About Me

I am an insane human being. I have been a wife for 15 plus years, and a mom for almost as long. I had 3 children early on...then struggled with life and IF and loss for 8 years. Thought our family was complete, so I compensated by adopting all the shelter pets. Then we were surprised that our luck changed. Our running total is Parents: 2, Kids: 5, Pets:4. My life is far from perfect, and much of our happiness was hard fought and won, from the death of a parent, job loss and marriage troubles, miscarriage and IF, we have been through it all, and dare I say we made it, with a lot of love and laughter, and not taking ourselves too seriously.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Day in The Life-School Year Edition

During the school year my days feel a whole lot longer than in the summer, even though the daylight hours actually get shorter.

My day starts around 6:15am when the alarm goes off. My husband needs to get up, and the alarm wakes me up. I usually jump up to pee before he gets out of bed, then I lay back down while he is getting ready. On a good day, everyone is still asleep right now. Sometimes I will hear baby boy on the monitor, and down the hall I usually start to hear my teen getting up and getting ready. She is pretty good about doing her own thing to get ready and out the door on her own, which is nice.

At this stage in my pregnancy, I try not to have too much scheduled for early mornings, so lately my husband had been letting me stay in bed for an extra 45 minutes. He has been taking care of getting the other kids awake and fed and ready for school. I never really go back to sleep but being able to lay there and rest has been nice. Between 7am and 7:15 I get up and head downstairs. Like clockwork, once I hit the third trimester I started waking up nauseous again, so I take my acid reducer with a few sips of water and say goodbye to everyone.

Lately baby boy has been waking up starving, so by the time I come downstairs he has already been fed. He will take my hand and lead me over to our recliner where we will snuggle and watch some cartoons for a little while. I am thankful for this because it gives my tummy time to settle down. I usually check my phone for emails and do any banking I am able to do on my phone. It takes about an hour or so, but I go from nauseous to starving pretty quickly. This is when we turn off the TV and I get myself some breakfast and baby boy gets his first snack. I usually let the dogs out again at this point so they don't bother me for food.

After we eat, we head down to the basement where the playroom is. My full-size freezer is also down there, so if I haven't already I try and figure out what we are going to have for dinner. I check to make sure the cat has food and water, and sort and start any laundry that has piled up overnight. I do laundry every day. Sometimes there is still a load to be switched from the night before. I get winded easily now so I try and combined trips to the basement and get as much done as I can. Baby boy and I hang out down here for a long time. It's a no TV time, so we play and I will sometimes bring down a magazine to look at in between his playing and my chores.

Starting in the 10 o'clock hour I start keeping track of the time. Sometimes he starts getting tired so I try and watch his cues. He recently switched to taking pretty short naps, usually under an hour. Because of this I have been trying to keep him up until 11:30 or so unless he is in really bad shape. So we do a variety of activities to keep him engaged. If he is playing contently I take this time to make any phone calls and follow up on any paperwork I have, but nothing too involved that I couldn't stop at a moments notice. When I see him starting to really wind down I will get him another snack. Sometimes it is pretty close to noon, so I will feed him lunch instead. We clean up, he gets a change of clothes, dry diaper, and I lay him down. Due to seperation anxiety and me being too tired to fight, I started staying with him until he is asleep. I know it is a horrible habit but it became the path of least resistance because he would spend forever screaming and not sleeping and I just couldn't deal. What happens when Bonus Baby arrives I have no idea, I will deal with that then but for now this works. So I will sit next to the crib and rub his face and arm and usually he is asleep within a few minutes.

While he is sleeping I try and take this short time to grab a shower. Sometimes I have enough time to actually get out, get dressed, and grab something to eat. When he wakes up he is almost always cranky, and will sort of throw a fit. If I have eaten I will sit in the recliner with him with a show on for the 30 minutes it takes him to chill out. If I haven't eaten I will eat while he is waking up, and get him a snack and drink ready to go. I have to be careful of the time because I need to be out the door by 2:30 to go and pick up the kids from school. If I have any errands to run, I try and do them before I pick up kids, which means I am leaving the house at this point. So much depends on how my time management has been, and how well baby boy is cooperating. Occasionally I will have to make a stop after I pick up the kids, but I try not to because even that extra half hour can mean I hit traffic getting back home.

On a good day where we have no appointments or stops to make, we are back home by 3:45. I get the older kids a quick snack, and once homework is done they take their brother out to play so I can start dinner. In the past couple weeks I have been hitting a wall of exhaustion around now. When I fee this way I usually grab a glass of water or sometimes a decaf coffee and put my feet up for a few minutes before starting dinner. My husband is usually getting back home around now so he is great about taking over so I can get myself together enough to make dinner.

I am also lucky that the older kids are pretty good about doing what they are supposed to. We finally got them to a point where they get dressed for school on their own with little fuss, get homework done right away, and can get their own snacks if I need them to. They are also good when asked about helping with baby boy, for the most part. I am always there to supervise and mediate of course, but teaching them to be responsible for themselves is important to me. We also gave them a new job this year of making their own lunches the night before. They know the rules of what should be in their lunch, and they are learning what they pack they need to eat. They are also learning how to portion, so if they come home more hungry one day, they know they need to pack a little more. They also enjoy having their own choices. We are really working on the clean up after yourself part though haha

This part of the day kids are scattered around, so once I have dinner pretty close to ready it is time to try and round everyone up. This can mean simply checking the basement or out front, and often sending someone to the playground across the street to gather up kids. We all sit down to eat together every night, so it is our time to talk about our day, what's ahead for the rest of the evening and next day, ect. One of the 2 middle kids is always the first one done, so once they take their plate to the sink they make their lunch and if it's a shower night they head upstairs to do that. (I try and get dinner on the table early, but it has seemed to be 6:30 by the time I get it together lately. I move a lot slower right now haha)

Baby boy usually gets his bath after dinner, so my husband usually does that. My teen helps clear the table and wrap leftovers. I sometimes try and work on any other bills/paperwork I have to still do, or switch laundry again, or dishes if I feel up to it. Lately I sit and put my feet up watching the front door for kids going in and out. My older son has wanted to be outside at the park every night and since he has done pretty well with being up later and waking up early with no crankiness I let him. The kids know my deal breaker for staying up late(r) is crankiness and whineyness the next day! I finish up as much as I can. A few times a month I have to do budget/finance stuff so that takes all my brain power.

