Sunday, September 30, 2012

Welcome to My 31 Days


As I mentioned a while back I'm taking part in the 31 Day Series from the Nesting Place.  It runs the month of October and while some people will probably pick a really specific topic, I'm going a bit more general.

What do I mean by a more balanced life?  Taking care of all those things you need to have a handle on so that you can enjoy your life.  Like what?  Well, getting finances in order is a big one.  Cleaning and organizing my home is another biggie.  Making time for fun stuff with the kids, even just enjoying the little day to day moments more.  Making more time for my husband.  Making time to do the things I enjoy.  Making new friends, and making a better effort of keeping up with the old.

With the holidays coming up, October is an excellent time for me to get my act together before the madness begins. I'll be posting about all of those things, as well as a few of my usual slice of life and photo posts since taking time out to enjoy the little moments is part of leading a balanced life too.

As recommended by the Nester, I will add links to the rest of the posts below, so you can just click through if you came from the Nesting Place.

Day 1 - October Goals - To help keep me on track I've started setting monthly goals for myself for bigger projects and anything too big to be a one line item on a todo list.

Day 2 - Personalities - Trying to balance the personalities that make up our little family

Day 3 - Blogging - Trying to balance writing, reading blogs more efficiently

Day 4 - Apps - I'm a bit of an app junkie and am working to reform my appy ways

Day 5 - To Do List - My new system, working much better than the old

Day 6 - Independence - As my kids are getting a little older they want more independence.  I agree to an extent.

Day 7 - A Good Friday - A good day for everyone

Day 8 - Time Management - My old fashioned but new way of managing my time

Day 9 - Hoarding vs Being Sentimental - Trying to rein in my daughter's hoarding tendencies

Day 10 - Friendships - A goal for this year - make new friends but keep the old

Day 11 - Fall - I love fall, but I don't like Halloween.  Tricky balance when you have kids in the house

Day 12 - Pinterest - Why I love it, and how I don't get obsessed by it.

Day 13 - Facebook - Why I love and hate it

Day 14 - Screen Time for Kids - This is one of those topics that gets me up on my soapbox. 

Day 15 - Beauty & Raising Little Girls - the line between building self esteem and empty words

Day 16 - Fall is Here - Wordless Tuesday doesn't have quite the right ring to it, but enjoy my little shot of fall as I took a day off from writing.

Day 17 - Back to the Challenge - Yesterday was just a pretty little post so I could enjoy a good day, rather than stressing about writing a post.  Today I'm back on track.

Day 18 - Finding A Middle Ground - I've been hard on my daughter in the past for being so opinionated, when I realized she gets it from me.

Day 19 - Going from 2 to 3 - People often ask me what it's like to have three kids (especially ones who already have 2 and are considering having one more).  Here's my answer.

Day 20 - Family Time - Weekends are for family time.

Day 21 - Time to Start Dressing Like a Grownup - I make my kids pick out their clothes the night before and try my best to make sure they look nice, but am lazy when it comes to how I look.  Time to grow up.

Day 22 - Don't Go Through Life Looking Through a Viewfinder - Put the camera(phone) down, and enjoy the moments with your kids.

Day 23 - Love Is A Given, Respect Is Earned - I heard Earl Woods say this long ago, and agree

Day 24 - Keeping My Eye on the Prize - I'm enjoying running, but also looking forward to slowing down

Day 25 - How I Start My Day - enjoying life's little moments before they disappear

Day 26 - Busy Call Weekend - My husband's on call which means I'm the lone parent for the day.  Usually no big deal, but I scheduled a crazy couple of hours this afternoon. Luckily I have a Mom's day off scheduled for next weekend, so that will help keep me sane.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Post Sale


We had a very successful sale.  The kids behaved well, never got lost, and didn't whine about getting anything beyond what we got, and stood nicely in line for 20 minutes to pay.  So here's what we got.

