Wednesday, March 27, 2013

eli's birth story, the rest of the story

Where has the time gone? I fully intended to write this part of the story closer to his birth than 4 months. But, here we are.

So where did I leave off? Oh yes, so he was born in the hospital (not in the plan) and things were about to get even more off course.

Shortly after Elijah was delivered, I was hounded by several nurses for not getting the Strep B test while pregnant. Because they did not approve of that, they wanted to take Eli to the nursery to have him tested for it. Can I just say?, if you want to do anything even remotely different than protocol in the hospital, they treat you like a total crazy person. Oh well. That is why we chose a home birth in the first place. At first I said "no". But they wouldn't let up and since it was just a test and not an injection or vaccine of any kind, I figured it was harmless and finally relented, but only if Ben stayed by his side the entire time and he was returned to me immediately.

Oh, and he couldn't leave the room until he had successfully nursed.

I have no idea how long he and Ben had been gone for. I mean, adrenaline was running wild and so was the exhaustion. But I soon heard my husband's voice, yelling in the hallway. My reaction was obviously one of concern. The next thing I knew he was in our room, without my child, asking for the nurse who had originally convinced us to have Eli tested. And then he left.

I had no idea what was going on. Only that I didn't know where my baby was.

Ben returned to tell me the story (still, without the baby): While in the nursery, another nurse looked over at Eli and suspected his blood sugar was low and insisted that he should be tested for that as well. So they tested it and it was low. She then informed Ben that the only solution was to give him formula. Ben told her "absolutely not", especially not before he spoke to me about it. When he fought her on it, and because Ben can be forceful and intimidating (I love him, I love him, I love how protective he is of his family), she threatened to have security remove from the hospital and told him he needed to leave the nursery. I am not kidding. Instantly, I felt like we were going to be treated like those parents. The ones who, because they go against medical advice, have CPS called on them and their child taken away.

I still don't remember the order of everything that happened that morning. But it went something like: we tried to contact our pediatrician to have him check Eli before any decision was made. But the nurses insisted that because he didn't have privilege at that particular hospital, it was too bad so sad for us. They wouldn't listen to him (not to mention, everyone in LandD and the NICU knew who he was and his reputation preceded him and supposedly it was not a good one). We then had a conversation with the NICU doctor. We all came to the agreement that I would continue to breastfeed like normal and they could check his blood sugar levels in between. If things did not change, or got worse, he would need to be placed on an IV.

But before we were able to come to that decision, I had to fight for them to agree not to give him formula. And I mean fight.

I nursed him again, they checked his levels, and they were lower; getting dangerously low.

So they took my baby, and they checked him into the NICU, and they put him on an IV drip and they tried to feed him formula.

Oh, I was furious. I was outraged. I was pissed.

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The nurse told me that the doctor (who I had just spoken to an hour or so before, who promised to my face that she would tell the nurses he is only to be offered the breast) had told her that they were to give him the bottle after he nursed because they didn't think he was getting enough to eat (all of this without any evidence what-so-ever). So, I had the nurse call the doctor over.

And we fought it out again. I made it plainly clear that he would not be given formula, under any circumstance. That I would be down to nurse him every 2 hours. She then insisted that I pump so they knew how much he was getting. My reply was simple: so long as I'm here to nurse him, there is no need to pump. And as long as he isn't losing too much weight and as long as he's pooping, he's getting enough. Period. End of story. (I understand that most mommas who's babies are in the NICU need to pump because their babies are not strong enough to nurse and are too small, but that was not the case with Eli. He was over 8 lbs and had shown to be perfectly capable of nursing at the breast). At one point, a nurse actually tried to tell me that until he got milk from me, he needed forumla so that he gets enough. Um, no. Go back and take a class on breastfeeding.

