Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Budgeting 101: Setting Goals + Your First Budget

Before I jump into today's post I want to say a couple things that I should have said in my first post—budgeting does not mean you're poor. Budgeting does not mean that you can't ever do anything fun again. It does mean, you want your money to work for you. It does mean that you can have fun and not feel guilty or worried that you've over spent.  Also, Tim and I prescribe to a line of thinking that is sort of a cross between Dave Ramsey and You Need A Budget (YNAB). I'm not going to go into the details of their methods, but I encourage you to check them out!

----

Now that you know what you already spend, it's time to set some goals. Take some time to reflect on what you want to achieve.

Do you want build up an emergency fund? Pay off your debts? Cut back your spending in one or two areas? Take a vacation? The most important part of this step is to make sure it's a measurable goal—by this I mean you need to know the dollar amount you are trying to reach, and possibly the date you want reach it. Write them down and talk about them with your partner, then together prioritize them. Prioritizing your goals and being realistic are also key. One thing I've learned over the last 8 months, is that denying yourself something you really want until you've saved up enough cash for it, feels so, so, sooo good! Delayed gratification is where it's at—no guilt, only the joy of having something you've worked hard to get.

Tim and I focus all of our attention on one goal at a time.  We quickly learned that we could achieve our goals faster by focusing on one at a time, rather than throwing small amounts of money across the board. Don't feel bad if you have to reevaluate your goals a couple months later. Life happens, and we need to adjust our financial goals accordingly.

Once you know what you're already spending and what your goals are, you can start working on your first budget. I'm going to break it way down, and explain one task at a time.

Step 1: Decide Where You're Going To Track Your Income and Your Spending
Until I discovered YNAB, which I LOVE and recommend to everyone, we wrote our budget out on paper every month, which I hated and would never recommend. You could also easily set-up an excel spreadsheet, or probably even download one somewhere online.
Step 2: Name Your Master Categories and Your Line Items.
This step should be relatively easy, since you should have most of your spending already categorized from when you figured out how much you spend. There is no right or wrong, have as many or as few categories and line items as you want.
Currently in YNAB, we have 6 master categories:
Monthly Bills
Everyday Expenses
Debt
Rainy Day Funds (these are once in awhile type expenses such as medical, home maintenance, Christmas etc.)
Savings Goals (this is where we track our savings towards things like a new car, vacation or big house projects.)
Giving
Our master categories are then broken down into more specific line items, which is where you assign dollar amounts. For instance, our 'Everyday Expenses' breaks down like this: 
Groceries
Fuel
Stella and Rosalie (Anything that is purchased for the girls, clothes, diapers etc.)
T. Fun Money (We give ourselves $20 per week. We can spend it on whatever we want. No judgements!)
J. Fun Money
Family Fun Money (This is where we budget for family outings like the zoo, trips for ice cream in the summer)
Restaurants (Generally this is for family meals only. If I want fast food on the way home from grocery shopping, or Tim wants to eat lunch out, we use our personal fun money for that.)
Hair Care
Date Night
Misc. or Unforeseen (This money is used to cover anything unexpected that comes up, and sometimes it's used to cover over spending in other categories)
If you're unsure if something should be it's own line item, try it out for a month or two. My opinion is it's better to start out with too many categories and then condense them a couple months down the road, once you're in your groove. For example, we used to have a line item called 'clothing' which was where we budgeted for clothes for everyone. But, after a couple of months we deleted it and started assigning clothing purchases to either 'Stella and Rosalie' if it was clothing for either of the girls, or  'Misc. Unforeseen' if it was something that was NEED for me or Tim. Any nonessential clothing purchases, come out of our personal fun money.
Step 3: Calculate Your Income
This step can be a little tricky, if you're income fluctuates month to month, or week to week. If that's you, it might be best/easiest if you follow the YNAB line of thinking, which is "assign jobs, only to the money you have on hand." Meaning, you won't work out your whole month's budget at one time, you'll budget your money as it comes. You can check out the YNAB blog for more info on budgeting a fluctuating income.

Tim is salaried, and is paid weekly, so his income is super easy to predict. I have been babysitting, working at a before and after school program and doing a little bit of freelance work. Since my income fluctuates, I normally low ball my predicted income and add it to Tim's monthly income. That's how I come up with the number of dollars that need to be assigned a job in our budget.

Once all of our debts are paid off, we'll build our buffer up to cover one month's expenses, so that we can live off the last month's income for the entire month. We're getting a taste of what that's like now, because we keep our "new car fund" money in our checking account. It's a glorious feeling, and has been a great way to keep us encouraged to continue to be intentional and frugal with our money.
 Next week I'll cover Step 4: Give Every Dollar a Job and Step 5: Go With The Flow.

As always, if you have questions or want to add to the discussion, leave a comment here on the blog, or on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Budgeting 101: Where To Begin

Tim and I have been budgeting intentionally since September. I say intentionally, because before then we had been budgeting for our bills, but any income beyond that was one big slush fund. The leftover money didn't have a purpose, it was just sitting there, waiting for me to spend it on clothes for the girls and dinners out. Not going into savings, or paying extra on our debts. Now every dollar that comes into our home has a job.

People, budgeting works!

I got the idea to start sharing more about budgeting, when my husband suggested that I could probably make money by helping other families with their budgets. Now, I don't have nearly the amount of confidence in my budgeting/frugality knowledge as he apparently does, but I have learned a thing or two and I do feel like we've made some good progress.

Over the last 7 months, we built up a $1,000 emergency fund and we've paid off approximately $7,000 of our debt! This was a combination of credit card debt, both mine and Tim's student loans, money we owed my parents for the beef we bought last fall, mine and Rosalie's hospital bills. We have gone from having 6 debt line items in our budget to just 2! However, I feel like I should disclose, we were able to payoff 2 of those debts because of tax return.

So, what's the first step in setting up a household budget? Knowing what you already spend. You can figure this out one of two ways.
1. If you mostly use a debit/credit card, pull up your last bank statement, either online or your paper copy. Go through each charge a categorize it (ex. bills, groceries, eating out, diapers/wipes, kids, entertainment) and then add up each individual category.

2. If you mostly use cash for purchases, then spend one month keeping receipts and writing down every dollar you spend. Categorize your purchases, and then total each category.
Knowing what you already spend will help you figure out what categories you could potentially cut back, and where you should you focus your attention. Most importantly though, it will help you set-up a realistic budget. A realistic budget is much easier to stick to, then an "ideal budget" where you under estimate how much you spend each month on Biggby, eating out or buying clothes for your girls who already have full closets. No, I'm not talking about myself there...oh wait, yes I am.

It's my belief, that an unrealistic budget and trying to cut too much too soon, is what kills most household budgets. The race to successful debt elimination, budgeting and frugality is not a sprint, it's a marathon. Occasionally, I have to remind myself of that too.

Coming up next week: Setting Goals and Your First Budget










Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kitchen Before & Afters

Big news, Matt bought a house. It was a big accomplishment for him and I couldn't be more proud. Responsible, hardworking, selfless, realistic men are hard to come by these days. To bad he's already mine. Better yet he asked Ruthie & I to move in with him after the purchase. After much discussion, we accepted, and we are now all settling into our new home. :)


Ignore that ugly white stuff and just look at that blue house and that big smile on that new homeowners face.

