Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finding Balance on "Vacation" Time

Where I work, we get a three-week break this time of year each year. I usually work the first week of it, minus Friday. So, that means I have the next two weeks off!

Sounds terrific, but it always brings me some stress too, because inevitably I save all those errands and chores that can't be done with a two-year-old around for that time as well as all the fun things I love to do, like scrapbook, journal, and read.

How does one fit all of that in and not feel exhausted at the end of it? I guess that's how most people feel coming back from a vacation too, especially having a family. Lots of activities and fun, but you need a vacation afterward.

Besides tomorrow, which I'm going to spend grocery shopping and intensely cleaning the house, as both sets of parents are arriving soon (one this weekend, and the other at the end of October), I'm hoping to find some balance.

My husband had a great suggestion, and that is to prioritize the "me time" stuff, like scrapbooking or reading, first thing in the morning, to make sure it happens and I don't run out of time in the day. LOVE the idea!

One thing I do know, is that I need to stop trying to get so much done and instead, fuel up on energy for myself, and treat myself to that "me time" to keep moving ahead in a healthy way.

How do you find this balance? Okay, balance probably isn't the right word, as it isn't "equal", but how do you find time or make time for yourself?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

WFMW: Cash Only for 3 Months, My Findings

So, just about three months ago, I decided to challenge myself and use cash only for all grocery purchases (okay, looking back, it was supposed to be for my son's purchases and gifts too, but I didn't do that). In our household, groceries include all health, beauty, general household supplies and cleaning, and Pull Ups and wipes. I have found, through talking to other people, that their grocery budgets only include food items and they don't really budget for those other items. If you do, how do you fit in those expenses then? Just curious.

Here were some of my findings:

1. I don't use the same amount of grocery money each week, because I may go to only one store, or I may go to several, including a big Costco trip (for things that last longer-like several months), so I had to take out more than a quarter of my budget for the month just in case.

2. In the beginning, I was really bargain hunting, hitting up several stores a week, like CVS and Walgreens, to get their deals, on items I use, but didn't particularly need that week or even that month. Result of that? Lots of extra time spent shopping when I could have been relaxing on some time off I had, AND it actually left less money for the necessities that month.

3. I did a great job stocking up, but I noticed on things like body wash (I'm set until February probably) and for some reason, granola bars. We don't usually buy granola bars, though we like them, but all of a sudden, I had a ton. We're still eating on them now, and really, the sugar in those aren't so great for you, even if they are all natural (and not so great for someone who is hypoglycemic either.) I also found that a lot of the coupons that are out there are for junk-type food and that isn't what we typically eat. I found myself gravitating toward them, however, because they were good deals, on sale, and I had a coupon! Not the route I want to go though.

4. I had some great food (or at least food) stocked up through August, but when September hit, my freezer and cupboards seemed quite empty, and at the end of August, I didn't have any excess money to carry over either. I ended up having to make a big Costco run, which left us with little money this month. We actually had cereal one night for dinner and I have an $18.00 budget for food this week to make it to October.

5. Having cash actually meant I was spending MORE, I think, and not monitoring it as well. It wasn't as easy for me to see as when I wrote down my debit purchases each week (or every so often) to see what I'd have left.

6. Ending up with so little in August, and needing to buy lots of Pull Ups at that point too (I'd stocked up earlier and ran low), led me to decide my son really needed to be potty trained so we could save on the cost from here on out (he'll be three in November). Sure, I spent the extra money I would have spent on those on incentives toys the last two weeks, but hopefully it will be worth it in the end.

I gave it a shot, using cash only, and it didn't work for me. I think I'm actually going to go back to my old way of shopping with my standard coupons at one store a week (and Costco once a month) and just try my best to save.

What is your best money saving trick with your grocery budget? 

See other great things that work for bloggers here.

WILTW: Being a Mom and Wife

Whew! What a week of lots of learning. Here are some of the finer things I learned this week:

1. Your child can do well potty training with a treasure box of goodies to choose from. Problems though: the cost and frequency of having to buy new things for it, and when to stop! I swear he is going just to get a treat!

2. Two-year-old best friends can make your child's lower lip quiver and he'll cry when they both shout, "No!" at him playing with them. Makes a mom sad.

3. I am ecstatic Amazing Race is on again! Okay, maybe no learning involved there, except that I think the opening sequence with the host was filmed separately than the actual views of the racers. Did anyone else sense that too?