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For the next 24 hours, Eli was connected to the monitors. The nurse thought I was crazy that he hadn't had a bath because I requested he not get one (yep. I'm that mom). And they had to move him because he was crying too loudly around all the little babies in the NICU. Ben went home to be with Isaac at night and I stayed in my room at the hospital. Every 2 hours, I woke up, walked down the hall (wearing my awesome "fall risk" wrist band), was buzzed into the NICU, washed my hands, found Eli's bed and breastfed that sweet little baby. I stripped him down and cuddled him to my own skin for close to an hour each time. I'm a firm believer that kangaroo care can heal just about anything.

Boy, was I exhausted. But I would do anything for that baby.

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At the beginning of day two, Ben and I had a discussion with another doctor about what had to be done in order for us to leave, at the time, today. They were talking like he was going to be in there for days, weeks, who knows. But that was not okay with us. His blood sugar numbers had remained stable and they certainly were not going down. From what we had read and ascertained from other people who had worked in the field, he was actually maintaining at the low end of normal, but still normal. And yet, they insisted that he was not healthy.

Baloney.

Because as soon as we told them we didn't have the money for him to stay, they figured out a way to get him gone, that day.

They reduced his IV by 5 CC's every time his blood sugar level was above [whatever number they wanted it at, I cannot remember it now]. And that was every time they tested it. By the end of day 2, he was deemed healthy and suitable to leave.

And all without formula. Go figure!!

Around midnight on Sunday night, we packed up all of our belongings, put Eli in his carseat, signed a few papers at the LandD desk, they wheeled me out to the car (I hate that part), and we headed on our way.

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In the end, we still don't know what caused it. The likeliest culprit was a 22 hour labor that included 3 hours of crowning on his part. I was tired. I'm sure he was too. It just took him a little time to recuperate. Nothing a little bit of mommy's milk and kangaroo care can't cure.

There are some things we got out of this whole situation:
1. It confirmed for me even more that I don't like hospital deliveries. Our stay with Isaac wasn't a pleasant one either, although not as bad. I feel like mothers don't get much of a voice in the hospital. It's all up to doctors and professionals. They know all. You know nothing. I know that isn't always the case, but I'm willing to say that a majority of the time, it is.


2. Did we want to deliver in the hospital? No, absolutely not. Did we end up there? Yes. Was God's hand over it all? I believe it absolutely was. Maybe Elijah's blood sugar would have rebounded solely with breastfeeding had we delivered at home. But maybe it wouldn't have. Blood sugar is not something that is routinely tested after delivery. Chances are that we wouldn't have tested his levels if he had been delivered at home. Maybe we ended up at the hospital so that a nurse would take notice and he could get treatment.

3. I can now (somewhat) understand what mothers who have babies in the NICU go through. Although Eli was not in there because he was premature, and he did not have to stay for weeks and weeks, I can now sympathize with any mother who has to leave her baby behind with a nurse instead of taking him home once he's born. No mother wants to go through that and no mother should have to. This experience has burdened me to pray for those mommas, and daddys. Be strong for your babies and do whatever it takes.

On Monday afternoon I took Eli to the pediatrician. His doctor was not the least bit concerned about his blood sugar. He looked and acted normal. He had only lost 2 ounces in the 3 days since he was born (Isaac lost 9!). He was eating often and pooping just as often. There was nothing to worry about. And today he is a thriving and healthy big boy. Everyday I am thankful that things were not worse and that the whole ordeal only lasted 2 days, even if it did seem like an eternity while we were in the midst of it!

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[4 months old]

Friday, March 22, 2013

ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you

 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  ~John 15:7

Remember back in January when I posted my 4 Big Goals? Of the 4, number four scared me the most. I mean, it's huge. It requires me to truly, 100% rely completely on God, His provision, His call on my life and His leading. I mean, it's up to Him if I even get past the prayer portion of it. It's completely and 100% up to Him.

Well, I decided before the beginning of the year, actually before Eli was even born, that once 2013 rolled around, I would take 30 days to pray. I asked Ben to pray with me. And we would pray for wisdom, for guidance, for confirmation and for scripture. I was praying Psalm 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.

In other words, God only annoints what He, Himself initiates. And if I was going to open a PRC, if I was going to take any step toward whatever it was that I felt He was calling me to, I wanted confirmation that He had initiated it. Because, more than anything, more than saving babies, more than ministering to women in need, I want to glorify the Lord in this, whatever this is. And I want Him to annoint it. I want whatever it is to be completely dependent on Him.  