Baby boy goes to bed the same way at night as he does for his naps, so between 7:30 and 8:30 I get him to sleep. The last week or so he has been so tired he is a screaming mess, thrashing in my arms as we say our prayers, but he falls asleep pretty quickly. I head back downstairs between 8 and 9pm after I have tucked everyone in. My teen is on her own schedule so she is usually floating around still. Sometimes my husband and I will watch something and hang out for a little bit. I am tired enough to go to bed right away, but I am bad and don't usually make this a priority which is stupid, because at this point I am way too exhausted to do anything productive anyway. So at some point I go to sleep.

My days are way more productive when I am not pregnant, when it's not so hot out still, and when we actually have appointments scheduled. This week was a fairly easy week, but next week I have things scheduled every single day. I don't know why my schedule works out that way, but I will have a down week, then a crazy one. Next week is dentist appointments and physicals, with early dismissals, a no-school day, and another birthday party to prep for. One child had 2 days off of school this week, I had one meet-up for lunch scheduled, and today I have 2 side dishes to make for a cookout tomorrow. (See the post titled Randomness Glaore for details on that!)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I Guess it Was Always Bound to Happen

My mother and I have never really been friends. I have no idea what a mother/daughter relationship is actually supposed to look like. I suppose I have always felt like I was never good enough, and that I was always the one causing the problems and never the solution. Even in my adult life, I have never felt like she agreed with any of my life choices, even now. I can't tell you how much she disagrees with me having the number of kids that I have now, let alone being pregnant again. She is quick with critisim and short on compliments. I don't think she has ever once in my adult life told me she is proud of me, even after all the hurdles I have made it through.

My Dad was always my person. The one I could always talk to. He was never judgemental and always listened, and even if he didn't have the answer I knew he would always help me through it. He always told me how proud he was of me, and I never questioned whether he thought I was good enough or not, because I knew. When he died is when my life unraveled, because I didn't know how to cope without him. My mom was a mess, too, and I promised him I would take care of her, but because we didn't ever have a close relationship, I didn't know how. It took me a long time to get myself better after he died. My relationship with my mom still wasn't great, but it was better than It had been.

I was always envious of my older sister growing up. Her and my mom could go in the bedroom and talk for hours. Even as I got older, I would see them interact and feel like an outsider. I was (and still am) very close with my sister, but around the 2 of them I always felt like the third wheel, like I didn't really belong.

My mom has changed. She barely talks to my siblings anymore. I asked her about that once, and she almost acted like she didn't care. My dad was the glue of the family, but he also was my mom's calm. Without him, she is unhinged. She has become a much colder person, and even inconsiderate. She says whatever she wants and doesn't seem to care who it bothers. If you try and talk to her she gets angry and defensive and plays the victim as if people are ganging up on her. She isn't the mother I knew. She was never the warmest, happiest, positive person around but now she is downright miserable. Even a phone call from her is a source of such stress and negativity anymore.

I have always heard stories of people who had broken relationships with their parents, and I always wondered why and could never imagine having that. It doesn't seem so far fetched now, and I can see how it can happen and even understand it.

My dad was always the buffer. I would always talk to him about things, even my pregnancies, and let him break the news to my mom. Because then I didn't have to hear her negative remarks. My dad was always so joyous about anything any of his kids ever accomplished. Even bad news was never that bad to him because there was always a solution to be had, or a silver lining somewhere to be found. It is impossible to talk to her about anything, even good news. She always finds something negative to say or finds some problem with just about everything.

It was always bound to happen, I suppose, that whatever relationship we did have has deteriorated. I have been trying so hard in the years since Dad died to try and make some kind of mother/daughter relationship. I honestly have tried everything...being the good daughter that looks out for her and brings her food, letting her say whatever she wants and having it roll off my back, trying to let her "fix" things in my life, trying to talk to her as more of a friend...I guess when you have never had a close relationship it is impossible to try and make happen now. She has said some pretty hurtful things to me over the last year, things I would like to ignore but yet I can't. The events of last week sort of pushed me over the edge. I don't even know how I am supposed to go on from here. She knows she has upset me, but I truly don't think she cares. And I don't think she even knows the extent of the hurt. I don't even think if I told her it would make a difference. I guarantee she would turn it around and make it all about her.

I guess it was always bound to happen. But it still guts me. And I miss my Dad. I have got to try to find a way to move on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Randomness Galore

I have so many topical posts in my head, but I can't seem to harness any of my brainpower to type anything very meaningful out right now. So I thought maybe if I got this crazy random update-y type of post out of the way, maybe something more substantial could find it's way onto the screen. Probably not, but we'll see. Without further ado, I bring you Randomness Galore to get you over hump day.

