Thursday, January 30, 2014

Life's Little Luxury Necessities

In reflecting on what we could do to cut back our spending, we looked closely at what we were spending our money on. What was necessary, what was not, and what was that in-between category I like to call a luxury necessity.

For us Netflix is a luxury necessity. Yes, technically we don't need Netflix, but we use it a lot and feel we are getting our money's worth out of it. We own movies and get the free basic cable channels, but Netflix adds so much more for a cheap price that it feels justifiable.

Another for me is getting the newspaper delivered to our door everyday. I read the newspaper, my husband will glance through it occasionally- he usually gets the news online. It's an expense, but again a minor one, especially considering the fact that I use the coupons and can usually recoup the cost of the newspaper, sometimes more. Plus I learn about events that are happening around town that would be hard to keep track of otherwise. It's very justifiable. Also, we recycle the newspapers.

http://www.harmonsgrocery.com/

One other luxury necessity we enjoy is grocery shopping at Harmons. Yes, sometimes the prices are more, but not always. But the experience is worth any extra cost. Whenever we go to Walmart or Winco, it feels like we are little guinea pigs running around a huge maze trying to avoid running into the crazy looking mice and rats that are everywhere. We know where everything is at Harmons, they carry certain items that other stores don't, and the quality of the produce and meat beats other stores. The have some extra nice items, like a salad bar with sushi, artisan breads, and really good store made bratwurst and store sliced thick bacon. Also, several employees seem to know us because it feels like we have to go at least once a week to the store- they are very friendly.

Those are some of life's little luxury necessities we enjoy, and we'll keep on enjoying them because we save by avoiding the non-necessity luxuries.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Confessions of a Pregnant Weeper

We all know that pregnancy hormones creates an onslaught of emotions we'd all rather not deal with. I'd like to say that most of the times these emotions are very valid and sincere, but unfortunately that is not the case for me. Here are some of the more ridiculous things I've cried about while gestating.

Asian man in truck: It was pretty early on in my pregnancy while my baby was developing vital organs such as his brain and heart and such, so my body was working overtime...that being said, I was driving home and I saw a young Asian man driving a large truck. He looked so small and innocent behind the wheel of the menacing machinery and I was suddenly struck by how fast people grow up and have to go into the world and drive big trucks of their own. I of course burst into sobs.

It's a Hard Knock Life: Again while driving I was listening to show tunes (because I am really cool) and It's a Hard Knock Life came on Sirius Radio. I lasted until around, "No one's there when your dreams at night get creepy! No one cares if you grow...of if you shrink! No one dries when your eyes get wet an' weepy! From all the cryin' you would think this place's a sink!" Then I melted into a blubbery mess. Because orphans.

My daughter's lisp: My daughter has a very very slight lisp. It's the most adorable thing in the world. Occasionally when she's telling me an experience that made her especially sad or happy, her speech patterns are so irresistibly adorable that they will bring tears to my eyes because of her innocence and sweet nature.

My sister's bachelorette party: Weddings can be emotional for anyone, especially a pregnant person. That being said, the night before my sister's wedding we were having a FUN PARTY which didn't include ANY EMOTIONAL STIMULI. Right after opening a bunch of scandalous gifts from her friends and playing lots of fun games I started picturing all the girls women at the party as I'll always remember them. Little girls. My sister is six years younger than I and I've known most of her friends and watched them grow up and suddenly it hit me that my little sister was getting MARRIED and I couldn't stop crying. Seriously, I was leaking out of my eyes and even though I got control over my voice and my heart, I couldn't stop inexplicably leaking tears. I kept wiping them away and all her friends were looking at me like I was a lunatic (which I am).