Toward the end of January, I received a Facebook message from a woman who is the director of an incredible maternity home ministry in the valley. She asked if we could meet sometime soon. I was excited to do so.  

During our meeting, (aside from finally being able to tour the maternity home that has been here for years and I've never had the chance to see it!) she offered me the director position of a local pro-life organization. I was honored, humbled really. I told her I would need to pray about it; in fact I had been planning to spend at least the month of February praying about how the Lord wanted to use me to save babies and serve women in this community.  

I left that meeting with a thousand ideas and questions swirling around in my mind. Was this what God had placed on my heart? Is this how he was calling me to serve?  

I told Ben about the conversation I had had and his first response was, "do it!". He is so supportive of me and he has total confidence in me. What a blessing that man is.  

My first concern was that the organization is not necessarily a ministry, at least in the way I have been a part of ministries in the past. For whatever reason, I was feeling that God was calling me specifically to ministry. As Ben and I talked about it, I started to realize that everything I had ever done within the pro-life culture was ministry related: peer-counselor at a crisis pregnancy center, board member of a crisis pregnancy center, prayer, service projects, event planning for a crisis pregnancy center (seeing a theme here?). Crisis Pregnancy Centers are what I know. They are where I have spent the past 8 years serving. Of course that's what I would lean toward.  

But what if God was calling me to something different than that, something outside of that, but still connected to it? I prayed about it.  

We discussed all of the reasons I should do it. The opportunity would allow me to be involved in all facets of the pro-life culture: ministry, prayer, politics, working with college students, talking to pastors, and church groups. And it would use my spiritual gifts: leadership and teaching. It's an excellent fit.  

And then we discussed all of my reservations: being a mom of 2 young children, in a family with 1 car. There is a time restraint there, for sure. There is a limited amount of energy and resources on my part. What if I couldn't do the position any justice? What if I just totally let everyone down? What if things never even got off the ground? Or worse, what if they do get off the ground and I totally drop the ball?  

That's where things sat for weeks. I continued to pray, and to search scripture. I kept my heart open to the Lord's leading during Bible study. Periodically Ben and I would discuss if further. It sounded like a great idea. It was definitely something I could do and probably something I would love.  

But I still didn't have confirmation. No solid word from God. And my prayer remained the same: Lord, show me that You initiated this.  

By now, the month of February had passed. 30 days had gone by. I was beginning to think I just needed to make a decision. Maybe I hadn't prayed enough. Maybe I should have fasted. Maybe this was one of those situations where God was expecting me to use the brain He gave me (there are definitely those circumstances!)  

And then, last Thursday, March 15, I clicked over to a dear friend's blog and read this post.

Bam. It was as if Jen had written that post as a letter to me. Like I had told her exactly what was going on and that was her answer (which was not the case, although we did discuss it the next night over dinner).

But there it was. Confirmation. Scripture. All in one place. All at one time. And all through a fellow blogger. Tell me the Lord doesn't use this online community for His purpose! Ladies, He does.

I immediately felt the Holy Spirit pressing on my heart. And I turned to share it with Ben. He just gave me that smile, like "I told you so." And in that moment I experienced John 15:7. I had prayed for it. I had asked for it, and more importantly I had remained in Christ, in His word. And He answered my prayer. Because He does answer prayers.

for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries ~1 Corinthians 16:9

Jen writes: "You should start now. Right now. Whatever God called you to... weeks, months, or years ago... that thing, that project, that ministry that He laid on your heart, the one you forgot about or sinfully avoided... that thing... do it now." So, Monday morning I accepted the position. And I could not be more thrilled to see what God has in store.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

how to date long distance: a little encouragement

Something you may not know about my husband and me is that we dated long distance for 2 years before getting married. And that doesn't even include the 4 deployments he went on while we were married. I guess you could say that we are pretty familiar with what long distance relationships look like. Which means, we know what to do, what not to do, and most of the in-betweens. So with that, I want to encourage any of you who are in the same situation, a similar situation or considering entering into a long distance relationship situation.