My apologies for the pixelated pictures
For Little Man
1 Sweater
1 Flannel Button Down Shirt (possible Christmas shirt)
1 button down J Crew shirt
1 button down NWT shirt from Lord & Taylor
2 Long sleeve shirts
1 Gap long sleeve polo
1 pair pjs
1 pair pants
6 turtlenecks
3 books
1 R2D2 toy

For Little Hugger (she didn't need anything)
Red Velvet holiday dress
Ariel toy
Barbie toys

For Little Reader
1 book
Black holiday dress
Black shoes to go with dress
4 long sleeve shirts
1 skort
1 jacket
1 sweater
1 nightgown

Grand total : $83.46!!!! I also sold some stuff so after deducting my profits, it really only cost me about $25 bucks for all that. At this point the only things I need to buy to get my kids through fall and winter are some pants for Little Man and maybe a pair of shoes for Little Hugger to go with her dress. 









Friday, September 28, 2012

Consignment Sales

The leaves are changing, temperatures are getting cooler. T shirts are ok on some days but shorts are probably out of the question at this point. It's time to get the fall/winter clothes for the kids if you haven't already.

I have spent the last week going through my kids closets having them try pretty much everything on as we prepare for a sale this weekend. It's run by the women's group I belong to so I am both a seller and a buyer.

I have about 75 things tagged and ready to be dropped off tonight. Clothes, Hallowe'en costumes, some nursery items, and a few toys. For the past few sales I let my kids keep the profits of any toys they choose to sell. They definitely purge a little more this way.

Usually I leave the kids at home when I shop the sale, but unfortunately my husband is going back to the Ryder Cup (he's already gone Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday) so I'll have to bring them with me. Since my kids are getting older I think we'll be ok. Also clothing sizes are less accurate as they get older so it'll be helpful to have them there to try stuff on Luckily we don't really need a lot either, so don't need to get there right when it opens.

The timing of this sale is perfect too, as the weather has still been relatively warm so I haven't had to buy any new clothes at full price yet. I did buy a winter jacket and snow pants for Little Man just in case I don't find them at the sale.

Here's a picture from last years sale - this is just the boys clothes and toys there's a ton more.  I look forward to finding some great bargains and hopefully selling more than I buy. I'll post the results tomorrow.

My Favorite Tree On our Walk Home From School

I wish it were in our yard

Thursday, September 27, 2012

31 Days Test Post



Just playing around since this is my first time participating.  Stay tuned for more to come on 10/1


Monday, September 24, 2012

Brownie Campout

This weekend Little Reader and I went on her first Brownie campout. We stayed in cabins at a very nice YMCA camp in Wisconsin.

We started off with horseback riding at a stable on the way to the camp. It was raining most of the ride up but had stopped by the time everyone got there. Little Reader was the first to get saddled up and she was a little nervous never having ridden a horse before. I have to admit I was a little nervous too. The last time I rode a horse I was in 3rd grade and I think it was technically a pony. I didn't tell her that though as I wanted her to feel like there was no reason to be nervous, cause there really wasn't.

We were led by a guide and took about an hour ride on a trail through the forest. It was really pretty and I would have taken pictures but was too nervous to let go of the reins and saddle to fish the camera out of my pocket. We all had very easygoing horses, so everyone was fine and enjoyed it.

We headed a bit further North to our camp and settled in and had lunch. The cabin was extremely nice - 2 levels with 8 rooms with 4 bunks each, 4 full baths. The lower level had a full kitchen, ping pong table, living room with sunken fireplace. Plenty of room for 13 girls and their Moms (especially since 6 people didn't even spend the night).

After lunch we went to the cabin to make our snack. The leaders had found a cute poem about the meaning of Girl Scouts. Each girl had been assigned an ingredient that symbolized that trait (predetermined by the leaders). We dumped them all into a huge garbage bag, gave it a few good shakes and scooped up cups into Ziploc Bags for everyone of Kix, M&Ms, popcorn, pretzels, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and a couple of other things. It was pretty good, and a cute idea. Ok, there was a minor technical difficulty when the bag ripped due to the weight of the M&Ms and chips but we solved that quickly.
































Next was the archery range. The girls all got a few turns and Little Reader had a couple of really good shots. The Moms all got to try too. I have to admit I surprised myself by actually hitting one about 2 inches from the bulls eye. I'm normally not good at these aiming things.

Then we headed to the climbing wall. Little Reader had tried it at Indian Princess so immediately suited up. There was a zip line in the same area and she was a little disappointed we weren't doing it, but she's done that before (and will again) at the Indian Princess campouts. Most of the girls made it all the way to the top, and a couple went twice. None of the Mom's did this one.