It's a Boy! Now lots of women cry during ultrasounds, especially when learning the gender. This one is more of the way than I cried than the actual subject material. I have two daughters, and the ultrasound tech whispered to my girls what kind of baby I would be having. My two year old informed me that it was going to be another sister, and I'm not going to lie, as much as I love daughters I was a little let down that I wasn't going to be having a son. That is until the Tech corrected my two year old and said, "No it's not a sister, it's a boy!" Perhaps it was my initial let down that caused me to be caught up in a storm of emotions. I was on the verge of tears learning that it was a girl, and now it was going to be a boy and the sudden and surprising high caught me in an uncontrollable sob. I had to get a hold of myself because I was shaking so badly she couldn't continue the ultrasound. picture a grown woman on a table curled up in the fetal position shaking like a crazy person and ugly crying. Pregnancy. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Guilty Pleasures: Story of My Life

Okay.  Here's the thing. I think I have great taste in music (who doesn't think that really?).  It's eclectic. Maybe that means I actually have horrible taste in music.  I don't know!

Regardless of musical taste, I was driving home from work a week ago and I flipped on the radio (which I rarely do, mostly because my drive home is 10 minutes maximum) and maybe Story of My Life by One Direction was on the radio.  And maybe I was happy about that. And maybe I kind of sang along.

Then I felt a little embarrassed because I am a 30-year-old woman and, for whatever reason, really enjoying and liking a song by One Direction seems like something that shouldn't be a thing at this point in my life.  Then I said "screw that, this is a great song."

So yeah. Maybe it isn't a GREAT song, but it hit me in just that way that a good song should.  I was genuinely pleased to be listening to it.  The same thing happened to me on the way home today and I'm sure it will continue to happen because I definitely really like Story of My Life.






P.S. I feel inclined to add that I don't really like other One Direction songs. This is why I'm counting this as a guilty pleasure. It's out of the norm, and generally, I probably would keep this song hidden on my iPod and only listen to it when I was alone in my car, but I mean REALLY listen to it. Sing to it like a crazy person and sheepishly turn down the radio when I realize I drive a Hybrid and everyone walking past my car can hear me.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Get a life!

*This post is not meant to invoke any arguments or opinions on current laws, or debates. Simply a story of my life.

My husband said that to me. Right to my face.

Okay, so perhaps I am exaggerating. Maybe just a little.  Alright, that's not at all what he said, but that is how I took it.

Let me give you some quick background.  My husband is a huge gun enthusiast. He loves them. He is fascinated by them.  He has a vast knowledge of gun type and how they work and can name any gun we see in a movie even if it's only shown for the briefest of  moments.  I have to admit I am beginning to be able to as well. Crazy.

Well, he loves guns. They are his hobby. He learns about that, he plans to go shooting, he plans the next gun he wants to buy, and he loves telling me about them.  One night, he said to me "Hun, I feel bad always spending money on guns, you need to come up with a hobby to spend on too!"  This is his way of telling me he wants me to find something that I enjoy as much as he does.  But it took me by surprise.

I felt as though he was telling me to get a life.  And as I sat thinking of what hobby I could focus on, I found that I have many likes, but nothing I have enjoyed enough to call a hobby, per say.

So I sat down, and looked at pinterest (how did we ever get ideas before that lovely, horrible website?!) And I realized, I enjoy looking at ideas for improving my home.  We live in an apartment still, so I can only do so much, but with a treasure trove of ideas before me, I have found quite a few I can do.

And you know what? I am stoked!  I have already found several ideas, and even begun on some (this conversation and decision were fairly recent)  I'll share my first once it's done. I get this silly joy of making things for my home.

And I realized, it's very freeing. I have something I can do that is completely frivoulous, something that no one else may care about, something that is all mine.  Selfish, I am aware.  But, you need to know how good that feels.

So I challenge you. GET A LIFE.  Find a hobby, do something that's for you, that you enjoy, and embrace it.  Who cares if anyone else likes it with you, or if anyone wants to join.  I am beyond proud of my silly project that I will hang in my dining area.  And it feels good.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Social Media Challenge: Share Something Positive

Today's social media challenge, is for you to share something positive on the internet. 

The internet can be a cesspool of negativity between YouTube comments, political rivalries, and status rants, so today lets try to add a little more happiness by sharing something that uplifts and inspires us. 