Matt's slowly but surely realizing that a woman gets what a woman wants ;) JUST KIDDING. We work pretty good as a team but, he is finding out that a woman's opinion is often the better one. JUST KIDDING......but really. Haha, alright seriously though, this house is already 100% less bach pad than the house he lived in before, which I think he likes as he says "this finally feels like home" and "you did an awesome job on the colors and picking stuff out." Why thank you Matt.

We are getting the house decorated and together little by little. I am trying to do it that way so I don't rush into any regrets. The house was a little rough in areas but pretty much a clean slate. It definitely  needed a good cleaning and coat of paint and I must say that did wonders for it. Of course we have a large list (really it's written out in priority order) of hopes and dreams and wants and goals that we will work on as we go. But to start, we chose to do the things that would have the most impact.

SOOooooOOOooo..... I thought I would share! One room at a time so don't get too excited. Kitchen is first. Before and afters....here ya go!


So you see on the left how all the the cupboards are different? Mismatching wood, mismatching colors, missing cupboards. That was fixed by the painting them all white to match. (with the help of friends and fam) Six coats of white later and new matching fixtures they look like they belong together! The missing cabinets that were ripped out by the previous owner were replaced with open shelving to hold our dishes.




That little hole where this little cart is marvelously filling up space is where a dishwasher is supposed to go. But, why buy one of those when you have two hands........aka I really want one but I'll keep telling myself I don't mind doing them. Besides, Matt and I take turns and the cart is cuter than a dishwasher anyway. It's, yet again, another Ikea score. I love this little thing and it works perfectly for all our produce that would normally sit on the counter. It has holes on the bottom so the onions peels fall out and I can simply wheel it out and sweep. If we ever do get a dishwasher I can think of a million other places to use this, so no teal cart is left behind. I'm thinking about getting one for roos art stuff or other toys. Or even one for my craft stuff or cleaning stuff or make up stuff.... I don't like that cart at all. 




Sorry for the dark pictures but here is a look into the dining room. Thank goodness those hardwood floors were already there and in great condition (although they do suck to keep clean! Advice would be appreciated.) We switched the "I'm stuck in the 80's and covered in 10 layers of dust" lighting and Matt worked some magic on some lights I brought home from Ikea that I failed to read the instructions for and realized they wouldn't work in our space. That's what handy men are for.  The curtains are also a score from Ikea and that awesome wine rack was made by Matt's Grandpa. I love it over our dining room table. Now more wine and four more wine glasses.

 We decided to stick with a light gray to help open up the space and keep it light and fresh (my words not Matt's, don't worry). I then added color in other areas. That's kind of my style. Plain colors on the wall and pops of color everywhere else, like that rug from UO, our yellow dishes, lime green Kitchen Aid, and other things.



Adding little touches as well with curtain holders and this little storage thing for keys and such. 

Well that's the Kitchen. Of course there are things we would like to do long term in here, but for now it was a pretty big change and we are happy with it. Stay tuned for more room reveals. I think Ruthie's room is next. :)

-Alexis 












Wednesday, April 2, 2014

$31.80

Maybe you've wondered if going over my $50 dollar grocery budget, effects the next week's shopping trip, or if it effects our overall household budget? Answer—Yes and yes.

It most definitely my grocery budget. Most of the time, I'm only over or under by a few dollars, and at the end of the month, things balance themselves out. But once in a great while, I'll end up fairly short of my $50.

Let's use March for an example—Tim did my grocery shopping one week and went $25 over budget, I had another trip that I went over by a few dollars, and we made an extra trip to pick up a couple of odds and ends. I usually include an extra $25 in our household budget for things such as those, but even with that I was coming up short of the $50. For my last March grocery shopping trip, I was left with $31.80.

Another option would have been to adjust our overall household budget to make up the difference. But, an unusually expensive date night at the beginning of the month, a large propane bill, and a mama who got a little carried away buying some new home decor stuff made that option not really feasible.

This is what $31.80 worth of groceries looks like.
I was actually really surprised at how much I was able to get. I decided to load up on produce for a couple reasons. One, we can snack on it and it can be used to make meals. Two, I was really close to earning one of my Mperk Personal Rewards. I had to make sure I bought lunch meat and bread. I found a bag of clearance coffee, so I made sure I snagged that too.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spice Up Your Date Night

Tim and I don't go out on dates nearly enough. I think they're really important for marriages, but we rarely seem to make the time or the effort. But that's another post.


When we do go out, once in awhile it's fun to change things up by meeting each other at the restaurant, movies, or where ever it is we're headed. When we lived in Chicago, it was super easy because we'd just meet up after work and we took public transit, so we always went home together. Here in Michigan it's a little trickier, now we only do it when we're meeting some where in Grand Rapids after Tim gets out of work. The only crappy part is, we have to drive home separately.

It sounds strange but even after you've been married for years, when you're meeting your date (aka your spouse) you still kind of get butterflies. Typically when we go out we get ready together. Tim sees me try on a million different outfits, and I ask him two million times if I look okay. When we're meeting somewhere, I usually put in a little extra effort and pick an outfit that's more for him than me. And since I can be pretty vain, I like the anticipation of wondering if I'm going to get his "dang girl, you look good. I can't wait to get you home." look. Probably TMI for some of you, sorry. Just being honest ;)

Anyway, if you're looking for a way to spice up your date night, give this little trick a try.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Love Note #1


Love Bean,

I hope your imagination never fades. We've had countless laughs hiding under blankets from lions and witches, pretended the car is a rocket ship, had art shows, and you've used pixie dust fly out of a cave you were trapped in (in the grocery store) and to fly out of a dust storm. Listening to you talk to your best friend ducky, will always make me laugh. It's so much fun to watch you take an ordinary object and turn it into something else, like when you use your bell as your stethoscope or line up the chairs to make a train, all the while shouting, "All Aboard."

As you grow up, not everyone will encourage your imagination and creativity. And it won't always come as freely as it does now. Don't let that keep you from dreaming up something big!
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

—Albert Einstein

I love you so.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Rockabye Baby!


Both of our girls love music. Rosalie is bobbing away in her high chair as I type this. What are we listening to? Rockabye Baby! Lullabye Renditions of Weezer.


Rockabye Baby! has lullaby renditions of everyone from Bob Marley to Metallica and Jay Z to The Beatles. Rockabye Baby! is a favorite around here for sure, I have a Spotify playlist dedicated to it. It's also a great way to expose your children to other instruments and sounds.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Learning Process

In the beginning of finding out Gatlyn's diagnoses I was really confused. I felt as though I should be upset, and I was. But every time I got sad about it I realized it was going to be okay. Gat will thrive, he is thriving. He defeats every obstacle that comes his way. I am seriously amazed at the little guy's strength.

There are some things I struggle with raising a son with special needs.