Last was the low ropes course. There were about 8 different sections that you had to get through. Some you could get through solo, but most required some teamwork. Nobody set any records on this one, but they did all have fun and worked together well.

At that point we were done with our scheduled activities for the day, but our camp leader suggested we try out the tube slides before dinner. I was picturing alpine slides, but when we got there we saw long corrugated black tubes with some pretty beat up cracked sleds next to them. There were a bunch of Dads there with an Indian Princess group who laughed when we asked where the good sleds were. Those were the good sleds. The daredevils went first and pretty soon all the girls were going and they had a blast. A few of the Moms went too - not me. I'm not a fan of tight dark places even if you could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

After dinner we went back to our cabin and made a craft. Fleece pillows that you tie and stuff. Everyone signed each others. It was cute, and they were all excited about them.

Around 730, our camp coordinator came back to walk us to our campfire. It was just a brief walk through the woods but we never would have found it in the dark. They had already built the fire for us, and the two camp employees led us in silly sing a long. After that we made smores and then headed back to our cabin.

The girls were all pretty hyped up on chocolate at this point, so started getting a bit crazy. We managed to get them in pjs and started a game of charades (thankfully the Moms were just the audience, I hate charades). They had a lot of fun playing, and once they were doing well one of the Mom's brought out a box of wine, which actually was pretty decent - Bota box red zin.  We all turned in around 11, and Little Reader and I slept until about 7.

After a quick breakfast we headed out to the marsh right by our cabin for a nature walk. The leaves have started to turn a little bit so it was really pretty. The girls all picked wildflowers and cattails along the way.  IT was a fun weekend and although it was chilly we had clear weather the whole time.  One of the great things about the trip was that it was largely paid for with money the girls are earned selling cookies last year.  

On the way home we stopped at Mars' Cheese Castle. If you have ever crossed the Illinois/Wisconsin border on I-94 you've seen this place. It's an over the top cheese store. They have every kind of cheese you could imagine (some of the stranger ones were Chocoloate Gouda Fudge and Blueberry Gouda). They have cheese breads and other baked goods, lots of candy and chocolate, all kinds of interesting sodas, and Packers paraphernalia. It's worth a stop and a peek if you're passing by.

We got home around lunch time and had a little time to relax before her soccer game. Her team won again. She had one shot on goal that went wide and a few other good plays.

It was fun to spend time with her one on one since we so rarely get to do that anymore. I enjoyed watching her interact with her friends and having fun.  I also liked getting to know her classmates a little better and was glad to find out that the ones I find annoying she did too.  She's much more social and confident than I am. There was a piano in our cabin and she played her current piece quite a few times just because she wanted to (I would have been embarrassed to do that in case someone heard me mess up). Then again she plays better than I do. But she's good advertising for her teacher - three different people asked where she takes lessons as they wanted to start their children on piano.

It was good to finally get to really talk to the other Moms. It's funny when your kids are babies/toddlers you have lots of time to chat with other Moms at pickup/dropoff/play time etc. As they get older those opportunities go away. Our school lets 3rd graders walk home on their own and many do.  For the most part the Moms are a good bunch. There are a couple who I think are a little too hands off and let their kids get away with too much, but also some who I discovered were more fun than I had expected.

When we came home and I told my husband about our trip he joked about the difference between Moms and Dads planning a campout. They don't have a "concierge" who coordinates and leads activities and prebuilds the campfire. They don't do a cute craft or make their own snacks. Their cabins are a bit more rustic and no one showers (or plays piano). Still we all have fun with our kids and that's what matters.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

He's Punny and He Doesn't Even Know It

Last night at dinner we were talking about the space shuttle and airplanes, when Little Man said, "Speaking of things that fly, what time is it?"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Friendship - Part 1

Yesterday Little Reader came home from dance class in a terrible funk. She was snipping at her brother and sister, talking back and yelling at me. I put her in timeout and once she had calmed down we talked.  She admitted that she had gotten mad because she had had a bad day.  The first problem was a misunderstanding with her teacher, but that was quickly solved.  The main problem was her former BFF.  Last year she had three really close friends (A, B  & S) in her class.  Over the summer B moved and no longer goes to the same school.  A has a different teacher so the only time Little Reader sees her is at lunch and recess.  S is still in her class and they play together.  A has also recently started taking gymnastics and often wants to spend recess practicing her new moves with some of the other girls who take gymnastics.  Little Reader isn't interested in gymnastics and feels left out. 