The first thing I have to say about long distance relationships is that they do work. It's frustrating to me when people speak poorly about them or about the people who are in them. Sometimes we choose it, sometimes we don't. But no one ever wants to be long distance. And at the same time, it doesn't have to destroy what you've built or be the end of the relationship either.

But, and that's a big but. They won't work if you have the wrong attitude about it, if you expect the other person to do all the work, if you aren't willing to make the effort and if you aren't in it for the long haul.

The thing about long distance relationships is that there really is no point of being in one if you aren't planning to be together in the end. And when I say be together, I mean get married. Because, that is the purpose for dating: We date to find our future spouse. Why waste your time on someone who you aren't going to marry? And certainly why waste your time, strength, tears and effort on someone far away from you who you aren't going to marry? [that doesn't just go for long distance relationships, it's true for all dating relationships]

a little bit of our story
Ben and I began dating in high school. Soon after, he left for boot camp. Honestly, I didn't expect to ever see him again. We hadn't dated very long and I wasn't really interested in investing in someone who was going to be away all the time.. or so I thought. When he came home from bootcamp 3 months later, I ran into him while I was working. He called me later that week to get together and I said yes. The rest is, as you say, history.

Just a couple of weeks later, he returned to Southern California and I remained in Las Vegas. This was during my senior year of high school. I still wasn't very serious about him but I left it open. We stayed in touch. He wrote me alot and called whenever he had the chance. And within just a few months he had made his way right into my heart. The next time he was home on leave he told me that he loved me. I, of course, returned the sentiment.

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He was soon stationed in Virginia and we made the decision to stay together even though it would be long distance. I was still in high school and he obviously had no choice about where he was going. Over the next year and a half, we continue to date; he in Virginia, I in Las Vegas. He came home every chance he had, usually every 3 months or so. We talked on the phone almost every day. We wrote letters all the time. And one thing was for sure, we knew that we would get married, eventually.

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In August 2003, just 3 months after I had graduated from high school, Ben proposed to me. He was still living on the east coast and I was still in Vegas. We planned to get married just 2 or 3 months later because we were ready to be together. But, I was not going to move across the country for a man to whom I wasn't married. That plan changed a bit when Ben was given surprise orders to Iraq for 4 months. He returned in March and we were married in April. And then, lucky for us, he left again, just 2 weeks later on a 6-month deployment to Bahrain.

Why do I tell that long story? 2 reasons:

1. When we decided to date long distance, it was because we knew it was worth it. We agreed on an end goal: marriage. I knew I was going to marry Ben and he knew he was going to marry me. We made a decision and we stuck to it. Simple as that. It doesn't have to be all, "how do you know?" and complicated.

2. We remained long distance until we were married. Moving across the country just to date Ben, even while we were engaged, would not have been a wise decision. Ladies, please listen: you are not called to sacrifice yourself for any man other than Jesus and your husband. Don't ever set aside your life, your goals and your comfort for someone who is not your husband. To be clear, your serious boyfriend and your fiance are not your husband. Once you're married, go for it. But until that ring is on your finger, you belong to the Lord alone. He is the one who will sustain you and care for you. Don't ever expect that from your "almost" husband. Such a decision can easily and quickly lead to disappointment.

what does it take?
Like I said initially, long distance dating takes a lot of work and effort, from both parties. If you are expecting the other person to do all the work, it won't work. And while I know that is true for any relationship, it is especially true for long distance because it's already difficult. You'll miss each other a ton, you'll feel left out quite often, you'll wish it was easier all the time, you'll hope for it to be over soon. But you'll have to set all of that aside and be willing to do some work.

You'll need to initiate conversations often. Communication is the key. You obviously won't be able to spend very much time together in person, so conversation time, whether it's over the phone, facetime or through skype, is golden. Talk about everything. Tell him about your day, in detail. There is a line from an old Dashboard Confessional song that I am always reminded of when this topic comes up: "it seems like nothing's happened until I've shared them with you." I know that's how I felt when Ben and I were dating. I couldn't wait to tell him everything that had happened since the last time we spoke!