1. Discipline: Sometimes his size gets to me, the kid is tiny and he crawls most places at home. I am a fan of time out and stuff as I have said in many post before this one. But, it seems weird when you can't just say you need to go sit in time out. I have to physically pick him up and put him in there. And if I forget he is in timeout, he can't just get down like the girls used too! lol. You know you have done that too.

2. Eating: Gat gets all of his main calories through his tube (because of his short gut syndrome). This makes it tough when we sit down to eat. I am trying my best to better my kids eating habits. Top priority has been eliminating countless snacks. I have roughly 3 snack times that I like to stick too. But when Gat wants to eat by mouth I want to encourage that too. So this is definitely a battle I am going to continue to have.


3. Kids Like Him: What does that mean? Because Gat has a disability? Or he has special needs, just say "Kids with disabilities". Nobody has ever started a conversation about the girls with "Kids like them...". It something that bothers me. You can call him disabled but preferably Gat, Gatlyn or one of his many other names will do just fine;) If you want to talk about his disability, lets do it! I love to talk about it. Cerebral Palsy is not a swear word so don't be afraid of it. I am so happy I am not anymore. I talk about it casually and would love to inform (not that I am an expert) you. Side note: maybe other parents don't want to talk about it. . . I am not one of those!

3. Clean up: Once again because of Gat's size and physical capabilities I never even thought to have him clean up. So this has recently been a huge undertaking for us. We have made a lot of head way and he is getting a lot better about cleaning up willingly. Although I did have a half hour standoff over the soggy cheerios he threw all over the floor Monday. It consisted of a lot of crying, 3 timeout bouts and 1 spanking (yes I spank in some situations). BUT we got it done! He cleaned it all up. . . the last 2 pieces were the toughest;)

I really don't think Jess and I intentionally don't make Gat do things. We mostly do it because we know it will be easier. Because crawling with a handful of crayons is a tricky thing. But I get sneaky and scoot them a little closer to wherever the crayon bucket is. SHH...don't tell Gat;) There is nothing cuter than him so proud he did it on his own. He basically is his biggest cheerleader.

All in all folks you'll be happy to know we are not just dealing with the Cerebral Palsy, we are living with it. No way the Schrock's will let that slow them down.

Remember to order your Team Gatlyn shirts!!! It's coming up quickly:) Link to our team page. Remember half the sales of our shirts go toward our fundraising goal. So help us out!!

This is a picture of them with their cousin before we left for Chicago!


We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#Humblebrag

It's hard not to brag about our kids. I think it's just a natural talent that comes with having kids. Especially with social media it's hard to hold back when you can tell and show the story or picture one time for everyone and their mom to see.

I will admit (even though it may not seem like I do) I try to refrain from posting everyday or every minute. But that's like having a box of thin mints and saying you're only going to eat one...impossible. I could do it a lot more because my kid is that cool. There I go again.

It's just, some days you just have to share. You are just to PROUD of what they have done to keep it to yourself. Some days you are just to PROUD of the gorgeous human being you have created to keep it to yourself. And when you get the feeling of proudness, that's what calls for a #humblebrag. It's ok to brag as long as we are humble, right?!

So here is my #humblebrag.

When I say my girl can color, I mean my girl can color! I would say her Fisher Price Doodle Pro Classic is her favorite medium right now, but crayons are also a go to. Here's what I'm talkin' about... btw she is two....




Her jelly fish




Mommy, Matty, Ruthie & Crosby with a rainbow.


The sun.



I would like to thank Ruthie's 4 year old teachers at Shannie's. I should be paying you girls more because your making my child a rock star.

Share your #humblebrag 's with us anytime...we know the pain you're experiencing trying to hold that proud moment to yourself. We would love to see! :)

-Alexis

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Light Bulb Moment

Okay quick plug about March for Babies. It is approaching quickly so get your tshirts order in!! Inbox us to place your order.

I have been slacking in my devotional and overall just spiritual life. I think it is so easy for me to do that when things are going good. I decided I needed to read something to get that fire started again. And of course the 3rd thing I read just took me there. It was a light bulb moment. I want to share.

We have been really struggling with how to deal with the disrespect and tempers of our kids. Dont we all want well behaved and even tempered angels?

I opened up my Bible App and clicked on a few new devotionals, they were alright. But then I started where I left off with a Parenting one. It just all made so much sense and now I feel like everyone needs to know. If you already knew this or felt this way...let me have my moment;)

There’s a common problem in many homes today. Disrespect. Refusing to consider each other’s opinions, interrupting when someone’s talking, never apologizing for a mistake. Sounds like I’m talking about children, doesn’t it? But, parents, I’m actually referring to the way you behave. 

Maybe you’ve seen it – a parent spewing anger or yelling careless words to control a child. You may have even done it yourself. It’s an easy trap to fall into. After all, such methods do create compliance – at least for that moment. But does it really make sense for a parent to demand respect by acting disrespectfully themselves? 

Disrespect is an attack on a child’s self-worth. Parents who scream, belittle, interrupt, and lecture endlessly will erode the connection between them and their child. And without connection, parents face a never-ending struggle. As author Josh McDowell says, “Rules without relationship equals rebellion.” Over the long run, disrespect from a parent will lead to less compliance from a child, not more. 

Another important consideration is what a parent’s behavior models. As you’ve probably already noticed, kids don’t need help learning how to be disrespectful. It’s part of the fallen nature at work within all of us. But that’s why it’s even more crucial for parents to keep themselves under control. It models for the child how to resolve conflict with another person while treating them with respect. 

Listen, I understand how tough it is to raise kids these days. But parenting with respect not only shows a child how deeply we value them, but the need to respect others as well. Today, ask God to help you model a life worth imitating. 
For a daily dose of encouragement and perspective, check out Jim Daly’s blog, Daly Focus, at JimDalyBlog.com.

I hope this maybe helped some one else too. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stretching Your Grocery Budet

I've learned a thing or two about smart grocery shopping over the last year or so. While I shop on a $50 per week budget, these tips can be applied to a grocery budget of any amount.

Tip For Stretching Your Grocery Budget—at the grocery store and at home
Shop The Sale Ad
This is my #1 money saving habit. According to my mPerks, I've saved $466.27 since January 1st. Over half of that ($264.18) has come from store specials.
Know Your Store's Reward System
I shop exclusively at Meijer, and while I don't think they always off the best coupons (they are often the same as what you can clip from the Sunday paper), their Rewards are pretty cool, and I love that I can pretty quickly earn $10 toward my next shopping trip.  This is one tip that could really help those of you with bigger grocery budgets—the more you spend the faster your rewards build up.
Don't Be Swayed & Know When You're Getting A Good Deal
I used to be easily swayed by a "good deal" or a "good coupon." But I've learned to resist the urge to get a good deal for the sake of a good deal. Along the same lines, you need to be aware of when you're not actually getting a good deal. For example, Meijer often puts Bush Beans on their 10 for $10, it seems like a good deal, except that Meijer brand beans are usually 89 cents and go on sale (sometimes in conjunction with a 10 for $10 sale) for 79 cents.
Look For Reduced Produce and Meat
Meijer marks day old pre-cut produce down 40%, often times I can get watermelon, pineapple or bell peppers cheaper that way. Once in awhile I can find the same thing in the chicken and pork coolers. I've never gotten anything that's rotten. An added bonus is that by specifically looking for the mark downs, you're helping to stop food waste.
Speaking of food waste—STOP DOING IT!
Be aware of what's in your fridge and about to go bad. It'll save you money, and it saves the planet.  I'm talking about those soft potatoes that are starting to sprout (they make great potato soup) or the peppers that are starting to wrinkle. Within the last couple months I've started to become more aware of food waste happening at places like the grocery store. I've started taking action in little ways, like buying single bananas (which don't sell well) instead of bunches.

