Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cost of Raising a Child

I saw this on another mom's blog and stole it! This nearly brought me to tears (let's be honest, it doesn't take much) My heart swells with joy each time I think of my little Baby Soup! I never thought I could love someone who I haven't even met. To me, no cost could amount to joy I feel each and everyday when I think about my baby.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and cam up with $160,140.00 for a middle income family. Talk about price shock! And that doesn't even touch college tuition. But $160,140.00 isn't so bad when you break it down.

It translates into:
$8,896.66 a year
$741.38 a month
$171.08 a week
A mere $24.24 a day
Just over a dollar an hour

Still you might think the best financial advice is: Don't have children if you want to be "rich." Actually, it's just the opposite.
What do you get for $160,140.00?
Naming rights. First, Middle, and Last
Glimpses of God every day
Giggles under the covers every night
More love than your heart can hold
Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs
Endless wonder over rock, clouds, ants, and warm cookies
A hand to hold usually covered with jelly or chocolate
A partner for blowing bubbles and flying kites
Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what your boss had to say or how your stock performed that day.

For $160,400.00 you never have to grow up. You get to:
Finger Paint
Carve pumpkins
Play hide-and-seek
Catch lightning bugs
Never stop believing in Santa Clause

You have an excuse to:
Keep reading The Adventures of Piglet and Pooh
Watch Saturday morning cartoons
Go to Disney movies
And wish on Stars

You get to frame rainbows, hearts and flowers under refrigerator magnets, and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backwards letters for Father's Day.

For a mere $24.24 a day there's no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero for just:

Retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof
Taking the training wheels off a bike
Removing a splinter
Filling a wadding pool
Coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and
Coaching a baseball team that never wins, but always get treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat in history to witness the:

First step,
First word,
First bra,
First date,
First time behind the wheel

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits. So one day, like you, they will love without counting the costs. That is quite a deal for the price!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Campbell Creations

I broke out the Cricut tonight. I must confess that since getting married I've had very little interest in making paper announcements. I didn't even make Christmas cards this year. However, I made some cute paper stuff for Baby Soup. In a few short weeks, we find out whether we're having a boy or girl. Aren't these cute?
So Mr. Soup and I decided on Joel for a boy and Lena/Lina for a girl. We're still deciding on the spelling for Lena/Lina. Feel free to vote on your favorite. I'll give you a little low-down on both names. While they're pronounced the same way, they are actually two different names. According to Behind the Name:
Lena - is a form of Helen(a). It is commonly used in Scandinavian, Russian, Italian cultures and other European cultures. It
Lina - means "palm tree" or "tender" in Arabic
we picked the name Lena/Lina because it is a classic girl name, but we also chose it because it fits our criteria of being culturally and religiously significant.
Mr. Soup and I both decided on this when picking names:
Religious Significance - our kids will have one Christian and one Muslim (Arabic) name
Classic - our kids will have classic names. No trendy names for our kiddos
Feminine and Masculine - our kids will not have gender neutral names. nor will my daughter have a boy's name (ironic since I "technically" have a boy's name and was named after a boy!)
Normal Spellings - No complicated or made-up spellings for our kids
Multicultural or Family names - if there is a name of someone in our family that we love and whose name we love, then we'll use it, otherwise sorry. This was the case for Joel. However, there aren't many girl names in my family that I would use...Martha, Karen, the women, but not the names. Same with his family, Frances, Etheleen, Barbara. At least not right now. maybe my name taste will change.
so that gives you an idea of our naming style. and yes we are name snobs. Sometimes it's hard for me not to cringe when people tell me their children's names.
My least favorites: Shy-Anne (think Cheyenne, but even more trashy) and Neveah (Heaven spelled backwards...) oh and Bentley. All the names just scream Teen Mom to me. Which makes sense. You know what I wanted to name my kids when I was 18?-- Aaryn (for a girl, because the y made it so feminine) and Houston Elizabeth (for a girl..I guess I thought Elizabeth would make it more girly) So I think all moms under the age of 18...err...make that 22 should consult me before naming their kids.
Okay, so here's what I want you to do. now that you know I'm a name snob, please vote on a spelling and then leave a comment below. In your comment list the worst name you've encountered in your life (if you say Joel or Lena/Lina I will cut you!) This should be fun(ny)!

Which spelling do you prefer?