4. Having jury duty postponed can't be all that bad, in that it was supposed to be last week when I was super busy, and now I have it tomorrow, when I'm slightly less busy (though others have to pick up my slack).

5. Two spouses coming home grumpy from a day of work isn't all that great.

6. Party City's coupons for $10 off Halloween costumes can be deceiving, when it reads, "for costumes $ ____ - $34.99" and the one you want is $39.99. Not to mention some are even higher. I may not dress up this year. I was hoping to, but too expensive!

7. A $.49 horn from Party City can really excite your toilet training toddler as a "prize".

8. An almost three-year-old can have definite opinions about the shoes you buy, and say, "No want "doze!" No went "dem"!" and pull them off on the way to daycare (that is after you have snuck them on while he was watching TV after a prior issue with them).

9. Being too busy during a week and not being able to run your normal errands can make you want to pull your hair out. I'm glad I have some extra to spare!

10. Taking your husband and child grocery shopping can be interesting and your child can put on behaviors you've never seen before. Your child can also eat a banana in the store (way worth your sanity) and you own the grocery store an IOU because you are so concentrating on getting out of the store you forget to have them weigh an extra banana to pay for it.

What have you learned lately?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

WFMW: Extra Cash for Kids' Extras

I have found a way that works for me when it comes to having that extra cash for those little extras for my son. For instance, I wanted to enroll him in swimming classes last spring, but had no extra cash in our budget.

I decided to hold a yard sale and sell all of his baby furniture, toys, and clothing, things we didn't need any more. I made over $300. I socked it away for those little things we can't always fit in monthly, like those swimming classes, music classes at daycare, and just recently, I enrolled him in a 4-week soccer program. I love that I was able to do that.

I'm still selling some items here and there: a backpack carrier, his high chair, and now his crib. All of that will be put away for extras. I even snuck a little out the other night for a treat from Dairy Queen, since my son had been doing so well potty training.

For more of what works for others, see We're That Family.

Want a Laugh?

Sometimes funny moments need to be written down.

I was just in a middle school class, watching presentations for fast food restaurants students were developing. A girl said this:

"My target audience is singles, because singles are lonely and eat to fill their emptiness."

All of the adult judges, including me, busted into laughter...

Monday, September 20, 2010

WILTW: Potty Training

Phew! What a weekend! I decided, as I mentioned on my last post, to do an intensive "Big Boy Boot Camp" over the two days. I learned many things in the process.
1. You can be so desperate as to take the potty everywhere your child goes, to help him be successful.
2. A treasure box (see in the photo next to him) of incentives can really help (so he gets to choose the prize).
3. It is a good idea to move all floor rugs, BUT, and this is a big but (not my butt, but the statement), IF your child has an accident on the floor and you clean it up, be sure to dry the area too, so he doesn't slip and have a terrible fall. Okay, two terrible falls. (Not that that happened to us.)
4. Books can be a great incentive for #2.
5. The 99 cent store has some great little books for just that.
6. Your child can do better than you expected on Day One.
7. Your child can do worse than expected after Day One on Day Two.
8. By 4:00 on Day Two, your child can be so excited and motivated for his next incentive that he can cry out, "I need help!" when his body doesn't produce the pee he needs for his incentive, and then cry. That can break Mommy's heart.
9. Holding onto the next incentive can make your child happy again (as long as it is still in the wrapper), until he can produce.
10. By the afternoon of Day Two, and into Day Three - the day he goes back to daycare-, your child can be so tired and irritated about the whole weekend that he no longer wants to follow any directions you give him, to the point of being defiant.
11. (Couldn't stop at ten): 3 changes of clothes at daycare isn't two bad if it is 3 changes to 2 successes and another at home. :)

For more, see From Inmates to Playdates!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Help Anyone? Potty Training Boot Camp

I need your help. My son's almost 3 (early November) and I am ready to be rid of Pull-Ups. Pull-Ups that aren't helping on the potty training front at all. My boy loves his Pull-Ups. Back in February, he first peed on the potty, and was doing a great job, even letting me know in June, that he needed to go. After a trip in July, he has only gone once, and expresses no interest in the potty.

This weekend I'm contemplating boot camp. Potty training boot camp, the every half hour try, give lots of fluids, put in underwear, and WORK IT!

Any suggestions? I've come from the philosophy of "Wait until they're ready", but I think my son knows, and just prefers the mommy time and east of me changing him.

Readers, I'd love your help!