Speaking of hump day...a few years back a friend and I were working together on a school fundraiser. We were trying to come up with a mascot and a slogan...when my friend suggested a camel and we could use the whole hump day thing...only it came out wrong and all I heard through her laughter was talking about humping...which I was taking literal and looking at her like she lost her mind, it being a conservative private school and all, and the fact that this was an elementary school. It wasn't until a few weeks later when I actually saw the commercial she was referencing for the first time and then was clued in on the joke. That pretty much sums me up...a little late to the party haha.
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Things on the school-schedule front have fallen into place, and we are somewhat settled into a routine now. It is really refreshing when things just sort of fall into place if you just take a deep breath and give it a chance. I didn't really have to do a lot and instead let my kids get into their own rhythm. Even my teen who I was so worried about is doing wonderful adjusting to a new school in a new environment. She actually enjoys going to school and interacting with her peers, which is a HUGE change from pretty much all of middle school, which I feel a bit bad about. But, the only other choice of middle school would have likely been worse for her. Hopefully, her experience taught her some good life lessons she can utilize one day. It really helps that her current school, actually the county we are in, has some of the strictest dress codes and rules I have ever seen, and they enforce these rules. It is a really good environment for her, and I am no longer worried about her in that way, which is nice.
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We made it through an 11 year old birthday party with a house full of giggly girls. One girl who came was new to the school this year, and even factoring that in, I didn't once have to mediate anything. This class has just good kids from top to bottom, even the boys. My oldest child's class was the opposite, and I think the big difference was in her class I was the youngest parent and she was my oldest kid, and almost all other parents were older with it being their youngest kid...where they were much less involved in the kid's life. In my 11 year old's class, you know who's parents are whose, and they are all super involved. That makes all the difference in the world in how the kids act. Truly.
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My son spent the night at a friend's house while said sleepover was going on. The mom on a good day is super flighty...well she started homeschooling 2 out of 4 of her kids, her husband has been out of town for work, and she wasn't feeling well...plans changed a million times about when and how my son was getting home. Anyway, she texted to let me know final plans for retrieving my kid, and threw in a line about letting them eat "crap food" for the 27 hours she had my son, and that he was on a "sugar bender". I wasn't mad or anything, I just remarked to a co-worker that when I have someone else's kid I am on my best parenting behavior and make sure the kid eats 3 solid meals and try and limit the junk food they eat. Needless to say, we had to "detox" him the next day and all was well, but I mean really, who actually tells another parent that?!
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I have a million half-finished projects floating around my house...a few separate piles of baby socks I need to match up and put away...the online-consignment bag I need to do one last spot-check and snap pictures for my a review post...a half-dozen or so titled and started blog posts...random piles of things collected from around the house that need to be put in their proper spots. All easy enough things, but I have walked by the piles countless times over the last week and just can't make myself do it.
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A friend and co-worker of mine is due 3 days before me. She tried for years before finally doing IVF, then FET before she was successful. I was supposed to work with her Sunday, but when I came in and she wasn't there I knew something was wrong. She went into pre-term labor, and is thankfully home now but she had some fetal distress going on as well. I am so worried for her, and really pray things stay calm for her for the next several weeks. I had pre-term labor with my first, but without fetal distress, and they treated me more aggressively than they have her, so I am really worried for her and the baby.
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On Saturday we are having some company over. I really wish we weren't. It's my husband's brother, his wife, and 2 step-kids. Well, one is older probably 20 by now? The other is maybe 8. We don't see them too often, as they live almost 2 hours away, and we all work separate schedules.(His brother works evenings, I work weekends.)His brother is cool and chill, and I actually probably have more in common with him than my own husband, but the wife...OMG is she freaking nuts. Loud, obnoxious, in-your-face...just a lot to handle. (To prove I am not just cranky and stuff...she actually picked some dry skin off of his brother's arm and ate it. And admitted that is what she does, I kid you freaking not.) They show up late and end up trying to stay forever. Every single time we have gotten together with them it's some crazy issue. The fact that we even have to ask for them to bring a dish or something bugs me. I am from a big family and get togethers are impossible unless everyone chips in. Coupled with the fact that I will be getting off work to come home to a house full of people and have to change to start cooking...just sucks. I am super dreading it, but I hate entertaining people on a normal day, so this is just a lot for me. And yes, it was my husband's idea, and no, he doesn't cook. The only saving grace is that I decided to entertain myself, and invited my old neighbor-friend to come. She is crazy in her own right, but in a way I think is funny and can tolerate. It's all about balance.
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I was sorting through some papers I stashed when we moved and found a couple of insurance explanation of benefits forms I had put aside to look at and never did. I unearthed the corresponding bills for it, and found out that I was being billed for over $800 worth of stuff I shouldn't be responsible for. A few phone calls later, and I was able to get everything adjusted. One was for my kid's orthodontist which I am still paying for, and the lady was so apologetic. There were two fees depending on which plan you have, and when they did my contract they figured my payments based on the higher fee. I was like, it is definitely okay, because I owe you less money that what you told me, so it's all good. If I owed you more, then we'd have a problem!
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I made a list of projects I would like to do when we get our tax money back. This year I want to do house projects with the money since I will have 2 really young kids, then the year after maybe take a fancier type of family vacation. Anyway, we don't have any issues with our house that are must-do's (knock wood), but there are a few things on my list. Tops is joining the new pool by our house. The first year is pricey because you have to purchase a bond to become a member. After that is a redone kitchen sink...my current one has the divider, which I HATE. And for some reason, the faucet is off-set so the nozzle doesn't reach both sides well. For the amount of cooking I do, I need the commercial size sinks that are deep. My husband is actually in the trade and can do it and get a good price on material, so that's a fairly inexpensive fix. The next thing is some tree trimming, possible tree removal. My husband thinks one tree is dead. I have no idea about that stuff, but I know that tree removal isn't cheap. Paying off our same as cash loan for invisible fence for my dogs is on the list, but by then I will have 3/4 of that already paid off, so that's another pretty easy one. The last thing is a sort of wish-list thing: putting wood or laminate flooring in the basement. There is currently carpet, which is in pretty good shape. But with kids and pets it won't stay that way for long. The cat spends the majority of her time down there, and the dander on the carpet causes some allergy issues for a couple of the kids if we aren't vigilant about allergen spray and vacuuming. I would like to have this done, but it's a large area plus a full set of stairs, so I think it might be a little too expensive coupled with the other stuff I want to do. I can always just wait until the carpet has to be torn up, but I would rather not have it get to that point considering all the use the basement gets.
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Speaking of house things...when we moved in we didn't paint one thing. I know a lot of people like to pick their colors and paint while the house is empty, but we didn't really have the luxury of time to do that. Plus, my husband had just painted the placed we lived previously and was not really anxious to paint anything else. For the most part, the colors are very neutral and live-able. Three of the rooms on the main floor are a bit too yellow-based for my taste, and the master bedroom is too light and feminine of a color to be a master bedroom color. If it was a deeper, darker shade it would be fine. But painting is something we would be doing ourselves, so until one of us really can't stand it anymore, it will stay.
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I got to go to lunch with a great friend today. I missed her a lot more than I realized. She is one of those people who can get me to talk even when I think I don't want to. But she gets me, and knew exactly why the thing I wrote about last week affected me. And she is baby boy's Godmother, and he was happy to see her, and he was the perfect little angel while we were out. It is always a crap shoot taking a toddler anywhere they are expected to sit still, but he was awesome. And it was good for my soul, that 1 hour and 20 minutes.
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Bonus Baby is still without a name. I am definitely puffing up a bit more now with bloating, so last week at the doctor I didn't even look at the scale. The only thing I make sure to ask is if my blood pressure is OK, otherwise ignorance is bliss as far as I am concerned. I don't have gestational diabetes this time. I have only had it one with baby boy, but I thought for sure I would have it again. I skipped to the 3 hour test and I passed all 4 draws. I scheduled my last 3 doctors appointments, so I am really in the home stretch. I am pretty zen about everything right now. Another blogger (Burnt Toast?) said it well when she wrote about babies only needing a few things like the boobs, diapers, and warm hugs. Oh, and a name would be good, too.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Heavy Heart Day