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

transition hair

the last time I relaxed my hair was July 2010, so I'm almost six months into being relaxer free. I will say it's not as easy as I thought it would be. My reasons for giving up on relaxing my hair were not profound. I didn't wake up with a sense of African pride or join some kind of back to natural movement. In fact, there have been days where I have blown my hair straight because it was just easier than trying to make curls. Yes. Make curls. Since I'm in the transition stage, Half of my hair is straight from previous relaxers and my new growth is curly. I'm trying to grow my curly hair out to my natural hair's length. I'm avoiding doing what people term "the big CHOP!" I do think I need to do a mini-chop. I have quite a few dead ends. I think I may do it tomorrow.
Okay, so here are my reasons for going natural:
Mr. Soup and I were trying to conceive and I knew I would have to give up coloring and relaxing my hair if I got pregnant, so I decided to stop it early.
healthier hair and scalp
money saver
I've started reading hair blogs for tips. This is my favorite so far. Nikki is about my age and a new mother. She went natural in '07 and even wore her hair natural in her wedding (she looked stunning, may I add) Unlike her husband, my husband actually prefers my hair natural. He's been my biggest supporter and he actually encouraged me to stop relaxing my hair (I'm hoping his reasons weren't economically motivated). Okay so here is a link to her blog: Curly Nikki
I often wonder what Baby Soup's hair will be like, especially if she is a girl. Hair defines so much of who we are. For me as a child is was a source of pride, but also brought on low self-esteem at some points in my life. I wanted to fit in and have straight hair like my mom's, but my hair was so tightly coiled. We tried everything to make it "behave." My mom was a real trooper though, and I think she's very happy that I have embraced my natural hair. I guess I will let my daughter choose what she wants to do with her hair, just as my mom did. I just hope she sees the natural beauty she possesses.

2010 financial successes/new year's resolutions

being financially fit is a goal that we have for our family. In the past we haven't made the best decisions with saving and spending, but we strive now more than ever since we are bringing a little one into the world. I hope we can teach him or her to spend and save wisely. However, if this baby is a girl, I can't promise that he or she won't have a shopping addiction like her mother....
we did have some success in 2010
-we stopped using credit cards and what we did use, we paid off immediately as to not incur interest
-we paid off one credit card
-we bought a house
-we put more in savings
-we now have a monthly emergency fund
-saved $70 a month by not relaxing (perming) my hair
-switched energy providers and saved $100+ per month (we pay less than we did when we lived in our apartment)
-paid off my car

-if we want to buy a new car, we need to pay down the rest of our debt...Although, we stopped incurring debt, we didn't really pay down much. it looks like we may not buy a new car until 2012 or 2013...and it's looking like it may be a mini-van (sigh....another post on that)
-we didn't tithe regularly or I should I say I didn't since I go to church. I will say this has more to do with my sporadic attendance at church....something I need to work on in the new year.
- we now have a balance on our GAP's $100, but still a balance.
New Year's Resolutions (financial and not)
-pay down debt
-continue to put more in savings
-share more of the household duties...while Mr. Soup was in grad school, the majority of our duties fell on me. We need to get our balance back before the baby arrives.
-paint the kitchen, living room and nursery. I foresee the nursery being painted first and the other two in late 2011.
-keep our travel fund full. with Baby Soup arriving, it will be hard to travel regularly. However, my goal is for us to take some family trips, Mr. Soup and me trips, and maybe a girls' trip. Traveling is something that is important to Mr. Soup and me. We are definitely not going to stop traveling in 2011. In fact, we will take our annual trip to NJ and I'm hoping we'll have enough for another cruise (once I get my body back...don't laugh!)
-accept that I cannot control how things turn out with my stepdaughter. This is hard, but I know I have to do it for my sanity. I never truly understood what my husband went through with his daughter until this summer. He has had his daughter ripped from him over and over by her mentally ill mother and passive, enabling grandparents. I felt that pain this summer. My heart was broken over and over. I'm not sure if I ever got over it fully. This will be the first Christmas that we haven't had my stepdaughter. I shudder to think of what kind of Christmas she will have (her mother doesn't even wrap their presents). I have to get over the pain I felt when my she left for a life of poverty, instability and neglect from a home where she was loved, clean and attended to each day. For now, I have to be content with the sporadic phone calls and visits we have. I have to be content with being the weekend dad and step-mom.
While Baby Soup will never take the place of Abby, he or she will have everything that Abby didn't. This baby will always know what an amazing big sister he or she has (SN: Abby is totally excited about Baby Soup. She asked if I could have a boy, so she could have a brother) Most importantly, I will have a baby that no one can take away from Mr. Soup and me. If I could hold this baby close to me everyday and never let him or her go, I would. However, I know I cannot transfer my feelings of loss and heartbreak onto this innocent life. While I want to suffocate this baby with love and attention all the time, I know my duty as a mom is to provide opportunity for growth. So, I guess in my long-winded way of saying it, my goal is two-fold: Accept my limited role as stepmother and embrace balance as I strive to be the best mother to Baby Soup.
-my next goal is to achieve balance as a wife, mother, teacher, friend, sister, daughter, etc. I realize my marriage is my #1 priority. If I don't put my marriage first, I won't be a good mother. Fortunately, we have been blessed with friends who have offered to babysit. However, I also want to make time to be a good teacher, and spend time with friends and family regularly.
-last goal is to be an awesome mama! I know I will lose major coolness once Baby C hits puberty, but for now I can't wait to raise the most awesome kid ever! This baby oozes coolness and here's morning sickness, very little weight gain, cute ass sonogram pic, awesome summer-time timing, etc. This baby has made pregnancy enjoyable so far and although I know it will get worse, I am thankful that my 1st trimester was a breeze compared to most. Although, I do hate the acne!
That's it! Hopefully writing down my new year's goals on the internet for the world to see will keep me accountable!

