Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Stress

Maybe it's because of the intensity and stress of the election, or maybe because I have adapted a simpler lifestyle, or maybe it's because last Christmas, we overindulged our son and vow not to do so this year.  I don't know what it is, but this Christmas, I just don't feel as stressed.

I started planning for Christmas back in July- presents I was going to make, shopping sales for things for our son, what gifts I was getting for people and shopping sales.  I'm sure this all contributed to less stress this season, but I don't think that's the big reason.  Everything is maybe a little more in perspective for me this year.  I'm trying to turn over a new leaf about not stressing about things and not worrying about all the things I'm not.

I'm not the Martha Stewart of Housekeeping.  I like a clean house, but it's probably never going to meet some people's standards.  But you know what?  That's okay.  I was talking with an old friend this week who was stressing about all the things she's not.  I told her I had an earlier crisis this year, upset about what someone else thought of me.   Then I told her, after crying a little, I sat in bed and told my husband, " You know what?  I'm freaking awesome!"

Yes, it was not a humble comment, but I think that myself, like many women focus on the things we aren't.  The way we fail.  The way we can't keep all the balls bouncing in the air.  As a small business owner, veterinarian, Lay Dominican, friend, family member and active member of my Church, and let's not forget my most important roles as wife and mother, I do a decent job.  I won't be getting an award for anything and I'm okay with that.

At the end of my life, I'm not going to look back and say, "I wish I would have spent more time cleaning," or "I wish I would have made Pinterest-perfect cookies."  I will look back and say, "I'm glad I sat at the beginning and the end of the day admiring the majesty of a Christmas Tree with my son and reading to him.  While I'm not using the above to be an excuse for all the things I can improve, (rest assured, I still carry a list with me of ways in my life I could get better and my husband may periodically remind me of some of them).  But instead of focusing on what I'm not, as this "Year of Mercy" has ended and we are moving into a New Year, I'll give a little mercy to myself and try to give more to others.  We are never enough, we are never perfect enough, that's why we are reminded that we NEED God, because we aren't enough on our own.  The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, remember, you are Freaking Awesome because He is BEYOND Awesome.  God has given us the gift of His Son.  This time that we celebrate this year and through Him who strengthens us, we may be "Enough" in Him.  Have a Happy, Peaceful Advent.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Who's The Boss?

As my husband and I were trying to have an adult conversation at the dinner table, my son commands, "Stop Talking!"  He was happily eating his nachos, but did not want us to have adult conversation.  I paused his almost ready to go tantrum and said, "Who's The Boss here?"  He was clearly trying to take over as the dictator that most three year olds are and I simply was trying to ask him a rhetorical question.  He paused, looked around and said, "Duchess!" (our cat).  Both my husband and I had to smile with that (my husband is always stating that the hierarchy in the house pretty much goes; Duchess, "the boy", Daddy, Dewey and then Mommy.

I did get my son to admit that HE was not the boss and that grown-ups are allowed to have a conversation from time to time.  It was kind of funny that this conversation came after an appointment I had earlier in the day which was a 4 year old Tortie.  She looked like a much fatter version of my geriatric kitty.  During the exam, she was hanging out on her "mom's" arms and I was writing.  All on her own, she jumped onto the table and parked it right up against me, prohibiting my writing.  I mentioned to the owners that that was just like my kitty and commented, "although it's strange, your Tortie doesn't have attitude."  They had never heard what is common knowledge in the veterinary profession, Tortoise shell cats are "Divas".  The owners commented and laughed, "Well, she normally is a Diva at home."  Aah, ok, she didn't miss the gene.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Why was I out after dark in my pajamas with a toddler?

That must have been what the neighbors were wondering.

I found myself outside, after dark, initially pointing my finger and "fake" yelling at a light as my son watched from his window upstairs.  My husband went through this routine too.  After several weeks of my son being frightened at night and several attempts at trying to figure out what he's scared of (which sometimes shifts around to different things) I think we may have made headway.  At least I hope we did.

After my son initially said it was the neighbors' light that scared him, he then said, "the little guy".   My husband and I looked at each other on the dark street and instantly knew what he was scared of.  At Halloween, one of our neighbors had a little  "scary guy" that lit up and moved suddenly on their porch.  When this happened, I overcame my surprise and acted like it was funny and touched the character and tried to show my son it was nothing to be afraid of.  He looked at me puzzled but nothing more had come of it at that time.