I asked if she had invited A to play and she said she had, and was told that she would rather work on cartwheels or whatever.  I asked her if she had told A how she feels about being left out and she said yes.  As she was telling me all this, Sting started singing in my head,

Free, free, set them free
Free, free, set them free
Free, free, set them free

I asked her if she had ever heard the phrase, "if you love somebody, set them free".  I told her that either A has made new friends based on her new interests and she and A may not be as close anymore, or if she stops asking A to play, she may eventually get tired of her gymnastics stuff and come back and want to play with Little Reader again.  In the meantime she still has S and other friends.  It's always sad to lose a friend, but it happens - especially in grade school. 


Friendship - Part 2

14 years ago we moved to Chicago and I didn't know anyone. I was nervous about making friends as I'm just not very good at meeting new people.

My husband (then fiancé) was starting his residency so was going to be working long hours and would pretty much only be meeting other residents. When you spend 80-100 hours a week working with people those are usually the last people you want to see on your time off. The onus was on me to fill our social calendar.

There was another girl who started the same day as I did. She was in many ways the extroverted version of me. She had gone to college and worked a few years in Chicago so had lots of friends. Her boyfriend at the time and my husband hit it off pretty quickly. The rest of the company was also a social bunch and it didn't take long before Friday night happy hours became the norm, and it wasn't unusual for those happy hours to last past midnight.

Fast forward 6 years. I stopped working when Little Reader was born, she and her boyfriend got married and had kids of their own and she stopped working too. They live pretty close by us and our husbands have a weekly tee time at the local course and we would all hang out at the beach in the summer.

This past weekend my husband was late coming back from golf and at first I was pretty pissed as I had to take all three kids with me to Little Hugger's dance class and couldn't go running as I had planned. Found out later that the reason for the delay was that his friend had told him that they are getting divorced. They had been having trouble for a while and she recently admitted to having an affair.

At this point I'm not really sure what to do. Despite being in close proximity and often seeing each other and having fun in group settings, she and I haven't done anything together just the two of us in ages (if ever, now that I really think about it). Obviously our husbands are closer friends than we are at this point. I've been going back and forth trying to decide whether to contact her and if so how.

We never talk on the phone, so it would be awkward if I called out of the blue. A Facebook message or email seems too impersonal. I thought about a good old-fashioned letter but not even sure what to say. At this point I'm sure she knows that I know, and as more time goes by it's going to get more awkward. Our next group event is a friend's kids birthday party next month. That seems too long to go without any contact. Our circle of friends is mostly people we met through her at some point.

If it were just irreconcilable differences or whatever the term is these days, I think it would be much easier for me to reach out to her. Say I'm sorry to hear they're getting divorced, let her vent if she wants to, and move on. I've had other friends get divorced but in those cases I had a definite allegiance to one of the people. This is the first time I've been friends with both of them.

The ironic thing in this whole situation is I vividly remember a lunch room conversation about the movie Unfaithful with Richard Gere and Diane Lane back when we were working. Someone was raving about the performances and suggesting we should all see it and she vehemently refused. She said she could watch scary movies, suspenseful movies, but she couldn't stand watching movies about infidelity as it was the worst thing you could do to another person.

I guess as my Mom always said, you have an opinion til you get another.






Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Campout

This weekend I'm taking Little Reader on her first Brownie campout. It's just a quick overnight to a YMCA camp about 2 hours away.

She's been on campouts before for Indian Princess with her Dad, but this is the first time she and I are going.

As the weekend passed I started wondering what we should pack. I got the suggested packing list from one of the troop leaders yesterday and it's crazy. Sleeping bag, waterbottle, and flashlight are the obvious necessities. Soap/shampoo/towel for showering. For clothes, they recommend bringing 3 different outfits (aside from the one you wear when you arrive), 4 pairs of underwear, 4 pairs of socks, 2 sweatshirts, 2 pairs of shoes.