Monday, December 20, 2010

So Blessed

As 2010 comes to an end, I am reminded of all the things for which I am thankful. Working in the public school system and just living in general, help me realize how much suffering goes on around us. I am so lucky to be gainfully employed, healthy and safe. so here we go:
health- I am very lucky to be healthy, especially as I prepare for the birth of our first child. I am also thankful for the health of others, especially my father. The past 8 years have not been easy for him, but he continues to persevere.
education-Mr. Soup just graduated from A&M Commerce with his master's degree on Saturday. His year of hard work has really paid off and we are so proud of his accomplishment. There were times where completing the degree seemed impossible, but he stuck it out. Seeing him graduate has really inspired me (and him) to really look into pursuing our doctorates. I found a program that will pay me to complete my doctorate. I would take a huge pay cut, but it would be worth it.
prosperity- we're definitely not rich at all, but we are rich in so many ways. We have never struggled to live or gone without food. In fact, we were able to purchase our first home while Mr. Soup was in graduate school. Every day that I wake up in this house, I'm reminded of how far we've come from my tiny 1 bedroom apartment, to a small two bedroom apartment and our wonderful four bedroom home.
new opportunities - Mr. Soup is already interviewing for new jobs. I was so lucky to have found a position teaching at a local community college part-time.
travel- we had an amazing one year anniversary trip (even if we didn't go to Mexico) and of course we love traveling to Philadelphia each year. I was bummed that we didn't go to NY (due to the weather and my pregnancy crumminess), but we still went to Atlantic City.
Baby C - I never had this nagging desire to be a mom. It was there in the back of my mind. However, I think part of it was because I was/am a bossy person (I can admit my faults). Despite that, the desire in the back of my mind started growing. When Mr. Soup and I thought we weren't going to be parents, I was content with being a childless couple. I think we could have still had a fulfilling marriage and life together. However, I cannot express how happy I am now. My heart is filled with so much joy. I know my baby won't be perfect, but in my eyes he or she is. Very thankful to be a MOM! (I love saying that! Can't you tell?)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Why not?

A lot of you have written into me asking why I can't eat things like queso, deli sandwiches, etc. I will say that every doctor is different and what a pregnant woman can and cannot eat changes just as fashion does. A former co-worker of mine was told she could eat deli sandwiches, and she did throughout her pregnancy. She has a healthy baby girl today. Another one of my friends said that her doctor told her she could eat deli meat as long as it came from the deli, while my doctor said only if it is steaming hot. So, as you can see there are many conflicting views. We also see this with doctors who tell their moms-to-be that they can enjoy a glass of red wine once a week and doctors who forbid alcohol.

I think every mom needs to educate herself on the issues and come to a decision that is comfortable for her. Don't worry about what your friends say or think, but make the best decision for you and your little baby.

I will say this, the growing baby is a mystery. So fragile, yet so strong. There are so many things that could potentially harm him or her. Yet, we hear of so many miraculous stories where babies have beat the odds. I found myself watching the show "I Didn't Know I was pregnant" You know, the one where a woman finds herself delivering a baby instead of using the bathroom. Those babies survive. You see the new mom kind of cringing when she thinks about what she ate or drank during the last 9 months. Those babies beat the odds.

When I found out I was pregnant, I went through a mental checklist of what I had ate or drank since my possible day of conception. I started freaking myself out. Then I slapped myself and got over it.

Okay so here is some information on cheese and deli sandwiches:

CHEESE: Imported soft cheeses may contain bacteria called Listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection or blood poisoning, which can be life-threatening. You would need to avoid soft cheeses such as: Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Feta, Gorgonzola and Mexican style cheeses that include queso blanco and queso fresco, unless they clearly state that they are made from pasteurized milk. All soft non-imported cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe to eat.