Tonight, as my son said he was scared of the little guy, both my husband and I told him he wasn't there- he was from Halloween and there is nothing scary now, it's going to be Christmas and we are going to celebrate Christmas, there's nothing scary on the porch.  My son, unconvinced, wanted me to show him.  So I walked to the end of our street and down to the house at the end of the next street, in my pajamas on a cold night.  Thankfully the people had their porch well lit (I thought it would be more than weird, but bordering on creepy if I walked up their steps in my pajamas in the darkness of the night).  I showed my son that the porch was empty.  He felt marginally better.  Now apparently, he's scared of something else.  But he can't say his parents aren't dedicated to helping him, where they can, to face his fears.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Taking a little break from a blog today after a great week with Family and celebrating all we are Thankful for (And Great Food).  Have a great holiday and don't shop too much!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

If I could teach what my 3 year old knows...

So I've spoken on here about ice skating before.  My son is interested in all things sport, and he is amazingly still interested in ice skating and hockey, even though it's a little more advanced (and involves more balance) than a lot of his other sports pursuits.  But let me speak a little more about what my son has shown me.

The other day, it was in the seventies and I knew the ice skating rink in the middle of our town was open.  Perfect, I thought!  If I was going to take my son skating and have to support his weight, what better way to do it than in a T-shirt and without all the winter gear you normally need.  We went down to the ice skating rink and found out they didn't open for another 2 hours.  My son had been really excited, and I felt really bad about not knowing the hours (apparently they change dependent on if school is in session).

I then told my son if he took a good nap, we would go after the nap.  He woke up from the nap and said he wanted to go, "tomorrow".  I knew "tomorrow" we were supposed to have gale force winds and it was going to be 30 degrees colder.  I called up my husband and we made an impulsive plan.  I took my son to the skating rink and he immediately was excited again.  I couldn't put on his skates or mine, fast enough.  He was actually able to walk (and run) in his double-bladed skates.  We went through a period of "wear a helmet, helmet doesn't fit, try another helmet".  Once that was settled, we embarked for several trips around the ice.  Staff members of the rink encouraged my son and I don't remember how many teenagers remarked on how cute he was.  One girl came over and grabbed his hand and was explaining to him to put his arms out like an airplane and bend his knees.  He didn't know what bend his knees meant, so I explained, "like sliding into first base"  At one point, he refused to put his feet down and I was skating around with about 30 pounds dangling between my legs.  Somewhere at this point, I teetered forward.  Determined not to fall on top of my three year old, complete with ice blades, I simultaneously through my weight backwards and lifted him in the air.  He thought it was the best thing ever.  I wasn't quit as thrilled about totally falling on the ice (I'm actually a decent skater).  A teenage boy came over and held him so I could right myself.  He giggled.  "Falling is fun!"

He then pushed my hands away and began to show a little bit of independence.  At one point, he whispered, "So if I fall I'm not going to break the ice, right?"  I told him with a laugh, "if your mommy fell and didn't break the ice, you definitely can't- this ice doesn't break and you don't have to worry about that."

As he began skating on his own, he told me he didn't want to skate on the edge, but wanted to skate in the middle, "with the fast boys."  He then went into trying to be a "radio announcer" and started calling plays like he was watching a hockey game (and participating).  As he skated away from me, I had a mix of fear and pride.  I was afraid and wanted to catch him when he fell, but was so proud he was doing it on his own and not giving into fear.  Each time I tried to move closer, to catch him, I told myself, "this is what growing up is- you give him space to learn and as long as he's not going to kill himself, you watch".  This was the self-talk I had to keep giving myself- it's so hard to watch a kid when you know they might fall, but they will never grow if you don't give them a little independence and space to learn on their own.  A hard parenting lesson.  At one point I almost cried, I was so in awe of his fearlessness and bravery.  People commented who had been watching us skate for a while how he looked like he was doing so much better.  I told him I was happy that for once I was enjoying a sport with him that I was actually BETTER than his Daddy at.  He laughed at that.  I told him, "Your Daddy can have playing baseball with you and I will take ice skating and hockey any day."

Fearlessness, getting up after you fall and how to be a parent who gives their kid space to learn; these were just some of those things I learned while ice skating, and bonding with my 3 year old.  Priceless.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Saving Money For Christmas... We've saved over $850 this year!