It might be an inspiring quote you came across on Pinterest



It could be a moving video you saw on YouTube



Perhaps it's just a nostalgic post you saw on Buzzfeed


Or a cute picture of a child you love

Spread some JOY today

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book Review


If you are a Mom who has ever dreamed about starting a business while raising a family, this is a book you should read. Mom, Incorporated by Aliza Sherman and Danielle Smith goes through the details of what it takes and how to do it. It also includes worksheets that are helpful in figuring out how your business would work. Even if you don't have a business idea in mind, but are interested in the idea, this book will help you decide if it would be a good choice for you.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ninja Power-Washer: My Super Weird Bucket List

A while ago we had a fun post about one of our author's anti-bucket list. It inspired me to take the time and write out my actual bucket list, mostly in secret hope that my husband would stumble upon it and immediately begin planning an extravagant hot-air balloon trip. But as I wrote my bucket list, a standard part of every person's life, I realized that my list is super weird.

1. Ride in a hot-air balloon.
This is, proudly, my most normal wish. So it goes at the very top of the list. You see I am noooormal, I promise. Be my friend please.

2. Power-wash something extremely dirty.
Every time I see a really dirty semi-truck or building or something I sit and fantasize about how much I desperately want to power wash it. Some day folks. Maybe I can be a professional power-washer one day. Or, if that's not a job, maybe I'll just be a ninja power-washer that cleans dirty things in the dead of night.

3. Win something!
A few nights ago my husband and I had a conversation about what I was trying to do on the iPhone while I hid in our walk-in closet from our toddler who loves to play games on the iPhone.
Husband: What are you doing that can't wait until you don't have to hide in the closet?
Me: I'm entering a contest to win a dog Halloween costume.
Husband: But we don't have a dog.
Me: I know but I've never won anything and the entries are really low, so I might have a shot!
Husband: So you have no interest in the actual prize?
Me: Correct.
Note- I did not win the dog Halloween costume. Of course.

4. Punch someone in the face.
I promise I'm not a violent or overly-aggressive person, but every time I watch a scene in a movie where someone punches another person right in the face in a bar fight I think, "Yeah! I'd really like to do that!" So maybe I should start hanging out at bars more, insulting people, and trying to hit on their girlfriends...

5. Sleep on a train.

Okay, if you want to get technical, I guess I have fallen asleep on a train while suffering from severe jet lag. But that doesn't count. I want to sleep on a designated sleeping train that has sleeper cars! Is that what they're called? And hey, maybe I'll win my train night in a contest! You never know...

6. Chase a bad guy.
Every day I fantasize that I will interrupt someone snatching some old lady's purse or something just so I can chase them down. Because I am a good runner and it makes me feel really good to know that I can outrun someone. Once I caught said person I would probably just get terrified and run away, but it would feel so good to know that I could outrun them.

7. Pick crops/fruit.
My husband keeps trying to assure me that fruit picking is delegated to low-wage workers for a reason, but he is so wrong. Fruit picking is for the most adventurous thrill-seekers. This one is a work in progress. Though I did spend a whole day in Texas sneaking into cotton fields and citrus groves while my husband manned the getaway car. Don't worry I left the fruit there, but I just wanted to know what it would feel like to pick it. That's normal right?

8. Ride a pony.
Accomplished, though while giving me a slight self-esteem issue. I ran up to the man at the fair and asked him tentatively if maybe like adults could ride the ponies too. He assured me yes, it's perfectly normal for adults to ride the ponies! Why it happens all the time! And that's when they led one of the cute little ponies back into the barn, and replaced him with a giant horse. And then I had to ride my giant horse all around the pony ring while my husband tried not to laugh.
It was impossible to get my giant pony in the picture with me. It was that big.

9. Drive through a tunnel.
Also accomplished. I am a woman of great accomplishments. Let that be known. In Utah there aren't any tunnels, so driving through one is a momentous and noteworthy goal, OK? It was so exciting I turned around and drove through it four more times.