Eat Leftovers
Tim usually takes our leftovers in his lunch. It helps stop food waste and it makes packing lunches a lot easier.

Know You're Meal Stretchers
Potatoes, rice and beans are awesome ingredients for making cheap meals that will fill you up. I love black beans and find them to be the easiest to add to a variety of dishes. You can even add them to salads.
Smaller Portions
Smaller portions mean more leftovers, which equals lunch, which equal one less meal to "pay for." But I guess, what I'm also talking about here is stuff like instead of baking the whole loaf of store bought garlic bread, cut it in half and save the rest for another night. Those types of tricks save you money and keep you from eating an entire loaf of garlic bread in one sitting. Tim and I aren't the only ones who do that...right?

Food Co-Ops and Other Nontraditional Sources
Thanks to a presentation at our local MOPS, I started getting some of my grocery items from the Woodland Food Co-Op. If you're in our area, you should totally check it out. I was able to get some items in bulk that were eating up my weekly budget. Another thing we do that makes my $50 a week budget doable is in the fall, together with my parents and sisters, we purchase a quarter beef. This means for the entire year, I wouldn't have to purchase meat. Now that we own our home, I'd love to plant a garden and can even more stuff than I did last year.

Break The Rules Once In Awhile
Like any list of rules, it's good to break them now and again. I break budget by a few dollars when Stella is especially good and I let her pick out a "special treat." And the other day, I went totally crazy (like $50 over budget!) because I hadn't planned and was generally annoyed at my self-imposed limit. It felt good to buy a few things that I deny myself almost ever week—frozen pizza, ice cream—and I'm pretty sure Stella got everything she asked for that day—fruit snacks, Teddy Grahms, ice cream.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Something Old, Something New


Something Old
I'm sticking with is making most of Angry Bean's baby food myself. It's not something I do because I think it makes me a better mom, or because I think jarred food is horrible. We use jarred food too. I just happen to enjoy making it and I have the time to do it.

So far she really enjoys bananas, avocado mixed with banana, peas mixed with applesauce (I buy huge jars of "adult" natural applesauce), sweet potatoes, and parsnips mixed with pears. I have both with Angry Bean and Love Bean that mixing their veggies with fruit makes eating veggies no fight at all. I've actually read somewhere (can't remember where exactly, but more than likely on The Feeding Doctor blog) that kids' bitter taste buds aren't fully developed so it's totally normal/ it's science that kids have a hard time eating veggies.

We've blogged about homemade baby food before. You can read those posts here, here, and here.



Something New
We're using cloth diapers with Angry Bean. I'm not a cloth diaper guru, by any means. I actually really dislike using them. She seems to wet through them constantly. Maybe I just need to change her sooner? It happens so often though that I do not use them when we go out in public or at night. I hate messing with blow outs and diapers leaks in public bathrooms.

So why am I using them? To save money! I am on a journey to live a more frugal lifestyle. And since I could get the cloth diapers for free from Alexis (she used them for Roo), it saved me even more money because i didn't have the upfront cost of buying the diapers. It was just too good of a money saving option to pass up.

And as I was checking out an old post by Alexis about cloth diapering, I see a reader gave her a tip for making re-useable wipes. I'm planning on giving those a try too.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March Fun

Bet ya'll thought we forgot about you. Don't worry we didn't. Jamie moved and is currently without internet, and yes she hates it. We have been battling some sickness and lots of appointments. And Al moved too! So its been a little cray cray up in here.

But if you didn't know it's March! Which means a few things. Spring is supposed to be on the way. Jo is going to be turning 6! (sad face, they grow up so quick) AND March for babies is right around the corner.

March for Babies is a 5k walk/run to raise money for March of Dimes. I personally have been touched my the March of Dimes family support in the NICU. They also raise lots of money for research and different things to help preemies. And if you don't remember this kid below was born at 28 weeks(which is extreme preemie status). So you can see it's a big deal to us.

ALSO...we are the ambassador family for the Grand Rapids, MI March for Babies walk. Which is also a big deal because all of the local March for Babies stuff has Gatlyn's story on it. I also get to share the day of the walk with everyone there! I am so excited about the opportunity.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

I shared via Instagram a poster that will be around at March for Babies events. I had a request to read it so I will post it up here!

Sorry this is a screenshot from my phone. I am not really tech savvy so this is as good as it gets folks.

If you want to walk please sign up through the same link to donate. We would love to have you. If you want to walk but not raise money we are down for that too!! We want a lot of gold shirts on April 26th! Let's represent that small town community. 

If you have cash/check donations you can still track them online. Just go to your walker page and click TRACK DONATIONS. You are all awesome!

ONE FINAL THING...PROMISE. If you want a tshirt please let us know! We are putting the order in April 1st. THANKS!!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Few DIY Projects

So there is this thing called Pinterest. Maybe you have heard of it?! Of course you have it comes up in most conversations (along with Facebook). Well my about me says "I have good intentions." It is so very true. I pin all of this stuff in anticipation of actually doing them...but I don't do it! Oh you know you're guilty of this too.

But, since moving into our new home I really want to decorate. One thing I don't want to do is spend a bunch of money. So I am tackling my Pinterest inspired projects. Anyway I actually have made a couple things and I want to show you! I am not a expert DIY'er but I gave it a crack and I'm pretty happy. Here are a couple pictures.

For Christmas this past year our family did DIY gift exchange. I made this LOVE sign and Alexis' got it. I love what she did with it and I believe I have the perfect spot for one. I might have Jess build it though. It was a tough one to work out but I love the end result.


"Your grace is enough." This one hangs in our dining room. It's not my favorite but I had to free hand it because I don't have a stencil that would look good. This will do for now. I used wood for this sign as well. Since Jess has been home a lot lately I enlisted him to do it. I know I could have done this on my own though;)


I knew I wanted a pallet sign somewhere in our house. I decided on one for the bedroom. I was browsing Pinterest one day and saw this saying. I knew I had to do it. It pretty much sums up my love for Jess. I made this one from a pallet. I actually did this one on my own.  


I did take before pictures and stuff. But I wasn't sure if you guys would want all of that. So if you want me to explain what I did any further holla at me. 




Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mom Mobiles

The search for a new car began when I decided to post Rita (My old Teal 99' Pontiac Sunfire) on Craiglist, thinking I wouldn't get any offers on it that fast. Of course, that's not the way it went. The next week I received a text asking about the car and if they could come look at it. Well, I'm wasn't going to turn them down but I was also convinced they wouldn't end up buying it either so I said yes. 