The New Normal

Just when I think I am in a routine at home that works and I feel comfortable, truly happy, and feel like things are flowing along smoothly (for the most part), my boat starts to get a little shaky, something different gets in my path, and BOOM, I'm off course again.

I feel it. I start thinking, "Boy, this week has been busy, and so out of the norm. I'm sure next week will feel differently." But, it doesn't. I find I'm still a little shaky, and things aren't quite, well, "right".

An example of this was when my son started having sleep issues and monsters. We bought him a twin bed and he'd be up a million times during the night, and sometimes up for good at 3:45 AM. I ended up having to pack a "morning bag" of all my essentials that I could just grab and use to get ready in a different bathroom, since he was up. That became part of my "new normal" then, toting that bag out every morning and back again in the evening. We also starting putting him to bed later, and leaving his door open, which did not allow us to watch TV in the living room. I hated that! I wanted that "normal" back, my time to veg on the sofa. Instead, I was having to sit on our bed in the back to watch TV, and I didn't like that.

Over the last few days, we've been able to create a "new normal", of waiting until he's asleep around 8 pm, then closing his door, and we can watch TV once again in the living room. feels so nice, to have our dogs curled up next to us, feet up, in our space.

I'm realizing too, that something else has felt off lately. I've been needing to pick up my son later, so many nights a week, due to other obligations. It used to be I could get him by 4:30. Now, some days it is 4:45 or even 5:10. I hate it, because I know he's waiting, peeking his little (and cute) face into the window peering into the daycare lobby. I keep thinking my schedule will change, but maybe, just maybe, it too, is the "new normal". Maybe that's just the way things are going to be.

Being a parent is such a growing experience for me, for me to get out of my little shell I've been living in and realize how little control I have over every little thing.

I think I've coined a new phrase for myself, "The New Normal", that normal doesn't always stay the same, but it is normal for that time period, only, until something new steps in.

How have you seen stages like that in your life, and how do you go through them with a positive attitude?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Survivor Tonight!

I'd love to hear if you are a Survivor fan too. I got started when I met my husband in 2001 and have watched ever since. We just DVRed tonight's episode and I'm getting ready to watch it.

If you are a viewer, I'd love to hear:
1) Are you excited about this year's season?
2) Do you think the girl's bathing suits can get any skimpier? C'mon! Maybe I'm just jealous because I look more like the school cafeteria worker from a few years ago in a bathing suit! (I may be exaggerating, but only a tad.)*Disclaimer: my husband says I'm being negative with that comment, and I don't mean to is just, well, I look more like the 40 and over team than the 30 and under team. That's fair to say, right?
3) Will it be worth watching? I always hate the end when the person who I want to win doesn't win, and each year I say, "That's it, I'm not watching next year's!" But then, there I am again, glued to the TV.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

WFMW: Grocery List

Something I do every week, throughout the week, is make my grocery list.

I don't know about you, but when I think of something I need, I have to immediately write it down, or I'll forget it.

I use a 5 1/2" x 8" or so spiral notebook, and make a page for the grocery store, with my menu on the bottom portion, and separate 1/2 sheets for Target and Costco as well, for when I go there eventually.

What works best for me, and is something my mom always did, is to write down the items I need in the general location of where they are in the grocery store. For instance, dairy is in the far right as I walk in, so dairy products are written there on my list. That way, when I shop, I can't miss anything on my list as I go through the store.

For coupon savings as well, I may write "C" and circle it next to the item, reminding myself of the coupon I have paper clipped to my list, or if the store is running a "Buy 10 of these products, save $5.00" type of deal, I'll write "10" and circle it near the item so that I can make sure I've purchased the 10 I need for the savings.

It is what works for me.
Do you have some ways that help you stay organized with your list of needed groceries?

For more things that work, see We're That Family.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What I Learned this Week: The Ahh Moments

Do you ever find yourself saying or thinking "Ah....?"

Here are just a few of mine from the week.
1.  There is more than one use for an empty roll of toilet paper. (His doing, not mine.) smart!

2. Weeks can go by where your child listens for the most part and is happy-go-lucky. The husband even comments at how patient the wife is (that's me). That can all crumble in one day, when one's child wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, and so does the mom. Ahhhh!!!!!!

3. You can leave the house of people who had you over for dinner (who your child knows rather well), and he can call out, "Bye George and Martha (not their real names), I love you!" and you and your husband turn and smile, so tickled at your son. sweet!

