Family Vacations

July 23, 2012

My parents first took me to the beach when I was 18 months old. My dad mentioned to me the other day that he remembers taking me in the water for the first time. Bill’s mom made a similar comment to me about the first time they took Bill to the beach when he was about 2.

September 1981

My family didn’t start going to the beach annually until I was 8 years old and then we went all the way through my early 20’s. Some of the trips were to Bethany and Rehoboth beaches in DE but the later ones were to the Outer Banks in NC. I have such fond memories of all of those trips: Funland in Rehoboth, Henry and Anita (and their daughters, Thelma and Louise), judging waves “necessarily necessary”, getting French braids in our hair, the parents and their “wall” of sand to block the surf, my dad the road nazi, and our parents packing the cars to the brim with suitcases, groceries, boogie boards and Barbie dolls.

Summer 1988 — Ted (9), Rachel (5), me (8), Carrie (7)

Thirty years later, Bill and I took Caelan on his first beach trip (with hopefully many more to come). We rented a condo in Ocean City, packed up our car and headed to the beach for a week. This was my first time in the role of “parent responsible for packing everything we’d need for a week” on a family beach trip and I forgot quite a few things. Nothing major, but you just don’t think to bring trash bags on vacation. I have taken notes for next time 🙂

Writing in the sand to make it official 🙂

Not only was this Caelan’s first vacation but it was only the third time he had stayed overnight anywhere other than home. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to phase him one bit. He shared a room with us (for the first time since he was a month old) sleeping in the Pack N Play and though he woke up a little on the early side, he slept through the night. Win. He also became a super star napper, taking a 2 1/2 hour nap on most days. He’s always been a terrible napper so this was kind of a miracle!

We went to the beach 5 out of the 6 full days we were there and we realized within about an hour on our first day at the beach that vacationing with a toddler is a whole different kind of vacation. Laying on the beach for hours, listening to music and reading…yeah that is not happening. Caelan wanted to wander and so we wandered with him. He seemed to enjoy the sand and the water and barely flinched when waves hit us as we were sitting in the surf. He also seemed to enjoy the baby pool, though we were disappointed that the big pool had a no-babies-in-diapers rule. I think he would have enjoyed the big pool.

First look at the ocean

Checking out the surf

Friends told me that having a tent at the beach was a good idea so that we’d have some shade and a place for Caelan to nap. We borrowed a tent from a friend for the shade but I thought, no way would Caelan just fall asleep at the beach. He never just falls asleep randomly.

Sleeping beach monkey

What the hell do I know – I’m only his mother! Caelan fell asleep at the beach on 3 separate days. It was actually really nice for Bill and I to have a little bit of time to sit/lay on the beach and relax without chasing the kiddo around.

Aside from the beach and pool, we made a trip to the boardwalk and took Caelan on his first carousel ride and a mini train ride. I don’t think he knew what to make of it.

First rides!

I tried to get a picture of Caelan in front of something iconic on the boardwalk but all I got was this in front of Fisher’s Pop Corn. He usually tolerates the stroller fine, but he gets bored if we stop for too long.

Too young for pop corn anyway

We had a great time on our first trip together! Bill’s parents joined us for two nights early in the week and their visit left Bill and I nostalgic about those family beach trips of yore. We’re excited to plan future beach trips with our extended family on both sides and hopefully Caelan and his future sibling(s) and cousin(s) will have the same kind of great memories about these trips as we do about our childhood trips.

He is pointing at birds in these pictures – he loved the seagulls!

Diaper Costs

July 10, 2012

It goes without saying that when you add a new baby to the household, you’re going to be adding new costs as well. People will tell you that when you bring a baby home, all you REALLY need is a place for them to sleep, something to wear, and…diapers.

The cost of diapers is so hard to estimate because there are so many variables: cloth vs. disposable, brand, size, number of changes, etc. Cloth diapers are becoming more popular these days (at least they are in my message board community). They’ve come a LONG way from prefolds and hoping you won’t stab baby with the safety pin while fastening it. These days cloth diapers come in cute prints, elastic leg openings, and one-size-fits-all varieties with rows of snaps for adjusting.