It was the moment I held the cash and license plate in my hand and watched the poor girl (Rita) drive away that I realized, "I'm carless." She was good to me. Dependable, compact, and cute. But she didn't always share the warmth the best nor would she ever hold my drink for me without spilling it. 

But, after 3 weeks of the very annoying process of borrowing vehicles and rides, driving through dealerships, plastering my eyes on Craigslist and Autotrader for hours a night, a vehicle randomly came up and it was love at first "Come on down to Randy Merren of Greenville." 

I had looked and wanted Taurus when I wasn't looking for a vehicle or in the market for one. But for some reason, when I was in the market for one, I looked and searched for everything but Taurus's. Fusions to Malibus to Avengers, to Cruze's. But it was fate that brought me and that silver beaut back together. 

I saw it online one night, test drove it the next, dreamt about it, and the next day went and made it my sexy silver mom mobile. 



Let me tell you, if you're a mom and in the market for a new vehicle don't fall for that nonsense of "you need a bigger gas sucking vehicle." Unless you have more than three kids, then start falling for that. But other than the kid count, a car is super practical for a mom. Read below for the mom benefits of the 2011 ford Taurus: 

-I drive to daycare to Lansing to daycare to home every single day. Six trips to Lansing and back on one $50 tank has me hugging my steering wheel at the end of the week.

-SPACE. I'll admit some cars, especially Rita, make you feel like you are giving your kids a piggy back ride. Not in this car. SO. MUCH. SPACE. But just enough space you can still reach back and pick up the dropped sippy cup. 

-Luxerous seats. Some cars force the car seats straight up and therefore causing the child's head to bob up and down and lay in a  cringing position when napping. Ruthie has it made. The seat tilts just enough her seat lays back, perfect height to still see out the window, and her feet rear on the edge of the seat so there is no falling asleep of the legs. (Don't worry I placed a towel on her seat for her snowy feet to rest on, I know you were worried)

-Perfect height: there is no climbing up, in, and over or any crouch, swoop, and tuck to buckle in kids. And easy height to easily buckle kids up!

-The trunk. I haven't tested it yet but I'm pretty sure I could fit 8 people in there. I know I can fit 9 garbage bags full of cans, so that's impressive. That is 50x more room than Mallories Envoy when she has the third row seats up. I'm not bragging or anything. 

-Steering wheel controls: volume at your finger tips to turn it down to get your point across or turn it up to song your favorite verse of the frozen song, I mean Ruthie's favorite part. 

-Keyless entry. I have yet to annoy Matt enough for him to reprogram this for me, but I see a lot of advantages to this when it is an option. 

-But what may be the best advantage is this little possible set up.



So before you say "I'm a mom! I need a bigger vehicle! I need more room!" Reconsider looking into car options there's more advantages than you may think. But that's just one mom out of a billions opinion. 

I also need to throw the disclaimer of me hating te silver Ford Taurus my parents made me drive in high school. This Taurus is different dad but I guess you had pretty good taste after all. :) 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Finding Out

Being told something life changing come with a roller coaster ride of emotions. Being told something life changing for your child is just surreal. Nobody wants struggle for their kids.

When I went to Gat's Neurodevelopment Pediatrician that day I didn't expect to here that he has CP. I was by myself and luckily didn't have Rae with me that day either. I was sitting in the room and everything was going good...I thought anyway. They were asking me the usual questions and I was answering, everything seemed fine to me. Then they started questioning me about his legs and how tight they were. They seemed concerned and then brought in the "head" doctor. And that is when she told me.

The doctor nicely starts informing me a little bit on CP. She tells me he has diplegic cerebral palsy. That we just lower his standards of what he will do furturistically speaking. Like we won't expect him to be able to run and play sports.

Instead of totally freaking out on the outside I hold my crap together. I hold the tears back and start thinking straight asking some of the more obvious questions that had been running through my head. Can he get worse? Thankfully no. He could get stronger, more coordinated. But he could end up need more medication some day. Or there are other treatments available on case to case bases. 

Some of the instant thoughts that went through my head;

Ummm okay?
What does that mean?
Was I supposed to be expecting this?
Is it bad if I want to cry?
Can I cry?
Why?
What?
So what do I do?
Can I fix it?
Do we change what we are doing?

Instead of totally freaking out on the outside I hold my crap together. I hold the tears back and start thinking straight asking some of the more obvious questions that had been running through my head. 

Just a side note:

They had brought CP up at previous appointments. Never did they mention Gat could have it. CP is usually not diagnosed until the ages 2-3. They like to give the kids a chance to outgrow the symptoms. Symptoms being like hypertension in legs, poor posture, balance and gross motor delays. At about 2 you start to realize what they are able to do or will be able to do. Obviously I am not a doctor so don't take just my word, look it up, read about it. It really is interesting.

CP really doesn't have answers NOW. As you know I am not good with that. So this has been an adjustment for me especially.

Ok now on to the thing you really want. . . pictures:) Enjoy my cuties or weirdos, whichever you perfer. These include a nose picker and Gatlyn showing off. He has recently decided to start climbing on things. Hard to tell him to get down when you're so proud he could get up there.





\
Oh yah, the stomach bug hit on Sunday. Well it hit Jo so she was down and out, missed school today. Gat got a little of it today. So obvs I had to run to Speedway and get Jo some sprite. And me a Dr. P, and Jess a Mt. Dew, and Rae a slushie. Plus grabbed up a GR Press for good measure(and coupons). 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

One Week From Today...

The above photo is from the listing. I'll share photos of the inside, once it's ours!
The Krenz family is moving! On February 20th we will officially become homeowners. We're very excited/nervous/ecstatic! Excuse me while I go dream some more about how I'm going to arrange furniture!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Family Bed


This isn't actually in bed, it's on the couch
The thing about co-sleeping with an infant is that it leads to co-sleeping with a toddler, which isn't too bad until your co-sleeping with a toddler and another infant. A queen size suddenly feels small, like really small. Tim and I started growing very sick of getting kicked and ending up with random toddler limbs in our faces, and Angry Bean fell off the bed once...don't worry it was onto a pile of clothes (because I'm terrible at keeping our room clean), and she is completely fine. Maybe I shouldn't have share that last part?

What I'm getting at is unless our bed is suddenly looks like this one. It's time to kick Love Bean out.

Her bedtime is about 8:30/9:00pm, and we have always put her to sleep in her own bed. Generally our routine is this—she kisses daddy and Rosie goodnight, we head up to her bed to read a book, sing a couple lullabies, talk about how much Jesus loves her, and say her bedtime prayer. Then I lay with her until she falls asleep, because I can't resist the sweet "cuddle me mom" that she gives me. Then I go back downstairs.

Then around 2am every night, she would come in our bed for the rest of the night. This is what we decided had to stop. Now that Angry Bean is in our bed a lot of nights too, it's just too crowded. Overall the process was not as bad as I expected. Since she does start out in her own bed every night, I think it made things a little easier for us.

Night 1
I actually couldn't send her back to her room, she wasn't feeling the best, and I'm too much of a softy. I put her in our bed and explained that it was the last night she was going to get to sleep with us.