10. Play in a children's museum as an adult.
Accomplished! I knew I birthed my son for a reason... I LOVE pretend shopping in a pretend grocery store. LOVE! If you are ever wondering what I'd like to do for my birthday, that is it. Or any of the above-mentioned items. Or hey, maybe I can punch you in the face! Just kidding...maybe.
My golden ticket into said museum. Also, I proudly knocked some toddlers out of the way so I could steer this life-size model tugboat. It was the best day ever.


What are your bucket list items? Do you have some strange ones too? Do you want to be friends? I think my husband is getting weary of my strange bucket list desires.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Confessions of an Imperfect (Someday) Mother

Definitely not me. 
I am really excited to be an imperfect mother. Now don't get me wrong: I'm not pregnant and don't plan to be anytime soon, but I'm learning from those around me just the kind of mother I would like to be. I'm realistic. I know I will be a messy parent; I know that kids don't sleep through the night; I know it's tempting to give your child anything and everything that you or they can possibly imagine; I know I won't be able to provide anything and everything we could possibly imagine, and I'm okay with that. My someday kids probably won't have the latest video games, the fanciest Halloween costumes, or perfect birthday parties. They won't be allowed to dye their hair until they can drive themselves to the hairdresser's in their own car and pay for it themselves. And I've already given up on being the overly fashionable mom (helloooo comfy shoes! Why have I denied you for so long?!?). They are going to have to deal with a mom who dresses for comfort when it is cold out (Cuddl Duds, why am I just now discovering your awesomeness?!?) and wears ugly hiking sandals for as long as she can before winter sneaks in.

Why am I so excited about the fact that I'm going to be a flawed figure for my (as of yet nonexistent) children? Because perfect doesn't exist. I'm not saying that I don't have high expectations for myself, because I do. Rather, it is a prioritizing of my self-expectations. For me, bonding time is better than any toy or electronic gadget I could ever give a child. My kids may not always get what they want, but they'll get what they need. By presenting a realistic picture of what it is to be a human, woman, (someday) mother, (someday) wife, daughter, and friend, I'm helping my (someday) children understand how to accept themselves and love themselves not in spite of their imperfections, but because their imperfections are what help make them who they are, and I already know that my (someday) kids are going to be flippin' awesome.

Image used under Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My priorities, your priorities.

Not too long ago, I read a friend's lament on Facebook that she did not have more time in her life to read. Ever the advocate for anyone and everyone to get as much reading in their lives as possible, I was all ready to jump in with my suggestions of several things she could give up every so often so as to have more time to read. You know, non-essential things like making the bed or getting dressed or doing the dishes...

There I was, fingers poised over my keyboard, when all of a sudden a thought struck me- this woman is most likely already very aware that if she left the dinner dishes in the sink one night she could get a good hour of reading in before bed. For whatever reason, however, she chooses not to do that. For her, it isn't worth it. I regularly let dishes languish in my sink in favor of a book, but that's just me.

I am not entirely sure why this was such a revelation to me, but it was: I read as much as I do because it is fairly high on my priority list. People who don't read as much as they would like do so because there are other things that rank higher on their priority list. And that's okay! Put another way, my friend gets her dishes done each evening and enjoys the peace and beauty of a clean kitchen because it ranks up there at the top of her priority list. I, on the other hand, do not get to my dishes every night and yes, that fact bugs me, but not enough to change my ways. And that is also okay!

Life is full of things that we simply do not have the time or energy to do or sometimes even care about. It is sad, but true. Thus was born the concept of priorities. We must pick and choose what we can get done in a day and we must pick and choose what we will most care about. Some things must fall by the wayside and we have to be okay with that.

Perhaps more importantly, however- we must also be okay with the things that our friends and loved ones let fall by the wayside...even if that thing is reading.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Links and Videos to Bring a Smile to Your Face

I live in Iowa (and like it most of the time)...And then this headline came through. Only in Iowa... "Police: Man rode baggage claim carousel on dare" Need I say more?

And then I came across this article... "Only in Iowa" doesn't apply to this one, I guess: It's so cold... escaped inmate turns himself in

According to Mashable, "the first Monday back to work supposedly ranks as the crabbiest day of the year." It is pretty likely that everyone's holiday celebrating/traveling has ended, and so we're back in the swing of things. To help us keep on keeping on, here are 24 Things to Cheer You Up on the Most Depressing Day of the Year.