DELI MEAT: Deli meats have been known to be contaminated with listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection or blood poisoning, which may be life-threatening. If you are pregnant and you are considering eating deli meats, make certain that you reheat the meat until it is steaming.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

cute father-to-be and the name game

I came home from dinner with some friends (If you live in Dallas, you need to try Buttons in Addison. an amazing twist on soul food with live jazz music each night) and Mr. Soup told me that he not only got inducted to the South Jersey Track Coach Hall of Fame (an amazing accomplishment!) but that he also read the first two chapters of the father-to-be book that his parents bought him. I love how eager he is to learn. He's such a hands-on dad already! I think he gets a bit jealous that I get to carry Baby Soup with me at all times.
So, Mr. Soup and I sort of settled on names a long time ago. Like even before we were married. Surprisingly we haven't changed much. We both decided on honoring both of our religions when choosing names, and we want our boys to have family names. We also wanted classic, simple, easy to pronounce and spell 1st names. So, if Baby Soup is a boy we decided on Joel Taariq. Joel is not only my father-in-law's name, but it is also the name of Mr. Soup's brother who passed away. Taariq means "morning star" in Arabic. I like the idea of our little Soup being a bright light. If Baby Soup is a girl we decided on Lena Elise. I just love how girly of a name it is. I can only have one girl, because I have not found a name that I love as much as this one! I do know that if we have 2 boys, our 2nd boy will be Adam Leo. Adam is in both of our religions and Leo is my grandfather, father and brother's middle name. I think all three names go well with their sister's name Abby. Abby's full name is Abbygail Lynn. Abby and I both have on-purpose misspelled names. While I prefer the traditional spelling (Abigail), I love how girly and classic her name is and I think it goes well with her potential half-siblings' names.
So today marks 15 weeks. Next week I will be four months! I tried on some maternity jeans last week. OMG! So comfortable. I want to wear them all the time. I can't quite fit into them yet, so they're only for around the house. I have been wearing quite a lot of sweaters, as my bump has finally arrived. Bathroom breaks have become more frequent and I've had quite a bit of shortness of breath. According to the, my baby is the size of an orange now! My hair is incredibly long and shiny. I have been straightening it again (without chemicals) and I'm amazed by how much it's grown! I could be a model if I didn't have an expanding waistline and horrendous acne!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2nd trimester fun

oh, 2nd trimester, how i love thee!
i have my energy back finally. I can go to bed at 10pm instead of 7:30pm. I wish the entire pregnancy was like the 2nd trimester. I finally started working out again and I feel great. before I was limited to morning walks with the dog (which, if you have seen my dogs, you will know it is a workout), but I was barely making those. Now I'm back to regular walks and gym time. I love it! Everyone keeps telling me to slow down, but I feel like I need to take advantage of this time. In a few months, I will not be able to see my feet!
Which means, I need to get this nursery business on the road. I've already slacked off with the rest of the house, which means I probably won't get the living room and kitchen painted until after Baby C arrives....unless my husband decides to hire someone to do it. Which he may just do. I have a feeling he won't let me paint the nursery either. Luckily, the room is small, so he and my brother-in-law could probably do it in a day.
I've decided on a light aqua for the room no matter if it is a boy or girl. If it's a boy, I want to accent the room with dark blues and bring oranges. If it's a girl, I want to accent with bright orange, purple, red, and maybe a hint of pink (not much). I'd like a vintage beach theme for the room (boy or girl).
We decided against doing custom bedding (because of SIDS), so I've been looking at rich patterns for crib sheets, curtains, and changing pad covers. I absolutely love this site:
I found some nice aqua & orange striped sheets and cute aqua and melon sheets. I'll post some pics of my nursery inspiration.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baby C's nursery mix

i'm coming up with different mixes of music to play when Baby Soup arrives. Right now I'm working on nursery (bedtime) music. Lots of Fiona Apple on it (Mama Soup's favorite)! Of course!
Fiona Apple - Sullen Girl
Fiona Apple - Across the Universe
Rufus Wainwright - Poses
Damien Rice - Blower's Daughter
Coldplay - The Scientist
Fiona Apple - I Know
Alicia Keys - Diary
Sophie B. Hawkins - Lose Your Way
Jay Z - Song Cry
Mariah Carey - Music Box

Stay tuned for Tummy Time mix

Friday, December 3, 2010

Seeking Advice and Thankful for Generosity

While I won't take advice on pregnancy, I will should I phrase this?... testimonies from mommy-hood. I really want to teach my children to be good stewards of the Earth that God gave us. I figure I can model this when they're young. So, I need your advice on the following:

diapers - cloth vs. regular--my parents used cloth diapers on us. Is it a big money saver? Are they durable? Is the laundry worth it?
breastfeeding - I'd like to for at least six months. any advice for a working mommy trying to pump at work?
baby food - I'm looking for your yummiest recipes!