Night 2
She came into our room at her usual time. Tim took her back to her room, but that went horribly. I didn't want to be the mean parent, but she kept crying for me. We told her she could sleep on our floor, but of course she only wanted to be in the bed. I stayed strong and didn't let her. I took her back to her room and laid with her. We both ended up falling asleep, and about an hour later I woke up and went back to my bed.

Night 3
She was up twice. But both times I just took her back to her bed and laid with her until she fell back asleep. She cried the first time, but the second time there was no crying at all.

Night 4
She was up at her usual time, but didn't come into our room. She just stood outside the door asking for me. I took this is as a sign of progress. I took her back to bed and we both fell asleep. I went back to bed when I woke up a little while later.

Night 5
She was up at her usual time, but didn't come into our room. She just stood outside the door again. I think Tim actually got up and took her back to her room, and laid with her for a little bit.

Night 6
She didn't get out of bed until 5am! Love Bean is an early riser, so we had decided at the start of this process that if she came in our room after 5am we would let her snuggle in bed with us until we were all ready to get up for the day. So when she came in a 5am, I pulled her into bed with us and we told her how proud we were that she stayed in her own bed until morning. We all fell back asleep until 8am (it was a Saturday morning) and I'm not sure how we got either one of the girlies to sleep in that late!

Night 7
Rae spend the night with us, so her, Love Bean and I had a slumber party in the living room. I was worried that it would mess up all that progress we made.

Night 8
Again, she didn't get out of bed until 5am!

Night 9
She made it to 5:15am. We're feeling good. And man, it felt good to get two nights in a row of uninterrupted sleep.
I wouldn't say she's totally broke of the habit. A lot of nights she is still waking around 3am. But she no longer comes in our room. She stands outside our door and waits for me to come and tuck her back in. I think her waking up in the night has something to do with her sleep cycle, especially since it's at about the same time every night. I'm trying to encourage her to find a way to get herself back to sleep. I think not laying down with her at bedtime, would help this out a lot...so we've started working on that too.

We started co-sleeping with Love Bean while I was nursing. It made night time feedings easier. And we just never stopped. We have found with both our girlies, that sleeping with us during nights that they are fussy, calms them and helps them to sleep better. Angry Bean (and it was the same for Love Bean) always starts out in her crib, but if she becomes fussy or restless during the night, we put her in bed with us. Although, we are trying to do this less often than we did with Love Bean. Not sure I want to go through all of this again, when we have a third child. My family picks on me a lot about it, but no one really gives us a hard time or makes us feel like we're horrible parents for letting them sleep with us.

---

I felt compelled to share this on the blog, after a couple of comments on my personal Facebook page. To sum up the comments—moms are shy about admitting to co-sleeping/bed sharing because it's a controversial parenting topic, it's tiring to hear about how hard the habit will be to break, it makes night time nursing easier.

I know there are some people who would suggest that I am putting my kids in danger. You are entitled to your opinion, I just ask that if you do comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page, that you are respectful. And would also ask that you remember the leading cause of child deaths is car accidents, but we don't think twice about driving our children everywhere.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Marriage and Stuff

Since it was Jess' birthday a couple weeks ago and our anniversary last week (26th), I thought I would say a lil somethin. It has been Six years since we got married. Most of it has been fun. . .

Six things Six years has taught me:

1. Going to bed mad is sometimes the only option. There are somethings in life that just need to be slept off. Hangovers also go in this category.

3. Sometimes you have to just give in. . . take that anyway you want, either way it works.

3. Find someone that will love you no matter what. Even if you look like this when you wake up...

4. Put the kids bed early sometimes...or all the time. Is it starting to sound like I don't like my kids. I swear I do. Promise. Bed time is 7:30 here and then Jess and I get a little time to ourselves. Although we all know that sometimes ends up like this. . . 

5. Have fun and don't forget why you loved each other in the first place. Take time to reminisce about the "dating days" ...some people can say years but ours was about 3 months for us. I wouldn't have it any other way. It worked for us. Throw out a compliment every now and then, not hard for me. . . Jess is a fine lookin' man;) 

6. When in doubt hug it out!! Oh my so corny but oh so great. I love throwing in a hug when he is not really into it. Literally this was me today. I don't really know what to do so I'm just gonna hug you. (He stands there, while I wrap my arms tight around him.)

Sorry if that's inappropriate or gross... but those two words sum up my hubs.

I asked Jess "What have you learned in the first 6 years?" he came back with; impossible and It's harder than it looks. Love you too honey. I swear he does love me. I mean he laughed after to make me feel like it was a joke. He's nice. . . right.  Then responded a little bit later, "When in doubt bring her a pop." True love folks. True. LOVE. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Free Range Kids

If you find that you are an anxious parent, always worrying that something or someone is going to harm your child, and/or find yourself living by the mantra "You can't be too safe!" Then you should most definitely go out and purchase this book! Or if you know me in real life, you are more than welcome to borrow it.

Written with a equal parts humor, sarcasm and brutal honesty, the book is broken down into two parts. Part one is her explanation of The Fourteen Free Range Commandments and part two is The Free Range Guide to Life.
Purchase on Amazon
The Fourteen Free Range Commandments
  1. Know When to Worry—Play Dates and Axe Murders: How to Tell the Difference
  2. Turn Off the News—Go Easy on the "Law and Order" Too
  3. Avoid Experts—Who Knew You Were Doing Everything Wrong? . . . Them!
  4. Boycott Baby Knee Pads—And the Rest of the Kiddie Safety-Industrial Complex
  5. Don't Think Like a Lawyer—Some Risks are Worth It
  6. Ignore the Blamers—The Don't Know Your Kid Like You Do
  7. Eat Chocolate—Give Halloween Back to the Trick-or-Treaters
  8. Study History—Your Ten-Year-Old Would Have Been Forging Horseshoes (or at Least Delivering Papers)
  9. Be Wordly—Why Other Countries Are Laughing at zee Scaredy-Cat Americans
  10. Get Braver—Quit Trying to Control Everything. It Doesn't Work Anyway
  11. Relax—Not Every Little Thing You Do Has That Much Impact on Your Child's Development
  12. Fail!—It's the New Succeed
  13. Lock The Out—Make Them Play—or Else!
  14. Listen to Your Kids—They Don't Want to Be Treated Like Babies (Except the Actual Babies, of course)
What I really love is that at the end of each commandment (chapter) she gives an example of a baby step, brave step and giant leap toward becoming a Free Range parent. They help connect what she is saying to day-to-day life, and if you're on the fence, allow you to let go of your fears a little at a time.

My favorite commandment to read in depth about was number six, Ignore the Blamers. Because it's the one I struggle with most. I am very much a Free Range parent, and facing judgement from other parents is the hardest part about it. Tim and I have had a mom bring Love Bean back over to us at a playground because they thought she'd wondered to far from us. I left my girls in the care of a sweet old lady at the grocery store, while I ran to my car in a down pour. And I still haven't heard the end of that one from my husband or mother. (Note—once you master commandment two, what I did won't seem like as big of deal. Also, I'm resisting the urge I have to justify my actions)

My biggest take aways from part two, (which debunks many common parental fears like, eating raw cookie dough, BPA poisoning and "stranger danger") are it is confident and self-assured kids who are least likely to become targets of creeps, and "don't talk to strangers" is one of the worst lessons you can teach your children.

