Unsolicited advice and recommendations from a no longer pregnant lady

On July 16th, I gave birth to our amazing daughter, Clarabella.  See picture below, she’s super cute.  It’s been a little over three weeks since she was born, and in that short time I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge regarding stuff* I registered for, pregnancy in retrospect, and a couple of things about baby in general.  I wrote the list below for a friend of mine who is currently pregnant and thought I would share it here.
*I am sadly not getting paid for any of these endorsements.
Cute, right?
While Pregnant:
For heartburn, water with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar helps.
Embrace the nap
Buy an electric fan if you don’t have one. You’re going to be warmer than everyone around you.  This remains true after baby arrives, sorry to say.
Download a contraction timing app before your due date. Comes in handy.
Prenatal chiropractors are super worth it.
The best thing we did for the birth of our baby was hire a doula. Honestly don’t know how it would have gone without her. She is a support, a resource, and an advocate. Find one!
Before baby gets here, prep maxi pads with witch hazel and freeze them for use the first couple weeks after you get home. They feel so good you wouldn’t believe it, and will help you heal faster.
Pregnancy pillows are worth it.
Pack shampoo and conditioner in your hospital bag.
For Your Registry:
Get bottles that are compatible with your breast pump. You’ll thank me later.
We go through about 80 diapers a week at week three. Just for some perspective. You can’t buy too many.
The “Becoming Baby wise” book is pretty good. Lots of info about getting baby to sleep through the night.
Get an audio baby monitor. Video is nice but not as helpful. Get one that doesn’t use your phone in case your battery dies.
You can’t have too many burp cloths.
Get a rocking chair with arm cushions.
Baby carriers and slings are awesome.
If breastfeeding, nipple shields are helpful.
Get a diaper pail or trash can with a foot pedal.
Car seats that transfer between a base and stroller are super nice. Graco is a good brand.
Get a hands free pumping bra. Game changer.  Nursing bras are also great.
Even better?  A hands free wireless pump! I loved Freemie as it let me pump during my long drive to and from work.
Register on Amazon so you can get their free baby welcome box. It’s got some good stuff. Target does this too.
Enfamil will also send you free formula samples.  This website has a list of freebies.
Not For Your Registry:
You can get a breast pump for free through insurance. I recommend the Spectra model.
You don’t need a bottle warmer. A cup of warm water works fine.
Diaper genie is unnecessary. Trash can works fine and holds more.
Swaddle blankets are dumb. Don’t get them.
You don’t need baby powder. Not supposed to use it anyway.
You don’t need as many onesies as you think.
General tips from the first month with baby:
Write the date, time, and amount of milk on bottles with a dry erase marker.
Pillow cases work great as changing table sheets.
Having a book to read on your phone will keep you from getting as impatient with baby to fall asleep.
Highly recommend the Parentlove app for tracking feeding and diapers. Can share with more than one user, helps both parents keep track of overnight feedings without having to wake each other up.
Writing notes of encouragement in sharpie on (unused) diapers makes for a nice pick me up when you read them later.
Accept all offers of food from people looking to be helpful.
Create an online photo album to share with close friends and family.  Facebook doesn’t need to see every baby picture you take.  Grandma does.
You will not get anything done on parental leave. Do not plan to complete any projects during this time.
It will not hurt baby to cry for a while.  You can finish your dinner/going to the bathroom/whatever else you’re trying to do.
Steal everything you can from the hospital.

I’m sure there are things I have missed or forgotten, but that’s all I could remember during a 4am feeding.

Adventures in Adulting: Money Edition


Not to get all Minnesotan on you, but seriously, oofdah.  Money is rough.  Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that I have a job that pays well enough that I can more or less pay my bills, but trying to stay on top of said bills is slightly exhausting.

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not super great with money.  I’m not totally irresponsible, but I really enjoy shopping.  Amazon and I get along super well.  I tend to buy odd things too.  My recent purchases include a new planner, what is supposed to be the best underwear for travel, the Scots translation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and a large bag of dog food. None of these are huge purchases, but they do tend to add up.  Plus the occasional Target run that somehow always totals at least $50.  And I love going out to restaurants.  Basically, I have a problem with not being stingy with my money, which leads to somewhat startling credit card balances each month.  Never totally insurmountable, but considerably higher than I would like.  Carrying a balance on a credit card is no fun.

Add to that student loans, car loans, and two mortgages.  Super fun.

I have finally begun to take steps to be more responsible and proactive when it comes to my spending and my debt.  I am not someone who will get all gung-ho to be debt free.  That doesn’t seem like any kind of fun to me.  Being debt free would be great, but I want to have a life in the meantime.  Baby-steps.

Here, for your reading pleasure and in no particular order, are the steps I am taking and tools I am using to get a handle on my finances.  Fell free to steal any and all ideas that you feel might work for you.

*Disclaimer: I’m not getting paid for any of the links below, which is a real bummer.  But it means that what follows are things I have actually found useful.

1. 50/20/30 Budget

I learned about this budgeting method at thepennyhoarder.com.  This is a useful website, but they do have a ton of sponsored links, so take their advice with a grain of salt.  The 50/20/30 budget is basically this: 50% of your income goes toward essentials, 20% goes toward financial goals, and 30% goes towards whatever you like.  It’s a great budget for someone like me who really likes having a life.  For me, the 50% includes all the money that goes to my joint account with my husband, which covers our major bills and mortgage payments.  The rest of the 50% includes car payments, minimum student loan payments, credit card minimums, healthcare costs, and gas.  The 20% includes extra student loan payments, extra credit card payments, extra car payments, and savings.  The 30% is for everything else like Netflix, Spotify, shopping, eating out, haircuts, etc.  I’ve been using this budget since November and it is working pretty well!