While there is so much good in my life, today I am struggling. I haven't had a day like this in a while. Very fitting that in the Round Up, Mel highlighted a post about grief. Last night I had a trigger that I didn't realize was one at the time. Today the wave has hit me and pulled me under.

My thoughts are too scattered and it is far too much to try and write and really explain the entire situation right now. I was upset last night about a situation and I thought I understood why. I managed to fall asleep last night despite being a little angry, but when I woke up in the middle of the night and my mind returned to it, I actually started crying, but still thinking the situation had just upset me more than I thought and blamed the baby hormones. But when I got up this morning, I get like a weight was on my shoulders, as if I had a dark cloud hanging over me. I keep replaying everything in my mind over and over, and I keep imagining all the things I want to say.

Baby boy and I went down to the basement. He found some things to play with and was keeping to himself, and I had a few moments to just sit with my thoughts. I felt the sting behind my eyes and had a few tears, but the longer I sat with my thoughts, the harder tears started to flow until I was outright sobbing, as the underlying reason the events of last night got to me so much dawned on me. The grief re-surfaced in a big way, and I haven't been able to swim out from under it just yet.

I have so much I need to do to prepare for the birthday party tonight but I can't even get myself together enough to do any of it. Today is my Heavy Heart Day, one of those days where the sadness is just going to stay with me all day and my heart is going to ache. I have been through this many times before over the last seven and a half years, but I wasn't expecting this wave at all. Tomorrow will likely be better. But today...today I miss my Dad. So much.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Kentucky Clerk

By now I am sure everyone has heard all about this Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis who has refused To issue marriage licenses to gay couples because it is against her religious beliefs. So much so that she refused to let her deputies issue the certificates, and even from jail stated that the licenses were not valid because she didn't approve them. Many people argue that there are so many issues at play here, but I see it as pretty simple when you break it down.

Let me start by saying I am Catholic and definitely more conservative in my beliefs than liberal. I also have people close to me that the gay marriage issue directly affects. And I am raising my kids in an increasingly effed up world where just existing is hard enough as it is. I want my kids to be happy and comfortable with whoever they are and grow into be, and the best way I can teach them that is by being kind and tolerant and accepting of everyone. Teaching them that while they may not agree with how people are, that doesn't give them the right to be mean and rude and hateful, because we are all human and we all have feelings. I am also raising them under our faith, and rather than getting hung up on specific doctrinal teachings, the bottom line is that we have a God that loves us all and wants us to be the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be.

I have a huge problem with the Kim Davis' of the world hiding behind their religious beliefs and using it as a reason to be intolerant and hateful. Because that is what she is doing. Can you ever imagine standing behind your counter and telling someone you won't serve them because they are gay and you don't agree with them? Can you imagine being the gay person standing there having someone talk to you like that? I watched some of the clips of Kim shutting down her services to these people, and for someone so religious she certainly showed no compassion whatsoever towards these other human beings. She was downright hateful and rude. And I refuse to believe there is any God you could worship who is giving her props for behaving that way toward another human who He created. There is no God so hateful, and by definition of any Christian religion, God is a loving, merciful being. (I say Christian only because I don't really know the specifics of other religions and what they teach about their Gods)

Then there is the whole Seperation of church and state, and religious freedom. But this is someone who is in a public office, an elected official. I don't know much about what the specific law states, but I think the judge basically said when you are in that type of position you have to follow the law of the land. So her religious convictions take a back seat to her job. If you have that type of elected job that you are being paid to do, in my opinion you better damn well do it, or you need to step down. Period. Too often I think people hide behind the religious beliefs platform to get out of doing something they just don't want to do and using it as their way of being bigoted and having a closed mind. But if you are in that type of elected, paid position, you give up that right, so to speak.

The bottom line is that it really is a human rights issue. An equal rights issue. None of us have a right to stand there and cast judgement because not one of us is perfect. Kim Davis and others like her have never once sat back and thought about what it feels like to be on the other side of the hate she is spewing. It makes me sick that she has a throng of supporters who rally and raise money in her favor. There are so many actual issues that could benefit from the attention so much more...all you have to do is scroll through the headlines to see all the horrendous things happening in the world that only get a fraction of attention that this awful woman has received. And for what? Because two people of the same sex want to get married? What's the big damn deal? Because they can't procreate in the "natural" way like the bible teaches? Well, neither can a HUGE majority of the heterosexual population. Because gay marriages are more likely to end in divorce?? Well, Kim Davis is straight and is already on her third marriage, and had children out of wedlock....oh, the horror!! But wait...I forgot, she is "forgiven" so she gets a pass.

Kim Davis needs to take a page out of the bible she preaches so hard about, or rather a passage "Let he who hath not sinned cast the first stone." Being "forgiven" makes you no less a sinner.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mental Dump

Mel has used this title before, and they are some of my most favorite posts, and since my head is swirling with lots of randomness today, thought I would do one of mine own.