I can't help but smile after watching this video! Anyone else up for a road-trip to Albuquerque? I think we could all use some hugs to go along with our breakfast or lunch!

According to photographer, Kent Frost, "A LOT happened this year. We shot several weddings, baby portraits, and family video portraits. We had 60ยบ weather in February, ice in May, and record flooding in August. We had two major comets. A massive meteor exploded over Russia. The Boston Marathon was bombed. The US Government shut down for 16 days. The pope resigned. China soft-landed the first spacecraft on the moon since 1976. And we lost great people like James Gandolfini, Lou Reed, and Nelson Mandela among many others. And in the middle of all that chaos...we had a baby anyway." Watch it all unfold in this fantastic video that brings together one second clips from every day of the year.

Ever wonder what college administration does when the students are away between semesters? ... Wonder no more as Truman University President Dr. Troy D. Paino gives us a glimpse.

I've watched this about 13 times, and I still love it... That kid's timing is perfection!

Happy Friday, folks!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Truths Learned From Daniel Tiger


Daniel Tiger and I are best friends. Daniel Tiger lets me shower in peace, he even lets me shower without being questioned about the difference between the male and female body. Thank you Daniel Tiger!

Every day at 9:30 a.m. my son and I journey to the land of make-believe before I make my prisoner escape to take the world's quickest shower, I have become an expert in all things Daniel Tiger, and it has taught me a few truths:

Using public restrooms is ok.



Is it Daniel Tiger? I'm still not sure if I'm convinced. Maybe some undercover investigations with a black light and analyzing some q-tip swabs might help you make your case a little better.

Prince Tuesday (the older brother) is easy on the eyes.


Even PBS cartoons can't resist throwing in a little eye candy. Maybe it's for those moms like me who haven't seen a People magazine or a non-animated movie in years. When all of our friends are talking about how cute Ryan Gosling is we can say, "Well, have you guys seen Prince Tuesday on Daniel Tiger's neighborhood? He's cute and he's royalty."

Daniel Tiger is very concerned about childhood obesity. 



Every episode is basically 25 minutes of watching Daniel Tiger wolf down every vegetable imaginable. Yet somehow my son still thinks broccoli is rat poison.

Daniel Tiger's mom is nicer than you.



She is always patient, always teaching, always calm, always fun, always saying the right things... and always makes me feel like a total failure of a parent. I bet they have a tiger maid, I bet that's how she does it...


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Confessions of an Awkward Date: Part II

This is my second post in a three part confession. You can read the first part here. I am a hopeless date.

The year was 2001. I was sixteen years old, bored and lonely over a long school break. My on again off again boyfriend was ice fishing somewhere with his Dad, and I got a call from his best friend. He asked me if I wanted to go see the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone.

My parents had a rule: no steady dating. And while that was nice in theory, for a 16 year old girl who was certain that she had found her life long soul mate, it wasn't an easy thing to ask. For every one date that I went on with my boyfriend, I had to go on another date with some random person who was not my boyfriend...so the fact that Scott (we'll call him that, because that was his name) was inviting me to a movie while Justin (actual name of boyfriend) was ice fishing was quite convenient. Scott was a great guy, fun to be around, and I was sure there was no ulterior motive in asking me out on a date, so I accepted.

Scott picked me up (he lived about 25 minutes away, so it was nice of him to do it) and paid for my ticket...and right before the movie started, Justin called. (On my mom's cell phone that she allowed me to take, because what 16 year old had a cell phone in 2001). He was back from ice fishing and wanted to know what I was doing. "Oh, you know. I'm kind of on a date with your best friend," didn't seem like the appropriate response, so I told him I was seeing Harry Potter at the mall and, you know, Scott was there.

He thought that was cool, so he decided to drive out and see it with us. He was about 20 minutes late for the movie (20 minutes that I sat outside the theater waiting for him while poor Scott sat by himself). I sat in between both of them, not really knowing what to think--except that I was sure I was doing something extremely rude to both of them.