4. You have Girls' Night Out, and you are tickled to even just have to time to drive alone in the car, with your music playing, the 30 minutes it takes to get to the restaurant. Ah...heaven. Then there was the great company and food!
5. Ahhh...the call from the doctor's office that they've sent in a prescription for antibiotics for what you believe to be a sinus infection that hit you like a ton of bricks over the weekend, and you don't have to miss work during a busy week to go to the doctor. And even more "Ah....for only $7.15."

What has been a moment lately that has caused you an "Ah," moment?

See what Julie has to share about what she's learned too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Question of the Day: Finding Time

As I rush through my morning routine, I think "How do I find the time to...":
*Fold and put away laundry?
*Pick up and put away things from our trip 2 weeks ago?
*Get organized to do scrapbooking one day again?
*Catch up with emails?
*Wash the sheets that are overdue?
*Look at all those great blogs I'm behind on reading?
*Wash or get my car washed, must less really need the detailing it needs?

I know many of you stay up until all hours of the night getting things like that done after your children are in bed, but being an early bird...I just can't. I'm asleep by 9:15/9:30 most nights, and up by...well, I was awake at 4:40 AM this morning because my son was, even though he played alone in his room and I drifted in and out of sleep until I got up after 5 AM.

I really only have, at most one to one and a half hours in the evenings when I can get those "extras" done. How do you do it?

Monday, September 6, 2010

WILTW: 3-day weekend

It is always interesting to think about what I learn each week, and I'm so interested to learn what you've learned too. For more interesting adventures in learning, be sure to check out Julie's blog too.
1. First, I learned that one should anticipate if one notices one's child falling a lot one weekend, that it may continue into the week with multiple injuries, particularly facial ones.
2. I may not have learned this this week, but I did learn in prior years that when your child falls a lot, they may be going through a growing spurt. After measuring my son Friday night, I learned he's grown 3/4" in less than one month!

3. If your child starts sneezing and has a running nose earlier in the week, best chances are you and your spouse will come down with the illness and feel cruddy all of Labor Day weekend. :(

4. Having a cold allows you to make excuses to watch a lot of television with your child over Labor Day weekend, because afterall, he needs the rest too, still recovering, right?

5. It is okay to let your child take a 10 AM nap in the car on a Monday morning drive, if indeed he needs the extra sleep and you don't mind him missing out on the afternoon one, as long as you are sprawled out together on the sofa watching TV (that is hopeful for this afternoon anyway).

6. It can still be WAY TOO HOT outside over Labor Day.

7. Having a backup box of pancake mix when one wants Labor Day weekend pancakes is a good thing when the first one is full of....are they maggots..those tiny, icky things? Tell me, how on EARTH, do they get in that bag in the first place? That is my question of the day. Okay, and to be had been a LONG time since I'd made pancakes.

8. A balloon can make for some really good self-entertainment, for a long time.
9. It is possible, to be only 30 minutes from home and have to pee like you've never had to pee in your life, and have to ask your husband to pull over at a gas station to go, before needing to cough again and fear for wetting yourself.

10. A 3-day weekend is THE BEST!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

That Kind of Night

Do you ever have that kind of night where you know there are a million and one things you should be doing, but you can't quite put your finger on any of them (or maybe subconsciously don't want to)?

You even try going to bed to read 30 minutes early and your husband asks what you're doing.

You wander aimlessly, even attempting to make a grocery list for the week, with yummy meals planned, but can't think beyond the package of frozen ground beef and frozen chicken breasts in the freezer.

You ponder that it is a holiday weekend coming up and that you should make something GREAT on the grill (that would be the husband actually), but you've not been eating so well lately, so maybe you should go healthy instead of that terrific ribeye that sounds so good, or...there's always the KFC that is traditional for Labor Day weekend....but're trying to think healthy (did I say that already?). Back to those frozen chicken breasts.

Even your blog post is a bit of a ramble, because like I mentioned, it is like you are lost in the middle of the million things you should be doing, but....well, they just aren't coming to you, nor....
do you really want them to.

Is this the perfect state of mind, where you can't stress over everything you have to do, because it is just not on your mind? Do you ever have that kind of night, or day, or moment?

Maybe my weekend away, with my husband and son, to see my dad and his wife was just that relaxing. Look, I was asked to kiss my dad on the cheek for this photo, and this was what was captured....I wonder if that was that kind of night too? :)