God is so good. Looking back over the last year, it is amazing to see all the changes He has brought into my life. =] (charlie just slammed his hands into the keyboard and created that smiley.... thought i'd leave it)
Last year around this time, my husband was employed at a tiny engineering firm. That means we were paying exorbitant insurance premiums every month. I was almost ready to have a baby, and we had NO idea how we were going to afford the $500 a month increase in premiums to add another person to the policy. (Yes, NJ has insanely high health insurance premiums). Well, Michael was laid off in December, and we had to pay COBRA premiums at about $1500 a month, which is about what you get on unemployment up here. Luckily we have two awesome familes and a really wonderful church family. :) We didn't have to buy anything for the baby, and our friend Rosie was always inviting us over for dinner and sending leftovers home. :) (she's a good cook)
We had enough savings to last a month or so. Right at the end of our money (aka the week I had Charlie), Michael was hired by a huge company with awesome benefits. Our church provided all of our meals for two weeks after we came home from the hospital (not to mention all the baby stuff we got at the church baby shower). The next week my parents and grandparents were in town. They bought us food for that week (third week no grocery shopping), and they stocked our cabinets, fridge, and freezer with enough food to last a month. (I'm pretty sure they also put gas in my car.) They also packed a lot of our apartment, did almost all the lifting, and almost all the moving for us, AND started to unpack the important stuff. Our lease was up and we wanted to move to a better area. :)
I remember around February sitting on the bed, holding a tiny baby, and crying, because I knew I needed to go back to work at night. There was no way we could afford diapers, and toys, and wipes, and everything else that comes with a baby. Our friends Jill and Jeremy randomly showed up at church with enough wipes to last a few months. :) My friend Sharon volunteered to watch Charlie while I was in school in the fall. People at church have found great yardsale baby clothes. Just a few things here and there have really helped. My mother in law and my parents and my brother's girlfriend have given us tons and tons of clothes the last 6 months. Our friends Amber and Ryan have done so much for us they deserve a whole paragraph.
Amber and Ryan have three beautiful kiddies, the youngest of which is about a year older than Charlie. They gave us bags and bags of toys. The most important thing they've given us is gDiapers. They just gave them to us! (They aren't cheap!!) All we had to do was buy the cloth inserts. (not expensive) They've saved us thousands of dollars. :) I'm not very good at letting them know how much I appreciate them, but they are very dear to my heart! (They are in the process of adopting a little girl. Please check out their blog at www.wearespeechless.blogspot.com)
We've finally paid off all of our medical bills from having a baby (Babies are so expensive), caught up on our car payments (my in-laws helped with that), and now we have a little extra around the holidays (I have no idea how that happened... God did it). I've been able to stay home through the generosity of others and some creative couponing/budgeting.
I'm so blessed to be able to give back to my community and friends now. I've been able to cook meals for our friends at church, donate lots of food to the food pantry, give items for the Lily yardsale, send money to Worldvision to provide livestock to third world countries, pay extra on student loans, and lots of little things lately. I guess I just wanted everyone to know how thankful I am for all their support in the last year.
Thank you family and friends for all the food, baby items, free babysitting, emotional support, and everything else you've done for my family the last 12 months. :):) I will forever be grateful.
P.S. Michael was even able to quit his second job. :) He is home on the weekends now. I cherish our weekend family time!!
P.P.S. Some things I forgot to mention: I've been able to go home 3 times this year, (4 counting a couple weeks from now), donate lots of baby stuff to a friend and a women's shelter, Kelli let me borrow thousands of dollars of maternity clothes, and I'm able to pass some of my maternity clothes on to a new friend. Special thank yous to Rosemary, Jenn, Lynn, and Lisa (lol the 4 people who probably won't read this) for taking the place of my mom the first couple weeks. I owe you so much for doing my laundry, dishes, cleaning my carpets, picking up, and sitting with me while Michael was away on job interviews.... and a super special awesome thank you to my mom for not laughing at me when I called hysterical the 3rd night I had Charlie. :)