Baby stuff: I worked most of labor day weekend but did have yesterday off. We got some of the baby items organized on shelves in our closet. I still have a stack of neutral things to sort into drawers that I can hopefully get done this week. We picked the Godparents and asked them, and have set the baptism date with our church. We still don't have a name of either gender picked out. We had a leftover girls name when our last one was a boy, but I have since found other names I might like better. I also would like to use my sister's middle name, and have too many choices for girl's names that I love, so I am considering using two middle names, but I don't know how that works...on the birth certificate and in real life, such as filling out forms and paperwork. Anyone have any experience with that? We have no real boys name picked out at all.

Work: I have a very physical job, and I have noticed it is getting harder for me to work much earlier this time than last time. I am way more winded and physically uncomfortable this time. Sunday is my long day and it takes much more out of me and I really have to push to get through the day. It's not causing any contractions or anything, it is just physically hard. I have 7 weeks of work left so I am going to tough it out.

This week: is a short week but a crazy one. I have a ton of stuff going on each day. Nothing that is hard or complicated really, just some doctor's appointments, school meeting, dessert making, and an 11 year old birthday and subsequent sleepover birthday party to fit in to an already busy schedule. Sometimes looking at the calendar, the week seems overwhelming to someone like me, who is a notorious procrastinator and lacking time management skills.

Life: I am at this weird place in life where most people I know who were going to have kids already have them, and they are well out of the baby/toddler stage. It almost becomes like once you have kids who are more independent, you forget what it was like to have a baby or toddler and literally have no time for yourself. Where it's not as easy to just drop everything to go out to do anything, where sleep sort of trumps anything else, where emotional energy is at an all-time low and you are just trying to make it moment to moment. So most of my friends are moving out of that space, and I am back in it, and it makes it hard to connect and understand each other. And the ones who don't have kids don't understand it at all. So to all of them it probably seems like I am totally absent or checking out, when really I am just surviving this fleeting time with babies I longed for. I am completely content with my life...but I definitely feel judged for not being "there", where ever there actually is. But I got married and had my first kids way earlier than any of my friends, so I guess we have never actually been on the same page anyway.

On that same idea the friend I wrote about in this post ran into my husband over the weekend. And she sort of bombarded him with a lot of questions (as if I am living some double life I am keeping her out of) and told him lots of things but left out key things so it came off sounding like I was this horrible friend. My husband relayed what she said kind of matter of fact, not judge-y at all, but he had already knew my side of things but in typical guy fashion forgot until I reminded him he and I had discussed this before. I wasn't overly concerned because I had a conversation with this friend a couple of weeks ago where I had explained that life was just different now with having older kids, a toddler, and a baby on the way. That I didn't really have so much time that was "my" time and that it was only going to get worse when I had the baby, and that it was harder now than when I was a decade younger having kids. Anyway...one thing my husband relayed to me really has stuck with me...she told him that she took off work specifically so her and I could do something for her birthday (which isn't entirely true because she takes the entire week off every year, unless she meant she left that day open), that I didn't actually call and sing to her, and (this was the real kicker for me) that her card arrived to her late. I wrote this in my last post, but when I realized the night before that our plans had to be changed, I texted her and let her know and why. I waited for her to suggest something else, but she never did, and when I realized the next day-which was her actual birthday-that I wouldn't be seeing her, only then did I put her card in the mail. The card she never acknowledging receiving from me. When my husband told me she said that...I just quietly replied "Well, at least now I know she actually got the card." And then I just felt sad. I love her, but I guess I can't be the same exact friend right now because of all the things going on in my life. I feel bad, but really, what can I do. She doesn't have any of those responsibilities, so she can't possibly truly understand, and clearly she doesn't after we talked about this and then she goes and says all this stuff to my husband.

I am tired of this heat...I long for fall weather. The third week of school, and we just a notice that school is closing early due to the heat. There goes anything extra I thought I was going to get done today.







Saturday, September 5, 2015

Furnishing and Decorating a Home on the Cheap and other Money Saving Tips from a Cheapskate

After we bought our house and paid for movers, we didn't have a lot of any money left over to put into furnishing and decorating our new house. Over the years we have lived in several different places where we have flip-flopped between having things like cabinet and storage space, and having no space for anything at all. Being in a cramped space also meant that some of our furniture was super-well used and not worth keeping. I had no real budget to go to shopping with, so I had to come up with some alternative ways to be able to afford stuff for a new house.

I by no means have any interior designer skills, at all. My clothes barely match, let alone my house. I totally prefer functionality over anything else. Almost everything in my house is second-hand stuff I acquired one way or another, with the exception of our beds and kitchen table and pots and pans. One time in my life I actually purchased a new living room set...and it didn't last. Between kids and pets it got completely ruined over the years, and I learned my lesson about trying to have brand new furniture I spent a lot of money on. One day I can have nice stuff; right now is the time to have stuff I won't cry over if it doesn't last.

Since we knew for so long ahead of time that we would likely be moving, I had an advantage of being able to plan ahead to look for stuff I knew I would probably need. We came from a very small space, so what furniture I did have was minimal, so I had a running list of stuff to find. I kind of put it out there to everyone we knew that we were looking for things to furnish a house, so if anyone was upgrading we would gladly take their old stuff. A relative of my husband's ended up going into a retirement home, and had to get rid of most of their furniture. Somehow, it got offered to us about 6 months before we moved. My mom was awesome enough to let us use a spare room in her house to store everything. We ended up with a ton of stuff from just that alone: a dining room table and chairs, buffet filled with dining room linens, 2 twin beds that are super old but in good enough shape for small kids, a couple of sitting room chairs, a small pull-out sofa, a couple small bookcases, and a nightstand. Through word of mouth, I also was able to get a dresser, a ton of really good bed linens, and a couch and loveseat from coworkers. Someone at my husband's work gave him 2 big coffee tables. Everything we have been offered has been in pretty amazing condition, considering someone else was just getting rid of them. I also scored a really great older wooden desk and a sewing machine built into a desk from my mom's neighbor's estate. They were cleaning out the house to sell and they asked if we wanted anything. Not that I sew, but it works and is a cool thing to have for when I have time to learn.