I understand we're going horseback riding which can get dirty, and maybe canoeing so you could get wet, but come on. Did I mention we will be gone for 24 hours? The killer is that at the bottom of the page they remind you not to pack more than you can carry ;)

What's the packing list when the Dads go? Sleeping bag, flashlight, and clothes appropriate for the weather. No one showers cause it's only 24 hours. Adult beverages for the Dads for after the girls are in bed. That's it. Actually that last item is missing from our packing list. Hm. Would I look like an alcoholic if I bring a bottle of screw top wine? Or would I look like I loser if I didn't?

Monday, September 17, 2012

31 Days Series

Photobucket 

Towards the end of August I stumbled across the 31 Day Series on nesting place.  I haven't joined any of these challenges before but hope this will help get me back on track taking care of a lot of the projects and issues I need to deal with now that I have time to focus on them. You pick a theme that you can write about for 31 days.  It doesn't have to be a challenge but I'm taking it as one.  She offers a couple of blog button templates that you can customize accordingly.  I made this one on Picmonkey.

My plan is to tackle some of the projects and personal issues I want to take care of.  I've spent the last few days coming up with a list of potential posts. The hard part for me will be writing everyday so I'll probably have to write some posts ahead of time.  Along with posts for the series I still plan on my usual style of posts, so it'll be busy, but I'm looking forward to it.
  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Let's Go Fly A Kite

Little Man and I were playing outside yesterday when I found a tangled up kite buried under our other outside toys. I was ready to just toss it in the trash but I managed to get it untangled. Since it was a little windy, I figured we'd go up early to the school and fly it in the field before picking up his sisters.
He had a blast!!



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jasmine Nights

Saba lives in Wales during World War II with her parents and paternal grandmother. Her father is Turkish and extremely strict and traditional. 

She loves to sing and performs for some injured troops at a hospital, and she meets Dom who is recovering from a plane crash. She is offered the opportunity to audition for the ENSA - a British version of the USO. Her father is at sea when she recieves the notice and although her mother knows that he will be livid, she wants Saba to follow her dreams and allows her to go.

She heads to London to audition.  After he is released Dom tracks Saba down at the theater and they spend more time together.  She gets the ENSA gig, but with it comes a very unpredictable schedule which makes it hard for her and Dom to stay in touch. 

Saba is stationed in Northern Africa - mostly Egypt.  She is excited about being in a new and different culture.  She is young and naive but one of the other members of the company, Arleta, shows her the ropes.  She's a bit of a partyer and adds a bit of humor to the story.  While Saba's primary job is performing with ENSA she is recruited by a BBC broadcaster to work as a spy. I have to admit I thought this thread seemed a bit weak. I guess I've seen too many bad movies, but I thought Dermot Cleeve was pretending to be a spy to get Saba's attention. The information she gathered seemed pretty inconsequential to me, but in the end it was useful. 


Saba and Dom do manage to reunite but then Saba needs to leave suddenly to take care of one of her Secret Service assignments.  She can't tell Dom the truth and he assumes she doesn't love him.  There is a lot of back and forth and missed connections between the two of them.   Overall I enjoyed the book and will definitely look in to other books by this author.  I admit my synopsis is a bit short and disjointed but that is because I finished the book a week ago but after trying to edit my review on my phone I accidentally deleted it - TWICE - and I don't feel like writing it all over again.  Sorry. 



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Whatever Happened to Never Forget?



Yesterday was a beautiful Tuesday morning, just like 11 years ago. My life has changed quite a bit since then. 3 kids, living in the suburbs, no longer working outside the home.

I didn't lose anyone that day although I did know one person by association. The younger brother of one of my grade school classmates was on flight 11. He was 23.

My Dad worked for 9 years in One World Trade Center. I used to live going to visit his office. Standing at the bottom and looking up at the amazing tall buildings. Most of our special family dinners were at Windows on the World. His company moved out back in the 80s but we always referred to the Twin Towers as Dad's office. When I heard the towers had fallen (I was at work at the time and we heard it on the radio when it happened) I cried.



I cried for the people who had perished, I cried for the people they had left behind, but I also cried because those memories were now just going to have to be memories. My husband and I had already been planning a trip to NYC for the following month. We were planning on staying at the Millennium Hotel downtown and were going to have dinner at the Windows on the World.