Write letters. I'm talking paper and pen letters that have to be sent via snail mail. Send cards, care packages, photo albums, mixed "tapes" or CD's. Be creative. Have fun with it. The goal is for him to open mail from you and know that you were thinking about him and took time out of your day to do something thoughtful.

What it really all comes down to is committment. It takes you being willing to make the committment, to stick to the committment and to see the committment through. There will be miscommunication. You'll fight. There will be hurt feelings. You'll cry. There will be lonely, quiet days. You'll cry some more. But stick it out. Because, if you really truly love him and if you really truly want to marry him, it will all be worth it in the end.

Ben and I will be celebrating 9 years of marriage next month (crazy, right?!) and I am positive that dating long distance played a very major role in the foundation of our relationship. Because of it, we had to really make an effort to tell each other how much we cared for one another. Because of it, we had so much time to talk and talk and talk. We knew each other so well. Because of it, we knew before we were even married that we were both willing to do the hard work and to stand by one another in the thick and thin. Personally, I think it just made our relationship stronger. And now, on this side of it, I could not be more thankful for it.

2013-03-16 21.01.13

you can read more of our story here

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

when a man for whom adoption is not an option marries a woman who wants a small family

longest title ever, for the win, right there.

When I was younger and looking into the future, thinking about how I wanted my life to look (wow, that sounds a bit selfish because we both know I was not asking God what He wanted my life to look like, but back to the point) I saw myself married, with 2 kids, maybe 3, but probably 2. It's a safe number, right? I grew up with a younger brother. Just me and him. 2. It seemed to work quite well. So that's what I wanted.

Little did I know that God had a man for me who was growing up with 7 siblings.

When Ben was younger, he wanted a large family (and still does) but he never ever wanted to adopt. There's just this attitude that alot of men have about not wanting to raise a child who "isn't his own." That was my husband.

Little did Ben know that he would marry a woman who wanted to adopt.

As a teenager, I started to get involved in pro-life culture, and I quickly felt the Lord tugging on my heart, giving me a desire to adopt. I never really knew when, why or how, only that it was something I should do eventually. I know pro-lifers have this bad reputation for wanting to save a baby from abortion, and then wanting to have nothing to do with that child after he or she is born. That's not true for alot of us. I would say most of us. If you really honor life, like really truly believe God when He tells us that all human life is valuable, then you have to care for the orphans. You have to care for the mothers. You have to care for their children, even after they are born.

While Ben and I were dating long distance, we talked on the phone for hours and hours and hours. We talked about everything under the sun. Including kids: how many, when, boys or girls, adoption or not. Our answers were always the same:

me- 2 kids. And I think we should adopt.
him- lots of kids, no adoption.

Obviously we were not on the same page.

But eventually that changed. Eventually, our hearts changed. God slowly began to change my heart about family size. And he gradually changed Ben's heart about adoption. And He merged our hearts and desires together, to fit within His plan for our family and our future.

Today, I write this post with a desire, I mean a passion, for a large family. We are talking Duggar-sized, people! And my husband, he wants to adopt. He wants to adopt newborns, toddlers, elementary-age, teenagers, American kids, Russian kids and we've even discussed embryo adoption. If a child doesn't have a home, he wants to welcome him or her into our's with open arms. He wants to give children who need a family, a place in our family. He wants to be the father to children who have no father. Have I told you how much I love this man?

So what changed?: Mostly our attitude toward parenting. For a long time I just saw being a mother as something you do after you get married. You have kids and love them. You raise them as best you can and send them into the world to make their own decisions. And while all of that is part of motherhood and parenting, it isn't the whole of it.

Truly, parenting is about ministry. It's about giving of yourself. It's about sacrifice. It's about being the servant Jesus called us to be, to our children. Being a mom and a dad means raising, growing, discipling and training missionaries (our children) to send into the next generation. And oh man, if we get to do that for our own kids and for children who need a family, we're all in! Sign us up now. And the more the merrier!

