Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Budgeting for baby

Picture it, my wedding day, 2007. My husband and I are making the rounds at the reception, greeting as many guests as possible as we make our way through the chaos that is our family and friends.



We're told that everyone is having a good time and that they all enjoyed the meal, etc, etc. All pretty standard banter..... until someone asks us about when we'll be having children. (Seriously, people, we'd only been married a few hours at that point!)

Our standard response for that night and for the two-plus years that followed was that we would not be having children until we could afford them.

To which many people scoffed, "If you wait to have kids until you can afford them, then you'll NEVER have them."

Ahem. Point taken.

Sure, we were warned about how our lives would change once we had a baby, but we didn't listen. Insistant that we would be exactly the same but with a new addition, we pressed on and had a baby anyway.

Thankfully, though, we did listen to all the stories of unforseen expenses involving child-rearing, which is exactly why we stuck by our guns and waited so long before even CONSIDERING the notion of parenthood.

But, given that I have an analytical mind and tend to thrive on structure and well-thought-out ideas, I do wish that I had done a little more research before pressing on.

Specifically, it wasn't enough for me to know that babies are expensive; I needed to know exactly what we'd be looking at in terms of dollars and cents.

So, here is what I wish someone had told me prior to having a baby......

The first-year expense for first-time parents?
A whopping $11,000. (And at the rate we're going, I feel as though I'm being conservative.)

Keep in mind that this total is for the first year alone, while on a reduced income due to maternity leave. Many financial experts estimate that it will cost the average middle-income family $250,000 to raise a child from birth to adulthood, all BEFORE the cost of post-secondary education.

It's difficult for me to imagine that far into the future, but it's definitely something we need to consider now, which is why we started making RESP contributions into our daughter's school fund the very month she was born.

Yes, we waited several years before having children and so we built up a nest egg that could help us with the early costs of raising a child..... but who knows what the future will bring? My husband is currently working two jobs so that we can once again fluff up our financial cushion..... although I have the feeling that we'll never reach a point where we'll be 100% worry-free.

Regardless, I think we're on the right track by planning for the future and investing as much as we can now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Marina's View

One of the reasons my husband and I were so hesitant to become parents is because we have no clue about what it takes to raise a child into a healthy, functioning adult.

Sure, we look around all the time and find startling examples of what not to do and how not to handle certain situations, but it's easy to judge when you're not the one with the screaming infant. And depending on who you ask, everyone will tell you something different about what works and what doesn't.

But regardless of anyone else's views, the one issue my husband and I were adamant about was that Marina would not be allowed to watch television for the first two years of her life. If she needs some sort of entertainment, then that's what books and toys and playmates are for.

Should be an easy enough goal to accomplish, right?

Sure, if you live in a house with no television. Ahem.

The problem here is that, when I'm home alone with her during the day, I occasionally turn on the TV with the hopes of remembering what it's like in the real world. You know, outside these four walls that sometimes feel like a prison where I spend most of my time these days.

And although I never actually park Marina directly in front of the television, she's inevitably figured it out. As in, "Hey! What's that loud, bright, blinking box over there? Surely it was purchased with the sole purpose of entertaining ME. You know, like the bouncy chair and the play mat and the tummy-time surf board and....."

So what seems to be taking place more often these days is that, when the television is on and Marina is being fed, she'll PHYSICALLY TURN HER HEAD so that she can see the TV.

Yep, just the other week we enjoyed an episode of Mantracker together.

I keep telling myself that this has got to stop. I'm either going to do all her feedings in her bedroom on the rocking chair we purchased (yes, for her), or I'm simply going to turn off the TV. Seriously.

The last thing I want is for my bad habits to become Marina's bad habits. I hate that I sometimes have the television turned on even if I'm not watching it. Really, what's the point? Why waste electricity just to have it mindlessly blasting in the background for no one to see?

No one... except for Marina, that is.

The one talk show I do enjoy watching is Live with Regis and Kelly, but once that's over, The View begins. I've never been a fan of The View, but my hands are usually full with my daughter now and I just don't get the chance to change the channel (or turn it off) right away.

Which of course means that Marina is now watching The View, even if I'm not paying it any attention.
Just this morning the ladies were having a heated debate, talking all at once and yelling over one another -- this is something I hate, because I can't understand what they're saying anyway...... but Marina loved it.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck's perfect face came on screen, and Marina was smitten. She stopped eating and began smiling at the television..... and as the ladies' discussion became heated once again, Marina gleefully added her two cents by squeaking back at the TV screen.

Who needs toys, right?

Oy. That's it, the child needs to be cut off. No more watching television in front of her!

Except for maybe just Mantracker.

And Wipeout.

But that's it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Weather woes

One year ago today I hauled my newly-pregnant self to the Running Room after work and took part in the practice run for the 5km clinic. Drenched in my own sweat from the unbearable heat, I nearly gave up and started walking half way through the course.

It was 32 C (90 F) that day.

Turn up your thermostats and fast forward 365 days to today, and I am decidedly NOT drenched in my own sweat.

Today's temperature was a freakishly cold 8 C (46 F).

The calendar tells me that it's still summer, but I'm not buying it.

I hate fall.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My 9/11 baby

For some unexplicable reason, whenever my husband and I hear that someone is expecting a baby, we automatically do the mental math to determine exactly when conception took place.

Oddly disturbing, I know.

It's not that we care to know the intimate details of other couples' lives, but rather it's their state of mind that intrigues us. As in, wow, it was at that time that year when they were so in love and so secure in their relationship that they decided to create new life.

At least that's how it was for us, anyway.

I'll spare you from having to do the math and just tell you that it was exactly one year ago that we opted to conceive a child. Unsure as to whether we actually even wanted to become parents, at age 31 we decided that it was now or never. If it took, great. But if not, then that was okay too. At least we could say we tried.... and then go on to live happily as DINKS, travelling the world without anything holding us back.

But, obviously, it took. And although Marina has been in our arms for 13 weeks and four days, she's officially existed with us for one full year.

Marina is our 9/11 baby, nine years later.

We actually feel guilty about how easy the whole thing was. With countless friends and relatives who struggled for years to conceive their first child -- and some who continue to struggle -- we didn't fully believe it would work. But from a genetic standpoint, we shouldn't have been so surprised with the end result.

With six kids in my husband's family and eight in mine, it's clear that we come from fertile stock!

We know there's more to it than simple genetics, but how else can we explain it? Maybe we're just lucky in that regard, or maybe it was just our time. Regardless, this past year has certainly been an exciting adventure, and each new day promises to bring more of the same.