That is my first piece of advice: don't be too proud to ask or take what other people are getting rid of, within reason of course. Most people won't offer you some falling apart junk in the first place. I made sure everyone knew I was looking for furniture. I took anything people were willing to give me, knowing somehow I would find a use for it all, or I could down the line. Knowing I was moving where I had plenty of storage made it easier in case I couldn't find a spot for something right away.

The next piece of advice is to never rule out what you can find at thrift stores, specifically Goodwill. I suggest Goodwill because in my area they tend to outshine all the other thrift stores I have visited in what they carry, how clean and organized the store is, and the quality of the items. I have 4 Goodwill stores between where I live now and where I used to live, and I would visit them all in the same week over the span of a couple months. I stocked my linen closet with tons of towels that were all very bright and thick and new and were about $1.00 a piece. Sunday through Tuesday they have a tag sale, and the color changes week to week. So if it's a yellow week, all yellow tags have an additional discount. I also got placemats, bathroom rugs, laundry hampers, and dishes at Goodwill as well. The biggest thing I have had to watch is every now and then you get something priced a little funky, like way too high. When that happens, I usually ask someone about it, and if its pretty obvious they will adjust the price. And the Goodwill stores by me tend to get a lot of clearance stuff from Target, like overstock or end of season items. These items are almost always priced higher like you would find at Target on clearance, and although new with tags/in packages, not worth it for me to buy at Goodwill.

Other things that are great finds at Goodwill are pictures, wall hangings, and furniture. One of the Goodwill stores near me has great furniture...think older stuff made of real solid wood. I once bought a dining room buffet and a really nice dresser for $30 each, and 2 matching older lazy boy recliners that barely looked used for $20 each. My daughter always finds really cool clothes for herself, brand name stuff at places we don't shop, like Justice. Most of the kids clothing is $2.00 per item in general and in pretty great condition. Goodwill also different sale days where different areas of the store are 50% off. They also do a late night sale once a month where the entire store is 50% off. I have never gone to one of those because I have heard it can be a bit insane.

I know lots of people who love to find stuff at yard sales, but I have always found them to be hit or miss. They are almost always on a weekend when I am at work, and you usually have to drive around to a bunch of them and maybe you will find something. However, if I happen to drive by one and see there might be something I want, I will stop. The stuff I look for the most is the outdoor play stuff for smaller kids, the climbers and slides. That stuff is so expensive new, but made to last and if you don't mind the sun faded look, it can be a real steal. I have found a few items from people closing their home daycare over the years.

Another way I was able to get stuff on the cheap was to shop my mom's house. Seriously, her and my dad collected so much stuff over the years. My dad especially was a picture and furniture hoarder. They would constantly get new stuff and put the old stuff in the basement where it has piled up. There is also a lot of stuff from my grandparent's house that she kept. She talks about going through and cleaning it out but never does, so I go down and see if there is anything I want and she is more than happy to get rid of stuff that way. There were a lot of wall hangings I loved as a kid, like this old wooden one with my favorite prayer and another religious one that hung in my Grandmother's kitchen.

The final thing I did over the years was to not really get rid of stuff. The biggest thing was kitchen stuff, as the amount of cabinet space was something that varied the most depending on where we lived. Rather than get rid of stuff I couldn't fit, I put all the "overflow" stuff in a box and left it stored, especially since I knew it was a more temporary thing. When we got to the new place, I rediscovered some of my favorite cooking items I didn't have the space for and hadn't used in years. I saved a ton of money just by hanging onto things I could use in a bigger kitchen instead of getting rid of it.

I did the same thing with all of my baby stuff and kids clothes...I have literally saved every single item that was worth saving. My sister had gotten rid of all of her baby stuff after her third child and ended up having a fourth a few years later, and my cousin who had 6 kids ended up having a 7th, and both of them literally had to start over from scratch for baby items. I remember thinking how much money they wasted by getting rid of everything only to have to buy so much of it again. So I became a hoarder of all things baby. And then as my oldest got older, of all older kid clothes. Even when we went through 8 years of IF and I thought our family was complete, I wouldn't let go of anything. I have saved a lot of money over the years because of all the hand me downs, and now baby clothes and supplies. Instead of having to buy all new wardrobes, I can get away with a couple new things each, and of course shoes, which don't hold up well as my kids are super hard on shoes. I know it is hard when you are short on space to save things; the first instinct is to get rid of stuff. I was lucky that my mom had plenty of space in her basement and she didn't mind letting us store a lot of the bulky items and extra boxes.

I also do all the other stuff, like cut coupons, look for/wait for sales, utilize online discount codes, and shop at places like Walmart and Sams Club. It is also helpful to have a good idea of how much things you buy often cost at several stores, so you know when a sale is really a sale. Sams club doesn't always have the cheapest price per unit. I have found that CVS can really have the best price on over-the counter medicines like allergy pills and medicine for acid reflux, and often vitamins if you combine their sales with their coupons. They generally let you stack coupons, too, so you can really save. If I am not in dire need of something, I usually try and wait it out until I get a good coupon or promo code, especially if I can't find one for online sites, or if they have a 10% off but I know I can get a 30% off one if I wait a few days. Old Navy is a store that will let you bring your receipt in for price adjustments for up to a week. One year around black Friday I took the same receipt in 3 different times because they kept dropping the prices that week, and I ended up saving over 60% in the end. Many other stores have the same policy, or will allow it if you ask. I once reordered Christmas presents 3 times because toys r us online kept dropping prices online and I ended up spending a fraction of what I normally would have.

As far as my pets go, I have 3 dogs and a cat. The biggest tip I learned about saving money on them is to buy a higher quality dog food. It costs more per bag, but because it contains better ingredients and less filler, and generally has a higher calorie content, the dogs actually need to eat less of it so it lasts longer. A 40lb bag of the cheap stuff only last a fraction of the time that the more expensive stuff does. I also started using my local animal welfare society for reduced cost vaccines and vet visits. It is all on a walk-in basis, but really worth my time to go by how much I save on vet visits. I know most county run animal control facilities also offer rabies clinics for $5 a shot, but that is all you get. Where I go, the vaccines are a little more, but you get a quick vet exam as well.