The way we see it, parenting is a way of living out the gospel. After all, the Great Commission should begin in our homes.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ~Matthew 28: 18-20 (NIV)

And let us also not forget that we have been graciously adopted into the family of God. Jesus reminds his disciples, and us, "I will not leave you as orphans" (John 14:18). How can we possibly leave children as orphans who we know desperately need and desire a home? Especially when we understand our own position in Christ. Because of Him, we are adopted by God. Because of Him, we are given life and freedom. Ben and I see that as a direct calling. Because of what He has done for us, we cannot help but want to do the same for "the least of these."

God sent [Jesus] to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children ~Galations 4:5 (NLT)

you can read more about why we want a large family here

Monday, March 4, 2013

boys in ties

I pinned this image a loooooong time ago. It is one of the many baby photos I wanted to eventually duplicate with my own kids. Last Friday I finally got around to it. I put 2 of my favorite ties on the boys and started snapping away!

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Friday, March 1, 2013

top 5 ways we save money with babies in the house

I've written before here about how to have a baby on a budget. But since we are on an even tighter budget right now, and have two kids instead of one, I've had to be even more creative lately. I thought I'd share exactly what we do in our home to save money. Here are just 5 ways. There are plenty more that I will share later.

cloth diaper
We've talked about this before, so I won't spend a lot of time on it, but this one thing is major. Instead of spending $30, $40 or $50 on a box of diapers over and over and over again, you just need to spend that or a little more on your initial diaper investment and you are done! Add in the cost of laundry detergent, vinegar (if you use it for rinses), water, electric/gas (unless you line dry) for washing and drying the diapers and it doesn't compare to what you spend on disposable diapers monthly. If you want to really get into it, consider using fabric, re-usable wipes too!

We cloth diapered Isaac only part-time which meant he still wore a disposable at night and when we were out and about (specifically at church or if he was with a sitter). With Eli, because of our current budget, we are now a full-time cloth diaper family. We have not had a disposable diaper in the house in months (he wore them as a newborn because I don't have any newborn cloth diapers, but he didn't stay a newborn for long!).

For detergent, I use All Free and Clear. I get the big container at either Costco (which has a Kirkland detergent that is exactly the same) or Sam's Club. It's much cheaper than a fancy cloth diaper detergent and works just fine. You simply have to rinse the diapers once or twice more after they're washed to make sure it's completely rinsed off. You can read more about cloth diapering here.

It's time #clothdiapers

when you can, buy secondhand
This one is kind of an uh, duh tip. But with thrifting becoming so trendy, I want to point out that just because something is at a thrift shop, for sale on ebay, craigslist or at a yard sale, that doesn't mean it's a good price, a good deal or worth buying. I cannot get over how expensive Goodwill has become. I don't care how nice something is or what name brand it is, it's still secondhand! Don't "get tricked by biz-niss".

But, many, many times, you will pay a fraction of the price for something if it's secondhand. And the wonderful thing about baby clothes secondhand? They have usually only been worn a handful of times so they end up being in great condition! My rule with kids' clothes?: Never spend more than $2 on any item (shoes and coats included. yes it's possible. now you think I'm cheap right? I call it frugal).

If you are thrifting, always look for sales. If the sale is "orange tags 1/2 price" then I won't even look at items with any other color tags. My goal is to find what I need and find it for cheap. If you are yard sale-ing, haggle. Grab a handful of clothes and offer $2 for all of it (or whatever you feel is fair).

Also, be on the look-out for hand-me-downs. I can't even tell you how much money we have saved from taking other people's used baby stuff that they don't have a need for anymore. Or borrow. We have borrowed several baby items that are often considered must-haves like an exersaucer, swing, bouncer and even clothes. Just be sure to take excellent care of borrowed items and return them as soon as you are finished with them. In return, allow others to borrow your baby items!