All that being said, to be honest, we didn’t even consider going the cloth diaper route. They are cute and green and we would save some money over the course of a few years, but the convenience of disposable diapers weighed out for us. We started with Pampers Swaddlers and are now using Pampers Baby Dry. Pampers have always worked for us, so we never tried another brand. If it ain’t broke and all that…

Since I bought all of Caelan’s diapers from Amazon (using the Amazon Mom discount plus the Subscribe & Save option), I was able to easily look up my order history and calculate how much we spent in the first year. Here is the breakdown:

Size Time Used # of Diapers Cost
NB 6 weeks 476 $64.56
1 6 weeks 368 $63.45
2 2 months 420 $86.33
3 6 months 1080 $205.01
4 1 month 128 $37.75
*EP 4* 5 months 150 $48.69
TOTAL 2622 $505.79

*EP4* These are the Extra Protection diapers that we have been using for Caelan at night. We started using these when he was around 7 months old because he was sleeping so long at night (yay!) that a regular diaper wasn’t cutting it. We got them one size up from his normal daytime diapers. They are a little more expensive, but since we were only using 1 per day and it was saving us from him waking up soaked, it was worth it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will add that we also spent $94.06 on wipes and $49.71 on Diaper Genie refills. So that brings our total diapering cost for the first year to $649.56, or about $54.13/month.

Honestly…it’s less than I feared. Yes, diapers are expensive, but it’s a temporary expense – in a couple years, Caelan will be out of diapers.

We are using all brand name products, and Pampers aren’t exactly the least expensive diapers/wipes around so you could certainly save some by going with another brand or a store brand. But not all brands are equal and not all will work with your child’s body/skin so you may have to experiment.

After I added all this up, Bill asked me if I added up how much we spent on formula. I did not, for 2 reasons. 1) I didn’t buy formula through Amazon so it would be much harder to track down all the formula purchases over the months, and 2) I really don’t even want to know. Formula is so expensive, I’m sure we spent a lot. I constantly collected coupons and formula checks and saved anywhere from $5 to $19 on any one formula purchase so I feel like I made the best of an expensive situation 🙂

The Kitchen Project: An Overview

July 3, 2012

It’s been just over a year since we finished our last major home renovation – time to start another one! This time we will be giving our kitchen, foyer, and powder room a “make over”, so to speak. We won’t be completely gutting the space or reconfiguring walls or anything, but we will be replacing almost everything. We aren’t building our dream kitchen, but our hope is that an upgrade will appeal to potential buyers a couple years down the road.

Unlike our basement project, we will not be DIYing this one. Sure, it will cost more to hire out all the work, but it will be done faster. And when you’re talking about your KITCHEN, that is pretty much paramount (in my view anyway).

So where do we start??? Here is the space currently (click for a larger view). This isn’t exactly to scale, but it’s close.

And here’s what we’ll call The Original Plan:

  • Replace all honey-oak cabinets and gold hardware with dark wood cabinets and nickel hardware.
  • Replace laminate countertops with whatever we determine is the least expensive option one step up from laminate (Granite? Corian?)
  • Replace kitchen sink
  • Divert range hood to vent outside
  • Replace ceramic tile with vinyl tile*
  • Replace toilet and pedestal sink in bathroom
  • Replace bathroom light fixture (or at least trade out the shades)
  • Paint kitchen, foyer, and bathroom

*Vinyl tile may not seem like an upgrade over ceramic, but new nice looking vinyl tile is an upgrade over older cracked ceramic tile/grout so that’s where we’re coming from on that one.

In addition to The Original Plan, we are also considering a few other options:

  • Extend tile floor in foyer about 2ft. into the living room to be even with dining room wall??
  • Rearrange appliances in the kitchen. Move fridge to lower right corner, next to stove?? Move dishwasher to original fridge location??
  • Replace kitchen table with a row of base cabinets and countertop??

We’ll see where we land on those.

We don’t have a start date for this project, though we’d like to begin before the end of summer. And we don’t have a target end date, but to give us a lot of time to work with, I’m going to say Christmas. Hopefully it will be done quite a bit before that, but you know how these things go!

Stay tuned for updates as this project gets started!!