One huge way I am saving money this year is that I switched over to my employers health insurance, even though I am only part time. I spent a lot of time researching mine and my husbands plans, asking coworkers about how they felt about the coverage, checking coverage amounts and participating doctors, and running numbers on things like premium cost, amounts of the co-payments, deductibles, and prescriptions. I made a comparison list so I could see in black and white and then did a final cost analysis. Even though I will pay more for my premium because I am only part-time, the coverage is WAY better, with 1/4 of the deductible than I previously had. And because more of the cost is pre-tax, it lowers my overall taxable income so it will really help me at the end of the year. I also switched my car insurance to a plan with a huge discount through my work. If I had stayed with my old company, which is supposed to be one of the cheapest, my home owners insurance would be $300 more than it is now, and my car insurance $60 more a month, even with the bundle for identical coverage. By taking the time to make a few phone calls and run some numbers, I am saving a ton of money. It is a tedious task, but worth it in the end.

My final piece of advice here is that if you are looking for a big ticket item like a TV, Black Friday sales are the way to go. Wait, I know...Black Friday, really?? Listen, I am not a black friday shopper, at all. My sister is, and she has always gone out and braved crowds. But two years ago we really needed a new TV. We only had one TV in the house, it was old and tiny and slowly things on it were starting not to work. I asked my sister and she was looking for one too, so she scoped out Black Friday deals. My husband and I decided that would be our one big gift to each other for Christmas that year if we could get a deal and actually end up with a TV. My sister and I both got one that year, and last year went out and got another one. We bought one for my mom as her Christmas gift from all of us kids, and one I stashed at my mom's house until we moved, so our house now has 2 TVs, one on the main level and one in the basement. The price was even cheaper last year, but the first year it was still a great deal. The biggest advice is to check all the ads that come out, and call ahead to the stores to see just how they are working their black friday sales. Every store has a different quantity of any given sale item, even different locations of the same store will have different quantities and run the sales differently. We went to the same store and location both years, and they changed how they did the sales from one year to the next. Our store even changed how they were running the sale at the last minute because of the amount of people who starting lining up early. Having a plan before you go is the best bet. That was the only thing we were shopping for, so we had one of us go get in the checkout line while the rest of us got the TVs. I would never go just to shop. It totally amazed me some of the crappy toys and things people had in their carts, as if everything was a great deal. I will say that 2 years ago I did end up also grabbing a bike for my son, as his birthday is just before Christmas and that was what I had planned on getting him. On our way to the checkout line I stumbled upon a random palate of the bikes and it happened to be exactly the size and color I would need. For things like a TV there are great deals to be had on that crazy shopping day, but only if you are able to truly plan ahead, unless of course you dig that sort of madness.

So those are my tips and tricks for being cheap frugal and helping to save money with a big family. Do you have any good money saving ideas you can share?






Friday, September 4, 2015

A Day in the Life-Summer Edition

I have seen a few of these floating around on other blogs, and I thought it would be fun to try and do one of my own. Instead of doing a specific day, I am going to do a general day, and hope this doesn't get too wordy-hah!

I am a big believer in summer being alot of down time and nothing too structured, especially this summer with being pregnant and having a toddler. My days usually started in the 7-o'clock hour when my husband's alarm goes off. He could sleep through the thing beeping for an hour, so I always wake up and make sure he actually gets up. Being pregnant, I was usually up between 2am and 4am to pee, and sometimes I wouldn't be able to fall back to sleep. Usually close to when my husband is getting up, the baby would wake up, too. We would head downstairs and he would get his morning snack and drink and we would curl up in the recliner together for some cartoons. He would have his snack, and I would check my emails/bank account/blogs on my phone.

On a good day we wouldn't have anything to do all morning, but occasionaly we had an appointment scheduled early. If we did, I would get my oldest up to babysit so I could get ready and get whoever had the appointment fed and out the door. Most days we didn't have early appointments, though, and would get to be lazy. Once the next kid woke up within the hour (usually my other son) the boys would go hang out and play while I fixed breakfast. It's funny, because when all my kids were smaller, I ran things sort of like a daycare, where everyone sat down for meals at the same time, and there was a dedicated snack time. Now, on non-school days, everyone is quite staggered and not at all on the same schedule. Anyway, I would feed the boys and myself, and wrap up breakfast and leave it out for whenever the girls decided to grace us with their presence.

Most everything revolved around what schedule the little guy was on that day, especially if we didn't have any appointments or anything. If he went down mid-late morning and we didn't have anything to do later, I would take that time to go run errands. I would usually rotate which older kid came with me to get some one-on-one time. The others I left with instructions to pick up around the house a little, make sure the sink was clear, and get lunches and pool stuff together so we could head to the pool for a little while. On days when he took an earlier nap we tried to head to the pool right after lunch. I tried to plan it well, so that we either had something to cook up at the pool, or something easy to pull together when we got home. The days of staying at the pool from open to close are a thing of the past right now. I don't enjoy being there in the heat right now, and after a couple hours the littlest one has had enough, despite there being playgrounds and other things to do besides swim. I said this in another post, but even the older kids think the pool has turned pretty lame because there aren't a whole lot of families who spend the days there. Next year will be different because we are joining a super awesome, super-sized pool right by our house.

Let me be clear...just because I asked my kids to do certain chores while I was gone by no means means I came home to a clean house and bags packed. More often than not I came home to everything half done or not started at all, and had to plead and cajole and yes, even threaten, to get everyone working together. Despite my best efforts, sometimes it would literally take hours to get everyone on the same page. So much of our time was wasted with that crazy nonsense. Also, in between all the other stuff throughout the day there was extra stuff, like filling pet dishes with food and water, tripping over pets underfoot, letting dogs outside, letting dogs back inside, and picking up after the pets when they would get into something or knock cushions on the floor. Also, turning off lights a million times, turning off a TV no one is watching, and going behind each kid to make sure they are doing the chores they were asked to do.