It's that time of year, and this is a popular subject for blog posts, but I'll go ahead and share some of my tips.  My husband and I figured out we have probably in total saved around $600 this year for our Christmas gifts and I've used some of it for birthday gifts and my son's birthday party.

  1.  Credit Card with Rewards.  We have the type of credit card that gives money back.  Every month I take that cash back and put it in a money market account, which earns some interest.  When months are tight, I will use the cash back to help pay the bill, but whenever I'm able I stash that money away to use later on.  We probably save around $200-300 this way.
  2.  Swagbucks- I know I've mentioned this before, but it's pretty cool between surveys and watching videos (which my husband makes fun of me for, but if I kind of watch a video while I"m brushing my teeth or doing whatever and it equates to about $350 a year in gift cards, why not?).  I don't do surveys that ask for too much personal information- it's not worth it to me, but it's sometimes rewarding to offer advice on products and services and think it might actually help with their market research to impact baby food and diapers for the better!
  3.  Ibotta and Checkout 51-  My husband is kind of the "couponer" of the household.  We basically use these programs to get rebates on groceries we get anyways.  As far as privacy rights, I feel you relinquish about the same amount of privacy with giving this information as you do when you have a loyalty card at any grocery store.  You're basically providing companies with information on your spending habits.  You don't have to do every receipt, so you can just do it as you like.  We also try to stay away from purchasing things just BECAUSE you can get an amazing rebate.  Just like a sale on a Pallet-full of food doesn't save you any money if you don't use it.  We've saved about $150 this year this way
  4. Receipt Hog-  This is kind of the same as above, but you can use it at places other than grocery stores, and especially at gas stations.  Great way to earn money just from buying gas.  I've saved about $20 in the past couple months I've used this.
  5. Dicks Move App and Walgreens.  You can actually hook up your FitBit to these Apps.  When I looked into it, I wasn't interested in giving them the ability to track my movement (that's a little too Big Brother for me).  But they use these programs to keep you motivated to exercise (I'm sure they figure the more you work out, the more you will need running shoes and energy drinks and then you're more likely to shop with them).  I've saved about $20 at Walgreens and $10 at Dicks in the past couple of months.
  6. Homemade gifts- this is an obvious one- whether it's giving cookies, homemade vanilla or knit goods, I find that many people appreciate the homemade goodies even more than gift cards or store-bought gifts.  One of my son's teachers actually gave me her shoe size the other day hoping that maybe I'd make her some socks 😉
  7. Planning ahead for sales- This one can get a little trickier- you kind of need to work on your list for people all year through and then plan on what you're going to get them and how low a price you want something to go.  It can definitely save money though instead of waiting for December and full price.
  8. Keeping a stash- I try to keep my eyes open for deals- especially on Children's books (amazon will have sales from time to time) and keep a stash available in the closet so if a birthday party or something comes up, we already have a gift that we purchased on sale.  We still want to try to personalize gifts for kids, but it's fun if I find a book my son likes to be able to share it with others.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


A while ago I had a very busy day and wanted to start it out right.
I went to one of my favorite salad places and got an amazing "Spanish salad" with blackened chicken, manchego cheese and a bunch of other great stuff.  I intentionally did not eat it all, realizing that around 3 pm, I would want continued nourishment and it would be a great pick me up.  As I was eating it, a panhandler came around asking for money.  He wanted to buy something specific from a restaurant, or so he told me.  I tried to guard my heart from cynicism and gave him a little change and he moved on.  I packed up my salad and got ready to leave for work.

I started doing internal math in my head, figuring out the bills my husband and I had to pay, and how we would be able to pay for Christmas and all that internal math/budgeting that people worry about unless they are independently wealthy.  As I was in the middle of this haze walking, a middle aged woman came over to me politely.  She was wearing nice clothes, had a suitcase and looked like she could have been my own mom, traveling.  She politely asked, "Miss, may I please have that salad if you don't need it?"  I came out of my "worry zone" and immediately gave it to her.  It was kind of a reflex.  Her politeness and clear need of food kind of shocked me.  She was definitely not a typical panhandler, anyone who would ask for the half-eaten lunch of someone else, not money or any other pleas, was actually a person in need.  I wish I would have talked or befriended her more, but I did have to rush to get to work.  She did me a great service though.  She turned my heart from one of worry to one of gratefulness and before I gathered my thoughts, she took off with, "God Bless you today."  Her need was a blessing to me.  I hope to have more opportunities to return her blessing to others.