By telling children NOT to talk to strangers you are in effect removing hundreds of safe adults that could help them if they did feel uncomfortable or were in danger. For example, if someday one of my girls is at the mall alone or with friends and some creepy dude is following them, I absolutely want them to know that they can approach another man or woman and say, "hey this creep is following us, mind if we sit here with you for awhile."

Instead what we should teach our children is that they can talk to strangers, they can ask them for help. What the should NOT do is ever go off/leave with a stranger. Even if that stranger says something like, "you're mom couldn't make it, so she sent me to pick you up."

Seriously, I think this book should be required reading for parents. Even if you would already consider yourself Free Range, it will reaffirm and encourage you. If you are interested the author also writes a blog of the same name, Free Range Kids. If you have any questions about Free Range parenting, the book, or anything else I mentioned in this post feel free to comment here, or on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Confessions of a SAHM

Attention all mamas, I have come to a conclusion. The kids' nap/rest time is my time to sit and relax. I just want to put that out there that I do it. I am not ashamed to say I wait to eat until I can sit and be by myself. If you don't have that time you are awesome for making it through the day. To be honest if I didn't have a little break from the wants and needs I would go crazy. Wait...I do go crazy because of course sometimes Gat doesn't like to nap.

Another confession: I let Rae watch the iPad so my ears can get a break. Two days ago she watched tv or played the iPad pretty much all day while Jo was at school. You can call me a bad mom...or should you call me smart?! Because for one whole day I had my sanity. And I got a lot done too. Now this doesn't happen everyday. The day before she literally helped me clean the whole day. Because it seems like that no matter if you spend 1 hour or 8 hours cleaning each day...you still have to clean the next.


Back to the nap time thing. Take a sec and just relax catch your breath, rest your feet. Don't feel you have to clean, I promise you it will be there when you get up. Read a book, crochet, watch tv, eat, blog, read blogs, do whatever you're big loving heart desires.

Hey, I clean best when my kids are up and around. I mean doesn't everyone clean so the kids have to chase you. You don't? Then do!!! Seriously. . .if you sit still they can always find you. BUT. . .if you keep moving, cleaning, laundry and everything else they can't quite ever get a total handle where you are. It will require the occasional "I'M in HERE!" Hey it takes them at least 2 minutes to usually find you. (By the way I have a rule you don't freak out, like mom is gone-she left us forever gone, until you have checked every room in the house.)

I am realizing that it seems like I don't like my kids. But I swear I do. I love them. Just some days, SOME days, they bug me. But that's okay. . .right? It's normal right!? Ahh now I am feeling a little insecure.

Here are some other pics, because they're fun. Did I mention Jo went to a birthday party and the "REAL" Belle came. . . "For real Rae she was the REAL Belle." And I went out to dinner with a couple special friends and that's fun and the pic is what I wore. I love my leather motorcycle jacket from Target $20!



Oh by the way our lovely readers. I don't have facebook, so comment here so I know you're listening to my rants. Probs the only thing I miss about facebook is interacting with you all. You're awesome!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Team Gatlyn T-Shirts FOR SALE!

We have all been on Team Gatlyn before that kid was even on earth. Though the rooting has changed along the way, we have all been there cheering for him every step of the way. #TEAMGATLYN is trending ya know.....


You all cheered for him to stay in Mallorie's belly 9 more weeks, you cheered for him to stay strong and fight his hospital battles, and you continue to cheer for him as he does BIG things on the daily at home. What's a team without a killer student section? ;)

Even better, it's that time of year again........the Super Bowl of Preemie Baby Research.......MARCH OF DIMES!!!!!!!!!! What a better time to be to not only be on Team Gatlyn but Team I wanna help save babies lives.

This is the year folks. I can feel it. 1st Place has our name written all over it. Don't get me wrong the first two years we were successful. Team Gatlyn taking 2nd place and raising over $3,000. But I know we can do better :) Goal for this year: $6000.00 and if 1st place comes with that, two thumbs up.

So get your foam finger and your fast shoes on, as Roo calls them, we have a 5k to walk. Or run if you're really that motivated. And unlike any other team, Team Gatlyn loves a good band wagon, so jump on if you haven't been on the team before. EVERY little bit helps.

As always, we have the yearly team shirt for purchase. $15 for adult sizes and $10 for kids. $7.75 of the adult shirt will go automatically towards the team donation, as well as $3.50 for each kids shirt sold.  So everyone and your mother, brother, sister, kid, and everyone else order your shirt!!

Shirts are as follows:
-Shirts can be ordered through messaging the Twenty Somethin Mamma's Facebook Page.
-$15 or $10 for a shirt paid before the date of ordering the shirt April 1st! Any unpaid shirts WILL NOT be ordered.
-Sizes Offered: Adult Sizes S-XL and Kids 2T-5T
-They will look like the awesome design below. Gold Shirt, black writing.



Also, don't forget there are other ways to give to the cause. Donations are welcome and can be given through this link www.marchforbabies.org/team/gatlyn or contacting Mallore, Jamie, or I. Now let's raise $6000.00!!!!

Walk Info:
April 26, 2014
Location: 5600 Beechtree, Caledonia MI
Time: Registration @9am Start @ 10:30




Thursday, January 23, 2014

Three Bean Chili



I've been loving soups this winter. They're warm, hearty and easy to make with a baby in the high chair and a toddler under foot. Since I limit my grocery budget to $50 per week, I usually try to fix one or two meatless meals a week. This Three Bean Chili is is just as filling as any meat dish.

What You'll Need
olive oil
1 yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
15 ounces diced tomatoes (I actually used stewed tomatoes that Alexis and I canned earlier this year)
1 cup water
1 cup tomato juice (again, I used tomato juice we canned earlier this year)

1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt

What You'll Do
Heat olive oil in pan until hot then add onion and garlic, saute until soft and translucent. While onion and garlic are cooking, rinse and drain your beans.

Add beans, diced tomatoes, water and tomato juice to your onion and garlic. Stir in your spices. Then cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes.

I served it with a little bit of cheese on top. Enjoy!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The New Future

Hello everybody. . . insert nice little intro here. I can't think of a way to ease into it so here it goes.

Gat, our baby, has been diagnosed with Diplegic Cerebral Palsy(CP). It happened like the week before Thanksgiving. . . I think. Now I can't remember, that's annoying. Anyway he has it. It still doesn't seem right coming out of my mouth, or fingers in this case, and I am not completely sure how long it will take for it to feel ok. Because to be honest guys I am not okay with it. It just kinda sucks. We have been going down this road of therapies and stuff thinking there was an end in sight. Turns out we were wrong. Therapies for life (throw up rockout sign here please).