When the movie was over, Justin drove me home, leaving Scott all by himself again. Again, I felt really awkward, like I was ditching out on Scott, my super nice friend who invited me to a movie. It felt like one of those really lame 80s movies. Even typing this makes me feel all awkward.

This story has a happy ending, because all three of us married separate people, and after graduating in 2004, never really saw each other again. No hard feelings.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Unsolicited Opinions and Advice

Melissa:

Every one of us has been the recipient of unsolicited advice. Our reactions may vary from gratitude to annoyance, to downright indignation.

Every one of us at one time or another has dished out unsolicited advice, and we should bear that in mind when receiving it. Remember, it is usually given with the best intentions.

I've noticed the easiest place to give unsolicited advice is on Facebook. I recently posted a very specific question on Facebook, asking for different Jello recipes, and while most of the comments were helpful, and I got a lot of great recipe suggestions, there were some who felt it necessary to question my desire for the recipe in the first place. The suggestions ranged from "Just make Jello," and "Why complicate your life?" to "Don't make Jello, make something else--there are much yummier desserts!"

One of my friends asked how I ended up getting forty comments on my Jello thread. Apparently, people are very passionate about their Jello.

And if people are that passionate about Jello, imagine how much more passionate they are about raising children, student loans, vacation destinations, and what not to wear!

Paige:

We've all been on the receiving end of unsolicited advice. My favorites from my own life include when I was pregnant and my neighbor saw me walking inside with a bag of potato chips and told me that I couldn't eat those because I had already gained too much weight. Or the time a stranger in Ikea wrote down the name of a special shampoo that stimulated hair growth for my bald newborn. Thanks lady... Not to mention the countless "when are you going to have a baby?" and more recently "when are you going to have another baby?" I think these people are part of a secret ninja squad dedicated to enforcing procreation. And of course, heaps and heaps and heaps of parenting advice, including "don't let your baby play with push pins." Does anyone really need to be told that? Ever?

But sometimes I feel like we approach unsolicited advice from the wrong direction, looking at only those who give it and trying to make them change. I read so many posts about how you're not supposed to say x, y, and z and have been on the receiving end of an e-mail from someone who outlined specifically what people were allowed and not allowed to say to her. Don't get me wrong, it is wonderful to be sensitive and cautious with your words, but we all have that elderly Eastern European neighbor who tells it like it is and I don't think she reads blogs so I'm pretty sure unsolicited advice is here to stay. Why not focus instead on the one thing we can control- our reaction to advice from others.

The bottom line is, no matter how offensive the comment, we're the ones who choose whether or not it is going to upset us. We can accomplish this in a variety of ways but the most important thing to realize is that we are in control of ourselves, we dictate our own actions, we decide how we let those words affect us. My mother taught me from an early age just to laugh about it. We were hiking a small part of a big mountain trail.  We were only going to hike for an hour and then turn around but as we were starting out on the trail it would appear to passersby that we were about to embark on a grueling eight hour hike with one bottle of water each. One lady, bedecked in head to toe spandex and laden with professional mountain climbing equipment laid eyes on us and immediately offered some snappy, judgemental advice, "you're never going to make it up that mountain with that little water." My mom smiled and responded, "don't worry, I drink my own urine."

Melissa:

So how do we deal with unsolicited advice while remaining lovely? I have some unsolicited advice for you:

Be upfront: Whether you are venting, or seeking specific answers, let people know. Perhaps start the conversation with a disclaimer: "I am not looking for advice, I just want to vent." One of my Facebook friends was looking for a credit card which would help her earn sky miles and she said "Please no comments on the dangers of credit cards, I simply want to find one that works for me."

Ask yourself where their advice is coming from: Is the person trying to be helpful? Or is their advice more about their needs. Here is a guide to help you discern if the advice is helpful or unhelpful. 

Politely redirect: Sometimes just a simple, "Thank you for your advice, but I've made a different choice in regards to how I will handle this situation," can stop the unwanted advice.