Big boys go down the big slide all by themselves! #2tomorrow

potty train early
Isaac's doctor in Texas told me to start thinking about potty training as soon as he turned 18 months.We waited until he started showing the signs: dry diaper after naps, could tell me when he needed a diaper change, could follow a simple command. I watched for them and would you believe it, by 20 months I knew he was ready.

We bought him a little potty when he was around 18 months just to give him time to get familiar with it. He learned what it was and what it was for. Then, one day, we just jumped in and did it. (We used this one-day method and I swear by it). At 20 months, my toddler was potty trained! (Full discolsure: he is still wearing pull-ups at night because I think he is a little young to sleep through the night without wetting the bed, but we'll be working to change that soon!).

Oh my goodness does this save money on diapers! We still use one at night, so that's 1 diaper a day instead of 4 or 5. Yes, it's very hard work in the beginning. Yes, there are lots of accidents. Yes, there is more laundry because of dirty underwear (although it ends up being less laundry if you were cloth diapering). But in the end, it's a super money saver. And the real thing that motivated me to do it so early was that I refused to have two in diapers. I just won't do it!

Isaac turned 2 a month ago. He uses the big potty all by himself (he won't even let us touch him and most of the time tells me to go "way!"). It is possible. If you are considering potty training, but aren't quite sure if your kiddo is ready, I say it's worth a try! It will at least get them familiar with it and hopefully they'll train sooner rather than later. We used the one day method.

Back on the potty today. We got lazy around here after baby joined us.

don't buy it unless you absolutely need it (and cut back on what you don't need)
This one requires lots and lots of self discipline. This means not walking aimlessly around Target. This means weighing out what you really need for the kids. This means borrowing items if you can. Also consider borrowing an item for a week or so to decide if you even like it before buying it.

There are things my kids don't have and I will never buy. We won't spend money on something that we don't think they need (as I said before, this doesn't stop me from borrowing these items. if someone is willing to lend them out, I will gladly take it!). But we all know that the baby item market is ridiculous. We are told that our kids need everything. Everything. But that is just not the truth!

If you are pregnant, I suggest making a list of everything you think you will need or that you want. Talk to other moms about what they used and didn't use. Try to narrow down your list as best you can. Believe me, we all have things we purchased that didn't get used as much as we expected. Try not to make that mistake. If you can, wait until after baby is born to be absolutely sure you need it. And then buy it.

As far as non-baby items go, consider what you use around your house now that you could do without altogether. Not only will this free up money to purchase what you do need, but it also frees up money to put away for later. An example in our home is fabric softener. I had always used the sheets because that's just what you do. I had seen on Money Saving Mom that someone recommended cutting them into 3's to get more out of a box, or using the same sheet multiple times. Then Crystal tweeted me telling me she didn't use them at all. I had never even thought of that as an option! But when I stopped to think about it, it made sense for us to not use fabric softener. One, it saves money. And two, it's one less thing adding chemicals and toxins to my children's clothes, sheets and the air they breath. And while not buying a $4 box of fabric softener every few months doesn't safe a whole lot of money, together with other cuts we've made, it adds up to quite a bit!

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make it
In our home, if it's not secondhand, it's made. This includes laundry detergent, bread, chicken/beef/vegetable broth, curtains, home decor, Halloween costumes, diapers and liners, blankets, quilts, clothes and toys. Seriously, you can make toys. Check pinterest. There is a tutorial for everything baby under the sun.

The secret to this one is that you don't have to be an expert to make something. And it doesn't have to be perfect either! It doesn't take a home-ec degree to sew a pair of pants or to boil some vegetables and chicken in a pot. All you have to do is follow instructions. Don't let fear of the unknown keep you from saving money for your family.

Also, when making clothes, curtains, bedding, toys, etc, consider buying fabric or old sheets secondhand. This will save even more money. It's like double the frugality! Fabric is often quite pricey and it can end up costing you more to buy all the supplies to make something than it would to just buy it at Walmart or Target. Be creative! If you do buy fabric from the store, buy it on sale or use a coupon. Many fabric stores will price match or take competitor's coupons.

Homemade chicken stock ready for the freezer.

So tell me, how does your family save money with babies in the house??