If we stayed at the pool for dinner, my husband would meet us there and take over kid duty so I could get dinner on the grill. After we ate, he would head home with the small fry, and I would stay with any kids that wanted to still hang out and swim. If we went home, the kids usually headed down to the basement to chill out for a little while while I got dinner ready. All of us sitting down together for dinner is a big thing in my house. We take that time to go over anything that needs to happen that night or the next day. It is also usually a whirlwind of everyone eating and talking, and everyone is usually finished and I felt like I just sat down!

After dinner, the kids liked to go out to the ball fields and playgrounds across the street. If the baby was up for it, they took him, too. Usually my little guy was ready to take a bath by this point, though. My husband loves doing bath time, so this is when I get to sit for a few minutes and put my poor, swollen feet up. I tried to catch up on emails and texts and take a breather. By this time of night, I am just wasted tired, so it gives me a little pick me up. The kids would come back just before dark, and we would often make s'mores out on the deck. My baby boy would come down from his bath in a diaper and join us. On a good night, he could hang out until about 9, many nights he was in bed by 8. We really just go by how he is doing. If he is losing it, off to bed he goes. Sometimes he would pick up a second wind and run around like a mad man and that could buy us an extra 30 minutes or so. He is generally up from his nap for 7-9 hours before going back to bed for the night.

I am almost always the one who puts him to bed. When I take him upstairs, I usually tell the middle 2 kids they need to come up and brush their teeth. The camped out in the basement most nights, so I made sure they had everything from upstairs they needed now, instead of creating a ruckus when I am trying to get a toddler to sleep. On a good night, I would hold him, say bedtime prayers, and lay him down. His aqua crib toy plays soft music, and I would rub or pat him for a minute to settle him down, and that would be that. Some nights he would be so beside himself that my oldest would take over. A few times a month, she would somehow be the only one who could get him to sleep quickly and with little fuss, starting from when he was very small. We have no idea why, but if he is ever giving me a fight, in she comes and it's all over.

After I put the baby down, I would go back downstairs to finish anything if I still had the energy. Sometimes that meant a load of laundry, which is done on a near-constant loop in my house, most often it meant computer work...bill paying, budgeting, grocery store list-making, menu planning. I have horrible time management skills, so I try and plan at least the next night's dinner and pull meat out of the freezer and do a mental check to see if I have everything I need for the meal. I have been quite famous for starting a meal, and.not having a key ingredient or three. By this point in the night it's probably close to 9:30, and I need something to eat before I can think about bed. I would find something small to have, and either sit down at the table with a magazine, or actually sit down with my husband and watch something on TV for about a half hour. Watching TV is the worst choice, though, because I would get so comfortable in the recliner and be so tired that I wouldn't move until an hour or more went by, and that is just way too late for me to go to bed.

We tried to make sure the kids shut things down in the basement and started to settle down by 10 at the latest. The oldest one would still be up, and her and her dad would wait for me to go to bed before they hung out to watch whatever series they were following. My husband always walks me up to bed and we usually spend a few minutes catching up while I get ready to go to bed. Our entire marriage, I am always in bed for the night before him. He doesn't need as much sleep as I do, and when I don't get enough it is obvious to everyone around. He used to complain he was bored after I went to bed, but now he has a teenager to hang out with so he stopped complaining haha. He likes to flip channels and watch anything and everything, but I have to have a purpose and something specific to watch or it is not worth my time. If I wasn't pregnant, I would actually be able to hang more, so we would play board games or watch a movie or something, but I just don't have the energy right now.

On a good night I fall right to sleep and mostly stay that way...then it's rinse and repeat.







Thursday, September 3, 2015

Unreal

So I am working on the Day in the Life posts, but that is taking me a while to get written. In the meantime I have a short little unbelievable story...

I have spent all week sorting through all of our baby clothes, supplies, and equipment. Over the years we have amassed a ridiculous amount of stuff. People always seem to buy baby clothes, and sizes and seasons don't always match up, or it is not something I ever used for a million reasons. The collection of baby bottles I have but barely used...I surely don't need 40 bottles!...pacifiers all my kids refused...more blankets than I can count...the list just goes on and on. Not to mention all the hand-me-downs people have given me, it is just excessive.

So this time I purged lots of stuff. I took the time since I was going thorough things anyway to actually do it right. If I haven't used it yet, I am most likely never going to use it. Now that I have a house with the space to spread out and make piles, and I definitely feel the need to be less cluttered. The pile of stuff that still has tags on I am sending to an online consignment store. (Once I know how that turns out, I will name the site and do a review. This will be my first foray into online consignment.) I decided all the extra clothes and supplies I don't need I wanted to donate to a local pregnancy center. They are a small pro-life non-profit run by volunteers, and offer many different pregnancy services such as free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, counseling, adoption information, parenting and wellness classes, ect.

I called this morning to ask when/where I take my donations, and I was TURNED DOWN!!! Seriously, they said they had just received a donation they hadn't looked through yet but had a crib, bath tub, and clothes and didn't "have a need" at this time. I was truly shocked. I mean, I get that it is a small place and they probably don't have much storage, but I also wasn't saying I was bringing a truckload full of stuff, either. I seriously can't even fathom how a volunteer run, non-profit was saying no to donations. The freaking shelter I got my pets from is a small non-profit, and they will literally take anything you want to bring them, always.

And then I just felt sad. I felt sad for the next girl or woman who finds herself pregnant and needs help, and goes to them, and they have nothing material to offer as they advertise they do. And I feel sad for that baby. If you are going to offer those types of services, wouldn't you want to make sure you had enough of everything, just in case?? Places like this exist for someone to see the sign and walk in on a whim. People gong to these places are desperate and many times alone and literally have no one else to go to. What, do they tell them "Oh, we don't have any baby clothes right now, check back in a month?" I mean, what the hell.

A parent at my kid's school used to volunteer there. She might still, actually, I'm not sure. But I am definitely going to ask her about this the next time I see her. Come to think of it, I might just email her. Maybe I just got someone jerky who answered the phone and didn't want to be bothered. I don't know, but I am pretty appalled and disenchanted with the whole thing.