We still went on our trip, stayed at Marriott Marquis in Times Square instead, went to a different fancy restaurant. As much as I enjoyed being back in New York it wasn't the same. We went down to Ground Zero, or as close as we could get. It was eerie being down there with a gap in the skyline, barricades and soldiers everywhere. I felt I needed to go but hated doing it.  My parents have not been back to the City since 2001.  My Mom says she doesn't want to go.  She doesn't want to actually see the city without the Towers there.

I still get sad anytime I see a picture of the skyline. If it's an old picture it makes me sentimental, if it's newer it makes me angry.

In the aftermath of the attacks there was lots of talk of "Never Forget". The country came together in a way it hadn't in a long time. Friends of mine who lived in New York at the time talked about how the huge city came to feel like a community. Despite living in the US most of my life, I am not an American citizen, but after that day I started feeling more patriotic and more American.

Yesterday morning I retold my story and my feelings from that day to my kids. I sent them each to school with a little flag that we had left over from the Memorial Day parade. The school had their flag at half mast. After school I asked my kids what the school did to honor the day - nothing. Nothing said in the morning announcements, nothing said in the classrooms. When other students saw my daughters' flags they asked why they had them. When they told them it was in remembrance of 9/11, most kids responded, oh yeah, I forgot about that. Now to be fair these kids weren't born when it happened so I don't expect them to remember. But what about the parents? If not for all the posts and pictures friends of mine posted on Facebook in honor of those who died, it would have been like any other day, which isn't fair to those who died or lost loved ones.

I will never forget.....
The tears I shed that day and the days to follow for the lives that were lost
The bravery of the passengers on United flight 93 for bringing the plane down in Pennsylvania and saving the lives of countless strangers.
How eerie it felt walking home from work without a plane in the sky
How scary it was walking home that first day wondering if a strike on Chicago was next
How awful I felt when I heard that one of my friends in DC went to a hospital to give blood for the victims of the Pentagon attacks, and was turned away as they didn't need any. There weren't enough survivors who needed blood
How proud we all felt hearing the stories of brave first responders rushing to save lives while risking their own.






Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things You Don't Hear Often....


Mommy!!! A squirrel climbed Little Man!!
WTF???

The kids were playing hide and seek and Little Man was hiding in a corner of our yard. I guess the squirrel thought he was a tree? Luckily the squirrel got startled too and scampered away. No scratches or bites.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Questions of a Third Grader



Little Reader has been studying space exploration at school. Last night she asked me: How many people have been to the moon?
Me: 12 men have been to the moon (after a quick google)
Little Reader: Why not any women?
Me: At the time, not many (if any) women were astronauts?
Little Reader: Why not?
Me: Well, to be an astronaut you have to be good at science and math and people used to think that women weren't smart enough to understand math and science. If girls had trouble with those subjects at the time they would often just give up instead of trying, or asking for help.
Little Reader: Hm, well I like science and math and the girls in my class are smarter than the boys. The boys are all.....disruptive.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bloglovin Test

Just realized I'm supposed to claim my blog for to really get me some Bloglovin - and paste this code into a post.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

New Rules

It's been about a year since my husband discovered my snowball of financial fuckups. After skimming the treetops we're finally in a more positive place.

We still have a shitload of scary debt, but....
- his car is paid off
- the lease on my car is up soon and we should be able to refinance the remaining balance to get a much lower monthly payment
- he now gets a quarterly bonus

Last night we spent time figuring out how best to use the money from the most recent bonus. Rather than using all of it to pay chunks of credit card debt, I'm setting aside an emergency fund until the next bonus check comes in. Hopefully, we can use the Q3 check completely for debt reduction. He's also expecting a raise 12/1 so that will help too. We've still got quite a ways to go before we are back in a good situation but at least things are no longer as bad as they were.

To help stay on track, I need to limit the miscellaneous expenses. My husband hardly spends any money as he works a lot, weekday meals are provided and he dumped the Starbucks habit in favor of a Keurig a while ago. I've come up with a couple of rules for myself to limit the wasted money.

NEW RULES
NO credit cards - no need to explain this one. We all know they are evil if misused.

No more lies or not admitting to him if things get tight again.

No more getting cashback off the debit card. If i need cash, go to the ATM, get a receipt - KNOW my balance. I used to guess and sometimes I was pretty close, but most of the time waaaay off.

Spend at least as much time on mint.com as I do on Pinterest ;) Seriously though at least weekly, (preferably daily) check-ins on transactions

One bank account for bills. One for fun. If there is no money in the fun account, then we can't have fun it's as simple as that.

