And the name is...

We beat our self-set deadline of picking a name for our little boy by April 1, and finally decided this past weekend. We have tossed around so many names it's dizzying, but we've finally settled on a name we both like: Jack.

On his birth certificate, our little guy's official name will be John Stephen Phillips. My husband wants him to have a "proper" name on his birth certificate (as Jack is a nickname for John), and an option to go by John later on in life if he likes.

Jack/John means "God is gracious"—and He certainly is, in the gift of His Son, and the gift of our little boy. It's a beautiful reminder to us as parents, and we hope it will be to Jack, too, as he grows and learns about his Lord. Stephen (pronounced Stephan) is my husband's middle name and his dad's first name.

In just about six weeks, we'll have the honor of holding Jack. It's hard to wait!


At the savings starting block

Recently, I've been learning a lot from The Frugal Muse and other sites about creative ways to save on products—and even get things for free. My husband and I have been inspired to put some effort into this and start stacking up savings. While it's always beneficial to be careful with money, the economic conditions and our growing family have motivated us even more.

Last night, we braved the spring snow storm (OK, drove just a few blocks) and went to Walgreens. Right before, we spent a few minutes looking at store fliers and coupons we'd collected and tried to find some good deals by combining sales and coupons. Then, we marched into the drug store with a fistful of coupons and a plan.

When we got to the store, we hit a few bumps in the road. We realized that some of those "deals" were not deals at all. For example, we had a rebate offer for a certain type of shampoo, but since it was a super expensive variety, even with the savings it would be more than we usually spend on shampoo. And a few of the products were out of stock. In addition, we forgot to clip a $2 off coupon and give it to the cashier for one of our items. Oops.

On the whole, though, it was worth the small amount of effort. We saved more than $40 (including a few free items: shampoo, Pepsi, and Excedrin) on a variety of items we use all the time, such as toothpaste, laundry soap, garbage bags, and batteries.

With a bit more practice, I think we'll be on the road to saving big.


Still growing

If I felt like my belly was big before, now it is enormous. Our little boy is about 4.5 pounds and growing rapidly in preparation for his grand entrance into our family. I feel him rolling, moving, and stretching every day. And that is an incomparable joy.

The baby belly, as of today. And I thought I was big two months ago!

This past weekend, family kindly helped us paint his little room. We ended up with one blue wall, two yellow walls, and one wall with both colors (thanks for the great suggestion, Grandpa!), with white trim.

My husband is in the process of installing a ceiling fan and new carpet today. Then, we can collect all the baby furniture and accessories scattered helter-skelter around our house and complete the room. I also ordered a Bible verse to put on the wall above his crib that ties into the nautical theme and teaches him a bit about his Creator: "I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land" (Jonah 1:9).

Gotta love growing!

Wrapping up the painting in the nursery. Thanks to family for their hard work!


A new plan

It's time for a confession.

I was gung-ho about completing my outstanding scrapbook projects before my little boy's birth. Armed with a plan (and then, later, an accelerated plan), I was determined to snip and tape until my book was up to date.

Now, however, I am hopelessly behind. While I've worked on my album a bit here and there, I remain in November 2007. A busy work schedule, made worse by pregnancy-induced tiredness, has not been helpful. And my priorities have shifted away from stickers and ribbons to blankets and bears as my husband and I have shopped and prepared for our baby.

I'm a bit frustrated, because I want to be caught up on older photos so I can make a book of memories about my baby as he grows.

Enter: new plan.

I am resigning from my full-time job (although I hear motherhood can keep one quite busy, too!) about two weeks before the little one pokes his head into the world. If all goes well and I have the baby close to his due date, I will have several days of peace to focus on catch-up. If I'm not done when the baby is born (imagine that!), I'll work on his album alongside my photos of pre-child life with my husband.

Here's hoping my new plan works. Either way, I can't wait to take lots of photos of the little guy to treasure.


Savings supreme

If you're at all interested in saving money (and who isn't these days), you'll be interested in The Frugal Muse. A friend of mine from college recently launched this blog, bulging with practical ways to save money.

She is no mere coupon clipper. This girl is the coupon queen. She has uncovered all sorts of complex strategies that most of us have no time or desire to figure out, and then fills us in on them. She figures out how to combine coupons, rebates, and the like to get items you actually need for extraordinarily cheap prices—and many times for free. (Sometimes, she even makes money with these strategies!)

One thing I found amazing is that she has two little kids and hasn't paid for diapers since last June. That's a very substantial savings right there—maybe even enough money for a little vacation.

Further, even if you aren't into stashing coupons or taking a lot of time on savings strategies, she constantly posts links to deals you can take advantage of with online coupons, such as a free movie or free fast food.

Go get yourself some awesome savings!

A little room for a little one

In the past several weeks, we've been accumulating lots of baby items for the nursery and beyond. We even got a new (to us) car, as our two-door car wouldn't be suitable for a baby. It's amazing how much our lives have changed already—and our little boy hasn't yet even poked his head into the world.

Now, we're getting down to the final details, which means we are decorating the nursery. Last weekend, I painted one wall blue; family members are coming over on Saturday to help us paint the rest of it cream. Before they arrive, we'll need to get some furniture out of the room that is moving to other parts of the house. I have some nautical decorations to put up on the walls, and my husband plans to install a ceiling fan and new carpet. Then, we'll bring in the furniture (crib, dresser, rocking chair, and bookcase) and window coverings.

The baby is due to arrive in just eight weeks. I can't wait to have his little room ready for his appearance in the big, wide world.
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