I am truly in awe of all the generosity we've received over the past few months. I told you that we were GIVEN a crib and changing table. One of my co-workers GAVE me a ton of cute maternity clothes. I have a cute going-out dress that will look cute when my bump arrives. It's perfect for a night on the town! Another one of Murad's co-workers gave me some maternity clothes as well!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Baby Soup! For those of you who don't know, we are expecting our first child together this June! We are so excited and blessed. I can't imagine what motherhood will be like, but I am truly ready to take on the most important job in the world! I'm glad the secret is finally out! I've been lucky not to have any morning sickness, so I haven't had to hide that. However, I have wanted to shout from the rooftops that I'm going to be a MOM! I want everyone to know about this little guy/gal that is part Mr. Soup and part me!
So, yes, we are beyond excited! We have been wanting to start our family for a while, but it seemed as though it wasn't going to happen. After five months of "trying" I was ready to give up, but then at the end of September, I got a little inkling that I might be pregnant, but my dreams were dashed by 3 negative home pregnancy tests. I decided to make an appointment with my doctor to see what the hell was up with my body. I couldn't get in for a week, so I had plenty of time to agonize about it and make myself upset. I decided to take one more home pregnancy test and there I finally got a "pregnant" reading!
So for the past 13 weeks, I have been slowly letting people know about Baby Soup. I have also been keeping track of things I've noticed in my 1st pregnancy. I would like to share them here for your amusement
1. People are idiots -- don't listen to anything anyone tells you about being pregnant. Most likely their experience won't match yours. No two pregnancies are the same. My friend's face cleared up once she got pregnant, and my face became a pizza. Thanks, Baby Soup
2. I do miss wine. I thought I could give up alcohol cold turkey. I mean I didn't need it for the first 16 years of my couldn't be that hard, right? No, it is hard. I am a teacher. teacher = alcoholic. However, now I'm to the point where the smell of alcohol makes me ill. I also miss things like, sushi, deli sandwiches, queso, brie, and other things that are forbidden during pregnancy. I know i will be happy that I didn't drink during pregnancy when Baby Soup arrives FAS-free, but man it's hard!
3. you can never eat enough--I really worry that I will be able to gain the 35 lbs. necessary to sustain this life. I lost 4 lbs. early in the first trimester and I've only gained 3 lbs since. I eat all the time. I eat lots of vegetables, fruit, and beef (weird because I'm not a big beef fan) and also fish. The smell of chicken grosses me out! My desk at work is stuffed with all kinds of snacks...string cheese, cookies, peanut butter crackers, apples etc. and I'm still not full! It's not even like a hunger feeling that I's more like "eat or pass out" feeling. I hate that I have to eat in front of my students, but I think they'd rather have a healthy teacher than one passed out on the floor. So, I'm allowing myself to graze during the day. I'm also limiting all the bad things that I consumed before getting pregnant.
4. boobs--need I say more. I went from barely filling a B cup to a full on D cup. No need for a breast enhancement.
5. happiness-- I love going places with my little buddy. He/she is everywhere I go. While I'm excited for June 8th to arrive, I am also a little sad that Baby Soup won't be with me every hour of the day. I want to hold him/her so badly, but I also want to keep him/her inside. I want to protect Baby Soup until he/she is ready to go to college. I'm not ready to "share" Baby Soup with the rest of the world. I guess I have six months to get comfortable with the idea.
6. shopping -- who knew places like Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us could be so much fun?! I never stepped foot in those stores before and now I just want to go all the time. There are so many cool things!
7. gratitude -- so many people have really helped us out during this pregnancy. One of Mr. Soup's friends gave us a crib and changing table. We have set money aside for Baby Soup stuff, but this will help us stay under budget tremendously. I plan to look secondhand for a dresser and rocking chair, as well. The money we save will go towards starting Baby Soup's college fund or towards the day care fund (ughh....not looking forward to that already!) Thanks to all who are helping us with Baby Soup!
Yeah, that's it so far. Now that I'm in my 2nd trimester, the fatigue is wearing off (I had an 8pm bedtime and at least one nap per day) and I'm hoping that nauseating feeling will wear off. I hear the 2nd trimester is the "honeymoon" trimester! Woo-hoo!