants something he’ll buy it. You will never catch him leafing through the Sunday circular or clipping coupons and matching them with sales.
He believes it is more worthwhile to make money than it is to try to save it. While I can certainly understand his point of view it’s difficult for me to abide by it. The truth is it’s in my very nature to save and I don’t want to pay full price for things unless I have no other choice in the matter.
I’ve stuck by this philosophy my whole life, but a recent trip to the grocery store altered my mindset.
We don’t get to spend a ton of time together these days. I go to sleep early and wake by six or seven to tend to Baby A. My husband works later hours and as a result often sleeps in. During the week we see each other for only an hour or two each day, so it’s very important to me that we spend as much time together as we can on the weekends.
The other day my husband joined Baby A and I on a short trip to the grocery store. I had a list in one hand and a wad of coupons in the other. I reviewed the sales circular and didn’t intend to purchase much that wasn’t on sale. Well that all changed with my husband in tow.
He grabbed items off the shelf that weren’t on my list and weren’t on sale. Each time he grabbed for something I pulled out my coupon binder and searched around for a matching coupon. I didn’t time my coupon searches, but they easily added at least a minute or two for each unplanned item.
While I was frantically searching through my coupon binder my husband and the baby strolled over to a quiet area near the bakery. When I rounded the last corner and found them smiling at one another I felt my stomach sink. I realized I was sacrificing time with my family to save a couple of dollars.
It was a beautiful day and rather than wasting time in the grocery store we could have been playing outside. In fact, we could have been doing a million other things that would have been more enjoyable and memorable for the three of us.
I realized in that moment that I needed to alter my philosophy. I could do this in any number of ways.
- I could try to get a list from my husband in advance so I could search for coupons at a different point in time.
- I could hold off on buying things that my husband wanted but weren’t on sale. I could simply make a note of the item so I could look out for sales and coupons at a later point in time. (This would only work if my husband was willing to wait to buy something.)
- I could decide that every once in awhile it’s perfectly okay to pay full price. I could remind myself that spending time with my husband and baby is more important than saving $5.
The next time I’m planning a trip to the grocery store I will do my best to try all three. While steps one and two will help me save money, step three is a reminder that the value of time should not be ignored. At the end of the day I will forgo $5 for 20 more minutes with my family.
On our last trip to North Carolina my husband and I started talking about marriage. My husband asked why I think we’ve remained married when more than half of our friends have divorced in the past three to four years. In my opinion the two biggest factors for a successful marriage beyond strong communication are Money and Goals.
My salary more than quadrupled since I graduated from college. I started out living in a group house with five other people and ended up with three properties and two homes just twelve years later. Despite the significant rise in income over the years I never fell victim to lifestyle inflation. My husband and I never took extravagant vacations, bought expensive cars or went out to eat very often.
For the most part we’ve focused on saving and making our house a home. In fact, over the years we’ve become even greater homebodies. We took cooking classes and began to enjoy making meals together. We traveled less frequently to new places and more often to our rental home in North Carolina. We bought used cars along the way and kept the prices below $8,000.
This isn’t to say we are miserly. While some may read this post and thing it sounds terribly boring I want to point out that we do not feel that we are in any way denying ourselves. We began to enjoy one another’s company more and found that projects around the house made us quite happy. We also continued to contribute significant amounts of money to charity.
Between a lot of blessings and hard work we have been financially stable for quite some time. Having money ensures we have one less thing to worry about, one less concern.
It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If the basic needs of my life are settled and secure then we can move on to focusing on other things. Since my husband and I have been able to pay our bills without worry we can move on to concentrating on other aspects of our lives.
If my husband and I were struggling to make ends meet I think we would fight more often. We would worry about how to pay the mortgage. We might be more tired from working longer hours to earn more money to cover our bills. All of this would probably leave us anxious and more apt to fight with one another.
If there isn’t much money in the bank it’s easy to get into arguments about how the money is spent and who is spending it. If you don’t struggle for money than you aren’t too concerned if your wife buys new shoes or your husband buys new video games. (As long as they do so within reason.)
I should point out that it’s not just having money that makes us happier. It is also setting goals for that money and agreeing to those goals. If my husband wanted to travel the world and I wanted to stay home then we wouldn’t continue to have a successful marriage.
I believe we have a successful marriage because we both know exactly how much we own and owe and also have the same aspirations for our lives and plans for our money.
The truth is if you took away our money I think our lives would be much more stressful and that stress would certainly have an impact on our marriage.
Does it mean that we wouldn’t remain married if we didn’t have money. I sure hope not. But I do think it would be more difficult to maintain our current level of happiness. While I don’t believe you need lots of money to make you happy I do believe there is a certain level that makes you feel more secure and content. Once the basics are provided for there is much less to worry about. Add to that common goals and desires and I think you’ll have the keys to a longer lasting marriage.
Of course, I can only speak for myself. But I’d love to hear what others think. If you agree or disagree with this post please leave a comment.
This is an easy question for me. If I had an extra $500 to spend on my husband I’d buy him a new Nikon camera lens. I know a lot of folks might think that doesn’t sound very romantic.
I know everyone is expecting me to blog about taking an extravagant trip where we’ll ride horseback across a beach and spend our evening eating chocolate covered strawberries and toasting with champagne. While all of that does sound unbelievably lovely, and I certainly wouldn’t turn it down if anyone offered it to me, I don’t think anything would make my husband happier than a new lens for his camera.
Over the years my husband has worked as a semi-professional photographer taking pictures of local sports teams in and around Washington, DC. He loves capturing the ball in mid-air, the personal foul that went unnoticed and the game winning shot of an underdog team against one that was nationally ranked.
But more than anything else he loves capturing the simple every day moments of our family spending time together. While some folks only pull out the camera for major holidays and birthdays my husband has managed to create a visual journal of our lives over the last fifteen years. He’s snapped photos of us doing all sorts of things like barbecuing in the backyard, picking veggies from our box garden, cooking dinner in our tiny kitchen, boogie boarding in the ocean and playing in the snow.
Last fall he was able to capture the most amazing moment in our lives. The birth of our son. It’s absolutely true what they say, if I loved my husband before my son was born, somehow my heart opened even wider because now I love him more than ever.
Our lives have taken on a whole new meaning now that our son has arrived and we want to capture every special moment of his life. Some of my favorite photos are the ones my husband took leaving the hospital. I cried when we left because I couldn’t believe how fortunate we were to take home a beautiful, healthy baby boy. My husband caught that moment on camera and we now have an incredible photo of me holding our newborn son as a small tear runs down my cheek.
As soon as we arrived home we began taking pictures of all of those pivotal moments that make up our young son’s life. My husband takes photos of him sleeping in his crib, taking his baths, opening his fingers and of course cooing and smiling. Every moment feels so special and unique.
I’ve never seen my husband as excited as he was the first time we took our son to the beach. This December we bundled him and ourselves in blankets and coats and laid out a towel on the sand. It was a pretty cold day, but we felt the warmth of the sun and placed sand on our two month old’s hand for the very first time.
It’s amazing how a moment in time can feel so magical. My husband has always loved the ocean. He surfed and windsurfed for years and I could see in that moment his desire to share his love of that deep blue water with his son.
As always he brought his camera along and captured that moment forever. My son, being only two months old, will certainly not remember that day, but with photos in hand we can not only reminisce about that moment but also share it with him when he gets older.
A new camera lens will ensure that we continue to capture moments like these indefinitely.
This is my entry for the Spoil My Sweetie Contest hosted by Ultimate Coupons. Enter to win up to $500 in gift cards.