Read and check any statements that come in. As much as I love the convenience of auto billpay, putting bills on autopilot is bad. Great to use the billpay to make sure bills are paid on time, but I hardly ever look at statements anymore. Not good.

Allow $20 per week in cash for impulse buys and/or crafty stuff. Anything leftover rolls over to the next week.

I started a couple of weeks ago and I've been good about it. I've been to Target a couple of times since and would see something I wanted but didn't really need. If I had the cash I would get it, if not, it had to wait. Right now I have a few different things on my wish list - nothing huge, but still enough that each thing would have been $10-20. Again doesn't sound like much but it's that little crap that adds up as you convince yourself that $15 on fun office supplies to be used for getting organized are worth it. For a lot of people it may not break the bank but it's still money that we should be using for other things.

Best of all some of the things when I thought about them again the following week when I got my "allowance", I realized I didn't really need those things anyway.

Since I already use coupons, and meal plan I'm not sure what else I can do to cut costs on our groceries - our biggest variable expense. I mean yes I could cut our wine budget, but come on, I need one vice and I already by the cheap stuff - Barefoot Chardonnay is a current favorite.

Any tips - on cutting costs or suggestions for cheap wines - are always appreciated.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Nice Afternoon After a Disappointing (But Productive) Morning

This morning I was all excited to go running as I haven't been since Saturday and had had a good 4 mile run that day, and thought I could do the same today but I woke up to this.


I decided to just shower and get dressed and take the kids to school. As soon as I had dropped off Little Man, the rain stopped and about 15 minutes later the sky looked like this.


I should have just gone but at that point I was already showered and had convinced myself that I should clean instead. So that's what I did. Cleaned the basement and did my best to ignore the beautiful day upstairs. After I was done cleaning I used this tutorial from Organizing Made Fun to create a printable from Picmonkey. It's a great tutorial if you haven't tried it yet. At first I thought her steps seemed so detailed that I would just skip the tutorial and try it on my own. That didn't work, so back to the tutorial and I made a pretty little cleaning checklist. Not sure how easy it is to edit once it's been saved I haven't tried yet

I have other ideas for others, some I may laminate. I want to play with it some more first.

This afternoon I took my daughters to their piano lessons and took Little Man to the Nature Center next to the teachers house. Mother Nature must have felt a little guilty for messing with my morning because we were treated to 3 different types of birds - a family of ducks, a swan, and the tall skinny one on the left I'm guessing is a heron or egret. Usually all we see are Canadian geese and a couple of ducks.

Hopefully I can get a good run in on Friday as Dr. J is on call this weekend, which makes running tough. My kids aren't quite old enough that I can leave all three home alone for any length of time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Little Man's First Basketball Class


This afternoon Little Man went to his first basketball class.  He has been wanting to take this class for over a year.  Every time we would drop his sisters off at dance class we would pass the gym of our community center and he would see lots of little kids playing all different sports.  He would always stand at the door watching them playing, hoping that he could join them.

This season he is finally old enough.  He was giddy all day when I told him he was going to start basketball today.  After lunch we headed over to the gym and he joined 6 other 3 and 4 year old boys and had a great time.  He came out with a HUGE smile, and I asked if he had fun - YES!  Was it as fun as you had hoped - YES!  Was it more fun than you had hoped? - YES!  It was more fun than watching construction.  Very high praise from a 3 year old boy :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September Goals & Catching Up



Today has been a totally lazy day as my husband is post call and tired after being called in at 430am. It's cloudy so the kids want to stay inside. Perfect day to catch up on projects and set my goals for September.

I've updated my photo albums and uploaded all our photos to Shutterfly
I finally made a basket for Little Hugger's baby doll stroller. She's been asking for ages.

So goals for this month are:
- Run 50 miles (total)
- Stick to a budget
- Stick to a cleaning routine
- Update project list

Some of the big to-dos are
- Figure out collages for blog
- Catch up on my Project list
- Sew a comforter for Little Readers Build A Bear Bed
- Tag clothes for Kids Sale

Tomorrow we will tackle the honey-do list. I'm giving my husband a pass today, which is taking advantage of to the fullest - watching golf and studying up on NFL in preparation for his fantasy football draft Tuesday night.