2. Spreadsheets

This brings me to my next tool.  Spreadsheets.  I use google drive for this, but Excel works too, or whatever Macs use.  Below is what my 50/20/30 Spreadsheet looks like.  I’ve left a lot of the details out because, you know, privacy, but take a gander anyway.

PS – color coding helps.

Budget Categories
Monthly Budget Tracking

3. Mint.com

If tracking all your spending every month in a spreadsheet sounds super time consuming, you’re right.  That is where tool #3 comes in.  Mint.com is a website and app that you can connect to your credit card and bank accounts and have it track your spending for you.  It has lots of nifty charts and graphs too.  You can tell it what your budget is for a variety of categories, and it will alert you if you are getting close to overspending.  Super handy.  Then, at the end of each month, you can use the app to tell you what you have spent in each category, which will cut down on spreadsheet time.

4. Ebates

I find the Ebates TV commercials annoying and a little scam-like.  However, I decided to try the website after hearing a real live acquaintance say that she had had a good experience.  Basically you create an account at Ebates.com and install a tool on your internet browser.  Whenever you go to an Ebates partner site, a little notification will pop up asking if you want to activate cash back.  Once you do, anything you spend on that site will get you a certain percentage of cash back through Ebates.  Then Ebates will send you a check or a paypal deposit each month with however much cash back you have earned.  This is less of a financial tool and more of a nifty money related thing I have found.

5. Dosh

Along similar lines, there is an app called Dosh which you can link to your credit cards to earn cash back on your spending.  Nothing fancy, but it’s earned me $15 I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

6. Capital One Credit Card

I was having a conversation about credit cards this weekend with some girlfriends, so I thought I’d include this here as well.  I’ve had a Capital One Venture card for about 5 years now, and it’s been really solid.  I like travelling, and this card has a “travel eraser.”  You earn 2 points per dollar spent, and can then use those points to redeem travel expenses, including Uber and Lyft.  Their customer service has been pretty stellar in my experience, their website and app are easy to use, and I’ve generally been happy with this card.

7. Ally Bank

In an effort to make the most out of what savings I have, I recently opened up a savings account with Ally Bank.  This is an online only bank and a regular old savings account there has an interest rate of 1.2%.  This is astronomically higher than my old savings account with Wells Fargo.  Yay for making money without actually having to do anything.  Plus their website and app are easy to use.

8. Awesome Husband

I told you this was in no particular order, otherwise this would be much higher on the list.  My husband and I communicate remarkably well about money.  He is supportive of my efforts to improve my spending habits, cheers my successes, worries respectfully when I spend too much, and doesn’t make me feel like a bad person when I am working to get back on track.  He and I have a joint account for most of our bills and home related expenses, as well as some spending money for date nights and miscellaneous expenses.  We also maintain our own checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit cards.  We are responsible for our own car payments and student loans.  The separate accounts also make Christmas and birthday surprises a little easier.  So shout-out to my awesome partner in life!

9. Automatic Transfers

Back to actual money tools.  Once I had my 50/20/30 budget in place, I knew how much I wanted to put towards savings and paying down debt.  I immediately set up automatic transfers from my checking account to my savings and loan accounts so that I couldn’t back out.  I send these payments on a weekly basis.

10. Digit

One last cool app.  Digit is an app for your phone that you connect to your checking account.  It tracks your spending habits and figures out when you have a little money to spare, then automatically transfers it to your digit savings account.  You can transfer it back at any time without any penalties.  You can also set specific savings goals.  For example, I knew I was getting a new tattoo in about six months, so I told digit that I wanted to save $350 by January 15 to cover the cost of my tattoo.  Then I just sat back and watched the savings accumulate.  $1 here, $2.15 there, it began to add up.  By the time January 15 rolled around, I had painlessly saved up more than enough for the tattoo.  It was pretty nifty and I highly recommend it.

I hope some of these things are helpful or at least interesting to you.  Adulting is hard.  I’m a fan of anything that makes it a little more manageable.

Things Worth Doing

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”


Interesting paradox, isn’t it? When I decided on the title of this blog, I’d only ever heard the first version of the proverb.  But after a quick google search, I came across the second and I think I like it better.  It is considerably more freeing.  If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing just to do it and never mind the consequences.  Worry about perfection should not keep us from exploring the world and what it has to offer.

For as long as I can remember, I have been the type to dive right in to the deep end without actually checking if I know how to swim first.  Because why not?  The world is full of incredible things to do and amazing opportunities and if you don’t say yes to them then you never get to do anything.

I had a teacher in high school who told me I was the type of person who wanted to try all the ice cream flavors in a shop in case one of them melted.  I guess these days that would be called FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, for those of you not up on the latest lingo.)  And at the time, he was probably right.  It actually has gotten me into trouble over the years as I frantically tried not to miss out on anything.  All that got me was profound discontentment and the neglect of the things in my life that truly mattered.

So I don’t recommend that mindset.  After a much needed wake up call a few years ago, I’m beginning to find a good balance of accepting opportunities to do the things I love without neglecting the ones I love.

So what is this blog about?  Well, it is about the things that I love doing.  It is about finding time in your life to do the things that are worth doing.  It is about finding joy in what you have, and realizing joy when it seems to be lacking.  It is about volunteerism and wellness.  It is about work and communications and marketing.  It is about family and friends and dogs.  It’s about what I have learned and continue to learn.  It’s about living a life full of things worth doing.

Photo Credit: Susan Boyd