"Cerebral means having to do with the brain. Palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles. Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and keep their balance and posture as a result of an injury to parts of the brain, or as a result of a problem with development. Often the problem happens before birth or soon after being born. Cerebral palsy causes different types of disabilities in each child. A child may simply be a little clumsy or awkward, or unable to walk at all." (info from here)
It is also known as Spastic Diplegia. "In this type of CP, muscle stiffness is mainly in the legs, with the arms less affected or not affected at all. People with spastic diplegia might have difficulty walking because tight hip and leg muscles cause their legs to pull together, turn inward, and cross at the knees." (info from here)

As you know Gatlyn can walk with a walker and is getting really good at it too! This is no lie he can part a room like the Red Sea. It is amazing what the little guy can do. I mean look at this Snap I got the other day...


A couple things I want you to know:

1. It is not a death sentence. Lucky for us we will get to see those bedroom eyes forever! Even his mean side...I get scratches and smacks from him too.

2. I am not sure how to not totally get offended by people. Like when people say "Kids like that...". I know each and every one of them mean well. For real I do... but when people say "Kids like that..." it makes me have to come to terms he is now "lumped"  with any kid with a disability. And when I don't really think of Gat in that way, of course I don't want others to either.

3. Gatlyn is smart. If it wasn't for his physical impairment you would not know he has CP let alone a preemie.

I will probs being writing on this topic a lot. So peace out for tonight. Here is a nice image to leave you with.

Friday, January 17, 2014

One Year of $50 Groceries

It works best for my schedule to go grocery shopping on Wednesday or Thursday. So a week refers to Wednesday to Wednesday or Thursday to Thursday. Meal ideas use a combo of the week's groceries and ingredients I already have on hand.

It's been a year since I slashed our grocery budget to $50 a week! When I started, I wasn't sure I would stick to it for so long, but it's working for our family and I'm turning back. This week you'll get a glimpse at what happens when I go to the store with a list of only "must haves" and no game plan for the rest of my budget. It didn't end up too bad, but could have been better.


Quick Facts
  • Total Spent: $55.43 ($5.43 over budget)
  • Total Savings: $18.72
  • Savings Break Down: $5 from Mperks, $12.72 from shopping sale ad and $1.00 from coupons
Must Haves
  • Cheez-Its (per Tim's request)
  • Milk
  • Hot Cocoa (per Stella's request)
  • Cheese slices
  • Eggs (Turns out these weren't a must have. Got home and I had a dozen in the fridge, oops!)
My Meal Ideas
  • Baked oatmeal
  • Tortellini with garlic bread
  • Beef stir fry with white rice
  • Turkey and egg noodle casserole (I have lots of slice turkey, not sure if it will work in the casserole, but I'm going to try anyway) 
  • Penne Pizza Bake
So how could have my trip been better? Well for starters, I went over budget. That wouldn't have happened if I would have had a plan. It would have been a good week to stock up on pasta, it was on sale for 79 cents, that 20 cents cheaper than the usual sale price. I didn't actually need eggs, so that's $3 that could have went else where.

You can read my other $50 Grocery posts here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Working Mom Guilt

Let's get real the biggest feeling every working mom has is guilt. I'll be honest, I felt guilt for the first two or three months, but now about 9 months in of being a full-time working mom I really don't feel much guilt at all. Between just looking at reality and saying "this is the way it has to be," and actually admitting I like being a working mom, helps me to cope with about 50% of the guilt. The other 50% comes from the following rationalization I have in my head that is a mix of personal thought and thoughts from other working moms and mom blogs. Carrying on to explain said rationalization.....

So for some reason, there has always been this ongoing battle between working moms and stay-at-home moms (I recently saw someone refer to them has SAHMs, so we'll run with that. Like they are their own breed or something ;)). It's a true rivalry. Comparable to the fantasy football league in our family (That I am NOT a part of). AKA pointless, yet humorous at the same time. 




This is where the second 50% of my guilt comes in. Self examination like .... Am I any less of a mom because I hand Ruthie off to the best babysitter in the world everyday? Is Jamie or Mallorie any better of a mom than me because she is with their kids 24/7 of their life? Is Ruthie being denied the time she should have with her mom by having me home with her? Does Ruthie feel neglected because I make her go to Shannie's everyday? Is Ruthie not going to behave and have the things I hope to have instilled in her for life? Is Ruthie going to be worse off then kids who do get there mom home with them everyday? It's the kind of guilt that puts you in, as Ron Burgandy said it best, a glass case of emotion. 


So back to that rivalry.......
Of course, "each side feeling that their choice is the better one, each side ridiculing the other because their choice was different, each secretly (or not so secretly) harboring moments of guilt about their choice."
So who did it? Who made the right choice? Who has the more important job? Ummmm.... invalid questions in my eyes. If we can call this debate between these too professions then can we call it for other professions? Okay you tell me .....Which job is more important? The mailman who delivers your mail or your kid's teacher? Exactly. It doesn't even make sense to debate this. We would be screwed without either profession. Mailman, teacher, SAHM, working mom, potato, tomato. 
A blog I read put it best:
"Both moms are working moms. They are one in the same. One chooses to work in a building with others in and around their age group, and the other chooses to work in a home with a younger age group.Both are working. And both have the right to choose where they work…don’t they?"
Each have there own valid reasons. And there are some of the SAHM's reasons I for one who rather not deal with. 

I don't think either side should feel the slight bit of guilt. If you are happy with your choice, rock it. I think I'm to that point now where I am good to admit that I like being a working mom. Yeah, some days completely suck and you snap chat your sisters all day, showing them the cube you are stuck in or you have to text Shannie to ask her how your girl is doing to prompt a picture being sent. Or some nights it absolutely sucks when you had a day from hell at work and you come home no dinner made, a messy house, a workout waiting for you, and a little girl that nothing in the world would make her happy at the moment. 


But for more days then not I am good with going to work. I like the sense of accomplishment it gives me. I like having responsibilities outside the home that I can go deal with for 8 hours and then leave them in my little cube for the night or weekend and go home to Roo and Matt. 

More reasons I have learned I prefer being a working mom over a SAHM. 
-My patience level has dramatically decreased. If I stayed home, Roo would probably be in timeout more often then she should. 
-Waking up at 5:50 makes my days seem twice as long. Sucks on the weekdays, but it makes the weekend a little longer. 
-I like being able to buy things (and try not to feel guilty about it) like my new car!
-The drive into work (Lansing). I love the "me time" I get on my drive. Coffee in hand , usually the radio off, thinking, and watching the sun come up. Oh and can't forget to honk at moms.
-Ruthie absolutely LOVES her time at Shannies. I hear about it all night what she did, her Emma friend, fighting with aubs...haha I love the stories that come from that house.
-That moment we pull into Shannies driveway and Roo says "Here's my Shannies house!!!! My fweinds not here yet mom, but later!!"
-And that moment I open the door to pick her up and she screams "MY MOMS HERE!!!" and I get the bigger hug than the day before.
So to conclude this massive rant of personal feelings I say if your happy with your choice, if you know what you are doing is best for your family, OR if you know what you are doing is best for your own sanity......SO BE IT. No guilt shall be felt. 
And let's stop thinking we're better than each other.